Monthly Archives: October 2014

“The Necessity for Political Honesty” by Bram Stoker.

“The Necessity for Political Honesty” was a speech by Bram Stoker. It was first presented on November 13, 1872 in the Dining Hall of Trinity College at a meeting of the College Historical Society, University of Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.

For more information visit:
“The Necessity for Political Honesty” at bramstoker.org

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“A Star Trap” by Bram Stoker

“When I was apprenticed to theatrical carpentering my master was John Haliday, who was Master Machinist – we called men in his post ‘Master Carpenter’ in those days – of the old Victoria Theatre, Hulme. It wasn’t called Hulme; but that name will do. It would only stir up painful memories if I were to give the real name. I daresay some of you – not the Ladies (this with a gallant bow all round) – will remember the case of a Harlequin as was killed in an accident in the pantomime. We needn’t mention names; Mortimer will do for a name to call him by – Henry Mortimer. The cause of it was never found out. But I knew it; and I’ve kept silence for so long that I may speak now without hurting anyone. They’re all dead long ago that was interested in the death of Henry Mortimer or the man who wrought that death.”

“Any of you who know of the case will remember what a handsome, dapper, well-built man Mortimer was. To my own mind he was the handsomest man I ever saw.”

The Tragedian’s low, grumbling whisper, “That’s a large order,” sounded a warning note. Hempitch, however, did not seem to hear it, but went on:

“Of course, I was only a boy then, and I hadn’t seen any of you gentlemen – Yer very good health, Mr Wellesley Dovercourt, sir, and cettera. I needn’t tell you, Ladies, how well a harlequin’s dress sets off a nice slim figure. No wonder that in these days of suffragettes, women wants to be harlequins as well as columbines. Though I hope they won’t make the columbine a man’s part!”

“Mortimer was the nimblest chap at the traps I ever see. He was so sure of hisself that he would have extra weight put on so that when the counter weights fell he’d shoot up five or six feet higher than anyone else could even try to. Moreover, he had a way of drawing up his legs when in the air – the way a frog does when he is swimming – that made his jump look ever so much higher.”

“I think the girls were all in love with him, the way they used to stand in the wings when the time was comin’ for his entrance. That wouldn’t have mattered much, for girls are always falling in love with some man or other, but it made trouble, as it always does when the married ones take the same start. There were several of these that were always after him, more shame for them, with husbands of their own. That was dangerous enough, and hard to stand for a man who might mean to be decent in any way. But the real trial – and the real trouble, too – was none other than the young wife of my own master, and she was more than flesh and blood could stand. She had come into the panto, the season before, as a high-kicker – and she could! She could kick higher than girls that was more than a foot taller than her; for she was a wee bit of a thing and as pretty as pie; a gold-haired, blue-eyed, slim thing with much the figure of a boy, except for. . . and they saved her from any mistaken idea of that kind. Jack Haliday went crazy over her, and when the notice was up, and there was no young spark with plenty of oof coming along to do the proper thing by her, she married him. It was, when they was joined, what you Ladies call a marriage of convenience; but after a bit they two got on very well, and we all thought she was beginning to like the old man – for Jack was old enough to be her father, with a bit to spare. In the summer, when the house was closed, he took her to the Isle of Man; and when they came back he made no secret of it that he’d had the happiest time of his life. She looked quite happy, too, and treated him affectionate; and we all began to think that that marriage had not been a failure at any rate.”

“Things began to change, however, when the panto, rehearsals began next year. Old Jack began to look unhappy, and didn’t take no interest in his work. Loo – that was Mrs Haliday’s name – didn’t seem over fond of him now, and was generally impatient when he was by. Nobody said anything about this, however, to us men; but the married women smiled and nodded their heads and whispered that perhaps there were reasons. One day on the stage, when the harlequinade rehearsal was beginning, someone mentioned as how perhaps Mrs Haliday wouldn’t be dancing that year, and they smiled as if they was all in the secret. Then Mrs Jack ups and gives them Johnny-up-the-orchard for not minding their own business and telling a pack of lies, and such like as you Ladies like to express in your own ways when you get your back hair down. The rest of us tried to soothe her all we could, and she went off home.”

“It wasn’t long after that that she and Henry Mortimer left together after rehearsal was over, he saying he’d leave her at home. She didn’t make no objections – I told you he was a very handsome man.”

“Well, from that on she never seemed to take her eyes from him during every rehearsal, right up to the night of the last rehearsal, which, of course, was full dress – ‘Everybody and Everything.'”

