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TABLE TALK., Issue 8022, 26 September 1889
[From Our Special Correspondent.]
London, August 9.
An amusing yarn is going the rounds anent a smart retort of the veteran flaneur and war correspondent “ Billy ” Russell, who has just returned from his jaunt to Chili with the King of Nitrates. Somebody grumbled to Dr Russell about the appointment of the notorious “ Pat ” Egan as American Minister in Chili, and asked if there was or could be any sane explanation of such a selection. “ Oh! I think so,” said William, genially, “ Chili is subject to earthquakes, and no man understands land agitations better than Patrick Egan,”
The Princess Louise (Marchioness of Lome) is a great person for “ hobbies,” and has always some new pursuit on hand in which for the moment she is frantically interested. Just at present glass-painting absorbs L cr Royal Highness’s every thought, and it is gravely stated that the impossibility of getting good masters to assist her in Melbourne was one of the considerations which induced the Princess to request poor Lord Lome to decline the vice-royalty of Victoria. The disappointed Marquis has let off steam in a dolorous poem, ungrammatically entitled ‘Who is the Happiest?’ which will appear presently in the ‘ Scots’ Magazine.’
The Maybrick case excited more interest in London'than any crime which has taken place outside the limits of the metropolis for years. All the big dailies and illustrated papers sent “specials” to Liverpool and published lengthy reports. In the “ good old town ” itself the ‘ Express ’ and ‘Echo’ issued fresh editions almost every hour, and an immense crowd hung about St. George’s Hall from an early hour in the morning till late at night. On Friday evening last Sir Charles Russell was recognised as he crossed to the North-Western Hotel, and received quite an ovation. On the other hand, an unlucky Court official, whom the mob mistook for Bricrly, narrowly escaped lynching. The nurse, Alice Yapp, also came in for a hostile demonstration, the popular impression evidently being that her testimony had been deliberately inimical to Mrs Maybrick. It was remarked by those of Mrs Maybrick’s friends who saw her this week with her veil up that she had grown ten years older between the coroner’s inquiry and the trial. Brierly, too, has aged perceptibly. Ho speaks to hardly anyone now, if he can help it, and throughout the trial sat reading or pretending to read in one of the Grand Jury rooms, looking a picture of sombre remorse.
The twelve good men and true who formed the jury at the Maybrick trial were as inane and vacuous-looking a lot as I should imagine ever had a fellow-creature’s life at their mercy. The drift of much of Sir Charles Russell’s cross - examination was obviously absolute Greek to them. The foreman and two others certainly did seem to be taking pains to follow the medical evidence carefully, but the majority I fancy gave it up as a bad job directly the first d< ctor was cross-examined. The testimony of Dr Stevenson, the Government Analyst and Toxicologist, told terribly against the prisoner ; and Sir C. Russell tried altogether vainly to shake it. Dr Stevenson was positive Mr Maybrick died from acute arsenical poisoning. Neither the symptoms before death, nor tho post mortem examination, would admit of any other conclusion. Had Mr Maybrick been in the habit of taking arsenic regularly himself his symptoms before death would have been different to what they were.
