TOPICS OF THE DAY.
[From Odr Special Correspondent.]
The influenza—Deaths of Earl Cairns and Lord Napier of Magdala—Earl Cairns’s love affairs—Miss Fortescue—The next laureate—Death of Mrs FitzGeorge—A family quarrel —An explanation—Mrs O’Shea’s sister—The king of excursion agents Thomas Cook’s career A mysterious disappearance—What’s become of Broadley Pasha ? The West End scandals—Dramatic notes—Arthur Roberts’s fiasco— Amy Roselle at the Empire Ronooni’s death Arabella Goddard— 1 Ruy Bias ’ —Literary notes —Montague Williams’s new novels Prince Fortunatus—Mackay’s funeral—- ‘ Misery Junction,’ etc., etc. London, January 17. During the past week the influenza epidemic (which long ago ceased to be a subject for joking) has laid low Mr Balfour, Lord Burlington, the Duchess of Teck, Lord Wimborne, Sir Donald Currie, Lord Belgrave, and Mr Ritchie, and carried off poor young Earl Cairns and Lord Napier of Magdala. The latter was in his eightieth year, and had long been infirm, so that his death occasioned little surprise; but Earl Cairns, being a young man, should surely (one would think) have possessed sufficient stamina to withstand la grippe. 'Tis said the death of his aunt (Mrs M'Calmont) occasioned him great concern, and that, with the influenza already on him and against doctors’ orders, he insisted on attending her funeral. Inflammation of the lungs supervened, and in three days the second Earl Cairns lay dead.
The death of Lord Napier of Magdala recalls to memory the exciting events of the brief and brilliant campaign of which Sir Robert Napier was the hero. All England idolised him then, and had he been a instead of a shy, blunt soldier, who hated speech-making, he might have become as permanent a popular hero as Wolseley or Roberts. _ Instead of that, Lord Napier allowed himself to sink into something very like oblivion. He appeared seldom in public, and was scarcely known latterly outside “service” circles.
THE LATE LORD CAIRNS. It must have been with mixed feelings that Miss Fortescue read of poor Lord Cairns’s death on Tuesday last from the current epidemic. He was a goodnatured, kindly, well-meaning little man, but utterly wanting in nerve and backbone. Had he possessed the faintest will of his own Miss Fortescue would now be his widow instead of a popular “ star ” actress, managing her own travelling company. Lord “Gumboil ” was proud of his Mr Jiancie at first, and the pair were to be seen together everywhere. Old Lord Cairns gave a reluctant assent to the engagement, and Miss Fortescue went to visit the family in Scotland. What she suffered during that time she nowadays sometimes tells. The Cairnses were very Scotch and very serious. Miss Fortescue couldn’t get on with them at all, and her fiancie was unreasonably vexed thereat. Then wily old Lady Cairns took Garmoyle in hand, and ultimately persuaded him to jilt the frivolous young actress. A few people were furious on Miss Fortescue’s account. She herself, however, took the matter very calmly (as far as anyone could see), and set to work to improve her acting. In this W. S. Gilbert materially assisted her, and now Miss Fortescue is a bona fide and successful leading lady, well up to the highest comedy roles. Lord Garmoyle, after going round the world, and, it is fair to say, making friends everywhere, got engaged to the American heiress Miss Chamberlain. Scarcely, however, had she accepted him before there was a rupture, and a _ few months later the then Lord Cairns married Miss Berens, another unexpectionable parti. Since then little has been heard of Earl Cairns. Perhaps the best that can be said of him is that, though neither intellectually brilliant nor physically attractive, ho was universally popular both with men and women. Men invariably came to the conclusion that there was a good deal in the youngster, and women, of all ages (a good sign), found him “ charming.” His younger brother, who succeeds to the peerage, has the reputation of being “serious,” and is a shining light amongst the Bournemouth Nonconformists.
JOURNALISTIC NOTES. The decision of the Court of Appeal ordering Mr Walter to answer Mr Parnell’s interrogations anent the circulation of ‘The Times ’ has caused dismay in Printinghouse square. Mr Walter’s counsel had the impudence to reply that he feared his clients could only answer the query in a very general way, as there were “returns,” etc., to be considered. To this Mr Asquith (for Mr Parnell) said they would be content to know the number of copies which ‘The Times’s ’ machines turned out on the average per diem.