“Jack Haliday never seemed to notice anything that was going on, like the rest of them did. True, his time was taken up with his own work, for I’m telling you that a Master Machinist hasn’t got no loose time on his hands at the first dress rehearsal of a panto. And, of course, none of the company ever said a word or gave a look that would call his attention to it. Men and women are queer beings. They will be blind and deaf whilst danger is being run; and it’s only after the scandal is beyond repair that they begin to talk – just the very time when most of all they should be silent.”

“I saw all that went on, but I didn’t understand it. I liked Mortimer myself and admired him – like I did Mrs Haliday, too – and I thought he was a very fine fellow. I was only a boy, you know, and Haliday’s apprentice, so naturally I wasn’t looking for any trouble I could help, even if I’d seen it coming. It was when I looked back afterwards at the whole thing that I began to comprehend; so you will all understand now, I hope, that what I tell you is the result of much knowledge of what I saw and heard and was told of afterwards – all morticed and clamped up by thinking.”

To read the rest of this story visit:
“A Star Trap” at bramstoker.org


“A Criminal Star” by Bram Stoker

‘Of course, you all remember Wolseley Gartside -‘

‘Rather!’ This was from the Tragedian. ‘I remember when he took that name. Indeed, I was not pleased with him about it; it clashed with the name I had taken myself – or, rather – ahem! – which my sponsors took for me at my christening. I consoled myself with the reflection that Wolseley was a later name historica…lly than Wellesley.’ The Advance Agent went on:

‘Gartside, like many others who have risen from the ranks – the ranks of his profession – was, well, a wee, tiny bit over-sensitive in matters of public esteem. In fact, he did not like to be neglected -‘

Here the Second Heavies interrupted with a rapidity and acerbity which left an impression that indignation was founded on aggrievement:

‘”Over-sensitive in matters of public esteem!” I like that. He had got the swelled head bad, if that be what you mean. He wanted the earth, he did! The way he hustled other people off the posters was indecent! And the size of type he clamoured for was an inducement to blindness and an affront to the common sense of an educated community.’ The Advance Agent went on calmly:

‘- did not like to be neglected. This was all bad enough when he was engaged by someone else; but when he was out on his own with nothing to check him except the reports of his treasurer, he became a holy terror. There wasn’t any crowding of names off the bill then; there were simply no names at all. Names of other people, I mean; his name was all right so long as the paper was up to the biggest stands, and the types were the largest to be had in the town. Later on he went even further and had all his printing done in London or New York from types cut special.’ The Second Heavies cut in again:

‘No! Mr Wolseley Gartside didn’t mean to get neglected so long as there was a public Press to be influenced or a hoarding to be covered.’

‘Exactly!’ said the Advance Agent drily. He was beginning to fear that his pitch would be queered by the outpouring of the grievances of the Second Heavies. The professional instinct of the audience made for peace. They were all trained to listen. Mr Alphage seized the opportunity, and went on:

‘When he was arranging his first American tour he wanted to get someone who, as a persona grata, could command the Press; who understood human nature to the core; who had the instinct of a diplomatist, the experience of a field-marshall, the tact of an Attorney-General; the -‘

‘All right, old man. We know you took him in tow.’

‘Thank you, Bones! I understand. Gartside was a tragedian, too, and of course wanted the whole stage. They’re all the same.’

‘Well, of all the -‘ began Dovercourt; but there he stopped. There was a readiness of repartee about the Advance Agent that disturbed his self-serenity.

‘So I took him in tow, as Bones calls it. I thought my work was piloting. But Bones knows; he, too, belongs to the hungry, egotist lot who have to be dragged into publicity – like Wolseley Gartside!

‘Well, before I started out, which he insisted should be a full week ahead of him, he began to teach me my business. At first I pointed out to him that the whole mechanism of advance publicity wasn’t wrong because he hadn’t done it. But he took me up short, and expressed his opinions pretty freely, I admit. He gave me quite a dissertation on publicity, telling me that to hit the public you must tell them plenty. They wanted to know all about a man; they didn’t care much whether it was good or bad; but on the whole they preferred bad. Then he went on to give me what he called my instructions. That I was to have paragraphs about him every day. “Make me out,” he said, “a sort of Don Juan, with a fierce, revengeful nature. A man from whose hate no man is safe; no woman from his love. Never mind moral character. The public don’t want it – nor no more do I. Say whatever you please about me so long as you make people talk. Now I don’t want argument with you. Do you just carry out my instructions, and all will be well. But if you don’t, you’ll get the order of the chuck.” I didn’t want to argue with him. To begin with, a man like that isn’t worth argument – especially about instructions. Instructions! Just fancy an Advance Agent who knows his business being instructed by a Star that he has got to boom, and to whose vanity – no, sensitiveness – he has to minister. Why, compared with even a duffer at my work the biggest and brightest star in the theatrical firmament don’t know enough to come in out of the rain! I was very angry with him, I admit; but in a flash there came to me out of his own very instructions an idea which put anger out of my mind. The top dog isn’t angry – though he may bite! “Very well, Mr Wolseley Gartside,” said I to myself, said I, “I’ll carry out your instructions with exactness. They’re yours, not mine; so if anything comes out wrong you are the responsible party.” Before I went to bed I wrote out a mem of my “instructions.”

