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ing underneath the white dress and who this gentleman is had better linen cap of a professional cook. not expose their ignorance by askThe cook is in like manner trans- ing, on pain of being regarded as a formed into a boy with a red nose; just released convict or an escaped the boy with a red nose into an old lunatic. But indeed there is no woman in petticoats and a coal- need of inquiry. The general air scuttle bonnet ; and, after some of excitement which almost for the half-dozen transformations, a thin, first time during the performance wiry man springs down from the pervades the audience, sufficiently rope, bowing and smiling profusely, denotes that we are waiting for the and hurries off behind the scenes. bright particular star of the evening

Then there is a lady with a double -the idol of the music-hall habitués, voice, one a very high one, and the the snob's supremest notion of a other very low, reminding us of the man; in a word, the Lion Comique. fat gentleman with two voices who Whence he derives his namefell down a well, and who couldn't whether he christened himself, or get anyone to help him out, because whether his admirers conferred it everyone who passed by declared upon him to signify that he is comic

Why, there are two of you ; help above all other animals, it must be yourselves out.'

left to anthropologists to discover. Next comes an Italian, with his One thing alone is certain : the Cohair cropped closely and bristling mique believes that he represents the all over

his head, who sings popular institution of the day, and passionate love songs from popular that he is consequently entitled to operas, walking uneasily backwards hold his head higher than the rest and forwards the whole time, like a of mortality. To say that he has caged lion in the Zoological Gardens no mean opinion of himself would half an hour before feeding time. be feeble and inadequate. ConHe is followed by a muscular fident in the notion that he is the Frenchman in the conventional beloved of the people, that himself dress of an acrobat, who does and the music hall are one and inwonderful things with a large divisible, he dresses as beseems a

Catching it firmly prominent public man. His watchwith his teeth, he makes three chain is of solid gold, and resembles good-sized boys seat themselves a miniature cable; at its extremity upon it, and actually carries the dangles a bunch of seals, which whole thing round the stage. must add something to his walking After this, his wife in costume very weight. In the button-hole of his decolletée mounts the tub, holding Ulster, whose pattern, to speak one of equal size between her own mildly, is prominent, is fixed a teeth, when the husband grips tub, bouquet-to be accurate-of gerawife, and second tub, raises him- niums. His cutaway coat, his self, staggers for a moment, and, waistcoat, and his trousers are evirecovering his

balance, walks dently of most expensive cloth, and, quietly down to the footlights and peeping from his outside pocket is back again.

the suspicion of a blue silk handBut at this moment the faces of kerchief. But his dress varies with the audience wear an expression of his song. Habited as above, he eagerness. A buzz of pleased expec- warbles of Rotten Row, of Lord's, tancy goes round, as the chairman in of Tattersall's, of Piccadilly, and of a louder tone than usual announces those choice haunts where he would that “the great

will now
persuade us that

“ swells and appear.” Those who do not know Lion Comiques do congregate to

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up short.


gether. Leaving aside what Arte- on," he usually finishes up the orgy mus Ward would call his “store in a condition which he delicately close,” he appears before us next in describes as “tight,” and is then the full splendour of swelling shirt- picked up by a benevolent policefront, dainty "choker," and dress man, who, recognising him for a coat. Now he is fresh from the lord at once, puts him gently into opera or Cremorne, where number- a hansom, and bids the driver carry less damsels fell love-sick at sight him home. This is the song bacof him. But he was cruel to them chanalian. It is foolish, but that all, for “he is not a marrying man. is the worst we shall say of it. Yet again is he transformed. This When, however, the Comique aptime the change is startling. He proaches the topic of love, and appears “in character.” Nimbly proceeds to sing of has he clapt his nether limbs into a

Woman and wine, pair of bright green, red, or yellow

Woman and wine, pantaloons. Tightly has he buttoned round his shapely form a coat blending in the same breath a tipsy of many hues, beside which Joseph's panegyric upon “sparkling 'ock," would have turned pale. Deftly and an idle criticism upon womanhas he set upon his head, sideways, kind, we are inclined to pull him waggishly, a thing of marvellous

Serious consideration structure—we will not

it seems almost wasted upon such a “ hat." Give him now his cane subject, and the general verdict with the silken tassel, and is he not would probably be that the perready? Ah, no! A moment-he formance of one who sets women has forgotten something.' Quick! just a little higher than his bottle the rouge pot and the puff. And might be suffered to pass unnoticed. now, with cheeks besmeared and But there is a somewhat deeper tip of nose beraddled, let him stand cause for fault. The wine songs of before his delighted audience, a the Comique are stupid, his love many-coloured bundle of shreds and

