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MR. PUNCH'S AFTER-DINNER STORIES
Progress.—"I maintain that the race has improved in physique since those days. Now we couldn't get into that armour!"WITH 155 ILLUSTRATIONS
JOHN LEECH, CHARLES KEENE, GEORGE DU MAURIER, PHIL MAY, L. RAVEN-HILL, J. BERNARD PARTRIDGE, F. H. TOWNSEND, REGINALD CLEAVER, LEWIS BAUMER, A. S. BOYD, TOM WILKINSON, G. D. ARMOUR, AND OTHERS
PUBLISHED BY ARRANGEMENT WITH
THE PROPRIETORS OF "PUNCH"THE EDUCATIONAL BOOK CO. LTD.
The Punch Library of Humour
Twenty-five volumes, crown 8vo, 192 pages fully illustrated LIFE IN LONDON COUNTRY LIFE IN THE HIGHLANDS SCOTTISH HUMOUR IRISH HUMOUR COCKNEY HUMOUR IN SOCIETY AFTER DINNER STORIES IN BOHEMIA AT THE PLAY MR. PUNCH AT HOME ON THE CONTINONG RAILWAY BOOK AT THE SEASIDE MR. PUNCH AFLOAT IN THE HUNTING FIELD MR. PUNCH ON TOUR WITH ROD AND GUN MR. PUNCH AWHEEL BOOK OF SPORTS GOLF STORIES IN WIG AND GOWN ON THE WARPATH BOOK OF LOVE WITH THE CHILDRENPOST-PRANDIAL WIT
There is a sense, of course, in which everything from the pages of Mr. Punch might be regarded as coming into a collection entitled "After Dinner Stories." All good stories are really for telling after dinner. Somehow or other one seldom associates wit and humour with the breakfast table, although the celebrated breakfast parties of Rogers, the banker, were doubtless in no way deficient in either. Over the walnuts and wine, when men have feasted well and are feeling on the best of terms with themselves and their fellows, the cares of the day put past and the pleasures of the gas-lit hours begun, that is undoubtedly the ideal time for the flow of wit.
It must not, therefore, be thought that the present volume is in anywise distinguished from the others of the series to which it belongs in the appropriateness of its contents for the dinner party. No more than any of its companions is it designed to that end; but as it is concerned almost exclusively with the humours of dining, with stories of diners, it will be admitted that its title is not without justification. Private dinner parties, public banquets, the solitary dinner at the restaurant, the giving and accepting of invitations, these and many other phases of dining come within its scope, and if it be noticed that a considerable amount of its humour has something of the fragrance of good old port—to say nothing of the aroma of wines that are bad!—it can only be retorted that Mr. Punch's duty has ever been to mirror the manners of the changing time, and in his early days the wine flowed more freely than it does to-day. For our personal taste we could have wished less of this humour of the bottle, but throughout this library an effort has been made to maintain in some degree a historical perspective, so that, in addition to the prime purpose of entertainment, each of these books in Mr. Punch's Library might be a faithful picture of the manners of the Victorian period in which most of his life has been passed. If to-day these manners seem to us just a trifle coarser than we esteem the social habits of our own day, surely that is a comforting reflection and one not lightly to be lost!
MR. PUNCH'S AFTER-DINNER STORIES
Mrs. Jones. And pray, Mr. Jones, what is the matter now?
Jones. I was only wondering, my dear, where you might have bought this fish.
Mrs. Jones. At the fishmonger's. Where do you suppose I bought it?
Jones. Well, I thought that, perhaps, there might have been a remnant sale at the Royal Aquarium!Excuse for Drinking before Dinner.—To whet the appetite.
Voice from above. "What are you doing down there, Parkins?"
Parkins. "I'm jush—puttin' away the port, shir!"
Commissionaire. "Would you like a four-wheeler or a 'ansom sir?" Convivial Party (indistinctly). "Ver' mush oblige—but—reely don't think I could take 'ny more!"RICE AND PRUNES
Rice and prunes a household journal
Called the chief of household boons;
Hence my mother cooks diurnal
Rice and prunes.
