Baboo Jabberjee, B.A.
by F. Anstey
INTRODUCTORY LETTER FROM BABOO
[Illustration: Frontispiece UNACCUSTOMED TO DARK-COMPLEXIONED
BABOO JABBERJEE, B.A.
THE WAYFARER'S LIBRARY
J. M. DENT &SONS, Ltd.
Mr Jabberjee apologises for the unambitious scope of his
work; sundry confidences, criticisms, and complaints. 1
Some account of Mr Jabberjee's experiences at the
Westminster Play. 9
Mr Jabberjee gives his views concerning the Laureateship. 18
Containing Mr Jabberjee's Impressions at The Old Masters. 24
In which Mr Jabberjee expresses his Opinions on
Bicycling as a Pastime. 33
Dealing with his Adventures at Olympia. 42
How Mr Jabberjee risked a Sprat to capture something
very like a Whale. 50
How Mr Jabberjee delivered an Oration at a Ladies'
Debating Club. 60
How he saw the practice of the University Crews,
and what he thought of it. 69
Mr Jabberjee is taken to see a Glove-Fight. 75
Mr Jabberjee finds himself in a position of extreme
Mr Jabberjee is taken by surprise. 88
Drawbacks and advantages of being engaged. Some Meditations
in a Music-hall, together with notes of certain things that
Mr Jabberjee failed to understand. 96
Mr Jabberjee's fellow-student. What's in a Title? An
invitation to a Wedding. Mr J. as a wedding guest, with
what he thought of the ceremony, and how he distinguished
himself on the occasion. 105
Mr Jabberjee is asked out to dinner. Unreasonable behaviour
of his betrothed. His doubts concerning the social
advantages of a Boarding Establishment, with some scathing
remarks upon ambitious pretenders. He goes out to dinner,
and meets a person of some importance. 114
Mr Jabberjee makes a pilgrimage to the Shrine of
Containing some intimate confidences from Mr Jabberjee,
with the explanation of such apparent indiscretion. 135
Mr Jabberjee is a little over-ingenious in his excuses. 138
Mr Jabberjee tries a fresh tack. His visit to the India
Office and sympathetic reception. 146
Mr Jabberjee distinguishes himself in the Bar Examination,
but is less successful in other respects. He writes
another extremely ingenious epistle, from which he
anticipates the happiest results. 155
Mr Jabberjee halloos before he is quite out of the Wood. 164
Mr Jabberjee places himself in the hands of a
solicitorwith certain reservations. 173
Mr Jabberjee delivers his Statement of Defence, and makes
his preparations for the North. He allows his patriotic
sentiments to get the better of him in a momentary
outburst of disloyaltyto which no serious importance
need be attached. 182
Mr Jabberjee relates his experiences upon the Moors. 190
Mr Jabberjee concludes the thrilling account of his
experiences on a Scotch Moor, greatly to his own
Mr Jabberjee expresses some audaciously sceptical opinions.
How he secured his first Salmon, with the manner in which
he presented it to his divinity. 207
Mr Jabberjee is unavoidably compelled to return to town,
thereby affording his Solicitor the inestimable benefit
of his personal assistance. An apparent attempt to pack
the Jury. 216
Mankletow v. Jabberjee. Notes taken by Mr Jabberjee
in Court during the proceedings. 225
Further proceedings in the Case of Mankletow v.
Jabberjee. Mr Jabberjee's Opening for the Defence. 235
Mankletow v. Jabberjee (part heard). Mr Jabberjee
finds cross-examination much less formidable than he had
Mankletow v. Jabberjee (continued). The Defendant
brings his Speech to a somewhat unexpected conclusion, and
Mr Witherington, Q.C., addresses the Jury in reply. 255
Containing the conclusion of the whole matter, and (which
many Readers will receive in a spirit of chastened
resignation) Mr Jabberjee's final farewell. 265
To the Hon'ble Punch.
VENERABLE AND LUDICROUS SIR.Permit me most respectfully to bring
beneath your notice a proposal which I serenely anticipate will turn up
trumps under the fructifying sunshine of your esteemed approbation.
Sir, I am an able B.A. of a respectable Indian University, now in
this country for purposes of being crammed through Inns of Court and
Law Exam., and rendering myself a completely fledged Pleader or
Barrister in the Native Bar of the High Court.
Since my sojourn here, I have accomplished the laborious perusal of
your transcendent and tip-top periodical, and, hoity toity! I am like a
duck in thunder with admiring wonderment at the drollishness and
jocosity with which your paper is ready to burst in its pictorial
department. But, alack! when I turn my critical attention to the
literary contents, I am met with a lamentable deficiency and no great
shakes, for I note there the fly in the ointment and hiatus valde
deflendusto wit the utter absenteeism of a correct and classical
style in English composition.
To the highly educated native gentleman who searches your printed
articles, hoping fondly to find himself in a well of English pure and
undefiled, it proves merely to fish in the air. Conceive, Sir, the
disgustful result to one saturated to the skin of his teeth in best
English masterpieces of immaculate and moderately good prose extracts
and dramatic passages, published with notes for the use of the native
student, at weltering in a hotchpot and hurley-burley of arbitrarily
distorted and very vulgarised cockneydoms and purely London
provincialities, which must be of necessity to him as casting pearls
before a swine!
And I have the honour to inform you of a number of cultivated lively
young native B.A.'s, both here and in my country, who are quite capable
to appreciate really fine writing and sonoriferous periods if published
in your paper, and which would infallibly result in a feather in your
cap and bring increase of grit to the mill.
If, Honoured Sir, you feel disposed to bolster yourself up with the
wet blanket of a non possumus, and reply to me that your
existing quill-drivers are too fat-witted and shallow-pated for the
production of more pretentiously polished lucubrationsaye, not even
if they burn the night-light oil and hear the chimes at midnight! I
will not be hoodwinked by the superficiality of your cui bono,
and shall make you the answer that I am willing for an exceedingly
paltry honorarium to rush into the Gordian knot and write you the
most superior essays on every conceivable and inconceivable subject
under the sun, as per enclosed samples which I forward respectfully for
your delightful and golden opinions, guaranteeing faithfully that all
of your readers in every hemisphere and postal district will fall in
love with such a new departure and fresh tack.
The specimens I send are not my best, only very ordinary and
humdrum affairsbut ex pede Herculem! Hon'ble Sir, and you will
see how transcendentally superior are even such poor effusions compared
to the fiddle-faddle and gim-crack style of article with which you are
being fobbed off by puzzle-headed and self-opiniated nincompoops.
I can also turn out rhymed poetry after models of Poets TENNYSON,
COWPER, Mrs HEMANS, SOUTHEY, &Co., done to a tittle, so as not
to be detected, even by the cynosure, as mere spurious imitation, but
in every respect up to the mark and the real Simon Pure.
Therefore, Hon'ble Sir, do not hesitate to strike while the iron is
incandescent and bleed freely, even if it should be necessary, prior to
engaging your humble petitioner's services, to turn out one or more of
your present contributioners crop and heels, and lay them on the shelf
of their own incompetencies. Remember that the slightest act of
volition on your part can exalt my pecuniary status to the skies, as
well as confer distinguished and unparagoned ennoblement upon your
I remain, respected Sir, Your most obsequious Servant,
HURRY BUNGSHO JABBERJEE, B.A.
P.S. and N.B.Being so unacquainted with the limner's art, I cannot
at present undertake the etching of caricatures et hoc genus
omne. However, if such is your will, Hon'ble Sir, I will take the
cow by the horns, after preliminary course of instruction at Government
Art School, all expenses, &c., to be defrayed on the nail out of your
purse of Fortunatus, seeing that your esteemed correspondent is so hard
up between two stools that he is reduced to a choice of Hodson's Horse!
H. B. J.
Mr Jabberjee apologises for the unambitious scope of his
work; sundry confidences, criticisms and complaints.
When I first received intimation from the supernal and spanking hand
of Hon'ble Mr Punch, that he smiled with fatherly benignity at
my humble request that he should offer myself as a regular poorly-paid
contributor, I blessed my stars and was as if to jump over the moon for
jubilation and sprightfulness.
But, heigh-ho! surgit amari aliquid, and his condescending
patronage was dolefully alloyed with the inevitable dash of bitters
which, as Poet SHAKSPEARE remarks, withers the galled jade until it
winces. For with an iron heel has Hon'ble Mr P. declined sundry
essays of enormous length and importance, composed in Addisonian,
Johnsonian, and Gibbonian phraseology on assorted topics, such as
Love, Civilisation, Matrimony, Superstition, Is Courage a
Virtue, or Vice Versâ? and has recommended me instead to devote
my pen to quite ephemeral and fugacious topics, and merely commit to
paper such reflections, critical opinions, and experiences as may turn
up in the potluck of my daily career.
What wonder that on reading such a sine quâ non and ultimatum
my vox faucibus hæsit and stuck in my gizzard with bashful
sheepishness, for how to convulse the Thames and set it on fire and all
agog with amazement at the humdrum incidents of so very ordinary an
existence as mine, which is spent in the diligent study of Roman,
Common, International, and Canonical Law from morn to dewy eve in the
lecture-hall or the library of my inn, and, as soon as the shades of
night are falling fast, in returning to my domicilium at Ladbroke Grove
with the undeviating punctuality of a tick?
However, being above all things desirous not to let slip the golden
opportunity and pocket the root of all evil, I decided to let my
diffidence go to the wall and boldly record every jot and tittle,
however humdrum, with the critical reflections and censorious
observations arising therefrom, remembering that, though the fabulous
and mountain-engendered mouse was no doubt at the time considered but a
fiasco and flash in the pan by its maternal progenitor, nevertheless
that same identical mouse rendered yeomanry services at a subsequent
period to the lion involved in the compromising intricacies of a
Benevolent reader, de te fabula narratur. Perchance the
mousey bantlings of my insignificant brain may nibble away the cords of
prejudice and exclusiveness now encircling many highly respectable
British lions. Be not angry with me therefore, if in the character of a
damned but good-natured friend, I venture on occasions to hint dislike
and hesitate disgust.
The majestic and magnificent matron, under whose aegis I reside for
rs. 20 per week, is of lofty lineage, though fallen from that high
estate into the peck of troubles, and compelled (owing to severely
social disposition) to receive a number of small and select boarders.
Like Jepthah, in the play of Hamlet, she has one fair
daughter and no more, a bewitching and well-proportioned damsel, as
fine as a fivepence or a May-day queen. Notwithstanding this, when I
summon up my courage to address her, she receives my laborious
politeness with a cachinnation like that of a Cheshire cheese, which
strikes me all of a heap. Her female parent excuses to me such
flabbergasting demeanour on the plea that her daughter is afflicted
with great shyness and maidenly modesty, but, on perceiving that she
can be skittish and genial in the company of other masculines, I am
forced to attribute her contumeliousness to the circumstance that I am
a native gentleman of a dark complexion.
In addition, I have the honour to inform you of further specimens of
this inurbanity and bearishness from officials who are perfect
strangers to the writer. Each morning I journey through the
subterranean bowels of the earth to the Temple, and on a recent
occasion, when I was descending the stairs in haste to pop into the
train, lo and behold, just as I reached the gate, it was shut in my
nose by the churlishness of the jack-in-office!
At which, stung to the quick at so unprovoked and unpremeditated an
affront, I accosted him severely through the bars of the wicket,
demanding sarcastically, Is this your boasted British
The savage heart of the Collector was moved by my expostulation, and
he consented to open the gate, and imprint a perforated hole on my
ticket; but, alack! his repentance was a day after the fair, for the
train had already taken its hook into the Cimmerian gloom of a tunnel!
When the next train arrived, I, waiting prudently until it was
quiescent, stepped into a compartment, wherein I was dismayed and
terrified to find myself alone with an individual and two lively young
terriers, which barked minaciously at my legs.
[Illustration: LET OUT! LET OUT!!]
But I, with much presence of mind, protruded my head from the
window, vociferating to those upon the platform, Let out! Let out!!
Fighting dogs are here!!!
And they met my appeal with unmannerly jeerings, until the
controller of the train, seeing that I was firm in upholding my dignity
of British subject, and claiming my just rights, unfastened the door
and permitted me to escape; but, while I was yet in search of a
compartment where no canine elements were in the manger, the train was
once more in motion, and I, being no daredevil to take such leap into
the dark, was a second time left behind, and a loser of two trains.
Moreover, though I have written a humbly indignant petition to the
Hon'ble Directors of the Company pointing out loss of time and
inconvenience through incivility, and asking them for small pecuniary
compensation, they have assumed the rhinoceros hide, and nilled my
request with dry eyes.
But I shall next make the further complaint that, even when making
every effort to do the civil, the result is apt to kill with kindness;
andas King CHARLES THE FIRST, when they were shuffling off his mortal
coil, politely apologised for the unconscionable long time that his
head took to decapitateso I, too, must draw attention to the fact
that the duration of formal ceremonious visits, is far too protracted
and long drawn out.
Crede experto. A certain young English gentleman, dwelling in
the Temple, whose acquaintance I have formed, earnestly requested that
I should do him the honour of a visit; and recently, wishing to be hail
fellow well met, I presented myself before him about 9.30 A.M.
He greeted me with effusion, shaking me warmly by the hand, and
begging me to be seated, and making many inquiries, whether I preferred
India to England, and what progress I was making in my studies, &c.,
and so forth, all of which I answered faithfully, to the best of my
After that he addressed me by fits and starts and longo
intervallo, yet displaying so manifest and absorbent a delight in
my society that he could not bring himself to terminate the audience,
while I was to conceal my immense wearisomeness and the ardent desire I
had conceived to leave him.
And thus he detained me there hour after hour, until five minutes
past one P.M., when he recollected, with many professions of chagrin,
that he had an appointment to take his tiffin, and dismissed me,
inviting me cordially to come again.
If, however, it is expected of me that I can devote three hours and
a half to ceremonial civilities, I must respectfully answer with a
Nolo episcopari, for my time is more precious than rubies, and so I
will beg not only Mr MELLADEW, Esq., Barrister-at-law, but all other
Anglo-Saxon friends and their families, to accept this as a verbum
sap. and wink to a blind horse.
Some account of Mr Jabberjee's experiences at the
Being forearmed by editorial beneficence with ticket of admission to
theatrical entertainment by adolescent students at Westminster College,
I presented myself at the scene of acting in a state of liveliest and
frolicsome anticipation on a certain Wednesday evening in the month of
December last, about 7.20 P.M.
At the summit of the stairs I was received by a posse of polite and
stalwart striplings in white kids, who, after abstracting large
circular orifice from my credentials, ordered me to ascend to a lofty
gallery, where, on arriving, I found every chair pre-occupied, and
moreover was restricted to a prospect of the backs of numerous juvenile
heads, while expected to remain the livelong evening on the tiptoe of
expectation and Shank's mare!
This for a while I endured submissively from native timidity and
retirement, until my bosom boiled over at the sense of Civis
Romanus sum, and, descending to the barrier, I harangued the
wicket-keeper with great length and fervid eloquence, informing him
that I was graduate of high-class Native University after passing most
tedious and difficult exams with fugitive colours and that it was
injurious and deleterious to my mens sana in corpore sano to
remain on legs for some hours beholding what I practically found to be
But, though he turned an indulgent ear to my quandary, he professed
his inability to help me over my pons asinorum, until I
ventured to play the ticklish card and inform him that I was a
distinguished representative of Hon'ble Punch, who was
paternally anxious for me to be awarded a seat on the lap of luxury.
Then he unbended, and admitted me to the body of the auditorium,
where I was conducted to a coign of vantage in near proximity to
members of the fair sex and galaxy of beauty.
Thus, by dint of nude gumption, I was in the bed of clover and
seventh heaven, and more so when, on inquiry from a bystander, I
understood that the performance was taken from Mr TERRISS'S Adelphi
Theatre, which I had heard was conspicuous for excellence in fierce
combats, blood-curdling duels, and scenes in court. And I narrated to
him how I too, when a callow and unfledged hobbardyhoy, had engaged in
theatrical entertainments, and played such parts in native dramas as
heroic giant-killers and tiger slayers, in which I was an au fait
and facile princeps, also in select scenes from SHAKSPEARE'S
play of Macbeth in English and being correctly attired as a
But presently I discovered that the play was quite another sort of
Adelphi, being a jocose comedy by a notorious ancient author of the
name of TERENCE, and written entirely in Latin, which a contiguous
damsel expressed a fear lest she should find it incomprehensible and
obscure. I hastened to reassure her by explaining that, having been
turned out as a certificated B.A. by Indian College, I had acquired
perfect familiarity and nodding acquaintance with the early Roman and
Latin tongues, and offering my services as interpreter of quicquid
agunt homines, and the entire farrago libelli, which
rendered her red as a turkeycock with delight and gratitude. When the
performance commenced with a scenic representation of the Roman
Acropolis, and a venerable elderly man soliloquising lengthily to
himself, and then carrying on a protracted logomachy with another
greybeardalthough I understood sundry colloquial idioms and phrases
such as uxorem duxit, carum mihi, quid agis?
cur amat? and the like, all of which I assiduously translated
vivâ voceI could not succeed in learning the reason why they were
having such a snip-snap, until the interval, when the lady informed me
herself that it was because one of them had carried off a nautch-girl
belonging to the other's sonwhich caused me to marvel greatly at her
I looked that, in the next portion of the performance, I might
behold the nautch-girl, and witness her forcible rescueor at least
some saltatory exhibition; but, alack! she remained sotto voce
and hermetically sealed; and though other characters, in addition to
the elderly gentlemen, appeared, they were all exclusively masculine in
gender, and there was nothing done but to converse by twos and threes.
When the third portion opened with a long-desiderated peep of
petticoats, I told my neighbour confidently that now at last we were to
see this dancing girl and the abduction; but she replied that it was
not so, for these females were merely the mother of the wife of another
of the youths and her attendant ayah. And even this precious pair,
after weeping and wringing their hands for a while, vanished, not to
Now as the entertainment proceeded, I fell into the dumps with
increasing abashment and mortification to see everyone around me, ay,
even the women and the tenderest juveniles! clap the hands and laugh in
their sleeves with merriment at quirks and gleeks in whichin spite of
all my classical proficiencyI could not discover le mot pour rire
or crack so much as the cream of a jest, but must sit there melancholy
as a gib cat or smile at the wrong end of mouth.
For, indeed, I began to fear that I had been fobbed off with the
smattered education of a painted sepulchre, that I should fail so
dolorously to comprehend what was plain as a turnpike-staff to the
veriest British babe and suckling!
However, on observing more closely, I discovered that most of the
grown-up adults present had books containing the translation of all the
witticisms, which they secretly perused, and that the feminality were
also provided with pink leaflets on which the dark outline of the plot
was perspicuously inscribed.
Moreover, on casting my eyes up to the gallery, I perceived that
there were overseers there armed with long canes, and that the small
youths did not indulge in plaudations and hilarity except when
threatened by these.
And thereupon I took heart, seeing that the proceedings were clearly
veiled in an obsolete and cryptic language, and it was simply matter of
rite and custom to applaud at fixed intervals, so I did at Rome as the
Romans did, and was laughter holding both his sides as often as I
beheld the canes in a state of agitation.
I am not unaware that it is to bring a coal from Newcastle to
pronounce any critical opinion upon the ludibrious qualities of so
antiquated a comedy as this, but, while I am wishful to make every
allowance for its having been composed in a period of prehistoric
barbarity, I would still hazard the criticism that it does not excite
the simpering guffaw with the frequency of such modern standard works
as exempli gratiâ, Miss Brown, or The Aunt of Charley, to either of which I would award the palm for pure whimsicality and
Candour compels me to admit, however, that the conclusion of the
Adelphi, in which a certain magician summoned a black-robed,
steeple-hatted demon from the nether world, who, after commanding a
minion to give a pickle-back to sundry grotesque personages, did
castigate their ulterior portions severely with a large switch, was a
striking amelioration and betterment upon the preceding scenes, and
evinced that TERENCE possessed no deficiency of up-to-date
facetiousness and genuine humour; though I could not but reflect
O, si sic omnia! and lament that he should have hidden his vis
comica for so long under the stifling disguise of a serviette.
I am a beggar at describing the hurly-burly and most admired
disorder amidst which I performed the descent of the staircase in a
savage perspiration, my elbows and heels unmercifully jostled by a
dense, unruly horde, and going with nose in pocket, from trepidation
due to national cowardice, while the seething mob clamoured and
contended for overcoats and hats around very exiguous aperture, through
which bewildered custodians handed out bundles of sticks and umbrellas,
in vain hope to appease such impatience. Nor did I succeed to the
recovery of my hat and paraphernalia until after twenty-four and a half
minutes (Greenwich time), and with the labours of Hercules for the
[Illustration: A GOLDEN-HEADED UMBRELLA, FRESH AS A ROSE.]
For which I was minded at first to address a sharp remonstrance and
claim for indemnity to some pundit in authority; but perceiving that by
such fishing in troubled waters I was the gainer of a golden-headed
umbrella, fresh as a rose, I decided to accept the olive branch and
bury the bone of contention.
Mr Jabberjee gives his views concerning the
It is selon les règles and rerum naturâ that the
QUEEN'S Most Excellent Majesty, being constitutionally partial to
poetry, should desire to have constant private supply from respectable
tip-top genius, to be kept snug on Royal premises and ready at
momentary notice to oblige with song or dirge, according as High Jinks
or Dolorousness are the Court orders of the day.
But how far more satisfactory if Right Hon'ble Marquis SALISBURY,
instead of arbitrarily decorating some already notorious bard with this
cordon bleu and thus gilding a lily, should throw the office
open to competition by public exam, and, after carefully weighing such
considerations as the applicant's res angusta domi, the fluency
of his imagination, his nationality, and so onshould award the
itching palm of Fame to the poet who succeeded best in tickling his
Had some such method been adopted, the whole Indian Empire might
to-day have been pleased as Punch by the selection of a Hindoo
gentleman to do the jobfor I should infallibly have entered myself
for the running. Unfortunately such unparalleled opportunity of
throwing soup to Cerberus, and exhibiting colour-blindness, has been
given the slip, though the door is perhaps still open (even at past
eleven o'clock P.M.) for retracing the false step and web of Penelope.
For I would respectfully submit to Her Imperial Majesty that, in her
duplicate capacity of Queen of England and Empress of India, she has
urgent necessity for a Court Poet for each department, who would be
Arcades ambo and two of a trade, and share the duties with their
Or, if she would be unwilling to pay the piper to such a tune, I
alone would work the oracle in both Indian and Anglo-Saxon departments,
and waive the annual tub of sherry for equivalent in cash down.
And, if I may make the suggestion, I would strongly advise that this
question of my joint (or several) appointment should be severely taken
up by London Press as matter of simple justice to India. This is
without prejudice to the already appointed Laureate as a swan and
singing bird of the first water. All I desire is that the Public should
know of anotherand, perchance, even rareravis, who is nigroque
simillima cygno, and could be obtained dog cheap for a mere song or
a drug in the marketplace, if only there is made a National Appeal to
the Sovereign that he should be promoted to such a sinecure and ære
As a specimen of the authenticity of my divine flatulence, please
find inclosed herewith copy of complimentary verses, written by myself
on hearing of Poet AUSTIN'S selection. Indulgence is kindly requested
for very hasty composition, and circumstance of being greatly harrowed
and impeded at time of writing by an excruciating full sized boil on
back of neck, infuriated by collar of shirt, poulticings, and so forth.
To Hon'ble Poet-Laureate Alfred Austin, Esq.
Hail! you full-blown tulip!
Oh! when the wheezing zephyr brought glad news
Of your judicious appointment, no hearts who did peruse,
Such a long-desiderated slice of good luck were sorry at,
To a most prolific and polacious Poet-Laureate!
For no poeta nascitur who is fitter
To greet Royal progeny with melodious twitter.
Seated on the resplendent cloud of official Elysium,
Far away, far away from fuliginous busy hum
You are now perched with phenomenal velocity
On vertiginous pinnacle of poetic pomposity!
Yet deign to cock thy indulgent eye at the petition
Of one consumed by corresponding ambition,
And lend the helping hand to lift, pulley-hauley,
To Parnassian Peak this poor perspiring Bengali!
Whose ars poetica (as per sample lyric)
Is fully competent to turn out panegyric.
What if some time to come, perhaps not distant,
You were in urgent need of Deputy-Assistant!
For two Princesses might be confined simultaneously
Then, how to homage the pair extemporaneously?
Or with Nuptial Ode, lack-a-daisy! What a fix
If with Influenza raging like cat on hot bricks!
In such a wrong box you will please remember yours truly,
Who can do the needful satisfactorily and duly,
By an epithalamium (or what not) to inflame your credit
With every coronated head that will have read it!
And the quid pro quo, magnificent and grand Sir!
Would be at the rate of four annas for every stanza,
Now, thou who scale sidereal paths afar dost,
Deign from thy brilliant boots to cast the superfluous star-dust
The head of him
Whose fate depends
(Signed) BABOO HURRY BUNGSHO JABBERJEE.
The above was forwarded (post-paid) to Hon'ble AUSTIN'S
official address at Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey (opposite the
Royal Aquarium), buthoity-toity and mirabile dictu!no answer
has yet been vouchsafed to yours truly save the cold shoulder of
What a pity! Well-a-day, that we should find such passions of envy
and jealousy in bosom of a distinguished poet, whose lucubrated
productions may (for all that is known to the present writer) be no
great shakes after all, and mere food for powder!
The British public is an ardent lover of the scintillating jewellery
of fair play, and so I confidently submit my claims and poetical
compositions to be arbitrated by the unanimous voice of all who
understand such articles.
Let us remember that it is never too late to pull down the fallen
idol out of the gilded shrine in which it has established itself with
the egotistical isolation of a dog with the mange!
Containing Mr Jabberjee's Impressions at The Old
I have the honour to report that the phantom of delight has recently
recommenced to dance before me.
[Illustration: MISS JESSIMINA MANKLETOW.]
Miss JESSIMINA MANKLETOW, the perfumed, moony-faced daughter of the
gracious and eagle-eyed goddess who presides over the select boarding
establishment in which I am resident member, has of late emerged from
the shell of superciliousness, and brought the beaming eye of
encouragement to bear upon my diffidence and humility.
This I partly attribute to general impressionwhich I do not
condescend to denythat, at home, I occupy the social status of a
Rajah, or some analogous kind of big native pot.
So, on a recent Saturday afternoon, she invited me to escort her and
a similar young virginal lady friend, by name Miss PRISCILLA PRIMMETT,
to Burlington House, Piccadilly, and, as Prince Hamlet
appositely remarks, Look here upon this picture and on this. Which I
joyfully accepted, being head-over-heels in love with Art, and the
possessor of two magnificent coloured photo-lithographs, representing a
steeplechase in the act of jumping a trench, and a water-nymph in the
very décolleté undress of puris naturalibus, weltering
on a rushy bed.
We proceeded thither upon the giddy summit of a Royal Oak omnibus,
and on arriving in the vestibulum, were peremptorily commanded to
undergo total abstinence from our umbrellas.
Being accompanied by the span-new silken affair with the golden
head, which, as I have narrated supra, I was so lucky to obtain
promiscuously after witnessing the Adelphi of the Westminster college
boys, I naturally protested vehemently against such arbitrary and
tyrannical regulations, urging the risk of my unprotected umbrella
being feloniously abducted during unavoidable absence by some
unprincipled and illegitimate claimant.
But, alack! I was confronted with the official ultimatum and sine
quâ non, and have subsequently learnt that the cause of this
self-denying ordinance is due to the uncontrollable enthusiasm of
British Public for works of art, which leads them to signify
approbation by puncturing innumerable orifices by dint of sticks or
umbrellas in the process of pointing out tit-bits of painting, and on
account of the detrimental influence on the marketable value of
pictures thus distinguished by the plerophory of the Vox Populi.
