SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20, 1888
Mr. Richard Mansfield very generously gave his services and those of his company, last evening, to aid the Bishop of Bedford's Home and Refuge Fund for the poor of the East-end of London. Not only that, but he undertook to produce a new play of a lighter and brighter kind than those weird romances and psychological studies with which his name has hitherto been identified. "Prince Karl" is an old-fashioned, indescribable, and illogical piece of nonsense which looks as if it preceded the modern era of farcical comedy. Strange to say, it was written by Mr. Archibald C. Gunter, who has since made his mark as a novelist, who writes his books in such perfect dramatic form that his annexors only require a peppering of connecting dialogue, a pot of paste, and a sharp pair of scissors. There is nothing particularly clever, witty, or ingenious in "Prince Karl." It reminds one more of a forced burlesque on serious drama than of a modern farcical comedy, and in intention recalls a wild piece of extravagance written for the elder Sothern years ago by Watts Phillips, and called "The Woman in Mauve." The plot is supposed to be serious, but the characters do farcical things. The mainstay or pivot of this absurd trifle is Mr. Mansfield, who occasionally reminds one of the daring attack of E. A. Sothern, combined with the eccentric ingenuity of Mr. Fred Leslie. He is as melodramatically impassioned as Sothern in his mock love speeches, and as whimsical as Leslie in his business. The play as it stands is so extremely bad, so invertebrate, so inconsequent, and so feeble from its own point of view, that we are the more inclined to recognise the talent, the ingenuity, and the versatility of the actor who can carry it to success on his own shoulders almost unaided. This is a kind of entertainment that is not as yet understood in England. It is manufactured for the sake of the single-handed entertainer to take round the country - an apology for a play, indescribable, unreasonable, improbable, which shows off an alert and clever star to the best advantage. We saw the same kind of thing with Fritz Emmett, and it has been perpetuated down to the semi-variety show, semi-entertainment of Miss Minnie Palmer. The object is not to exhibit a play, but to throw the lime-light on a particular artist. Years ago entertainments, as they were called, were written for Mr. W. S. Woodin, Miss Emma Stanley, or Mr. Howard Paul. They personated several characters with more or less success, they changed their dresses, they sang their songs, and made a few dull hours pass pleasantly enough. In the harmless trifle called "Prince Karl" Mr. Mansfield proves that he has at his command a strong vein of comedy, and that he is an actor of considerable resource. He can imitate better than he can sustain. His talent is in sketching idiosyncrasies of character rather than in strong impersonation. Quick, spontaneous, alert, he can keep the attention of the audience by some rapid outline, but he takes no time or trouble to fill it in. As yet he is essentially an entertainer, and a very clever one. He suggests; he does not elaborate. For instance, in this curious play, when an impecunious German Prince, who has entangled himself with an amorous widow, pretends to drown himself, and acts as courier to his innamorata sooner than sacrifice his future to a harridan, Mr. Mansfield is in reality never Prince or courier. Sometimes he is Mr. Jekyll, often he is inclined to hop about as Hyde, but he is always clever, amusing, and companionable. An artist so quick and so imitative, with so many gifts, mostly undisciplined, has in him all the makings of an actor of considerable moment. But he has evidently spent the best part of his time in entertaining, and has not as yet - owing to his conspicuous success in America - gone through the drudgery that even genius requires. In Prince Karl he entertains his audience as a clever young man would do single-handed at an evening party, and he does not pretend to do much more. Whatever he does he does well, but all who have watched Mr. Mansfield since his arrival in this country must have regretted that so much talent has been wasted on such inferior work. He has sensational exercises to show off with, but no "piece," as musicians call it, and even the pianist who flung off nothing but clever exercises would be recommended to go back and learn to recite a contained composition. So far as one can see, the comic vein is at present stronger in Mr. Mansfield than the tragic. He is a better comedian than a serious actor. Luckily for the comfort of last night's audience, Miss Carlotta Leclercq, a clever and impassioned actress, was at hand to help Mr. Mansfield with a task which she considerably lightened. It is dreadful to contemplate what might have happened had not Miss Leclercq kindly consented to appear as the modern version of Widow Green. Mr. Frankau gave a clever sketch of a shrewd Chicago lawyer, and Miss Beatrice Cameron, by her success as an American girl, showed exactly how it was she could not realise the classic Lesbia. The play, as it stood, was received remarkably well; but the house was not a full as it ought to have been, seeing that a new play had been arranged on purpose for a deserving charity.
