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Full text of "Dan Leno: hys booke : a volume of frivolities: autobiographical, historical ..."

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Dan Leno 



Dan Leno 






niv^ nrz . y^io 



HARVARD COLLEGE 
LIBRARY 




THE BEQUEST OF 
EVERT JANSEN WENDELL 

(CLASS OF 1882) 

OF NEW YORK 



1918 



r 



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T'^ H "i^ ■ ^ ■ 








HYS 
BOOKC 



W^ITTEIvf 

By 
|ll|VISELf 



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AD VERTIS EMENTS 



By Special ^JIL ^ to His Majesty 
Appointment SHBI^. i. ^''^ ^"S 

W. CLARKSON 

THEATRICAL COSTUMIER AND PERRUQUIER 

WIGS, COSTUMES. AVASKS. LIAELIGHT 
SCENERY AND PROPERTIES 

Amateur Theatricals and Tableanx Virants attended in 
town or country on most reasonable terms 

Thoroughly competent men sent with every 
Requisite 

• Wson's Lie Powder • 

In Three Shades— BLANCHE, NAT J£B L LB, EACHEL 
Is- per box; Is. 3cl. post-free 

Used by Mrs Langtry and all the leading 
ladies of the theatrical profession 

W. CLARK50IN 

45 & 44 WELLINaiON ST., STRAND 

LONDON, W.C. 

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AD VERTISEMENTS 

ESTABLISHED 1S64 



Frank may 

ZTbeatrical anb f anQ Coetumier 
393 CITY ROAD, EX. 

(Near the 'Angel,' opposite the Clock) 



LADIES' AND GENTLEMEN'S 

Costumes, TKHigs^ac. 

. . FOR . . 

Fancy Drc55 Balls, 

Private Theatricals, 

Tableaux Vivants, 
5chool Entertainments, 
and Carnivals, 

For 8CI.I0 or on HIro 



yimateuv Fevfovmances yittended . . 

® Special Teravs for Schools ® 

TIOHTS» MASKS, ARMOUR, and COSTUME BIAKER. List Post Ftee 



Note only Address— London : 393 CITY ROAD, EX. 



-0 



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'HIMSELF' 



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Dan Leno 

Hy5 Booke 



Written by » 

Hin5ELr 



A VOLUME OF FRIVOLITIES 

Autobiographical, Historical 

Philosophical) Anecdotal 

and Nonsensical 



NEW AND CHEAPER EDITION 
PROFUSELY ILLUSTRATED 

Xon&on 

GREENING & CO. Ltd. 

20 Cecil Court, Charing Cross Road. W,C, 
1901 



[All Rights reserved] 



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HA^MKnO COUEQE L/BRAHV 

FROM 

THE BGQUEST OF 

EVERT JA.^3EN V/EWOEIL 

1918' 



(j^uMr^^ M^^ 



XEbfe little Wolume 

IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED 
TO 

MY FRIENDS IN FRONT 

FROM THE 

FIRST ROW OF STALLS 

TO THE 

GALLERY BAR 



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CONTENTS 



Introductory (Entre Nous) 
* Dan Leno : An Impression.' By Clement Scott 
I. How I WAS Born . 
II. My First Appearance in Public 

III. Comedian v. Two Plumbers 

IV. Baggage Adventures 
V. That Coventry Story 

VI. A Melodramatic Sketch . 
VII. A Skating Romance 
VIII. Barbers I have Met 
IX. I GO Pearl-fishing 
X. I Strike the Mainland . 
XI. One of My Failures 
XII. Chronological Explanations 

XIII. Among my Books 

XIV. A Little Music 
XV. How to be Married though Happy 

XVI. A Baby Story 

XVII. How I Study 

XVIII. The Last Turn 

Appendix to the Fifth Edition 



PAGE 

19 

21 

23 
30 

35 
41 
48 
51 
55 
61 

67 

73 
80 
85 
90 

95 
100 
106 
112 
119 
126 



13 



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AD VERTISEMENTS 



DAN LENO'S 

« SONCS * 

(WORIDS 7^N£> MUSXe) 
arc published CAclusively 

... IN THE . . , 

NEWS OF THE WORLD 



which contains weekly the 

full words and music of 

A POPULAR SONG 

THE NEWS OF THE WORLD 

IS THE 

Best lUeekly 



14 



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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Himself {Jrom a photo, by E, Sharp) 



Froniispuce 



Only a Face ...... 

Captain of the Forty Thieves, Drury Lane Theatre, 

1898-99 ...... 

Dan Leno aT Home . . ., . 

Proprietor of the 19TH Century Stores {S. H, Sime) 

View of a Colliery Village {Dan Leno) . 

* Daddie Thumb ' \^ photo, by E. Sharp) 
The Railway Guard {photo, by E, Sharp) . 

Mrs Kelly Frivols ..... 

The Jap (A chap uneasy) ' . 

The Shopwalker {photo, by E. Sharp) 

The Widow Twankey {S, H, Sime) , 

* Hamlet' {S, H, Sime) .... 
Me ! {phao, by E, Sharp) .... 
The Waiter {from a photo) .... 
My Bust {Tony Carter^ Sculptor) 

The Photographer {E, Sharp) 

If Dan Leno were Beerbohm Tree 



PAGE 

17 



18 

23 
40 

44 
51 
57 
70 
11 
85 
87 
90 

99 
"3 
119 

123 
129 




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AD VERTISEMENTS 



How to Furnish Smartly 
without disturbing Capital ! 




By means of a clever scheme (endorsed by Mr 
LABOUCHERE, Mr CLEMENT SCOTT and many 
other8)f which enables you to furnish your house or 
flat throughout, from Drawing/room to Kitchen, out 
of income, without disturbing your capital, by divide 
ing the whole amount into 6, 12, or 24 monthly, or 
12 quarterly payments. During the above/men^ 
tioned period you can at any time pay off the 
amount and avail yourself of the cash discount. 



Norman & Stacey 



Ltd. 



118 QUEEN VICTORIA STREET, E.C. 



i6 



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Introductory 




THEY say that 
the pen is 



mightier than the 
sword, but I doubt 
it; for even in 
times of peace a 
sword may come in 
handy for chopping 
wood or carving 
an autumn chicken, 
and you can't do 
much in that line 
with a pen without 
crossing the nib. 
However, what I 
can do with a pen is 
how on sale; and, 
looking through it 
again, I am most 
struck by the num- 
ber of things I have 
omitted, which 
might have left the 
world wiser than 
they found it; so 
that as soon as I had 
finished I felt likestarting to write another volume. My 
friends succeeded in restraining me for the moment ; 
but I feel I ought to give the public a short account 
of my pantomime experiences, my sporting and 
athletic adventures, &c. — above all, how I discovered 
America. And if I make enough out of this first 
book to enable me to retire from the stage, and devote 
myself to literature for the remainder of my life, I do 
not see why I should not write a book every year.' 

17 



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CAPTAIN OF THE FORTY THIEVES 

PRURY LANE THEATRE, 1898-99 



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Dan Leno: An Impression 

By clement SCOTT 

During the best part of the last half century I have seen all 
the best, the drollest, the most pathetic and tragic comedians, 
whose humour, variety, tenderness, and intensity have delighted 
the playgoers of the world. Amongst these representatives of 
art and sometimes genius, Dan Leno holds his own bravely 
indeed. Nay, I am not sure that in certain gifts of expression, 
variety, and, if I may so express it, tornado of instant comic 
farce, Dan Leno has ever had a rival. You may probably ask me 
what I mean by a pathetic low comedian and a tragic low 
comedian ? What I mean is this — that the border line between 
pathos and humour, between tragedy and comedy, is extremely 
small. There are certain low comedians who owe their success 
to nature. Their faces are their fortune. They have nothing 
to do but to come on, and smile, or talk, to set the house on a 
roar. But when to nature art is added, then we are on the 
confines of genius. 

Take Robson, for instance, perhaps the most admirable 
comedian I have ever seen. I can roar now to myself with 
recollections of him in the * Boots at the Swan,' and yet this 
same little ball of fun could, in his burlesque of * Medea and 
Shylock,' come within half an inch of tragedy. He had electric 
bursts that were astonishing^ and he held the house in a vice 
as Edmund Kean must have done. Take again John S. Clarke, 
one of the very drollest comedians I have ever seen, as I could 
prove by pointing to his * Toodles ' and * Dr Pangloss * and ' Bob 
Acres.* But for all that, his comedy had the force and intensity 
of tragedy, and he has acted to me scenes from ' Richard the 
Third' and bits from *Sir Giles Overreach' with startling 
nervous force, showing that he was within measurable distance of 
a tragedian. The pathetic comedian was best represented by 
Jimmy Rogers, of the Strand, and Johnnie Toole. The humour 
of Rogers was gentle and exquisitely pathetic, whilst Johnnie 
Toole, who for countless years has healed our grief with honest 
laughter, has in such characters as * Caleb Plummer ' and 

19 



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20 CLEMENT SCOTVS IMPRESSION 

'Stephen Digges' flooded the theatre with tears. And who 
shall forget the jovial, genial Buckstone, of the Haymarket, who 
made the house laugh directly his voice was heard behind the 
scenes ; the grim, formal, and pedantic Compton, the best of all 
Shakespearean clowns ; the inimitable Geoffroy and the 
unctuous-voiced Daubray, and the quaint Ravel, of France, 
down to our own latter-day Arthur Roberts, quick as lightning, 
alert, a spark of comic electricity, and Penley, the prince of 
drollery ? 

With these great representatives of comedy Dan Leno need 
not fear comparison. In petticoats, and as a representative 
of various women of the lodging-house and slavey class, he 
would have beaten Jimmy Rogers at his own game. When 
we see Dan Leno as a woman, and hear his delightfiil patter, 
it never strikes us that it is a man imitating a woman. It is 
a woman who stands before us, the veritable Mrs Kelly, not a 
burlesque of the sex, but the actual thing. He catches every 
expression, every trick, every attitude, every inflexion of voice, 
and all is done without offence or a suspicion of vulgarity. In 
his grim earnestness consists his humour. The comedian who 
laughs at his own jokes soon becomes wearisome, but it is Dan 
Leno's astonished face when he looks at the laughing audience 
that gives him his power. In brief, a most admirable, versatile, 
persuasive, volatile, and intense comedian and artiste. When- 
ever he is on the stage, be it theatre or music-hall, he literally 
holds his audience tight in his power. They cannot get away 
from him. He is monarch of all he surveys. 

Long then may the reign of King Dan Leno last ; long may 
he be spared to us, to delight the children at pantomime time, 
and to make those who, though going downhill, are not ashamed 
to laugh, as young, at least in heart, as the little ones by their 
side. 



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DAN LENO 

Hys Booke 



CHAPTER How I 

FIRST JVas Born 

I CAME into the world a mere child, without a 
rag to my back and without a penny in my 
pocket, and now I am a farthing millionaire. I 
have a town house in the most fashionable part 
of the suburbs of Brixton, and an acre and two 
pints of some of the best wasp-stalking in the 
kingdom. 

You know, although I have to spend a lot of 
time in London, I am at home in the country 
amongst my wasps. I love to sit between my cows 
at milking time, when Tm thirsty, and ifs too far 
to go and get a drink anywhere else. You see, 
mine are not ordinary cows. One of them is just 
a plain unadulterated milk cow, with a little cream 
on it, but no froth ; but the other is not exactly 
a milk cow: its a rum cow — one of the rummest 
cows 

But I'm going to tell you all about my country 

21 



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i2 DAN LENO 

pleasures in another chapter. I have to be born 
first. 

Everybody — mark this — everybody has to be 
born one way or the other. There's no getting 
away from it. You have to go through this in- 
convenience. You can't say you just happened 
to be passing, and you dropped in to see how 
mother's getting on. No! 

The fact is, I simply revel in country sports. 
You won't expect me to say that I like my 
professional work. Don't press me. If I said 
that they would want me to pay for going on. 
I should turn up at the Canterbury one night, and 
they would say — 

*Oh, we've heard all about you! Why, you 
like work. You're not coming in here for less 
than five pounds a night to enjoy your little 
treat' 

And when the shareholders' meetings came 
round the directors would say that the increased 
dividend was due to the fact that Mr Dan Leno 
had been very fond of appearing during this year, 
and they had been able to charge him a higher 
salary. 

No, no ! I don't give myself away like that. 
I'm going to keep on being paid, and then, in 
about thirty or forty years, I shall be able to retire 
on a small incompetency. 

But still I'm waiting to be born, while I'm running 
on with this incoherent patter. 

It was about five minutes past one in the morning, 
Piccadilly time 

One moment! I do hope you don't think I'm 



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DAN LENO AT HOME 



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24 I^AN LENO 

egotistical in coming out of my shell, so to speak, 
and writing a book about myself, because if you 
do, ril chuck it. It hurts me just as much as it 
does you. 

To resume — 

I was annoyed when I saw the way they treated 
me. Instead of turning me over and over, and 
upside down, and playing lawn tennis with me on 
the bed-quilt, I think father might at least have lent 
me a pair of trousers to go on with. 

*It seems to me,' I said sternly to my dad — of 
course I'm giving you a free translation, they 
didn't understand my dialect — *it seems to me, 
old man, we've had about enough of this knock- 
about business. There is nothing exceptional 
about this affair. Birth comes to all sooner or 
later. Let's talk this matter over as between 
one man of the world and another. If you're 
prepared to set me on my legs and let me come 
in on sharing terms, well and good ; if not, off 
I go. Understand that I'm here to do business, not 
to be heaved about.' 

But will you believe me when I tell you that it 
was some years before I could get people to under- 
stand what I was talking about. They had to be 
educated up to me. 

That was in the year 1861, on the 32nd of 
Danuary, and it occurred in Eve Court, King's 
Cross, London. London is a large village on the 
Thames, where the principal industries carried on are 
music-halls and the confidence trick. It is a curious 
fact that the place where I was born is now covered 
over by St Pancras Station, and it's rather aggravat- j 

1 



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HOW I WAS BORA 25 

ing to know that somewhere underneath that 
station there's a little property belonging to me 
that I cao*t get at Once, when I was in a 
meditative mood, I went to the main line departure 
platform, and mused. 

* Here,' I said to myself, with my hand buried 
in my brows, *here I was born. Ah! ' 

'By your leave,' shouted a porter. 

* I wasn't asked,' I told him ; and then I came 
back to myself out of my muse, and disentangled 
myself from a pile of trunks and bags and bicycles 
just as I was being shot into the luggage van 
with a lable dabbed on my nose. How is a man 
to muse when he's suddenly scooped up into a 
porter's barrow. 

But I had another try. 

' Here ' — you generally begin with * Here ' — 
*here I spent my happy childhood hours. Ah! 
what is man? Wherefore does he why? Whence 
did he whence? Whither is he withering?' 

Then the guard yelled out: * Leicester, Derby, 
Nottingham, Manchester, Liverpool ! ' 

And that sort of thing makes a man feel a bit 
pessimistic. It does not satisfy the yearnings of 
his inwards. 

Even then I went on with my soliloquy. I was 
not going to be beaten. I took off my coat, rolled 
up my shirt sleeves, and mused some more. 

But just as I made a dignified gesture with my 
right arm and murmured, *What are we here for? 
Is life all full of emptiness?' an old lady put 
twopence in my hand, and asked me if that was 
the train for the Isle of Wight. 



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26 DAN LENO 

So I decided to let my birthplace alone for that 
year. And on my next birthday I got connected 
with it by telephone, and mused through that 

I said — you know how you get snappy at the 
telephone — * Are you there ? D'year ? Are you 
there? What is man?* 

*Who are you?' yelled the man at St Pancras. 

' Who am I ? ' I said in a sad voice ; * ah 1 who 
is any of us?' 

* Eh ! what is it you want ? ' 

**Tis now thirty-five long, short, weary years 
ago,' I soliloquised with my mouth against the 
box, * since I first came into the world.' 

'We didn't ring you up,' said the man at the 
other end; 'there must be some mistake.* 

That makes me a little irritated. 

* Aren't you St Pancras ? ' I demand. 
*Yes.' . 

*Very well then, you're covering up my birth- 
place, and I want to make some philosophical 
anniversary remarks. Why can't you go away 
instead of interrupting me when I'm musing with 
your insulting questions? What? Who's that? 
Miss Exchange? What have you cut me off Mr 
Pancras for ? Oh I did they ? Said it wasn't a 
solilophone, did they? Well, but solilograms cost 
a halfpenny a word. Think they would? Let 
me send it cheaper as it's my birthday? Oh, 
don't go ! ' 

But she does go, and I put the soliloquery 
shutters up. 

There is one thing in connection with my birth 
that I think I ought to put right, and that is the 



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HOW I WAS BORN 



27 



great fire which broke out in London on that 
evening. I want to make it quite clear that I had 
nothing whatever to do with it I might have 
been the excuse for the fire, but I was not the 
cause ; and I know for a fact that there have been 
several fires since then. 

