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LONDON TOWN TALK., Star, Issue 4077, 16 May 1881
LONDON TOWN TALK.
♦ — . — ( Correspondent Melbourne .Argus.) | It is aaid of the Jews thafc they are members of the only religion whioh has never made a convert ; that they don't live in Scotland because the natives are too sharp for them ; with many other depreciatory remarks hard fco say of anybody. But for all that, the being a Jew — that is a " wet " or orthodox Jew, nofc a " dry " one — has in these modern times afc least one great advantage. He doesn't eat pork or ham, and therefore never becomes the home of trichina, or generates vacillus. The first-named parasite has increased to that degree that the importation of pork from America is forbidden throughout the Continent, except in Germany, where pork sausages are a necessity. In England we do not suffer so much, because we have a habit of cooking our pork. Nevertheless, at the Bale at the Duko of Portland's the other day, 72 persons were taken ■ill from eating ham (■andwiches. We all know when ham sandwiches are supplied gratuitously how poople will " go for" tnem. The mischief, however, did nofc arise in thiß case from repletion, but from vacillus, who seems fco acfc as a sort of deputy (like Mr Biggar for Mr Parnell) when trichina are absent. Like the gentleman in " Pickwick " so devoted to muffins, determined suicides who are fond of pork have therefore an admirable opportunity. The increase of suicides among the upper olasses has become very marked. Pecuniary losses are certainly the chief cause, and especially those which arise suddenly — that is, from gambling. At Monte Carlo, within the last four months, tbere have been no less than 19. No one who has watched people playing for more than they can afford (the true definition of a gambler), and who are not used to it, can wonder afc this. The eager eyes, tho twitching limbs, the nervous fingers, are all indicative of want of self-control ; it is as foolish for persons of this habit to indulge in games of chance for a large stake, as for anyone with heart disease to enter a wrestling ring. The men shoot; themselves or drown themselves, the women almost always poison themselves. Thero have been also several cases of late nearer home where it is doubtful whether the dead man fell by his own hand or that of anothor. The case of the French duke, the grandson of Marshal Ney, is very ourious. I heard it debated the other day among some men of science — first, is it possible for a man to shoot himself through the breast and afterwards through the head ; second, is ifc possiblo after shooting oneVself with a revolver fco throw it from one. They agreed that the first was possible, but the second nofc so. If a man shootß himßelf dead the revolver musfc be found quite close to him ; he has not tho power to throw it away. To this there was one dissentient— an Irish doctor. He said he thought it could be done with praotice. The police, I own, are sometimes in error. A restaurateur was indicted the other day for selling champagne without a license. A policeman swore he went to the shop, called for a bottle, drank ifc on tho promises, aud paid half-a-crown for ifc. Bufc ifc turned out to be zoedone, for which the waiter charged him as if for champagne, and pocketed tho difference. Alter all, the mistake arose from a deficiency in education. If tho force had champagne occasionally, tho constable would have known better. I cannot say that I ever had any zoedone that tasted tho least like champagne, but I have had a good deal of ohampagne thafc might have been zoedone. The stenographic machine, exhibited before the Chamber of Deputies in Paris, which takes down speeches, seems to threaten the existence of our reporters' gallery. Tho manipulator, a young lady, is even said to have succeeded in taking dewn a speech delivered in a foreign tongue, with which she herself was unfamiliar. When Home Eule is established this will come in very useful for the Dublin Parliament. Conceive a speech reported verbatim et literatim in Irish ! The demonstration in Paris on the occasion of Victor Hugo's birthday was really a most characteristic affair, and could by no possibility have happened in KDgland. Imagine thousands of people opposite the residence of Mr Alfred Tennyson, exclaiming impatiently "The Cup, the Cup," because tho laureate declined to put that drama on the boards of a theatre. "lt is the unanimous domand, sir," cries an impassioned fellow-countryman of Victor Hugo's, "of Paris, of Europe, of the whole world (including, of course, the Transvaal), that you should consent to the publication of your drama ' Torquemada.' " And, really, sinco he has published about 40, there seems no reason why he should be so coy about this one. Perhaps (though that is to the last degree unlikely) the great man may not thiuk very highly of ifc himself ; and certainly, fco judge by fche works thafc are " published afc the deßire of friends" in thiß country, one frould be disinclined