The extraordinary prolixity of the learned Judge in charging the jury in the Maybrick case excited general remark. Poor Mrs Maybrick had evidently braced herself for the verdict on Tuesday evening, and her dismay on learning that His Lordship would not conclude before the morrow betrayed itself in an involuntary exclamation. On Wednesday morning the unhappy woman was so weak she had to be assisted into the dock, and at first everyone expected her momentarily to faint. By a great effort of will, however, she appeared to fight down the illness (or whatever it was), and once more concentrated her attention on the Judge’s observations. These were for a long time greatly in her favor, but when His Lordship came to discuss the prisoner’s voluntary statement she must have shivered inwardly. Bit by bit the learned Judge dissected this remarkable impromptu, and pointed out its terribly weak points. Th°re was, he said, a curious lack of evidiuce to confirm it, and its inconsistency with many admitted facts told seriously against the prisoner. Why, too, did Sir Charles Russell pass so lightly over such a vital part of the case ? How camp it, if he believed Mrs Maybrick’s statement, that his cross-examinations were not directed towards proving it ? Where, moreover, were Mrs Maybrick’s mother and the Brooklyn doctor, who could have deposed to her using the arsenic lotion ? Other witnesses had been brought from America, why not these ? Mrs Maybrick sat like a statue during this trying period, and the Court was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. The Judge doesn’t always speak quite clearly, but he delivered these criticisms with an impressiveness not to b3 mistaken. Sir Charles Russell was, I hear, dead against Mrs Maybrick being allowed to make her so-called “statement,” urging that it was wholly inconsistent with the general scheme of the defence. Sir Charles had suggested that Mr Maybrick’s motive in taking arsenic secretly was an aphrodisaical one. That might possibly be ; but, if so, why on earth should he worry his wife for “ one of those white powders ” when he was well-nigh sick unto death. People don’t think about sexual pleasures as a rule when they are in agony. Moreover, it is difficult to believe that a man with a considerable knowledge of drugs like Maybrick would, when seriously ill, take a quantity of a powerful poison like arsenic without consulting his medical man or saying a word to a living soul. Surely, too, if Maybrick had been a systematic arsenic-eater some suspicion must have crossed his mind that the drug might be the cause of his illness, and he would have spoken on the subject to Dr Humphries or the nurses. But he never said a word to explain his illness. On the contrary, he again and again expressed himself profoundly puzzled as to what could have brought it on. Mrs Maybrick looked pathetically forlorn (us she doubtless knew) when she stood up on Monday afternoon, and in tremulous tones, but singularly well chosen words, addressed Judge and jury. Only a man with the heart of a nether-millstone could at the moment have resisted an im-
pulse of profound compassion. But it did not last With the recapitulation of the case for the Crown came a reminder to the effect that at the very time that the interesting penitent was (as she now tells us) confessing all to “ my dear husband,” she was also writing to her “darling” Brierly and informing him that, as Mr Maybriok knew nothing of their London escapade and was sick unto death, he need not leave England. The German Emperor has not increased his popularity by his behaviour at the naval review. He was frigidity itself, would shako hands with no one but Royal personages, and went through the various ceremonies on Saturday and Sunday (but more particularly on Sunday) looking profoundly bored. The contrast between His Majesty’s cold hauteur aud the Prince of Wales’s genial bonhomie excited general remark, as, perhaps, H.R.H. knew, for ho busied himself recognising persons he had met before even more than osual. The postponement of the review from Saturday to Monday caused disappointment to thousands. The magnificent new White Star liner Teutonic, with 300 invited guests on board, including Mr Chamberlain, Sir Frederick Leighton, and others, had to return to Liverpool on Sunday evening without seeing the spectacle, as the steamer was due to sail on her maiden voyage to New York on the Wednesday, and had to take in cargo and provisions, etc., meanwhile. It would not be easy to imagine a more detestable day than the August bank holiday, Easter and Whit Mondays were bad enough in the matter of weather, but this last popular festival fairly capped them. Torrents of tropical rain succeeded one another at intervals of from ten to fifteen minutes, altor moments of delusive sunshine, just long enough to put the unwary holi-day-maker off his guard. Finally, the wind got up, and the miseries of the countless cheap trippers who had gone by water to the naval review were crowned by a rough voyage home in cold autumnal rain. A sicker, sorrier lot than the party of distinguished statesmen and diplomatists who landed at Waterloo about midnight has, I should think, seldom been seen, Mr Gilbert has handed over the first act of the next Savoy opera to Sir A. Sullivan. It is if anything a more serious work than the * Yeomen of the Guard.’ George Grossmith has (temporarily, at any rate) seceded from the Savoy Company, and is touring in the provinces with a monologue entertainment of his own. Mr Frank Wyatt takes his place, and will play a leading part in the new opera. Nearly all the smart West End theatres (save Terry’s, the Lyric, and the Prince of Wales’s) are now closed, and even at these establishments business is languid. I never witnessed such an exodus from town as there was last Friday and Saturday. From dawn to midnight the departure platforms at the great termini were densely crowded with frantic, excited travellers, all trying (apparently fruitlessly) to get away in a hurry somewhere somehow. Sir Morell Mackenzie, writing in the Contemporary,’ declares that the quality of modern prima donnas’ voices show a marked falling off. The organs of our Melbas, Gersters, M'lntyres, and Marie Rozes won’t compare either for power, durability, or compass with those of the great artistes of the past. Patti, gNillson, and Sembrich can, he says, alone of living vocalists be mentioned in the same breath with Grisi, Titiens, Albani, and other famous operatic queens. Sir Morell considers the high pitch used in England a chief cause of the mischief. His article altogether is interesting, especially to singers. It contains, for example, a number of hints as to the management and cultivation of a promising voice which should bo of immense use to beginners who cannot afford the luxury of consulting the great doctor himself.