Therefore on successive noons,
Sombre fruit and snowy kernel
Woo reluctant forks and spoons.
As the ear, when leaves are vernal,
Wearies of the blackbird's tunes,
So we weary of eternal
Rice and prunes.Never Speak in a Hurry
The Hospitable Jones. Yes, we're in the same old place, where you dined with us last year. By the bye, old man, I wish you and your wife would come and take pot-luck with us again on the—— The Impulsive Brown (in the eagerness of his determination never again to take pot-luck with the Joneses). My dear fellow! So sorry! But we're engaged on the—a—on the—er—on th-th-that evening!
Poor Jones (pathetically). Well, old man, you might have given me time just to name the day."WHO PAYS THE PIPER CALLS THE TUNE"
Johnnie (to waiter). "Aw—you're the boss—head waiter, eh?"
Johnnie. "Ah, well, just—ah—send up to your orchestra chaps, and tell 'em I really can't eat my dinner to that tune."
A Last Resource.—A happy and independent bachelor finds himself suddenly disappointed of his Christmas party in the country; he has ordered nothing at home, has given his cook and man-servant leave to invite their friends; his intimate companions are out of town, and, on arriving at his club, he is informed by the hall porter that "there is no dinner to-night, as the servants are having a party." Only one resource, a hotel, or dinner at a restaurant, all alone!
The very Latest Discovery.—Amateur Astronomical Student (returning home, after attending scientific bachelor dinner, where "the reported discovery of a new Satellite of Saturn" has been warmly discussed). "Where am I? Letsh shee—(considering)—Earth's got one moon. Mars's got five moo—Jup'tush nine—I shee two moons. Then—where am I?"EFFECT OF GOOD CHEER ON OPPOSITE TEMPERAMENTS
Aspect of Jones and Smith at two different stages of the same sumptuous repast.At the Celestial Restaurant
Customer (indignantly). Hi! waiter, what do you call this soup?
Waiter (meekly). I not know, sir, but ze padrone tell me to describe 'im cocks-tail!"The Coming Man."—A waiter.
So very Conscientious!—Master of the House. "Why, Jenkins, what on earth is the matter with you? Aren't you ashamed of yourself?"
Butler (with great deliberation), "Well, shir—if you pleashe, shir—itsh not quite my fault. You told me to taste every bottle of wine before dinner, in cashe one should be corked. I've only carried out in-shtrucshuns."THE VERB TO DINEPresent Tense
Thou joinest me.
He tries to whip us up for a division.
We smoke our cigars.
Ye drink your port.
They are defeated in the lobby.Imperfect Tense
I was dining.
Thou wast holding a reception.
He was attending it.
We were feeling puzzled.
Ye were reading the Globe and Pall Mall.
They were not knowing what to make of it.Future Tense
I shall dine.
Thou wilt join my party.
He will squirm.
We shall promote the unity of the party.
Ye will applaud.
They will call a meeting at the "Reform."Perfect Tense
I have dined.
Thou hast made ambiguous remarks.
He has explained them away.
We have tried to make it all sweet again.
Ye have split a soda.
They have split the party.Subjunctive Present
I may dine.
Thou mayest object.
He may want to state his views.
We may insist on our dinners.
Ye may agree with them.
They may disagree with you.Subjunctive Imperfect
I might dine.
Thou mightest emerge from Berkeley Square.
He might resign.
We might lead.
Ye might follow.
They might not.Imperative
Let him speak out!
Let us know who is our leader!
Read ye the Times and Globe!
Let them settle the question for us!Infinitive
Present: To split.
Past: To have been a party.
After-Dinner Consideration.—"Hippopotamuses" is a better test-word of fitness for joining the ladies than "British Constitution."DISCUSSING AN ABSENT FRIEND
"Yes, Robinson's a clever feller, and he's a modest feller, and he's a honest feller; but, betwixt you and I and the post, Mr. Jones," said Brown, confidentially, picking his wisdom tooth with his little finger nail, "Robinson ain't got neither the looks, nor yet the language, nor yet the manners of a gentleman!"