Nevertheless, my heart was oppressed with many misgivings at having
to hand over three hostage umbrellasone being masculine and two
feminine genderand receiving nothing in exchange but a wooden
medallion of no intrinsic worth, bearing the utterly disproportionate
number of over one thousand! Next, after, at Miss JESSIMINA'S bidding,
having purchased a sixpenny index, we ascended the staircase, and on
shelling out three shillings cash payment, were consecutively squeezed
through a restricted wicket as if needles going through the eye of a
I will vouchsafe to aver that my interior sensations on penetrating
the first gallery were those of acute and indignant disappointment, for
will it be credited that a working majority of the exhibits were
second, or even third and fourth-hand mechanisms of an unparagoned
dingitude, and fit only for the lumbering room?
Perhaps I shall be told that this wintry exhibition is a mere
stopgap and makeshift, until a fresh supply of bright new paintings can
be procured, and that it is ultra vires to obtain such for love
or money before the merry month of May.
Still I must persist in denouncing the penny wisdom and pound
foolery of the Academicals in foisting off upon the public such ancient
and fish-like articles that have long ceased to be bon ton and
in the fashion, since it is undeniable that many are over fifty years,
and some several centuries behind the times!
It is to be hoped that these parsimonious Misters will soon
recognise that it is not possible for modern up-to-date Art to be
florescent under this retrograde and fossilized system, and be warned
that such untradesmanlike goings-on will deservedly forfeit the
confidence and patronage of their most fastidious customers.
Miss JESSIMINA remarked more than once that such and such a picture
was not in her taste and she would never have chosen it
personally, while Miss PRIMMETT declared that she would not have had
her likeness taken by Hon'ble Sir JOSH GAINSBORO, or Misters VELASKY
and VANDICK, not even if they implored her on their bended marrowbones,
and that, as for a certain individual effeminately named ETTY, it was a
wonderment to her how respectable people could stand in front of such
brazen performances! These remarks are trivial, perhaps, but even
straws will serve as cocks of the weather on occasions, and, moreover,
I shall certify that the most general tone was of a critical and
disapproving severity, and it was quite evident that the greater
portion of the spectators could have done the job better themselves.
A certain Mister TURNER came in for the BENJAMIN'S mess of obloquy,
having represented Pluto, the god of wealth, in the act of carrying off
a female Proserpine, but the figures so Lilliputian, and in such a
disproportionate expansion of confused sceneries, that the elopement
produced but a very paltry impression. The slipshod carelessness of
this painter may be realised from the fact that in a composition styled
Blue Lights to Warn Steamboats off Shoal Water, the blue
lights are conspicuous by their total absence, and the mistiness of the
atmospherical conditions renders it difficult to distinguish either the
steamers or the shoals with even tolerable accuracy!
In the ulterior room were sundry productions from Umbrian and
Milanese and other schools, such being presumptively the teaching
establishments over which Hon'ble REYNOLDS and TURNER and GREUZY and
Co. predominated as Old Masters. But surely it is unfair, and like
seething a kid in the maternal nutriment, to class such crude and
hobbardyhoy performances with works by more senile hands!
Here I observed a painting to illustrate scenes in the life of an
important celebrity, who was childishly represented many times over
having separate adventures in the space of a few square feet, and of a
Brobdingnacian bulkiness compared to his perspective surroundings.
Had this been the work of an Indian artist, native gentlemen out
there would simply have smiled pitiably at such ignorance, and given
him the gentle admonishment that he was only to make a fool of himself
for his pains. There was also a picture of a Diptych, in two portions,
with a background of gilt, but the figure of the Diptych himself very
poorly represented as an anatomy.
Where all is so so-so, and below par, it is perhaps invidious to
single out any for hon'ble mention; but loyalty as a British subject
obliges me to speak favourably of a concern lent by Her Majesty the
QUEEN, and representing a bombastical youth engaged in a snip-snap with
a meek and inoffensive schoolfellow, who supports himself on one leg,
and is occupied in sheltering his nose behind his arm, until his
widowed and aged mother can arrive to rescue her beloved offspring from
his grave crisis.
This at least can be commended as being true to nature, as I can
attest from personal experience of similar boyish loggerheads,
although, owing to preserving my sang froid, I was generally
able to remove myself with phenomenal rapidity from vicinity of
shocking kicks by my truculent assailant.
Let me not omit to mention a painting of Polichinelle by a
Gallic artist, which Miss PRIMMETT said was the French equivalent to
Punch. At which, speaking loudly for instruction of bystanders, I
assured them, as one familiarly connected with Hon'ble Punch,
who regarded me as a son, such a portrait was the very antipode to his
majestic lineaments, nor was it reasonable to suppose that he would
allow his counterfeit presentment to be depicted in the undignified
garbage of a buffoon!
I trust that I may be gratefully remembered by my Liege Lord, and
that he will be gracious enough to entertain me favourably with
something in the shape of prize or bonus in reward for such open
testimony as the above.
I have only to add that the custodian preserved the inviolability of
our umbrellas with honorable fidelity, and that we moistened the
drooping clay of our internal tenements at an Aërated Tea Company with
a profusion of confectionaries, for which my fair friends with amiable
blandness permitted me the privilege of forking out.
In which Mr Jabberjee expresses his Opinions on
Bicycling as a Pastime.
In consequence of the increasing demands of the incomparable Miss
JESSIMINA upon the dancing attendance of your humble servant, I am
lately become as idle as a newly painted ship, and have not drunk in
the legal wisdom of the learned Moonshees who lecture in the
hall of my Inn of Court, or opened the ponderous treatise of Hon'ble
Justice BLACKSTONE or ADDISON on Torts, for many a blank day.
Still, as Philosopher PLATO observed, Nihil humani alienum a me
puto, and my time has not been actually squandered in the theft of
Procrastination, but rather employed in the proper study of Mankind,
and acquiring a more complete knowingness in Ars Vivendi.
So I think it worth to direct public attention to the dangers of a
practice which threatens to develop into an epidemical kind of plague,
and carry the deteriorating trails of a serpent over our household
families, unless promptly scotched by benevolent firmness of a paternal
Need I explain I am alluding to the nowaday passion for propelling
oneself at a severe speed by dint of unstable and most precarious
machinery? It is now the exception which breaks the rule to take the
air in the streets without being startled by the unseemly spectacles of
go-ahead citizens straddled upon such revolutionary contrivances,
threading their way with breakneck velocity under the very noses of
omnibus and other horses, and ringing the shrill welkin of a
Nay, even after the Curfew has taken its toll from the knell of
parting day, and darkness reigns supreme, they will urge on their wild
career, illuminated by the dim religious light of a small oil lamp!
I possess no knack of medical knowledge, but I boldly state my
opinion that such daredevilry must necessarily inflict a deleterious
result to the nervous organisms of these riders; and, who knows, of
For no one can expect to have hairbreadth escapes from the running
gauntlet continuously, without suffering a shattering internal panic,
while catastrophes of fatal injury to life and limb have become de
Experto credefor I can support my obiter dictum by
the crushing weight of personal experience. A few mornings since I had
the honour to escort Miss JESSIMINA MANKLETOW and a middle-aged select
female boarder into the interior of Hyde Park. The day was fine, though
frigid, and I was wearing my fur-lined overcoat, with boots of patent
Japan leather, and a Bombay gold-embroidered cap, so that I was a mould
of form and the howling nob.
Picture my amazement when, as I promenaded the path beside the
waters of the Serpentine lake, I beheld a wheeled cavalcade of every
conceivable age, sex, and appearance; senile gaffers and baby buntings;
multitudinous women, some plump as a duckling, others thin as a
paper-thread; aye, and even priests in sanctimonious black and
milk-white cravats, rolling swiftly upon two wheels, and all agog to
dash through thick and thin!
On seeing which, the matured lady boarder did exclaim upon the
difficulties of the performance, and the vast crowd that had collected
to view such a tour de force, but I, perceiving that those
seated upon the machines used no exorbitant exertions, and, indeed,
appeared to be wholly engrossed in social intercourse, responded that
no skill was required to circulate these bicycles, which, owing to
being surrounded with air-cushions, would proceed proprio motu
and without meandering.
Thereupon Miss MANKLETOW expressed an ardent desire to behold myself
upon one of these same machines, andas we were now close to the
effigy of Hon'ble Duke of WELLINGTON disguised as an Achilles, near
which were certain bunniahs trafficking with bicyclesI,
wishing to pleasure my fair companion, approached one of these
contractors and bargained with him for the sole user of his vehicle for
the space of one calendar hour, to which he consented at the
honorarium of one rupee four annas.
But, on receiving the bicycle from his hands, I at once perceived
myself under a total impossibility of achieving its ascentfor no
sooner had I protruded one leg over the saddle than the foremost wheel
averted itself, and the entire machine bit the dust, which afforded
lively and infinite entertainment to my feminine companions.
I, however, reproached the bunniah for furnishing a worn-out
effete affair that was not in working order or a going concern, but he,
by assuring me that it was all right, cajoled me into trying once more.
[Illustration: I INSTANTANEOUSLY ENDURED THE TOTAL UPSET!]
So, divesting myself of my fur-lined overcoat, which I commanded a
hobbardyhoy of the sweeper class to hold, I again mounted upon the
saddle, while the proprietor of the machine sustained it in a position
of rectitude, and then, supporting me by the superfluity of my
pantaloons, he propelled me from the rear, counselling me to press my
feet vigorously upon the paddles. But it all proved as the labour of
Sisyphus, for the seat was of sadly insufficient dimensions and
adamantine hardihood, and whenever the bicycle-man released his hold, I
instantaneously endured the total upset!
Then again I reproved him for his Punica fides, informing him
that I required a machine that would run with smooth progressiveness,
precisely similar to those I beheld in motion around me. To which he
replied that I must not expect to be able to ride impromptu as
well as individuals who had only mastered the accomplishment by long
continuity of practice and industry.
Oh, man of wily tongue! I addressed him. Not thus will you
bamboozle my supposed simplicity! For if the art were indeed so
difficult as you pretend, how should it be acquired by so many timid
and delicate feminines and mere nurselings? This machine of yours is
nothing but an obsolete hors de combat with which it is not
humanly possible to work the oracle!
At which, waxing with indignation, he leaped upon it, and to my
surprise, did easily propel it in whatsoever direction he pleased, and
its motive power appeared to be similar in every respect to the rest;
so, beguiled by his representations that, under his instructions, I
should speedily become a chef-d'oeuvre, I once more suffered
myself to mount the machine; but whether from superabundant energy of
my foot-paddling, or the alarming fact that we were upon the descent of
a precipitous slope, I was soon horrified at finding that my instructor
was stripped out, and I abandoned to the lurch of my Caudine fork!
Oh, my goodness! My heart turns to water at the nude recollection of
such an unparalleled predicament, for the now unrestrained bicycle
vires acquirit eundo, and in seven-league boots! While I, wet as a
clout with anxiety and perspiration, did grasp the handles like the
horns of a dilemma, calling out in agonised accents to the
bystanders,Help! I am running away with myself! Half a rupee for my
But they were all as if to burst with laughter, and none had the
ordinary heroism to intervene, and I with ever increasing rapidity was
borne helplessly down the declivity towards the gates of Hyde Park
Corner, when, by the benevolence of Providence, the anterior wheel ran
under a railing, and I flew off like a tangent into the comparative
security of a mud-barrow!
On my return and solicitous inquiry for my fur-lined overcoat, I had
the further shock to discover that it was solvitur ambulando!
After such a shuddering experience and narrow squeak of my safety, I
confidently appeal to the authorities to extinguish this highly
dangerous and foolhardy sort of so-called amusement, or at the very
least to issue paternal orders that, in future, no one shall be
permitted to ride upon any bicycle possessing less than three wheels,
or guilty of a greater celerity than three (or four) miles per hour.
The fair Miss MANKLETOW amended this proposal by suggesting that the
Public should be restricted at once to perambulators; but this is,
perhaps, majori cautelâ, and an instance of the over-solicitude
of the female intellect, for it is not feasible to treat an adult, who
has assumed the toga virilis and tall hat, as if he was still
mewling and puking in a tucker and bib.
Dealing with his Adventures at Olympia.
The dialoquial form is now become an indispensible factotum
in periodical literature, and so, like a brebis de Panurge, I
shall follow the fashion occasionally,though with rather more
obedience to a literary elegant style of phraseology than my
predecessors in Punch have thought worth to practise.
Time: the other morning. Scene: the breakfast table at Porticobello
House, Ladbroke Grove. Myself and other select boarders engaged in
masticating fowl eggs with their concomitant bacon, while intelligently
discussing topical subjects (for we carry out the poetical recipe of
Plain thinking and high living").
Miss Jessimina (at the table-head). The papers seem
eloquent in laudation of the Sporting and Military Show at Olympia. How
I should like to go if I had anyone to take me!
Mr Wylie (stingily). And I would be enraptured at so
tip-top an opportunity, but for circumstance of being stonily broken.
[Helps himself to the surviving fowl egg.
Mr Cossetter (in sepulchral tone). Alack! that
doctorial prescriptions do nill for me such nocturnal jinks;
[He treats himself to a digestible pill.
Myself (taking a leap into the darkness and deadly
breaches). Since other gentlemen are not more obsequious in
gallantry, I hereby tender myself for honour of accompanyist and
Miss Jess. (lowering the silken curtains of her
almond-like orbs). Oh, really, PRINCE! So very unexpected! I
must obtain the expert opinion of my Mamma.
Mistress MANKLETOW did approve the jaunt on condition of our being
saddled by a select lady boarder of the name of SPINK as a tertium
quid to play at propriety; at which I was internally disgusted,
fearing she would play the old gooseberry with our tête-à-tête.
Having arrived at Olympia, we perambulated the bazaar prior to the
commencement of the shows, and here (after parting with rs. 8 for three
seats on the balcony) I did bleed more freely still, for Miss JESSIMINA
expressed a passionate longing to possess my profile, snipped out of
paper by the scissors of a Silhouette, for which I mulcted one shilling
And, after all, although it proved the alter ego and speaking
likeness of my embossed Bombay cap and golden spectacles, she found the
fault that it rendered my complexion of a too excessive murksomeness;
not reflecting (with feminine imperceptivity) that, the material being
black as a Stygian, this criticism applied to the portraitures of all
Farther on I presented her and the female gooseberry with a
pocket-handkerchief a-piece, interwoven by a mechanism with their
baptismal appellation (another rupee!).
Then we arrived at a cage containing an automatic Devil revealing
the future for a penny in the slit, and Miss JESSIMINA worked the
oracle with a coin advanced by myself, and the demon, after flashing
his optics and consulting sundry playing-cards, did presently produce a
small paper which she opened eagerly.
Miss Jess. (after perusal). Only fancy! It says I'm
to marry a dark man, and go for a long journey, and be very rich.
What ridiculous nonsense! do you not think so, PRINCE?
Myself (with a tender sauciness). Poet SHAKSPEARE
asserts there are more things in Heaven and earth than the Horatian
philosophy. I am not a superstitiousand yet this mechanical demon may
have seen correctly through the brick wall of Futurity. Have you not a
worshipful adorer who might be described as dark, and to whose native
land it is a long journey?
Miss Jess. (with the complexion of a tomato). It's
time we took our seats for the performance. And you are not to be a
It is notorious that the English female vocabulary contains no more
caressing and flattering epithet than this of a silly, so that I
repaired to my seat immoderately encouraged by such gracious
Of the show, I can testify that it was truly magnificent, though the
introductory portion was somewhat spoilt by the too great prevalence of
the bicycle, which is daily increasing its ubiquity, nor do I see the
rationality of engaging a sais in topped boots to attend upon
each machine, under the transparent pretentiousness of its belonging to
the equine genus, since it can never become the similitude of a horse
in mettlesome vivacity.
My companions marvelled greatly at the severe curvature of the
extremities of the cycle-track, which were shaped like the interior of
a huge bowl, and while I was demonstrating to them how, from scientific
considerations and owing to the centrifugal forces of gravitation, it
was not possible for any rider to become a loser of his equilibriumlo
and behold! two of the competitors made the facilis descensus,
and were intermingled in the weltering hotchpot of a calamity.
But on being disentangled they did limp away, and it is allowable to
hope that they suffered no serious dismantling of their vital organs.
Still, I cannot approve of these bicycle contentions, which are
veritable provocative flights at the providential features.
After the termination I conducted my protégées to the
Palmarium, where we sat under a shrub imbibing lemon crushes, brought
by a neat-handed Phyllis in the uniform of a house-maid intermixed with
a hospital nurse.
Here occurred a most discomposing contretemps, for presently
Miss JESSIMINA uttered the complaint that two strangers were regarding
herself and Miss SPINK with the brazen eyes of a sheep, and even making
personal comments on my nationality, which rendered me like toad under
a harrow with burning indignation.
At length, being utterly beside myself with rage, I summoned one of
the Phyllises and requested her to take steps to abate the nuisance,
being met with a smiling Nolo Episcopari. So, entreating my
companions not to give way to panic and leave their cause in my hands,
I went in search of a policeman.
Unfortunately some time flew before I could find one at liberty to
understand my crucial position, nor could I obtain from him a legal
opinion as to whether I could administer a cuff or a slap in the ear to
my insulters without incurring risk of retaliation in kind.
[Illustration: WITH A LARGE, STOUT CONSTABLE.]
And, on returning to the spot with a large, stout constable, I had
the mortification to discover that the two impolite strangers had
departed, and that Misses MANKLETOW and SPINK were similarly
However, after prolonged search and mental anxiety, I returned
alone, and was rewarded by finding my fair friends arrived in safety;
and hearing that the two strangers had explained, in the gentlemanly
terms of an apology, that they had mistaken them for acquaintances.
Consequently I am thankful that I did not execute my design of
assault and battery, more especially as I am the happy receiver of many
handsome compliments on all sides upon the tactfulness and savoir
faire with which I extricated myself from my shocking fix.
At which my countenance beams with the shiny resplendency of
How Mr Jabberjee risked a Sprat to capture something very like a
I am this week to narrate an unprecedented stroke of bad luck
occurring to the present writer. The incipience of the affair was the
addressing of a humble petition to the indulgent ear of Hon'ble
Punch, calling attention to the great copiousness of my literary
out-put, and the ardent longing I experienced to behold the colour of
money on account. On which, by returning post, my parched soul was
reinvigorated by the refreshing draught of a draft (if I may be
permitted the rather facetious jeu de mots) payable to my order.
So uplifted by pride at finding the insignificant crumbs I had cast
upon the journalistic waters return to me after numerous days in the
improved form of loaves and fishes, I wended my footsteps to the bank
on which my cheque was drafted, and requested the bankers behind the
counter to honour it with the equivalent in filthy lucres, which they
did with obsequious alacrity.
[Illustration: WAS ACCOSTED BY A POLITE, AGREEABLE STRANGER.]
After closely inspecting the notes to satisfy myself that I had not
been imposed upon by meretricious counterfeits, I emerged with a
beaming and joyful countenance, stowing the needful away carefully in
an interior pocket, and, on descending the bank step, was accosted by a
polite, agreeable stranger, who, begging my pardon with profusion,
inquired whether he had not had the honour of voyaging from India with
me in thethefor his life he could not recall the name of the
shiphe should forget his own name presently!
Indeed, I answered him, I cannot remember having the felicity of
an encounter with you upon the Kaisar-i-Hind.
The Stranger: To be sure; that was the name! A truly
magnificent vessel! I forget namesbut faces, never! And yours I
remember from the striking resemblance to my dear friend, the Maharajah
of Bahanapúryou know him?a very elegant young, handsome chap. A
splendid Shikarri! I was often on the verge of asking if you
were related; but being then but a second-class passenger, and under an
impecunious cloud, did not dare to take the liberty. Now, being on the
bed of clover owing to decease of wealthy uncle, I can address you
without the mortifying fear of misconstruction.
So, in return, I, without absolutely claiming consanguinity with the
Maharajah (of whom, indeed, I had never heard), did inform him that I,
too, was munching the slice of luck, having just drawn the princely
instalment of a salary for jots and tittles contributed to periodical
Punch. Whereat he warmly congratulated me, expressing high
appreciation of my articles and abilities, but exclaiming at the
miserable paucity of my honorarium, saying he was thick as a
thief with the Editor, and would leave no stone unturned to procure me
a greater adequacy of remuneration for writings that were dirt cheap at
a Jew's eye.
And presently he invited me to accompany him to a respectable sort
of tavern, and solicited the honour of my having a peg at his
expense; to which I, perceiving him to be a good-natured, simple
fellow, inflated by sudden prosperity, consented, accepting, contrary
to my normal habitude, his offer of a brandy panee, or an old Tom.
While we were discoursing of India (concerning which I found that,
like most globular trotters, he had not been long enough in the country
to be accurately informed), enters a third party, who, it so happened,
was an early acquaintance of my companion, though separated by the old
lang sign of a longinquity. What followed I shall render in a dialogue
The Third party: Why, TOMKINS, you have a prosperous appearance,
TOMKINS. When last met, you suffered from the impecuniosity of a
churched mouse. Have you made your fortune, TOMKINS?
Mr Tomkins. I am too easy a goer, and there are too many
rogues in the world, that I should ever make my own fortune, JOHNSON!
Happily for me, an opulent and ancient avuncular relative has lately
departed to reside with the morning stars, and left me wealth outside
the dream of an avaricious!
Mr Johnson (enviously). God bless my soul! Some folks
have the good luck. (To me, whispering.) A poor ninny-hammer
sort of chap, he will soon throw it away on drakes and ducks! (
Aloud, to Mr TOMKINS.) Splendid! I congratulate you
Mr T. (in a tone of dolesomeness). The heart knoweth
where the shoe pinches it, JOHNSON. My lot is not a rose-bed. For my
antique and eccentric relative must needs insert a testamentary
condition commanding me to forfeit the inheritance, unless, within
three calendered months from his last obsequies, I shall have
distributed ten thousand pounds amongst young deserving foreigners.
To-morrow time is up, and I have still a thousand pounds to give away!
But how to discover genuine young deserving foreigners in so short a
space? Truly, I go in fear of losing the whole!
Mr J. Let me act as your budli in this and distribute
the remaining thousand.
Mr T. From what I remember of you as a youth, I cannot wholly
rely on your discretion. Rather would I place my confidence in this
[Indicating myself, who turned orange with pleasure.
Mr J. Indeed? And how know you that he may not adhere to the
Mr T. And if he does, it is no matter, if he is a genuine
deserving. I can give the whole to him if I am so minded, and he need
not give away a penny of it unless inclined.
[At which I was fit to dance with delight.
Mr J. I deny that you possess the power, seeing that he is a
British subject, and as such cannot be styled a foreigner.
Mr T. There you have mooted a knotty point indeed. Alas, that
we have no forensic big-wig here to decide it!
Myself (modestly). As a native poor student of English
law, I venture to think that, by dint of my legal attainments, I shall
be enabled to crack the Gordian nut. I am distinctly of opinion that an
individual born of dusky parents in a tropical climate is a
foreigner, in the eye of British prejudice, and within the meaning of
the testator. [And here I maintained my assertion by a logomachy of
such brilliancy and erudition that I completely convinced the minds of
Mr J. (grumblingly, to Mr TOMKINS). Assuming he
is correct, why favour him more than me?
Mr T. Because instinct informs me that a gentleman with such
a face as hishowever duskymay be trusted, and with the untold gold!
Mr J. (jealously). And I am not to be trusted! If you
were to hand me your portemonnaie now, full of notes and gold,
and let me walk into the street with it, do you doubt that I should
return? Speak, TOMKINS!
Mr T. Assuredly not; but so, too, would this gentleman. (
To me, as Mr JOHNSON sneered a doubt.) Here, you, Sir, take
this portemonnaie out into the street for five minutes or so, I
trust to your honour to return it intact. (After I had emerged
triumphantly from this severe ordeal of my bonâ fide.) Aha,
JOHNSON! am I the judge of men or not?
Mr J. (still seeking, as I could see, to undermine me in
his friend's favour). Pish! Who would steal a paltry £50 and lose
£1000? If I had so much to give away, I should wish to be sure that the
party I was about to endow had corresponding confidence in me.
Now, though I have always considered you as a dull, I know you to be
strictly honest, and would trust you with all I possess. In proof of
which, take these two golden sovereigns and few shillings outside. Stay
away as long as you desire. You will return, I know you well!
Myself (penetrating this shallow artifice, and hoisting
the engine-driver on his own petard). Who would not risk a paltry
£2 to gain £1000? Oh, a magnificent confidence, truly!
Mr J. (to me). Have you the ordinary manly pluck to
act likewise? If you are expecting him to trust you with the pot of
money, he has a right to expect to be trusted in return. That is logic!
Mr T. (mildly). No, JOHNSON, you are too hasty,
JOHNSON. The cases are different. I can understand the gentleman's very
natural hesitation. I do not ask him to show his confidence in
meenough that I feel I can trust him. If he doubts my honesty,
I shall think no worse of him; whichever way I decide eventually.
[Here, terrified lest by hesitation I had wounded him at
his quick, and lest, after all, he should decide to entrust
the thousand pounds to Mr JOHNSON, I hastily produced
the specie and bullion I had upon me, including a valuable
large golden chronometer and chain of best English make, and
besought him to go into the outer air for a while with them,
which, after repeated refusals, he at last consented to do,
leaving Myself and Mr JOHNSON to wait.
Mr J. (after tedious lapse of ten minutes). Strange! I
expected him back before this. But he is an absent-minded,
chuckle-headed chap. Very likely he is staring at a downfallen horse
and has forgotten this affair. I had better go in search of him. What?
you will come, too. Capital! Then if you go to the right, and I to the
left, we cannot miss him!
But, alack! we did; and, in a short time, both Misters were
invisible to the nude eye, nor have I heard from them since. Certain of
my fellow-boarders, on hearing the matter, declared that I had been
diddled by a bamboozle-trick; but it is egregiously absurd that my
puissance in knowledge of the world should have been so much at fault;
and, moreover, why should one who had succeeded to vast riches seek to
rob me of my paltry possessions? It is much more probable that they are
still diligently seeking for me, having omitted, owing to hurry of
moment, to ascertain my name and address; and I hereby request Mr
TOMKINS, on reading this, to forward the thousand pounds (or so much
thereof as in his munificent generosity he may deem sufficient) to me
at Porticobello House, Ladbroke Grove, W., or care of his friend, the
Editor of Punch, by whom it will (I am sure) be honourably
handed over intact.
Nor need Mr TOMKINS fear my reproaches for his dilatoriness, for
there is a somewhat musty proverb that Procrastination is preferable
How Mr Jabberjee delivered an Oration at a Ladies' Debating Club.
Miss SPINK (whom I have mentioned supra as a feminine inmate
of Porticobello House) is in additum a member of a Debating
Female Society, which assembles once a week in various private
Westbourne Grove parlours, for argumentative intercourse.
So, she expressing an anxious desire that I should attend one of
these conclaves, I consented, on ascertaining that I should be afforded
the opportunity of parading the gab with which I have been gifted in an
On the appointed evening I directed my steps, under the guidance of
the said Miss SPINK, to a certain imposing stucco residence hard by,
wherein were an assortment of female women conversing with vivacious
garrulity, in a delicious atmosphere of tea, coffee, and buttered
[Illustration: A WEEDY, TALL MALE GENTLEMAN.]
After having partaken freely of these comestibles, we made the
adjournment to a luxuriously upholstered parlour, circled with
plush-seated chairs and adorned with countless mirrors, and there we
began to beg the question at issue, to-whit, To what extent has
Ibsen (if any) contributed towards the cause of Female Emancipation?
which was opened by a weedy, tall male gentleman, with a lofty and a
shining forehead, and round, owlish spectacle-glasses. He read a very
voluminous paper, from which I learnt that IBSEN was the writer of
innumerable new-fangled dramas of very problematical intentions,
exposing the hollow conventionalisms of all established social usages,
especially in the matrimonial department.