Colonel North won a couple of small plates at Brighton on Tuesday with Mirror and Star of Erin. His turf successes so far have not been remarkable, considering the thousands of pounds which his agents have expended on thorough-bred stock of ono kind and another, but he seems grateful for small mercies.
Brighton is not so aristocratic as Goodwood, but the sport has for some years now been better than at the ducal meeting, and tho bracing air of the Downs puts everyone in good spirits. The Marine Stakes (a miniature Stewards’ Cup) was the chief event of Tuesday, and attracted a dozen runners, Mr Cleveland’s Constellation (3 yrs, 7.0) and Jarvis’s Needles (3 yrs, 7.0) being most fancied. It fell, however, to aloto 1 chance in Kettv (3 yrs, 6.7), a nice looking daughter of Kisber and the Chester Cup winner Biserta, belonging to Mr Fenwick. The same stable (Wadlow’s) were again to the fore in the Brighton Stakes (now one mile and a-half), in which the Cesarewitch disappointment Polydor (4 yrs, 7.10), though little fancied, beat True Blue 11. (6 yrs, 8.12) and four others. The chief two-year-old event of the afternoon, the Shoroham Stakes of LSOO, fell to Mr H. E. Tidey by the aid of Lowland (by Lowland Chief—Puella), who had a moderate field only behind him. After this week there will be no racing worth mentioning till York and Doncaster. The Leger has frozen up again this summer as it did in Melton and Ormonde’s year. Occasionally a “ bookie ” may be found who will allow you to lay him 5 to 2 on Donovan, but there are not many such, and they are far from anxious to deal. Bar one the Ring tender 100 to 7, which is Chitabob’s price, and Nunthorpe is sometimes mentioned at 20 to 1.
Alec Taylor’s luck in the Goodwood Stakes has for years now been proverbial, but not even the most ardent followers of the stable ventured to back the dark Ingram (4 yrs, 7.0), whose second appearance on a racecourse this was, last Friday. Half a dozen horses only started for the once famous handicap, and of these the two tried stayers Millstream (6 yrs, 8.12) and Tissaphernes (5 yrs, 8.0) were alone backed seriously. The first-named eventually became such a red-hot favorite that “even money ” was snapped at; 3 to 1 being laid Tissaphernes, 7 to 1 Savant, and 100 to 8 Ingram. Half a mile from home Savant, Master Patrick, and Royal Oak were done for, and, with Ingram momentarily expected to compound, it looked long odds (fours were laid) on Tissaphernes. Alec Taylor’s favorite, however, did not compound. On the contrary, it held its own well, and running home a capital race with Mr Fenwick’s old horse, won rather easily by a length ; Millstream, four lengths off, being a bad third. This was one of the few “ turns-up ” of the week, and gave the Ring a much-needed fillip. In the smaller events on Friday punters were dead on the spot; iSurefoot, Le Nord, Dog Rose, and Wrinkle being all popular fancies. Mr T. D. Hornby, the well-known Lancashire courser, died on Wednesday last at his residence at Childwall, near Liverpool. He was one of the old school of coursers, and for years the leading spirit of the great Waterloo meeting at Altcar. He owned many good dogs in his time, but the best of them all was Herscbel, which won the Waterloo Cup two years ago, and ought, in the opinion of many, to have secured last year’s trophy, too. Mr Hornby was a merchant in Liverpool, where his family have lived, worked, and been respected for generations, Tuesday last was the eightieth birthday of the Poet Laureate, who is not, I regret to learn, at all well. The year 1809 stands out as a birth year of famous men. Mr Gladstone, Lord Tennyson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Lord Houghton, and Darwin were all born in 1809. Darwin died in 1882 and Lord Houghton in 1885, but the others still flourish. The Grand Old Man seems, indeed, to achieve more remarkable feats (physical and intellectual) every year he lives. As ho said to a deputation at Hawarden on bank holiday; “ Lord Palmerston is the only person who ever attained to the position of Prime Minister that I have not already outstripped and left behind.” One may add that if the right hon. gentleman lives till the 27th of December next year even the worthy “ Pam” will have to take a back seat to him. Lord Palmerston, you may remember, died within two days of his eighty-first birthday. The return just printed of the literary pensions granted annually by Parliament reveals some rather interesting facts. One learns, for instance, that Lord Tennyson and Sir Richard Owen (Professor Owen) have drawn L2OO a year since, 1845, and that two old ladies (lineal descendants of Daniel Defoe) get L 75 per annum apiece. Mrs Oliphant receives LIOO, George Mac-
