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Bradley-Martin Bal-Masque
by [?]


Mrs. Bradley-Martin’s sartorial kings and pseudo-queens, her dukes and DuBarrys, princes and Pompadours, have strutted their brief hour upon the mimic stage, disappearing at daybreak like foul night-birds or an unclean dream–have come and gone like the rank eructation of some crapulous Sodom, a malodor from the cloacae of ancient capitals, a breath blown from the festering lips of half-forgotten harlots, a stench from the sepulcher of centuries devoid of shame. Uncle Sam may now proceed to fumigate himself after his enforced association with royal bummers and brazen bawds; may comb the Bradley-Martin itch bacteria out of his beard, and consider, for the ten-thousandth time, the probable result of his strange commingling of royalty- worshiping millionaire and sansculottic mendicant–how best to put a ring in the nose of the golden calf ere it become a Phalaris bull and relegate him to its belly. Countless columns have been written, printed, possibly read, anent the Bradley-Martin ball–all the preachers and teachers, editors and other able idiots pouring forth voluminous opinions. A tidal wave of printer’s ink has swept across the continent, churned to atrous foam by hurricanes of lawless gibberish and wild gusts of resounding gab. The empyrean has been ripped and the tympana of the too patient gods ravished with fulsome commendation and foolish curse, showers of Parthian arrows and wholesale consignments of soft-soap darkening the sun as they hurtled hither and yon through the shrinking atmosphere. A man dropping suddenly in from Mars with a Nicaraguan canal scheme for the consideration of Uncle Sam would have supposed this simian hubbub and anserine to-do meant nothing less than a new epocha for the universe, it being undecided whether it should be auriferous or argentiferous–an age of gold or a cycle of silver. Now that the costly “function” has funked itself into howling farce, an uncomfortable failure, and the infuscated revellers recovered somewhat from royal katzenjammer, we find that the majestic earth has not moved an inch out of its accustomed orbit, that the grass still grows and the cows yet calve that the law of gravitation remains unrepealed, and Omnipotence continues to bring forth Mazzaroth in his season and guide Arcturus with his sons. Perchance in time the American people may become ashamed of having been thrown into a panic by the painful effort of a pudgy parvenu to outdo even the Vanderbilts in ostentatious vulgarity. Rev. Billy Kersands Rainsford cannot save this country with his mouth, nor can Mrs. Bradley-Martin wreck it with her money. It is entirely too large to be permanently affected by the folly of any one fool. Preacher and parvenu were alike making a grandstand play. Now that the world has observed them, and not without interest, let us hope that they will subside for a little season.

This Dame DuBarry extravaganza was not without significance to those familiar with history and its penchant for repetition; but was by no means an epoch-maker. It was simply one more festering sore on the syphilitic body social–another unclean maggot industriously wriggling in the malodorous carcass of a canine. It was another evidence that civilization is in a continual flux, flowing now forward, now backward–a brutal confession that the new world aristocracy is oozing at present through the Armida- palace or Domdaniel of DuBarrydom. The Bradley-Martins are henceforth entitled to wear their ears interlaced with laurel leaves as a sign of superiority in their “set.” They won the burro pennant honestly, if not easily, daylight being plainly visible between their foam-crested crupper and the panting nostrils of the Vanderbilts. They are now monarch of Rag-fair, chief gyasticuti of the boundless realm of Nescience and Noodledom. Mrs. Bradley-Martin has triumphed gloriously, raised herself by her own garters to the vulgar throne of Vanity, the dais of the almighty dollar. She is now Delphic oracle of doodle-bugs and hierophant of the hot stuff. Viva Regina! Likewise, rats! Like most of New York’s aristocracy, she is of even nobler lineage than Lady Vere de Vere, daughter of a hundred earls, having been sired by a duly registered American sovereign early in the present century. His coat-of-arms was a cooper’s adz rampant, a beer-barrel couchant and the motto, “Two heads are better than one.” By wearing his neighbors’ cast-off clothes and feeding his family on cornbread and “sow-belly,” he was able to lay the foundation of that fortune which has made his daughter facile princeps of New York’s patricians. John Jacob Astor, who acted as royal consort to the cooper’s regal daughter in the quadrille d’honneur, is likewise descended from noble Knights (of Labor) and dames of high degree. He traces his lineage in unbroken line to that haughty Johann Jakob who came to America in the steerage, wearing a Limburger linsey-woolsey and a pair of wooden shoes. Beginning life in the new world as a rat-catcher, he soon acquired a gallon jug of Holland gin, a peck of Brummagem jewelry, and robbed the Aborigines right and left. He wore the same shirt the year ’round, slept with his dogs and invested his groschens in such Manhattan dirt as he could conveniently transport upon his person. Thus he enabled his aristocratic descendants to wax so fat on “unearned increment” that some of them must forswear their fealty to Uncle Sam and seek in Yewrup a society whose rough edges will not scratch the varnish off their culchah. Mrs. Bradley-Martin does not exactly “look every inch a queen,” her horizontal having developed at the expense of her perpendicular, suggesting the rather robust physique of her father’s beer barrels. Still, she is an attractive woman, having the ruddy complexion of an unlicked postage stamp and the go-as-you-please features of a Turkish carpet. Her eyes are a trifle too ferrety, but the osculatory power of her mouth in auld lang syne must have been such as to give Cupid spinal curvature. Her nose retreats somewhat precipitately from the chasm; but whether that be its original pattern, or it has been gradually forced upwards by eager pilgrims to her shrine of adjustable pearls, is a secret hidden in her own heart. Like Willy Wally Astor, she finds the customs of this country too crass to harmonize with her supersensitive soul, and spends much time dangling about the titled slobs “on the other side.” Some time ago she purchased the epicene young Earl of Craven as husband for her daughter, in the humble hope of mixing cooperage and coronets, and may yet be gran’ma to some little Lord Bunghole or fair Lady Firkin. As a “pusher” in society she can give points to Mrs. Potter Palmer or the wife of a millionaire pork-packer . Although she has “seen” the bluff of the notorious Smith-Vanderbilt-Belmont female and “raised” her out of her bunion repositories, she has probably not yet reached the summit of her social ambition. Bred to shabby gentility , Miss Alva Smith proceeded to “splurge” when she captured a Vanderbilt. She had probably never seen a hundred dollar bill until permitted to finger the fortune of the profane old ferryman who founded her husband’s aristocratic family. She was a parvenu, a nouveau riche, and could not rest until she had proclaimed that fact by squandering half a million of the man’s money whom she subsequently dishonored, on the ball which Mrs. Bradley-Martin set herself to beat. Having been divorced “for cause,” she proceeded to crown her gaucheries by purchasing for her ligneous-faced daughter a disreputable duke who owes his title to a grand-aunt’s infamy–is the descendant of a plebeian who rose to power by robbing dead soldiers and prostituting his sister to a prince. Mrs. Bradley-Martin has trumped two of her rival’s cards–and a social game, like seven-up, “is never out till it’s played out.”