The police authorities were engaged yesterday in making inquiries with respect to the mysterious parcel received by Mr. Lusk, the chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. The portion of kidney which it contained has been submitted to Dr. Gordon Browne, the surgeon to the City Police, for microscopical examination, and upon his report will in large measure depend the further steps that may be taken. It may be remembered that it was Dr. Gordon Browne who gave evidence at the Mitre-square inquest with reference to the organs missing from the body of the woman Eddowes. He then intimated that only the right kidney could be found, and that now submitted to him is a portion of a left kidney, the suggestion being that it forms part of that which was taken away. It is stated, however, that on this point no definite opinion can be pronounced, as these organs vary considerably in the same person, and conclusions based on the condition of the right kidney may very well prove misleading. On the other hand, it is asserted that only a small portion of the renal artery adheres to the kidney, while in the case of the Mitre-square victim a large portion of this artery adhered to the body. It may be mentioned that Dr. Openshaw, of the Pathological Museum attached to the London Hospital, confirms the statement that in his view the article enclosed in the parcel addressed to Mr. Lusk is a portion of a human organ, and not of any animal, as has been suggested by those who regard the whole affair as a hoax. Meantime, while the City police are having a careful examination made of the contents, the authorities at Scotland-yard are giving attention to the wrapper of the parcel, with a view of ascertaining where it was posted. The box, it appears, was enclosed in brown paper, and the postmark upon it is consequently not very legible. Practically only the letters "ond" can be deciphered, but they are considered sufficient to justify the belief that the parcel was posted in some part of London. The Post Office officials have been appealed to with a view of obtaining their assistance in the matter, and in their opinion the missive was posted either in the Eastern or the East Central district. There is only one postmark on the package, which suggests that it was despatched from the district in which it was received, which would be the Eastern district. Letters and packages travelling from one district to another usually bear the postmark of both. On the other hand the package was too large to have been dropped into the ordinary post-box, and would seem likely to have been despatched from Lombard-street or Gracechurch-street Post-office, where the receptacles are of unusually wide dimensions. The package in question bore two penny stamps, and was posted in the ordinary way. Had it been sent by parcel post the place of despatch would have been traceable, while it is possible that some of the officials might have remembered the sender. With regard to the caligraphy of the letter, and of the postcard which Mr. Lusk previously received, there is little doubt that they are in the same handwriting. They differ in every respect from the communications of "Jack the Ripper," except, perhaps, in the use of the word "boss."
A statement which apparently gives a clue to the sender of the strange package received by Mr. Lusk was made last night by Miss Emily Marsh, whose father carries on business in the leather trade at 218, Jubilee-street, Mile-end-road. In Mr. Marsh's absence Miss Marsh was in the front shop, shortly after one o'clock on Monday last, when a stranger, dressed in clerical costume, entered, and, referring to the reward bill in the window, asked for the address of Mr. Lusk, described therein as the president of the Vigilance Committee. Miss Marsh at once referred the man to Mr. J. Aarons, the treasurer of the committee, who resides at the corner of Jubilee-street and Mile-end-road, a distance of about thirty yards. The man, however, said he did not wish to go there, and Miss Marsh thereupon produced a newspaper in which Mr. Lusk's address was given as Alderney-road, Globe-road, no number being mentioned. She requested the stranger to read the address, but he declined, saying, "Read it out," and proceeded to write something in his pocket-book, keeping his head down meanwhile. He subsequently left the shop, after thanking the young lady for the information, but not before Miss Marsh, alarmed by the man's appearance, had sent the shop-boy, John Cormack, to see that all was right. This lad, as well as Miss Marsh, give a full description of the man, while Mr. Marsh, who happened to come along at the time, also encountered him on the pavement outside. The stranger is described as a man of some forty-five years of age, fully six feet in height, and slimly built. He wore a soft felt black hat, drawn over his forehead, a stand-up collar, and a very long black single-breasted overcoat, with a Prussian or clerical collar partly turned up. His face was of a sallow type, and he had a dark beard and moustache. The man spoke with what was taken to be an Irish accent. No importance was attached to the incident until Miss Marsh read of the receipt by Mr. Lusk of a strange parcel, and then it occurred to her that the stranger might be the person who had despatched it. His inquiry was made at one o'clock on Monday afternoon, and Mr. Lusk received the package at eight p.m. the next day. The address on the package curiously enough gives no number in Alderney-road, a piece of information which Miss Marsh could not supply. It appears that on leaving the shop the man went right by Mr. Aaron's house, but did not call. Mr. Lusk has been informed of the circumstances, and states that no person answering the description has called on him, nor does he know any one at all like the man in question.
LYCEUM THEATRE. - Sole Leasee, Mr. Henry Irving. - TO-NIGHT, DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE.