Donald LIOO, Robert Buchanan LIOO, Mrs Charles Kingsley L2OO, Russell Wallace L2OO, Dr Murray (of dictionary fame) L2OO, and Lady Helps L2OO. The largest pension granted is likewise the oddest—viz., L3OO to the daughter of the adopted daughter of the great Lord Nelson, Buchanan’s LIOO (considering that he makes thousands a year out of his plays) also seems to call for some explanation. On no account miss the August numbers of ‘ Blackwood ’ and the new ‘ Review. ’ The latter has a capital article (continued from July) on the ‘Talkers of To-day,’| in which Mr Goscheo, Mr Labouchere, Lord Acton, Robert Browning, and other noted conversationalists are described aud discussed. Browning is the only one of the lot I’ve ever met, and on the occasion in question he certainly did make himself particularly agreeable. Someone told me then, by the way, Browning dines out almost every evening. He and George Meredith seem to be very much alike in that way. They .enjoy small friendly dinner parties where they can talk' at ease and are not lionised. ‘Blackwood,’ of course, contains the storyjl recently mentioned to you of the strange wife murder committed by a butcher’s assistant in a dream. There can be no doubt whatever that the accused man, James Wheeler, was morally innocent, and that the jury when they found him technically guilty, but recommended him strongly to mercy, had no notion he would be hanged. One of them, indeed, became so seriously affected after hearing of Wheeler’s execution that he had to be confined in a lunatic asylum. The Judge who tried the case appears to have shown himself equally obstinate, hardheaded, and hard-hearted. He is now dead, or the publication of the sad story might have punished him a bit. ‘ Blackwood ’ also contains some exciting Anglo-Indian reminiscences under the title of ‘ The Planter’s Bungalow,’ The yarns of the ‘ Drink for Life or Death ’ and of the four men besieged on an engine by a cobra are capital specimens of after-dinner narrative. A notice of that remarkable book ‘ Ideala ’ and an account of a cruise in a small boat on the Zuydcr Zee assist in making up an exceptionally first-rate number. Mr B. J. Goodman, author of ‘ Too Curious,’ has a short sensational tale in hand called 1 His Other Self,’ which will be published immediately by Ward and Downey. The same firm have also just issued Farjeon’s new novel in three volumes ‘A Young Girl’s Life.’ I have not seen it myself yet, but the ‘Scotsman ’ says: “This story will please everyone who reads it, and is as good as anything the author has done.” Mr W. E. Norris’s ‘ Miss Shafto ’ is, like everything “our modern Thackeray” writes, delightfully easy reading. It can’t be called “ a great book,” or even “an exceptionally clever novel ’’ (Norris himself has done better work); but all who like a wholesome love story of everyday life, containing at least two capital character sketches, should send for the book. The face that ‘ Miss Shafto ’ ran serially through ‘Atalanta’ (the improved girl’s magazine) tells its own tale. The author of ‘A Window in Thrums’ and ‘Auld Licht Idylls,’ which I have several times mentioned to you, is becoming famous. Mr Gladstone has had the former work brought under his notice, and means, on dit, to “ enthuse ” on the subject in the September ‘ Nineteenth Century.’ Amongst new two-shilling novels published this week may be mentioned Farjeon’s ' Golden Land ’ (about Australia, of course), Mrs Lynn Linton’s ‘ Paston Carew’ (notone of this able author’s best works), and Baring Gould’s ‘Eve.’
Mr Frederick Greenwood has resolved, notwithstanding his financial experiences with the ‘ St, James’s Gazette,’ to start another daily on similar lines. Several Conservative magnates would gladly assist with money, etc., but Mr Greenwood prefers to bo independent.
TABLE TALK., Issue 8022, 26 September 1889
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