When he had ceased there was a universal and unanimous silence, due
to uncontrollable female bashfulness, for the duration of several
minutes, until the chairwoman exhorted someone to have the courage of
her opinions. And the ice being once fractured, one Amurath succeeded
another in disjointed commentaries, plucking crows in the teeth of the
assertions of the Hon'ble Opener and of their precursors, and resumed
their seats with abrupt precipitancy, stating that they had no further
remarks to make.
Then ensued another interim of golden Silence and slow Time, as
Poet KEATS says, which was as if to become Sempiternity, had not I,
rushing in where the angels were in fear of slipping up, caught the
Speaker in the eye, and tipped the wink of my cacoëthes loquendi.
To prevent disappointment, I shall report my harangue with verbose
Myself (assuming a perpendicular attitude, inserting one
hand among my vest buttons, and waving the other with a graceful
affability). HON'BLE MISS CHAIRWOMAN, MADAMS, MISSES, AND HON'BLE
MISTER OPENER, the humble individual now palpitating on his limbs
before you is a denizen from a land whose benighted, ignorant
inhabitants are accustomed to treat the females of their species as
small fry and fiddle faddle. Yes, Madams and Misses, in India the woman
is forbidden to eat except in the severest solitude, and after her lord
and master has surfeited his pangs of hunger; she may not make the
briefest outdoor excursion without permission, and then solely in a
covered palkee, or the hermetically sealed interior of a blinded
carriage. (Cries of 'Shame.') In the Zenana, she is restricted to
the occupation of puerile gossipings, or listening to apocryphal fairy
tales of so scandalising an impropriety that I shrink to pollute my
ears by the repetition even of the tit-bits. (Subdued groans.)
Such being the case, you can imagine the astonishment and
gratification I have experienced here this evening at the intelligence
and forwardness manifested by so many effeminate intellects. (A
flattered rustle and prolonged simpering.)
The late respectable Dr BEN JOHNSON, gifted author of Boswell's
Biography (applause), once rather humorously remarked, on
witnessing a nautch performed by canine quadrupeds, thatalthough
their choreographical abilities were of but a mediocre naturethe
wonderment was that they should be capable at all to execute such a
hind-legged feat and tour de force.
Similarly, it is to me a gaping marvel that womanish tongues should
hold forth upon subjects which are naturally far outside the radius of
The subject for our discursiveness to-night is, 'To what extent
has Ibsen contributed to the Cause (if any) of Female Emancipation?
' and being a total ignoramus up to date of the sheer existence of said
hon'ble gentleman, I shall abstain from scratching my head over so
Sphinxian a conundrum, and confine myself to knuckling to the obiter
diction of sundry lady speakers.
There was a stout full-blown matron, with grey curl-shavings and a
bonnet and plumage, who declaimed her opinionated conviction that it
was degrading and infra dig. for any woman to be treated as a
doll. (Hear, hear.) Well, I would hatch the questionable egg of
a doubt whether any rationalistic masculine could regard the speaker
herself in a dollish aspect, and will assure her that in my fatherland
every cultivated native gentleman would approach her with the cold
shoulder of apprehensive respectfulness. (The bonneted matron
becomes ruddier than the cherry with complacency, and fans herself
Next I shall deal with the tall, meagre female near the
fire-hearth, in abbreviated hair and a nose-pinch, who set up the claim
that her sex were in all essentials the equals, if not the superiors,
of man. Now, without any gairish of words, I will proceed baldly to
enumerate various important physical differentiations which(
Intervention by Hon'ble Chairwoman, reminding me that these were not in
disputation.) I bow to correction, and kiss the rod by summing up
the gist of my argument, viz., that it is nonsensical idiotcy to
suppose that a woman can be the equivalent of a man either in
intellectual gripe, in bodily robustiousness, or in physical courage.
Of the last, I shall afford an unanswerable proof from my own person.
It is notorious, urbi et orbi, that every feminine person will
flee in panicstricken dismay from the approach of the smallest mouse.
I am a Bengali, and, as such, profusely endowed with the fugacious
instinct, and yet, shall I quake in appalling consternation if a mouse
is to invade my vicinity?
Certainly I shall not; and why? Because, though not racially a
temerarious, I nevertheless appertain to the masculine sex, and
consequentially my heart is not capable of contracting at the mere
aspect of a rodent. This is not to blow the triumphant trumpet of
sexual superiority, but to prove a simple undenied fact by dint of an
Having pulverised my pinched-nose predecessor, I pass on to a
speaker of a very very opposite personalitythe well-proportioned,
beauteous maiden with azure starry eyes, gilded hair, and teeth like
the seeds of a pomegranate (oh, si sic omnes!), who vaunted, in
the musical accents of a cuckoo, her right to work out her own life,
independently of masculine companionship or assistance, and declared
that the saccharine element of courtship and connubiality was but the
exploded mask of man's tyrannical selfishness.
Had such shocking sentiments been aired by some of the other lady
orators in this room, I must facetiously have recalled them to a
certain fabular fox which criticised the unattainable grapes as too
immature to merit mastication; but the particular speaker cannot justly
be said to be on all fours with such an animal. Understand, please, I
am no prejudiced, narrow-minded chap. I would freely and generously
permit plainfaced, antiquated, unmarriageable madams and misses to
undertake the manufacture of their own careers ad nauseam; but
when I behold a maiden of such excessive pulchritude(Second
intervention by Hon'ble Chairwoman desiring me to abstain from personal
references.) I assure the Hon'ble Miss CHAIRWOMAN that I was not
alluding to herself, but since she has spoken in my wheel with such
severity, I will conclude with my peroration on the subject for debate,
namely, the theatrical dramas of Hon'ble IBSEN. When, Madams and
Misses, I make the odious comparison of these works, with which I am
completely unacquainted, to the productions of Poet SHAKSPEARE, where I
may boast the familiarity that is a breeder of contempt, I find that,
in Hamlet's own words, it is the 'Criterion of a Satire,' and I
shall assert the unalterable a priori of my belief that the
melodious Swan of Stony Stratford, whether judged by his longitude, his
versical blankness, or the profoundly of his attainments in Chronology,
Theology, Phrenology, Palmistry, Metallurgy, Zoography, Nosology,
Chiropody, or the Musical Glasses, has outnumbered every subsequent
contemporary and succumbed them all!
With this, I sat down, leaving my audience as sotto voce as
fishes with admiration and amazement at the facundity of my eloquence,
and should indubitably have been the recipient of innumerable
felicitations but for the fact that Miss SPINK, suddenly experiencing
sensations of insalubriousness, requested me, without delay, to conduct
her from the assemblage.
I would willingly make a repetition of my visit and rhetorical
triumphs, only Miss SPINK informs me that she has recently terminated
her membership with the above society.
How he saw the practice of the University Crews, and what he
The notorious Intercollegian Boat-race of this anno Domini
will be obsolete and ex post facto by the time of publication of
the present instalment of jots and tittles, still I am sufficiently
presumptive to think that the cogitations and personal experiences of a
cultivated, thoughtful native gentleman on this coerulean topic may not
be found so stale and dry as the remainder of a biscuit.
First I will make a clean bosom with the confession that, though
ardently desirous to witness such a Titianic struggle for the cordon
bleu of old Father Antic the Thames, I was not the actual spectator
of the affair, being previously contracted to escort Miss MANKLETOW
(whose wishfulness is equivalent to legislation) to a theatrical
matutinal performance, which she would in nowise consent to renounce,
alleging that she had already seen the Boat-race to the verge of
satiety, and that the spectacle was instantaneous and paltry.
However, on acquainting my kind and patronising father, Hon'ble
Punch, of my disappointment, he did benevolently propose, as a
pis aller and blind bargain, a voyage in the steam launch-boat of
the official coachman of one of the crews so that I might ascertain how
the trick was done.
And at 10 A.M. on the day of assignation I presented myself at the
riparian premises of a certain Boating Society, and, on exhibiting my
letter of credit to the Mentor or Corypheus aforesaid, was received
à bras ouverts and with an urbane offhandedness.
After I had hung fire and cooled my heels on the banks for a while,
I was instructed to enter a skiff, which conveyed me and others to a
steamship of very meagre dimensions, whereupon owing to the heel of one
of my Japan leather shoes becoming implicated in the wire railing that
circumvented the desk, I was embarked in a horizontal attitude, and
severely deteriorated the tall chimneypot hat which I had assumed to do
credit to the hon'ble periodical I represented. (Nota bene.
Hatmaker's bill for renovating same, 2 rupees 8 annaswhich those to
whom it is of concern will please attend to and refund.)
On recovery of my head-gear and equanimity, I stationed myself in
close proximity to the officiating coach for purpose of being on the
threshold of inquiries, and proceeded to pop numerous questions to my
neighbours. I ascertained, among other things, that the vessels are
called eights, owing to their containing nine passengers; that the
ninth is called the cock, and is a mere supernumerary or
understudent, in case any member of the crew should be overcome by
sickishness during the contest and desire to discontinue.
It appears that the race is of religious and ceremonious origin, for
only good men are permitted to compete, and none who is a wine
drunkard, a gluttonous, or addicted to any form of tobacco. Moreover,
they are to observe a strict fast and abstinence for many weeks
previous to the ordeal. The most prominent ecclesiastics and Judges of
the Supreme Courts are usually chosen from this class of individuals,
which is a further proof of the sanctimoniousness attached to the
Consequently I was the more surprised at the disrespectful
superciliousness of their Fidus Achates or dry nurse, who,
stretching himself upon his stomach in the prow, did shout counsels of
perfection at his receding pupils.
Such criticisms as I overheard, seemed to me of a very puerile and
captious description, and some of an opprobrious personality, e.g., as when a certain oarman was taunted with being shortas though he
were capable of adding the cubic inch to his stature!
Another I heard advised to keep his visual organs in the interior of
the boat, though, being ordinary optics and not at all of a vitreous
composition, they could not be removable by volition. Again, a third
was reproached because of the lateness with which he had made his
beginning; but, as it was not asserted that he was inferior to the
rest, the tardiness of his initiation was surely rather honourable than
I observed that said trainer did stickle almost prudishly for
propriety, being greatly shocked at the levity with which the rowers
were attired and entreating them to keep their buttons well up, though
indeed I could discern none, nor was there much which was humanly
possible to be buttoned.
For myself, I must make the humble complaint that the Hon'ble Coach
was defective in courteous attention to my inquisitiveness, which he
totally ignored. For I could not prevail upon him to explain what thing
it was that he directed the oarmen to wait for, to spring at from a
stretcher, and catch at the beginning; nor why they were forbidden
to row with their hands, not being quadrumanous, and able to employ
their feet in such a manner; nor whether when he commanded them to get
in at once, he intended them to leap into the waters or to return to
the landing-place, nor why they did neither of these things; nor why he
should express satisfaction that a certain rower had got rid of a lofty
feather, which would indubitably have added to the showiness of his
Again, hearing him anxiously inquire the time after a stoppage, I
was proceeding to explain how gladly I would have given him such
information, but for the unavoidable absence of my golden chronometer,
owing to the failure of Misters TOMKINS and JOHNSON to restore the
same, whereupon he treated me in such a please-go-away-and-die sort
of style that I subsided with utmost alacrity.
On the return voyage the Collegiate eight was challenged to a
spurting match by a scratched crew, which appeared to me to be the
superior in velocity, though it seemed it was then too late to make the
When the practice was at an end and the Blues in a state of
quiescence, I intimated my desire to harangue them and express my
wonderment and admiration at beholding them content to suffer such
hardships and perils and faultfinding without expostulation or excuses
for their shortcomings, and all for no pecuniary recompense, but the
evasive reward of a nominis umbra. And I would have reminded
them of the extended popularity of their performance, and that it was
an unfairness to muzzle the ox that treadeth upon one's corn, appealing
to them to stand up for their rights, and refuse to compete except for
the honorarium of a quid pro quo.
But the official instructor, seeing me about to climb upon the poop,
to deliver my oration, entreated me with so much earnestness to desist
that I became immediately aphonous.
Mr Jabberjee is taken to see a Glove-Fight.
A young sprightly Londoner acquaintance of mine, who is a member of
a Sportish Club where exhibitions of fisticuffs are periodically given,
did generously invite me on a recent Monday evening to be the
eye-witness of this gladiatorial spectacle.
And, though not constitutionally bellicose, I eagerly accepted his
invitation on being assured that I should not be requisitioned to take
part personally in such pugilistic exercises, and should observe same
from a safe distance and coign of vantage, for I am sufficiently a
lover of sportfulness to appreciate highly the sight of courage and
science in third parties.
So he conducted me to the Club-house, and by the open sesame of a
ticket enabled me to penetrate the barrier, after which I followed his
wake downstairs, through rooms full of smoking and conversing
sportlovers mostly in festal attire, to a long and lofty hall with
balconies and a stage at the further end with foliage painted in
imitation of a forest, which was tenanted by press reporters.
The centre of the hall was monopolised by a white square platform
confined by a circumambience of rope, which I was informed was the
veritable theatre of war and cockpit.
Presently two hobbardyhoys made the ascent of this platform with
their attendant myrmidons, and did proceed to remove their trouserings
and coats until they were in the state of nature with the exception of
a loincloth, whereupon the President or Master of the Ceremonies
introduced them and their respective partisans by name to the
assemblage, stating their precise ponderability, and that these
juvenile antagonists were fraternally related by ties of brotherhood.
At which I was revolted, for it is against nature and contra
bonos mores that relations should be egged on into family jars, nor
can such proceedings tend to promote the happiness and domesticity of
their home circle. However, on such occasion when the youths were in
danger of inflicting corporal injuries upon each other, the President
called out Time in such reproving tones that they hung their heads in
shamefulness and desisted. And at length they were persuaded into a
pacification, and made the amende honorable by shaking each
other by the hand, whereat I was rejoiced, for, as Poet WATT says,
Birds which are in little nests should refrain from falling out.
The victory was adjudged to the elder brotherin obedience, I
suppose, to the rule of Primogeniture, for he did not succeed in
reducing his opponent to a hors de combat.
Next came a more bustling encounter between Misters BILL HUSBAND and
MYSTERIOUS SMITH, which was protracted to the duration of eight rounds.
I was largely under the impression that Mister HUSBAND was to win,
owing to the acclamations he received, and the excessive agility with
which he removed his head from vicinity of the blows of Mister
It was truly magnificent to see how they did embrace each other by
the neck, and the wonderment and suspicion in their glances when one
discovered that he was resting his chin upon the padded hand of his
adversary, and from time to time the Hon'ble Chairman was heard
ordering them to break away, and not to hold, or requesting us to
refrain from any remarks. And at intervals they retired to sit upon
chairs in opposing corners, where they rinsed their mouths, and were
severely fanned by their bearers, who agitated a large towel after the
manner of a punkah. But, in the end, it was Mysterious Mister SMITH who
hit the right nail on the head, and was declared the conquering hero,
though once more I was incapacitated to discover in what precise
respects he was the facile princeps.
Around the hall there were placards announcing that smoking was
respectfully prohibited, and the President did repeatedly entreat
members of the audience to refrain from blowing a cloud, assuring them
that the perfume of tobacco was noxious and disgustful to the
combatants, and threatening to mention disobedient tobacconists by
Whereupon most did desist; but some, secreting their cigars in the
hollow of their hands, took whiffs by stealth, and blushed to find it
flame; while others, who were such grandees and big pots that their own
convenience was the first and foremost desideratum, continued to smoke
with lordliness and indifference.
And I am an approver of such conductfor it is unreasonable that a
well-bred, genteel sort of individual should make the total sacrifice
of a cigar, for which he has perhaps paid as much as two or even four
annas, out of consideration for insignificant common chaps hired to
engage in snipsnaps for his entertainment.
The last competition was to be the bonne bouche and pièce
de résistance of the evening, consisting of a rumpus in twenty
rounds between Misters TOM TRACY of Australia, and TOMMY WILLIAMS, from
the same hemisphere, at which I was on the tiptoe of expectation.
But, although they commenced with dancing activity, one of the TOMS
in the very first round sparred the other under the chin with such
superabundant energy that he immediately became a recumbent for a
lengthy period, and, on being elevated to a chair, only recaptured
sufficient consciousness to abandon the sponge.
And then, to my chapfallen disappointment, the Chairman announced
that he was very sorry and could not help it, but that was the
concluding box of the evening.
I will reluctantly confess that, on the whole, I found the
proceedings lacking in sensationality, since they were of very limited
duration, and totally devoid of bloodshed, or any danger to the life
and limb of the performers. For it is not reasonably possible for a
combatant to make a palpable hit when his hands are, as it were,
muzzled, being cabined, cribbed, and confined in padded soft gloves. I
am not a squeamish in such cases, and I must respectfully submit that
the Cause of True Sport can only be hampered by such nursery and
puerile restrictions, for none can expect to compound an omelette
without the fracture of eggs.
Upon remarking as above to my young lively friend, he assured me
that even a gloved hand was competent to produce facial disfigurement
and tap the vital fluid, and offered to demonstrate the truth of his
statement if I would be the partaker with him in a glove-box.
But, though doubting the authenticity of his assertions, I thought
it prudential to decline the proof of the pudding, and so took a
precipitate leave of him with profuse thanks for his unparagoned
kindness, and many promises to put on the gloves with him at the first
Mr Jabberjee finds himself in a position of extreme delicacy.
It is an indubitable fact that the discovery of steam is the most
marvellous invention of the century. For had it been predicted
beforehand that innumerable millions of human beings would be
transported with security at a headlong speed for hundreds of miles
along a ferruginous track, the most temporary deviation from which
would produce the inevitable cataclysm and no end of a smash, the
working majority would have expressed their candid opinion of such
rhodomontade by cocking the contemptuous snook of incredulity.
And yet it is now the highly accomplished fact and matter of course!
Still, I shall venture to express the opinion that the
pleasurability of such railway journeys is largely dependent upon the
person who may be our travelling companion, and that some of the
companies are not quite careful enough in the exclusion of undesirable
fellow-passengers. In proof of which I now beg to submit an exemplary
instance from personal experience.
I was recently the payer of a ceremonial visit to a friend of my
boyhood, namely, BABOO CHUCKERBUTTY RAM, with whom, finding him at home
in his lodgings in a distant suburb, I did hold politely affectionate
intercourse for the space of two hours, and then departed, as I had
come, by train, and the sole occupant of a second-class dual
compartment divided by a low partition.
At the next station the adjoining compartment was suddenly invaded
by a portly female of the matronly type, with a rubicund countenance
and a bonnet in a dismantled and lopsided condition, who was bundled
through the doorway by the impetuosity of a porter, and occupied a seat
in immediate opposition to myself.
[Illustration: A BEAMING SIMPER OF INDESCRIBABLE SUAVITY.]
When the train resumed its motion, I observed that she was
contemplating me with a beaming simper of indescribable suavity, and
though she was of an unornamental exterior and many years my superior,
I constrained myself from motives of merest politeness to do some
simperings in return, since only a churlish would grudge such an
economical and inexpensive civility.
But whether she was of an unusually ardent temperament, or whether,
against my volition, I had invested my simper with an irresistible
winsomeness, I cannot tell; but she fell to making nods and becks and
wreathed smiles which reduced me to crimsoned sheepishness, and the
necessity of looking earnestly out of window at vacancy.
At this she entreated me passionately not to be unkind, inviting me
to cross to the next compartment and seat myself by her side; but I did
nill this invitation politely, urging that Company's bye-laws
countermanded the placing of boots upon the seat-cushions, and my utter
inability to pose as a Romeo to scale the barrier.
Whereupon to my lively horror and amazement, she did exclaim, Then
I will come to you, darling! and commenced to scramble
precipitately towards me over the partition!
At which I was in the blue funk, perceiving the arcanum of
her design to embrace me, and resolved to leave no stone unturned for
the preservation of my bacon. So, at the moment she made the entrance
into my compartment, I did simultaneously hop the twig into the next,
and she followed in pursuit, and I once more achieved the return with
Then, as we were both, like Hamlet, fat and short of breath,
I addressed her gaspingly across the barrier, assuring her that it was
as if to milk the ram to set her bonnet at a poor young native chap who
regarded her with nothing but platonical esteem, and advising her to
sit down for the recovery of her wind.
But alack! this speech only operated to inspire her with spretæ
injuria formæ, and flourishing a large stalwart umbrella, she
exclaimed that she would teach me how to insult a lady.
After that she came floundering once again over the partition, and
guarding my loins, I leapt into the next compartment, seeing the affair
had become a sauve qui peut, and devil take the hindmost: and at
the nick of time, when she was about to descend like a wolf on a fold,
I most fortunately perceived a bell-handle provided for such pressing
emergencies and rung it with such unparalleled energy, that the train
immediately became stationary.
Then, as my female persecutress alighted on the floor of the
compartment in the limp condition of a collapse, I stepped across to my
original seat, and endeavoured to look as if with withers unwrung.
Presently the Guard appeared, and what followed I can best render in
the dramatical form of a dialogue:
The Guard (addressing the Elderly Female, who is
sitting smiling with vacuity beneath the bell-pull). So it is you
who have sounded the alarm! What is it all about?
The Elderly Female (with warm indignation). Me? I
never did! I am too much of the lady. It was that young coloured
gentleman in the next compartment.
[At which the tip of my nose goes down with
The Guard. Indeed! A likely story! How could the gentleman
ring this bell from where he is?
Myself (with mental presence). Well said, Mister
GUARD! The thing is not humanly possible. Rem acu tetigisti!
The Guard. I do not understand Indian, Sir. If you have
anything to say about this affair, you had better say it.
Myself (combining discretion with magnanimousness). As
a chivalrous, I must decline to bring any accusation against a member
of the weaker sex, and my tongue is hermetically sealed.
The Eld. F. It was him who rang the alarm, and not me.
He was in this compartment, and I in that.
The Guard. What? have you been playing at Hide-and-seek
together, then? But if your story is watertight, he must have rung the
bell in a state of abject bodily terror, owing to your chivying him
The Eld. F. It is false! I have been well educated, and
belong to an excellent family. I merely wanted to kiss him.
The Guard. I see what is your complaint. You have been
imbibing the drop too much and will hear of this from the Company. I
must trouble you, Mam, for your correct name and address.
Myself (after he had obtained this and was departing).
Mister Guard, I do most earnestly entreat you not to abandon me to the
tender mercies of this feminine. I am not a proficient in physical
courage, and have no desire to test the correctness of Poet POPE'S
assertion, that Hell does not possess the fury of a scorned woman. I
request to be conducted into a better-populated compartment.
The Guard (with complimentary jocosity). Ah, such
young good-looking chaps as you ought to go about in a veil. Come with
me, and I'll put you into a smoker-carriage. You won't be run after
So the incident was closed, and I did greatly compliment myself upon
the sagacity and coolness of head with which I extricated myself from
my pretty kettle of fish. For to have denounced myself as the real
alarmist would have rendered the affair more, rather than less,
discreditable to my feminine companion, and I should have been
arraigned before the solemn bar of a police-court magistrate, who might
even have made a Star Chamber matter of the incident.
All is well that is well over, but when you have been once bitten,
you become doubly bashful. Consequently, this humble self will take
care that he does not on any subsequent occasion travel alone in a
railway compartment with a female woman.
Mr Jabberjee is taken by surprise.
Diligent perusers of my lucubrations to Punch will remember
that I have devoted sundry jots and tittles to the subject of Miss
JESSIMINA MANKLETOW, and already may have concluded that I was long
since up to the hilt in the tender passion. In this deduction, however,
they would have manufactured a stentorian cry from an extreme paucity
of wool; the actual fact being that, although percipient of the
well-proportionate symmetry of her person and the ladylike liveliness
of her deportment, I did never regard her except with eyes of strictly
platonic philandering and calf love.
It is true that, at certain seasons, the ostentatious favours she
would squander upon other young masculine boarders in my presence did
reduce me to the doleful dump of despair, so that even the birds and
beasts of forest shed tears at my misery, and frequently at meal-times
I have sought to move her to compassion by neighing like horse, or by
the incessant rolling of my visual organs; though she did only
attribute such ad misericordiam appeals to the excessive gravity
of the cheese, or the immaturity of the rhubarb pie.
But I was then a labourer under the impression that I was the odd
man out of her affections, and it is well known that, to a sensitive,
it is intolerable to feel that oneself is not the object of adoration,
even to one to whom we may entertain but a mediocre attraction.
On a recent evening we had a tête-à-tête which culminated in
the utter surprise. It was the occasion of our hebdomadal dancing-party
at Porticobello House, and I had solicited her to become a copartner
with this unassuming self in the maziness of a waltz; but, not being
the carpet-knight, and consequently treading the measure with too great
frequency upon the toes of my fair auxiliary, she suggested a temporary
withdrawal from circulation.
To which I assenting, she conducted me to a landing whereon was a
small glazed apartment, screened by hangings and furnished with a
profusion of unproductive pots, which is styled the conservatory, and
here we did sit upon two wicker-worked chairs, and for a while were
mutually sotto voce.
Presently I, remarking with corner of eye the sumptuousness of her
appearance, and the supercilious indifference of her demeanour, which
made it seem totally improbable that she should ever, like Desdemona, seriously incline to treat me as an Othello, commenced to heave
the sighs of a fire-stove, causing Miss JESSIMINA to accuse me of
desiring myself in India.
I denied this with native hyperbolism, saying that I was content to
remain in statu quo until the doom cracked, and that the
conservatory was for me the equivalent of Paradise.
She replied that its similitude to Paradise would be more startling
if a larger proportion of the pots had contained plants, and if such
plants as there were had not fallen into such a lean and slippered
stage of decrepitude, adding that she did perpetually urge her mamma to
incur the expense of some geranium-blooms and a few fairy-lamps, but
she had refused to run for such adornments.
[Illustration: I BECAME ONCE MORE THE SILENT TOMB.]
And I, with spontaneous gallantry, retorted that she was justified
in such parsimony, since her daughter's eyes supplied such fairy
illumination, and upon her cheeks was a bloom brighter than many
geraniums. But this compliment she unhappily mistook as an insinuation
that her complexion was of meretricious composition, and seeing that I
had put my foot into a cul-de-sac, I became once more the silent
tomb, and exhaled sighs at intervals.
Presently she declared once more that she saw, from the dullness of
my expression, that I was longing for the luxurious magnificence of my
Now my domestic abode, though a respectable spacious sort of
residence, and containing my father, mother, married brothers, &c.,
together with a few antique unmarried aunts, is not at all of a
palatial architecture; but it is a bad bird that blackens his own nest,
and so I merely answered that I was now so saturated with Western
civilisation, that I had lost all taste for Oriental splendours.
Next she inquired whether I did not miss the tiger-shooting and
pig-sticking; and I replied (with veraciousness, since I am not the
au fait in such sports) that I could not deny a liability to miss
both tigers and pigs, and, indeed, all animals that were feræ naturæ, and she condemned the hazardousness of these jungle sports, and wished
me to promise that I would abstain from them on my return to India.
To this I replied that before I agreed to such a self-denying
ordinance, I desired to be more convinced of the sincerity of her
interest in the preservation of my humble existence.
Miss JESSIMINA asked what had she done that I should be in
dubitation as to her bona fides?
Then I did meekly remind her of her flirtatious preferences for the
young beef-witted London chaps, and her incertitude and disdainful
capriciousness towards myself, who was not a beetlehead or an obtuse,
but a cultivated native gentleman with high-class university degree,
and an oratorical flow of language which was infallibly to land me upon
the pinnacle of some tip-top judicial preferment in the Calcutta High
Court of Justice.
She made the excuse that she was compelled by financial reasons to
be pleasant to the male boarders, and that I could not expect any
marked favouritism so long as I kept my tongue concealed inside my
damask cheek like a worm in bud.