"Right you are, sir!" said Jones, shovelling the melted remains of his ice pudding into his mouth with a steel knife (which he afterwards wiped on the tablecloth). "You've 'it 'im orf to a T!"
First Convivial. "'Sh two o'clock! Wha'll er misshus shay?"
Second Convivial. "Thash allri'! Shay you bin wi' me—(hic)!""IN CONFIDENCE"
Dining-room, Apelles Club
Diner. "Thomson, do the members ask for this wine?"
Head Waiter (sotto voce). "Not twice, sir!"SPECIMENS OF MR. PUNCH'S SIGNATURES!
(Fac-similes taken during the course of the evening.) This is before Dinner, 7·30. Attested by Several Witnesses. This is after the Punch à la Romaine, about the Middle of the Banquet. This is with the Dessert. After the Claret.
After the Claret and the Port. During the Cigars, Whiskey and Water. 12·30. Before leaving Table.1·30. Before getting into Bed.
The above have been submitted to an eminent expert, who says he could almost swear they are the same hand-writing, but must come and dine with Mr. P., in order absolutely to verify them.
A Bad Ending.—"Well, William, what's become of Robert?" "What, 'aven't you 'eard, sir?" "No! Not defunct, I hope!" "That's just exactly what he 'as done, sir, and walked off with heverything he could lay his 'ands on!"A SALVE FOR THE CONSCIENCE
Vegetarian Professor. "No, madam, not even fish. I cannot sanction the destruction of life. These little creatures, for instance, were but yesterday swimming happily in the sea."
Mrs. O'Laughlan. "Oh but, Professor, just think it's the first time the poor little things have ever been really warm in their lives!"FELICITOUS QUOTATION
"Oh, Robert, the grouse has been kept too long! I wonder you can eat it!"
"My dear, 'we needs must love the highest when we see it.'"
Little Boreham (relating his Alpine adventures). "There I stood, the terrible abyss yawning at my feet——" That Brute Brown. "Was it yawning when you got there, or did it start after you arrived?"
At a dinner given by my Lord Broadacres to some of his tenants, curaçoa is handed in a liqueur-glass to old Turnitops, who, swallowing it with much relish, says—"Oi zay, young man! Oi'll tak zum o' that in a moog!"PRICE FOR AGE
Mr. Green. "You needn't be afraid of that glass of wine, uncle. It's thirty-four port, you know."
Uncle. "Thirty-four port!—Thirty-four fiddlesticks! It's no more thirty-four port than you are!"
Mr. Green. "It is I can assure you! Indeed, it's really thirty-six; and thirty-four if you return the bottles!"FLUNKEIANA
Master. "Thompson, I believe that I have repeatedly expressed an objection to being served with stale bread at dinner. How is it my wishes have not been attended to?"
Thompson. "Well, sir, I reely don't know what is to be done! It won't do to waste it, and we can't eat it downstairs!"CONCLUSIVE
Scene—Hibernian Table d'hôte Guest. "Waiter! I say—this is pork! I want mutton!"
Waiter (rather bustled). "Yes, sorr, it's mutton ye want—but it's pork ye'll have!"RAMBLING RONDEAUX
At Table d'hôte
At table d'hôte, I quite decline
To sit there and attempt to dine!
Of course you never dine, but "feed,"
And gobble up with fearsome greed
A hurried meal you can't define.
The room is close, and, I opine,
I should not like the food or wine;
While all the guests are dull indeed
At table d'hôte!
The clatter and the heat combine
One's appetite to undermine.
When noisy waiters take no heed,
But change the plates at railway speed—
I feel compelled to "draw my line"
At table d'hôte!Sufficient Excuse
Jones (to Brown). I say, old fellow, I saw you last night, after that dinner. Your legs were uncommonly unsteady.
Brown. No, dear boy; legs were right enough. It was my trousers that were so "tight."
Cruel!—Lucullus Brown (on hospitable purpose intent). "Are you dining anywhere to-morrow night?" Jones (not liking to absolutely "give himself away"). "Let me see"—(considers)—"No; I'm not dining anywhere to-morrow." Lucullus Brown (seeing through the artifice). "Um! Poor chap! How hungry you will be!" ["Exeunt,—severally."CANDID!
