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TOPICS OF THE DAY.

[From Our Special Correspondent,]

The future Duchess of Portland—“ Randy ” and the Queen—An ex-M.P. elopes with a barmaid—Bananas and pyjamas —A popular naturalist’s death—Boiled kitten and onions—The beauty shows — ‘ The Times ’ scapegoat—A fashionable burglar—The story of a marriage de ronvenance. —The denouement —The husband’s defence—The ‘D.T.’s’ personal column—Dramatic notes—The weaker sox—Literary notes—O’Meara’s Napoleon at St. Helena —New edition— Mona Caird’s novel—Stuart Cumberland’s shilling shocker—New stories of adventure—Blackie’s Cyclopedia. London, March 22.

The observed of all observera at the Ice Carnival on Friday wa3 the future Duchess of Portland, who looked extremely well in an unpretentious Styriau peasant's costume, and must have collected a perfect fortune in pennies for the charity. Miss DallasYorke's father is but little known in London, having a rooted objection to leaving his beloved Lincolnshire, bat report speaks of him as a well-informed county squire, of bucolic tastes. Mrs Dallas-Yorke has the reputation of being somewhat of an "old soldier," and it is probably a fact that (a3 ill-natured people whisper) the Duke would have proposed last season but for her too rather obvious maternal manoeuvres. However that may be, His Grace now looks a very happy man, and a handsomer couple than he and his fiancee make it would be difficult to find in London. The Duke has leased Lord Bradford's big house in Belgrave square for himself and his bride, and made over his present residence to Lady Bolsover. He has also sent the Bentinck family jewels to be reset and valued. Messrs Garrard appraise them worth L2. r )0,000, the diamonds more especially being peerless stones. a ftimrous stoiiv. The club flaneurs declare that Lord Randolph Churchill is, for certain personal reasons, anxious to be appointed Governor at the Cape, and that but for unexpected opposition from the highest quarter he would have obtained his wish. " Randy," it seems, is the reverse of a persona grata a'; Court. His bumptious egotism and blustering manner have more than oncb offended the Queen, who was glad (no doubt in a majestic manner) to find a means of annoying him. "Is it true," an old courtier once asked in the Royal presence, "that Lord Randolph goe3 in for Socialism ?" "Yes," acidly replied Her Majesty, "the socialism of self." ELOPED WITH A BARMAID,

Mr Gent - Davis, the ex - Conservative member for Kennington, whose misdeeds in connection with certain truss moneys, you may remember, led to his incarceration in riolloway Castle for some month 3 recently, and whom the Judge congra'ulated on having escaped penal servitude by the skia of his teeth, has now capped hi i previous misdeeds by eloping with a barmaid. Why he should have done so, no one can conceive. His wife is young and pretty, and they have (she says) always lived on excellent terms. The little woman's kindly explanation is that financial anxieties have rendered her husband temporarily " dotty." Perhaps so, but barmaids are a queer form for " dottiness" to take. BASIIKUI. FIFTEEN. Mr Gilbert's modest young maiden of fifteen, shy as a gazelle, and all "prunes and prism," astonishes one at times. My friend, Percy Flarge, sat next one of these damsels, a mild youDg lady wfch a pink frock and a pink complexion, at dinner the other night. "Atdiuuer," he says, "the murmured nought but ' Yes'r.r 'No.' At dessert, however, when I offered her a banana, she staggered me (as these simple girls sometimes will) completely," "Do you like bananas?'' I asked, as Bhe was peeling her fruit. " No," she said; " I prefer the oldfashioned nightgowns. But Tom hai them."

He was so staggered for the moment that he couldn't say a word, and it wa3notli'.l the ladies had left the room and he bad repeated the remark that it began to dawn on him missy meant pyjamas, A POPULAR NATUBALI.iT. The death of the Rev. J. G. Wood deprives tbe world of a popular writer on aU naturalist subjects He compi'r-d, I should think, quite a ecore of handbooks ou brci, butterflies, shells, flowers, seaweed, anemones, eta., which were at one time widely read, esprcially by juveniles. Biographers of Mr Wood aver that he was, like Frank Buckland and Professor Poulton (with whom the present writer weut to school), a "grubby" boy. An undergraduate friend of his recalls going for a day's butterfly catching with him ii Bagley Wood, at Oxford, and securing, to Wood's great delight, fourteen " painted ladies." On their return to College and Wood's rooms, the friend noticed a pot stewing in front of the fire, which, from the savory smell, he judged must be some tasty accompa T )iment to the tea-table already spread. The contents proved to be a little kitten, a general favorite, which it had occurred to Wood would be just as good as boiled rabbit. The visitor did not partake, but—he winds up his reminiscence—"you see his love of animals was very strong. - ' This rather reminds one of the savage chief who was questioned as to the character of a deceased missionary who had been laboring in his neighborhood. " Was dear Mr Devildodger a nice man ?" "Oh, yes, 'urn werry nice." " But was he thoroughly tender-hearted ?" " Oh, yes, 'am werry tender-hearted. Me eat 'urn's heart, so me know !"