Joe Hatton’s reign at the London office of the ‘ New York Herald’ proved short, if not very sweet, and he has now been succeeded by Mr Louis Jennings, M.P., an able and experienced journalist and a successful novelist. Nothing, however, will make the ‘ Herald ’ pay in London in its present form, as everyone but Mr Bennett has long ago recognised. He still swears he will make it a success or it shall break him. THE NEXT LAUREATE. Lord Tennyson never condescends to read the papers, or his feelings might be somewhat hurt at the free and easy manner in which a certain class of scribes are discussing his probable successor in the laureateship. As a matter of fact, of course, talk on the subject is futile, as everything will depend on who is in power when the appointment has to be made. If Gladstone were Premier he would certainly appoint either Swinburne or William Morris, whereas Lord Salisbury would probably prefer Alfred Austin to either. If the Queen henelf were to be allowed to select the laureate, Sir Edwin Arnold would unquestionably be the lucky man. Lewis Morris seems quite out of the running, though in the opinion of dispassionate people his claim comes next to that of Swinburne. DEATH OF MRS GEORGE. The death of Mrs FitzGeorge, the Duke of Cambridge’s wife, has attracted but little attention, most of the newspapers passing over the event with a couple of lines. She was always a very quiet person, devoted to her husband and sons, and seldom going into society, save in the quietest way. The Queen grew of late years to like the old lady, and often sent kindly messages to inquire after her. She leaves several sons and grandsons, all of whom are in the army. The best known, perhaps, is Major FitzGeorge, who so often acts as his father’s A.D.C. A FAMILY QUARREL.
The most noble the Marquis of Ailesbury and his uncle and heir presumptive, Lord Henry Bruce, are at daggers drawn owing to the determination of the reckless young nobleman to try and sell the family seat (Savernake Park) and forest. This estate is not far from Marlborough, and is one of the most beautiful places in England. The forest covers several miles of country, and tho timber is unequalled in Great Britain. The first act of the present marquis on inheriting this superb domain was to begin cutting down the trees. Fortunately his uncle heard of the vandalism before much mischief was done and intervened as heir presumptive. The marquis then set to work to make a racecourse in Savernake Park, Want of money, however, soon stopped that and now all his efforts are concentrated on trying to sell the ancestral acres. Lord Henry Bruce naturally means to prevent it if he can. Lord Ailesbury has no children, and is not now very likely to have any. Moreover, the life he leads does not favor the supposition that he will, as they sav “ make old bones.” *
AN EXPLANATION. Mrs O’Shea’o friends explain Mr Parnell’s frequent visits at one time to her house on the ground that he was a great admirer of Captain O’Shea’s sister, a very lovely girl, whose sudden death not long ago was a severe shock to the family and their friends. THE KING OF EXCURSION AGENTS.
Thomas Cook, the venerable founder of the famous firm of excursion agents, lies dangerously ill at his country seat in Leicestershire, Leicester is the king of cheap trippers’ native town; ’and it was thence when quite a youth he despatched his first excursion (an eleven miles business only) to Loughborough. The success of this little venture set young Cook thinking, and he
presently organised dii excursion train from Leicester to Liverpool. About the same time (1845) the first of Cook’s cheap trips to Paris was triumphantly carried through, though it took ten years to perfect the now world-known system of circular tours. In 1861 Mr Cook personally conducted 1,500 people to Paris and back. In the first Exhibition year no fewer than 70,000 persons used the firm’s coupons. Between these two dates Thos. Cook arranged tourist tickets through Switzerland and Italy. In 1865 Mr Cook went to America, and the next year sent his son with a large party for a tour of Canada and the States. In 1868 Mr Cook first visited the East (which is now completely in the firm’s hands so far as tourists are concerned), and very soon the difficulties of trips to the Nile and Palestine completely disappeared. Cooks “ boss ” the Nile nowadays ; in fact you can do nothing in Egypt without them. In 1878 Mr John M. Cook made a journey round the world, which was the precursor of his firm’s annual conducted tours round the globe. Mr Thomas Cook retired from business several years ago. The present head of the firm, John M. Cook, is a handsome man of fiftyfive (but looking younger), and bubbling over with indomitable energy. From 1865 to 1870 he travelled 42,000 miles each year, and in 1876 did as much as 53,000 miles. No undertaking ever frightened him. When the Vesuvius Railway Company were in difficulties and financiers fought shy of the venture, who should step in but John M. Cook. His firm bought up the whole concern for an old song, and are now making pots of money out of it. In 1884, when Mr Look guaranteed to convey our troops up the Nile to Khartoum, few believed he would ever carry out his contract. His firm did so, however, though not without encountering and overcoming appalling difficulties. Cooks now make a lot of money personally conducting Mahomedan pilgrims from India to Mecca and home again. Special pilgrim boats sail fiom Calcutta every year loaded with pious Hindoos. Cooks undertake the whole business for them, supplying Mahomedan guides for the land journey, etc., and arranging things so that what used to be a dangerous and diffi-
cult, as well as a costly, expedition is now hardly more than a pleasure trip. The one European country that looks sourly at books is Russia. Mr John M. Cook has made many attempts to conquer the Czar’s prejudices, and effect an entnie for the firm’s coupons, but so far fruitlessly. A MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE.