I am sorry to say that I have a very indistinct 
recollection of my early childhood ; I only re- 
member that I had a longing to chew everything 
within reach, more especially lucifer matches and 
kid gloves. And I remember that I very soon 
displayed artistic ability, for having procured a 
large quantity of strawberry jam I varnished all 
the furniture of a room with it, including the 
exterior of the cat and the interior of % pair of 
my dad's new boots, which he declared went on 
more easily next time he tried them. The cat 
had no taste for strawberry jam, and only washed 
itself at the rate of about two square inches a day. 

Now that I am born I will describe some of 
my other adventures. 




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CHAPTER My First Appearance 

SECOND in Public 

IT was after I was bom. I was three years old 
just at the moment, and I had not quite 
finished my education. Well, this is what they 
did to me. They put me on a pair of stockings 
and nothing else; ladies* stockings they were (I 
blushed, I can tell you), and one was red and the 
other blue. Then, when they had put the stockings 
on, they fastened them round my neck with a garter, 
and I was ready. 

I cannot claim that I obtained the engagement 
myself. J didn't go round to see the manager and 
ask him how his poor thirst was, and then gently 
insinuate as we lounged over the bar that I could 
save him a lot of money if he would let me do an 
extra turn. No ; I was a young, ambitious, un- 
married artiste, with no influence to back me. My 
parents were known in the profession as Mr and 
Mrs Johnny Wilde, and they acted as my agents. 
I went on with them in my ladies* stockings as an 
acrobat. I didn't sing or patter, but mostly looked 
at the audience, and wondered what they were 
wasting their time there for, and I didn't get very 
good money for that. 

On the second night there was an alarm of fire, 
my dad picked up a pair of opera glasses and 
looked round the stage to find me (I was so 
small that I used to get mislaid or slip in a chink 
between the boards), and then he picked me up 
with his finger and thumb. 

28 



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MV FIRST APPEARANCE IN PUBLIC 29 

I remember quite distinctly there was an artiste 
engaged there who showed some performing goats. 
He was a fat German, but he climbed on the roof 
in the general confusion with wonderful agility, 
and as soon as he reached there he screamed out, 
*Mein Gott! Mein Gott! Push me up mein 
goats; push dem up!' I don't know what sort 
of performance his goats would have given on the 
roof; but, fortunately, somebody threw a bucket of 
water over him and he seemed to recover. 

This reminds me of a friend of mine who, with 
only the assistance of his wife, tried to carry a 
small billiard table down a long flight of stairs. 

It was a good start, and they got to the bottom 
in the following order after a rattling finish: 
(i) My friend. 

(2) His wife. 

(3) Billiard table. 
Won by a neck ; very bad third indeed. 

The first performance I have been telling you 
about took place at the Cosmo Theatre Hall, Bell 
Street, Paddington. 

And talking about bells, in Belfast I remember 
that a man of sin was very anxious to go to 
heaven, and his dodge was this — it may be useful 
for some of you. He presented a bell to a little 
chapel in a very religious neighbourhood, and when 
he died he left £^0 to a man to ring this bell every 
morning and remind the good people to pray for 
him to go to heaven. Well, they knew what sort of 
a man he was and they didn't want to meet him 
in heaven, so they weren't going to pray, not they. 

But — that was before they heard the bell. It 
started at eight o'clock in the morning the day 



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30 DAN LENO 

after he died, and in three minutes the whole 
neighbourhood was in an uproar. It sounded just 
like throwing big stones at a cracked bucket, only 
many times magnified. 

Well, they sent a deputation to the bell-punchen 

'Look here, we can't stand this,' they said. The 
man didn't hear them at first, because he had to 
have his ears stuffed with lamb's wool to save 
his life. When he took the plugs out he told 
them that as soon as the man of sin entered 
heaven the bell would stop, and so they'd bettter 
go and pray for him as hard as they could. 

' But if you like,' he said, ' I don't like this job, it's 
too dangerous for my taste, you can pay me to leave 
off. I've got £lo left me, but I lose it if I stop ring- 
ing. Now then, P.P., pray or pay, that's a fair bargain !' 

Well, they thought they had better try praying 
first, and they took a half-holiday for it, but next 
morning the bell was worse than ever. 

*The old bounder must have taken the wrong 
turning,* they said ; * we'd better give the bell- 
ringer ;^6o and settle it.' 

So they soon got the money subscribed, because 
they felt some satisfaction in knowing they would 
keep the man of sin out of heaven. They had a 
list drawn up, headed like this: — 

List of subscriptions for preserving heaven as 
an open space for the use of regular church- 
goers^ and for the relief of residuary bell- 
ringers. 

His Worship the Mayor ^5 5 

&c, &c. 

Well, they took the money round and got a 

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MY FIRST APPEARANCE IN PUBLIC 31 

receipt for it, and then, as there was about £$ over, 
they had an impromptu tea-meeting for general 
rejoicings, and went home to bed feeling very 
pleased with themselves. 

And the next morning— ^would you believe it ? — the 
bell was going again just the same, only more so. 

Off they rushed to the chapel, taking the receipt 
with them, to demand an explanation. What was 
their astonishment -when they found another man 
there pulling ^t the rope. 

* Whafs the meaning of this ? ' they yelled. 
The man said, *Are you the subscribers?' 

* Yes, we are. Why is not this nuisance stopped ? ' 
*Well, ye see, it's this way,' said the man; 

'the ould gint left ;^5o for the dam row, but 
he didn't care who was to do it, particular. Jim 
Blakey got the job first, and when you bought 
him off — I'm his brother — he give it me.' 

But that's an indigression. Let me on with my 
autobiography. 

When I was five years of age I had an accident, 
and I decided to give up the profession of acrobacy 
and start as a dancer. My brother taught me 
a few steps, and we travelled as the Brothers Leno. 
My mother had married again, and my step-father 
made me a wedding present of the name of Leno. 

The Brothers Leno made their first appearance 
at a North London music-hall, on a stage which 
was surrounded with mirrors. When we had 
finished lye were so excited that we turned 
round to make our exit, rushed bang against 
the glass, flattened our noses, and concussed with 
such force that we both recoiled violently and 
sat down, feeling as if the hall was going round. 



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32 DAN LENO 

But the audience thought it was part of the 
show, and applauded so loudly that we had to 
go on and do it again ; only after that rehearsal 
we took care not to damage ourselves so much. 
It just shows how devoted I was to my profession 
at that tender age that when my brother asked if I 
was hurt, I said, * Yes, I am ; but didn't they like it ! * 

It*s wonderful how things strike you sometimes, 
especially when they're well aimed. For instance, 
look at eggs ; you can't say an egg js neither here 
nor there, because it is. As a rule it is all over you, 
whether it's the new-laid egg, now almost extinct, or 
the fresh egg, or the egg, or the cooking egg. 

When you are applauded with eggs you must 
come under the yolk. However, that's a painful 
subject, and I will not pursue it ab ovo into medias res. 

In 1869 my parents went to Glasgow to fulfil 
a fortnight's engagement, and it was there I met 
an ambitious boy called Jack, who has been my 
fast chum ever since. He was very fond of 
demons, I remember, and when I used to go for 
a walk with the little girl that lived on the next 
floor at our lodgings he would walk behind us 
rubbing his hands fiendishly, and putting his 
finger against his nose, making believe he was 
Mephistopheles and we were Faust and Marguerite, 
until he was at last so demonish as to tie a cracker 
to little Marguerite's frock, and then we always 
made Mephistopheles walk in front where we could 
see what he was up to. 

Talking about Mephistopheles reminds me of two 
plumbers with whom I had a most desperate encounter 
once. It's such a blood-curdling, melo - dramatic 
sketch that I must do it justice in a separate chapter. 



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CHAPTER Comedian versus 

THIRD Two Plumbers ^ 

THE bath was of no use to me, and as it was 
in a roomy room I thought I would have it 
shifted (the bath, not the room), and make it into 
a nursery for the children (the room, not the bath). 

Accordingly, I .pulled myself together one morn- 
ing, and took a deep breath and walked into a 
plumber's shop to implore his assistance, and 
about nine o'clock the next morning he sent me 
two pantomimists, who could have earned nearly 
as much money at the halls as they did by 
plumbing. One was a very tall man with whiskers 
growing over his face like creepers, and just cut 
off to leave room for his eyes, like windows. The 
other was a small men's size and he had no 
whiskers, but he had put on an apron that was 
about as big as a tablecloth, suitable for a picnic 
for thirty squatters. 

It was crinkled up round his neck like the old- 
fashioned ruff that Queen Elizabeth had to take off 
before Shakespeare could kiss her when he went 
courting, then it was folded half a dozen times 
round his waist — well, the place where his waist 
was before it got mislaid : it was only an imaginary 
line, like the equator really; and then it fell in 

33 



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34 ^AN LENO 

accordion pleats to the ground, and he hitched it 
up when he, walked, like a girl crossing a muddy 
road. 

Well, to go on with the story, they began their 
work of destruction as soon as they entered the 
house. The long tubular man butted the hall 
lamp like a wild goat on stilts and smashed it to 
powder, and the little globular man trod on his 
apron three times going upstairs, fell on his face and 
stained the carpet with his bleeding nose — all on 
purpose, I know, because it was a dirty apron, and 
he must have had a lot of practice in managing 
it. I asked him why he didn't carry a bit of gas 
piping in each hand and wave his apron about 
like a serpentine dancer, aud he said, with a 
studious air, that he never thought of that. 

When they reached the bath-room they sat 
down and looked at the bath as if they had never 
seen one before, and as if they were waiting to 
see it perform. 

Then the short one got up and stroked and 
patted it with his hand, as if he was telling it to 
be a good bath. 

* Oh ! ' I said, ' don't be afraid ; it isn't savage.' 

He turned round and murmured something to 
his colleague, and sat down again with a sigh. They 
had some more low conversation and lit their pipes 
and I was just wondering whether I ought to offer 
to fill the bath with beer and get them to carry it 
that way when the other one got up and rapped 
with his knuckles on it, and then scratched his 
whiskers, put both his hands in his trousers pockets, 
and grunted. 



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COMEDIAN VERSUS TWO PLUMBERS 35 

Then, having shown that they were not afraid of it, 
they turned their attention to the pictures on the 
walls, and had an argument about their respective 
merits. Without coming to any unanimous decision 
they went away, saying that they were going to fetch 
their tools and would be back in half an hour. 

They returned five hours later with enough tools to 
build a row of houses with, and as the procession 
went upstairs again they let a hammer fly out of one 
of the baskets, which nearly brained me as I came 
behind them. They laughed genially, while I rubbed 
my head. When we got into the room they put 
down the baskets and resumed their art criticisms. 
It appears that one had declared the figures in a 
picture to be angels, while the other was confident 
that they were ostriches, and now, on taking a second 
look, the man that had backed the angels admitted 
that he was wrong, although he had had a run for his 
money, he said, and he paid over to the ostrich- 
fancier. Would you believe it? — the picture in 
dispute was a little pathetic effort of my own, entitled 
* Heavenwards.' 

After that they came back from art to science, and 
slowly emptied their baskets of all sorts of fearful 
and wonderful implements and materials, which were 
strewn all over the floor. There was a long piece of 
wire, the use of which I did not understand until I 
saw Whiskers cleaning his pipe with it. And Apron 
showed me a lantern, which, by some pumping 
arrangement, shot out a large flame about a foot long, 
and enabled Whiskers to get his pipe well alight 
without striking a lot of matches. 

Apron was very pleased with his lantern, and kept 



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36 DAN LEND 

pumping it with an expression on his face that might 
have indicated that he had conquered Europe. At 
last he put it on the floor with the flame flaring away, 
and went to his basket to find a lead pencil. He 
brought this back to sharpen with a hatchet, and 
while he was doing this set his apron on fire with the 
lantern. Whiskers made a heroic rescue of him. 
Seizing the apron, he swung the globular man round 
the room, but burnt his fingers, and suddenly dropped 
his colleague, who fell on the back of his head, and 
stayed there for a few moments' rest and quiet 

The long man went back to his work. He had 
ceased to be a knockabout, and had become a musical 
clown, and he was hitting the bath with a hammer to 
try and make it sing * The Village Blacksmith.' 

Meanwhile Apron put some lead in a spoon, and 
proceeded to melt it by means of the lantern. I 
thought perhaps he was going to put a plug in the 
back of his head where he fell, because I could not 
see any other possible use for melted lead in that 
scene. When it was nicely simmering he put the 
spoon on the floor, and took the lantern into 
a corner where it would be away from the sweep 
of the train of his apron. The tall man tried to reach 
a chisel with his right hand without relinquishing his 
hold on the bath, and losing his balance he kicked the 
molten lead all over the oilcloth, setting it on fire in 
several spots. They both laughed and apologised, 
and said accidents would happen. 

Then they threw a pail of water over the burning 
oilcloth, and the water flowed under the door and 
downstairs, and when I looked on the landing I saw 
the baby sitting in it, crying. I picked the damp 



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COMEDIAN VERSUS TWO PLUMBERS 37 

baby up and took it to a place of safety, as far from 
the plumbers as possible, and when I came back, 
1 found, to my great satisfaction, that the tall man 
had smashed his thumb with the musical hammer, 
and the little man had fallen off a pair of steps into 
the bath. 

I asked them as calmly as I could whether they 
had come there to commit suicide or to burn me out 
of house and home, and they looked displeased. To 
console themselves they sat down and had some 
bread and cheese and beer, and as they didn't invite 
me to join them I went away for an hour, after which 
I returned and found them both fast asleep. 

* Well,' I said to myself, * I think too much of this 
is enough,' so I woke Whiskers with a pin and Apron 
with the lantern, and they sat up and started a long 
conversation about some dogs, which lasted until 
it was time for them to go home, when they got up as 
if they had earned a good rest and asked me for some 
beer money, promising to come early next morning. 

I ought to mention that they took the bath with 
them and only let it fall downstairs twice, breaking 
the umbrella-stand in the hall and making an infernal 
noise. They say if you put a number of tin cans and 
a table at the top of a flight of steps and push them 
down all together you get the general effect of a 
Chinese orchestra ; but this bath and umbrella-stand 
duet sounded like massed bands playing the Chinese 
army quadrilles. 

Now it— and here comes the most thrilling part of 
my tale — it happened that in the ceiling over the 
bath there was a large * rose ' for a cold shower, which 
could be turned on by pulling a chain. Well, these 



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38 DAN LENO 

clever men took the chain away and left the tap 
turned on, or made some mistake of the kind. I was 
sleeping in the room underneath the bath-room, and 
early next morning I was roused by drops of water 
falling on the bed, and looking up I saw that the 
ceiling was completely saturated. I rushed upstairs 
in my pyjamas and found a beautiful waterfall 
coming from the shower-bath arrangement. What 
was to be done ? If it ran much longer I should have 
the whole family afloat in tubs and wash-bowls. I 
got a bucket and put it under the shower, and when 
that was full I put down another and hurried down- 
stairs to empty the first Before I could get back the 
second one was running over, and I played this game 
until nine o'clock, when the pantomimists returned. 

How they laughed ! Why, the tears coursed down 
their cheeks as they sat on the stairs enjoying the 
fun. 

I said, * There's water enough in the house already. 
What is there to laugh at ? ' 

Then they told me how it had all come about. It 
seems that they had forgotten to lift the cistern ball 
or something of that kind — I was too mad to listen 
to them. 

Since then I have become an enthusiastic anti- 
plumbist. I have no objection to plumbers in the 
abstract, but I don't like them in my house. 



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CHAPTER Baggage 

FOURTH Adventures 

I FORGET where I was when I interrupted my 
autobiography to claim your sympathy in my 
plumbing troubles ; but at that time of my life 
I was never long in one place. 

My parents had gone to Edinburgh for a fortnight's 
engagement in 1867, and they intended to return to 
London at once; but it was not until 1881 that I 
reappeared in the metropolis, and in the meantime 
I had been all over England, Scotland, and Ireland. 
It was in Dublin that I was first discovered by the 
public as the possessor of a lovely voice, and as an 
Irish comic singer I was very successful, earning a 
high salary for my seven years. At Manchester we 
produced a spectacular ballet, called * The Wicklow 
Wedding,' in which I played the principal part and 
painted the scenery. 

A rather amusing incident occurred in connection 
with a Liverpool engagement. When we arrived, in 
order to maintain the dignity of our little company, 
I got some money from the manager to pay for our 
luggage being taken to the theatre instead of taking 
it ourselves. I called a man with a hand-cart, whose 
respectfulness touched me deeply because he was a 
good deal better dressed than I was. He loaded his 
cart with our curious assortment of baggage. There 
was a trick bedstead which, bundled together and 
tied round with rope, was not at all an object of 

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40 



DAN LENO 



beauty suitable for a nobleman's furniture, and an 
old tin tray tied in with string formed the bottom of 
one of the baskets, so that when the cart was piled 
up with the things it looked more like a cheap 




THE PROPRIETOR OF THE 19TH CENTURY STORE 

eviction than the arrival of a troop of respectable 
professionals. 