Host (smacking his lips). "Now, what do you say to that glass of she——"
Guest. "My dear fellow, where did you get this abominable Marsala?"Guests to be Avoided
"Hullo, old man! How is it you're dining at the club? Thought your wife told me she had the Browns and Smiths to dinner this evening?"
"No—that was yesterday. This evening she has the odds and ends."Sectarian
"Hullo, John! What a jolly dish! Potatoes, greens, carrots, beans! Who's it for?"
"Mr. Binks, sir."
"Is Mr. Binks a vegetarian?"
"Oh no, sir! I believe he's Church of England!""TO PUT IT BROADLY"
Improvised Butler (to distinguished guest). "Will ye take anny more drink, sor?"
First Customer. "Waiter, a fried sole."
Second Customer. "Bring me a fried sole, too, waiter—and mind it is fresh."
Waiter. "Two fried soles—one fresh!"
After Many Years!—Country Parson (to distinguished Peer, who has been making THE speech of the evening). "How d'ye do, my lord? I see you don't quite remember me." Distinguished Peer. "Well—er—not altogether." C. P. "We were members of the same club at Oxford." D. P. (with awakening interest). "Oh—ah! Let me see—which club was that?" C. P. "The—er—Toilet Club, you know!"THINGS ONE WOULD RATHER HAVE LEFT UNSAID
She. "We expected you to dinner last night, Herr Professor. We waited half an hour for you. I hope it was not illness that prevented you from coming?"
He. "Ach, no! I vas not hongry!"A DILEMMA
Nervous Gentleman (to two sisters). "I've got to take one of you in to dinner. A—a—let me see—a—which is the elder?"THINGS ONE WOULD RATHER HAVE LEFT UNSAID
Jones (to hostess, famous for her dinners). "Oh, by the way, Mrs. Hodgkinson, if you should happen to want a really good cook, I know of one who would suit you to a T!"THE RULING PASSION STRONG AT DINNER
Laconic Waiter (thoroughly familiar with sporting Major's taste in champagne). "Seventy-four, sir?"
Sporting Major (down on his luck, after a bad week at Newmarket). "Seven-to-four, sir! Dash it! wouldn't take ten to one about anything!"CAUSE AND EFFECTHost (to coachman, who is Coggledab (in a stage-turned on as butler on grand whisper, during a lull in the occasions). "I want you to see that conversation, to Mrs. Dumbledock, all my guests enjoy themselves, who has recently joined the Blue Coggledab. Don't let them have to Ribbon Army.) "'Ollands, whiskey, ask for anything. Be particularly or cog-nack, mum? You can't be attentive to my dear aunt, Mrs. enjy-in' of yourself. You're not Dumbledock!"drinkin'!"
[Mrs. Dumbledock alters her will the next dayA LITTLE DINNER OF THE FUTURE
A Forecast by Mr. Punch's Own ClairvoyantAccording to the Daily Chronicle, "an American
professor is looking forward to the time when cooking and
dining shall become lost arts, and we shall take our
sustenance in the form of tablets of concentrated things." Our
esteemed contemporary appears to think that such a system
would necessarily do away with all conviviality and social
intercourse; but, unless Mr. Punch's clairvoyant is liable to
error (which is absurd), we need not take quite so gloomy a
view of the future. People will still entertain, only the dinner of
the next century will be a more economical and less tedious
function, and, instead of having to go through a trying
interview with her cook, the coming hostess will merely look
in at the nearest food chemist's, when some such
conversation as the following will settle the whole business.
Hostess. We've some people coming in to take a few tablets with us this evening; what do you think I'd better have?
The Food Chemist. You will require soup, of course, madam. I could send you one of these patent soup-sprinklers, exceedingly simple to work, and quite the fashion in the highest circles: the butler sprays each guest before showing them upstairs. We supply the machine, charged with the very best soup, at ninepence a night.
Hostess. No, I don't want anything fussy, it's quite an informal little gathering. An ounce of those mock-turtle jujubes at fourpence I had last time will do very well.