Upon which, transported by uncontrollable emotion, I ventured to
embrace her, assuring her that she was the cynosure of my neighbouring
eyes, and supplied the vacuum and long-felt want of my soul, and while
occupied in imprinting a chaste salute upon her rosebud lipswho'd
have thought it! her severe matronly parent popped in through the
curtains and, surveying me with a cold and basilican eye, did demand my
Nor can I tell what I should have responded, seeing that I had acted
from momentary impulsiveness and feminine encouragement, had not Miss
JESSIMINA, with ready-made female wit, answered for me that it was all
right, and that we were the engaged couple.
But her mother expressed an ardent desire to hear my vivâ voce
corroboration of this statement, informing me that she was but a poor
weak widow-woman, but that, if it should appear that I was merely the
giddy trifler of her daughter's young, artless affections, it would be
her dolesome duty to summon instantaneously every male able-bodied
inmate of her establishment, and request them to inflict deserved
corporal chastisement upon my person!
So, although still of a twitter with amazement at Miss JESSIMINA'S
announcement, I considered it the better part of valour to corroborate
it with promptitude, rather than incur the shocking punches and kicks
of numerous athletic young commercials; and, upon hearing the piece of
good news, Mrs MANKLETOW exploded into lachrymation, saying that she
was divested of narrow-minded racial colour prejudices, and had from
the first regarded me as a beloved son.
Then, blessing me, and calling me her Boy, she clasped me against
her bosom, where, owing to the exuberant redundancy of her ornamental
jetwork, my nose and chin received severe laceration and disfigurement,
which I endured courageously, without a whimper.
When I have grown more accustomed to being the lucky dog, I shall
commence cockahooping, and become merry as a grig. At the present
moment I am only capable of wonderment at the unpremeditated rapidity
with which such solemn concerns as betrothals are knocked off in this
But if, as Macbeth says, such jobs are to be done at all,
then it is well they were done quickly.
Drawbacks and advantages of being engaged. Some Meditations in a
Music-hall, together with notes of certain things that Mr
failed to understand.
My preceding article announced the important intelligence of my
betrothal, in which I was then too much the neophyte to express any
very opinionated judgment as to the pros or cons of my approaching
benediction as a Benedick (if I may be allowed a somewhat
L'appétit vient en mangeant, and I am blessing my stars more
fervidly every day for the lucky windfall which has bolted upon me from
All the select boarders were speedily informed of my engagement, and
the males though profuse in their congratulations, did manifest their
green-eyed monster by sundry veiled chucklings and rib-pokings, while
the ladiesespecially Miss SPINKare become less pressing in their
attentions, and address me as Prince with increased frequency, and in
a tone of tittering acidulation.
This, however, is attributable to natural disappointment; for it was
notorious that all of them, even the least prepossessing, were on the
tiptoe of languishing expectancy that I should cast my handkerchief in
one of their directions. But the feminine nature is not capable of
sustaining the good-fortune of another member of their sex with
On the other hand, I enjoy many privileges and bonuses. I am
permitted to enter Mrs MANKLETOW'S private parlour ad libitum,
and there converse with my beloved, calling her JESSIE, and even
embrace her in moderation. I may also embrace her Mother, and address
her as Mamma, which affords me raptures of a less tumultuous kind.
Moreover now, when I conduct my inamorata to an
entertainment, it is no longer de rigueur for any third party to
impersonate a gooseberry!
The mention of entertainments reminds me that, a few evenings ago, I
escorted her to a music-hall, wherein, although I had previously
believed myself a past master in the shibboleth of London Cockneyisms
and technical terminology, I heard and saw much which was au bout de
mon Latin, and the head impossible to be made out of the tail.
E.g., there were two young lady-performers alleged by the
programme to be Serios and Bone Soloists, whereas they were the
reverse of lugubrious; nor were their physiognomies fleshless or
osseous; but, on the contrary, so shapely and well-favoured that JESSIE
did remonstrate with me upon the perseverance with which I gazed at
And I could not at all find anyone to explain to me the difference
between a Comedian and a Comic; or a Comedian and
Patterer and an Eccentric Comedian; or a Society
Belle and a Burlesque Artiste; or, again, A Sketch
Artiste and a Speciality Dancer. For to me they seemed
precisely similar. There were four Charming Lyric Sisters, who
performed a dance in long expansive skirts, and in conclusion did all
turn heels-over-head in simultaneity; but this, it seems, wascontrary
to my own expectancynot to dance a speciality. Speaking for my
humble part, I am respectfully of opinion that lovely woman loses in
queenly dignity by the abrupt execution of a somersault; however, the
feat did indubitably excite vociferous applause from the spectators.
Further there appeared a couple of Duettists in ordinary evening
habiliments, who sang in unison with egregious melodiousness. One was
plump as a partridge; the other thin as a weasel; and they related how
they were both the adorers of a certain lovely damsel called SALLY,
who was the darling of their co-operative hearts, and resided in their
Alley. And of all the days in the week they loved Sunday, because then
they were dressed in all their best, and went for a walk with SALLY.
I should have thought that it was not humanly feasible for SALLY to
continue such periodical promenades without exhibiting some
preferential kind of choice, either for the partridge or the weasel,
and that such a triangular courtship and triple alliance would
infallibly terminate in the apple of discord, but JESSIE did assure me
that it was quite usual and the correct cheese for a girl to have more
than one beau upon her string.
[Illustration: IN GARBAGE OF UNPARAGONED SHABBINESS.]
I made the further observation that the Comedians and Comics must be
reduced to extreme pauperism, since they presented themselves before a
well-dressed, respectable audience in garbage of unparagoned
shabbiness, and with hair of unbrushed wildness, and needing immediate
One songster did offer some excuse for the poverty of his
appearance, telling us his hard case, how that he was occupied in
declaring his passion to a beauteous damsel, when she was all over him
in a minute, and, while he was making love to the pretty stars above,
she cleared out all his pockets in a minute! At which many laughed;
but, though Jove is said to regard lovers' perjuries with cachinnation,
I could not help feeling the most pitiable sympathy for such a
disappointing conclusion to a love affair, seeing that it is impossible
for the comeliest nymph who returns her admirer's devotion by stealing
his purse, and similar trash, to remain posed any longer upon the
towering pedestal of an ideal. Upon making this remark to JESSIE,
however, she uttered the repartee that I was the silly noodle; though
she is, I am sure, notwithstanding her attachment to gewgaws, not
capable of descending personally to such light-fingered tactics.
I was additionally bewildered by a chorus chanted by one of the
Society Belles, which I took down verbatim, in the hope of a
solution. It was as follows: For I like a good liar, indeed I do!
Provided he comes out with something new! But why did he tell me that
story with whiskers on, why, why, why?
Now to me it is wholly incomprehensible that the female intelligence
should admire mendacity in the opposite sex on the sole conditions that
the said liar should present himself in some novel article of attire,
and, previously to relating his untruth, remove from his cheeks any
hirsute appendages. One of the boarders whom I consulted on the subject
attempted to persuade me that it was the story that had the
whiskers; but it is nonsensical to suppose that a purely abstract
affair like an untruth could be furnished with capillary growth, which
belongs to the concrete department.
There was a lady described as an incomparable Comedienne, who was
the victim of unexampled bad luck. For she had purchased a camera
(which she exhibited to the assembly), and with this she had gone about
photographing landscapes and other sceneries. But, lack-a-daisy! no
sooner were they printed than the pictures were discovered to be
irretrievably spoilt by objects in the foreground of such doubtful
propriety that they were not exactly fit to place among her
brick-backs, so she was compelled to keep them in a drawer among her
I should have liked her to inform us where such a faulty mechanism
was procured, and why she did not exchange it for one of superior
She was succeeded on the stage by a little girl with a hoop, who
bore a striking resemblance to her predecessor, and was probably her
infantile daughter. This child was evidently of a greatly inquisitive
disposition, and asked many questions of her progenitors which they
were unable to answer, bidding her not to bother, and to go away and
Then she asked a juvenile boy (who remained invisible), called
JOHNNY JONES, and informed us that she knew now. But I was still in
the total darkness as to the answers, which even JESSIE declared that
she was Davus non Oedipus, and not able to provide with the
Upon the whole, I am of opinion that music-halls are more fertile in
mental puzzlement and social problems, and more difficult of
comprehension, than theatrical entertainments.
This is, no doubt, why the spectators are allowed to consume liquors
and sandwiches throughout the performance, since it is well known that
the brain cannot carry on its modus operandi with efficiency if
the stomach is in the beggarly array of an empty box!
Mr Jabberjee's fellow-student. What's in a Title? An invitation
Wedding. Mr J. as a wedding guest, with what he thought of the
ceremony, and how he distinguished himself on the occasion.
There is a certain English young fellow-student of mineto wit and
videlicet, HOWARD ALLBUTT-INNETT, Esquire, with whom I have
succeeded in scratching an acquaintance at sundry Law Lectures, and in
the Library of my Inn of Courta most amiable tip-top young chap, who
is the moulded glass of fashionable form, and cap-in-hand with
innumerable aristocratic nobs.
Seeing that I had (at an earlier period) been a more diligent
attendant and note-taker of lectures than himself, he did pay me the
transcendent compliment of borrowing the loan of my note-book, which,
to my grateful astonishment, he condescended to bring back personally
to Porticobello House, saying that he had found my notes magnificent,
and totally incomprehensible to his more limited intellect!
In additum, he graciously accepted my invitation to ascend to
the drawing-room, where I introduced him freely to several select lady
boarders as my alter ego and Fidus Achates.
On taking his leave, he expressed some marvelling that I should have
concealed my superior rank under the reticence of a napkin, having
observed that I was addressed as Prince by more than one of the
I replied that I attached no valid importance to the nominis
umbra of such a barren title, and that the contents of what there
is nothing in must necessarily be naught.
He answered me warmly that he entirely joined issue with me in such
an opinion, and that he was often affected to sickishness by the
snobbery of mundane society, adding that he hoped I would give him the
look up at his paternal mansion in Prince's Square, Bayswater, shortly,
since his people would be overjoyed at making my acquaintance, which
both enraptured and surprised me, for hitherto he had ridden the high
and rough-shoed horse, and employed me to suck my brains as a cat's
And odzookers! before many days I was the recipient of a
silver-lettered missive, stating that Mr and Mrs LEOFRIC ALLBUTT-INNETT
did request the honour of Prince JABBERJEE'S company at the marriage of
their daughter, CLORINDA ISABEL, with Mr OVERTON WOODBEIGH-SMART, at a
certain sacred Bayswater edifice.
This I eagerly accepted, perceiving that my friend must have
eulogised to his parents my legal accomplishments and forensic acumen.
[Illustration: THE SPECTATORS SALUTED ME WITH SHOUTS OF JOY AS THE
When I did, in all my best, obey, alighting at the church in my
embossed cap, shawl neckcloth, a pair of yellow glove-kids, and
patented Japan shoes, the spectators saluted me with shouts of joy as
the returned SHAHZADAR, which caused me to bow profusely, while the
driver of the hansom petitioned an additional sixpence.
The interior of the church was dim and crowded with feminines, and I
could only hear flutters and rustlings, together with a subdued mumble
at the remoter endwhich I ascertained to be the ceremony. Then
followed the long stop and awkward pause, accompanied on the organ, and
at length all the company stood on seats and the tiptoe of expectation,
as the bridal procession moved slowly down the central passage amidst
the congratulations of their friends and nearest relations.
Not being desirous to hide under a bushel, I did press myself
forward, and addressing a lady whom I took to be the bride, I
felicitated her loudly, wishing that she might never become a widow, or
use vermilion on her grey head, and that she might wear the iron
bangle, and get seven male children.
Unhappily the serene ray of my goodwill was born to blush unseen in
the dark unfathomed cave of a desert ear, for the actual recipient of
my compliments was an unmarried spinster relative, who had already
passed the years of discretion.
Mrs ALLBUTT-INNETT welcomed me with cordial effusiveness, insisting
that I should honour them by visiting their residence, and critically
inspecting the nuptial gifts, to which I consented.
On my arrival, I held a lengthy colloquy with the happy bridegroom,
from whom I was anxious to obtain particulars of English marriage
customs, such as whether he would be required to spend the evening in
having his ears pulled, and other facetious banterings by his
mother-in-law and sisters-in-law, as in India.
But he seemed oppressed by so severe a bashfulness that I could
extract no information from him, and presently the father of the bride
came up and conducted me into an apartment wherein was a kind of
bazaar, or exhibition of clocks and lamps and stationery cases and
knives and forks and other trinkets and gewgaws, none of which appeared
to me at all different from similar objects in shop windows.
However, the greatest admiration and wonderment were expressed by
all who entered, and I found that the host was under grave
apprehensiveness that the presents might be looted by the more
unscrupulous of the guests, for he pointed out to me a sharp-eyed, shy
gentleman in a corner, who, he informed me, was a disguised
police-officer. This, at first, I was loth to believe, but was assured
that it was a necessary precaution.
Still, I will presume to point out that the simulation by a
policeman of the ordinary character of a friend of the family and
fellow-rejoicer, is a rather reprehensible trap to catch a sleeping
weasel, since those whose honesty is not invariably above par may be
lulled into the false security by his civilian get-up. And I did assure
him, privately, that it was totally unnecessary to keep an eye on
myself, who was a native University man with no necessity or natural
taste for peculation, but that I would infallibly inform him if I
should succeed at detecting any attempted dishonesty.
Later I was ushered into the refreshment-room, and partook of a pink
ice, with champagne-wine and strawberries, after which I entreated
leave of Mrs ALLBUTT-INNETT to deliver a nuptial oration. And she,
overjoyed at my happy thought, did loudly request silence for Prince
JABBERJEE, who was to utter a few very brief utterances.
So as they became all ears, I addressed them, describing how, in my
native country, at such a bridal feast and blow-out, it was customary
for the bridegroom's mother to eat a sevenfold repast, for fear of a
subsequently empty stomach; but the bride's mother, on the contrary,
will touch nothing, feeling that the more she fasts then, the more
provender will fall to her later on. And I facetiously added that, on
the present occasion, I had the certainty that both the mothers might
indulge their appetites ad libitum.
Next I recounted how, during a former boyish wedding of my own, my
wife's mother after, as was befitting, setting a conical tinselled cap
upon my head, and placing ten rings of twigs upon my ten fingers, and
binding my hands with a weaver's shuttle, did say, I have bound thee,
and bought thee with cowries, and put a shuttle between thy fingers;
now bleat then like a lamb. Whereupon I, being of a jokish
disposition, did, unexpectedly and contrary to usage, cry Baa loudly,
causing my mother-in-law to fear that I was a dulluntil that night in
the Zenana she had the great happiness to overhear me outwitting all
the females present by the sprightliness of my badinage.
And I was proceeding, amidst vociferous cachinnation, to enumerate
some of my most lively sallies, when the bride's father did take me by
the arm, and drawing me aside, inform me that the young couple were
just about to start for their wedding journey, and that I was urgently
required to see them depart.
I observed that here, as with us, it is de règle to scatter
rice upon the head of the bridegroombut neither treacle nor spices.
Moreover, this complimentary shower is extended to the bride and the
carriage-horses, and hurled with athletic vigorousness, while it is a
point of honour to knock off the coachman's hat with a female satin
I was disappointed to see that both the happy pair had cast aside
their gorgeous wedding garments, and put on quite ordinary and everyday
attire, which, if not due to excessive parsimoniousness, must originate
in a shamefaced desire to conceal their state of connubiality though it
might be reasonably anticipated that they should rather be anxious to
manifest their triumphant good-luck pro bono publico.
Mr Jabberjee is asked out to dinner. Unreasonable behaviour of
betrothed. His doubts concerning the social advantages of a
Establishment, with some scathing remarks upon ambitious
He goes out to dinner, and meets a person of some importance.
The pleasing impression produced by this humble self upon both
Mister and Mrs ALLBUTT-INNETT at the wedding of their eldest daughter
became speedily prolific of golden fruit in the request of the honour
of my company for dinner at 8.15 P.M. on a subsequent evening.
Incidentally recounting this prime compliment to my lovely
JESSIMINA, I was astounded that she did not share my jubilations, but
was, on the contrary, the sore subject at not being included in such
invitation, which, as I explained, was totally irrational, seeing that
the inviters remained unaware of her nude existence. She, however,
maintained that I ought to have mentioned that I was an affianced, and
have refused to sit at any banquet at which she was fobbed off with a
cold shoulder. This again was absurd, since the moiety of a loaf is
preferable to total deprivation of the staff of life, and moreover, in
my country, it is customary for the husband-elect to take his meals
apart from his bride that is to be; nor does she ever touch food until
he has previously assuaged his pangs of hunger. Notwithstanding, she
would not be pacified until I had bestowed upon her a gold and
turquoise ring of best English workmanship, as an olive-branch and
calumet of peace.
But, outside Porticobello House, I have been close as wax on the
subject of my flowery chains, and it was especially inconceivable that
I should inform my friend HOWARD of same, since he has frequently
bantered me in wonderment that a respectable Oriental magnate should
reside in such a very ordinary and third-rate boarding establishment,
where it was an impossibility to gain any real familiarity with smart
and refined English society.
[Illustration: SOME HAUGHTY MASCULINE MIGHT INSULT HER UNDER MY
And who knows that if I should introduce Miss JESSIE into company of
a superior caste, some haughty masculine might insult her under my very
nose; and lack-a-daisy! where would she find a protector?
I am certainly oppressed by an increasing dubiety whether Mrs
MANKLETOW is verily such an upper crustacean and habituée of the
beau monde as she did represent herself to be. It is well-nigh
incomprehensible that any individual should seek to appear of a higher
social status than Nature has provided; but my youthful acquaintance,
ALLBUTT-INNETT, Jun., Esq., informs me that this is a common failing
among the English classes, who fondly imagine that nothing is needed to
render a frog the exact equivalent to an ox except an increased
quantity of air, forgetting that if a frog is abnormally inflated, it
is apt to provide the rather ludicrous catastrophe of exploding from
However revenons à nos moutonsid est, the dinner
I intended to be the early bird at Prince's Square, but, owing to a
rarity among the hansom cabs, did not arrive until most of the guests
were already assembled, being welcomed with effusive hospitality by the
household god and goddess, Mr and Mrs ALLBUTT-INNETT, who begged leave
to present to me all the most distinguished of their friends.
Thenpop, and à l'improvistethe door was thrown
open, and a butler announced ore rotundo, Sir CHETWYND
CUMMERBUND, whom, in the wink of an eye, I recognised as an ex-Justice
of the very court in Calcutta in which my male progenitor practices as
a mook-tear, or attorney, and who, moreover, was familiar with myself
almost ab ovo, having been more than once humbly presented to
his notice by my said father, with a request for his patronising
opinion of my abilities, and the feasibility of my education at a
London Inn of Court!
Oh, my gracious! I was as if to sink through the carpet, and sought
to draw in my horns of dilemma behind a column, when, to my
uncontrollable dismay, my hostess led him towards me, with the remark
that he was probably already acquainted in India with His Highness
The Hon'ble Retired Judge at this did merely smile indulgently,
observing that India was a country of considerable extensiveness, and
inquiring of me in my own tongue where my raj was situated, and
the strength of my army, though with a scintillation in his visual
organs that told me he knew me perfectly well.
And I, realising that honesty was my best policy of insurance from
his displeasure, did throw myself frankly on the mercy of the Court,
protesting volubly in native language that I was an industrious poor
Bengali boy, and had always regarded him as my beloved father; that I
was not to blame because certain foolish, ignorant persons imagined me
to be some species of Rajah; and earnestly representing to him that our
kind mutual hostess would be woefully distressed by any disclosures.
Let your Hon'ble Ludship, I said, only remain hermetically sealed,
and preserve this as a trade secret, and my sisters, sisters-in-law,
and aunts shall always chant hymns on the Ganges for your Honour's
His Honour, laughing good-naturedly, did tell me that if I liked to
assume the plumes of a daw, it was no affair of his, and kindly
promised to respect my confidencesat which I was greatly relieved.
Indeed, throughout the evening, nothing could exceed his affability,
for, being seated on the other side of the hostess, opposite myself, he
showed me the greatest honour and deference, frequently requesting my
views on such subjects as Increased Representation of the People of
India, the National Congress, and so forth; upon which, being now
perfectly reassured and at my ease, I discoursed with facundity, and
did loudly extol the intellectual capacity of the Bengalis, as evinced
by marvellous success in passing most difficult exams., and denouncing
it as a crying injustice and beastly shame that fullest political
powers should not be conceded to them, and that they should not be
eligible for all civil appointments pari passu, or even in
priority to Englishmen.
Wherein his Honour did warmly agree, assuring me with fatherly
benignancy of the pleasure with which he would hear of my appointment
to be Head of a District somewhere on the Punjab frontier, and
mentioning how a certain native Bengali gentleman of his acquaintance,
Deputy-Commissioner GRISH CHUNDER DÉ, Esq., M.A., had distinguished
himself splendidly (according to the printed testimony of Hon'ble
KIPLING) in such a post of danger.
I replied, that I was not passionately in love with personal danger,
and that in my case cedant arma togæ, and my tongue was mightier
than my sword, but that there was no doubt that we Bengalis were
intellectually competent to govern the whole country, provided only
that we were backed up from behind by a large English military force to
uphold our authority, as otherwise we should soon be the pretty
pickles, owing to brutal violence from Sikhs, Rajputs, Marathas, and
similar uncivilised coarse races.
And Sir CHETWYND expressed his lively satisfaction that I
appreciated some of the advantages of the British occupation.
Thus, through my presence of mind in boldly grappling with the
nettle, I turned what might have been a disaster into a conspicuous
triumph, for all the company, seeing the favour I was in with such a
big wig as Hon'ble CUMMERBUND, listened to me with spell-bound
enchantment, especially my friend HOWARD'S sprightly young sister, a
damsel of distinguished personal attractiveness, who was seated on my
other side. Her birth-name is LOUISA-GWENDOLEN; but her family and
intimates, so she did inform me, call her WEE-WEE.
Of the dinner itself I can speak highly, as being inexpressibly
superior, both in stylishness of service and for the quality of the
food, etc., to any meals hitherto furnished by Mrs MANKLETOW'S mahogany
board. Nevertheless, I wondered to find the ALLBUTT-INNETTS behind the
times in one respect, viz., the lighting, which was with old-fashioned
candles and semi-obscured lamps, instead of the more modern and
infinitely more brilliant illumination of gas! Here, at least, though
in other particulars of very mediocre elegance, I must pronounce
Porticobello House the more up to date.
In taking leave, I did thank Hon'ble Sir CHETWYND CUMMERBUND
profusely for so discreetly retaining its feline contents within the
generous bag of his mouth, whereat he clapped my back very cordially,
advising me to abstain for the future from a super-abundance of frills,
since the character of a diligent legal native student was a precious
lily that needed no princely gilding, and adding that he was indebted
to me for a most entertaining and mirthful evening. This I do not
understand, as I had not uttered any of the facetious puns and conceits
wherewith it is my wontwhen I willto set the table
in a simper.
But possibly I may have spoken rather humorously unawares, and it is
proverbial that these exalted legal luminaries are pleased with a
rattle and tickled by a straw.
On my return I did omit to mention Miss WEE-WEE to JESSIMINA; but,
after all, cui bono?
 This is a fairly sample specimen, though I have frequently
surpassed it in waggish drollery.H. B. J.
Mr Jabberjee makes a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Shakespeare.
I have frequently spoken in the flattering terms of a eulogium
concerning my extreme partiality for the writings of Hon'ble WILLIAM
SHAKSPEARE. It has been remarked, with some correctness, that he did
not exist for an age, but all the time; and though it is the open
question whether he did not derive all his ideas from previous writers,
and even whether he wrote so much as a single line of the plays which
are attributed to his inspired nib, he is one of the institutions of
the country, and it is the correct thing for every orthodox British
subject to admire and understand him even when most incomprehensible.
Consequently I did cock-a-hoop for joy on receiving an invitation
from my friend ALLBUTT-INNETT, Jun., Esq., on behalf of his parents,
that I should accompany them on an excursion by rail to
Stratford-upon-Avon, where the said poet had his domicile of origin.
And so great was my enthusiasm that, during the journey, I
declaimed, ore rotundo, certain select passages from his works
which I had committed to memory during the salad days of my
schoolboyishness, and with such effect that Miss WEE-WEE ALLBUTT-INNETT
(who is excessively emotional) was compelled, at times, to veil her
countenance in the recesses of a pocket-handkerchief.
Having at length arrived at that hallowed and sacred spot, the very
name of which sends a sweet and responsive thrill through every
educated bosom, our first proceeding was to partake of a copious cold
This repast we ordered at an old-fashioned hostelry, whose doorway
was decorated by a counterfeit presentment of the Bard, and I observed
that similar effigies were placed above several of the shops as I
walked along the streets. These images somewhat resemble those erected
to Buddha in certain parts of India, being similarly bald, but
terminatingnot in crossed legs, but a cushion with tassels. However,
I was not able to discover that it is the custom for even the most
ignorant inhabitants to do anything in the nature of poojah before
these figures any longer, though probably usual enough before CROMWELL,
with the iron sides, ordered all such baubles to be removed. In a hole
of the upper wall of the Town Hall there is a life-size statuary of
SHAKSPEARE, with legs complete, showing that he was not actually
deficient in such extremities and a mere gifted Torso: and it is
presumable that the reason why only his upper portions are generally
represented is, that marble in these parts is too precious a commodity
to be wasted on mere superfluities.
We visited the church, and saw his tomb, and there again was the
superior half of him occupied with writing verses on a cushion in a
mural niche, supported by pillars. Upon a slab below is inscribed a
verse requesting that his dust should not be digged, and cursing him
who should interfere with his bones, but in so mediocre a style, and of
such indifferent orthography, that it is considered by some to be a
sort of spurious cryptogram composed by Hon'ble BACON.
On such a vexata quæstio I am not to give a decided opinion,
though the verse, as a literary composition, is hardly up to the level
of Hamlet, and it would perhaps have been preferable if the
poet, instead of attempting an impromptu, had looked out some suitable
quotation from his earlier works. For, when an author is occupied in
shuffling off his mortal coil, it is unreasonable to expect him to
produce poetry that is up to the mark.
When I advanced this excuse aloud in the church, a party of
Americans within hearing exclaimed, indignantly, that such irreverent
levity was a scandal in a spot which was the Mecca of the entire
Whereupon I did protest earnestly that I meant no irreverence, being
nulli secundus in respect for the Genius Loci, only, as a
critic of English Literature, I could not help regretting that a poet
gifted with every requisite for producing a satisfactory epitaph had
produced a doggerel which was undeniably below his usual par.
This rendered them of an increased ferocity, until Mr ALLBUTT-INNETT
good naturedly took them into a corner and whispered that I was a very
wealthy young Indian Prince, of great scholastic attainments, but
oppressed by an uncontrollable naïveté, after which they all
came and shook me by the hand, saying they were very proud to have met
[Illustration: IT WAS HERE, I SAID, REVERENTLY, THAT THE SWAN OF
AVON WAS HATCHED!]
Afterwards we proceeded to the Birthplace, where a very
gentlewomanly female exhibited the apartment in which the Infant Bard
first saw the light. Alack! there was but little light to behold, being
a shockingly low and dingy room, meagrely furnished with two chairs and
a table, on which was another of the busts. As I came in, I uttered a
remark which I had prepared for the occasion. It was here, I said,
reverently, here that the Swan of Avon was hatched! At which Miss
WEE-WEE was again overcome by emotion.
The room was greatly in the necessity of whitewash, being black with
smoke and signatures in lead pencil. Even the window-panes were
scratched all over by diamonds, on seeing which, and being also the
possessor of a diamond and gold ring, I was about to inscribe my own
name, but was prevented by the lady custodian.