We were to open at the Adelphi Theatre in Christian 
Street, and we told the man to take the things to the 



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BAGGAGE ADVENTURES 41 

Adelphi. He touched his cap and went, while I 
decided that, as I had plenty of time, I would have 
a walk round the town before going to the theatre, 
and still reach there as soon as the porter ; so away 
I went and bought some cakes with twopence of the 
money that the manager had given me to pay the 
man with. I have a vivid recollection of these cakes, 
which were of an extremely obstinate nature with a 
speck of jam in the middle. I remember hammering 
one on a doorstep in order to chip a piece off, and I 
gave the other to some little girls, who licked off the 
jam and played hopscotch with the rest. 

When I arrived at the theatre in about an hour's 
time I found no porter and no luggage. I spread 
myself all over the town to look for him, and you can 
imagine my surprise when I discovered the man with 
the bedstead on his back engaged in violent alterca- 
tion with two liveried servants on the steps of the 
Adelphi Hotel in Lime Street. He insisted on 
putting the luggage in, and the hotel was in a 
state of siege. The basket, with the tin-tray false 
bottom, had been pitched out by the hotel people so 
energetically that it had fallen to pieces, and the 
* props ' were scattered all over the muddy street. 
My porter was undaunted. He had been told to put 
the things in the Adelphi, and he would have them 
in if it killed him. It was a noble and sublime 
spectacle, but our belongings were l:)eing seriously de- 
preciated. Some small boys amongst the interested 
crowd had found a stuffed dog which had come out 
of the basket, and they were playing football with it, 
and when I went to rescue the poor, dumb, stuffed 
creature they played football with me. 



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42 DAN LENO 

At last, with the dog under my arm and my 
clothes covered with mud, I succeeded in getting 
near enough to the porter to explain things. He 
was disappointed. I shall never forget the look on 
the man's face if I live to be ninety-nine. I never 
saw a man look with such an earnest desire to take 
a human life as he did, and had he raised the bed- 
stead and brained me where I stood I should not 
have been at all surprised. I should have been sorry, 
but not surprised. 

Well, we collected the scattered property in the 
face of a withering fire of criticism from the crowd, 
and then the porter and I, with the cart, headed a 
long procession marching to the theatre. Liverpool 
mud is very muddy indeed, and I was not happy. 
Even then our troubles were not ended, for when 
we reached Christian Street one of the wheels came 
off the confounded cart, and once again our poor 
* props' were upset in the slimy road. For the 
fourteenth time our porter repeated his entire vocabu- 
lary of obscene and profane terms of general abuse 
and condemnation, and sent me into a cold perspira- 
tion at the fearful language he used. 

And when at length I reached the theatre, tired, 
hungry, muddy, almost in tears, I held out my hand 
to reward the honest labourer for his toil. I gave 
him all the money I had left — one shilling. It was a 
thrilling situation. The man staggered ; there was a 
wild glare in his eye ; his breath came and went in 
short snorts; he clenched his fist, and — like the 
heroes of romance — I knew no more. 

Not long after I had more trouble with the same 
baggage. We were engaged to appear at th^ 



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BAGGAGE ADVENTURES 43 

Britannia Music-hall, Sheffield, and of course arrived 
on the Monday. Father and mother went to look 
for our lodgings and left me to get the luggage to the 
hall, and prepare it for our performance in the 
evening. I went and borrowed a hand-cart — cabs 
were out of the question with us in those days, and 
after a good deal of exertion and deep thought, 
managed to take the things to the theatre, which I 
found in total darkness. 

However, I put the baggage on the stage, except 
some costumes that I took upstairs to the dressing- 
room. We were playing a sketch called * Pongo the 
Monkey,* in which we used our trick bedstead, and 
it was necessary to bore a hole in the stage in which 
to fix a strong wooden upright that formed the main- 
stay of the bed. I got the large augur we used for 
the purpose ; but the hall was so dark that I couldn't 
see what I was doing, so I kept striking matches to 
look how I was going on. After I had finished 
boring I went away to fetch something, and when I 
returned I was horrified to see a light shining through 
the hole I had bored. I guessed at once that I must 
have dropped a match through the hole and set the 
stage on fire. 

There was not a moment to be lost. Off I dashed 
to the dressing-room and seized a bucket of water. 
When I rushed back the light seemed brighter, and 
I did not waste a moment in pouring the water 
through the hole, and then waited with beating heart 
to see the result. Had the whole theatre burst into 
flames I should not have been so astonished as I was, 
for the result came in vocal form. A gruff voice 
under the stage exclaimed: 



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44 



DAN LENO 



'What ta devil is ta doin' oop thear? Does ta 
want ter drownd me?' Then there was the sound 
of hurried and heavy footsteps. 

I was always pretty nimble on my feet, but that 
time I think I beat all records. I shot out of the 
building before you could say James Brown. 

From cautious and discreet enquiries I made after- 




Ukm^ ^' CL ^^Maaa^ l/i.tU^- 



wards I learned that underneath the stage was used 
by the proprietor as a stable for his pony, and the 
man who came to look after the animal had fortun- 
ately placed himself in the best possible position for 
receiving my bucketful. It couldn't have gone better 
if it had been rehearsed for a fortnight. 

That reminds me of another little incident which 
has nothing whatever to do with it. 



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BAGGAGE ADVENTURES 45 

We were to appear at the old Britannia Music-hall, 
Coventry, a town I was always very fond of, and as 
soon as I had washed my breakfast and swallowed 
myself off I used to go into the country to make 
little water-colour sketches of any picturesque spots 
that attracted my critical eye. 

But I want to work off a little anecdote I remember 
at the moment. There was a man.who used to give 
a turn with some performing birds. Oh, it was a 
beautiful show! it used to please the women 
especially — women have such a lot of sentiment for 
exhibition purposes. There were half a dozen pea- 
cocks that used to expand and fold their splendid 
tails to the tune of a waltz played by the orchestra. 
It was too lovely for this world, it reminded one of 
heaven But, luckily, one evening the birds gave a 
sort of extra turn on their own account ; for the man's 
assistant had forgotten to fasten their feet on the 
stage, and when the band struck up they simply 
strutted away. But they would have astonished 
Bo-Peep as much as they astonished the audience ; 
for instead of bringing their tails behind them they 
left them there :' the birds had no tails of their own 
at all. Still, as the waltz played the show went on 
all the same, the tails spread out and closed up again, 
until the curtain came down suddenly, amidst tre- 
mendous applause. It was done by a boy pulling a 
string at the side of the stage. 

That's a digression. Where was I ?. Oh, 
Coventry! WqJI, they tell you a story, at 
Coventry which, perhaps, you haven't heard. It's 
about a certain Mrs Godiva, and I'll tell it you 
just as it was told me. 



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CHAPTER That Coventry 

FIFTH story 

THE man that told me this incredible story was 
supposed to be a respectable, married, level- 
headed, flat-footed, natural-born man with no par- 
ticular crimes on his conscience beyond doing his 
fellow-men, as often as the law would let him, just 
the same as you would yourself. He was quite 
ordinary to look at, except that he had a bunion on 
the back of his neck, and they had to cut a sort of 
pigeon-hole, as it were, in his collar, to give the 
bunion free play. He was about two sizes bigger 
than me, and so I had to listen to his story right 
through, although when he came to the most horrible 
part of it I was so disgusted that once I raised a jug 
to throw at him, only he happened to turn round and 
reveal his bunion, and I felt so full of pity for him 
that I contented myself with dropping the jug on his 
toes. I have a soft-roed heart. 

Well, this is the story; get your blushes ready. 
I assure you, in the course of a long' and stormy and 
red and blue career, I never heard anything like it. 

This is how the man started. 

I must tell you that he had a shocking cold in his 
head, and could not pronounce his words distinctly. 

* A good beddy years ago/ he said, * it appears 
dere was a certaid barod or brewer or some sort of 
a swell joker who was boss of Coredry — the whole 
bloomig place. Ad it happed one year dere was a 
kide of rebelliod. They woulded pay dere gas bill 
or water rate or somethig. Ad this barod whed he 

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THA T CO VENTR Y STOR Y 47 

went roud to collect the modey was insulted ad tode 
to go to blazes or Birmighab, which wasset codvediet 
at that tibe. So he ups and he says, " We'll dab well 
see about dis." Of course they diddet speak exactly 
the sabe lagguage ded, but that was the effect of his 
words. Ad he wedt ad turd the water off and 
surrouded the place with his vassals.* 

* I beg pardon/ I interrupted, * did you say his 
gassals ? ' 

'Doh, vassals, sort of Hooligad gag that he was 
captaid of. Ad he was goig to wipe the floor with 
the whole populatiod. Well, here cobes his wife 
Godiva. She cobes ad sits od his dee.' 

* On his what ? ' I cried. 

* Od his dee.' 

* Oh, yes, I see. But it must have been hundreds 
of years ago for a wife to sit on her husband's knee. 
Now, if it had been anybody else's ^' 

* Gospel truth, she did. Why, she was so affec- 
tiodate that his trousers used to get warred out 
every two or three years, and she had to put patches 
od. Well, to cut a log trouser — I mead story — short, 
he probised to let theb off ' 

'What, the trou ' 

' Doh, the people.' 

* Oh, of course. Gave me quite a shock,' 

' Od wod codditiod. Ad wat d'you thig that was ? ' 

* What the condition was ? I dunno. That they'd 
tip him the winner of next year's Derby ? ' 

*Doh.' 

* Well, then, they'd give him and his ancestors free 
drinks at all the local bars except on bank holidays ? ' 

*Doh, dothig of that kide; you're looking at it 
frob a personal poid of view. Doh, the codditiod 



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48 DAN LEND 

was' — here the bunion bearer dropped his voice, 
leaned towards me and breathed a quantity of four- 
ale fumes down my ear — * that his wife, Godiva^ 
should ride daked through the streets of Covedry.' 

Well, I tell you I blushed from the crown of my 
head to the roots of my hair when I heard that. 
You could have knocked me down with a crowbar. 

* Ride nake ' I gasped. 

* Id a state,' said the man, * id a state of dudity.' 

* But,' I said, thinking I'd settled him, * bicycles 
weren't invented then, so how could she ? ' 

* She diddet ride od a bicycle ; od a horse ! ' 

* Oh, a bareback act ! ' I said. 

* Very,' replied the man. 

* And do you mean to tell me that the 'buses were 
running all the time ? ' I protested. 

Then he went on to tell me that everybody stayed 
indoors and wouldn't look at this Mrs Godiva, ex- 
cept a man called Peeping Tom, with whom I have 
no doubt you have a certain amount of sympathy. 
Now there are about a hundred houses in Coventry, 
every one of which claims to have the window from 
which Thomas peeped, so that I think it's all Peeping 
Tommy rot, or else there were a great n^any people 
of that name. If he was the only persd|p t}^^|iiw 
the lady, who was it that brought the horse i^'and 
helped her on ? Moreover, besides, was it .a blind 
horse? I think the whole story is blind myself. I 
can't imagine a lot of people acting like that I^o 
you think any married woman of the present day — 
I don't care how high she might be in society — 
would consent to ride naked through a town if she 
knew beforehand that nobody was going to look at 
her 1 Why, it's simply preposterous I 



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CHAPTER A Melodramatic 

SIXTH Sketch 

AT that time of life I used to feel sometimes as if 
I was walking on air instead of the ground, 
perhaps because I had not sufficient ballast inside to 
keep me from soaring heavenwards. I used to laugh 
and sing for no other reason than that I couldn't help 
it ; whereas now I want somebody to make me laugh. 

It was on a lovely morning once that I set out 
from Coventry to walk to Kenilworth. I took 
with me my colour boxes (price grfl), portfolio (two 
pieces of cardboard with a strip of canvas glued on 
one side, and two pieces of tape tied together on the 
other side, price 2^., and a little labour), and water 
bottle. I had been walking along Warwick Road 
about an hour when I was greatly struck with the 
appearance of the loveliest old house I had ever seen, 
and the picture it presented in the morning sun, as it 
stood there — well, of course, you wouldn't expect it 
to skip about, I know — surrounded by stately old 
trees with their rich autumn tints, was more than I 
could withstand. 

So 1 said to myself, * Fm going to climb the fence 
and sketch that house. It's never done anything to 
me, but rU sketch it all the same.' There was a 
board up — a picturesque board — telling me that 
trespassers would be prosecuted ; but I didn't think 
they would take the trouble to prosecute me. Over 
I went, and when I decided which was the best view 
of the house, I squatted down and started sketching. 

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50 DAN LENO 

However, before I had done much harm, my blood 
curdled in my veins at the sound of a deep, hollow, 
come-up-for-judgment-when-called-upon sort of voice. 

* What are you doing here ? * said the owner of the 
voice ; and the portfolio fell from my trembling hand. 
Looking round, I beheld a tall, gaunt, cadaverous old 
gentleman, dressed all in black, looking at me with a 
pair of very small, cruel eyes. I really thought at 
first he had come up through a trap from the infernal 
regions. 

I pulled myself together, nevertheless. 

* 1 beg pardon, sir,' I said, but I was so charmed 
with the beauty of your house that I ventured to 
stop and make a sketch of it' My presence of mind 
was all the more commendable, seeing that, in my 
first surprise, I had put the water bottle in my pocket 
upside down with the cork out, and I was not feeling 
at all comfortable during my speech. 

*And when,' said the gloomy stranger, *do you 
think the sketch will be finished ? ' 

* In ten minutes, sir.' 

'Very well, don't go away. I should like to 
see it. I'll return in ten minutes' time.' 

With that he disappeared. I don't know where 
he went ; he simply dissolved into the air. 

The moment he vanished I grabbed all my belong- 
ings, and made a mad bull rush at the fence. 

But suddenly I stopped and recovered from my 
panic. *0h, there's nothing to be afraid of,' I 
said, ' I'll finish the picture. He may give me 
something for it. And if he's the devil,' and 
I really thought he might be, 'well, what's the 
good of running away?' 



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$2 DAN LENO 

Down I sat and hurried to finish the sketch, 
and just as I put the last touch to it that ghostly 
figure was there again, standing at my elbow. 

I nearly swallowed the brush which I had put 
between my teeth to hold. 

* Is the picture done ? * said the fiend, in his 
tombstone voice. 

*Yes, sir.' He took it in his long, bony hands. 
'What are you going to do with it?' 

* Oh, I shall keep it as a pleasant memento * 

'You will do nothing of the kind,' shrieked 

the old gentleman, growing excited, * I want it 
myself — I want it myself — Ha, hal a picture of 
the house! Ha, ha, ha, ha, hal' 

His laughter was positively demoniacal, and I 
felt that my last hour had come as he danced 
round me, pointing at me with his skinny fore- 
finger. Then he seized my hand and shouted 
'Begone! Begone!' and disappeared again. 

Instead of begoing I felt as if I had taken root 
there. In my hand was half a sovereign, which 
I expected every second to see burst into flames. 
But gradually my circulation improved, and leaving 
colour boxes, water bottle, and everything else on 
the ground I made a second wild charge at the 
fence. Whether I jumped over it, wriggled under 
it, broke through it, or pushed it down I know 
not, but I know that I never stopped running till 
I was quite a mile away from the place. 

I afterwards learned that the poor old gentle- 
man was a lunatic, and that I had been sketching 
the side of the house where his wife committed 
suicide by jumping through a window. 



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CHAPTER A Skating 

SEVENTH Romance 

WHEN I was early in my teens I thought it 
as well to add roller-skating to my accom- 
plishments, and I studied with enthusiasm. It is 
wonderful what man can do on his first pair ol 
skates. Things seem to him to wear a different 
aspect altogether; the ground acts in a most 
mysterious way: sometimes it is hovering over 
your head and sometimes waltzing round you. 
But there is one sure thing — you can always find 
it: you have only to follow your nose, and there 
it is. 

It was when I was fulfilling an engagement not 
far from the pretty little village of Birmingham 
that I was vaccinated with skates for the first 
time. There was a large rink adjoining the hall, 
and I went with a very benevolent man, who 
showed me the whole art. He said I was to rise 
from my seat and strike out. I did so, and landed 
nicely on his upper lip. 

Then he took me by the hand and we slid off 
together. 1 really do not know what happened 
Clouds seemed to be flying round me; houses and 
concert halls were in the air, darting about like 

53 



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54 tyAN LEND 

swallows; trees were dancing upside down, and 
my kind friend was bobbing about in various 
fantastic forms. I wriggled and curled and twisted 
and crouched and kicked, but I did not feel at all 
comfortable until I suddenly found myself sitting 
on the good man's face. 

