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TICK "ICE CARNIVAL" AT THE ALBERT MALL

SAWDUST AND SNOBS,

[Fkom Ouk Special Correspondent.]

London, March 22,

Aftir the flowery and elaborate "advance pars " that have appeared in most of the London papers descriptive of tho great social event of last week, it may seem hard to summarise it as above. But truth compels the admission; and in the cold light of experience, as opposed to the roseato hues of fancy which colored the statements of the society journalists aud the ' Daily Telegraph ' youug men, who 1 had anticipated the reality, the general verdict is that tho whole thing wa3 a very poor show indeed. The 'D.T.'especially letitsolf out iu fancy descriptions of " the palace of our modern snow queens," who were supposed, like Gerda in Hans Andersen's charming fairy tale, to be going to melt the ice-bound hearts of the hard-hearted in the cause of charity, not, indeed, by akis3 like her, but by the mere sight of their youth, beauty, and iunocecce. If mature matrons, masquerading in ballet-girl costume, form a touchiug picture of youth; if theatrical celebrities painfully got up, even in the broad light of day, form one's highest conception of beauty; and if a sprinkling of young girls, unsexed for the time being, aud partly importuning any and every passing man, appeal to one as a touching picture of innocence—then, indeed, the " D.T.'s" description was realised. And yet the pitiful snobbishness of human nature is such that, although everyone one meets admits that the whole thing was an utter failure from an artistic point of view, yet not only was the huge Albert Hall crammed to suffocation for three consecutive days, but not one of the best London dailies has had the courage to comment honestly upon it. There is one honorable exception, by the way, the ' St. James's Gazette,' which in this, as in most things, takes a sensible, honest, and moderato view of the matter. Even it only goes the length of saying that " ladies of mature age and robust habit of body ought to be prevented by Act of Parliament from making a lavish display of their charms in fancy dress in broad daylight." Financially, of course, the show has been a great success, although artistically it was beneath contempt. The prices of admission were ten shillings on the first day, five shillings on the second, and half a crown on the third, and from this source alone between two aud three thousand pounds must have been derived ; but although "It's for the sake of charity, you know," is all very well as a plea for asking a subscription, it is not an equally good excuso for the artistic failure of a show that was heralded with such a flourish of trumpets as this. The decoration ot the hall, arrangement of the stalls, and general management; were confided to Mr Whiteley, the great universal provider, who has a reputation for doing this sort of thing cheaply. " Cheap and nasty" were certainly synonymous term 3in this case. Sawdust and dirty cotton wool, under the be3t circumstances, do not make a good substitute for snow; but the whole effect, apart from this, was of the most shoddy and tawdry description. To begin with, only the area was utilised, the whole of the stalls, boxes, and galleries being left dismally unoccupied. Round the area were arranged stalls representing the winter abodes of various nations, with attendants in national costume. All, therefore, that one saw after fighting one's way in was the unadorned backs of these stalls in the midd e of the vast hall, with a struggling and perspiring crowd of half-dressed women and bepestered men penned up in the narrow space within. In the conservatory, for entrance to which, aa to every other part of the building, one had to pay extra, a spasmodic attempt was made at intervals by some blanket-clad individuals in Canadian winter costume to get up snow sine races on a sawdust tract; while a melancholy individual occasionally piloted an electric dogcart round a narrow ring. The effect was rendered more depressing by the fir trees covered with dabs of the aforesaid dirty cotton wool, which was supposed to represent snow.

The Cafd Chantant upstairs was equally disappointing. There was a rumor to the effect that Grossmith was to appear. I believe, indeed, he did come, but owing to the bad management and.over-crowding hid to go away agair. I got an elaborate programme of about twenty items, and thought that here at least I would get some value for my money ; but no ! After hearing a duet played by Herr Gauz and Signor Ducci, and a couple of songs suug by the Hon, Lady Macdonald, the audience were politely requested to leave to make room for others, or to pay an extra shilling if they retained their seats. Wearily I sought the tea-room adjoining to refresh my inner man, but on learning that one had to pay 5a for a cup of very inferior 2d per lb tea and a little bread and butter, ODce more I turned disconsolate away. I heard a muchexcited Frenchman pouring his sorrows into a policeman's ear. Ho had with native gallantry taken five ladies and three children into the tea room, and had to pay up the sum of L2 2s Cd, he hirmelf having had nothing but "a lectle nasty seerop," as he told the stolid British bobby. He insisted on the guardian of law and order going to demand at least a sovereign back, offering a guerdon of sixpence for the task, but the 8.8. wisely declined. And why were people willing to be swindled in this outrageous fashion ? For the sako of charity ? By no means, my masters; but simply because duchesses served out the tea, and countesses ar.d comedy actresses liberally displayed their charms for them to gaze at! The snob forms at least as important an element in society as Carlylo's " mostly fools," oven if he be not synonymous with the latter. One or two of the women formed pleasing pictures, notably Mits Dallas-Yorke, the Duke of Portland's bride elect, as an Italian peasant girl collecting coppers for the charity in her tambourine (silver, or oven gold, not being objected to); and Madame Nordica (otherwise Mrs Norton), the new American singer who has taken the town, as a snow queen, in long white dress with wide hanging sleeves, and all covered with crystal peudauts. Mrs Arthur Stannard ("John Strange Winter") did a roaring trade in other people's autographs and her own books ; and the Duchess of Montrose made a charming waitress in the tea-room in a plain black dress, with pale pink cap and apron. Mis? Walt Whitman, as a North American Indian, in wampum petticoat, beads, and eagles' feathers, etirtled one as much and attracted one as little as her father's so-called poems ; while various other American society beauties showed off themselves and their diamonds in robes of rainbow hues. But with regard to the majority of the women, the best thing I have heard was said by an Eton boy, who was asked by his auot, with whom ho was staying, what he thought of the show to which he had been taken. " Oh, auntie, it was so jolly and such fun ! All the duchesses had stopped at home and sent their servant-maids to serve out the tea; and there were a lot of ballet girls about the hall. So it wasn't a bit stuck-up, you know." "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings," etc. But the West End Hospital for Paralysis and Nervous Diseases, in whose aid the fete was got up, will have golden reasons for being grateful that female vanity and male snobbishness have had such an innings last week.

"Homy, love, I wish you would throw away that book nnd talk with me—l feel so dull." (A long silence and no reply.) "Oh, Henry, my foot ia asleep!" "Is it? Well, don't talk, dear, you might wake it." She's cbanruog and sedate, Her happy heart's elate, Her brain is filled with lore, Her college days are o'er, And she sits like a queen in her chair of ttate, The gracious and gleeful giil graduate. A judge has decided that a man is in duty bound tr> t»ll his wife where he spends iiiw evcniijfjM when he In miuy from home. This decision is alt right to a certain extent, 1 but suppose the man cloesu't know !

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890511.2.39.5

Bibliographic details

TICK "ICE CARNIVAL" AT THE ALBERT MALL, Evening Star, Issue 7904, 11 May 1889, Supplement

Word Count
1,414

TICK "ICE CARNIVAL" AT THE ALBERT MALL Evening Star, Issue 7904, 11 May 1889, Supplement

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