TIIK BEAUTY SHOW. The beauty show which Mr Howard Paul is organising for Messrs Pears will no doubt be a great success from an advertising point of view ; but I doubt if it will cause one half the fun that the "Handsome Man Show,"' now being promoted by an enterprising Viennese restaurateur, is sure to create. The prizes are (1) for the handsomest man ; (2) for the most killing moustache ; (3) for the largest nose ; (4) for the biggest bald head.

‘THE TIMES’ SCAPEGOAT.

Mr J. C. Macdonald has elected to spare Mr John Walter the necessity of dispensing with hia services, and retired voluntarily. He has been forty years on the staff of ' The Times,' and only followed his employer's lead in the matter of ' Parnellism and Crime,' but someone must be scapegoat for the Pigott fiasco, and on the whole Mr Macdonald is the most convenient person. He will be succeeded by Mr Arthur Walter. The shareholders in ' The Times' are grumbling sadly over their diminished incomes, which promise to become even smaller before all is over. Howl erious things are may be gathered from the fact that one lady who has always hitherto had at least L 2,000 a yearc rom ' The Times,' this year received L6OO only. A FASHIONABLE ByB'JLAR. A very curious and painful story is going the rounds of "society" just now anent a newly-married couple who have suddenly separated on the alleged ground of incompatibility of temper. The husband is the younger son of a viscount, and a goodnatured invertebrate sort of fellow of about thirty-five, who married hia wife (the wealthy widow of a German trader) for her money. The lady waß not very much in love with her suitor, but Bhe wanted social position, which he could give her, and she took care to keep the control of her fortune entirely in her own hands. Mr SmithSmythe (as I shall christen him) soon found indeed that he was entirely dependent on his wife for supplies, and consequently tried his best to keep ber in a good temper. Mrs Smith-Smythe was in the habit of keeping a large sum in bank-notes in an escritoire in the library of her house at Richmond, the window of which opened out on to the lawn. In summer this window was seldom shut, and, as Mr Smith-Smythe constantly pointed out, nothing would be easier for any robber or vagrant who learnt of the whereabouts of the treasure than to walk in and help himself. Mrs SmithSmythe would reply that as a matter of fact no one did know of the money save themselves and her old servants, who had been aware of her habit for ten years without being tempted to rob her. Nevertheless, one summer afternoon, when Mr and Mrs Smith-Smythe both happened to be out and the servants were at tea, the escritoire was broken open and the notes and gold stolen. The discovery was made by husband {and

wife simultaneously. They had, in fact, driven home together, Mrs Smythe picking up her husband on his way from the District Railway Station. Mrs Smythe fainted with the shock, but her husband, keeping bis head, telegraphed at once to Scotland Yard, and within an hour detectives were on the spot. After a lengthy investigation the suspicions of the police pointed in the direction of a young carpenter who was “keeping company ” with a housemaid that cleaned and dusted the library, and who, it was shown, had been seen hanging about the house on the afternoon of the robbery. As, however, neither note nor coin could be traced to him matters came to a standstill.

An old friend of Mrs Smythe’s, calling at Richmond one afternoon and hearing how things stood, recommended her to engage Sergeant M., the well-known private detective who left the force under sensational circumstances several years back, to ferret out the affair. She did so, and very soon learnt some startling facts. The thief (Sergeant M. declared) was her own husband, Mr Smith-Smythe ; at least he had been seen to enter and leave the house clandestinely on the afternoon of the robbery. A ten-pound note undoubtedly paid by her bank to Mrs Smith-Smythe had been traced to him, and within three days of the affair he had somehow settled a large and pressing debt of honor.