Well, I suggested after that that I should try it 
with my arm round his neck ; but he said he 
would like to see his home once more, so I did 
not insist. After • struggling for a quarter of an 
hour I managed to get up on my feet again, and 
plunged wildly into a corner. I seemed to be 
dashing to destruction at about two hundred 
miles an hour; but with great presence of mind 
I got a firm grip of a man's hair. I plucked a 
handful from him, which was sufficient to attract 
his attention. He kicked me twice with great 
energy, and then punched me behind so forcibly 
that I butted into the chest of a tall man with 
indignant whiskers, who, after my charge, seemed 
to whiz round like a Catherine wheel. When he 
finally collapsed I was lying across his neck, and 
a small boy was underneath both of us. I left 
them to unravel themselves, and hobbled off on 
my hands and knees to find my friend. He had 
bound a handkerchief round his battered head, 
and his swollen nose looked like a boiled carrot. 
He was apologising to a lady for having passion- 
ately embraced her to save his life, and while he 
was bowing his excuses down he went on his face 
again.. 

When I reached home my people thought I had 
been struck by lightning, and I was so sore all over 



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A SKATING ROMANCE 55 

that it was very painful work dancing that night. 
However, I went back the next morning, and I soon 
advanced in the art. 

Now it happened that there was a refreshment bar 
in the place. You know what a refreshment bar is, I 
suppose? Yes ; I thought you did. Well, and there 
was a very refreshing barmaid there as well. A bar- 
maid, I ought to explain, is Oh, you know, do 

you? Wonderful thing this spread of education! 

And at that tender age I thought she was an angel 
that had come down from heaven to draw corks for 
thirsty men and flavour the beer with her smiles. I 
have always been a champion of women ; I always 
defend their cause. I maintain that they are the best 
wives and mothers and sisters on earth. All men 
are kickers, except me. Man blames woman for 
every accident and misfortune under the sun, moon, 
stars, table, or bed. He sneers at her curiosity. 
Why, he is far more curious himself I know, be- 
cause I have made experiments. 

Some time since I put up a board outside my door 
with the words * Wet Paint ' on it. In less than an 
hour I counted more than forty men that came and 
clapped their hands or their thumbs on the door to 
see if the paint really was wet. Some of them seemed 
disgusted, and others, showed a childish pleasure in 
their cleverness. One man was so persevering — he 
Wanted to give the door every chance — that he leaned 
against it for ten minutes, and then went away with 
a terrible look of disappointment to call on his 
solicitor, and see if he couldn't sue me for 
damages. 

But look at the sweeter sex. Paint does not 



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56 DAN LEND 

interest them. There was not one of the many 
women who read that warning that touched it with 
her glove, or her bonnet, or even brushed her skirt 
against it. The awful temptation was there, but they 
overcame it. And they gathered their frocks up and 
rotted away on their toes to escape the danger. 

What is that atom of barloafing clay called man ? 
What is he good for ? He does riot know the magni- 
tude of woman's operations. He does not know — 
till I tell him — that the women of England — the 
noble, devoted creatures — in one year lost 595,000,000 
hairpins. What can he do to compare with that? 
Women can come to a final conclusion without the 
slightest trouble of reasoning, and that is a thing no 
sane man can do. She can keep as cool as a 
cucumber in a tight-fitting dress, and dance all night 
n a pair of shoes two sizes less than her foot, and 
smile all the time. She can drive a man crockery- 
smashing crazy for twenty-four hours, and then raise 
him to paradise by simply tickling his chin. Where 
is the man that can do that ? I do not believe in the 
superiority of man, and I expect that in years to 
come woman will make herself more and more felt — 
with anything that's handy. 

To resume my romance. At that time I fell heavily 
in love with this beautiful barmaid, and I used to do 
all my graceful turns up at her end of the room in 
order to smite her. 

I remember that my costume consisted of a pair of 
trousers that I had long grown out of, a waistcoat 
that did not reach so far as to meet them half way, 
and a sort of zouave jacket, while on my head was a 
faithful old Scotch cap. So that you will see that 1 



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1 BECOME A RAILWAY GUARD 



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58 DAN LENO 

did not depend on fine clothes for making an impres- 
sion, only on my natural, unadorned loveliness. 

But one day I was presented with a new pair of 
trousers, which cost 3s. iid., and were of a haunting 
beauty. They were very light and gay in colour, with 
a vocal check pattern — three checks on one leg and 
two on the other ; and I set out for the rink full of 
renewed hope. It was raining hard and I got very 
wet, but I cared not; and as soon as I reached the 
rink away I glided up to the bar and began my 
manoeuvres. 

But I was surprised to see that the girl kept turn- 
ing her head away with her handkerchief to her 
mouth, and all the people near me were grinning and 
pointing. I didn't know what to make of it — until I 
felt rather cool around the ankles, and then I looked 
down and saw that there were only two checks on the 
leg that had three before, and the damp trousers were 
visibly crawling up my legs. They modestly shrunk 
from publicity. 

Of course I scampered home as fast as I 
could, and just got inside the door as the trousers 
were hurrying over my knees ; but I never 
recovered my lost reputation. Love will not 
survive ridicule, and the lover ought to make 
sure that he is fast colour and thoroughly shrunk 
before he starts out. I have always taken care 
since. 



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CHAPTER Barbers I 

EIGHTH have Met 

IN the course of a rolling career I have managed 
to grow a little moss on the lower half of my 
face, and every few weeks I have to have it sawn 
off by a hairdresser's labourer. When I am in 
London this is not a painful process in itself, 
and I consider it valuable moral training to carry 
on a cheerful conversation with a lathery brush 
frisking round your mouth, especially in the 
winter when the young man caresses your jaw 
with his cold fingers. Personally I never try to 
say much. I always mumble the word *yes,' until 
the young shaver comes to the catechism about 
shampoo and singeing and hair restoring, and then 
I say *no in my most pathetic voice. We go on 
like this: 

*Cold day, sir.' 

•Yes.' 

* Think it's going to rain if it doesn't keep dry ? * 
•Yes.' 

'Seen that case, sir, of the man that's charged 
with assaulting his wife by giving her her house- 
keeping money twice over last week ? ' 

•Yes.' 

* Think he did it on purpose, or kind of absent- 
minded ? * 

•Yes.' 
•Shampoo, sir?' 

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6o DAN LEND 

•Ye— no.' 

*Like your hair watered, sir? Been very dry 
weather lately/ 

*No.' 

*Have some of our spirituous hair-raiser, sir? 
Wonderful stuff. Grow you a moustache like 
two horses' tails.' 

*No.' 

* Thank you, sir. Pay at the desk, please.' 
That is the ordinary sort of dialogue ; but in the 

country you meet some very curious whisker choppers. 

I went once to a little shop in the Midlands to 
have my golden flax mowed off, and the labourer 
there was really stupid. He came and asked me 
if I wanted a shave, and 1 said *yes,' and then he 
went clean away and sat down in a corner with 
his head resting in his hands, as if he was buried 
in deep thought, or as if he had never shaved a 
man before and was studying how he could safely 
begin. He |jad no apron or anything of that 
sort on. 

When he returned i leaned back with my chin 
in the air, and he put his hand under it and 
looked down on me with such a sad and com- 
passionate expression that I sat up again and 
looked round at the door. But he smiled en- 
couragingly, as if to assure me that it would soon 
be over, and so I dropped my head back on the 
rest again, and tried to sit on my shoulder blades. 

Still he did not start. He felt the blades of two 
or three razors with his thumb, and then he said — 

* Now, sir, how would you like to be shaved — 
by the square inch, or by the piece?' 



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BARBERS I HA VE MET 6i 

I sat up again more suddenly than before. 
•What the ' 

* Oh ! it's our new system in this town/ he 
said ; * if you want your beard slitting here, Til 
just measure it and give you an estimate. It's 
five inches for a penny. But if you'll have it 
done by the piece I'll make a good job of it for 
threepence-halfpenny.' 

* Oh, well,' I »aid, * that's a bit steep, but go ahead 
and look alive.' 

* Look alive, sir? Yes, sir.' And he bounced into 
the middle of the room and started vigorous stage 
dancing. 

* Stop that ! ' I yelled. • 

* Told me to look alive, didn't you, sir ? I did my 
best Well, then,' he continued genially, * let's to 
business.' 

He took up the biggest hairbrush in the shop, 
smothered it in lather, and turned round to hit me 
on the jaw with it. 

But I wasn't there. I had crawled under the 
chair for safety. 

What further would have happened I don't know, 
but just then another barber came in with his apron 
on. He went straight up to my shaver and handed 
him his wages, and the man put on his hat and 
walked out. 

* What d' you have a man like that in your shop 
for?' I grumbled. 

* Oh, that's an actor, sir, playing at the Royal this 
week — Mr Fred Leslie, sir. I had to pop out and 
get change for him.' 

An interesting specimen of the small provincial 



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62 DAN LENO 

hairdresser's labourer came up to me once with a 
shaving brush in his hand, and asked me if I wanted 
my hair cutting. This was only a dodge of his to 
get me to open my mouth, and as soon as I started 
to reply he dabbed the brush in and began lathering 
my face all over. Then he put his left arm round 
my neck firmly and with a rough right hand like 
emery paper began massaging my soapy face until 
I writhed in my seat. I couldn't shout because he 
had gagged me with soap, and I couldn't open my 
eyes for it either. At last he released me and began 
stropping his razor, smiling at me with great satis- 
faction. 

* Pleasant morning, fir,' he remarked. 

*B-r-r-r-h,' I spluttered, *it's the pleasantest 
morning I've known since I fell into the river.' 

The master barber saw that I was not happy, and 
he came to relieve his assistant. As he began to 
scrape my poor grated chin he told me that the 
young man had only just come to the shop, and had 
not been there long. 

Now that was a piece of information to ponder 
over. I kept turning it over in my mind until it 
gave me a severe headache. You see, of course, if 
he had only just come he could not possibly have 
been there long. On the other hand, if he had been 
there long he could not have only just come. 

Then again here is another serious aspect. If he 
had come long ago he would have been there a 
considerable time. Put it in another way. If the 
young man had already been there long before he 
had only just come, then it seems to follow that he 
must have come long before he had just been there. 



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BARBERS I HA VE MET 63 

Let us work this thing out properly. If this young 
man 

But at that moment I was roused from my reverie 
by the barber toying with a shred of skin he thought 
I did not want ; and to cheer me up he put some 
scorching stuff on the cut that brought the long- 
pent-up tears into my eyes. 

He passed his fingers through my hair and asked 
me if J would take a bottle of his Klondike Lime 
Spruce. 

* Is it good ? ' I asked nonchalantly. 
'Best in the trade, sir; never fails.' 

* Well, then, that man at Brighton was a fabricator 
of untruthfulnesses!' I exclaimed. *He said that 
the very best thing was his Californian Gum Gum 
Cream. Now who is speaking the truth?' 

* Well, sir,' he said, * you just try it, and if you become 
bald after using Klondike Lime Spruce I'll give you 
a free season ticket that will entitle you to have 
your hair cut for nothing, there ! I wouldn't make 
an offer like that if I wasn't confident, would I ? ' 

* It's a small bottle for three shillings.' 

* It is small, sir ; but you only require three drops.* 
*Well, I'd better have four drops, I might spill 

one.' 

* I can't break a bottle, sir.' 

* Not necessary to break it,' I observed ; * take the 
cork out.' 

* Couldn't open a bottle either,' he said. 

* Well, how are you going to get the stuff out if 
you can't open the bottle?' 

* I don't think we understand each other,' said the 
barber with a troubled look. *What I meant was 



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64 DAN LENO 

that we couldn't open the bottle because it's against 
our rule to break bottles.' 

*They must be funny bottles if you can't open 
them without breaking them. Why don't you bore 
a hole in them with a gimlet ? ' 

' Like a shampoo, sir ? ' asked the barber in a tired 
voice. 

* Why don't you put the bottle in a hot oven and 
make it sweat, so you can get the stuff out ^nd use 
the bottle again ? ' 

* Hard or soft brush, sir ? ' 

* Why don't you turn the bottle upside down and 
then run away and pretend youVe not looking at it, 
and then it'll simply pour out ? ' 

* Anything else you'd like, sir ? ' 

' Well, some day I'd like to have a long talk about 
these bottles when you're not so busy. It seems to 
me a most interesting problem. Let's go into these 
bottles thoroughly. You say you can't open a bottle 
to break it, and of course it does seem unnecessary. 
And you can't break a bottle by opening it. Well, 
there may be some force in that. But look here, 
now. Supposing ' 

' Thank you, sir; good-morning.' 

It's a mysterious profession, barberism. A hair- 
dresser is not like other men. He is a man all by 
himself; he eats and drinks sometimes, but there 
is a something about him. He is a bay rum chap, 
the barber. He has a lather of conversation, but 
there is nothing in it that would razor brush — I mean, 
raise a blush — to the cheek of the most eccentric 
comedian on the music-hall stage. 



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CHAPTER t go Peart 

NINTH Fishing 

I SEEM to have dropped my autobiography 
somewhere and gone rambling on these 
philosophical excursions ; but the fact is that I 
am determined there shall be nothing but the 
truth in this literary work of mine. I have for- 
gotten more about my early life than I ever knew, 
and I am not going to invent a lot of anecdotes 
and thrilling escapes from fire and water and 
brokers' men. No ; I might romance, but I will 
not do anything of the kind. I go on telling the 
truth in my simple straightforward way if it kills me. 

I was about seventeen when I was seized with a 
restless desire to roll on the ocean waves. I was in 
Liverpool at the time, and a friend persuaded me to 
set out with him for the pearl fisheries situated 
between Margate and Japan. 

When we had got about as far as New Brighton 
after a fair passage, with the wind north-north by 
south-south, latitude nineteen and six, longitude 
three feet four, sea calm, but dirty, owing to it being 
the bathing season, a tempest arose. 

My friend came rushing down from the roof into 
the back parlour and said, * I say, old man, there's a 
terrific storm going on.' He need not have taken 
the trouble. I knew it In fact, I could have told 
him that, only just then the ship gave a violent heave as 
if it wasn't comfortable in its seat and I pitched head 
first into his chest, and we both went rolling on thefloor, 
under a shower of tin cans and bottles from the shelves. 

My friend got up and tried to look as if he had 
been doing this all his life, and as if he had been 
born on his beam ends, shivering his timbers. 

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66 DAN LENO 

He opened a bottle of ale and asked me what I 
would have. I thanked him kindly and said I would 
like a bucket, which he got me, and lashed me to it 
in case I should fall overboard and miss it 

He emptied his bottle of ale and I filled my bucket, 
which kept us amused, and passed the time away for 
a little while, until he asked me if I knew where we 
were going, and I answered that I knew of one or 
two sultry places where I should like him to go, and 
where I fancied I was going if this sort of thing went 
on much longer. He said, ' Cheer up, we shall soon 
be there.' And I told him I was there now, or as 
near as possible. Then he said — 

• Never mind, only just a little more rough weather 
and rU show you something you've never seen before.' 

* I wish I'd never seen this,' I groaned. * If you've 
got any more novelties, you'd better keep them for 
the Christmas pantomime.' 

But he assured me that the captain had ordered the 
main jibboom to be spanked on the figure-head, so as 
to make all taut, and I felt much relieved to hear of this. 
Now I come to the most exciting part of the voyage. 

The captain was a reckless, dare-devil sort of 
navvy, and he had decided to take a short cut across 
the Bospherranean, knowing all the time the fearful 
risk he was running of going too close to the 
Magnetic Islands. The drawing powers of these 
islands are so strong that they have the * House Full ' 
boards out every day. No steel or iron can pass 
within three streets of it We could see far off 
through our opera-glasses that there were half a 
dozen ironclads sticking to the rocks, deserted by their 
crews. But our careless captain only laughed and 
said his ship was all wood, and we were quite safe. 



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/ GO PEARL FISHING 67 

But we had got only half-way past the islands, 
and seemed to be gliding along smoothly, when 
suddenly we were very much surprised to see our 
paddle-wheels suddenly fly off* the ship and go 
straight to land. We were simply thunderstruck. 
Then the funnel flew out and stuck to some trees ; 
then away went the anchor. Next the buttons off* 
the sailors' clothes shot off* and fell like a shower of 
hail on the rocks, and there they stuck glittering in 
the sunlight. It was a pretty sight, but still, buttons 
are buttons — I won't labour the point. 

Well, we thought we had got over the worst when 
up comes the engine, and off" it goes through the 
air with the first mate hanging on to a crank. Poor 
first mate ! He didn't want to go then at all. But, 
you see, he was wearing a steel watch chain at the 
time, so he had to. 

Then there was poor old Ben Bowsprit the Bosun. 
He was wearing a pair of hob-nailed boots at the 
time, and the magnetism dragged him off* the ship 
feet foremost. When he reached the island he stuck 
to the same rocks by his feet, and was hanging head 
downwards until he could unlace his boots, drop into 
the sea and swim back to the ship. 