The F. C. Very good, madam. Then, with regard to fish? I can strongly recommend these bi-carbonate of cod and oyster sauce lozenges, or I have some sulphate of salmon and cucumber pastilles, that I think you would like, ninepence the quarter-of-a-pound.
Hostess. I'm afraid I mustn't be extravagant. I'll take a small bottle of condensed smelt tabloids (the sixpenny size), and what are left will come in nicely for the children's dinner next day.
The F. C. Precisely so, madam. And as to entrées—will you have cockscomb cachous or sweetbread pilules?
Hostess. It makes such a long dinner. I don't want a lot of things.
The F. C. In that case, madam, I think I have the very article—a most elegant electro-chemical preparation, combining entrée, joint, and bird, with just a trace of vegetable matter, put up in small capsules, at one and elevenpence halfpenny the box of one dozen.
Hostess. That would be cheaper than having each course in separate tablets, wouldn't it? I think I'll try a box. What wonderful improvements they bring out nowadays, to be sure!
The F. C. They do indeed, madam. I am told that the Concentrated Food Stores will shortly be able to place on the market a series of graduated wafers, each containing a complete dinner, from a City banquet to a cutlet, at prices to correspond with the number of courses required.
Hostess. Delightful! And then the most expensive dinners will be all over in a minute, instead of dragging on to ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, as I've known them to do sometimes! I've often thought what a pity it is that we waste so much precious time as we do in merely supplying our bodily wants.
The F. C. We are improving, madam, slowly improving. And what about sweets, cheese, and savouries?
Hostess. I might have one of those two-inch blocks of condensed apple-tart, and a box of cheese pills—no savouries. You see, it's only a family party!
The F. C. Exactly so, madam. And shall you be needing anything in the way of stimulants?
Hostess. Let me see—you may send me in a couple of ounces of acidulated champagne drops—the Australian quality, not the French, they're twopence an ounce dearer, and so few people notice the difference nowadays, do they?
The F. C. (to himself). Not until the next morning! (Aloud.) And liqueurs? Any brandy-balls with the coffee creams? We have some very fine essence-of-dessert jellies——. Hostess Nothing more, thank you. (To herself as she departs.) I'm sure I've spent quite enough as it is on John's stingy old relations, who never ask us to have so much as a lunch-lozenge or a tea-tabloid with them!
Lady of uncertain age (discussing dinner party). No, I cannot say it was very complimentary; they gave me to an archæologist to take down.
Old Jones. "Yes, my boy, there's wine for you, eh? I bought ten pounds worth of it the other day."
Brown. "What a lot you must have got!"A BIG ORDER
Stout Party (to waitress), "Put me on a pancake, please!"
At a Literary and Artistic Banquet.—Waiter (to colleague). "Well, they may 'ave the intellec', Fred, but we certainly 'as the good looks!"
Why not a phonographic after-dinner speech machine? Celebrities could be represented at any number of banquets.
["An experiment in dinner speeches by telephone is to be tried at Massachusetts Institute."]THINGS ONE WOULD RATHER HAVE EXPRESSED OTHERWISE
Would-be Considerate Hostess (to son of the house). "How inattentive you are, John! You really must look after Mr. Brown. He's helping himself to everything!"
[Discomfiture of Brown, who, if somewhat shy, is conscious of a very healthy appetite.
Things One would(n't) rather have left Unsaid.—(In Mrs. Talbot de Vere Skynflynte's drawing-room, after one of her grand dinner-parties where nobody gets enough to eat.) General Guzzleton. "What's that? Tea? No, thanks. I never take tea unless I've dined!"
PROVERBS FOR BALL AND DINNER GIVERS
Ices and tea and coffee and small cakes are as good as a feast.
You may bring an amateur tenor up to a piano, but you cannot make him sing.
A lord in the room is worth two dukes in the bush.
In provincial society the lord-lieutenant is king.
Flirtation is the mother of invention.
All good dances lead to the conservatory.
Take care of the rounds, and the squares will look after themselves.
It is a wise waltzer who knows her own step.