LYCEUM. - DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, THIS (Saturday) EVENING, at nine. Preceded, at 7.45, by ALWAYS INTENDED.
LYCEUM. - MR. RICHARD MANSFIELD in his great representation of Dr. JEKYLL and Mr. HYDE, THIS (Saturday) EVENING.
LYCEUM. - PRINCE KARL. - MONDAY EVENING NEXT, at 8.45. Preceded, at 7.45, by ALWAYS INTENDED.
LYCEUM. - Mr. RICHARD MANSFIELD in his original character of PRINCE KARL, MONDAY EVENING NEXT, at 8.45
LYCEUM. - MONDAY NEXT, PRINCE KARL, a comedy in four acts, by Archibald C. Gunter (author of "Mr. Barnes of New York" and "Mr. Potter of Texas"), in which Mr. RICHARD MANSFIELD will appear in his original character, PRINCE KARL. Commencing at 8.45. Preceded, at 7.45, by ALWAYS INTENDED. - Seats can be secured at the Box-office (Mr. J. Hurst), open daily from ten to five.
ARE fried fish refreshments? Such was the question that came before the Wandsworth magistrates the other day. The Excise authorities, ever keen after penalties, prosecuted an unfortunate dealer in fish for selling it fried without having taken out a licence for the sale of refreshments. There is a popular impression that only drinks are "refreshing" in an exciseable sense, but the prosecuting solicitor asserted that the Judges had decided otherwise, and that solid food, if cooked, came under this head. This may be the law, but surely it has not been as yet generally enforced. London, to the South and East, swarms with little shops haunted late at night by the poor, who buy cooked food in several forms, also ginger-beer, lemonade, and other non-intoxicant drinks. Are they all to be prosecuted because they have not taken out licences? There is still a humbler class of dealers in refreshments - the men who sell coffee and tea and hot potatoes at street-corners, in portable stalls. Must they also be taxed? Many of these little shops and stalls are the restaurants of the decent poor, of the men and women who shun the public-house. Is it wise, even if the letter of the law be on the side of the authorities, to prosecute them for the sake of the few pounds that might be brought into the Treasury? Mr. GOSCHEN may, like VESPASIAN, say "Non olet" of the money as it comes in, which is more than can be said of the fried fish itself; but is it not rather inconsiderate for the richest Exchequer in the world to exact onerous taxation on the poor little luxuries of the working classes? When we consider the interest of the State in keeping the industrial people out of the public-house - for drinking fills our workhouses and gaols, and costs us a great deal - it would almost pay the Government to tempt men and women into sobriety by subsidising coffee-shops and refreshment-houses where the adulterated alcohol of the gin-shops was not poured forth to degrade and inflame our working men. Our authorities, however, go to the other extreme; they tax the innocent refreshment-places where the wayfaring man seeks a sober treat. It is an actual fact that if a belated Londoner buys a sandwich in one of these shops for cooked meat he is forbidden by the vendor to eat it on the spot, lest the police may detect the "fraud on the revenue," and have the dealer summoned for not taking out a "refreshment licence." Surely this is very petty regulation indeed, and if applied all round must provoke indignant complaint.
London is not happy in its refreshment-places, whether we soar to the best or consider the not very elegant establishments where they sell fried fish. Let us imagine a man and his wife or a party of friends asking each other "Where shall we dine?" on a summer evening in the middle of London. The fancy is not wild, for we sometimes have English summers; we remember more than one. Occasionally, too, the atmosphere is hot and heavy, and the wearied worker seeks not only food but fresh air and pleasant surroundings. On such an evening an ideal dining-place would be a large cool room looking out directly on a gay square or place, or opening into a delicious garden. But what do the diners find? They are drawn towards some enormous hotel or restaurant situate in the very centre of London, and are immediately ushered into a big room at the back, lighted by electricity or gas, with no outlook whatsoever. In Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Brussels, and other cities, you may dine looking on a garden or in the garden itself. You may sip your wine or beer and smoke your cigar on the street-pavement, and observe the stream of humanity. In London, although you offered a very high price, you could secure no such luxury. Not even in the suburbs of the great city are there restaurants with gardens; you must go six, seven, or eight miles off to dine with plenty of fresh air around you. This absence of open-air entertainment in England is the more remarkable as we are a people passionately fond of all kinds of outdoor games, sports, and amusements. It would seem, however, as if when we resolved to dine or even drink we were half-ashamed of ourselves and shunned the public gaze. Why do we in summer shut ourselves up in stuffy dining-rooms instead of demanding refreshment-houses surrounded by open spaces and ornamented with trees? We have parks equal to any in Europe, and superior to the majority; but the refreshment-places allowed in or near them are usually restricted to lemonade and to what Mr. GILBERT, in "The Sorcerer," called "the rollicking bun." Talking of the miseries