The ultimate disaster was all owing to Ben's fatal 
passion for wearing these hob-nailed boots. For 
when he reached the ship again it happened that all 
the nails had naturally been drawn out of the vessel 
by the islands, and when Ben took hold of the ship 
to pull himself on board it came to pieces in his 
hand, and we all found ourselves struggling in the 
ocean. I always blamed Ben for that. 

Every one of us was drowned except myself, and 
I was saved by floating to the islands on the drawing- 



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68 DAN LENO 

room door. You see the boats were good for 
nothing without any nails, and I just happened to 
get hold of this bit of solid timber. Of course I did 
my best for the crew. I pulled out my note-book 
and took down their last farewells in a sort of short- 
hand, and there wasn't one that I didn't say a kind 
word to. But I had in my hand a rolling-pin out of 
the kitchen, and when any of the poor fellows caught 
hold of my raft I had the presence of mind to hit 
them till they let go. You see, I had to be saved, 
because I was engaged to appear at a Liverpool hall, 
and I try never to disappoint the public. 

Well, when I reached the land I was not out of 
my troubles, for there seemed to be nothing sub- 
stantial to eat There was no soup or fish or entries^ 
or any of those things ; it was simply a desert 
island, and I was very hungry after my exercise. 
However, I seized my rolling-pin and stalked some 
mussels on the rocks. They are very stupid creatures, 
and you have only to knock them over with a stick ; 
but you get tired of them for breakfast, dinner, and 
tea. I tried them raw, boiled, grilled, poached, 
scrambled, devilled, and d la reine. 

Now the next thing I knew from my reading was 
to start keeping an almanac and building a hut. 
For the almanac I didn't worry, because I knew 
that I should get one of Aunt Beagle's Soothing 
Mixture's little books delivered to me as usual, 
and for building the house I went back to the ship 
on my drawing-room door, and found a lot of empty 
sardine tins and tomato cans floating about, which I 
tied together and towed to shore. 

With these and the mussel shells I soon erected 
a nice little seven-roomed, semi-detached villa, with 



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/ GO PEARL FISHING 69 

a garden back and front, only three minutes from the 
nearest station and every modem convenience, and I 
called it ' The Shells/ Then I thought I had better 
not be idle in the place, so I stuck an imitation brass 
plate on the gate: *D. Leno, O.U.R.A., Professor of 
Pianoforte and Phrenology ; Painless Extractions.' 

I ought to tell you that the island I was- on 
was only about six feet long by three and a quarter 
wide, and for my necessary daily exercise I used to 
stroll round it before breakfast. 

The animals and vegetables soon got used to my 
presence and became quite tame. The whales would 
come up to the shore in the morning and eat crumbs 
out of my hand. 

And there was a dear old octopus. I used to call 
* Puss, puss, puss,' .and it would come frisking round 
my feet, barking with pleasure. When the sea was 
calm I frequently went for a ride on this octopus, 
and found it splendid for the liver. Just to show 
how clever I became, Tm ready to back myself to 
give Tod Sloan or Tommy Loates a stone and a half 
on octopus-back over any course approved of by the 
Jockey Club and the Royal Humane Society. I 
don't say this in a boastful spirit, but just to prove 
to you that I'm in earnest. 

Well, the years fled by and the months passed' 
quickly away, and one week succeeded another — 
there isn't much difference in weeks, they all have 
their weekncss — and about the third day of my 
confinement in the neighbourhood of * The Shells ' I 
spied a boat hooked on the horizon. You must 
understand that I had been doing my best to attract 
the attention of any passing vessels or policemen. 
I always left twopence on the doorstep at night for 



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TO 



DAN LENO 



the milkman, but he never came. And after I had 
finished reading my newspaper I used to make a 
flag of it and fasten it to the chimney, knowing how 
eager the average sensual man is to grab a newspaper 
he has not paid for. 

Well, the boat drew nearer and nearer, until at last 
it ran ashore, when who should step out but Mrs 
Kelly to be continued. 




MRS KELLY FRIVOLS 



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CHAPTER I Strike the 

TENTH Mainland 

NO ! it was not Mrs Kelly, only a lady in black 
very like her. She was a wonderful woman. 
As soon as she went in my house on this desert 
island she started to put things straight. I was 
impressionable at that time, and I had stuck up over 
the chimney-piece about a dozen photographs of 
professional beauties. They were looking a bit off 
colour, but they cheered my lonely life. Well, as 
soon as this dark woman caught sight of them she 
pulled them down and stuffed them in the fire-grate. 

* Make yourself at home^ I said. * Go on with 
your work of destruction. If you'd like to chuck 
lumps of coal at the gas globes, don't mind me.' 

And her brother that came with her sat on the 
table, put his feet on the mantelpiece, lighted up 
my favourite pipe, and spat on the ceiling. After he 
was tired of that he got up and threw all the cups 
and saucers out of the window. 

I was walking up and down like a caged lion, lash- 
ing myself into fury. Suddenly a thought struck me. 
I rushed out of the house, jumped into the boat and 
pushed off. I thought it was a fair exchange, my 
villa for their boat. 

I put my shirt up for a sail, and I rowed as, hard 
as I could, but I found that I made much better 

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72 DAN LENO 

progress by getting out and swimming and pushing 
the boat with my head. 

I must have gone hundreds of miles h'ke this until 
one day I bumped against something soft, and saw 
that I had struck a chip of mainland that had been 
broken off. It was a very much indented shore, as 
creeky as new boots, and I pushed my craft up one 
of these creeks until I thought it was about tea-time. 
Then I landed and helped myself to a piece of cake 
that I found in the boat. There were no currants 
in the cake, but there were holes where the currants 
had been, and I rejoiced to find these traces of 
civilization. 

Suddenly I was terrified by the spectacle of a 
savage chief dancing round me. He was painted 
red and yellow like a mixed sunset, and he wore a 
single eye-glass in his nose. He made a great many 
cursory remarks unfit for publication, and then he ap- 
proached and tapped me tenderly on the cheek with 
his kutankumagen (this is the native word for sword). 

Of course, I did not let him see that I was afraid ; 
I asked him if I was anywhere near Liverpool. He 
seemed affected. Large tears came to his eyes — and 
I ought to tell you that tears are very large in these 
parts in the summer months ; as a rule they run three 
to a pint, but you can have them bigger if you like. 
These tears chased each other down his face, which 
was several distances in length, and fell with heavy 
splashes on the ground. I was much touched. 

* Weep not,* I cried, * O black-eyed wanderer of 
the back gardens. It is peace, not pieces.' 

* Chuck it,* said the chief * Fm an Irishwoman, 
and I was born in Liverpool, and the sight of your 



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/ STRIKE THE MAINLAND 73 

beautiful face and massive form makes me want to 
go home again/ 

As I have said, the ground was very soft, and 
during this little conversation we had to keep jump- 
ing about to prevent ourselves from sinking. It 
looked like a sort of cock fight more than anything 
else. My boat had sunk long ago, weighed down by 
the remains of my cake, and there was nothing to 
show for it but a clay pipe and a straw hat 

I was soon tired of dancing, but the Irish lady said 
she had been practising for ten years and knew all 
the steps. 

She told me she loved me (to a dreamy waltz). 
"But I thought, No, I haven't come down to that 
yet, and so I refused her (to a Highland fling). 
Then she got very angry (to a mixture of a tarantella 
and a Zulu war dance) and I tried to calm her (to a 
dainty gavotte). But she became more and more 
violent, throwing a couple of back somersaults, and 
telling me (to a marionette dance) that unless I gave 
my consent she would call her husband and have 
me boiled before the sunset next morning. I 
danced an Irish gig, and told her to go and toil 
herself. 

At this up came her husband, and about a hundred 
more, executing a sort of wild barn dance. One of 
them, a streaky-looking gentleman with a moustache 
like a nail brush, suggested frying me (to a sort of 
toe solo), but he got his sword between his legs and 
fell head first into the mud. 

I was getting very tired in the legs. 

* How do you do when you want to go to bed on 
this mud?' I asked the Irishwoman. 



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74 DAN LENO 

* Oh,* she said, * we never use anything but the best 
spring mattresses.' 

Well, then there was a song and chorus, which I 

quote from memory — 

Chief. 

' Behold the ^ooseliper 

Sits panig m the gloot, 
To await the snoosegiper, 
Who wields the dread bazoot. 

Chorus, 

Take it off his back, 
Ta-ake i-it o-off hi-is ba-ack. 

Chief, 

* For the walliskange shall wardle, 

And the philistover seek^ 
And black shall be the bardie 
Of the gillysober's beak. 

Chorus (still dancing). 

* For we won't go hofne till mo-oming, 
Till daylight doth appear.' 

What was I to do in such a terrible predicament ? 
It was a case for desperate remedies, and so I must 
ask you to forgive me for what I did. It was a cruel 
thing in this humanitarian age, but it had to be. 

I cleared my throat of the mud they had put there, 
and in as cold-blooded a manner as possible I sang — 

* I am but a poor blind boy.' 

Poor, poor creatures! Never shall I forget the 
effect of that little ballad. Strong men wept like 
baby elephants, and others shook from head to face 
with emotion. In fact, I have never seen anything 
that looked so much like anything else I had ever 
seen before as this did. 



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A CHAP UNEASY (JAPANESY 



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76 DAN LENO 

Each of them looked at the other to take a last 
fond farewell, and then at me in silent reproach, and 
then they sank for ever in the soft ground ; and just 
to show what forgiveness there can be in savage 
breasts they pushed my boat up for me, so that I 
could start off again on my voyage. 

Eventually I reached Japan, a country on which I 
have since delivered lectures at meetings of the 
British Association at the Tivoli, Oxford, and 
Pavilion. I settled down there as a rhubarb 
merchant, and the next pJace to mine was a ginger- 
beer plantation. He was a very nice fellow, the 
owner ; he used to throw all the broken bottles into 
my garden. 

One morning, when I was weeding the glass, I 
happened to look up, and there I saw a woman's head 
just peeping over the wall. That's the sort of thing 
that always moves me, but I pretended not to see, and 
she had to attract my attention with a loose piece of 
wall, and when I turned round she winked at me — 
with her ear, not her eye. In England the highest 
society wink their eye, but it would not be considered 
etiquette in Japan. So I walked over to her—^I 
walked backwards to make people think I was 
coming away — and she invited me into the house to 
have a cup of Japanese delight. 

I had not sat there two minutes before in came 
her father. To this day I believe it was a put-up 
job to make me look small. As soon as he 
saw me he pulled out a sword about two feet 
long and one foot broad, and said, in a nasty 
tone of voice, 'Young man!* It always makes my 
heart flutter when I hear that expression used. 



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/ STRIKE THE MAINLAND 77 

Well, I looked at the man and the sword and 
the door, and I saw that I couldn't help it I said, 
* After you, sir, with the cheese-cutter.' But no, 
he would not be pleasant. He said, * Young man, 
you must marry Lung Lung at once.' I said, 
*Is that all? Why, I'm doing that sort of thing 
every day.' 

It was a curious ceremony: everything is so 
different in Japan. Fancy walking to church on 
your hands, with people tickling your feet all the 
way ; that is supposed to be a special sort of pre- 
paration for married life. Then you have to turn 
round three times and kiss the bride. First I 
turned round three times and fell into the spittoon. 
Then I turned the bride round three times and 
kissed myself. 

In Japan the girls are different — even the girls. 
They ask the men for presents out there, a thing 
unheard of in Europe. There, are many other 
strange customs. Instead of cutting a slice of bread 
and scraping butter on top as we do (when we've 
got any), they cut the bread and put the butter 
underneath, and then turn it over. Here, in Eng- 
land, we have relations ; there, in Japan, the rela- 
tions have us. That's another strange thing. 
Here you ring the door-bell, there you pull a 
handle and it's the bell that rings. English people 
take a cab, but in Japan the cab. takes them. 
Yes, I knew you would say that. 

However, as I daresay you know, I returned to 
England some years since, and I have almost 
become accustomed to the change. 



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CHAPTER One of My 

ELEVENTH Failures 

IT was in a north country town, which I will not 
specify beyond saying that it was near the 
knuckle of Yorkshire. A great friend of mine — 
a ballad singer with a reverberating baritone of 
such power that he used to break the glasses of 
the audience before they had finished their drinks, 
and consequently they had to order some more and 
pay for the broken glass; hence he always com- 
manded a fairly high salary I don't know 

where I am now. Til begin that sentence again. 

A friend of mine — with a black beard of such 
resemblance to half a yard of crape that he used 
to tie a bit of it round his arm when anybody died 
and get a special engagement as chief mourner — 
well, to cut it short — not the beard, but the descrip- 
tion — he was a big, dark, solemn-looking chap, who 
used to have a lot to say in his songs about the 
bellows roar, and the briny sweep, and that sort 
of thing. 

And it happened that in this particular town 
he was in great request for churchy and chapelly 
shows and temperance smoking concerts, where 
he used to sing * Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep,* 
and other lively little things of that sort, with original 
wheezes of his own dropped in the cradle, as it were. 

Now he had a very bad cold once, so bad that 
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ONE OF MY FAILURES 79 

when he talked people would look up and down and 
wonder where that horrible noise came from, and, 
as a friend, he appealed to me to go in his place to a 
show called the Guild of High Endeavour. 

*What is it?' I said. *A sort of shooting 
gallery ? ' 

*No,' he growled; *it's connected with the Con- 
gregationalist chapel. It's held once a week to keep 
their young people from going to the wicked theatre 
and music-hall.' 

Well, you must understand that at that time I had 
not evolved into what I have now become, after 
many years* hard labour — I mean industry, of course ; 
and I was in embryo, so to speak — there again, of 
course, I mean artistically, not otherwise. (I don't 
like explaining everything like this, but I shouldn't 
like you to fall under a misapprehension and hurt 
yourself.) 

Where was I ? Oh, yes, in embryo. 

Well, people in the profession didn't know then 
what I couldn't do, and this friend of mine asked me 
to go and take his place, thinking that I should do. 

He said, *You know you've got a very religious 
face, Dan, when you're properly made up, and your 
feet are just the thing.' He couldn't resist throwing 
my feet in my face. 

* And there's money in it too,' he said. 

It tickled me. I thought I would try what I could 
do with this strange audience. 

So after my turn at the hall, which came early in 
the evening, I parted my hair down the middle and 
put on a Shakespeare collar and a sad smile, and off 
I went. 



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8o DAN LENO 

You have heard of stage fright of course ? Well, 
when I got on the platform there I had a sort of 
hydrophobic attack of it. We sat in a row, with me, 
as the only professional, near the chairman in the 
middle. Some of us were singers, some of us were 
story-tellers, and some of us were in the last stages 
of recitationitis. 

And the gloom was as thick as pea-soup. 

The chairman was a parson with a face like a suet 
pudding that had fallen on a door-mat and picked up 
some whiskers. He made a long speech about this 
Guild of High Endeavour, and said that they were 
going to listen to something which would help them 
on the right path and comfort them in the tribula- 
tions which the righteous suffer in this world. 

Fancy me doing a turn like that ! 

I thought to myself, * They'll kill me when I start' 
I was trembling all over, and I had not even the 
nerve to get up and rush off the platform, because it 
was a long way to the door, and I should have to 
pass by the whole audience. 

At last it came to my turn. 

*Mr Daniel Leno,' said the chairman, *a brand, 
may I say, plucked from the burning, will now sing 
that beautiful tone-picture, "The Lost Chord.'" 

He did not stop there. He could not leave it. 

* And oh ! ' he went on, * let us trust, my friends, 
that some of us may find that chord to-night,' and 
a good deal more to the same effect, which I was 
too paralysed to remember. I only hoped he would 
keep it up for a few hours. 

But it came to an end and somebody put a sheet 
of music into my hand. My heart had been in my 



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ONE OF MY FAILURES 8i 

boots for a long time, and I looked down to stop 
it from rolling of the platform, if it should go any 
further. 

Then I cleared my voice with such a heartrending 
sob that the audience became uneasy. 

The pianist started the accompaniment, and the 
dreadful moment rapidly approached when all these 
good people would get up and throw the pews at 
me. I coughed again and started — you remember 
the lines — 

* Seated one day at the organ,* etc 

Well, you know how the song goes, and you know 
what sort of a voice I have, and so you can imagine 
that *The Lost Chord' was sung that night as it 
never was sung before. 

I was in a cold perspiration, and I never raised my 
eyes, but went steadily on with the first verse, in 
spite of curious noises amongst the audience. 

Then, when I came to a rest, I ventured to peep 
round the edge of the sheet of music. 

What a sight! 

The chairman had his elbows on the table, and he 
was holding his jaws hard with both hands. Some 
of the stem-faced men in front of me had their lips 
tightly closed and were shaking in their seats like 
jellies. Some of the women were trying to chew 
their pocket-handkerchiefs. There was a general 
air of uneasiness in the place. 

