A FIRST VISIT TO THE "NAVERIES."
"Shiver my timbers!" said the Scribe.
"Haul down my yard-arm with a marling-spike!" cried the Artist.
And with these strictly nautical expressions, two of Mr. Punch's Own entered the Royal Naval Exhibition, which now occupies the larger portion of the grounds of the Military Hospital, Chelsea. That so popular a show should be allowed to occupy so large a site speaks wonders for the amiability of the British Public. When the Sodgeries appeared last year, it was, so to speak, with fear and trembling that "the powers that were" appropriated a little of the ground usually over-run by the Nobility and Gentry of the Pimlico Road and its vicinity; or, rather, by their haughty offspring. This year the tough old sea-dogs of the Admiralty have had no hesitation in taking what they required, apparently without causing comment, much less objection. And the result? In lieu of the dusty arena of 1890, scarcely large enough for a ladies' cricket-match, there appears in 1891 an enclosure containing lakes and lighthouses, panoramas, and full-size models of men-of-war! And the Public take their exclusion philosophically, either paying their shillings at the door, or attempting to get a view of the hoofs of the nautical horses through the gaps in the surrounding hoardings.
The Scribe and the Artist, having been ordered by He Who Must Be Obeyed in the world generally, and at 85, Fleet Street, in particular, to make a sort of preliminary cruise through the wonders of the (Admiralty) Deep, hastened from the inviting grounds into the main building, with its pictures, its plans, and last, but (it is only just to say) least, its pickles. The first object that attracted their favourable attention was a trophy of arms, representing the fashions of the past and the present. On one side were shrapnel and magazine rifles, on the other flint-locks and the ordnance of an age long gone by. Next they passed through the Arctic section, wherein they found dummies drawing a sledge through the canvas snow of a corded-off North Pole. Then they entered the Picture Galleries called after NELSON and BENBOW, wherein magnificent paintings by POWELL, full of smoke and action, served as an appropriate background to the collection of plate, lent by that gallant sailor-warrior and industrious collector of well-considered trifles, H.R.H. the Duke of EDINBURGH. They glanced at the relics of Trafalgar, and then hurried away to the HOWE Gallery, which, containing as it did specimens of the implements used in the game of golf, might have as appropriately been christened the WHEREFORE. Next they skirted a corridor full of plans, and here they discovered that the Committee of the Exhibition must be wags, every Jack Tar of them! This corridor was close to the Dining-rooms, and the Committee (ha! ha! ha!) had called it (he! he! he!) after COOK! (Ho! ho! ho!) Oh, the wit of it! How the Members of the Executive must have nudged one another in the ribs as the quaint idea dawned upon them! And how they must have laughed, too, on the Opening Day, when the Guard of Honour, presenting arms, and the "Greenwich Boys" singing "Ye Mariners of England," were drenched in the rain!...