‘”The public want to know everything about a man. Tell them plenty – all they want. They don’t care whether it’s good or bad. On the whole, they prefer bad. Give them paragraphs every day. Make me a Don Juan, fierce, revengeful, passionate. No man safe from my hate; no woman from my love. Don’t aim at moral character; the public don’t want it; no more do I. Say whatever you please about me so long as you make people talk. Make things lively before I come!”

To read the rest of this story visit:
“A Criminal Star” at bramstoker.org


UK First Edition Book Cover

11shrouduk

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THE LADY OF THE SHROUD by Bram Stoker

FROM “THE JOURNAL OF OCCULTISM” – MID-JANUARY, 1907.

A strange story comes from the Adriatic. It appears that on the night of the 9th, as the Italia Steamship Company’s vessel “Victorine” was passin…g a little before midnight the point known as “the Spear of Ivan,” on the coast of the Blue Mountains, the attention of the Captain, then on the bridge, was called by the look-out man to a tiny floating light close inshore. It is the custom of some South-going ships to run close to the Spear of Ivan in fine weather, as the water is deep, and there is no settled current; also there are no outlying rocks. Indeed, some years ago the local steamers had become accustomed to hug the shore here so closely that an intimation was sent from Lloyd’s that any mischance under the circumstances would not be included in ordinary sea risks. Captain Mirolani is one of those who insist on a wholesome distance from the promontory being kept; but on his attention having been called to the circumstance reported, he thought it well to investigate it, as it might be some case of personal distress. Accordingly, he had the engines slowed down, and edged cautiously in towards shore. He was joined on the bridge by two of his officers, Signori Falamano and Destilia, and by one passenger on board, Mr. Peter Caulfield, whose reports of Spiritual Phenomena in remote places are well known to the readers of “The Journal of Occultism.” The following account of the strange occurrence written by him, and attested by the signatures of Captain Mirolani and the other gentleman named, has been sent to us.

” . . . It was eleven minutes before twelve midnight on Saturday, the 9th day of January, 1907, when I saw the strange sight off the headland known as the Spear of Ivan on the coast of the Land of the Blue Mountains. It was a fine night, and I stood right on the bows of the ship, where there was nothing to obstruct my view. We were some distance from the Spear of Ivan, passing from northern to southern point of the wide bay into which it projects. Captain Mirolani, the Master, is a very careful seaman, and gives on his journeys a wide berth to the bay which is tabooed by Lloyd’s. But when he saw in the moonlight, though far off, a tiny white figure of a woman drifting on some strange current in a small boat, on the prow of which rested a faint light (to me it looked like a corpse-candle!), he thought it might be some person in distress, and began to cautiously edge towards it. Two of his officers were with him on the bridge–Signori Falamano and Destilia. All these three, as well as myself, saw It. The rest of the crew and passengers were below. As we got close the true inwardness of It became apparent to me; but the mariners did not seem to realize till the very last. This is, after all, not strange, for none of them had either knowledge or experience in Occult matters, whereas for over thirty years I have made a special study of this subject, and have gone to and fro over the earth investigating to the nth all records of Spiritual Phenomena. As I could see from their movements that the officers did not comprehend that which was so apparent to myself, I took care not to enlighten them, lest such should result in the changing of the vessel’s course before I should be near enough to make accurate observation. All turned out as I wished–at least, nearly so–as shall be seen. Being in the bow, I had, of course, a better view than from the bridge. Presently I made out that the boat, which had all along seemed to be of a queer shape, was none other than a Coffin, and that the woman standing up in it was clothed in a shroud. Her back was towards us, and she had evidently not heard our approach. As we were creeping along slowly, the engines were almost noiseless, and there was hardly a ripple as our fore-foot cut the dark water. Suddenly there was a wild cry from the bridge–Italians are certainly very excitable; hoarse commands were given to the Quartermaster at the wheel; the engine-room bell clanged. On the instant, as it seemed, the ship’s head began to swing round to starboard; full steam ahead was in action, and before one could understand, the Apparition was fading in the distance. The last thing I saw was the flash of a white face with dark, burning eyes as the figure sank down into the coffin–just as mist or smoke disappears under a breeze.”

To read the rest of this novel visit:
The Lady of the Shroud at bramstoker.org