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Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 11, page 213, December 1859 [newspaper clipping continued]

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Identifier: DX03181016

Title: Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries: Volume 11, page 213, December 1859 [newspaper clipping continued]

Description: Newspaper clipping of article written by Gunn for The Sunday Courier, describing the Edwards family's 1859 Christmas party.


evening. When you have supposed all this, you are prepared to witness the pantomime of




as our play-bill—we had plenty of them, properly printed and set forth with a due proportion of capitals—grandiloquently denominated our dramatic version of the famous story of Bluebeard. And this is how it was played. I shall relate in the present tense.

Curtain rises for Act I. Bluebeard is discovered asleep on a divan (or sofa) in a magnificent apartment of Oriental aspect. He is gorgeously gotten-up with respect to costume and beard; he has wide trousers of true Turkish amplitude, red gaiter-boots, a large bald head and portentious moustaches, indeed he is so extremely Islamitish in appearance, that only the initiated of the audience recognize him as J.C. [Haney] The tyrant’s slumbers are not those of innocence. He is restless, he turns from side to side, occasionally snoring and starting. Enter Bibbo (THOMAS [Nast]) Bluebeard's valet, attired as a French clown, a la Gabriel Ravel. He advances with felicitous gestulation and a Turkish pipe, the latter of which he fills and arranges placing the mouthpiece within Bluebeard’s reach. Bibbo pauses, yawns, grimaces, shakes his fist at his sleeping master, anon attempts to arouse him. He touches—shakes him, knocks over a chair—no result. He disappears, and presently returns with a large dinner-bell, which he rings directly over Bluebeard’s head. This accidental proceeding is highly effectual, and Bibbo, bowing and salaaming, at once commences the duties of the toilet. All this time orchestra, or piano, goes it merrily.

While complacently ogling himself in a mirror, Bluebeard’s head is shaved—Bibbo operating with a wooden razor, three feet in length. Subsequently his beard is combed, with a similar liberally constructed instrument, and one would suppose not with that degree of carefulness ordinarily bestowed upon Eastern magnates, from his struggles during the operation. He then imbibes his coffee and tobacco, and peruses, by the aid of a gigantic pair of spectacles, the morning papers, being occasionally disturbed by the irreverent, not to say positively disrespectful behavior of his servant. Having disposed of these ordinary accompaniments of a Turkish breakfast, Bluebeard admires a circular minature, of about a foot in diameter, which has been all along observed, like a young warming-pan, at his susceptible breast. It represents Fatima, the object of his affections. He forthwith commissions Bibbo with an amatory message and invitation to her, expediting his departure by cutting off, with his scimeter, about two superfluous feet of pyramidal cap, which impedes Bibbo’s exit through the doorway. And then the curtain comes down on Act I.

Act 2. Fatima’s chamber, a poor apartment. The Beauteous One (NED [Welles]

seated at a table, in night cap and dressing-gown, is by the light of a low candle discovered sewing a dress, beside her a large work-basket. She is wearied, exhausted. Enter Sister Anne (JACK [Edwards]) who arouses and assists her to dress, producing for that purpose a petticoat, a wig—technically known as a “false front”—artificial teeth, rouge, eau de cologne, turban, jewelry, etc. Completing operations, the sisters embrace, and Fatima, shedding tears, repairs the damages thereby effected with a little more rouge. Then they refresh themselves with GIN, from a black bottle. Anon Bibbo enters, bearing a stupendous bouquet and brobdidnaggian letter from Bluebeard. . . .

Rights: NoC-US


Dates: 1859-12

Type(s): Clipping, Newspaper

Maker/Creator: Gunn, Thomas Butler, 1826-1903

Subjects: Christmas


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