to be importunate. The vacant Thistle has been bestowed upon the Earl of Fife. It is upon this order that the late Lord Derby made his b9st mot. Upon being asked to give the thistle to a cortain noble lord of exceptionally small ability, even for an hereditary legislator, he replied "No, no; he would eat it." Far be it from me to attempt to stem tho tide of literary enthusiasm, of which in this country there is certainly not too great a flow, but I am afraid the general public is getting a little overdone with Oarlyleana. The memoir of the philosopher's father is interesting just so far as any reminiscence of bis must needs be so, bufc it is obvious to any dispassionate reader that it is a work of imagination — as his lifo of Frederio was— and no biography. Carlyle had the faculty of endowing any figure to which he took a fancy with certain attributes of his own manufacture. In the caeo of a King of Prussia, this seems not so incredible and out of place, but in that of a mason of Ecclefechan, of whom without doubt no human being five miles from his own cottage would have ever heard hud it not been for his having Thomas Carlyle for a son, the exaggeration is too tremendous. If I might apply a common phrase to so great a man it is only too obvious that the philosopher of Chelsea was used to think certain geese who took his fancy swans, and more especially his own geose. No doubt ifc was natural piety that in his caso has thus exaggerated the virtues of the subject of his reminiscence, but I have known cases whero a sort of reflected conceit has made to some famous descendants of a small man that small man appear quito out of all proportion to his real stature. As to Carlyle's account of hiß contemporaries, and especially of his fellow-labourers in the field of litorature, it may be truly said that no act of his life misbecame him so much as the loaving these venomous recollections bohind him for publication. It almost reminds ono of tho posthumous work alluded to by Dr Johnson thafc a certain man dared nofc fire off himself, bufc "gave a beggarly Scotchman half-a-crown to pull tho trigger. 1 ' Why wero wo not, treated to this farrago of egotism anil illnuture whilo Carlylo was yet alive ? With thd oxcoption of his father, who hud a genius (ho tells us) equal to Burns, and his wife, who was superior to George Eliot, ho appears to havo thought well of nobody, although thero is a snobbish leaning towards tho aristocracy, by whom, in spite of his " rugged independence," ho did not disdain to be patronised. As a matter of fact, ho seems to havo had considerable fancy for a " genteel independence," and to have boen very angry bocause ho didn't gofc ifc. Tho French — always Carlyle's "least favoured nation" — havo been putting the finishing stroko to their auJacity and want of
reverence by publishing a comic Bible — "La Bible Amusante, for big and little children, text by Leo Taxil, illustrations by Fred'rick." The advertisement of this extraordinary work sets forth that "never, while remaining within the limits of the most scrupulous morality, have author and draughtsman pushed so far the mockery of toi disant sacred, things." It is fair to add that tho book emanates from the Anticlerical Publishing Company, and cannot therefore be taken as a natural outcome of the Parisian press. What has shocked the Clerical party in France a good deal more, probably, than this acfc of irroverence, is tho secularisation of the hospital wards, which, hitherto named after saints, are for the future to bear fche names of men of sMenco and philanthropists. With one exception, the ladies' clubs in London cannofc be said to havo boon successes. They offer such obvious opportunities for ladies who are or have not been quite what they ought to be to reinstate themselves into society, that it is no wonder they have been taken advantage of for that purposo. The committees need the eyes of Argus ; and then there are so many ways of inducing somnolency. For all thafc, one ladies' club, as I have said, may consider itself a success ; and another haß just started — the Somerville — which deßerves to bo bo. Its object is twofold — First, to offer a quiet resting-place to women in the midst of London when shopping or on business expeditions, far from home ; second, fco present a common ground whero women, rich or poor, can como together fco discuss questions of interest to all, and learn to know something of their sisters. " All respectable women are qualified for membership, without distinction of class or opinion," and the yearly subscription is but 5s per annum. Despite the Bmallness of this charge, the premises (opposite the Middlesex Hospital in Mortimer street) have been furnished in excellent taßte by fche Misßes Garrett, and a good library is in course of collection. The institution is named after the famous female mathematician, of course, and nofc after the author of " Tho Chase."
LONDON TOWN TALK., Star, Issue 4077, 16 May 1881
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