I indignantly and eloquently protested that if Hon'ble Sirs, WALTER
SCOTT, Lord BYRON, ISAAC WALTON, WASHINGTON IRVING and Co. were
permitted to deface the glass thus, surely I, who was a graduate of
Calcutta University, and a valuable contributor to London Punch,
was equally entitled, since what was sauce for a goose was sauce for a
gander, and Mrs ALLBUTT-INNETT urged that I was a distinguished
Shakspearian student and Indian prince, but the custodian responded
that she couldn't help that, for it was ultra vires,
However, while she was engaged in pointing out the spot where
somebody's signature had been before it was peeled away, I, snatching
the opportunity behind her back, did triumphantly inscribe my autograph
on the bust's nose.
In the back-room they showed us where SHAKSPEARE'S father stapled
his wool, which caused Mrs ALLBUTT-INNETT to remark that she had always
understood that the poet was of quite humble origin, and that, for her
part, she thought it was all the more creditable to him to have done
what he did do.
We also inspected the Museum, and were shown SHAKSPEARE'S jug, a
rather ordinary concern; the identical dial which one of the clowns in
his plays drew out of a poke, and a ring with W. S. engraved on it,
found in the churchyard some years ago, and, no doubt, dropped there by
the poet himself, while absorbed in the composition of his famous and
There were several portraits of him also, all utterly unlike one
another, or only agreeing in one respect, namely, their total
dissimilarity from the bust.
We likewise saw the very desk SHAKSPEARE used, after creeping
unwillingly to school with a shining face like a snail's. I was pained
to see evidence of the mischievousness of the juvenile genius, for it
was slashed and hacked to such a doleful degree as to be totally
incapacitated for scholastic use!
I myself was sprightly in my youth, but never, I am proud to say, to
the extent of wilfully damaging my master's furniture! Before leaving,
we walked to visit the residence of SHAKSPEARE'S wife, which turned out
to be a very humble thatched-roof affair, such as is commonly occupied
But, as Mrs ALLBUTT-INNETT said, it is a sad fact that distinguished
literary characters often make most imprudent marriages. Which put me
in a wonderment whether she had heard anything about myself and Miss
At one of the bazaars I purchased a beautiful Shakspearian souvenir,
in the form of a coloured porcelain model of SHAKSPEARE'S birthplace,
which can be rendered transparent and luminous by the insertion of a
This I had intended humbly to offer for the gracious acceptance of
Miss WEE-WEE, but having thrust it into a coat-tail pocket, I
unfortunately sat upon it in the train as we were returning.
So I presented it as a token of remembrance to JESSIMINA, who was
transported with delight at the gift, which she said could be easily
rendered the statu quo by dint of a little diamond cement.
Containing some intimate confidences from Mr Jabberjee, with the
explanation of such apparent indiscretion.
Since writing my latest contribution I have folded up my tent like
an Arab, and silently stolen away from Porticobello House, this
independent hook being taken under the ostensible and colourable
pretext of a medical opinion that the climate of Bayswater was
operating injuriously upon my internal arrangements, but the real
causa causans and dessous des cartes being a growing
disinclination for the society of select male and female boarders.
Miss JESSIMINA was naturally bathed in tears at the announcement of
my approaching departure, although I fondly sought to console her by
assurances that my residence in Highbury, Islington, though beyond the
radius and of inaccessible remoteness from Ladbroke Grove, should not
obliterate her brilliant image from the cracked looking-glass of my
heart, and that I would write to her with weekly regularity, and
revisit the glimpses of her moony presence at the first convenient
I do correspond with effusiveness and punctuality through the
obliging medium of a young intimate Indian acquaintance of mine, who
does actually reside at Highbury, and has kindly undertaken to forward
my billets doux.
This stratagem is necessitated by the circumstance that (as a matter
of fact) I am dwelling under a rose at Hereford Road, Westbourne Grove,
which is in convenient proximity to Prince's Square and the stately
home of the ALLBUTT-INNETT family, with whom I am now promoted to
become the tame cat.
[Illustration: UNACCUSTOMED TO DARK-COMPLEXIONED GENTLEMEN.
In Hereford Road I occupy garishly genteel first-floor front and
back apartments at rupees fifteen per week and the Lady of the Land has
entreated me to kindly excuse the waiting-maid for jumping with
diffidence whenever I pop upon her unpremeditatedly on the stairs,
being a nervous girl and unaccustomed to dark-complexioned
gentlementhough her own countenance, from superabundance of blacking
and smuts, being of a far superior nigritude, it is I myself who should
be more justified in jumping.
However, she is already becoming the habituée, and seldom
drops the crockery-ware nowexcept when I simper with too beaming a
Certain of my readers will perhaps hold up the hands of amazement at
my imprudence in disclosing my whereabouts, and other private concerns,
in the publicity of a popular periodicalbut there is method in such
madness; they do not take in Punch at Porticobello House,
considering that one penny (or even the moiety of that sum) is more
correct value for funny and comical illustrated journalism, while the
ALLBUTT-INNETTS, although they see Punch weekly do not peruse
the literary contents, especially in the season, when, as Mrs A.-I.
frequently remarks, they are in such a constant whirl of social
dissipation that they have absolutely no time for serious reading.
At first I was severely mortified thatso far as my acquaintances
were concernedthese tittlings and jottings should be thus written
with water, but I have since made the discovery that my cloud of
disappointment is internally lined with precious silver.
Mr Jabberjee is a little over-ingenious in his excuses.
Since shaking the dust off my feet at Porticobello House, I have not
succeeded to pluck the courage for a personal interview with Miss
JESSIMINA, and my correspondence, duly forwarded per Mr BHOOBONE LALL
JALPANYBHOY, of Highbury, has consisted mainly of abject excuses for
non-attendance on plea of over-study for Bar Exam, and total incapacity
to journey due to excessive disorderliness in stomach department.
This, unhappily, at length inspired her with the harrowing dread
that I was on the point of being launched into the throes of eternity,
if not already as dead as Death's door-nail, and so, with feminine want
of reflection, she performed a hurried pilgrimage to Highbury.
Now, whether on account of the beetleheadedness of a domestic, or
Baboo JALPANYBHOY'S incompetency in the art of equivocation, I am not
to saybut the sequel of her inquiries was the unshakable conviction
that I had not struck root in the habitation from which my letters were
And in a subsequently forwarded letter she did reproach me
pathetically with my duplicity, and accused me of being a fickleby
which I was so unspeakably cut up that I abstained from the
condescension of a rejoinder.
Next I became the involuntary recipient of another letter in more
intemperate style, menacing me that with a hook or a crook, she would
dislodge me from the loophole in which I was snugly established, and
that several able-bodied boarders were the hue of a full cry in
Since Hereford Road is in dangerous proximity to Ladbroke Grove, I
was sitting tight in my apartments on receipt of this grave
intelligence, with funk in my heart, and the Unknown hovering above me,
when my young friend HOWARD ALLBUTT-INNETT, Esq., arrived with his
bicycle, like a god on a machine, and perceiving the viridity of my
countenance, inquired sympathetically what was up.
At first, being mindful of the excessive liveliness with which he
had bantered my residence in a boarding-house of such mediocre
pretensions, I was naturally disinclined to reveal that I was in the
plight of troth with the proprietress's daughter; but eventually I
overcame my coyness, and uncovered the pretty kettle of fish of my
infandum dolorem, and my ardent longing to hit upon some plan to
extricate myself from the suffocating coils of such a Laocoon.
My dear old chap, he said kindly, after I had unfolded the last
link of my tale of woe, I will put you up in a dodge that will perform
the trick. Don't see the young woman, or she will get round you with
half a jiffy. Write to her that you are not worthy of a rap, and no
more a Prince than I am!
Hearing his last words, I started, and did, like the ghost of
Hamlet, Senior, jump at this dead hour, being convinced that
young HOWARD had found out (perhaps from Hon'ble CUMMERBUND) that my
title was a bogus, and anticipating that, if he divulged the skeleton
of my bare cupboard to his highly genteel parents, I should infallibly
experience the crushing mortification of a chuck out.
However, I hid the fox that was nibbling my vitals by inquiring, in
a rather natural accent, what he meant by such a suggestion.
Are you such an innocent, simple old Johnny, Prince, he said, with
reassuring bonhomie, as not to catch the idea? Do you not know
that European feminines in all ranks of societyalack, even in our
own!are immoderately attracted by anyone possessed of riches and a
titleor of either of the two? As an au faït in the female
temperament, I shall wager that it is nine out of ten that if you spoof
this mercenary young minx into believing that you are merely a native
impecunious nonentity, and not to be shot at with powder, she will
instantaneously drop pursuing such a hot potato.
To this speech (reported verbatim to best of my ability) I
did shake my head sorrowfully, and reply that I greatly feared that
JESSIMINA'S devotion to this unlucky self was too severe to be
diverted, or even checked, like a cow that is infuriated or non
compos mentis, by the mere relinquishment of such tinsel and gewgaw
wraps as a title or worldly belongings, having frequently (and that,
too, prior to our engagement) protested her preference for very
dark-complexioned individuals, and her vehement curiosity to behold
[Illustration: ASCENDED HIS BICYCLE WITH A WAGGISH WINKLE IN HIS
But he, as he ascended his bicycle with a waggish winkle in his eye,
repeated that I might try it on at all events.
Still, I could not induce myself to adopt his spoofish strategy, for
I reflected that, though it might convince her that I was
unmarriageable, it would only increase her fury and the vengeance of
her champion boarders. So at length I composed a moving epistle, as
Poet SHAKSPEARE has shrewdly observed that a true lover never did
run a straight course, and the sincerity of present writer's affection
is incontestably proved by his apparent crookedness of running, and
keeping dark outside the illuminating rays of thy moon-like
countenance. The cause is the unforeseen cataclysm of a decree from my
family astrologer or dowyboghee, whom I have anxiously consulted
upon our joint matrimonial prospects. [MEM. TO THE READERS.This
was what young HOWARD would term the bit of spoof. I am
no ninny-hammer to consult an exploded astrologer!] Miserabile
dictu! the venerable and senile pundit reports that such an
alliance would infallibly plunge us into the peck of troubles, since
the sign of your natal month is the meek and innocent Lambwhile mine
is the more ferocious Lion!
A very slight familiarity with Natural History, &c., will show you
the utter incompatibility of temper between such an uncongenial couple
of animals, and the correctness of said astrologer's prediction that it
must infallibly be the Lamb who would be whiphanded in the unequal
In consequence, though I am beating the floor with my head as I
write, and moistening the carpet with the copiousness of my
lachrymations, I must bid you the final and irrevocable adieu and au
revoir, since I am unwilling to act as a selfish. Think of me as a
prince out of thy star, to quote the reference of SHAKSPEARE'S
character, Polonius, to Hamlet, under precisely similar
circumstances. You will please forget me instanter, and accept
this as my last solemn so-long, which I utter on the threshold of
preparation for the stern and dreaded ordeal of Bar Exam. In frantic
Your ever faithful and broken-hearted Baboo,
P.S.No answer required.
But after an interval of a very few posts, in spite of my strict
injunctions to contrary, I got the answer that she was deeply moved by
my self-sacrifice, and had never loved me more. Having been brought up
in a Christian disbelief of all astronomy, she was not in fear of my
doweybogey or any other native bogies, and nothing should part us, if
she could help it. She added, that I had been seen about Westbourne
On receipt of this touching and beautiful communication I was again
in the stampede of panic, and realised that I must have immediate
resort to some stronger description of Spoof.
It is calamitous that I cannot find a card up my sleeve with the
single exception of my young friend HOWARD'S dodge, which I fear will
prove too filamentous.
However, a faint heart never got rid of a fair lady!
Mr Jabberjee tries a fresh tack. His visit to the India Office
In my last I had the honour to report the total non-success of my
endeavour to nill my betrothal on plea of astrological objections, and
how I was consequentially up the tree of embarrassment.
I have since resolved that honesty is my best politics, and have
confessed to Miss MANKLETOW in a well-expressed curt letter that I am
only the possessor of a courtesy title, and, so far from rolling on the
rosy bed of unlimited rhino, am out of elbows, and dependent upon
parental remittances for pin-money.
For corroboration of said statements I begged to refer her politely
to my benevolent friend and patron, Hon'ble Sir CUMMERBUND, Nevern
Square, South Kensington; to whom I simultaneously wrote a private and
confidential note, instructing him that if any young female person was
to inquire particulars of my birth, origin, &c., he was to tell the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, especially making it
clear that I was neither a tip-top Rajah, nor a Leviathan of filthy
The rest (up to present date) is silence; but I have confident hopes
that the manly, straightforward stratagem suggested by my friend, young
HOWARD, will accomplish the job, and procure me the happy release.
I am now to pass to a different subjectto wit, a visit I paid some
time since to the India Office. The why of the wherefore was that, in
conversation with the ALLBUTT-INNETTS, I had boasted freely of the
credit I was in with certain high grade India Official nobs, who could
refuse me nothing.
Which was hitherto the positive fact, since I had never requested
any favour at their hands.
But Mrs ALLBUTT-INNETT stated that she had heard that the
reception-soirées at said India Office were extremely enjoyable and
classy, and inquired whether I possessed sufficient influence to obtain
for her tickets of admission to one of these select entertainments.
Naturally I had to reply that I could indubitably do the trick, and
would at once proceed to the India Office and interview one of the
senior clerks who regarded me as his brother.
So, after procuring a Whitaker Almanack, and hunting up the
name of one of the most senior, I cabbed to Whitehall. Inside the
entrance I found an attendant sitting at a table absorbed in reading,
who rose and inquired my business, and upon my statement that I desired
to see Mr BREAKWATER, Esq., on urgent business, courteously directed me
up a marble staircase, at the top of which was a second attendant, also
engaged in brown studyfor the attendants appear to be laudably
addicted to the cultivation of their minds.
He informed me that I should find Mr BREAKWATER'S room down a
certain corridor, and proceeding thither, I stopped a clerk who was
hurrying along with his hands full of documents, and represented that I
had come for an immediate interview with Mr BREAKWATER on highly
He demanded incredulously whether Mr BREAKWATER expected me.
This elevated my monkey, and I retorted, haughtily, that I was the
bosom friend of said Mr B., who would be overjoyed to receive me, and,
following him into a room, I peremptorily demanded that he should
inform his master without fail that Baboo JABBERJEE was there.
Whereupon, with the nonchalance of a Jack in an office, he rang a
bell and desired an attendant to usher me to the waiting-room.
There, in a large gloomy apartment, surrounded by portraits of
English and Native big pots, I did sit patiently sucking the golden nob
of my umbrella for a quarter of an hour, until the attendant returned,
saying, that Mr BREAKWATER could see me now, and presently showed me
into the aforesaid private room, where, behind a large table covered
with wicker baskets containing dockets and memoranda, et hoc genus
omne, sat the very gentleman whom I had recently taken for his own
Formerly I should have proffered abject excuses, but I am now
sufficiently up in British observances to know that the only necessary
is a frank and breezy apology.
So, disguising my bashful confusion, I said, I am awfully sorry
that I took you, my dear old chap, for a common ordinary fellow; but
remember the proverb, that 'appearances are deceitful,' and do not
reveal a thin skin about a rather natural mistake.
Mr BREAKWATER courteously entreated me not to mention the affair,
but to state my business briefly. Accordingly I related how I was a
native Bengalee student, at present moving Heaven and Earth to pass Bar
Exam, and my intimate connection with the distinguished Bayswater
family of the ALLBUTT-INNETTS, who were consumed with longing for free
tickets to an official soirée. I then described the transcendent
charms of Miss WEE-WEE, and my own ardent desire to obtain her grateful
recognition by procuring the open sesame for self and friends.
Furthermore, I pointed out that, as an official in the India Office, he
was in loco parentis to myself, and bound to indulge all my
reasonable requests, and I assured him that if he exhibited generosity
on this occasion, the entire ALLBUTT-INNETT family, self included,
would ever pray on the crooked hinges of knees for his temporal and
He heard me benignantly, but said he regretted that it was not in
his power to oblige me.
You are not to suppose, I said, that I am a native TOM-DICK or
HARRY. I am a B.A. of Calcutta University, and candidate for call to
Bar. In additum, I am the literary celebrity, being especially
retained to jot and tittle for the periodical of Punch.
Mr BREAKWATER assured me earnestly that he fully appreciated my many
distinguished claims, but that he was under an impossibility of
granting my petition for an invite to the annual summer soirée,
owing to the fact that aforesaid festivity was already the fait
How is that? I exclaimed. Have I not read in the daily press of a
grand durbar to be given shortly in honour of Hon'ble HUNG
But that is at the Foreign Office, he objected; we have no
connection with such a concern.
[Illustration: PITCH IT STRONG, MY RESPECTABLE SIR!]
The Foreign Office would be better than nullity, I said. I will
tell you what to do. Write me a letter to show to the head of the
Foreign Office. You can state that you have known me intimately for a
long time, and that I am deserving of patronage. Hint, for instance,
that it is impolitic to show favouritism to one Oriental (such as a
Chinese) rather than another, and that you will regard any kindness
done to me as the personal favour to yourself. Pitch it strong, my
He, however, protested that any recommendation from him would be a
You are too modest, honoured Sir! I told him, seeing that flattery
was requisite; but I am not the ignoramus of how highly your character
and virtues are esteemed, and I can assure you that you are not so
contemptible a nonentity as you imagine. Listen to me; I am now to go
to the Foreign Office, and shall there assume the liberty of mentioning
your distinguished name as a referee.
With benevolent blandness he accorded me full permission to go where
I liked, and say anything I chose, recommending me warmly to depart
Seeing him so well-disposed, I ventured, on taking my leave, to pat
his shoulder in friendly facetiousness, and to say, It is all right,
old boy. Remember, I have complete bonâ fides in your ability to
work the oracle for me successfully. Which rendered him sotto voce
But alack! at the Foreign Office, after stating my business and
sitting like Patience on a Monument for two immortal hours, I was
officially informed that the Principal Secretary of State for Foreign
Affairs was not in, and that all the Private and Under Secretaries were
This, I must respectfully submit, is not exactly the correct style
to conduct a first-class Empire!
Mr Jabberjee distinguishes himself in the Bar Examination, but is
successful in other respects. He writes another extremely
epistle, from which he anticipates the happiest results.
I am happy to announce that I have passed the pons asinorum
of Bar Exam with facility of a needle penetrating the camel's eye.
Tant mieux! Huzza! Tol-de-rol-loll!!!
[Illustration: HUZZA! TOL-DE-ROL-LOLL!]
My dilatoriness in publishing this joyful intelligence is due to
fact that I have only recently received official information of my
triumph, which my family are now engaged in celebrating at Calcutta
with pæans of transport, illuminations, fireworks, an English brass
band, and delicacies supplied (on contract system) from Great Eastern
And yet so great was my humility that, when I entered Lincoln's Inn
Hall one Monday shortly before 10 A.M., and received pens, some
foolscaps, and a printed exam paper on the Law of Real and Personal
Property and Conveyancing, I was at first as melancholy as a gib cat,
and like to eat my head with despair!
So much so that I began my answers by pathetically imploring my
indulgent father examiner to show me his bowels of compassion, on
ground that I was an unfortunate Bengalee chap, afflicted by narrow
circumstances and a raging tooth, and that my entire earthly felicity
depended upon my being favoured with qualifying marks.
However, on perusal of the paper, I found that, owing to diligent
cram and native aptitude for nice sharp quillets of the law, I could
floor it upon my caput, being at home with every description of
mortgage, and having such things as reversions and contingent
remainders at the extremities of my finger-ends.
In the afternoon I was again examined in Law and Equity, answering
nearly every question with great copiousness and best style of
composition, quoting freely from Hon'ble SNELL and UNDERHILL to back my
opinion. Unhappily, I lost some of my precious time because, finding
that I was required by the paper to discuss a certain statement, I
left my seat in search of some pundit with whom I might carry on such a
logomachy. And even now I fail to see how one individual can discuss a
question in pen and ink, any more than a single hand is capable of
making a clap. Which I gave as my reason for not attempting the
The ordeal endured for four days. In the Roman Law department, I was
on the spot with Stillicidium and similar servitudes, and in
Criminal Law I did vastly distinguish myself by polishing off an
intricate legal problem about Misters A., B. and C., and certain
bicycles, though, as I stated in a postscriptum, not being the
practical cyclist, I could not be at all responsible for the accuracy
of my solution, and hinted that it was somewhat infra dig. for
such solemn dry-as-dusts as the Council of Legal Education to take any
notice at all of these fashionable but flimsy mechanisms.
When called up for vivâ voce purposes, I dumb-foundered my
examiner by the readiness and volubility of my responses, to such an
extent that, after asking one question only, he intimated his complete
satisfaction, and I divined by his smiles that he was secretly
determined to work the oracle in my favour.
And so I arrived at the pretty Pass by dint of flourishing my
trumpet. But, heigho! some fly or other is the indispensable adjunct of
every pot of ointment, and while I was still jumping for joy at having
passed the steep barrier of such a Rubicon, there came a letter from
Miss JESSIMINA which constrained me to cachinnate upon the wrong side
It appeared that, pursuant of my request, she had been to call upon
Hon'ble Sir CHETWYND, who had duly informed her that I was not the
genuine Rajah or any kind of real Prince, nor yet a Croesus with
Here, if Hon'ble CUMMERBUND had stopped, or represented me as a
worthless riddance of bad rubbish, all would have been well; but most
unhappily he did exceed his instructions, and added that I was of
respectable, well-to-do parentage, and very industrious young chap with
first-class abilities, and likely to obtain lucrative practice at
JESSIMINA wrote that she hoped she was not so mercenary as to be
attracted by mere rank, and that it was enough for her that I was in
the position to maintain her as a lady, so she would continue to hold
me to my promise of marriage, and if I still declined to perform, she
would be reluctantly compelled to place the matter in hands of lawyer.
On seeing that my second attempt to spoof was similarly the utter
failure, I became like pig in poke with perplexity, until I was
suddenly inspired by the ebullient flash of a happy idea, and taking up
my penna, inscribed the following epistle:
MAGNANIMOUS AND EVER ADORABLE JESSIMINA!
I am immensely tickled with flattered complacency at your
indomitable desire to become the bride of such a man of straw as this
undeserving self, and will no longer offer any factious opposition to
But in the intoxicating ardour of my billing and cooing I may have
omitted to mention that, when I have led you to the Hymeneal altar, you
will not be alone in your glory. As a Koolin Brahmin, I am, by laws of
my country, entitled to about thirty or forty spouses, though, owing to
natural timidity and economical reasons, I have not hitherto availed
myself of said privilege.
However, when that I was a little tiny boy, I was compelled by
family pressure to contract matrimony with an equally juvenile female
of eight, and, though circumstances have prevented the second ceremony
being celebrated on arriving at the more mature age of discretion, such
infant marriage is notwithstanding the binding affair.
What of it? Your overwhelming affection will render you totally
indifferent to the unpleasant side of your position as a sateen
or rival wife, though it is the antipode of the bed of roses,
especially under internecine feuds and perpetual snipsnaps with sundry
aunts and sisters-in-law of mine of rather nagging idiosyncracies. But
ignorance of language will probably blind your sensitive ears to the
sneering and ill-natured tone of their remarks.
I can only say that I am quite ready (if you insist upon it) to
fulfil my contract to best ability, and undertake the heavy burden
which Providence has, very injudiciously, saddled upon my feeble back.
Mr CHUCKERBUTTY RAM, of 15 Jubilee Terrace, Clapham, was present at my
first wedding, and will doubtless certify to same on application.
Ever yours faithfully and devotedly,
H. B. J.
In writing the above, I was well aware that there is a strong
prejudice in the mind of European feminines in favour of monogamy, and
my letter (as will be seen by the intelligent reader) was rather
cleverly composed so as to shift the burden of breach of contract from
my shoulders to hers.
So that I rubbed my hands with gleeful jubilation on receiving her
reply that she was astounded with wonderment at the sublimity of my
cheek in supposing that she would play the subordinate fiddle to any
native wife, and that she had communicated with CHUCKERBUTTY RAM, Esq.,
and if my statement re infant marriage (which at present she
suspected to be a mere spoof) proved correct, she would certainly
decline my insulting offer.
Now as it is the undeniable fact that I was wedded when a mere
juvenile, I shall save my brush from this near shaveprovided that Mr
CHUCKERBUTTY RAM has received my tip in time and does not, like Hon'ble
CUMMERBUND, go beyond his instructions.
But this is not reasonably probable, Baboo CHUCKERBUTTY RAM being a
tolerably discreet, subtle chap.
Mr Jabberjee halloos before he is quite out of the Wood.
Being (to my best of belief) satisfactorily off with the old love, I
naturally became as playful as a kitten or gay as a grig. For the most
superficial observer, and with the half of a naked optic, could easily
discern the immeasurable superiority of Miss WEE-WEE to JESSIMINA in
all the refinements and delicacies of a real English lady, and
although, up to present date, the timidity of girlishness has
restrained Miss ALLBUTT-INNETT from reciprocating my increasing
spooniness, her parents and brother are of an overwhelming cordiality,
and repeatedly mention their ardent hope that I may become their guest
up in the hills some time this autumn.
So that Hope is already recommencing to hop jauntily about the
secret chamber of my heart.
For, seeing the magnanimous contempt for the snobbishness of chasing
a tuft that actuates their bosoms, I am no longer apprehensive that
their affection for this present writer will be at all impaired by the
revelation that he is merely a member of nature's nobility. Rather the
As Poet BURNS remarks with great truthfulness, Rank is but a
penny stamp and a Man is a Man and all that. Nevertheless, for the
present, I am resolved to remain mum as a mouse.
Since I am now in their pockets for a perpetuity, I was privileged
on a recent evening to escort the ALLBUTT-INNETT ladies to the Empire
of India Exhibition, upon which I shall now pronounce the opinion of an
expert, though space forbids me to describe its multitudinous marvels,
save with the brevity of a soul of wit.
In the Cinghalese Palace we beheld a highly pious Yogi from
Ceylon, who had trained himself to perform his devotions with one of
his legs embracing his neck, or walking upon the caps of his knees with
his toes inserted into his waistband. But I am not convinced that such
a style of prayer-making is at all superior in reverence to more
ordinary attitudes, especially when exhibited publicly for an
I feel proud to narrate that, at Miss WEE-WEE'S urgent entreaties, I
subdued my native funkiness so far as to make the revolution of the
Gigantic Wheel, in spite of grave apprehensions that it would prove but
a house of cards, or suddenly become totally immobilethough to pass
interminable hours at a lofty attitude with such a lively companion
might, on secondary thoughts, have possessed pleasing saccharine
compensations. Nevertheless, I was relieved when we descended without
having hitched anywhere, and I did most firmly decline to fly in the
face of Providence for five shillings in the basket of a captive
The Indian street is constructed with cleverness, but gives a very,
very inadequate idea of the principal Calcutta thoroughfares; moreover,
to cultivated Indian intellects, the fuss made by English ladies over
native artisans and mechanics of rather so-so abilities and appearance
seems a little ludicrous!
After dining, we witnessed the Historical Spectacle of India in the
Empress Theatre, and Miss WEE-WEE made the criticism that the fall of
Somnath was accomplished with a too great facility, since its so-called
defenders did lie down with perfect tameness and counterfeit death
immediately the army of Sultan MAHMUD galloped their horses through the
But this appeared to me rather a typical and prudent exercise of
It seemsthough (in spite of extensive historical researches) I was
in previous ignorance of the factthat Sultan MAHMUD, the Great Mogul
AKBAR, and SIVAJI, the Mahratta Chief, were each taken in tow and
personally conducted by a trio of Divine Guides, respectively named
Love, Mercy and Wisdom, who came forward whenever nothing of
consequence was transpiring, and sang with the melodiousness of
As for the representation of the Hindu Paradise, I shall confess to
some disappointment, seeing that it was exclusively reserved to
military masculinesthe more highly educated civilian class of Baboos
being left out of the cold altogether! Nor am I in love with a future
state in which there is so much dancing up and down lofty flights of
stairs with terpsichorean energy, and manoeuvring in companies and
circles with members of the softer sex. As a philosophical conception
of disembodied existence, it is undeniably deficient in repose, though
perhaps good enough for ordinary fighting chaps!