of Whitechapel, somebody has recently suggested that if we could start in that neighbourhood what the Germans call a "beer-garden," with lager beer as the only alcoholic beverage, we should do much to wean the people from the public-house. The lager beer, of which the German student can swallow thirty glasses without effect, is so non-intoxicant that in some American States, where there are imitations of the Maine Anti-liquor Law, it is allowed to be consumed - just as we tolerate ginger ale and other popular drinks, although they contain a certain small percentage of alcohol. The Excise authorities prosecute publicans who mix too much water with their drinks, but they are not searching and severe enough against the introduction of really injurious ingredients. In the poorer quarters of London the people obtain for their money vile spirits, bad ale, and the worst sherry. Beyond merely negative precautions, however, it would be worth the attention of our philanthropists to elevate the entertainment of the people by providing cheap, innocent, and tempting places of refreshment. Coffee, cocoa, tea, lemonade, fried fish, ham and beef, sausages, hot potatoes - all such foods and drinks are rivals to the brandy and gin of the public-houses, and the State should encourage, not tax, them. The old Roman patricians fed the poor; they certainly never sent their officials to tax the fried fish of the plebeians.
It may be inferred that the licence on refreshment shops is a kind of indirect protection to the whiskey-seller, who is the Chancellor of the Exchequer's best friend. In this connection it is sometimes remarked what a blow it would be to our finance if England suddenly became sober. When we had to pay a large lump sum on account of the Alabama award, the consumption of exciseable liquors fortuitously increased, so that, as a witty public man remarked, "We drank ourselves out of the Alabama difficulty." There is, in fact, an impression that all kinds of expenditure are equally good for trade. This is an obvious fallacy. If British people ceased to-morrow to spend their one hundred and forty millions yearly on strong drink they would have the money in their pockets. Instead of pouring it down their throats in fiery potations, it could rebuild the slums of London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and all our great cities and towns - driving away dirt and disease, if not depravity. Then there would be something to show for the money. At present the results are finally visible in the statistics of the workhouse and the gaol - although, of course, there is intermediate employment to several honest men. Yet although money, spent no matter how, must supply wages to a certain number of people, there is a difference between spending it in transitory pleasures and laying it out in solid advantages to the community. The half-million given by PEABODY to London was at first expended in wages to the workmen who built the dwellings, but it has come back in the shape of rents, and the capital has actually increased. If the half-million had been fired away in gunpowder in a glorious war or spent in making so many thousand people tipsy at a series of fêtes, there would be now no result, and the capital would have disappeared. If, therefore, the English revenue lost heavily at first because Englishmen preferred sobriety to drunkenness and deserted the public-houses for innocent refreshments elsewhere, the money saved would not be missed. It would show itself in more furniture in the poor man's home, better clothes on his back, and perhaps a house of his own over his head. We cannot, therefore, share the nervous trepidation of the Excise officials over their paltry licensing dues, nor approve of their sending spies to little dealers in order to detect the consumption of fried fish. When Pall-mall clubs are allowed to go untaxed, it seems hard that the poor shopkeepers and stallkeepers of the East and South should be worried, harried, and chased. If the excisemen really desire to be active, why do they not arrest the automatic machines for selling sweetmeats and chocolate? Are not these refreshments? Or have all the stands that supply cigarettes taken out a licence to sell tobacco?
TO THE EDITOR OF "THE DAILY TELEGRAPH."
DEAR SIR - This afternoon a young lady friend and myself, now on a visit to London, took a long promenade through some of your best streets. We wanted to see the shops. As we are staying at an hotel in Piccadilly we went by way of Bond-street, Regent-street, and then as far as Temple Bar. We had no difficulty whatever until we reached Charing-cross. All along the police were very polite. They stopped the traffic, and we crossed the roads without fear; but after we had walked a little distance from Charing-cross we became almost afraid to go any further. Along both sides of the Strand there were so many cabs that we dared not cross, and there were no policemen about to help us. My friend and I both think that the policemen should prevent so many cabs being together - I mean empty cabs. Don't you think they could keep them more apart? Once my companion did try, but I was prevented going with her by a lot of men carrying boards. Then there were so many people and boys shouting out as loudly as they could that we were glad to return. Why can't the police assist ladies in the Strand the same as they do in Piccadilly? - Yours truly
Piccadilly, Friday Evening.