songs are coarse. It is possible to patches. Fearfully, indeed, and go to great lengths in a stage play wonderfully is he adorned. Truly or a song without being legally Solomon in all his glory was not indecent, and there is no exaggeraarrayed like one of these. And tion in saying that the music-hall now his song. He generally has a Comique sails as close to the wind large repertory. There is his song of decency as the law will allow. bacchanalian, his song amorous, his We have heard songs charged with song sentimental, his song funny, inuendoes of the broadest and and his song patriotic. In the first of coarsest nature, and jests that were these he deifies all wines in general, thoroughly low, spoken lines whose and champagne, hock, moselle, and suggestions were

unmistakeable, Clicquot in particular. He takes a and yet in all this there might be pride in confidentially informing no single syllable on which anyone the audience what price he pays for could lay his finger and say “this his “ fiz," and how many

bottles he is absolutely indecent." The double knock off" without the spirits entendre is there, the point aimed mounting to his brain. Not that at, the evident intention; but behe exhibits in his song any foolish cause no individual word is disprudery on the question of tippling tinctly unclean, not only does the to excess. On the contrary, he does singer escape the censure of the not hesitate to tell us that after law, but he obtains the periodical

getting merry as the night goes sanction of that law as a person

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eminently fit and proper to adminis- long as you like.” There'is fun, too, ter to the amusements of the people. of the kind that is best fitted by the The Comique does not, with the term “ horse play, which finds its boldness of downright vice, call a physical outlet in stampings and spade a spade ; therefore his per- bangings, its vocal expression in formance is blameless and whole- puns with double meanings, but some. It must be blameless and we scarcely call this “humour.” wholesome, because the magistrates “Artistic ability” there certainly is renew the licence of the music hall not, if by". artistic” we mean somefrom year to year, and of course thing that endows the possessor magistrates would not licence an with a sense of refinement or taste; improper place of entertainment. but there is a certain amount of

It must be added that the flashy smartness, the faculty of coarseness of some of his songs giving and taking horsey repartee, does not in any way detract from and the knowledge of "handling " the popularity of the Comique, with audience. Occasionally the the larger proportion, at least, of favourite has to submit to a little his audience. Far from this, it gallery chaff, and he would be may be noticed that the man whose simplý “ nowhere” in the opinion jokes

broadest generally of his patrons unless he could pay

the largest meed of the quizzer back in his own coin. applause, and the most decidedly But for the most the Comique has unwholesome song it was ever our it all his own way, and carries the fortune to listen to received three audience with him. As he stands encores.

in the centre of the stage, his The song funny calls for slight hands thrust deep into his trousers comment. But here let us say pockets, his hat on the back of his that where such an amount of pre- head, guiding by the swing of his tension is made as

the Lion body the audience as they follow Comique makes for himself and his lead in the chorus, he rules his performance, we have them with a nod. There is cleverright to expect something more ness in this : the quick, clever tact than mere tasteless noise. We by which one vulgar mind places look, if not for first-class vocal itself en rapport with a number of power, at least for melody—and other vulgar minds; and the vulgar verily there is none. We look, if mind on the stage having the gift of not for wit, at least for humour- expressing itself more boisterously there is no spark of it. We look, and confidently than the vulgar if not for first-rate talent, at least minds below, naturally takes the for some artistic ability—there is lead. If anyone should please to none whatever. There are, it is call this artistic ability, perhaps true, tuneful catches in plenty of only a select few, besides the pure the jingling, “taking,” order that spirit of Art herself, would feel may be quickly picked up and outraged. The coarser the song joined in by the audience; but of the more popular with some at those bright simple airs-such, for least of the auditors. There is no instance, as one hears at a Parisian need for the lines to be too explicit; café chantant—there are none, nor if there is a hidden meaning it will do they seem to be wanted. “Never not be lost upon the hearers. This mind your melody,” say the music craving—it has no other name—for hall patrons ;“give us a good rousing the unwholesome element in amusechorus that we can all sing to- ment finds satisfaction in various gether, and we'll encore you as ways outside the music hall. It



of the song.

fills the benches of the Divorce We may defy the sternest moralist Court during the trial of a cause to say that there is anything im. célèbre; it crowds the stalls of a proper in these words, we fail even theatre now and then, when a to recognise a meaning between the certain official has been caught lines; but, on the other hand, can napping ; it sold a good many anyone discover in them the faintest spurious copies of the “ Priest in apology for wit or humour? The Absolution and the “Fruits of chorus as it stands may fairly be Philosophy.” The “funny” por- said to constitute a fair definition of tion of the Comique's entertain

“nothing; so far as regards any ment, if it calls for any notice, is kind of sense or meaning. Nor remarkable not so much for its does it gain or lose in significance vulgarity as for its stupidity; and by being placed between the verses yet, on second thoughts, neither