I spent a rapturous and ripping evening, however, greatly owing to
the condescension of Miss WEE-WEE, who exhibited such entertainment at
my comments that I left under the confident persuasion that I was
infallibly to be the favoured swain.
On returning to Hereford Road, I found a last letter from JESSIMINA,
beseeching me, for the sake of Old Langsyne, to meet her on the
following evening at Westbourne Park Station, and mentioning that
certain events had occurred to change her views, and she was now only
desirous for an amicable arrangement.
Accordingly, perceiving that I had no longer any reason to dread
such an encounter, and not wishing her to peak and pine through my
unkindness, I wrote at once accepting the rendezvous.
When I duly turned up, lo and behold! I found she was escorted, not
only by her eagle-eyed mother (JESSIMINA herself inherits, in
Hamlet's immortal phraseology, an eye like Ma's, to threaten or
command"), but also by a juvenile individual with a black neck-tie and
Hebrew profile, whom she formerly introduced to me as Mr SOLOMONS.
Though a little hurt by this proof of the rapidity of feminine
fickleness, I began to congratulate her effusively on having obtained
such an excellent substitute for my worthless self, and to wish the
happy couple all earthly felicities, when she explained that he was not
a fiancé, but merely a sort of friend, and Mrs MANKLETOW
severely added that they had come to know whether I still declined to
fulfil my legal contract.
Naturally I made the answer that I had recently offered to fulfil
same to best ability, but that, my offer having been declined with
contumeliousness, the affair was now on its end.
Here JESSIMINA said that she had of course refused to marry a man
who declared that he was already the owner of a dusky spouse, but that,
on inquiries from Mr CHUCKERBUTTY RAM, she had made the discovery that
my said infant wife had popped off with some juvenile complaint or
other three or four years ago.
At this I was rendered completely flabaghastfor, although the
allegation was undeniably correct, I had confidently hoped that my
friend RAM was unaware of the fact, or would at least have the ordinary
mother-wit to refrain from blurting it out! Et tu, Brute! But
I must make the dismal confession that my friends are mostly a very
fat-witted sort of fellows.
Que faire?except to explain that my melancholy bereavement
must have entirely slipped off my memory, and that in any case it had
no logical connection with the matter in hand.
Then Mrs MANKLETOW inquired, would I, or would I not, marry her
illused child? and stated that all she wished for was a plain answer.
I replied that it was a very natural and moderate desire, and I was
prepared to gratify it at once by the plain answer ofNot on any
Whereupon Mr SOLOMONS stepped forward and politely handed me a
folded paper, and, observing that he thought there was no need to
protract the interview, he lifted his hat and went off with the ladies,
leaving myself upon a bench endeavouring to get the sense of the
official document into my baffled and bewildered nob.
[Illustration: A ROYAL COMMAND FROM THE QUEEN-EMPRESS.]
Eventually, I gathered that it was a Royal command from the
Queen-Empress, backed by the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain,
that I was to enter my appearance in an action at the suit of JEMIMA
MANKLETOW for a claim of damages for having breached my promise to
* * * * *
No matter! Pugh! Fiddle-de-dee! Never mind! Who cares?
Having successfully passed Exam, and been called to the Bar, I am
now an amicus curiæ, and the friend in Court.
I shall enter my appearance in the forensic costume of wig and gown.
What will be the price of the plaintiff's pleadings then,
Mr Jabberjee places himself in the hands of a solicitorwith
I concluded my foregoing instalment, narrating my service of a writ
for breaching a promise of marriage, with a spirited outburst of
insouciance and devilmaycarefulness.
But such courage of a Dutch evaporated deplorably on closer perusal
of the said writ, which contained the peremptory mandate that I was to
enter my appearance within the incredibly short notice of eight days,
or the judgment would be given in my absence!
Now it was totally out of the question that I was to prepare a long
complicated defence, and have the requisite witnesses, and also perfect
myself in the customs and etiquettes of Common Law Procedure, all in
such a ridiculously brief period; and yet, if I remained perdu
with a hidden head, I could not hope for even the minimum of justice,
since, heigh-ho! les absents ont toujours tort. So that I shed
blistering and scalding tears like a spanked child, to find myself
confronting such a devil of a deep sea, and my day was dismal and my
night a nonentity, until, by a great piece of potluck, on going up the
next morning to the library of my Inn, I espied my young friend HOWARD
in the compound, busily employed in a lawn tennis game.
Having partially poured the cat from my bag already into his
sympathetic and receptive bosom, I decided to confide to him my hard
case in its entirety, and so made him a secret sign that I desired some
private confabulations at his earliest conveniency, which he observing,
after the termination of the match, came towards the remote bench
whereon I was forlornly moping, and sat down kindly by my side.
This young ALLBUTT-INNETT, I am to mention here, had only just
missed succeeding in the passing of Bar Exam owing to the inveterate
malignancy of his stars and lack of a more industrial temperament; but
from the coolness of his cheek, and complete man-of-the-worldliness, is
a most judicious and tip-top adviser to friends in tight places.
Experto crede, for, when he had heard the latest particulars
of my shocking imbroglio, he promptly gave me the excellent
advice that I was to consult a solicitor; strongly recommending a Mr
SIDNEY SMARTLE, who was a former schoolmate of his own, and a good
thundering chap, and who (he thought) was not so overburdened as yet by
legal business that he could not find time for working the oracle on my
And look here, JAB, he added (he has sometimes the extreme
condescension to address me as an abbreviation), I'll trot you up to
him at onceand I say, A 1 idea! tell him you mean to be your own
counsel, and do all the speechifying yourself. Native prince, in
brand-new wig and gown, defending himself single-handed from wiles of
artful adventuresswhy, you'll knock the jury as if with old boots!
Alack, said I, sorrowfully; though I am quite competent to become
the stump orator at shortest notice, I do not see how I can enter my
first appearance until I have carefully instructed Misters RAM and
JALPANYBHOY in the evidence they are to give and leave untold, &c., and
a week is too scanty and fugitive a period for such preparations!
Nonsense and stuff! he replies, you will have a lot more than
that, since the week only applies to entering an appearancewhich is a
mere farcical formality that old SID can perform in your place on his
head. At which I was greatly relieved.
But on arrival at Mr SMARTLE'S office in Chancery Lane, we were
disappointed to be informed, by a small, juvenile clerk, that he was
absent at Wimbledon on urgent professional affairs, and his return was
the unknown quantity. However, after waiting till close upon the hour
of tiffin, he unexpectedly turned up in a suit of knickerbockers,
carrying a long, narrow bag full of metal-headed rods, and although
rather adolescent than senile in physical appearance I was vastly
impressed by the offhanded cocksurety of his manner.
My friend HOWARD introduced me, and exhibited my doleful predicament
in the shell of a nut, whereupon Mr SMARTLE jauntily pronounced it to
be the common garden breach of promise, but that we had better all
repair to the First Avenue Hotel and lunch, and talk the affair over
Which we did in the smoking-room after lunch, with coffee, liqueurs,
and cigars, &c., for which I had to pay, as a Tommy Dod, and the odd
man out of pocket.
Mr SMARTLE, after listening attentively to my narrative, said that I
certainly seemed to him to have let myself into the deuced cavity of a
hole by so publicly proclaiming my engagement, but that my status as an
oriental foreigner, and the fact I had assertedviz., that my promise
was extorted from me by compulsion and sheer physical funkinessmight
pull me through, unless the plaintiff were of superlative loveliness
(which, fortunately, is by no means the case).
He added, that we had better engage WITHERINGTON, Q.C., as he was
notoriously the crossest examiner at the Common Bar.
But to this I opposed the sine quâ non that I am to have the
sole control of my case in court, and reap the undivided kudos,
assuring him that I should be able to cross-examine all witnesses until
they could not stand on one leg. From some private motives of his own,
he sought to overcome my determination, hinting that, as my calling and
election to the Bar were not yet an ancient history, I might not
possess sufficient experience; and moreover that, by appearing in
barristerial garbage, I should infallibly forfeit the indulgence shown
by a judge to ordinary litigants; to which I responded by pointing out
that I was a typical Indian in the matter of legal subtlety and
ready-made wit, and that, if not capable of conducting my own
case, how, then, could I be fit to undertake a logomachy for any third
parties? finally, that it is proverbially unnecessary to keep a dog
when you are equally proficient in the practice of barking yourself.
Whereupon, silenced by my a fortiori and reductio ad
absurdum, he gave way, saying that it was my own affair, and,
anyhow, there would be plenty of time to consider such a matter, since
the plaintiff might not choose to do anything further till after the
Long Vacation, and we could easily postpone the hearing of the action
until the Midsummer of next year.
I, however, earnestly protested that I did not wish so
procrastinated a delay, as I desired to make my forensic début
at the earliest possible moment, and urged him to leave no stone
unturned to get the job finished by November at least, suggesting that
if we could ascertain the name and address of the judge who was to try
the case, I might call upon him, and, in a private and confidential
interview, ascertain the extent of his disposition in my favour, and
the length of his foot.
To which Mr SMARTLE replied that he could not recommend any such
tactics, as I should certainly ascertain the dimensions of the judicial
foot in a literal and painful manner.
Now I must conclude with a livelier piece of intelligence: I am now
in receipt of the wished-for invitation to visit the ALLBUTT-INNETT
family at the elegant mansion (orto speak Scottishlymanse") they
have hired for a few weeks in the savage and romantic mountains of
Mrs A.-I. wrote that there is no shooting attached to the manse, but
several aristocratic friends of theirs own moors in the vicinity, and
will inevitably invite them and their visitors to sport with them, so
that, as she believed I was the keen sportsman, I had better bring my
Alack! I am not the happy possessor of any lethal weapon, but,
having since this invitation practised diligently upon tin moving
beasts, bottles, and eggs rendered incredibly lively by a jet of steam,
I am at last an au fait with a crackshot, and no end of a
I do not think I shall purchase a gun, for there is a young English
acquaintance of mine who is the Devil's Own Volunteer, and who will no
doubt have the good nature to lend me his rifle for a week or two.
As to costume, my tailor assures me that it is totally unnecessary
to assume the national raiment of a Scotch, unless I am prepared to
stalk after a stag. But why should I be deterred by any cowardly fear
from pursuing so constitutionally timid a quadruped? I have therefore
commissioned him to manufacture me a petticoat kilt, with a chequered
tartan, and other accessories, for when we are going to Rome, it is the
mark of politeness to dress in the Romish style.
[Illustration: WOULD BE GREATLY IMPROVED BY THE SIMPLE ADDITION OF
The Caledonian costume is indubitably becoming; but would, I venture
humbly to think, be greatly improved by the simple addition of some
Mr Jabberjee delivers his Statement of Defence, and makes his
preparations for the North. He allows his patriotic sentiments
get the better of him in a momentary outburst of disloyaltyto
which no serious importance need be attached.
My fair plaintiff has not suffered the grass of inaction to grow
upon her feet, having already issued her Statement of Claim, by which
she alleges that I proposed marriage on a certain date, and did
subsequently, on divers occasions, treat her, in the presence of sundry
witnesses, as an affianced, after which I mizzled into obscurity, and
on various pretexts did decline, and do still decline, to fulfil my
nuptial contract, by which conduct the plaintiff, being grievously
afflicted in mind, body, and estate, claims damages to the doleful tune
(N.B.I have thought it advisable here and there to translate the
legal phraseology into more comprehensible verbiage.)
Now such a claim is to milk a ram, or prendre la lune avec les
dents, seeing that I am not a proprietor of even one thousand
rupees. Nevertheless (as I have informed Mr SMARTLE), my progenitor,
the Mooktear, will bleed to any reasonable extent of costs out of
I have held frequent and lengthy interviews with the said SMARTLE,
Esq., who is of incredible despatch and celeritythough I sometimes
regret that I did not procure a solicitor of a more senile and
Assuredly had I done so, such an one would not, after perusing my
Statement of Defencea most magnificently voluminous document of over
fifty folios, crammed and stuffed with satirical hits and sideblows,
and pathetic appeals for the Bench's indulgence, and replete with
familiar quotations from best classical and continental authorssuch
an one, I say, would not have split his sides with disrespectful
chucklings, thrown my composition into a wasted paper receptacle, and
proceeded to knock off a meagre substitute of his own, containing a
very few dry bald paragraphs, in the inadequately brief space of under
Such, however, was Mr SMARTLE'S course; and the sole consolation is
that, owing to his unprofessional precipitation, the action was set
down for trial previously to the commencement of the Long Vacation, and
my case may come on some time next Term, and I be put out of my misery
at the close of the year.
My aforesaid legal adviser, finding that I adhered with the tenacity
of bird-slime to my determination to conduct my case in person, did
hint in no ambiguous language, that it might perhaps be even better for
me to do the guy next November to my native land, and snip my fingers
then from a safe distance at the plaintiff.
But it is not my practice to exhibit a white feather (except when
prostrated by severe bodily panics), and I am consumed by an ardent
impatience to air my fluencies and legal learnedness before the
publicity of a London Law Court.
Now, begone dull care! for I am to dismiss all litigious thoughts
till October or November next, and become a Dolce far niente,
chasing the deer with my heart in the Highlands.
My volunteering acquaintance, by the way, has declined to lend me
his rifle, on the transparent pretence that it was contrary to
regulations, and that it was not the bon ton to pursue
grouse-birds and the like with so war-like a weapon.
So, on young HOWARD'S advice, I made the purchase from a pawnbroker
of a lethal instrument, provided with a duplicate bore, so that, should
a bird happen by any chance to escape my first barrel, the second will
infallibly make him bite the dust.
I have also purchased some cartridges of a very pleasing colour, a
hunting knife, and a shot belt and pouch, and if I can only procure
some inexpensive kind of sporting hound from the Dogs' Home, I shall be
forewarned and forearmed cap à pie for the perils and pleasures
of the chase.
Miss WEE-WEE did earnestly advise me, inasmuch as I was about to go
amongst the savage hill tribes of canny Scotians, to previously make
myself acquainted with their idioms, &c., for which purpose she lent me
some romances written entirely in Caledonian dialects, also the
compositions of Hon. Poet BURNS.
But hoity-toity! after much diligent perusal, I arrived at the
conclusion that such works were sealed books to the most intelligent
foreigner, unless he is furnished with a good Scotch grammar and
And mirabile dictu! though I have made diligent inquiries of
various London booksellers, I have found it utterly impossible to
obtain such works in Englanda haughty and arrogantly dispositioned
country, more inclined to teach than to learn!
How many of your boasted British Cabinet, supposed to rule our
countless millions of so-called Indian subjects, would be capable to
sit down and read and translatecorrectlya single sentence
from the Mahábhárat in the original?
Not more, I shrewdly suspect, than half a dozen at most!
So it is not to be expected that any more interest would be
displayed in the language and literature of a country like Scotland,
which is notoriously wild and barren and less densely populated and
productive than the most ordinary districts of Bengal.
Oh, you pusillanimous Highland chiefs and other misters! how long
will you tamely submit to such offhanded treatment? Will the day never
come when, with whirling sporrans and flashing pibrochs you will rise
against the alien oppressor, and demand Home Rule, together with the
total abolition of present disdainful British insouciance?
When that day dawnsif everplease note this piece of private
intelligence from an authorised source: Young Bengal will be with
you in your struggle for Autonomy. If not in body, assuredly in
spirit. Possibly in both.
I say no more, in case I should be accused of trying to stir up
seditious feelings; but, as a patriotic Baboo gentleman, my blood will
boil occasionally at instances of stuck-up English self-sufficiency,
and the worm in the bud, if nipped too severely, may blossom into a
rather formidable serpent!
[Illustration: I AM ADDRESSED BY AN UNDERBRED STREET-URCHIN AS A
As, for instance, when, in the course of an inoffensive promenade, I
am addressed by an underbred street-urchin as a blooming blacky, and
cannot induce a policeman to compel my aggressor to furnish me with his
name and address or that of his parents, or even to offer the most
Enough of these rather bitter reflections, however. I omitted to
mention that I am also the proprietor (at the same pawnbroker's where I
bought my breeches-loader gun) of a very fine second-hand salmon-rod, a
great bargain and immense value, with which I hope to be able to catch
a great quantity of fishes.
For there is, according to young HOWARD, good fishing in a burn
adjoining the Manse, so I shall follow King Solomon's injunctions, and
not spare the rod and spoil the salmons, though if I should happen to
spoil my rod, the salmons would inevitably in consequence be
This is a sample of the kind of verbal pleasantries in which, when
in exhilarated high spirits, I sometimes facetiously indulge.
Mr Jabberjee relates his experiences upon the Moors.
I am now an acclimatised denizen of Caledonia stern and wild; which,
however, turns out to be milder and tamer than depicted by the
jaundiced hand of national jealousy.
For, since my arrival at this hamlet of Kilpaitrick, N.B., I have
not once beheld any species of savage hill-man; moreover, the adult
inhabitants are clothed with irreproachable decency, and, if the
juveniles run about with denuded feet and heads, where is the shocking
Mr ALLBUTT-INNETT, sen., did me the honour to appear in person upon
the Kilpaitrick platform, and welcome me with outspread arms to his
temporary hearth and home, but I shall have the candour of confessing
my disappointment with the size and appearance of the same. It appears
that a Manse is not at all a palatial edifice, furnished with a
plethora of marble halls and vassals and serfs, &c., but simply the
very so-so and two-storied abode of some local priest!
My gracious hostess was to tender profuse apologies for its
homeliness, on the plea that it is refreshing at times to lay aside
ceremonial magnificence and unbend in rural simplicity, though it is
not humanly possible to unbend oneself upon the thorny bosoms of chairs
and couches severely upholstered with the prickling hairs of an extinct
Still, as I assured Miss WEE-WEE, she is the happy owner of a
magical knack to transform, by her sheer apparition, the humblest hovel
into the first-class family residence with every modern improvement.
With the said Miss I continue on terms of hand and gloveship, with
mutual harmless jokes, which would perhaps be as caviare on toast to a
general, though I shall venture to recount some examples.
[Illustration: OF INCREDIBLE BASHFULNESS AND BUCOLICAL
A certain local young laird, of incredible bashfulness and bucolical
appearance, is a frequent visitor at the manse, and the fervent admirer
of Miss WEE-WEE, who cannot endure the tedium of his society, and is
constantly endeavouring to escape therefrom.
Now his name is Mr CRUM, and I have frequently entertained her in
private by play upon the word, alluding to him as Mister CRUST,
Mister OATCAKE, or the Scotch Bun, and the like; but he informed me
that he preferred to be addressed as Balbannock, and upon my
inquiring his reasons for selecting such an alias, he answered that it
was because he inhabited a house of that name.
Whereupon I facetiously requested that he would address myself in
future as Mister Seventy-nine, Hereford Road, Bayswater, which stroke
of wit occasioned inextinguishable merriment from Miss WEE-WEE, though
it did not excite from the aforesaid laird so much as the smallest
From an ingrained love of teasing, and also the natural desire to
stimulate her appreciation of my superior fertility in small talk and
l'art de plaire, I do often slyly contrive to inflict his sole
society upon herto the huge entertainment of her father and mother,
who carry on the joke by assisting my manoeuvrings; but, although it
affords me a flattering gratification to be plaintively upbraided by
Miss WEE-WEE for my cruel desertion, I am resolved not to persist in
such heartless pranks beyond her natural endurance.
Shortly after my arrival I heard from my host that he was the
recipient of an invitation from a Mister BAGSHOT, Q.C., that he and his
son HOWARD would accompany him to a shooting expedition upon some
adjacent moors, and that, being now immoderately plump, and past his
prime as a potshot, he had requested leave to nominate myself as his
budli or substitute, explaining that I was a young Indian prince of
great prowess at every kind of big games.
Accordingly, to my great delight, it was arranged that I should take
My young friend HOWARD, beholding me appear at the breakfast-table
arrayed in my short kilt and superincumbent belly-purse with tassels,
did entreat me to change myself into ordinary knickerbockers, lest I
should catch death with a cold.
But I declined, disdaining such dangers, and assuring him that I did
not at all dislike the excessive ventilation of my knees.
We drove to Mr BAGSHOT'S residence, Rowans Castle, in a hired
machine, and found the gentlemen-shooters gathered outside the portico.
Amongst the party I was pleased to observe Hon'ble Justice CUMMERBUND,
who, when we were all ascended into the waggonette-break, did rally me
very good-humouredly upon some mixed bag of elephants and tigers he had
heard (or so he said) I had accomplished in some up-country jungle.
At first, knowing that this was the utter impossibility, I perspired
with terror that he was making me the fool, but apparently he was
himself under a misunderstanding, for when we had left the vehicle and
were preparing to advance, he paid me the distinguished compliment of
entreating that I might be awarded the command of one extremity of the
line, while he himself was to preside over the opposite end!
And thus we commenced to climb a steep hill, thickly covered with a
very pricklesome heather, and black slimy bogs, wherein the varnish of
my patent-leather shoes did soon become totally dimmed. So, being
gravely incommoded by the shortness of my wind, I entrusted my musket
to an under-keeper, begging him to inform me of the early approach of
any stag or deer.
However, we saw nothing to shoot at except various sorts of wild
poultry, and when some of these flew up immediately in front of me, I
was too late, owing to the carriage of my gun by an underling, to do
more than fire off a couple of barrels as a declaration of hostility.
But profiting by this lesson in being semper paratus, I
refused to part again with my deadly instrument, and stumbled manfully
onwards with finger upon the triggers, letting them fly instantaneously
at the first appearance of any animals feræ naturæ.
It is not customary, I was assured, to slay the wild sheep in these
districts, though horned, and of an excessively ferocious appearance,
and even when firing my bullets at birds, I was subjected to continual
reproofs from some officious keeper or other.
For example, I was not to shoot into a flock of partridges, for the
superstitious reason, forsooth! that it was still the month of August,
which is supposed to be unlucky!
Again, I was rebuked for burning powder at a grey hen, because it is
the wife of a black-cock, which may be shot with impunity. Although a
highly chivalrous chap in questions of the fairer sex, I am yet to see
why it is allowable to render the female bird a bereaved widow, but
totally forbidden to make the male a widower! Or why it is permissible
to slay a minute bird such as a snipe, while a titlark is on no account
to be touched.
Being eventually exasperated by these unreasonable faultfindings,
seeing that I had merely emptied my gun-barrels without actually
destroying any of these sacred volatiles, I addressed the keeper in the
withering tones of a sarcasm: Mister Keeper, I said, as I am not the
ornithologist or soothsayer to distinguish infallibly every species of
bird by instinct when flying with incredible velocity, would it not be
better that I should discharge no shots in future?
To which, abashed by my severity, he replied that he could not just
say that it would make any considerable difference whether I fired at
all or none.
My fellow-shooters, however, could not refrain from shouting with
irrepressible admiration at the intrepidity with which, forestalling
the fleetest dogs, I did rush forward to pick up the fallen
grouse-birds, and repeatedly exhorted me to take greater care for my
I cannot say that they exhibited equivalent courageousness, seeing
that, so often as I raised my gun to fire, they flung themselves upon
their stomachs in the heather until I had finished, upon which I
rallied them mercilessly upon their timidity, assuring them repeatedly
that they had nothing to fear.
Yet English and Scotch alike accuse us Bengalees of being subject to
excessive funkiness. What about the Pot and the Kettle, Misters?
I am to reserve the conclusion of my shooting experiences until a
Mr Jabberjee concludes the thrilling account of his experiences
Scotch moor, greatly to his own glorification.
Now to resume the rather arbitrarily truncated account of my gunnery
on Scottish moors.
Before luncheon I ventured to remonstrate earnestly with my
entertainer, Mr BAGSHOT, Q.C., concerning the extreme severity with
which he chastised a juvenile sporting hound of his for such trivial
offences as running after some rabbit, or picking up slaughtered
volatiles without receiving the mot d'ordre!
Listen, honourable Sir, I entreated him, to the voice of Reason!
It is the second nature of all such canines to pursue vermins, nor are
they at all capable of comprehending the Why and Wherefore of a
shocking flagellation. If it is your wish that this hound should play
the part of a Tantalus, forbidden even to touch the bonne-bouches
with his watering mouth, surely it is possible to restrain him by a
more humane method than Brute Force!
At this mild reproof Mister BAGSHOT became utterly rubescent,
murmuring excuses which I did not catch; and I, perceiving that this
object lesson of kindness to animals from an Oriental had strongly
affected all the shooters, patted the hound on the forehead, consoling
him with some chocolate I carried in my cartridge sack.
We picnicked our lunch under a stone wall, and I, becoming an
hilarious, rallied my companions unmercifully upon the solemnity with
which they had marched in cautious silence, and with stern countenances
as to attack some formidable foeand all to slaughter sundry braces of
inoffensive grouse-birdstruly an heroical sort of undertaking!
To which Hon'ble CUMMERBUND replied, with his utterance impeded by
cold pie, that I might congratulate myself on having kept my own hands
unstained by any grouse's gore.
True, Mister Ex-Judge, I retorted, but as you have already
testified (here I hoisted his own petard at him rather ingeniously),
I am more an au fait in the extermination of elephants et
hoc genus omne, and have hitherto reserved my powder and shot for a
stag or some similar monarch of the glen. However, after lunch let us
see whether I am not competent to kill, or at least maim, one of these
same grouse-fowls, faute de mieux!
A repartee which excited uproarious laughter (at Hon'ble C.'s
expense) from all the present company.
Subsequently, we were posted in a row of small fortresses
constructed of turfs, to await what is termed a Drive, i.e.,
until some flock of grouse-birds, exasperated to fury by the cries and
blows of certain individuals called beaters, should attack our
Hearing that the grouses on this moor were of an excessive wildness,
I was at first apprehensive that one might fly at my nose or eyes while
I was busied in defending myself against its fellows, but the keeper
who was with me assured me that such was seldom their custom.
And, indeed, such as came in my direction flew with wings so
accelerated by panic that they were invisible before I could even
select one as my target, so I was reduced to fire with considerable
random. Presently the beaters approached, carrying flags of truce, and
we sallied out of our forts to pick up the slain and wounded. After
diligent search, I had the happiness to discover a grouse-bird, stone
dead, in the heather, and, capering with triumph, called to the keeper
to come and see the spoil.
On his arrival, however, he said that he could not just think it
would be my bird, as he had not noticed any fall in that direction. But
after I had presented him with a piece of silver, he did agree that if
I chose to claim the bird as mine, it was not his place to contradict
me, and so in great glee I exhibited my prize to the others, appealing
to the keeper (who basely remained sotto voce) for confirmation.
A devilish clean shot, Prince! Sir CUMMERBUND graciously remarked;
why, the bird is stiff and cold already!
Whereupon I was cordially congratulated, and awarded the tail
feathers to decorate my tommy-shanty, and during the next driving,
having now acquired the knack, I rendered several more denizens of the
air the hors de combats, thougheither on account of their
great ingenuity in running out of the radius, or creeping into holes,
etc., or else the stupidity of the retrieving dogstheir corpses
On taking my leave, I expressed unbounded satisfaction with such
sport as I had had, and my fixed intention to assist on some similar
shooting-expedition, and Mr BAGSHOT kindly promised to let me know if
he should again have vacancy for an additional gun.