The husband declares that when his wife charged him with the crime and ordered him to leave her house on pain of exposure, he was so stunned and confounded as only to be able to mutter that if she could believe him capable of such baseness ho certainly must and would at onoe leave her house. There was nothing else for it. He declares, however, the detective has mixed up the afternoon of the burglary with the previous afternoon, when he certainly did slip into the house to get a letter he wanted to show to a man at his club. Furthermore, he says his wife gave him the LlO traced to him, and that the debt of honor he discharged was paid with winnings made at Sandown. Nevertheless, it is noticed he has not as yet taken any very active step to vindicate his honor. Mrs Smy the related the story to her soldier friend only, but it has got about in vague and garbled forms. In all probability the whole affair will become public property before long, as Mr Smith-Smythe must either clear himself conclusively or else resign membership at the Travellers', the Marlborough, and the Turf Clubs. If he doesn't move soon, the Committees of these exclusive coteries will. TUE NEW JOURNALISM. Mr Lawson, of the' Telegraph,' is no fool. He sees how times are going, and does not intend to be left behind. The • Star' introduced the smart "society" paragraph into London daily journalism, and very soon all the other evening papers (even the ' Globe') followed suit. The early editions of the evening papers are now on sale before noon, and Mr Lawson sees that unless the morning papers keep well abreast of their contemporaries they will soon become superfluous luxuries. Hence the introduction of the smart column of " pars," headed " London from Day to Day," in the' Telegraph.' I am curious now to see what the ' Standard' and ' Morning Poßt' will do. The ' London New York Herald' can't last. It's far too American in tone for English readers. Fancy devoting ten columns of one issue to the American baseballers. DRAMATIC NOTES. Mr Richard Mansfield's ambitious attempt to play 'Richardlll.' has proved, as many feared it would, a failure. There is nothing much to be said about it except that it is a thin backboneless sort of performance. The favorable verdict passed on Mr Pinero's ' Weaker Sex' in the provinces was confirmed by a large and brilliant audience at the Court Theatre last Saturday evening. Mrs Kendal's Lady Vivash is worthy of her best days, and will certainly please American and colonial audiences. The great scene of the play takes place at an evening party given in honor of the engagement of Lady Vivash's young daughter Helen to an artist—a certain Philip Lee whom she met in Italy, and whom her mother has not yet seen. Lady Vivash is waiting in the drawing room to make this gentleman's acquaintance when she is startled out of the convenances and all serenity by the advent of her old lover, Philip Lister, with whom she quarrelled before she married Lord Vivash in a huff, and for whom she has been waiting and longing ever since she became a widow. Her ladyship's ardent welcome and evidently undiminished love terribly discompose Philip, who, however, after a most painful scene, manages to make her understand that he has placed his affections elsewhere. In a frenzy of jealousy Lady Vivash is demanding the name of her rival, when her daughter (who has, by a clever device, been kept away up to now) enters, and by the warmth of her greeting shows that Philip Lee and Philip Lister are one. Lady Vivash thereupon sinks fainting to the ground. LITERARY NOTES. At Sotheby's on Wednesday a copy of the pamphlet issued by Edmund Yates for private circulation in 1859, and containing the correspondence between Dickens and Thackeray anent young Yates's being blackballed at the Gar rick Club, sold for no less than L4O. Almost all the prices realised by Mr Mackenzie's books were phenomenal, but then they were every one in such beautiful condition. For example, 'Sketches by Boz' (first edition), realised L3O ; ' Pickwick ' (first edition, in morocco), L 2 2; ' Master Humphrey's Clock,' Ll3; 'Tale of Two Cities' (in parts), Ll4 15s ; whilst a small pamphlet containing Mrs Sejmour's own account of the origin of the ' Pickwick Papers' was actually knocked down to a well-known collector of Dickensiana for L7'2.

Wilkie Collins’s new story will be called 4 The Lord Harry,’ and Clark Russell’s new volume of sketches, etc., ‘Betwixt the Forelands, or Legends and Romances of the Downs.’ 4 A Romance of the Pacific,’ by R. L. Stevenson, will be one of the books of the autumn.

Mr Gladstone has been praising (per usual post card) Miss Hoppus’s (Mrs A. Marks) romanceof old Rome, ‘Masters of the World. I must confess I found it rather stiff reading. The opening volume of the now series of 4 Tales from Blackwood ’ contains a capital selection. The first story, 4 Bourgonef,’ is the longest and (from a sensational and blood-curdling point of view) the best j but the fair sex will probably prefer 4 Thomus,’ by Mrs W. K. Clifford (author of 4 Mrs Keith’s Crime’), or ‘The Brigand’s Bride,’ a bright piece of narrative in poor Laurence Oliphant’s lightest style. The title of Zola’s new masterpiece will be 4 L’Homme Que Tue,’ or something similar. It deals mainly with the intricacies of the French law, police system, and prison life, I read a portion of the concluding chapters, the scene of which is laid at Rouen assizes. They are intensely dramatic—in fact, Zola at his best.

