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of a rubber which he had played with the
Prince and Princess of Teck.
“ That completely floored me,” said Mark Lemon, afterwards. "When I am in big society I can play off a duke as my friend;
I but I generally lead up to him through a bishop. The duke is my last card, my ace of trumps; but our friend from the north leading off with a princess I had no opportunity of airing my ducal friendship.”
They were glorious days those days at Chatsworth for the hard-worked literary men of London. The palace with its gilded windows, the green park with its grand old trees, the silvery Derwent wandering through the flowery meadows; the luxury, the freedom, the splendour of the ducal house—so great a change from the noise and bustle and din and dirt of Londonmust have added brighter hues now and then to the inspiration of the guests. “It was also a delightful time, I can assure
you, in town, at Devonshire House,” said Mr. Horne, the other day, looking back along the path of his memory, as if he were checking off the landmarks by the way. “I am afraid to say how many rehearsals we had there for the play-a dozen at least—and
each occasion the grandest, the most superb déjeuner. The Duke was a gentleman in manner and feeling. Some of us arrived at the house in anything but brilliant equipages. We did not all drive our own carriages, you know. But in whatever manner we came, the gates flew open like the gates of some magician's palace in the Arabian Nights, and care halted behind us.”
Mark Lemon often spoke of his visits to Chatsworth; as he did also of the election at Boston, when his friend Herbert Ingram, of the Illustrated London News, was elected.
a speaker, as you know; but I held forth at one or two small meetings,
and the greatest hit I made was when I asked them who gave to Boston the practical blessings of water. Ingram had done something to get the Act for supplying the town with water, and this reference to his success told immensely.”
Mark Lemon's Christmas stories may be taken as the key to his generous, self-denying, and loving nature. They are simple, unpretentious contributions to the literature of fiction, full of tender, gentle feeling, teeming with sympathy for artists, overflowing with a genuine and honest love for the drama and its surroundings, and abounding with sympathy for “the fatherless children and widows, and all that are desolate and oppressed.” Mark Lemon entered heart and soul into the festivities of Christmas, and among his children was a child himself in presence of the holly and the mistletoe. In many a Christmas cartoon, in many a genial, merry, honest face intended to represent "Father Christmas," may be traced
the lineaments of Mark Lemon's well-known
features. At Crawley it will seem as if “Father Christmas” himself were dead indeed, now that the snow lies white and cold upon the grave of him who was everybody's adviser and friend in the little Sussex village.