'WelV I thought, *rm not dead yet. I'll let'em 
have the rest straight from the heart.' 

So I lowered the music sheet and sang with all 
the expression I could possibly put into the sad 



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82 



DAN LENO 



words of my song. I threw in a tough bit of 
passionate yearning in the last few words, and that 
settled them altogether. One old churchwarden was 
polite enough to get up and run out down the aisle, 
cuddling himself; but the rest — they simply broke 
down utterly, and roared and screamed like children. 
I don't suppose there ever was such a noise in that 
building before. The chairman that called me a 
brand from the burning was sputtering and wiping 
his eyes. He was almost in a hysterical condition. 

I said to him, * This isn't a comic song ; you said 
I was to sing " The Lost Chord," and I did. What 
is there to laugh at?* 

When the people's faces got a bit straight again 
they rewarded me for my exertions with vigorous 
applause ; but I refused an encore. I felt annoyed 
at having been placed in a false position, as it were. 

And I have never sung for the Guild of High 
Endeavour since. I wonder if any of the members 
ever came to the wicked music-hall on the off chance 
of hearing me repeat my wonderful success with 
'The Lost Chord'? 




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CHAPTER Chronological 

TWELFTH Explanations 

IDONT like talking about myself; that's why 
I'm writing this book. But my publisher keeps 
telling me that it ought to be more of a naughty 
biography than a collection of disconnected re- 
miniscences. 

Well, to get it over, I think I told you that I 
toured all over the three kingdoms, as well as 
part of Germany, with my parents. I first made 
a separate reputation for myself at Dublin. One 
week I was singing at the smallest hall in the 
town at iSs. a week, and the next I was engaged 
at the Exhibition Palace for £\, 15s. a night, 
which was a very pleasant change, I can assure 
you. I became well known in Ireland, and at 
Belfast I had the honour to receive a high com- 
pliment from Charles Dickens, who saw me at 
the time he was lecturing there. 

All this time I kept on practising dancing, 
which is one of the most exacting of arts. In 
1880 my father saw an advertisement in the 
Era announcing a clog-dancing competition at 
Leeds for the championship of the world, and 
on his advice I entered, but I had no expectation 
of winning. 

However, after danciug against seventeen of the 
finest performers in the profession, the judges 

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84 DAN LENO 

awarded me the championship belt, and I held 
my title in three more competitions. 

I have been working hard all my life since I was 
three, but about this time I think I did more than 
ever before or since. Sometimes our family party 
nearly filled the entire programme. We have 
appeared on the bills as *The Leno Family,' 
*Mr and Mrs Leno,' *The Brothers Leno,' and 
'Dan Leno.' 

In a few years I was able to allow my parents 
to retire on a comfortable pension, and then I got 
married to Miss Lydia Reynolds. 

I started on the conquest of London by singing 
at three halls, the Foresters', Middlesex, and Gatti's, 
with songs and dances. My first great success in 
the song line was a charming little ballad called 
* Milk for the Twins,' for which I was disguised as 
a distressed female. Because Mr George Conquest 
saw me in this costume I was engaged to play old 
women in pantomimes for some years after, my 
first part being Jack's mother in Jack and the 
Beanstalk at the Surrey Theatre in 1886. Next 
year I reappeared there in Sinbad, and then I was 
engaged by Sir Augustus Harris for Drury Lane 
as the Baroness in Babes in the Wood, The company 
was a strong one, including Harriet Vernon, Florence 
Dysart, Maggie Duggan, my wife Lydia Reynolds, 
Sybil Grey, Rose Deering, Harry Nicholls, Herbert 
Campbell, Victor Stevens, Tom Pleon, Charles Lauri, 
Walter Andrews, Dezano, Reuben Inch, and the 
Brothers Griffiths. 

Since then I have played in Jack and the Bean- 
stalk (1889), Beauty and the Beast (1890), Humpty 



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♦ WALK THIS WAY I STEP THIS WAY ! 
I become a shopwalker 



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86 



DAN LENO 



Dumpty \i?>gi\ Little Bo-peep (1862), Robinson Crusoe 
(1893), Whittington and his Cat (1894), Cinderella 
(1895), Aladdin (1896), Babes in the Wood (1897), 
Forty Thieves ( 1 898), Jack and the Beanstalk ( 1 899) and 
Sleeping Beauty and the Beast (1900), and am en- 
gaged to appear in pantomime at good old Drury 
Lane until the end of my natural life. Where 
Tm going to perform during my un-natural life, 
I've not quite made up my mind. 

And now I have thrown these autobiographical 
details off my chest let us continue our game. 




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CHAPTER ^mong My 

THIRTEENTH Books 

I HASTEN to explain that I am referring to the 
less-known kind of books. I am not much of a 
betting man, and I never know which is the best 
horse in a race until I see the numbers up. 

I am a great lover of the classics, and I have got a 
good many wheezes out of old authors like Shake- 
speare and Walter Scott and Marie Corelli. When I 
read the Sorrows of Satan, for instance, I struck the 
book with the flat of my fist, and I said, ' Now that's, 
a part I should like to play ! ' Dan Leno as Satan, 
with a pretty little song and dance to finish with ; a 
sort of double shuffle it would have to be, to suit the 
character. 

Of course, as you know, I played Hamlet at Drury 
Lane last Christmas ; and when I remembered that 
Garrick and Kean and a lot of other eccentric 
comedians had done the same thing in the same 
place, I had a sort of yearning to know whether they 
would think mine was as funny as theirs. Some day 
Tm going to tackle Macbeth, with Herbert Campbell 
as Lady Mac. It ought to be a bit blood-curdling 
with a safe man at the limelight 

Yes, I congratulate myself that I have done some- 
thing to bring about the romantic revival. I believe 
in romance. I ought, by rights, to have been born 
in the Middle Ages, and gone touring with the 

87 

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D'^N L£NO 



TMtu 
VV » O O vv/ 

TVVAIMKE.Y. 



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AMONG MY BOOKS 89 

crusaders to Joppa and Jericho for six nights 
only. 

Nowadays there is no romance ; girls marry any- 
body they like. 

Suppose — ^just to take an example — I don't mean 
that I know the girl — suppose a haughty damsel fell 
in love, as it were, with a plumber's apprentice, come 
to put a pane of glass in the baronial hall that her 
father had broken with his swollen head, through 
attempting to get in at three o'clock that morning 
without disturbing the household. 

Well, you know what would have happened in the 
good old times. The old man would have at once 
sent a wire to a good band of assassins — I don't mean 
a street corner band — to come and slit the plumber's 
larynx or weasand, and lock up his daughter in a 
lonely tower on a glass of milk and a mixed biscuit. 
That's romance. 

There's just a chance that the plumber might go 
abroad and come back from Klondike disguised as a 
wandering minstrel, but he couldn't be sure that the 
girl would be still there; she might be married to 
some old-established knight with a good pitch in the 
neighbourhood. 

It's altogether different now. The old man 
can't go to the stores and ask to see a few nice 
assassins to choose from, and the girl will pretty 
soon shut him up if he attempts to be firm. Why 
even supposing he disowned her, she could get 
a good engagement at the halls singing duets 
with the plumber. That's business! 

Then there are no proper elopements now. 
When you see the word * elopement' in the 



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90 



DAN LEND 



evening paper you know what it is. Mrs Brown, 
the porkmonger's wife, has run away with Mr 
Jones, the scissors-grinder, and they're up before 




the magistrate because she took the family hatchet 
with her in case it might be required. 

That is why I like novels to be about the good 
old days. Some day when I have half an hour to 
spare I am going to write a historical novel mysel£ 



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AMONG MY BOOKS 91 

I have been approached by a publisher already. 
His first remark struck me forcibly; he said, 
'Whatll you have?' 

Then when I had had, he went on to propose 
that I should write a romance of the period of 
the Ancient Britons. He said they'd never been 
done, and I remarked that they must have been 
sharper than their descendants. 

But I explained to him that I wanted a grander 
scheme. I want to introduce a lot of historical 
characters into the book — Julius Caesar and Marie 
Lloyd and the Duke of Wellington. I should 
like to put in a chapter of dialogue between 
Henry VHI. and Mrs Ormiston Chant. The 
publisher thought it was a good idea, but he 
said it would be difficult to find a milieu. 

So I saw he was backing out of the business 
when he began talking French. I am not much 
of a linguist, and that's why I can't tell you 
anything about Scotch novels until they are 
published in an English translation. 

I don't know whether you have ever heard of 
Isaac Watts. He is a great favourite of mine. He 
wrote a lot of good comic songs, and the only thing 
to regret is that his patter has not been handed 
down to us. Then there's Young's Night Thoughts, 
Poor old Young! There's a lot of moonshine in 
Night Thoughts ; but if he'd been going round the 
town now with some people I know he wouldn't have 
had any night thoughts the next morning. 

I am never tired of reading Paradise Lost Per- 
haps that's because I never start on it ; but I really 
must say I think it is one of Dickens's failures. His 



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92 DAN LENO 

judgment was at fault when he wrote it For a 
purely lyric poet like him to set out to write a twelve- 
act comedy-of-manners seems to me to have been 
rash and ill-considered. He ought to have followed 
the example of his bosom friend Pope, and confined 
himself to conundrums. 

Yes, I'm very fond of classical literature, and there 
is one classical writer I particularly admire, though 
he does not seem to be generally recognised by 
classical scholars and other old fogies. His name is 
Saul Smiff, and he wrote a very learned treatise, 
called The Pottle Papers. I read The Pottle Papers 
and enjoyed them loudly. 

Indeed, I have not been so much interested in 
anything since I learned ¥o^€s Book of ^ To-martyrs* 
off by heart while studying the historical relations of 
the Tower of London and the London Pavilion. 
The only thing I am sorry for is that I didn't know 
Pottle sooner. If that book had been put into my 
hands when I was about three months old it might 
have influenced my whole career. It would have en- 
livened many a weary hour and kept me from the 
bottle. As it was, I had to put up with literature of 
the flimsiest description. Pottle is a man I should 
like to play football with. 

What is this thin volume I pull from the shelf? 

Poetry, I suppose. No what's this? Nine 

shirts. I'm sure I haven't had nine shirts washed 
this week. And just fancy people sticking the wash- 
ing book in my library between two new novels. It 
ought to be next to the Bible. 

I bought a little while since a book called The 
Canterbury Tales^ by a Mr Geoffrey Chaucer, and it 



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AMONG MY BOOKS 



93 



just shows what humbugs these authors are. I assure 
you that the stories in the book have nothing what- 
ever to do with the Canterbury. Mr Adney Payne 
was very much annoyed when I told him, to think that 
his favourite hall should be used to advertise a work 
of this kind by an unscrupulous catch-penny author. 
Payne thinks this Mr Chaucer is a disappointed 
artist who wanted to take his trousers off while 
swinging from a trapeze, but could not get an 
engagement, naturally, because that sort of per- 
formance is only suitable for a lady, and even then it 
should be at a West-end hall. 

Moreover, the stories are so scandalously shocking 
that when we read them the second time Payne and 
I could not help blushing, and we wondered what the 
County Council was doing to allow it. 

A healthy, moral tone should always be observed. 
I was very pleased, not long ago, when I went into a 
very cheap music-hall in the suburbs to see a line on 
the programme earnestly requesting the audience to 
complain at once if they noticed any absence of 
impropriety in the performance. It may have been a 
misprint, but it was well meant. 




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CHAPTER A Little 

FOURTEENTH Music 

I AM to a great extent a self-educated man, 
and I have tackled nearly all the arts and 
sciences in a sixpenny sort of way. 

But in the whole course of my studies I never had 
such an exciting time as when I tried to obtain 
complete mastery of the bagpipes in seven lessons 
without a master. I was not particularly fond of the 
instrument, and I think I can understand why it is 
rarely played at symphony concerts. But I had an 
absorbing curiosity to find out whether I could 
produce a pathetic effect by squealing the * Maiden's 
Prayer* on it. I thought it would be the most 
touching musical performance ever known. 

My landlady at that time was a well-nourished 
female, but she had no ear ; she had to listen through 
her nose, and that of course gave her a prejudice 
against classical music. 

My first attempt was startling. I had shut the 
door and taken a large mouthful of the pipes, and 
after blowing away until my teeth nearly dropped 
out I managed to fill the bag or cistern with several 
gallons of south-west wind. 

Nothing happened for a few minutes ; but just as I 
was panting and sighing before starting again the 
instrument seemed to wake up suddenly to a sense of 
its surroundings, and started screaming and wailing 
and spitting. It sounded like thirty cats with their 
tails in a mangle. 

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A LITTLE MUSIC 95 

I dropped the thing in terror and rushed from the 
room. 

On the landing I met my landlady, who took me 
tenderly in her arms, and kissing me softly on the 
forehead, asked me where the pain was, and told me 
her husband used to suffer in the same way, but she 
didn't think he ever had it as bad as I had. 

The young man who lived above me was a 
powerful and generally ill-natured fellow ; but on this 
occasion he took it very gently, and I was greatly 
relieved when he sent word down to ask if Mr Leno 
would kindly leave off* singing, as he wanted to go to 
sleep. 

On the occasion of my second lesson I began to 
practise in my bedroom before breakfast, and I saw 
through the window a dear old heavy-weight friend 
of mine coming along to invite himself to breakfast. 

I blew hard into the reservoir, and then I put the 
instrument under the bed-clothes and awaited my 
visitor. 

' Hello, old man ! * said the hearty guest, * up 
already ? More study ? Never mind a chair. Til sit 
on the washstand.* 

That wasn't what I wanted, so I immediately 
flooded the washstand by upsetting some water. 

' Well, then, Til sit on the bed,* he cried. 

He sat on the bed — flopped down on it in his 
jolly way. 

My bagpipes rose nobly to the occasion. As soon 
as my friend's trunk came in contact with the bed 
there was an outburst of blood-curdling groans and 
shrieks from under the clothes. It was a really 
frightful noise that made even my heart stand still. 



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96 DAN LENO 

My friend le'aped so high that he bumped his head 
against the ceiling. His hair stood on end, his teeth 
rattled, his knees knocked together. 

*Grood God, Dan!' he chattered, *I must have 
ki—ki— killed the child.' 

I never saw such a picture of tragic horror in my life. 

Suddenly he seemed to recover the use of his 
limbs; he opened the door and dashed wildly into 
the street. 

I shouted out to him through the window. I said 
* It's no use running away ; we must face this catas- 
trophe and decide what to do. Come up at once. 
If people see you like that they'll begin to suspect 
something.' 

So he came back trembling, and I began seriously 
to discuss with him the advisability of hiding the 
body under the floor, and then emigrating to 
Venezuela. 

His face was buried in his hands, and he seemed 
dazed with the thought that his career was blighted. 

Then he rose up with calm resolution on his 
countenance. He approached the bed and gently 
touched the cover. 

The pipes uttered a funny little sigh. 

* Dan ! ' sobbed my heavy friend, * it still lives ! 
it still lives!' 

Then he turned down the bed-clothes. 

CURTAIN. 

No — I can't describe that scene. There is no 
known language on earth that would do for it 
You must imagine it for yourselfc 



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A LITTLE MUSIC 97 

Do you know how to play the musical basins? 
That's another nice instrument. 

A friend of mine composed a touching ballad, 
entitled *Let it alone or you'll break it/ and I 
thought I would practise it on the basins and 
reveal new beauties to him when I had learned 
to play it. 

Well, first of all you go to the City and take 
out an accident insurance policy. Then you get 
about twenty white pot basins — the colour makes 
a lot of difference — and tune them by injecting 
water in them with a squirt to various levels, 
until they sound the right note. 

N.B. — You should have rather a large squirt, it 
comes in handy to protect the musician from 
personal violence from critics. 

When you have got the basins all in tune to the 
extent of a couple of octaves you glue your music 
on the face of the best looking-glass — the musical 
basins are a drawing-room instrument, of course — 
and then you take up a sixteen-ounce hammer in 
each hand — some players spit on their hands first, 
but I don't think that affects the tone at all — and 
strike the basins. 

The harder you hit the louder the music — up to 
a certain point, where music leaves off and a cine- 
matograph of Niagara begins. I have learned to 
play the first four bars of th^ melody, and I have 
only broken twelve basins and saturated the best 
carpet. A good deal of the sound escaped through 
the flooring and pattered into the room below. 

But this is nothing, I am only practising the air 
now. Wait till I attack the accompaniment. 



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CHAPTER HoTii to be Married 

FIFTEENTH thmigh Hap^y 

ANYBODY who takes no interest in the subject 
need not read this chapter. I won't make 
him. But I have some burning thoughts about 
marriage which must come out I know there 
are a great number of young men about who are 

wanting not to get I mean wanting to get 

married, and Tm going to give them a few words 
of comfort 

Now, in my opinion the present system of 
starting the show is all wrong. It is generally 
thought that when a man wants to get married 
the first thing necessary is some sort of a woman. 
You may get a patent woman, or only a colourable 
infringement, but something of the kind is thought 
necessary. 