Verses innumerable stupidity nor density is the best might be quoted to show that where word; nothingness is a more accu- the comic song of the Lion is not rate term than either. The comic coarse or vulgar, it is, with rare exsong of the music hall, in short, ceptions, absolutely barren of sense. is nothing if not“ nothing” But it would not be worth the while, a somewhat curious phrase, per- nor need we waste time over the haps, but a little quotation may qualities of the sentimental or justify it. A song which enjoyed patriotic songs further than is for a time a larger share of popu- needed to remark that they, larity than was ever claimed for one together with all other classes of of the dainty melodies of Mr. Sul- music-hall songs, seem respectively livan or Mr. Hatton was Mr. Fred to have had one original copy, upon Coyne's “Wo Emma!” It had a the leading idea of which, changes longer run on the music hall stage of more or less ingenuity are everthan is secured by many a first- lastingly sung. There is in fact a rate play on the stage of a popular general cookery recipe for each theatre. The title became a catch- style of song. phrase in the mouths of all men So is it with the gestures and and boys, from the 'bus conductor pantomimic action with which the to the shoeblack. Did an errand Comique illustrates the sentiments boy run against us on turning the

of the composer.

For instance-he corner of a street, he saluted us tips his hat knowingly over his left with “Wo Emma !” and passed eye, shuts that optic tightly, and

Did the wheel of an omnibus makes a playful lunge with his catch in the wheel of a Hansom tasselled cane at the audience; he cab, for a moment the prelimi- is cunning, he has outwitted his nary oaths usual on such occasions tailor, “such a dawg!” Again, he were forgotten in an angry inter- curves his arm as though placing change of “ Wo Emmas !"

it around the waist of a barmaid, the common form of greeting be- uplifts his eyes in the direction of tween “ Charlie ” and “’Arry,” and the ceiling, smiles a wide smile, and superseded for a time all the slang chuckles softly—he is in love, she phrases of the day. Here is the has met him alone by moonlight. chorus of this famous ditty (quoted Anon, he all' his fingers from memory) :

through what hair he has, thumps

his shirt-front, and rolls both eyes Wo Emma ! Wo Emma! Emma she puts me in such a dilemma,

wildly ; he is jealous, she has Wo Emma! W8 Emma !

flirted with another comique. Now That's wot I 'eard from Putney to Kew. he thrusts his right foot forward


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and stamps at short intervals with and a rustling behind the scenes, a. his left, beats his breast harder sound of suppressed titterings and than before, and glares fiercely at simperings, and they are herethe smallest boy in the gallery; he the whole bevy of them with their is patriotic, his country is in danger, bare arms and stockinged legs, wellnever shall the Russian (or any favoured and fat, ill-favoured and other) Bear tread on the tail of the lean ; the latter for the most part British Lion whilst the manly arm predominating. Fine dancing is of the Comique can wield a tasselled one of the fine arts, but this before cane !

us is tedious work, for there is no Such is the Lion Comique, the individual dancer of merit, and the recognised channel for the introduc- spectacle of a number of girls, tion of the loose jests, nonsense many of whom are imperfectly songs, and clownish buffoonery, trained, and most of whom are which constitute the chief features plain-featured, turning, leaping, of a music-hall programme.

He and posturing for half an hour, is is in a great degree responsible for neither interesting nor edifying. the love of horseplay and coarse

Nevertheless, in uproarious popupractical joking which charac- larity the ballet is scarcely second terise the London snob and the to the song and breakdown of the British rough on all public occa- Lion Comique. Jigs and hornpipes sions. His influence for evil is wide are all encored, mazy twistings are and penetrates deep. In his pro

followed with eager eyes, and the fessional capacity he is a model of highest kickers of course carry the bad manners, bad dressing, vulga- honours. Not indeed until they rity, and sometimes

of have danced themselves pretty well indecency. We have wasted too off their legs, and are decidedly much time over him already. He limp, can we suffer the coryphées has long since finished his song, to depart, and even then the curmade his bow, and left the stage, tain must rise upon them again, and is at this moment being whirled that we may take a last look. through the streets in his own We have reached a period of the private brougham to fulfil his next evening when it may be not unengagements.

profitable to stroll round the hall, A popular Comique attends some and note how the performance is three or four music halls in the telling upon the audience. This course of an evening, singing two promenade is, however, not easy of or three songs at each, and driving accomplishment just now. The over half London in the course of tables are crowded, every seat is, his rounds.

filled, and more than this, every His departure leaves us in a con- inch of ground not occupied by dition of generous warmth. We tables and chairs, is blocked and have laughed and sung and ap- packed and choked with a mass of plauded ourselves into a state of human beings of all sizes and ages, considerable excitement, and desire very hot, very jovial, very noisy, to be pleasantly relaxed. Could and evidently in no way inclined there be a better time than this for to grumble at the quality of their the ballet? Bring them forth, entertainment. The high pressure those painted nymphs with skirts state of the atmosphere, combined of such bewitching brevity; let with the narcotic influence of beer them dance before our eyes, that and tobacco smoke, has overcome our souls


within us.

anything of chilliness or They come. There is a fluttering which may have existed between


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