By the author of "Three Men in a Boat," "Three Men on the Bummel," "The Diary of a Pilgrimage," "Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow," etc.
A short, heavily-illustrated book, this collection of fourteen brief sketches takes a humorous satirical look at the inhabitants of “Stage-Land,” that mythical country of The Theatre that lies just around the corner from Reality. You will meet the Stage Hero, the Stage Villain, the Stage Lawyer, the Stage Child, and many others. The universe behaves much differently in Stage-land than real life, and so do its citizens. Sometimes, you might wish that real-life folks behaved this way, and sometimes — not. Although it was written in 1889, you are likely to find tid-bits that still echo today in plays, movies, and (especially) television.
Stage “law” may not be quite the most fearful and wonderful mystery in the whole universe, but it’s near it — very near it. We were under the impression at one time that we ourselves knew something — just a little — about statutory and common law, but after paying attention to the legal points of one or two plays we found that we were mere children at it.
We thought we would not be beaten, and we determined to get to the bottom of Stage law and to understand it; but after some six months’ effort our brain (a singularly fine one) began to soften, and we abandoned the study, believing it would come cheaper in the end to offer a suitable reward, of about 50,000 pounds or 60,000 pounds, say, to any one who would explain it to us.
The reward has remained unclaimed to the present day and is still open.
One gentleman did come to our assistance a little while ago, but his explanations only made the matter more confusing to our minds than it was before. He was surprised at what he called our density, and said the thing was all clear and simple to him. But we discovered afterward that he was an escaped lunatic.
The only points of Stage “law” on which we are at all clear are as follows:
That if a man dies without leaving a will, then all his property goes to the nearest villain.
But if a man dies and leaves a will, then all his property goes to whoever can get possession of that will.
That the accidental loss of the three-and-sixpenny copy of a marriage certificate annuls the marriage.
That the evidence of one prejudiced witness of shady antecedents is quite sufficient to convict the most stainless and irreproachable gentleman of crimes for the committal of which he could have had no possible motive.
But that this evidence may be rebutted years afterward, and the conviction quashed without further trial by the unsupported statement of the comic man.
That if A forges B’s name to a cheque, then the law of the land is that B shall be sentenced to ten years’ penal servitude.
That ten minutes’ notice is all that is required to foreclose a mortgage.
That all trials of criminal cases take place in the front parlour of the victim’s house, the villain acting as counsel, judge, and jury rolled into one, and a couple of policemen being told off to follow his instructions.
These are a few of the more salient features of Stage “law” so far as we have been able to grasp it up to the present; but as fresh acts and clauses and modifications appear to be introduced for each new play, we have abandoned all hope of ever being able to really comprehend the subject.
Fifty-five illustrations, plus small illustrated chapter lead-ins. (I omitted the chapter tail decorations -- inconsistent styles made too much clutter.)
"No-text-wrap" version replaces the lead-ins with large caps.
Have fun. Vive Jerome!
EDIT-- Uploaded v 2, with format tweaks.
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