There has been a tremendous amount of “cackling” in club and journalistic circles concerning the mysterious paragraphs in ‘ Vanity Fair ’ and the ‘ World ’ anent Mr A. M. Broadley and the departure of that erratic individual for foreign parts. It seems some twenty years or so ago Mr Broadley had to leave the Indian Civil Service on account of his inability to explain satisfactorily a very serious charge that was then brought against him. He returned Home, went to the Bar, and in due course made a name as the defender of Arabi Pasha. Latterly Mr Broadley joined the staff of the ‘ World,’ and represented that journal at all great social functions, writing moreover most of the “Celebrities at Home.” This it was ultimately brought about his downfall. Had the man been content to forego “smart” society the old story might never have been resurrected. Unfortunately the Prince of Wales has a long memory, and when he met Broadley at Lady Burdett-Coutts’s last season he instantly remembered there was something against him. Result, inquiries and a certain solemn intimation from H.R.H. to Mr Burdett-Coutts. Matters did not, however, come to an absolute crisis till the 14th of December, when * Yauity Fair’ innocently published a cartoon and biography of Mr Broadley. Who tackled the editor of this journal onthesubjectis not known. Some say an equerry from Marlborough House, others a messenger from Chief - Commissioner Munro. The result at any rate was a very explicit paragraph in next week’s ‘ Vanity Fair,’ regretting and apologising for the publication of the cartoon and biography. Simultaneously the ‘ World’ announced that Mr Broadley was no longer connected with its staff.
Of course there is more in all this than meete the eye. Edmund Yates pooh-poohed the idea of the resurrection of an old tale (which had been everybody’s property these fourteen years) having frightened Broadley out of the country. He went down to Scotland Yard himself and made some inquiries. What he learnt he has told no one, but the subsequent announcement in the ‘World’ looks significant. Yates would not abjure an old friend and comrade save on the best of grounds. That is certain.
THE WEST END SCANDALS. The reason the Government and the police have not proceeded against the alleged habitues of the house in Cleveland street, whose names are in their possession, is that the principal witnesses for the Crown would be the ineffable young scoundrels who gave evidence in the conspiracy case last week. The authorities rightly consider that no jury could be empannelled which would convict a person of position of a serious charge on these wretched lads’ unsupported testimony. Had Hammond turned Queen’s evidence the case would have been somewhat different. The Duke of Beaufort, I understand, complains bitterly it is most unfair that his son alone, out of all the culprits, should have been singled out for public ignominy and reproach.
DRAMATIC NOTES. Arthur Roberts got roundly, soundly, and deservedly snubbed on the first night of the burlesque of ‘ Tra La La Tosca.’ He had
not learned a word of his part, and gagged from end to end to the utter despair and distraction of Miss Ayrtoun and the other players. The friendly audience stood their privileged jester’s fooling for a time till it got too wearisome for anything, when the stalls left the house and the gallery hissed. Miss Ayrtoun’s burlesque of Mrs Beere in ‘ La Tosca ’ is quite as good as her Airey Anne. Poor girl, she hates the pieces she is condemned to act in, having naturally a serious bent. Her sister, whom she supports, is dying of consumption, or she would not have consented to parody Mrs Beere again.
‘ The Gondoliers ’ has not made the same hit either in New York or in the English provinces that it has in London. In its way, the Savoy Theatre is just now doing as big a business as Drury Lane. A friend of mine waited an hour and a-half outside the pit door on Wednesday evening, and then only obtained standing room. The stalls and circle are invariably marked “ full ” before the doors open. Miss Amy Roselle, who was a clever and sympathetic actress in her day (which has now somewhat overpast), is going to “ raise the tone of the music hall-” by giving dramatic recitations at the Empire/ As usual, when a fairly well-known actress takes a step downward, we are told it is just the reverse. Thus Miss Roselle (according to report) will receive a larger salary than she ever before obtained for reciting at the Empire.
Following close on the death of the tenor Gayarrc CO mcs that of the baritone Roncoui. iho latter was a survivor of the palmy days of Italian opera. He made his debut in Lucia, with Persian!, Lablache, and Mario ; and at once jumped into popularity. His voice was only moderate, but he could act wonderfully well; and in parts requires a display of mingled love and jealousy (like Rigoletto) he had few equals on the operatic boards. Between 1847 and 1866, Ronconi appeared regularly in London. en k* 3 * ias l> VR d in retirement in Madrid, where the influenza ended his career last Friday, The ‘ Little Lord Fauntleroy ’ boom has come to an end in London, Mrs Beringer put the piece on again at the Opera Comique, expecting a good three months’ run ; but the revival didn’t draw at all, and now the theatre is closed.
