The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83
Echoes from Piccadilly
Echoes from Piccadilly.
The Daily News has come out with a proposal for the reconstruction of the Cabinet, on Radical ideas. Messrs. Gladstone and Childers are the only members to retain their present billets. Sir W. Vernon Harcourt is to be Lord Chancellor, Mr. Chamber-lain Home Secretary, while Dilke and Trevelyan are to be advanced. Lord Hartington is Foreign Minister, but Earl Granville remains in, as President of the Council, to wield the House of Lords. Lords Selborne and Northbrook are weeded out, for the writer's aim is to minimise the peers.
On the other hand, the Conservatives have been flirting about a list of their ministry. The loss of Cairns leaves a gap in the Lord Chancellorship. Salisbury is, of course, Premier, while Cross, Smith, and Beach resume their places at the Home Office, Admiralty, and the Colonial Department. Sir Stafford Northcote, with a peerage, is Foreign Minister, Mr. Goschen, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Cranbrook, Minister of War, Lord Lytton Secretary for India, and Lord Randolph Churchill Secretary for Ireland. But our Paul de Cassagnac, Randolph Churchill, would hardly be satisfied with anything less than the War Office.
The young African explorer, Thomson, has bracketted his name with those of Stanley, Livingstone, Schweinfurth, and Speke, by the achievements recorded in his attractive book, "Through Masai Land." He is only twenty-six. Under the auspices of the Geographical Society he spent fourteen months, from March 1883 to May 1884, in piercing a hitherto unknown region of Eastern Africa, from Zanzibar, on the coast, to the Victoria and Albert Nyanza Lakes, the sources of the Nile. The results are most valuable, filling up the map of Africa Among his discoveries are two mountains, 12,000 feet high, and he delineates tribes never before seen by a white man. The style in which he handled his gang of Zanzibar ruffians was worthy of the Prison Brigade of the Salvation Army.
Perhaps the most deeply interesting of his discoveries is that of huge, artificial, mountain caves. They indicate a former mysterious civilisation there, as in North America and Cochin China.
The late Lord Lytton's "Brutus," at the Princess Theatre, turned out a disastrous failure for Wilson Barrett, who has fallen page 48 back upon the "Silver King." His part of "Brutus" sunk into a secondary place beside the vigorous Tarquin of Mr. Willard. Wyndham, at the Criterion, continues his brilliant success with "The Candidate." Pinero has made a great hit with "The Magistrate," at the Court.
A finished performance of "Masks and Faces" celebrates the end of the Bancroft regime at the Haymarket. Here we have a progressive actor in Mr. Brookfield, who may become the Coquelin of the London stage. Everybody looks forward to the return of Irving and Ellen Terry at the Lyceum. Irving has long had an absurd notion that he can act Coriolanus, and its production has been whiffed about from time to time, but is never likely to see the light. He has studied Mephistopheles, and would do it splendidly. However, his ambition, for the present, appears to be restricted to embodying the "Vicar of Wakefield," merely as a complement to Ellen Terry's "Olivia," in a rich setting of Wills's play, on the tapis.
Burnand's diatribe against the stage has been followed by the "catch on," as the Yankees say, of his "Mazeppa" at the Gaiety It has succeeded as well as "Blue Beard," the "Forty Theives," or any of the well-known trump cards of the Masher's Paradise. "Pecunia non olet," say Vespasian, Hollingshead, and Burnand.
Then, again, Gilbert and Sullivan have struck oil with the "Mikado," at the Savoy. This follows on to their lucrative array of "Trial by Jury," "The Sorcerer," "Pinafore," "Pirates of Penzance," "Patience," and "lolanthe," and restores the lustre a little dimmed by "Princess Ida."
Talking of the stage, is it not a commentary on "one law for the rich and another for the poor," to see how Lord Durham, because he possesses £20,000 to squander, can have his stage rigged up at the Law Courts, with the solemn farce of judges, barristers, attorneys, and a spun-out trial to scandalise decent people? What a villainous, moated old beldame, what a wicked old harridan, what an abominably venal, lying virago is Justice! She looks into a man's hand and asks, "How much money have you got?" She is like the circus clown who goes into fits as long as the brandy is forthcoming for his relief. At last the ringmaster says, "There's no more brandy," and the clown says "Then there's no more fits." The litigant says, "There is no more money," and the answer is "Then there is no more justice." Apply this in Melbourne, too.
So do Bradlaugh and Henry George go on rubbing salt into the green wounds of the social sores, and probing the ulcers. The people are urged to look to Herat and the Soudan, but they grimly set their teeth, take the bit in them, and say that they will begin at home. Yet the English Government has been within an ace of allying itself with the Russian Nihilists and page 49 Dynamitards, for surely they would never say they wanted to slaughter the ignorant subjects of the Czar, his soldiers, and stay their hand at his own sacred person! Why, they would even blow up the Russian soldiers in mines, or anything.
A most significant item is the announcement that an International Exhibition is to be held in Constantinople; and be it remembered that the Parliament of Turkey has been in operation for five years.
Among the new books, Mr. Pater's "Marius, the Epicurean" has been well described as "John Inglesant, in Ancient Rome."
Lord Cairns, it seems, was a bit of a sportsman, notwithstanding his evangelicalism. He was fond of hunting and fishing. Nobody says anything about Miss Fortescue's £10,000 damages, but the scandal must have gone far to break his heart.
Jules Ferry is fifty-three. He came into notice as a journalist, twenty years back, by his furious attacks on Baron Haussmann, Prefect of the Seine, an office which Ferry held himself in the Provisional Government, after the fall of the Empire. The Communists held him imprisoned for three days, and treated him cruelly. In after years he became Gambetta's henchman. At length he rose to be Premier, as the puppet of Gambetta, then President of the Chamber of Deputies. When Gambetta formed his Ministry, he was astounded at Ferry's resolutely standing out. Gambetta died. The prophets were unanimously agreed that his successor must be picked from Simon, Freycinet, Say, Waddington, Clémenceau, or Challemel-Lacour. Ferry rode a waiting race, came through his horses, and achieved the longest Premiership under the new Republic. Disraeli said, "A man may resolve to be great; but only a woman can make him so." Madame Ferry is a very handsome, brilliant, and accomplished woman, a Queen of the Salon, like Lord Palmerston's wife. Ferry is stronger, at this moment, than any other French statesman.
Salas "Journey Due South" treats of France, Italy, and so on. His "Australia" will be caustic. Smythe gauged him as a lecturer.
Perhaps the climax of realism was attained when the painter de Neuville got a live horse from the knacker's, and snot the animal in his studio, so that it might fall naturally, affording him a model in a battlepiece. Pity he couldn't shoot some soldiers, too.