I regret to say that young HOWARD, who, having only laid low a
couple of black cocks and a blue hare, was immoderately jealous of my
superior skilfulness, did seek to depreciate it by insinuating that my
grouse was one which, having been seriously wounded by other hands some
days previously, had come up to the hills to shuffle off its mortal
coil in seclusion, arguing thus from its total absence of heat and
This is the merest quibble, and to travel out of the record, since,
of course, if a bird is at all of a venerable age, it becomes stiff and
deficient in vital warmth long before it is popped off! Moreover, if
the grouse were not legitimately my property, why, forsooth, should I
be permitted to carry it home?
[Illustration: I PRESENTED MY TROPHY AND TREASURE-TROVE TO THE
FAIRYLIKE MISS WEE-WEE.]
I presented my trophy and treasure-trove to the fairylike Miss
WEE-WEE, who was so overwhelmed by the compliment that she entreated
for it to be cooked and eaten instanter.
As soon as I have recovered a missing link of my fishing-rod (which
it seems has been overlooked by Mister Pawnbroker), and when I have
procured some suitable bait, &c., it is my intention to catch a fine
salmon out of the burn for my enchanting divinity, and, as I place the
fish in her lily-like hands, to strike iron while it is hot and make
her the formal proposal of matrimony.
Mister CRUM, hearing of my piscatorial ambitions, has, with almost
incredible simplicity, offered to lend me his salmon rod, with a volume
of flies, little suspecting that he will be assisting me to catch two
fish upon one hook! I am immensely tickled by such a tip-top joke, and
can scarcely refrain from imparting it to Miss WEE-WEE herself, though
I shall wait until I have first secured the salmon.
I had some valuable remarks upon Scottish idioms and linguistic
peculiarities, &c., but these, of course, are to be suppressed sine
dieunless I am to be permitted to overflow into a special
Mr Jabberjee expresses some audaciously sceptical opinions. How
secured his first Salmon, with the manner in which he presented
to his divinity.
Owing mainly to lack of opportunity, invitations, et cætera,
I have not resumed the offensive against members of the grouse
department, but have rather occupied myself in laborious study of
Caledonian dialects, as exemplified in sundry local works of poetical
and prose fiction, until I should be competent to converse with the
aborigines in their own tongue.
[Illustration: WHETHER HE HAD WHA-HAED WI' HON'BLE WALLACE?]
Then (having now the diction of Poet BURNS in my fingers' ends) I
did genially accost the first native I met in the street of
Kilpaitrick, complimenting him upon his honest, sonsie face, and
enquiring whether he had wha-haed wi' Hon'ble WALLACE, and was to
bruise the Peckomaut, or ca' the knowes to the yowes. But, from the
intemperance of his reply, I divined that he was totally without
comprehension of my meaning!
Next I addressed him by turns in the phraseologies of Misters BLACK,
BARRIE, and CROCKETT, Esquires, interlarding my speech with
whatefers, and hechs, and ou-ays, and dod-mons, and loshes,
and tods, ad libitum, to which after listening with the most
earnest attention, he returned the answer that he was not acquainted
with any Oriental language.
Nor could I by any argument convince this beetle-head that I was
simply speaking the barbarous accents of his native land!
Since which, after some similar experiments upon various peasants,
&c., I have made a rather peculiar discovery.
There is no longer any such article as a separate Scottish language,
and, indeed, I am in some dubitation whether it ever existed at all,
and is not rather the waggish invention of certain audacious
Scottishers, who have taken advantage of the insular ignorance and
credulity of the British public to palm off upon it several highly
fictitious kinds of unintelligible gibberish!
Nay, I will even go farther and express a grave suspicion whether
the Scotland of these bookish romances is not the daring imposture of a
ben trovato. For, after a prolonged residence of over a fortnight,
I have never seen anything approaching a mountain pass, nor a dizzy
crag, surmounted by an eagle, nor any stag drinking itself full at eve
among the shady trunks of a deer-forest! I have never met a single
mountaineer in feminine bonnet and plumes and short petticoats, and
pipes inserted in a bag. Nor do the inhabitants dance in the street
upon crossed sword-bladesthis is purely a London practice. Nor have I
seen any Caledonian snuffing his nostrils with tobacco from the
discarded horn of some ram.
Finding that my short kilt is no longer the mould of national form,
I have now altogether abandoned it, while retaining the fox-tailed
belly-purse on account of its convenience and handsome appearance.
Now let me proceed to narrate how I became the captor of a
Having accepted the loan of Mister CRUM'S fishing-wand, and attached
to my line certain large flies, composed of black hairs, red worsted,
and gilded thread, which it seems the salmons prefer even to worms, I
sallied forth along the riparian bank of a river, and proceeded to whip
the stream with the severity of Emperor XERXES when engaged in
flagellating the ocean.
But waesucks! (to employ the perhaps spurious verbiage of aforesaid
Poet BURNS) my line, owing to superabundant longitude, did promptly
become a labyrinth of Gordian knots, and the flies (which are named
Zulus) attached their barbs to my cap and adjacent bushes with
well-nigh inextricable tenacity, until at length I had the bright idea
to abbreviate the line, so that I could dangle my bait a foot or two
above the surface of the waterwhere a salmon could easily obtain it
by simply turning a somersault.
However, after sitting patiently for an hour, as if on a monument, I
could not succeed in catching the eye of any passing fish, and so,
severely disheartened by my ill-luck, I was strolling on, shouldering
my rod, whenodzooks! whom should I encounter but Mister BAGSHOT and a
party of friends, who were watching his keepers capture salmons from a
boat by means of a large net, a far more practical and effectual method
than the cumbersome and unreliable device of a meretricious fly with a
very visible hook!
And, just as I approached, the net was drawn towards the bank, and
proved to contain three very large lively fishes lashing their tails
with ungovernable fury at such detention!
Whereupon I made the humble petition to Mister BAGSHOT that, since
he was now the favourite of Fortune, he was to remember him to whom she
had denied her simpers, and bestow upon me the most mediocre of the
salmons, since I was desirous to make a polite offering to the amiable
daughter of my host and hostess.
And with munificent generosity he presented me with the largest of
the trio, which, with great jubilation, I endeavoured to carry off
under my arm, though severely baffled by the extreme slipperiness with
which (even after its decease) it repeatedly wallowed in dust, until
someone, perceiving my fix, good-naturedly instructed me how to carry
it by perforating its head with a piece of string.
I found Miss WEE-WEE in a secluded garden seat at the back of the
Manse, incommoded, as usual, by the society of Mister CRUM. Sir, I
said, addressing him politely (for I was extremely anxious for his
departure, since I could not well present my salmon to Miss WEE-WEE and
request the quid-pro-quo of her affection in his presence),
accept my gratitude for the usufruct of your rod, which has produced
magnificent fruit. You will find the instrument leaning against the
palings of the front garden. And with this I made secret signals to
Miss WEE-WEE that she was to dismiss him; but she remained bashful, and
he seemed totally unaware that he was the drug of the market!
At last, weary of concealing my captured salmon any longer behind
the small of my back, I was about to inform Mister CRUM that he had
Miss LOUISA'S permission to absent himself, when she broke the silence
by informing me that, as the old familiar friend of both parties, I was
to be the first to hear a piece of newsto wit, that DONALD (Mister
C.'s baptismal appellation) and she were just become the engaged
I was so overcome by grief and indignation at her perfidious
duplicity (since she had frequently encouraged me in my mockeries of
her admirer's uncouthness and rusticity), that I stuck in the throat,
and then flung the salmon violently across a boundary hedge into a yard
Madam, I said, that fish was to have been laid at your feet as
the visible pledge of my devotion. You have not only lost the gift of a
splendid salmon, but have thrown away the heart of a well-educated
native B.A. and Member of the Bar! And you have gainedhoity toity!
What? Why, a Scotch Bun!
But almost immediately I was taken by violent remorse for my
presumption, and shed the tears of contrition, entreating
forgivenessnay, more, I scrambled through a hole in a very thorny
hedge, and, recovering the salmon (which had not had time to become
very severely henpecked), I begged them to accept it between them as a
token of my esteem and good wishes, which they joyfully consented to
do. I had expected that my worthy host and hostess would have shared my
astounded disappointment on hearing of their daughter's engagement;
but, on the contrary, they received the news with smiling complacency.
It appears that Mister CRUM, though endowed with a somewhat sheepish
and bucolical exterior, is of tip-top Scottish caste and lineage, and
the landed proprietor.
I am not to deny the attractiveness of such qualities, though I had
hitherto been under the Fool's Paradise of an impression that they
would have infinitely preferred this humble self as a son-in-law.
However, I am now emerging from my doleful dumps, with the
reflection that, after all, it is contrary to common-sense to drain the
cup of misery to the dregs for so totally inadequate a cause as the
ficklety of any feminine!
Mr Jabberjee is unavoidably compelled to return to town, thereby
affording his Solicitor the inestimable benefit of his personal
assistance. An apparent attempt to pack the Jury.
The Public will be astounded at the news (which came with the
perfect novelty of a surprise upon this insignificant self) that I have
ceased to be the cherished guest beneath the hired Scottish roof of
Mister LEOFRIC ALLBUTT-INNETT and his bucksome lady.
It fell out after this fashion.
One fine September morning, when I was accoutring myself in order to
go out and hunt the robert (N.B. a genuine local Scotticism for
individuals belonging to the rabbit genius), there came to me my young
friend HOWARD, who was to teach my young idea how to shoot, in great
gloom, asking me if it would take me a prolonged period to pack up my
I replied that I could do the trick instantaneously, inquiring the
reason for his question.
Because, said he, if I were you, I should have a wire requiring
me to come up to London at once.
From my solicitor? I inquired. Is he then desirous of consulting
My friend answered me that it was the one object of his present
In that case, said I, rather spiritedly, let him come up here,
since I am not a mountain that I should obey the becking call of any
Mahomet. Moreover, I am impatient to achieve the destruction of some
If you will take my advice, he said, you will grant them a
reprieve, and make a scarcity of yourself. There is a train for Glasgow
which you can just catch. I wouldn't distress the Mater and Governor by
any farewells, you know.
But, I objected, I am not even in receipt of any telegram. Nor
can I possibly omit the etiquette of a ceremonious leave-taking with
your honourable parents.
Just as you please, replied he. Just now the Governor and Mater
are in the front sitting-room, engaged in perusing the back numbers of
your precious 'Jossers and Tidlers' or whatever you call 'em, which
have been thoughtfully forwarded by a relative. I don't think I'd
Are they so hugely interested in the performances of my unassuming
penna? I cried, with the gratified simpering of a flattered.
It looked like it when I left the room, said he; the Mater was
very near rolling on the oilcloth, and the Governor dancing and foaming
from his mouth. What an awfully old ass you have been, JAB, to go and
blurt out everything in printabout your breach of promise case, and
getting to know us, andworst of allbeing merely a bogey prince.
Naturally, we don't care about being made to look fools. The dear old
Mater, you know, is one of those simple, trusting natures that, if they
once discover they have been taken in by a sham title, why, they kick
up the row of a deuce! And, as for the Governor, he's the sort of old
retiring chap that has a downright loathing of publicity, when it makes
him ridiculous. If he came across you just now, there's really no
saying what he mightn't do. He's such a devilishly hot-tempered old
I did not comprehend the reasons for such exuberant anger, but, of
course, young HOWARD insisted so urgently on physical dangers to myself
if I delayed, that I hastened stealthily to my room by a backstair, and
flinging my paraphernalia with incredible despatch into a
portmanteau, was so fortunate as to convey it out of the house without
attracting the invidious attention of my host and hostess, who were
probably still occupied in foaming and rolling upon the carpet like
angry waves of the sea.
Young HOWARD accompanied me to the station, though blaming me as the
cause of his embroilment with his progenitors, who, it seems, had
insistedquite unjustlythat he must have known from the first that
my nobility was merely a brevet rank; and Miss WEE-WEE bade me farewell
with a soft and perfectly ladylike cordiality, being too grieved by my
departure to make any allusion to the head and front of my offending.
Now I am once more in London, paying daily visits of several hours
to the office of my solicitor, in order to assist him in the
preparation of my brief.
[Illustration: BABOO CHUCKERBUTTY RAM.]
The other day, Baboo JALPANYBHOY and Baboo CHUCKERBUTTY RAM attended
for the purpose of arranging their evidence, when I regret to say the
former made a rather paltry exhibition of himself, being declared by Mr
SMARTLE himself to be totally incompetent to prove anything whatever
material to the case, and I am therefore resolved to refuse him
admission to the witness-box.
I am more hopeful of Mr CHUCKERBUTTY RAM, who, I think, after
diligent coaching from myself, may be induced to restrain his natural
garrulity, and speak no more than is set down for him, which is simply
that I have already, in his presence, contracted matrimony with a
juvenile native, and that the laws of my country entitle me to marry
This is in support of one of my most subtle pleadings of defence, to
wit, that I have already offered to marry the plaintiff according to my
country's laws, but that she did definitely decline such a marriage as
polygamous (which it is indubitably liable to become at any moment),
consequently, that my said contract is nilled by mutual consent.
Mr SMARTLE was of the opinion that the plaintiff's solicitors would
move to strike out such a pleading as bad in law, since it is no
defence to an action for breach of promise that the defendant is
already the Benedick. Fortunately they have omitted to do this, and I
anticipate exciting excessive admiration in Court by the ingenuity of
my arguments from Analogy, Common Sense, Roman Law, &c.
My said solicitor has also communicated with Hon'ble Sir CHETWYND
CUMMERBUND, to inquire if he would consent to appear as a witness to my
dependent filial condition, and entire lack of the sinews of war;
which, with fatherly kindness, he has agreed to do, and, as he rather
humorously puts it, convince the jury that I am the good riddance of
Now the decks are cleaned for action, and all is ready for the
forensic logomachy as soon as it may please Providence and some
associate in the Queen's Bench Division to place the suit of
Mankletow v. Jabberjee in the list of causes for the day.
My solicitor's advice, which I shall very probably adopt, is to keep
as close as possible to the issues, and more especially to the point
that, if I gave any promise to marry at all, it was extorted from me by
threats of bodily violence which reduced me to a blue funkiness.
Also he recommends that I am not to attempt any golden-mouthed
eloquence, thereby making the lamentable exhibit of a most stupendous
ignorance of human nature!
For what can melt the stony hearts of men, causing them to bellow
like an ox and become tender as chickens, or what can rouse them to
Indignation, Approval, Contempt, Wonderment, and every other known
sentiment as required, so effectively as the trumpeting tongue of
All I can aver is that, if I am not to be permitted to draw the
glittering sword of my tongue from the scabbard of my mouth, I shall
infallibly, in sheer sickishness at such short-sighted folly, throw up
I must not omit to say that if any of my fellow-colleagues on this
periodical (of course including Hon'ble Editor) should be anxious to
become eye-witnesses of my forensic début, I shall be overjoyed
to procure their admission and will instruct the Usher that they are to
be awarded the seats of honour. Perhaps it might even be feasible for
two or three of them to obtain appointments as jurymen.
If so, let them not turn the deaf ear to the gentle wheezings of
their esprit de corps, but remember that it is not the custom
for one eagle to peck another in his optics.
Mankletow v. Jabberjee. Notes taken by Mr Jabberjee in
Court during the
Queen's Bench Court, No. , 10.20 A.M.
The eventful morn of my trial for Breach of Promise has at length
arrived, and I am resolved to jot down on the exterior of my brief such
tittles as take place. I have taken my seat in Court on one of the
benches reserved for long-robed juniors; in my immediate rear being my
solicitor, SIDNEY SMARTLE, Esq., who will officiate as my Remembrancer
and Friend in Need.
[Illustration: FRESH AS A DAISY, AND FINE AS A CARROT FRESH
In the Great Hall below I had the pleasure to encounter Miss
JESSIMINA and that worthy Madam her Mamma, being prepared to greet them
with effusive kindness, and assure them I was only a hostile in my
professional capacity. Whether they were struck with awe by the
unaccustomed majesty of my appearance in brand-new wig, bands, &c., in
which I am fresh as a daisy, and fine as a carrot fresh scraped, or
whether they simply did not recognise me in the disguisement of such
toggeries, I am not to decidebut they passed by without responding
visibly to my salutations.
10.25.A stout, large Q.C., with luxuriant cheek-whiskers has just
entered the row in front. Mister SMARTLE whispers to me that this is
WITHERINGTON, whom I refused to engage, and who is now in opposition.
I have taken the undue liberty to pluck him by the sleeve and
introduce myself in straightforward English style to his honourable
notice, acquainting him that his unfortunate client had a very flimsy
case, and was not deserving of success, while myself was a meritorious
Native Neophyte, whose entire fortune was impaled on a stake, and
urging him not to show too windy a temper to such a shorn lamb as his
However, he has declined rather peremptorily to lend me his ears,
nor can I induce his learned junior, who is my next neighbour, to show
me any fraternal kindness. My said solicitor is highly indignant at my
treatment, and warns me in an undertone that I am not to make any
further overtures to such stuck-up individuals.
10.30.Hon'ble Mister Justice HONEYGALL enters in highly dignified
fashion. He is of a bland, benignant, and intensely clean aspect, which
uplifts my downfallen heart, for it is obvious, from his benevolent and
smiling bow to myself that he already feels a paternal interest in my
achieving the conquest of my spurs.
The jury are taking the oath. Whether any of my co-contributors to
Punch are among them I cannot discover, since they do not vouchsafe
to encourage me by the freemasonry of even a surreptitious simper. But
this is perhaps occasioned by over prudence.
The learned junior on my right has risen, and in shockingly bald and
barren verbiage has stated the issues which are to be tried, and, being
evidently no Heaven-born orator, sits abruptly down, completely
gravelled for lack of a more copious vocabulary. A poor tongue-tied
devil of a chap whom I regard with pity!
WITHERINGTON, Q.C., is addressing the jury. He is not a tongue-tied,
but he speaks in a colloquial, commonplace sort of fashion which does
not shed a very brilliant lustre upon boasted British advocacy.
Though of an unromantic obesity, it appears from the excessive
eulogies he lavishes upon JESSIMINA that he is already the tangled fly
in the web of her feminine enchantments. What a pity that such a
prominent barrister should be so unskilled in seeing through such a
millstone as the female heart!
He is persisting in making most incorrect and uncomplimentary
allusions to my undeserving self, which it is impossible that I am to
suffer without rising to repudiate with voluble indignation! However,
though he makes bitter complaints of my interruptions, he does me the
honour to refer to me as his friend, for which I thank him with a
gratified fervour, assuring him that I reciprocate his esteem.
Hon'ble Judge has just tendered me the kindly and golden advice
that, unless I sit down and remain hermetically sealed, the case will
infallibly continue for ever and anon, and that I am not to advance my
interests by disregarding the customary etiquettes of the Bar.
11.5.JESSIMINA is giving her testimony. Indubitably she has
greatly improved in her physical appearance since I was a resident of
Porticobello House, and her habiliments are as fashionably ladylike (if
not more so) than Miss WEE-WEE'S own! Alack! that she should relate her
story with so many departures from ordinary veracity. Her pulchritude
and well-assumed timidity have captivated even the senile Judge, for,
after I have risen and vehemently contradicted her in various
unimportant details, he has actually barked at me that, unless I wait
until it is my turn to cross-examine he will take some very severe
measure with me at the rising of the Court! A pretty specimen of
1.30 P.M.The Court has risen for lunch at the conclusion of a
rather severe cross-examination by myself of the fair plaintiff, and,
not being oppressed by pangs of hunger, I have leisure to record the
resultwhich, owing to the partisanship of Hon'ble Bench, the
disgracefully complicated state of the laws of Evidence, and Miss
JESSIMINA'S ingenuity in returning entirely wrong answers to my
searching interrogatories, did not attain to the sanguine level of my
For instance, when I asked her whether it was not the fact that I
was notoriously deficient in physical courageousness, she made the
unexpected reply that she had not observed it, and that I had
frequently described to her my daring achievements in sticking wild
pigs and shooting man-eating tigers.
Also she entirely refused to admit that the turquoise and gold ring
I had given her was not in token of our betrothal, but merely to
compensate her for not being invited as well as myself to a certain
fashionable dinner-party; and the Judge (interrupting in the most
unwarrantable manner) said that, as he did not understand that I
seriously denied the existence of an engagement to marry, he was unable
to perceive the bearings of my query.
Again, I reminded her of her mention of the gift of a china model of
Poet SHAKSPEARE'S birthplace, and required heron her oathto answer
whether it had not been originally intended for another lady, and
whether, having accidentally seated myself upon it, I had not decided
to bestow the disjecta membra upon herself instead.
To which she replied, with artfully simulated emotion, that all she
knew was that I had assured her at the time that the said piece of
china had been expressly purchased for herself as a souvenir of my
ardent affection, and she had accepted it as such, and carefully
restored it with some patent cement.
Before this the Judge had asked me how I could expect the plaintiff
to know what was passing in the tortuous recesses of my own mind, and
informed her that she need not answer such a ridiculous question unless
she pleased. But she did please, and her answer was received with
applause, which, however, the Bench perceiving, though tardily, that I
was entitled to some protection, did declare in angry tones that it was
on no account to be permitted.
Next I inquired whether it was not true that she was of a
flirtatious disposition, and addicted to laugh and talk vivaciously
with the gentlemen-boarders, and whether I had not earnestly
remonstrated with her upon such conduct. Here WITHERINGTON, Q.C.,
bounded on to his feet, and protested that I was not entitled to put
this question now, since I had not dared to allege in my letters or
pleadings that I had breached my promise owing to any misconduct of
plaintiff. But, instead of submitting to such objection, JESSIMINA
answered in mellifluous accents that she had never manifested more than
ordinary civility towards any gentleman-boarder, but that I had
displayed passionate jealousy of them all prior to my
engagementthough never since, because she had never afforded the
slightest excuse for remonstrances.
Whereupon she was again flooded with tears, which stirred my heart
with tender commiseration; for her maidenly distress did only increase
her charms to infinity. And the Judge, feeling fatherly sympathy for
myself, observed very kindly that I had got my answer, which he hoped
might do me much good. For which good wish I thanked him gratefully;
and the Court was again dissolved in senseless cachinnations!
Next I cross-questioned her as to her refusal of my offer to marry
on the ground that I was already the husband of one infant wife, and
whether it was not the fact. She responded that I had referred her to
Mr CHUCKERBUTTY RAM for corroboration of my story, and that he had
informed her that my said wife was a post mortem.
Here I cleverly took the legal objection that what Mr RAM said was
not evidence, and warned her to be careful, while the Hon'ble Judge
partly upheld my contention, remarking that it was evidence that a
conversation was held, but not of the truth of the facts stated in such
conversation, thereby showing clearly that he did not credit her story.
Upon the whole, I am confident that I have at least silenced the
guns of WITHERINGTON, Q.C., for upon the conclusion of my
cross-examination, he admitted that he had no further questions to ask
My solicitor says I shall have to buck myself up if I am to reduce
the damages to any reasonable amount, and that he had been desirous
from the first to brief WITHERINGTON. But this is to croak like a
raven, for the cross-examining is, after all, of very minor importance
compared to the Gift of the Gabin which I am notoriously nulli
2.15 P.M.The Court has returned. WITHERINGTON'S Junior has called
JESSIMINA'S mother, whom I shall presently have the bounden but rather
painful duty to cross-examine sharply.
Already I experience serious sinkings in stomach department.
Sursum corda! I must buck it up.
Further proceedings in the Case of Mankletow v. Jabberjee.
Jabberjee's Opening for the Defence.
Queen's Bench Court, No. , 2.40 P.M.
I have just resumed my seat after a rather searching examination of
Madam MANKLETOW, as will appear from the notes of her evidence kindly
taken by my solicitor:
MY SOLICITOR'S SAID NOTES.
Mrs MARTHA MANKLETOW (formidable old partyall bugles and
bombazine). Would certainly describe her establishment as 'select';
all of her male boarders perfect gentlemenexcept defendant. Was never
anxious to secure him for her daughteron the contrary, would have
much preferred her son-in-law white. Gave her consent because of the
passionate attachment he professed for plaintiff. Nothing to her
whether he was of princely rank or not. He appeared to be very well
able to support her daughter, which was the chief thing. Had never
threatened defendant with personal chastisement from other boarders if
he denied any engagement. Did say that if he meant nothing serious
after all the marked attentions he had paid the plaintiff, he deserved
to be cut dead by all the gentlemen in the house. Insisted on the
engagement being made public at once; thought it her bounden duty to do
so. Did not know whether defendant was married already, or how many
wives he was entitled to in his own countryhe had taken good care not
to say anything about all that when he proposed. Did not consider him a
desirable match, and never had done, but thought he ought to be made to
pay heavily for his heartless behaviour to her poor unprotected child,
who would never get over the slight of being jilted by a black man....
Here I sat down, amidst suppressed murmurs from the Court of
indignation and sympathy at such gross unmannerly insults to a highly
educated Indian University man and qualified native barrister.
3.15.More witnesses for plaintiff, viz., Miss SPINK and sundry
select boarders, who have testified to my courtship and the notoriety
of my engagement. Seeing that they were predetermined not to answer
favourably to myself, I tore a leaf out of Mister WITHERINGTON'S book,
and said that I had no questions to ask.... The plaintiff's junior has
just sat down, with the announcement that that is his case. I am now to
turn the tables by dint of rhetorical loquacity.
The annexed report, though sadly meagre and doing very scanty
justice to the occasion, is furnished by my friend young HOWARD, who
was present in Court at the time....
Jab. (in a kind of sing-song). May it please your
venerable lordship and respectable gentlemen of the jury, I am in the
very similar predicament of another celebrated native gentleman and
well-known character in the dramatic works of your immortal
littérateur Poet SHAKSPEARE. I allude to OTHELLO on the occasion of
his pleading before the Duke and other potent, grave, and reverent
signiors of Venice, in a speech which I shall commence by quoting in
[Illustration: MR JUSTICE HONEYGALL.]
Mr Justice Honeygall. One moment, Mr JABBERJEE, I am always
reluctant to interfere with Counsel, but it may save my time and that
of the jury if I remind you that the illustration you propose to give
us is hardly as happy as it might be. The head and front of OTHELLO'S
offending, unless I am mistaken, was that he had married the lady of
his affections, whereas in your case
Jab. (plaintively). Your lordship, it is not humanly
possible that I can exhibit even ordinary eloquence if I am to be
interrupted by far-fetched and frivolous objections. The story of
Mr Justice H. What the jury want to hear is not OTHELLO'S
story, but yours, Sir, and your proper course is to go into the
witness-box at once, and give your version of the facts as simply and
straightforwardly as you can. When you have given your own evidence and
called any witnesses you may wish to call, you will have an opportunity
of addressing the jury, and exhibiting the eloquence on which you
apparently place so much reliance.
[Here poor old JAB bundles off to the witness-box,
takes some outlandish oath or other with immense gusto,
after which he starts telling the Jury a long rambling
rigmarole, and is awfully riled when the old Judge pulls him
up, which he does about every other minute. This is the sort
of thing that goes on:
Jab. At this, Misters of the Jury, I, being but a
pusillanimous and no Leviathan of valour
The Judge. Not so fast, Sir, not so fast. Follow my pen. I've
not got down half what you said before that. (Reads laboriously from
his notes.) In panicstricken apprehension of being severely
assaulted à posteriori. Who do you say threatened to assault
you in that mannerthe plaintiff's mother?
Jab. I have already had the honour to inform your lordship
that I was utterly intimidated by the savage threats of the plaintiff's
mother that, unless I consented to become the betrothed, she would
summon certain able-bodied athletic boarders to batter and kick my
unprotected person, and consequently, not being a Leviathan
The Judge. No one has ever suggested that you are an animal
of that description, Sir. Have the goodness to keep to the point. (
Reads as he writes.) I was so intimidated by threats of plaintiff's
mother that she would have me severely kicked by third parties if I
refused, that I consented to become engaged to plaintiff. Is that
what you say?