But I maintain that this is beginning at the 
wrong end altogether. The girl should be the 
last thing, the final touch as it were. 

First of all, I say, let the man count his money, 
and make a rough estimate of his prospects with 
the aid of a ready reckoner and the latest betting 
news. Then he can draw up a sort of balance- 
sheet (I consulted a chartered accountant on this 
question, who guided my hand), and he sticks 
the proposed wife down there in two parts: on 
one side as an asset, and on the other as a 
liability. Of course, it's guess-work mostly ; some 

98 

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MSI 



1 . 



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100 DAN LENO 

wives are all on one side or the other, but most 
of them you don't know which. 

Then, if he decides to go on with the business, 
he should take a lot of preliminary precautions; 
don't let him run off at once and look round for 
a small or large girl. Not at all. 

Let him take a house in a neighbourhood that 
he prefers, and let him furnish it throughout, 
according to his own taste and pocket, and live 
there. Let him choose his own servant or servants, 
again to taste ; and then, if he thinks the show 
incomplete, and perseveres in his intention of 
marrying, which is doubtful, he must go out to 
the marriage market and see what's going on. 

The advantages of this method must be obvious 
to the most powerful intellect. You see it stumps 
the girl at once. In other words, she is confronted 
with a fait accompli^ an accomplished fact that can 
vamp and speak several languages. 

If she says she wants to live at Hampstead, he 
replies that he has taken a house at Brixton on 
a seven years' lease, and she will be foiled in her 
schemes for walking him round the furniture shops 
and ruining him in sideboards and suites. 

Now comes the question of the question. 

I have had a lot of experience. Between the 
ages of six and nineteen I was rejected eleven 
times and accepted fifteen times, so that I consider 
myself an expert 

Lately there has been a change in proposal 
fashions. Formerly the poor chap would sit at one 
side of the room and the girl at the other, both 
suffering from cold feet, and he would stammer: 



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IfOlV TO BE MARRIED THOUGH HAPPY loi 

*Miss Jenkins — er — I have — er — I have some- 
thing — very serious. I ' 

And the girl would be careful to reply in a tone 
that would not compromise her : 

*0h, I'm so sorry to hear that. Why don't 
you go and see a doctor at once? Aren't you 
taking anything for it?' 

Then the young man would be shut up, and 
would go away for a fortnight to think out a 
more brilliant scheme. 

Back he comes full of hopes and fears, and. 
probably half full of ginger beer, lemonade, and 
all kinds of refreshments. And he sits on the 
edge of a chair again and gurgles : 

*Miss Jenkins — er — may I — oh, may I call you 
Madeline ? ' 

Then of course the girl would be overwhelmed 
with confusion and astonishment, and would have 
to get up and stroll in front of the looking-glass 
to see what had produced this outbburst, so that 
she could try it on somebody else. 

After making a note of it she would wipe the 
powder off with her handkerchief to give her 
best blush a chance, and she would cast her eyes 
down on the hearthrug. (I don't mean she would 
actually do that, only figuratively — she wants her 
eyes for the following scenes.) 

At last the trembling young suitor would be 
treated to the startlingly original remark: 

*But, Mr Binns — this — this is so sudden. I 

never dreamt ' Although she has, of course, 

been wondering for three months how long the 
fellow would take to make up his mind. 



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I02 - DAN LENO 

I think that the 'sudden' business has gone 
out of fashion lately. It doesn't seem to work 
and the girls have dropped it. 

I remember a young friend telling me that 
no sooner had his future pronounced the word 

* sudden ' than the whole of her mother rushed 
into the room and embraced him with tears, and 
she was immediately followed by the rest of the 
family, who wanted to borrow five shillings each, 
so that the girl was rather embarrassed, and the 
young man felt as if he had just got up after 
an earthquake. 

Fortunately the formal proposal has gone out. 
The parties meet each other half way, or at a 
dark corner, or under a gas lamp, and after a little 
conversation about the weather and each other's 
relations they glide into one another's affections, 
or chuck themselves in, according to temperament 
and the season of the year. 

You take a beautiful moonlight walk, say, in 
April, and the girl nestles against your ribs and 
looks up at the moon, and says in a wistful 
manner : 

* George, don't you think June is the best month 
of the whole year for getting married? I'm 
always going to be married in June.' 

And you turn your head away and murmur 

* Dam ! * down your coat sleeve. 

Then you pull yourself together — she'll help — 
and you say desperately: 

*Oh, I don't know; one month's as good as 
another, except that the month after n^xt is better 
than the next ! ' 



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HOW TO BE MARRIED THOUGH HAPPY 103 

' Oh, well/ she replies, ' if you prefer May ' 

And there you are. 

I believe there are few *May I call you 
Madeline?* cases nowadays. The man that has 
to ask such an appalling question has either been 
wooing an icebergess, or he has not a 66 to i 
chance. 

Anyhow, he might as well call her Madeline 
without asking and see how she takes it ; apologies 
are cheap enough, and she won't think any the 
worse of him. 




A BOLD, BAD BAND 



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CHAPTER A Baby 

SIXTEENTH Story 

A CURIOUS incident happened to a young con- 
jurer that I used to know. He was a very 
gallant man, and had sweethearts in every town, 
whose acquaintance he had made in different ways. 

This was in Manchester, where the adventure took 
place. My friend — I'll call him Fioro, as I daren't 
give him his real name, he might change me to a 
rabbit or a bunch of geraniums — was strolling along 
a street in a busy part of the town when he saw a 
comely damsel struggling with a white bundle in 
her arms. 

This was the sort of thing Floro was great in. 

* Let me carry that for you,' he said, in that grace- 
ful, knightly, irresistible, got-to-have-me way of his. 

Well, the girl looked at him queerly and then 
plumped the bundle in his arms. 

*0h, but I didn't know it was a ba ' he 

stammered. 

* Now do hold him up ! ' appealed the girl. * I was 
so tired, and Tm so glad I met you.* 

It was just then that I happened to come along. 
Knowing that Floro was married to a lady at 
Brixton I was naturally shocked at the spectacle, 
and I put my handkerchief up to hide my face and 
disguise my feelings ; but it was no use, he 
recognised me. 

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A BABY STORY 105 

* I say, Leno/ he cried, * you know more about 
these things than I do. Catch hold of this.' 

* No,' I replied sternly, ' I refuse to take it off 
your hands ; all Til do is to walk behind and look on. 
It's your child, not mine.' 

* No, it isn't mine either ; it belongs to this young 
lady.' 

* Nothing of the kind,' said the girl ; * how dare 
you say such a thing ? Mine, indeed ! Why, I 
never saw it before in all my life.' 

Floro's eyes stared wide open with horror. 

* Wh — a — at ! ' he gasped ; * wh — y — ^why— Oh, 
Lord, here's a nice mess ! ' 

He raised the bundle and used it to wipe the 
gathering perspiration from his crimson brow. 

* I say, Leno, old man, do see me through with 
this, won't you ? ' he implored ; * it's a deliberate 
plant. I assure you I never saw the dam kid 
before.' 

* Well, what are you doing with it then ? ' I 
asked. 

* I don't know,' said the conjurer ; ' there's no 
deception — I mean I'm not humbugging you, really. 
Come on, we mustn't lose sight of her.' 

* Don't you follow me ! ' snapped the girl ; ' don't 
you dare! I'm going in here to buy some safety 
pins, and if you come after me I'll call a policeman.' 

I think I ought to- tell you before we go any 
further, that the whole business was a practical joke, 
and that I and the little lady were acting in collusion 
to take a rise out of Floro. The baby, moreover, 
was only a property^ baby. 

But I really pitied the unfortunate conjurer with 



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io6 DAN LENO 

this addition to his family suddenly thrust upon 
him. 

*This'll drive me off my chump/ he cried in 
accents of agony. * Come on ; Tm going after 
her.' 

It was a large store, one of the sort where you can 
buy anything from a halfpenny-worth of tea and 
sugar mixed to a furnished house with a ready- 
made family in it. 

My poor persecuted, perspiring friend stepped in 
and accosted a bland and well-buttered shopwalker, 
who was pacing the floor and rubbing his hands. 

* I say/ said Floro, * which is the way to the — 
safety-pin department ? ' I am clearing out his 
frequent expletives. 

Well, the shopwalker had had a lot of practice in 
keeping a straight face, but the sight of a fashionably 
dressed gentleman awkwardly carrying a baby and 
asking for the safety-pin department hit him right on 
his diaphragm, and he had to turn round and laugh 
softly for a few seconds. At the same time one of 
the young men of the shop ducked below the 
counter, making a noise like tearing calico. 

Floro was blushing like a furnace, and cursing 
under his breath. 

* Upstairs, sir, turn to your left,' said the shop- 
walker. Then he shouted with tears in his voice, 
* Forward ! safety-pins for this gentleman.' 

Unfortunately, just when Floro had got half-way 
up the staircase the baby seemed to hit him in the 
eye, as if it had had enough of this treatment. 
Perhaps he was trying some new juggling idea with 
it Anyhow, it dipped under his arm and rolled tg 



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A BABY STORY 107 

the bottom with frightful velocity, bouncing off each 
step as it came. 

You should have seen that sight ; it was thrilling ! 
The shopwalker, two or three countermen, and seven 
or eight female customers dashed at the property 
baby, uttering cries of horror and pity. 

It was like a furious football scrimmage. The 
shopwalker got there first and tossed the baby in the 
air, passing it to a robust matron, who started on a 
sprint for a chair and scored a touch-down. 

* Poor thing,' cried the matron, with a sympathetic 
crowd round her, *poor — poor little thing. There, 
there, there, and such a quiet little thing too.' 

*Oh, do let me look at its face,' said a younger 
woman. 

Well, the fact is the thing hadn't got any face. 
They uncovered one end, and then they turned 
the poor little thing upside down and uncovered 
the other end. 

Their faces ! — it was worth fifty pounds to look at 
them. 

I was doing a quiet little soft shoe dance in a 
corner and humming with joy. It was one of the 
happiest moments of my life. 

Floro, of course, had fled as soon as he dropped 
the baby — fled feeling that he had committed a 
terrible crime, and I daren't go and claim the poor 
little thing until the crowd simmered down a bit. 

Presently I was able to explain things to the 
shopwalker, and I scuttled out of the shop with the 
bundle under my arm. 

When I saw Floro that night I hurried to let him 
know all the details before his turn, because the 



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io8 DAN LENO 

poor fellow could not have juggled very cleverly with 
that crime on his conscience. 

He was looking very sad and frightened through 
his make-up, and he almost fell on my neck. 

*Was the kid hurt?' he cried hoarsely. 

* No/ I said. 

' Thank God I ' And after this pious exclamation 
he continued, ' Well, I think we got out of tha^ mess 
very nicely. Where did it get to ultimately ? But I 
don't care so long as I shall never see it again.' 

* You will though,' I said ; * I've got it here.' 

He sank speechless into the nearest seat, wringing 
his hands. 

* Here it is,* I cried, flinging it on the floor with all 
my strength. 

It took him a few minutes to decide whether to 
knock my brains out or not ; but at last he burst into 
a fit of hysterical laughing, and the tears rolled down 
his painted face, leaving tram lines behind them. 

And his performance went splendidly that night 

That reminds me of something else which has 
nothing at all to do with it. 

A touring melodrama company required a little 
girl of about seven to come on in a most thrilling 
situation and cry, * Oh, my sister I ' when she saw the 
heroine in a position of frightful danger owing to the 
machinations of the chief villain. She had nothing 
else to do in the play but say * Oh, my sister ! ' in a 
surprised tone of voice ; but it required careful 
rehearsing. 

They used to hire a girl in each town for the 
purpose, as they did not think it worth while to take 



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ABABySTORV 169 

one on tour, and every Monday the manager bad to 
rehearse the scene. 

One child could not utter the speech as he wanted 
it. She spoke in a matter-of-fact tone, which would 
not do at all. 

' Not like that,' cried the manager. ' Look here, if 
you saw a plum pudding coming on for you, you 
wouldn't whisper, " Oh, plum pudding,'* as if you 
didn't care a curse one way or the other. You'd say, 
* Oh, there's a dodgasted plum pudding ! " now, 
wouldn't you ? * 

* Yes, sir,' murmured the child, carried away by the 
vehemence and earnestness of the big man. 

' Very well, then, that's how I want you to say it.' 

Well, the night came, and in the middle of the 
play the heroine was fast bound by the villain to a 
sort of water-mill, which was to settle her for ever 
and leave him master of much gold. Ha ! ha ! 

The band played wobbly slow music, and the 
audience held its breath, except to shout ' Sit down 
in front, yer fathead.' 

In came the little girl, took the centre of the floor, 
turned, and faced the audience, and in the usual 
manner of a child * speaking a piece ' yelled out : 

' Oh, there's my dodgasted plum pudden ! ' 



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CHAPTER How I Study 

SEVENTEENTH 

I DARESAY you have noticed that in all the 
characters impersonated I get as near Nature 
as possible. I might be tempted to make them 
exaggerated and grotesque, but no! — I am deter- 
mined to walk arm in arm with truth, whatever I 
do, and hold the glass up to Nature. Whether she 
takes ale, wine, or spirits, it's all the same to me. 

And I am always careful to have my costumes 

absolutely correct in every detail. Mr Alma Ta , 

but I won't mention any names — enough to say 
that I consult all the best authorities and ransack all 
the old rag shops to dress my parts properly. 

I study the characters themselves from the life 
— not still life, but sparkling life. 

For instance — 

When I was going to act the part of a shop- 
walker, I pursued this gentle animal to his lair and 
watched all his curious little antics. 

The one I studied specially was a tall, middle-aged 
man, who seemed to be suffering from corns. He 
walked on his heels, limping with both feet, and 
looked as if he would like to take his boots off and 
carry them in his hands as he went about his 
business. 

So when I came in, and he said * Step this way,' 
I tried to step his way, as if I had cornful toes, 
but it took a lot of practice, and before I had quite 



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How i STUDY tn 

finished my studies up and down the floor a 
commissionaire put his hand on my shoulder and 
said, in a persuasive voice, *Now then, outside.' 

' Not at all,* I said ; ' he told me to step this way, 
and Tm trying as hard as I can. Everybody else 
he asks passes him by with contempt I'm the 
only man in the crowd that has a go at it' 

But he was rude enough to insist on my 
continuing my studies on the pavement, and I 
don't pretend to be a pavement artist 

Also when I was trying to get inside the character 
of the recruiting-sergeant I spent a lot of time 
round by the National Gallery. 

I saw the soldiers go up aud accost likely young 
men, and I tried to imitate them. 

In order not to give myself away I tied a bit 
of string to a five-shilling piece and hung it round 
my neck, so that it stuck on my breast like a medal. 
There wasn't another medal there half the size of 
mine, and I felt. a new man with it on. 

I had a little cane in my hand like the. others, 
and when I caught sight of a fellow's back who 
was reading the poster about the advantages 
of the army, I whacked him with the cane and said : 

*Now, my lad, thinking of joining the service?' 

At least that was what I intended to say, but 
when I hit him he turned round, and I saw that 
he was a red-faced gentleman of about forty-five 
dressed in his best 

*God bless my soul!' he muttered when he saw 
me. *Who are you, and where did you get that 
extraordinary medal on your chest ? Are you really 
one of England's soldiers?' 



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iia DAN LENO 

*Yes/ I said. 

* My poor country,' groaned the gentleman ; 
' what's to become of England ? ' 

'You leave that to me/ I said; Til look after 
that' 
*And have you seen much service, my man?' 

* Service ! ' I replied with a spice of scorn in my 
tone, * Service ! I should rather think so ; I was 
Wolseley's right-hand man at Tel-el-Keepbeer. He 
said to me, he said,*" Look here, Dan, you know 
more about this business than I do ; I can't make 
up my mind whether to order a charge of heavy 
artillery or make the hussars and lancers form 
square and advance slowly to cover their own 
retreat." So I said, " Garnet, my boy " ' 

But the man had not waited to hear the finish, 
and I saw him a little way off talking earnestly 
with a big soldier, both of them looking at me, so 
I went round the corner to see the pictures. 

When I undertook the part of a waiter, which 
was one of my most successful character delineations, 
I was able to study the subject thoroughly. I was 
fortunate enough to obtain an engagement at a 
middle-class restaurant as a waiter, to go one day 
on trial. 

About twelve o'clock the fun began. My first 
customer was a snappish old gentleman, and I tried 
to calm him by smiling at him one of my best 
smiles. 

' Fine day, sir,' I said, handing him the bill of 
fare. 

He grunted something like ' Hrum ! Hrum ! ' 

Then I said, * What would you like, sir ? We have 



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MYSELF BEING TIPPED 
(Oh, the tippy of it !) 