I have been reading the new edition of Barry O’Meara’s ‘ Napoleon at St. Helena,’ just issued by Bentley. The voluminous foot notes and extracts from other contemporary works on the same subject, now added to this remarkable and world-famous book, make it almost a classic. Yet how many of the present generation, I wonder, even know ol it, or are aware that on the day of its publication a large crowd assembled outside Simpkin, Marshall’s and absolutely fought for early copies. The book ran into five editions before Sir Hudson Lowe (the Governor of St. Helena) could get Home to answer O’Meara’s attacks upon him in it, and |hy that time he was a ruined man. There is now (I gather from the introduction to this edition) no doubt that Dr O’Meara’s narrative was perfectly veracious and accurate, and that Sir Hudson Lowe shamefully abused his position with regard to Napoleon. To colonists who, like myself, have stopped at St. Helena en route to Australia and visited the dreary, straggling shanty called Longwood, Dr O’Meara’s pages will teem with interest. One can picture every detail so clearly, and sympathise heartily with the impetuous Irish surgeon’s indignation with the Governor and passionate admiration for the captive Emperor. Even Carlyle confessed himself moved, and owned that his respect for Napoleon had been increased by O’Meara’s work. “ Since the days of Promethius Vinctus,” he wrote, “I recollect no spectacle more moving than that of this great man In his prison-house, captive, sick, despised, foryet arising above it all by sheep forpe

of his own unconquerable spirit.'’ This edition of ‘ Napoleon at St. Helena ’ is one of those standard works everyone should try and find time for reading. ‘ Under the Wing of Azrael' is the title which the authoress of ‘ls Marriage a Failure ?’ has selected for her novel now' on the point of publication. The purpose of this fiction is, on dit, to show that loveless marriage is merely a form of monogamous prostitution.

In his shilling shocker, ‘AFatal Affinity,’ Mr Stuart Cumberland practically offers a solution of the Whitechapel murders. Dabblers in theosophy will not need telling that there are in the East two Brotherhoods of Black and White Magic. The Black Brotherhood, or Children of Darkness, are evil-doers of the vilest sort who prostitute their magic powers for Satanic purposes, but they are not so potential either terrestrially or astrallyas the Good Fairies—l beg pardon, the White Brethren, or Children of Light. Before a Black Brother can become an Adept (or high priest) it is essential that he should slay thirteen persons of a similar affinity within a year. Usually they are women, and about the same age. In India the murder or disappearance of an occasional Native girl excites little remark, but sometimes the murderer cannot find his affinities in the East and has to come west for them. He is never discovered, lor the simple reason that the crimes are committed by his shade or astral form, the murderer’s knife only being visible to the naked eye. In Mr Cumberland’s story the would-be Adept of Black Magic is baulked of his ninth victim by a powerful white brother, who presents the young lady threatened with a charm (a golden coin), which she is instructed to wear over her heart night and day, and against which (eventually) the assassin’s dagger proves impotent. The Master of Darkness (Satan's vice-regent on earth) is so annoyed at the would-be Adept’s failure that lie consigns the young man’s body to inconceivable torments, and commands his soul to inhabit the carcass of a jackal for ever and ever. Mr Cumoerland promises shortly a more serious work on theosophy, to which he lias apparently become a convert, ‘ The Secret of the Lamas; a Tale of Thibet' is the title of a new work of adventure to be issued at once by Cassells; and Chatto and Windus announce a similar romance entitled ‘Mr Stranger's Sealed Packet,’ by Hugh M'Coll. ‘ Blackie’s Cyclopedia,’ the first volume of which has just been issued, will (if carried out and completed as it has been begun) be the cheapest, handiest, and most exhaustive work of the kind ever published. I have tested the first volume (A to Bla) in every way three fairly smart persons’ ingenuity could suggest, and never found it wanting. The facts anent New Zealand are extraordinarily accurate, considering how incorrect cyclopicdias, etc., usually are. A capital map is attached to “Auckland.” ‘ Blackie’s Cyclopedia’ will be published in seven quarterly volumes, at 7s fid each.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890518.2.39.11

Bibliographic details

TOPICS OF THE DAY., Evening Star, Issue 7910, 18 May 1889, Supplement

Word Count
3,301

TOPICS OF THE DAY. Evening Star, Issue 7910, 18 May 1889, Supplement

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