Jab. (beaming). Your lordship's acute intellect has
comprehended my pons asinorum with great intelligence.
The Judge (looking at him under his spectacles). Umph!
Well, go on. What next?
[So old JAB goes on gassing away, at such a deuce of
that the Judge gives up all idea of taking notes, and sits
staring at JAB in resigned disgust. (It was
attentiveness.H. B. J.) JAB WILL spout and
WON'T keep to
the point; but, all the same, I fancy, somehow, he's getting
round the Jury. He's such a jolly innocent kind of old ass,
and they like him because he's no end of sport. The
plaintiff's a devilish fine girl, and gave her evidence
uncommonly well; but, unless WITHERINGTON turns up
believe old JAB will romp in a winner, after all! I
taken down anything else, except his wind-up, when of course
he managed to get in a speech.
Jab. Believe me, gentlemen of the jury, this is simply the
barefaced attempt to bleed and mulct a poor impecunious Indian. For it
is incredible that any English female, of genteel upbringings and the
lovely and beauteous appearance which you have all beheld in this box,
it is incredible, I say, that she should seriously desire to become a
mere unconsidered unit in a bevy of Indian brides! How is she possibly
to endure a domestic existence exposed to the slings and arrows of a
perpetual gorilla warfare from various native aunts and sisters-in-law,
or how is she to reconcile her dainty and fastidious stomach, after the
luscious and appetising fare of a Bayswater boarding-house, to simple,
unostentatious, and frequently repulsive Indian eatables? No, Misters
of the jury, as warm-hearted noble-minded English gentlemen, you will
never condemn an unfortunate and industrious native graduate and
barrister to make a cripple of his career, and burden his friends and
his families with such a bone of contention as a European better half,
who will infallibly plunge him into the pretty pickle of innumerable
family jars! I shall now vacate the witness-box in favour of my
intimate friend and fatherly benefactor, Hon'ble Sir CHETWYND
CUMMERBUND, who will tell you
The Judge (rising). Before we have the pleasure of
seeing Sir CHETWYND here, Mr JABBERJEE, there is a little formality you
appear to have overlooked. The plaintiff's counsel will probably wish
before you leave the box to put a few questions to you in
cross-examination, and that must stand over till to-morrow. (At
this, old Jab's jaw falls several holes.)
NOTE BY MR JABBERJEE.Hereford Road, Bayswater.I am
excessively gratified by the result of my first day's trial, being
already the established favourite and chartered libertine of the whole
Court, who split their sides at my slightest utterances. So I am no
longer immeasurably alarmed by the prospect of being crossly
examinedespecially since WITHERINGTON, Q.C., has abandoned his brief
in despair to a tongue-tied junior, who is incompetent to exclaim Bo!
to a goose. Indeed, I have some thoughts of declining haughtily to be
interrogated by a mere underling.
The only fly in the ointment of my success is the utter indifference
of JESSIMINA to my aforesaid triumphs. At the termination of the
hearing to-day, I beheld her so deeply engrossed in smiling and cordial
converse with the smartly-attired curly-headed young solicitor who is
acting on her behalf that she was totally unconscious of my vicinity!
Alackaday! varium et mutabile semper foemina!
Mankletow v. Jabberjee (part heard.) Mr Jabberjee finds
cross-examination much less formidable than he had anticipated.
It is now the second day of my celebrated case, which is such a
transcendental success that already the Court is tight as a drum, while
a vast disappointed crowd is barricading imploringly at the doors!
I was about to harangue these unfortunates, assuring them I was not
responsible for their exclusion, and promising to exert my utmost
influence with the Hon'ble Judge that they were all to be admitted.
But my solicitor, seizing me by the forearm, hurried me through the
entrance with the friendly recommendation that I was not to be the
In the trough I perceive JESSIMINA seated, in a hat even more
resplendently becoming than her yesterday head-dress, and I am not a
little puffed with pride to be proceeded against by a plaintiff of such
a stylish and elegant appearance.
[Illustration: WITHERINGTON, Q.C.]
10.25 A.M.After all, WITHERINGTON, Q.C., has paid me the marked
compliment of turning up to personally conduct my cross-examination. At
which SMARTLE, Esq., becomes lugubrious, averring that he is capable of
turning my inside out in no time unless I am preciously careful. But,
knowing that such inhuman barbarities are not feasible in civilised
regions, I enter the box with a serene and smiling countenance....
Later.I am unspeakably delighted with the urbanity (on the
whole) with which I have been cross-examined. For, to my wonderment,
WITHERINGTON, Q.C., commenced with displaying a respectful and
sympathetic interest in my career, &c., which rendered me completely at
my ease, and though on occasions he did suddenly manifest inquisitorial
severity, I soon discovered that his anger was mere wind from a
tea-pot, and that he was in secret highly gratified by the nature of my
replies. And for the most part he had the great condescension to treat
me with a kind and facetious familiarity.
I had privately commissioned a shorthanded acquaintance of mine with
instructions to take down nothing but my answers, but with
inconceivable doltishness he has done the exact converse, and
transcribed merely the utterances of Mister WITHERINGTON! However, as I
do not accurately recall my responses, I am to insert the report here
pro tanto, trusting to the ingenuity of the public to read between
HERE FOLLOWS THE REPORT.
Mr Witherington, Q.C. Well, Mr JABBERJEE, so it seems that it
is all a mistake about your being a Prince, eh?... And, however such an
idea may have originated, you never represented yourself as a
Rajah, or anything of the kind?... I was sure you would say so. You
have such a high regard for truth, and such a deep sense of the
obligation of an oath, that you are incapable of a deliberate falsehood
at any timemay I take that for granted?... Very glad to hear it. And
of course, Mr JABBERJEE, it was no fault of yours if people chose to
assume, from a certain magnificence in your appearance and way of
living and so on, that you must be of high rank in your own country?...
But, though you don't set up to be a Prince, you are, I believe, a
recent acquisition to the honourable profession of which we are both
members?... And also a journalist of some distinction, are you not?...
Indeed? I congratulate youa highly respectable periodical. And no
doubt the proprietors have shown a proper appreciation of the value of
your services, in a pecuniary sense?... Really? You are indeed to be
envied, Mr JABBERJEE! Not many young barristers can rely upon making
such an income by their pen while they are waiting for the briefs to
come in. May I ask if you intend to practice in this country?... The
Calcutta Bar, eh? Then I suppose you can count upon influence out
there?... Your father a Mooktear, is he? I'm afraid I don't know
what that is exactly.... A solicitor? Now I understand. So he
will give you casesin which I am sure you will distinguish yourself.
But you'll have to work hard, won't you?... I thought so. No more
pig-sticking or tiger-shooting, eh?... That's a drawback, isn't it?
You're passionately devoted to tiger-shooting, aren't you? Unless I'm
mistaken, you first won the plaintiff's admiration by the vivid manner
in which you described your moving accidents by flood and
fieldanother parallel between you and OTHELLO, eh? Well, tell me,
I'm no sportsman myselfbut it's rather a thrilling moment, isn't it,
when a tiger is trying to climb up your elephant, and get inside
thewhat do you call ithowlah?oh, howdah, to be sure; thank
you, very much.... So I should have imagined. Still, I suppose, when
you're used to it, even that wouldn't shake your nerve to any
appreciable extent. You would bowl over your tiger at close quarters
without turning a hair, would you not?... Just so. A great gift,
presence of mind. And pig-sticking, nowisn't a boar rather an awkward
customer to tackle?... You never found him so? But suppose you miss
him with your spear, and he charges your horse?... Ah, you're a mighty
hunter, Mr JABBERJEE, I perceive! Ever shoot any elephants?... No
elephants? That's a pleasure to come, then. Now, about your relations
with the plaintiff prior to your engagementyou were a good deal in
her company, weren't you?... Well, you constantly escorted her to
various places of amusement, come?... Yes, yes; I am quite aware a
chaperon was always present. We are both agreed that my client has
acted throughout with the most scrupulous proprietybut you liked
being in her society, didn't you?... Exactly so, and, at that time at
all events, you admired her extremely?... Merely as a friend, eh? no
idea of proposing? Well, just tell us once more how it was you came to
engage yourself.... You were afraid your landlady would summon a
boarder and ask him to give you a kicking?... And the prospect of being
kicked terrified you to such an extent that you were willing to promise
anythingis that your story?... But you are a man of iron
nerve, you know, you've just been giving us a description of your
performances in the jungle. How did you come to be so alarmed by a
boarder, when the attack of the fiercest tiger or wild boar never made
you turn a hair?... But that is what you gave us to understand just
now, wasn't it?... Then do you tell his lordship and the jury now that,
as a matter of fact, you never shot a solitary tiger or speared a
single boar in your life? Why didn't you say so at once, Sir.... Do you
consider a misrepresentation of that kind a mere trifle?... In spite of
the fact that you have solemnly sworn to tell the truth, the whole
truth and nothing but the truth?... Very well, Sir, I will take your
answer. Now, just look at this letter of yours. (Your lordship has a
copy of the correspondence.... Yes, it is all admitted, my lord.) I'll
read it to you. (Reads it.) Now, Sir, is it the fact that you
ever actually consulted the gentleman who enjoys the distinction of
being astrologer to your family upon your marriage with the plaintiff?
Be careful what you say.... And did he ever forbid you to contract such
an alliance?... Then was there a word of truth in all that?... I
thought as much. Let me read you another letter. (He reads.)
Here, you see, you make quite another excuse. You are already married,
and can only offer the plaintiff the position of a rival wife, or
sateen, as you call it. Have you ever contracted an infant marriage
in India?... Oh, that is true, is it? But why, when you were
paying these attentions to the plaintiff, did it never occur to you to
mention the fact that you were a married man?... You don't know? May
it not have been because you were a widower? Was your infant wife alive
or dead when you wrote this letter?... Then why did you write of her as
if she were alive?... I quite believe thatbut why were you so
anxious to break it off just then?... Well, when you were
cross-examining the plaintiff you asked her about a certain china
ornament you had given her, which seems to have been originally
intended for another young lady. We needn't mention her name herebut
you made her acquaintance some time after your engagement, didn't
you?... And since you left Porticobello House, you have seen a good
deal of her, eh?... You were a great admirer of hers, weren't you?...
I'm not asking you whether she is engaged to a Scotch gentleman at the
present momentI'm putting it to you that, at the time you were
writing these letters to the plaintiff, you had already formed the
conclusion that this other young lady was more deserving of the honour
of being the second Mrs JABBERJEE.... I am not suggesting that you
could help itbut wasn't it so?... Very wellthat is all I have to
ask you Mr JABBERJEE. You can go....
I must not omit to record that my replies and the reading of my
letters did excite frequent and vociferous merriment, and in other
respects I have testified so exhaustively that my solicitor informs me
it is not worth a candle to call any further witnessesespecially as
Hon'ble CUMMERBUND has intimated that he prefers to blow unseen, and as
for Baboo CHUCKERBUTTY RAM, he, it seems, has of course been seized by
such violent indisposition that he was compelled to leave the Court.
So I am now to deliver one more brief oration, which will infallibly
secure me the plerophory of the jury and exalt my head to the skies as
Cock of the Roost.
Only I regret that JESSIMINA'S visage is now completely invisible to
me, being obscured by the dimensions of her hat, also that she should
carry on such protracted confabulations with her curly-headed
professional adviserwhich is surely lacking in most ordinary respect
for myself and Hon'ble Justice HONEYGALL!
Mankletow v. Jabberjee (continued). The Defendant brings
his Speech to
a somewhat unexpected conclusion, and Mr Witherington, Q.C.,
addresses the Jury in reply.
My aforesaid shorthanded acquaintance has very fortunately preserved
the literal transcript of my concluding oration, which will afford a
feeble idea of the grandiloquence of my loquacity.H. B. J.
VERBATIM REPORT (unofficial).
Baboo Jab. May it please your mighty honour and great
notorious gentlemen on the jury, it must present a strange and funny
appearance to behold a young Indian B.A., provided with a big education
and the locus standi of barrister-at-law, crawling humbly
towards your footstools as a suppliant, and already I perceive from
your benevolent and smirking visages that your hearts are favourably
inclined towards your unfortunate son, and that you are too deeply
imbued with serpentine wisdom to be at all bamfoozled by the ad
captandum charms of feminine cajoleries. Indeed, I am a poor
penniless chap, if not almost completely dead for want of funds, and if
I had only been able to call my revered and fatherly benefactor,
Hon'ble Sir CUMMERBUND, he would infallibly have testified
The Judge. As you did not think properno doubt for
excellent reasonsto put Sir CHETWYND in the box when you could have
done so, Mr JABBERJEE, I shall most certainly not allow you to make any
comments now upon the evidence he might or might not have given.
Baboo J. I beg to knuckle very submissively to your
lordship's argument. The fact is, that the said Sir CUMMERBUND, on
hearing my answers when I was acting in the capacity of a harrowed toad
under my friend WITHERINGTON'S cross-examination, very handsomely
stated that I had left nothing for him to say, and begged modestly that
he might be excused. But indeed, Misters, I occupy but a very beggarly
apartment in this Fools' Hotel of a world, and it is the moral
impossibility for me to pay any damages whatever! Moreover, it is a
well-authenticated fact that I am a shocking coward, and was induced to
become affianced by haunting apprehensions of receiving a succession of
severe kicks. For how, being suddenly put to my choice between being
barbarously kicked and punched or acquiring a spruce and blooming
bride, could I hesitate for a moment to accept the lesser of two evils?
Nevertheless, I did remain uninterruptedly devoted to the plaintiff for
many weeksuntil I encountered a still younger and more bewitching
lady, who became the Polar Star to my compass-like heart. But,
lack-a-daisy, Sirs! though I left no stones unturned to be off with my
Old Love, I did not get on very fortunately with the New, seeing that
she preferred an affluent young Scotch, whereby I am reduced to
shedding tears in silence and solicitude between two stools! (Roars
of laughter.) Misters, like the frog that was being lapidated by
thoughtless juveniles, I reply:for you it may be facetious; but to
myself it is a devilishly serious affair! For, after beholding the
plaintiff here and discovering that she had advanced rather than
retrograded in physical attractiveness, I made cordial approaches to
her, but she passed me by with a superciliously exalted nose!
Gentlemen, it is a terrific piece of humbug for her to allege that her
heart has been infernally lacerated by my unfaithfulness, when, at this
very moment, instead of lending her ears to my brief and rambling
oration, she is entirely engrossed in flirtatious converse with her
curlypated juvenile solicitor! (Sensation.)
Witherington, Q.C. (rising). My lord, I really must
protest. There is absolutely no justification for the
defendant's outrageous insinuation. I am informed by Miss MANKLETOW
that she simply asked the gentleman sitting next to her whether he had
seen her smelling-salts!
The Judge. I fail to see, Mr JABBERJEE, what advantage you
can hope to gain by these highly irregular digressions. The plaintiff
is under my immediate observation, and I have seen nothing in her
conduct during the trial of which you have the smallest right to
Bab. J. I am highly satisfied by your lordship's obiter
dictum. Not being in such a coign of vantage as your honour's
excellency, I was misled by the propinquity of heads viewed from the
rear. Now, before again becoming a sedentary, I am to propose a
decisive test of plaintiff's bona fides in desiring my
insignificant self as a spouse. Herewith I beg humbly to have the
honour of renewing my formal proposal of marriage, and moreover will
pledge myself in most solemn and business-like style never on any
account, whether so permitted by laws of country or vice versâ,
to take to myself a single additional native wife in her lifetime. This
handsome offer is genuine and without prejudice, and I will take leave
to remind plaintiff, in the terms of a rather musty adage, that she is
not too closely to inspect the mouth of such a gifted horse as myself.
(Great laughter, and some sensation in Court as JABBERJEE
Witherington, Q.C. Your lordship will see that
thisahrather unforeseen development renders it necessary that I
should ascertain the plaintiff's views before proceeding to reply. (
The Judge nods: breathless excitement in Court while the plaintiff's
solicitor carries on an animated conversation with Mr W. in
Witherington (rising once more). Gentlemen, I have, as
it was my duty to do, consulted the plaintiff respecting the unusual
course which the defendant has thought proper to take. Her answer to
his proposal is the answer which I am sure you will feel is the only
possible one in the circumstances. (JAB. beams.) The
plaintiff, gentlemen, has undergone the severest ordeal a young woman
of delicacy and refinement can be called upon to endure (Hear,
hear! from JAB.), and out of that ordeal I think you will
all agree she has come absolutely unscathed.
I need hardly say that she is incapable now of harbouring any
unworthy sentiments of rancour or revenge. (JAB. beams more
But, gentlemen, there are some injuries which, as you know, a
woman may find herself able to excuse, to palliate, even to condone;
but which she feels nevertheless must operate as an insuperable and
impassable barrier between herself and the individual who could be
capable of them! (JAB.'S smile becomes a trifle less assured.
[Illustration: JABBERJEE'S FACE GRADUALLY LENGTHENS.]
After the disgraceful and unmanly attempts the defendant has made to
evade his obligations; his disingenuous defences; his insulting
innuendoes; after the deplorable exhibition he has made of himself in
that box; and especially after the sombre picture he himself has
painted of the domestic future he has to offer; after all this, I ask
you, gentlemen, is it likely, is it possible, is it even conceivable
that the plaintiff can retain any respect or affection for him, or have
sufficient courage and confidence to entrust her happiness to such
hands? (JAB.'S face gradually lengthens.)
Once, it is true, under the glamour of her own girlish illusions,
she was ready to expatriate herself, to endure an alien existence, and
strange manners and customs for his beloved sake; but now, now that her
ideal is shattered, her dream dispelled,now, it is too late!
Gentlemen, my client's answer isand it is one which will only command
your increased respect:No. He has broken my heart, undermined my
belief in human nature, cast a blight upon my existence. (Miss M.
sobs audibly, here, and JAB. is visibly affected.) Much as I
should like to recover my old belief in him, much as it would be to my
worldly advantage to marry a wealthy Bengali barrister with talents and
influence which are certain to lead to rapid promotion in his native
land (JAB. bows, and then shakes his head in protest), he
has made me suffer too much, I cannot accept him now!
(The learned Counsel then dealt exhaustively with various
portions of the case, and concluded thus.) Well, gentlemen, I shall
not have to trouble you with many further remarks, but I will just say
this before I sit down:The defendant amongst innumerable other
ingenious excuses, has pleaded for your indulgence on the score of
poverty. He has the brazen effrontery to plead poverty, forsooth! after
complacently admitting, in that box, that he is earning at this very
moment an income by his pen alone that might be envied by many a
hardworking English journalist! I do not say this by way of making any
reflection upon the defendant; on the contrary, gentlemen, I consider
it does credit to his ability and enterprise. (JAB. bows
again.) But at the same time it disposes effectually of his
allegation that he is without means, and indeed, leaving his literary
gains entirely out of the question, it must have been obvious from what
you have heard and seen of his manner of living in this country that he
is amply provided with pecuniary resources. Bearing this in mind,
gentlemen, I ask you to mark your sense of his heartless treatment of
the plaintiff, and the mental and social injury she has suffered on his
account, by awarding her substantial damages; not, I need scarcely say,
in any spirit of vindictiveness, but as some compensation (however
inadequate) for all she has gone through, and also as a warning to
other ingratiating but unprincipled Orientals that they cannot expect
to trifle with the artless affection of our generous, warmhearted
English maidens without payingaye, and paying dearly, too! for the
amusement. (He sits down amidst applause.)
NOTE BY MR JABBERJEE.Hon'ble Judge is to sum up after lunch. I am
highly pained and disappointed that my friend WITHERINGTON should have
shown himself a perfidious, and have taken the liberty as he quitted
the Court to murmur the plaintive remonstrance of Et tu, Brute!
into the cavity of his left ear.
My solicitor, SIDNEY SMARTLE, is of the opinion that my case is
looking a bit rocky, but that much will depend upon how the Judge
sums up. What a pity that, owing to judicial red-tapery, I am
prohibited from popping in upon him at lunch and importuning him to
pronounce a decree in my favour!
Containing the conclusion of the whole matter, and (which many
Readers will receive in a spirit of chastened resignation) Mr
Jabberjee's final farewell.
Queen's Bench Court, No. , 2 P.M.
Hon'ble Justice HONEYGALL is now summing-up, in such very nice,
chatty, confidential style that it is impossible to hear one half of
his observations, while the remainder is totally inaudible....
Nevertheless, I already gather that he regards the affair with the
restricted narrowminded view that it is simply the question of
damages.... He appears to be now discussing whether my testimony that I
am of such excessive natural funkiness as to be intimidated by a few
threats into my matrimonial engagement is humanly credible.... I cannot
at all comprehend why, at his frequent references to my alleged
tiger-slaughterswhich, with shrewd commonsense sapience, he seems to
consider mere ideally fabricated fibs and fanciful yarnsthe whole
Court should be so convulsed with unmeaning merriment, nor why so stern
a Judge does not make any attempt to check such disorderly
So far as my imperfect hearing can ascertain, he has been
instructing the jury that they may utterly dismiss from their minds my
highly ingenious plea of inability to offer any other kind of matrimony
than a polygamous unionsurely, a very, very slipshod off-hand method
of disposing of such a nice sharp quillet of the Law!... He is talking
to them about my means, and has thrown out a rather apt suggestion that
I may have been led by sheer vaingloriousness and Oriental love of
hyperbole into exaggerating my resources.... However, he sees no
reason to doubt my competence to pay a reasonable amount of
damagesan opinion with which I am not so pleased. If the jury think
me a gay sort of Hindoo deceiver, who has heartlessly trifled with the
affections of a simple, unsuspecting English girl, that will lead them
to award substantial damages. If, on the other hand, they consider
myself an inexperienced Oriental ninnyhammer of a fellow, who has been
entrapped into an engagement by an ambitious, artful young womanwhy,
that may incline them to inflict a merely nominal penalty. (But why, I
should like to know, does a Judge, who is infinitely more capable than
a dozen doltish juryman to express a decided opinion, thus put on the
double-faced mask of ambiguity, and run with the hare and halloo with
the hounds, like some Lukeworm from Laodicea?) ... Now he is mentioning
certain circumstances, which he is bound to tell the jury have made a
strong impression on his own mind. ... Alack, that, owing to the
incorrigible mumbling of his diction, I cannot succeed in ascertaining
what these said circumstances are!... He has begun (I think) to
discourse concerning my latest offer of marriage in open Court. What a
pity that hon'ble judges should not study to acquire at least ordinary
proficiency in such a simple affair as Elocution!
It may strike you, gentlemen, that if the plaintiff had any genuine
affection for the defendant, or any actual intention of linking her lot
with his, she would (the rest is a severe mumble!) Or again, you
may take into consideration (but precisely what they are to
take is, to myself, a dumb show!). Still, after making every possible
allowance for the idealising effects of the tender passion upon the
female judgment, I confess I find it a little difficult to persuade
myself that (Again I am not in at the finishbut, from the
bristling and tossing of JESSIMINA'S hat-plumes, I am in great hopes
that it contained something complimentary to myself.) ... He has just
concluded with the observation that, after what they have seen and
heard of the defendant during the proceedings, the jury should find
little difficulty in arriving at a fairly accurate estimate of the loss
which a young lady of British birth and bringing-up would sustain by
her failure to secure such a husband.
From the last it is clear that his hon'ble lordship meant that, in
secret, he has the highest opinion of my merits, though he entirely
overlooked the obvious fact that he would have better carried out his
benevolent and patronising intentions towards me by affecting (just
now) to consider me only a worthless poor chap. But even the most
subtly-trained European intellects are curiously backward in such
3 P.M.The jury are assembling their heads. They seem generally
agreedexcept a couple of stout ones who are lolling back and
listening with mulish simpers. If I were certain that they were
fellow-colleagues from Punch, I would encourage them by secret
signs to perseverebut who knows that they may not be partisans of the
plaintiff? If so, they deserve to be condignly punished for such
obstinate dull-headedness.... The foreman has asked that they may
retire, whereupon Justice HONEYGALL answers them, certainly, and
retires his own person contemporaneously....
3.15 P.M.The jury are still absentees. In reply to my questions,
my solicitor says that, as far as he can see, the damages can't be
under £250, and may amount to a cold Thou (or thousand)! Adding that,
if I had only let him brief WITHERINGTON, Q.C., I might have got off
with £50, or even what is nominally called a farthing. But I say to
him, in such a case how could I possibly have acquired any forensic
distinction? To which he has no reply ready.
3.30.The jury are still delayed by the two stouts. I have just
attempted to chat over the affair with JESSIMINA and Madame MANKLETOW,
and ascertain whether the former will not accept myself at the eleventh
hour as payment in full of all damages, costs, &c. Mrs M. replies that
the jurymen are notoriously in favour of her daughter, and that she
would as soon see her in gates of grave as the bride of a black man. On
closer approach to JESSIMINA, I have made the rather disenchanting
discovery that she has rendered her nose lilac from too much
superfluity of face-powder. Perhaps, after all, the damages may not be
so very.... The jury are coming back. Hon'ble Judge is fetched
hurriedly.... Mister Associate asks: Have you agreed upon your
verdict? Answered that they have. Do they find for plaintiff or
defendant? For plaintiff. And the damages? Twenty-five Thou!!!
My stars! O Gemini! Who'd have thought it? My Progenitor will never
pay the piper for such an atrociously cacophonous tune.... I am a
3.35.All right. I was deceived by aural incorrectness. It is not
twenty-five thou.but twenty-five pounds!
3.45.Hiphussar! Cockadoodledoo! A mere bite from a flea!... The
plaintiff has fallen into hystericals from disappointed
avariciousness.... There is some idle talk about costs following the
event, and certifying for a special jurya luxury for which it seems I
am not to fork out. The case is over.
* * * * *
Outside in the corridor and hall I was the cynosure of neighbouring
eyes, and vociferously applauded as a good old nigger, and told that
now they shouldn't be long, though for what else they were
waiting I could not learn. Madame MANKLETOW did overtake me near the
doors and invite me to tea and talk in a coffee and bun emporium,
hinting that she had recently misunderstood the state of her daughter's
heart, and that she had in reality been ardently desirous from the
first to accept my offer. To which I replied that the gates of grave
were now hermetically closed, and that the plaintiff, like the fabulous
canine, had thrown away the meaty bone of a first-class opportunity in
exchange for the rather flimsy and shadowy form of a twenty-five pound
note. But, as a chivalrous, I refrained from saying that I had been
thus totally put off by an over-powdered nose.
Then I proceeded, amidst cheering populaces, up Chancery Lane to a
certain Bar, wherein young HOWARD regaled myself and solicitor very
handsomely upon anchovy sandwiches and champagne-wine, after which I
returned to Hereford Road full of ovation and cheerfulness.
It is practically certain that my sire, the Mooktear, will cockahoop
with paternal pride on hearing by telegram of my moral victory, and
celebrate same with fireworks and festivities, besides sending ample
remittances for all costs out of pocket, &c.
So I am now to return shortly to Calcutta, when my time will be too
exclusively taken up with forensic triumphs for any further jotting or
tittling for Punch, or similar periodicals.
After all, for a fellow who is able to enchant multitudes, and
persuade their intellects and reasoning faculties by dint of golden
verbolatory of diction, mere sedentary journalism is a very mediocre
and poorly-paid pursuit!
Notwithstanding my cessation as a contributor, I shall, on arriving
in India, infallibly recommend Punch to all my innumerable
aunts, families, and friends, as a highly respectable
periodicalprovided that the munificent and free-hearted generosity of
those Hon'ble Misters, the Editor and Proprietors, shall account me
worthy to draw a monthly retiring pension for my distinguished
And, with prostrated respects to my honoured readers and their
respective relatives, I have the honour to remain, ever and anon,
Their Excellencies most grateful,
humble, and obedient servant,
H. B. J.