ο»Ώ |"A STRANGE AND HAPPY FAMILY."|1878-01-19|The Cardigan Observer and General Advertiser for the Counties of Cardigan Carmarthen and Pembroke - Welsh Newspapers Online
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|"A STRANGE AND HAPPY FAMILY."

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| "A STRANGE AND HAPPY FAMILY." (Prom tke World.") The happy family life, of which Mrp. Buckland is the centre, is carried on in an ordinary London house, formerly the home of Charles Dickens's father- i -law, Mr. Hogarth, in Albany street. Regents park. In their time the room into which we were ushered was probably the drawing room. At first, during the present tenancy, it used to be called master's room now it is termed the "monkeys' room," which Mr. Buckland remarks is Darwin going backwards. The dining-room is indeed the one room preserved, but with difficulty, for the sole use of man. It is held, so to speak, at the sword's point against the incursions of animals from the neighbouring jungle. Sometimes the rule is relaxed in cases of sickness. It is to this room that all good animals expect to go, in a stuffed form, when they die. It is regarded as a Poets' Corner for the great,; while the bodies of the less distinguished are consigned to hon- ourable burial in the back green. Some excellent pictures adorn the walls of this room one of Master Frank, by Phnllips, "aged 3, born at Christchurch, Oxford, Dec. 17th, 182G." He is characteristically hug- ging a rabbit in bis pinafore. A bust of Mr. Buckland's father, the late Dean of Westminster, stands on a table. Below all this we come upon the practical work- ings of the scientific mine. Next to the kitchen, and acctssible to tho area, is the casting-room, to which everything extraordinary, whether from the depths of tue sea or the bowels of the earth, sooner or later gravitates. It is here that a prodigious amount of work is done, and gees forth in the most finished state, I to adorn the South Kensington and other great mu- seums, for the advancement of science and educa- tion of the people. Round the walls. are ranged bottles, casks, and jars, containing specimens in every stage of what the naturalist might call preservation and the ignorant decay. Eojoying the rare art of imparting his knowledge to others, Mr. Buckland delights in showing his treasures. Regardless of fear- ful odours, he will plunge up to his elbows into a deep dark tank, and draw forth a slimy dripping reptile, and ask cheerfully if he is not a beauty ?" It re- quires a strong stomach and no small diplomacy to know how to act, for' he is ready on a word of encouragement to make another fatal plunge and bring up the other seven But another joy awaits you -if you can bear it—in a jar, when be carefully hauls out a ribbon fish, and tells you it is the next of kin to the great sea-serpent. At that moment you heartily wish the great sea-serpent would bury its own relations; but Frank does not, and any one who would bring him the head of the family would be his friend for life. On the whole, Mr. Buckland prefers live snakes about him but he has not yet succeeded in getting his household to agree with him. A live snake is considerably wone than a pickled snake, seeing that the latter, they find, is not so likely to be found under their pillows. Perhaps the worse moments for the family are those when the Parcels Delivery van drives up to the door. On these occasions there is a general closing of windows observable in the neigh- bourhood, and the only light-hearted creature within the zoological circle ef Frank Buckland's home just then is the persevering parrot, who takes- the credit of the van s arnva. to himself. The naturalist steals out to survey the state of things, and, if likely to be very odorous, the man feels uneasy, while the hus- band, deep and treacherous, drops a propitiatory > sovereign into his wife's band, and recommends her to try a little shopping. Once it was a gorilla in a cask and when his unfortunate wife returned to her r home she found Frank in high spirits, and the gorilla in even higher. Mr. Buckland's chief domesticgrievance istheduater, which he regards as a miebievous invention ot women. Mr. Buckland makes the scullery his chief atelier, and shares the kitchen, when she will ) let him, with the cook. The invasion of her premises she might not indeed take in good part, but it mollifies her to see her master in his shirt sleeves doing the very dirtiest work, and she has long since come to the con- elusion that his place is far worse than hers. She deals, after all, with what is fit for human food; but her master's whole time is devoted to skinning, dissecting, pickling, and pouring over the bones of beastesses" the like of which no one could look at, let alone handle or dress; yet her master is so kindly and pleasant a gentleman that she cannot refuse sometimes when he asks for her help. Not with that solan-goose, however, which master said contained all the elements of a balloon' it nearly gave her a fit when he made it cry out as if it was alive, and only by squeezing what he called the voice-box at the bottom of the windpipe. Let us stand by the kitchen-cable for a few minutes while the master bustles to and fro over his work.' He is just now busily washing a splendid sturgeon a royal fish which, properly dealt with, he declares a cunning cook could serve up as fish, flesh, fowl or good red herring. Quaint and original must be many of the dishes which issue from Mr. Buckland's kitchen The long-suffering cook, were she free to speak, might tell some strange tales of mistakes Inevitable-of young crocodiles boiled down for stock, of food misapplied, ind of diets given to the wrong animals. Mr. Buck- land's house-keeping books cover a wide range; his bills for rats and mice and other small fry exceed the butcher's. Not less peculiar than the fare provided by his kitchen is the company to be met at his parties. It is his especial de- light to entertain celebrities' on view in the town. The due etiquette to be observed at these feasts is at times perplexing. When Chinamen, Aztecs Es- quimaux, or Zulus are the guests, the chief difficulty is with the bill of fare; but the ceremonial becomes complicated if Mrs. Buckland bus to choose which arm to take of the four owned by the Siamese Twins; nor are matters put right by Mr. Buckland leading the way with the Two headed Nightingale while much discussion was needed to decide whether Mr. Buckland should hand in Julia Pastrana (the hairy woman), or that per- sonage—by virtue of her beard should take in the lady of the house. Now and again otcer contretemps occur at these feasts. Nothing could have been more appalling than what happened when Mr. Buckland was honoured at dinner by Tomati Hapiromani Wharinaki and a number of New Zea land chiefs. The party had adjourned to the monkey- room, to smoke the pipe of peace, when, for their amusement, the host turned some six-and-thirty slow- worms out of a box. Instantaneously the guests were transformed the garb of civilisation slipped off, and they returned to the wild untutored savage. With one frantic glance at the slow-worms on the floor they uttered wild yells and straightway fled! Downstairs, the dining-room was open; through this into the garden, helter-skelter, like hounds breaking cover and filling the air with a tapage d'enfer. Thence they spread over the neighbouring gardens, taking the low fences like deer. Two of them seeing another open window, ana at it a peaceable old ladv at work, headed for it, dashed in, and with their tat- tooed faces and awful cries nearly were her death. By this time the whole parish was up; a hue ana cry organised, recruits joined from the railiDgB> an(j fugitives were run safely to ground. It appeared that they entertained a superstitious horror of the slow- worm; to them it was the "Ngarara"-the incarna- tion of the power of evil.

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A LIVERPOOL SALVAGE CASE.

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WAR ITEMS.

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