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114 DAN LENO 

some very nice strawberries and mashed, or sausage 
and cream— very pleasant in this hot weather— or a 
grilled lobster and pickled onions.' 

I went on chatting to him like this while he was 
making up his mind. He treated me most rudely, 
never listening to my remarks, and grunting from 
time to time. 

* Bring me a steak and tomatoes,' he growled. 

I raised my apron to my eyes and wiped away a 
tear. 

* Don't say tomatoes,' I sobbed, ' you don't know 
how it effects me when I hear that word.' 

'What the ' 

* Ah, sir, you don't know ; I had a favourite grand- 
father, once removed ' 

* Dam good thing too,' muttered the customer. 

' And he suffered agonies from gout, sir — killed him 
at last, and we always called him a toe-martyr.* 

* Get out, you blubbering idiot,' yelled the man. 
So I went to order his lunch. 

' How long is the steak going to be ? ' he snarled 
when I approached him again. 

* Oh,' I replied, getting a bit of my own back, * it'll 
be about four inches.' 

* Gr-r-r-r,* he growled, clutching a handful of table- 
cloth. 

I didn't worry him any more. He looked danger- 
ous. 

Another customer complained that he missed his 
cheese. 

' I'm sure I brought it,' I said to him ; * you ought 
to keep a sharp eye on your cheese, sir. Of course I 
know it's their fault really. I'm always telling them 



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HOW I STUDY 115 

to put a string round its neck and tie it up to the 
plate ; but they're so old-fashioned. Take a walk 
round, sir, and you may meet it/ 

* Very likely,* he said. * Give me my bill.' 

* Yes, sir. Chop, potatoes, rice pudding, three and 
nine ; no bread a penny, three and ten ; cigar you 
didn't have, sixpence, four and four. H'm, h'm, six and 
twopence/ 

* Not it,* he protested. 

*0h, no/ I corrected myself; * I forgot, you didn't 
have any butter, that's seven and fourpence — I mean 
four and fourpence, of course.' 

Another man ordered '64 port and spring chicken, 
and when he 'got it he complained about both of 
them. 

I couldn't help smiling. 

' I see what it is, sir. You've got the spring port 
and the '64 chicken — same thing, only the other way 
round. Pure luck, you know, pure luck. You never 
know how these things turn out' 

'I'll know how you'll turn out/ he said deter- 
minedly ; * I shall see the manager about this.' 

But I didn't care. Two lovely young creatures 
had just come in, and I left everybody to attend to 
them. 

' I don't want much/ said the dark one. 

' No, of course not/ I murmured, with a smile of 
admiration. 

' And I don't seem to want anything at all,' said 
the fair one. 

But they kept me very busy for the next half-hour. 

Darkey finished up by ordering a toasted scone 
and a glass of milk. 



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ii6 DAN LENO 

•A coasted stone? — yes/ I said, *but take my 
advice, not milk.' 

* Isn't it good to-day ? ' she asked, with a shade of 
anxiety in her loving eyes. 

I leaned my elbows on the table and crossed my 
legs gracefully, as I started to argue the question. 

But just then another waiter fell over me. He had 
three plates of soup in one hand, several cuts off joints 
in the other ,and miscellaneous puddings and vege- 
tables hanging like festoons about his 'person. 

They all rolled down my graceful attitude, and 
there was great confusion for two or three minutes. 
I pulled off a tablecloth and gave myself a hurried 
rub down. Then I turned again to my beautiful 
customers. I switched on my smile again, although 
I could feel the soup trickling down my back. 

* No, not milk,' I said ; * it wouldn't sit still on 
top of what you've had, and I've spent one of the 
happiest half-hours of my life bringing you sausages 
and things. Don't let a glass of milk come between 
us. Mind your dear little digestion ; for my sake, 
do. Let me get you a liqueur of lager.' 

The girls looked at each other and burst out 
laughing. I felt that I was getting on. 

But just then somebody gripped me by the collar, 
and- 1 heard the manager saying sternly : 

* Look here, you get out of this right away, d'ye 
hear?' 

The true, conscientious artist has to suffer much 
pain and humiliation. 



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CHAPTER The Last 

EIGHTEENTH Tum 

LOOKING at the mysteries of time and space 
from a ten minutes' turn point of view, it 
seems to me that what man wants is more — well, 
more, in fact, of whatever he has managed to get born 
with and picked up or dropped since. I have only 
met one man in my life who was perfectly satisfied 
with life, and he was always half drunk, and generally 
one and a half drunk. 

The Leno System of Philosophy regards the 
world as a football, kicked about by higher powers, 
with me somewhere hanging on to the stitching by 
my teeth and toe-nails. 

Even when I have a pipe of Craven mixture, 
fresh from Wardour Street, with Mr Carreras's bless- 
ing, I do not enjoy myself as much as I deserve, 
although I share the opinion of Mr J. M. Barrie as to 
the sublime smokableness of this * Arcadian ' blend, 
spoken of so favourably in his popular book My Lady 
Nicotine. When I study Shakespearean rdles I always 
smoke 'Craven.' Yea, verily! that's why I played 
Hamlet so well. But just wait for my next triumph 
in a Shakespearean part. I'm going to combine the 
characters of Macbeth, Romeo, Othello, and Julius 
Caesar. I expect I shall create a sensation. 

The most intellectual and virtuous men in the 
world, whether they be prime ministers or bishops 
or actor-managers, feel sometimes a bit unchirpy, so 
to speak, in their sober intervals. I myself, as you 

117 



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ii8 DAN LENO 

will have noticed from my Tivolian lectures, am 
somewhat of a pessimist. 

And it is not to be wondered at after all I have 
been through. 

I remember once, when I was taking a holiday, I 
induced a comedian friend of mine to black his face, 
put on an old suit of clothes, and go round with me 
to the theatres before the doors opened, to see how 
many coppers we could get 

I did the same. I put on a dress coat, a mild red 
and blue fancy waistcoat, stout stockings, bitter 
knickerbockers, and two very old boots, one black 
and the other tan, and on my head I wore a pink 
jockey cap. 

I thought we should have some real amusement, 
and at the same time be able to do some character 
studying. 

But Bob — (that's not his real name) — Bob gave me 
palpitations when he turned up to meet me at the 
6orner of Wellington Street. I had been waiting 
there about ten minutes with my tambourine shivering 
in my hand with nervousness, and wondering why I 
was ever born. 

Suddenly I saw a great crowd coming over Water- 
loo Bridge, and in the middle my friend Bob. 

When I saw him I was paralysed. On his head he 
wore a bucket upside down, with the handle resting 
on his chin. Instead of a coat he was wearing a pair 
of white trousers like a sort of zouave jacket, with his 
arms stuck through the legs. Then underneath that 
he had on a bright yellow silk pair of old corsets that 
he had picked up at some rag shop. They would not 
meet anywhere near the middle, and revealed a crinkly 



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MYSELF BUSTED 



(Tony Carter, Sculptor) 



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I20 DAN LENO 

mass of old newspaper at the bursting point Round 
his waist was a rope from which dangled a cheap 
alarm clock that he wound up from time to time with 
graceful nonchalance. On one leg was a trouser 
carefully turned up at the bottom, while oh the other 
leg was half a kilt of a lurid check pattern. He was 
wearing pink tights underneath, and the kilted leg 
ended in a little white baby sock and a dancing shoe, 
while on the other foot he had a monstrous boot 
stuffed with straw which was pushing through several 
large splits. 

As soon as I got over my first shock I fled. 

I darted between two omnibuses just as I heard his 
shout of joyful recognition, and without looking back 
I dashed up towards Covent Garden, with Bob in full 
pursuit. Tied up as he was I have no doubt I should 
have got clear away, only in turning a comer I 
happened to butt my head into a big policeman's 
belt, and the officer and I, embracing each other, 
rolled into the gutter. 

When he recovered his breath he took a firmer 
grip of my collar. 

* Where are you running so fast, young man ? ' he 

growled. * Stand back there ,' addressing the 

crowd. 

Suddenly that ghastly Bob pushed through, brand- 
ishing his banjo. 

' That's all right, sergeant,' he cried cheerfully ; 
* this gentleman is a friend of mine.' 

The policeman's hair almost stood on end, and he 
lost the power of speech. 

* Nothing of the kind,* I protested ; ' I don't call a man 
my friend that goes about with a bucket on his head/ 



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THE LAST TURN 121 

And the two of us started on a hot round of re- 
criminations. 

' Why can't I wear a high hat if I like ? ' cried Bob ; 
* it's a healthy one, look at the ventilation.' 

He took it off, and showed us that the bottom had 
been knocked out 

* Well, why do you follow me about ? ' I shouted 
angrily. 

* Why ! ' cried Bob, turning to the crowd with an 

appealing gesture, * he asks me why. Ah , what 

would poor Mary say if she could see him now 
reproaching her only father ? ' 

He turned his eyes heavenwards and wound up his 
clock. 

* What are you talking about ? ' I said ; * you had 
your share of the club money after the funeral 
expenses, and I had to do all the dirty work/ 

The crowd began to take a serious view of the affair. 

*' Pears to me,' said the policeman, 'there's been 
some tragedy. You'd better come quietly with me.' 

But fortunately Bob's alarm clock just went off; 
and, as if they thought it was an infernal machine, 
the policeman and the crowd shrank back. In a 
moment Bob and I seized our opportunity, and shot 
away as fast as our legs could carry us. 

After turning three corners we saw a cab standing 
and we jumped in, giving the driver half a crown, and 
telling him to drive us to Coventry Street. 

Bob had had to throw his bucket away while 
running, and I don't think he was sorry. 

* It was the one point of my costume that might 
have been improved,' he said. 

Getting out of the cab we strolled down to the pit 



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122 DAN LENO 

door of the Prince of Wales's, and gave the people 
fits. Bob sang a pathetic serenade called * Meet me 
by the village inn when it's closing time,' and put 
such passionate expression into his lines that his 
corset dropped off just as he finished. 

However, he used it to go round and collect his 
pennies in, and perhaps it was done on purpose, 
seeing that he wore underneath a scarlet shirt with 
the letters * S. A.' on it 

I don't suppose a wandering nigger minstrel ever 
had such a heavy collection. And when it was over 
he turned round and said loftily : 

* Ladies and gentlemen, I do this from a love of art, 
not for gain,' and walked down the row, giving the 
pennies back to the people who had not given them, 
causing general joy and indignation according to 
circumstances. 

Then he looked round for me, but I wasn't there, 
I was round the next corner. 

You see it was not long before I was about to set 
off for my trip to the United States, and I felt that 
for a Plenipotentiary Extraordinary to conduct 
himself in that manner was probably without 
precedent in the diplomatic service. 

My visit to America was, I consider, the crown of 
my career, for an English artiste does not as a rule 
go across the Atlantic until he has made a first-rate 
reputation in London. 

With some assistance from Lord Salisbury and Mr 
Chamberlain I have succeeded in bringing about 
a kindlier understanding between English and 
Americans. 



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I TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS 



vCooole 



APPENDIX ^^ ^^^^'ff^ 

Edthon 

THE most damaging criticism of this autobio- 
graphy and system of philosophy came from 
one of my oldest friends. 

* The style is fine,* he said ; ' but why do you adhere 
so slavishly to the truth ? Depend upon it, my boy, 
what the public want nowadays is spicy fiction. Why 
didn't you put .in a few yarns out of your head ? 
You'd have sold 500,000 instead of 50,000.' 

And now my publisher suggests that I should 
write a short novelette to add a touch of romance to 
the volume. He says that so long as it has plenty 
of love and mystery and golden hair and dark 
moustache, and a flood of bitter tears, and an in- 
tercepted letter, and all a cruel misunderstanding, 
and a small portion of wandering heir in disguise, 
and a chime of wedding bells, the rest doesn't 
matter. 

So I took my coat off and looked at the ceiling, 
and started gnawing the end of the pen and thinking 
at sixty miles an hour, counting stoppages. 

Nothing came of that, so I took off my waistcoat 
and put the other end of the pen in my mouth, and 
looked round the carpet. 

That was no good either. 

Determined to do or die, I next took my shirt off, 
and got my wife to throw a bucket of water over my 

124 



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APPENDIX TO THE FIFTH EDITION 125 

palpitating brow. Unfortunately she misunderstood 
my meaning and threw the bucket as well as the 
water, and that raised a large concuss, which must 
have been the bump of imagination, because I im- 
mediately wrote two words without stopping. 

' The moon/ I started. 

There I stopped. What I asked myself was, what 
was I going to do with the moon now I had hauled it 
down on earth to start the show. 

* You might say the moon was shining/ suggested 
my wife. 

* You think that would be quite safe ? M remarked. 
'Why not say the moon was spitting in the ever- 
flowing river, or the moon was strolling through the 
streets of heaven with its hands in its trousers- 
pockets, whistling "The British Grenadiers?" 
Shining is nothing fresh. It always shines in 
stories.' 

Then I felt wound up, and dashed off at three 
words a minute. 

CHAPTER I 

The moon was in its usual line of business. Dark 
clouds were moving hurriedly from one place to 
another. 

* It isn't altogether respectable to move by moon- 
light/ said my wife ; * and they can't move hurriedly 
from one place to the same place.' 

That sort of thing seems to me hypercriticism. 

* These clouds,' \ replied, * are the creation of my 
brain, and I'll make 'em do what I want or I'll know 



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126 DAN LENO 

the reason why. If I like Til send these very same 
clouds doing a set of Lancers on a blue Italian sky 
flooded with golden sunset, and Til chuck in a 
spoonful of soft moonlight as a make- weight Let 
me get on with some dialogue now. Tm nearly tired 
of description.* 

The story continues : — 

Out in the back garden of Brocoli Towers a deep 
and dismal moaning suddenly broke the stillness 
of the calm night. It was no common, ordinary 
moan. It was like a dark yellow moan with black 

stripes 

• ••••• 

* I should put a bow of pink ribbon round its neck,' 
said my wife. 

You never know the full value of a wife's sweet 
comfort and support until you start on romances. 
I broke off then and took up another piece. 

In the topmost tower, under the rain-spout, the 
proud Earl de Cabbigly and Lord Angus Montebury 
Spinacher, his eldest son, were in stormy converse. 

* You said they were in the tower,* objected my 
wife. * And where's there gloomy brow ? ' 

* All right Gloomy brow for two, well done ! ' 

The Earl exclaimed in a voice thick with passion 
and bulging out at both ends — 

*You are no longer my son. Go! Never plant 
that face on the threshold of Brocoli Towers again. 
Never walk through the gates of this ancestral home 
until you are in your coffin, unless you give up this 



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APPENDIX TO THE FIFTH EDITION 127 

designing woman, who only loves you for your fair 
young moustache. 

'Father!' cried Lord Angus, choking with 
emotion. 

* The best thing for choking,' said my wife, ' is for 
someone to thump his back with the fire-shovel. 
Make his father do that' 

The Earl raised the fire-shovel and approached 
his son with a threatening gesture and a pair of 
steps. 

• •••••• 

* What d' you want with steps ? ' asked my wife. 

* Well, the Earl is a short, stout man, and his son 
being of majestic height, like the illastrations, he 
would have to climb up to thump his back. So 
let's provide the steps. You've only to suppose 
they've been putting curtains up, and there you 
are.' 

• • • • • • 

* Father!' he cried again. *I love Evangelina 
Stubbs with my whole heart and soul. Father, what 
will you have ? ' 

The old man's expression disappeared for a 
moment buried in thought. Then he dug it up 
again, and in a steady voice he said — 

* I'll have a Scotch and soda, my boy.* 

But hark! a louder moan strikes on their ears. 
The Earl's whiskers rose from their sockets; his 
glassy eyes stood on end with horror and affright 

*It is,' he groaned in a noiseless whisper — *it is 
the Doom of Brocoli. That moan never stalks 



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/ 



128 DAN LENO 

through- the BrocoH beeches without blood on its 
tail. We shall have gore for supper to-night' 

The stalwart figure of his soldier son opened its 
lips with a melancholy smile. 

* Oh, father/ he exclaimed in his rich, fruity voice, 
Uhat is not the Brocoli Doom. That is only my 
gramaphone playing "The Howly City" for the 
amusement of the villagers who welcomed me home 
with cheers and beers.' 

The Earl burst into a large parcel of hysterical 
laughter, and his reason fled shrieking into the 
cold night air. 

• •«•••• 

*That makes a good finish to Chapter I., doesn' 
it ? ' I remarked. * I sha'n't do any more now for 
a week, just to keep the excitement alive.' 

* Why not write only one chapter every ten years,' 
said my wife, * to keep the excitement alive longer ? 
It's a pity ever to kill the poor thing. "The great 
mistake you authors always make is finishing your 
stories, and then all the interest is gone.' 

That seemed to me a good excuse for getting 
rid of a difficult job of work, and I will therefore 
conclude with 



{To be continued some day)* 



Cdsten ^ Coy, Limiiedt Printtra^ Edinburgh 



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