Madame Arabella Goddard is, I regret to in sad straits for money. Her application for a Government pension has been refused, but Mr W, H. Smith offers to subscribe L2OO from the bounty fund to the testimonial which Messrs Chappell are organising. A benefit concert will also be given on March 11, at which Bach’s triple concerto, performed by Mdlle. Janotha, Herr Joachim, and Sig. Piatti, should draw all musical London.
The hundreth night of ‘ Ruy Bias ’ was celebrated at the Gaiety on Monday evening, when portraits of the principal performers
were given away as souvenirs. I confess I still think the piece very long and dull. IiIERABY NOTES. The third of the series of four novels which the indefatigable Miss Braddon has undertaken to write for Mr Leng, of the ‘ Sheffield Telegraph’s ’ syndicate, was commenced on Saturday last. The title ‘ Whose was the Hand ? ’ is sensational enough, in all conscience, though it somehow sounds familiar. In the course of the year this syndicate will publish * The Secret of the River,’ by the prolific Dora Russell; ‘ Blind Fate,’ by Mrs Alexander; and a new romance by Ouida. I saw a copy the other day of the “ colonial edition ” of Mrs Campbell Praed’s new novel ‘ The Romance of a Station,’ which is to be issued at 2s forthwith in your part of the world. This, to be candid, is quite as much as the book is worth. There’s no harm in the story, but if Mrs Praed had never written anything better she would scarcely command the terms she does.
Montague Williams’s reminiscences are banging fire for some reason or another, and it is said publication may be postponed till next autumn. That would be both a pity and a mistake, as there is no book really “ the fashion ” just now, and a racily-told volume of recollections would almost certainly catch on.
David Christie Murray’s younger brother Henry, who claims to have written the greater part of that excellent detective story ‘ A Dangerous Catspaw, has now produced a semi-sensational novelette of his very own called ‘ A Game of Bluff.’ It is a readable tale enough, but without a tithe of the cleverness of ‘ A Dangerous Catspaw.’ The plot is old and none of the characters particularly original. In his preface to Wilkie Collins’s posthunovel ‘Blind Love’ Walter Besant explains that, though he finished off a portion of the third volume, the story is from first to last the author’s own. Mr Collins had drawn out such an elaborate scenario of the plot that all Mr Besant had to do was to fill in a_ few unimportant details. Most people, indeed, will find it impossible to determine where Wilkie Collins laid down his pen and Besant picked it up. The sale of Browning’s ‘ Asolando ’ has been much larger than that of Tennyson’s ‘Demeter.’ The former is now in its seventh edition, whereas only some 2,000 copies have been issued of the laureate’s volume.
Black’s new nvoel ‘ Prince Fortunatus ’ is the story of the numerous love troubles of a phenomenally handsome and popular young tenor of the “Tottie” Coffin school. The likeness to this gentleman is carried pretty close, as you will realise when I tell you that the Mr “Lionel Moore” of the story makes a great hit in a comedy opera called the ‘ Squire’s Daughter ’ by singing a wonderful serenade known as ‘ The starry night.’ More of this book anon.
The second number of the ‘ Speaker ’ is a great improvement on the first. Gladstone, Sydney Webb, George Augustus Sala, and J. N. Lockyer contribute interesting signed articles, and the ‘ Notes of the Day ’ are particularly well put together. From all accounts Wemyss Reid is making up these initial issues very cheap, the majority of the contributions being New Year gifts. The ‘ Daily Graphic ’ people profess themselves quite satisfied with their success so far. Their first day’s sale was 240,000, and the paper has since averaged a circulation of 150,000. Yet the bookstall boys tell me it only goes off very moderately. Both Mr William Morris and Mr Watts, R.A., attended Dr Charles Mackay’s funeral, but neither attracted so much attention as a very old white-haired man, Henry Russell, the veteran musician and composer of a score of Old World songs. Russell set numbers of Mackay’s verses to music—notably, ‘Cheer, boys, cheer,’ ‘A life on the ocean wave,’ ‘ Woodman, spare that tree,’ ‘ To the West,’ etc., all of which he sang and played himself in a showy and effective style. Mr Russell was hanging on the arm of a bronzed, wiry man of middle age, who proved to be his son, W. Clark Russell, the nautical novelist.
Under the title of ‘ Misery Junction,’ the two dramatists who prefer to be known as “ Richard Henry ” have published a series of realistic sketches of the seamy side of theatrical life. These papers are not exactly fact, nor are they fiction, but something between the two. Many of the characters (introduced under thin pseudonyms) will be easily recognised ; others are, no doubt purposely, mere types. ‘Writing for the Stage ’ and ‘ Extras et Cetera ’ should on no account be missed.
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TOPICS OF THE DAY., Evening Star, Issue 8154, 1 March 1890, Supplement
TOPICS OF THE DAY. Evening Star, Issue 8154, 1 March 1890, Supplement
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