OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
July 1, 1914.
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* * * * *
["Giving evidence recently before a Select Committee of the House of Commons, Miss C. E. Collet, of the Home Office, said the commercial laundry was killing the small hand laundry."—Evening News.]
The little crafts! How soon they die! In cottage doors no shuttle clicks; The hand-loom has been ousted by A large concern with lots more sticks.
The throb of pistons beats around; Great chimneys rise on Thames's banks; The same phenomena are found In Sheffield. (Yorks) and Oldham (Lancs).
No longer now the housewife makes Her rare preserves, for what's the good? The factory round the corner fakes Raspberry jam with chips of wood.
'Tis so with what we eat and wear, Our bread, the boots wherein we splosh 'Tis so with what I deemed most fair, Most virginal of all—the Wash.
'Tis this that chiefly, when I chant, Fulfils my breast with sighs of ruth, To think that engines can supplant The Amazons I loved in youth.
That not with tender care, as erst By spinster females fancy-free, These button-holes of mine get burst Before the shift comes back to me;
That mere machines, and not a maid With fingers fatuously plied, The collars and the cuffs have frayed That still excoriate my hide;
That steam reduces to such states What once was marred by human skill; That socks are sundered from their mates By means of an electric mill;
That not by Cupid's coy advance (Some crone conniving at the fraud), But simply by mechanic chance, I get this handkerchief marked "Maud."
This is, indeed, a striking change; I sometimes wonder if the world Gets better as the skies grow strange With coils of smoke about them curled.
If the old days were not the best Ere printed formulas conveyed Sorrow about that silken vest For all eternity mislaid;
Ere yet the unwieldy motor-van Came clattering round the kerbstone's brink, Its driver dreaming some new plan To make my mauve pyjamas shrink.
* * * * *
THE ENCHANTED CASTLE.
There are warm days in London when even a window-box fails to charm, and one longs for the more open spaces of the country. Besides, one wants to see how the other flowers are getting on. It is on these days that we travel to our Castle of Stopes; as the crow flies, fifteen miles away. Indeed, that is the way we get to it, for it is a castle in the air. And when we are come to it Celia is always in a pink sun-bonnet gathering roses lovingly, and I, not very far off, am speaking strongly to somebody or other about something I want done. By-and-by I shall go into the library and work ... with an occasional glance through the open window at Celia.
To think that a month ago we were quite happy with a few pink geraniums!
Sunday, a month ago, was hot. "Let's take train somewhere," said Celia, "and have lunch under a hedge."
"I know a lovely place for hedges," I said.
"I know a lovely tin of potted grouse," said Celia, and she went off to cut some sandwiches. By twelve o'clock we were getting out of the train.
The first thing we came to was a golf course, and Celia had to drag me past it. Then we came to a wood, and I had to drag her through it. Another mile along a lane, and then we both stopped together.
"Oh!" we said.
It was a cottage, the cottage of a dream. And by a cottage I mean, not four plain rooms and a kitchen, but one surprising room opening into another; rooms all on different levels and of different shapes, with delightful places to bump your head on; open fireplaces; a large square hall, oak-beamed, where your guests can hang about after breakfast, while deciding whether to play golf or sit in the garden. Yet all so cunningly disposed that from outside it looks only a cottage or, at most, two cottages persuaded into one.
And, of course, we only saw it from outside. The little drive, determined to get there as soon as possible, pushed its way straight through an old barn, and arrived at the door simultaneously with the flagged lavender walk for the humble who came on foot. The rhododendrons were ablaze beneath the south windows; a little orchard was running wild on the west; there was a hint at the back of a clean-cut lawn. Also, you remember, there was a golf course, less than two miles away.
"Oh," said Celia with a deep sigh, "but we must live here."
An Irish terrier ran out to inspect us. I bent down and patted it. "With a dog," I added.
"Isn't it all lovely? I wonder who it belongs to, and if——"
"If he'd like to give it to us."
"Perhaps he would if he saw us and admired us very much," said Celia hopefully.
"I don't think Mr. Barlow is that sort of man," I said. "An excellent fellow, but not one to take these sudden fancies."
"Mr. Barlow? How do you know his name?"
"I have these surprising intuitions," I said modestly. "The way the chimneys stand up——"
"I know," cried Celia. "The dog's collar."
"Right, Watson. And the name of the house is Stopes."
She repeated it to herself with a frown.
"What a disappointing name," she said. "Just Stopes."
"Stopes," I said. "Stopes, Stopes. If you keep on saying it, a certain old-world charm seems to gather round it. Stopes."
"Stopes," said Celia. "It is rather jolly."
We said it ten more times each, and it seemed the only possible name for it. Stopes—of course.
"Well?" I asked.
"We must write to Mr. Barlow," said Celia decisively. "'Dear Mr. Barlow, er——Dear Mr. Barlow,——we——' Yes, it will be rather difficult. What do we want to say exactly?"
"'Dear Mr. Barlow,—May we have your house?'"
"Yes," smiled Celia, "but I'm afraid we can hardly ask for it. But we might rent it when—when he doesn't want it any more."
"'Dear Mr. Barlow,'" I amended, "'have you any idea when you're! going to die?' No, that wouldn't do either. And there's another thing—we don't know his initials, or even if he's a 'Mr.' Perhaps he's a knight or a—a duke. Think how offended Duke Barlow would be if we put '—— Barlow, Esq.' on the envelope."
"We could telegraph. 'Barlow. After you with Stopes.'"
"Perhaps there's a young Barlow, a Barlowette or two with expectations. It may have been in the family for years."
"Then we——Oh, let's have lunch." She sat down and began to undo the sandwiches. "Dear o' Stopes," she said with her mouth full.
We lunched outside Stopes. Surely if Earl Barlow had seen us he would have asked us in. But no doubt his dining-room looked the other way; towards the east and north, as I pointed out to Celia, thus being pleasantly cool at lunch-time.
"Ha, Barlow," I said dramatically, "a time will come when we shall be lunching in there, and you——bah!" And I tossed a potted-grouse sandwich to his dog.
However, that didn't get us any nearer.
"Will you promise," said Celia, "that we shall have lunch in there one day?"
"I promise," I said readily. That gave me about sixty years to do something in.
"I'm like—who was it who saw something of another man's and wouldn't be happy till he got it?"
"The baby in the soap advertisement."
"No, no, some king in history."
"I believe you are thinking of Ahab, but you aren't a bit like him, really. Besides, we're not coveting Stopes. All we want to know is, does Barlow ever let it in the summer?"
"That's it," said Celia eagerly.
"And, if so," I went on, "will he lend us the money to pay the rent with?"
"Er—yes," said Celia. "That's it."
So for a month we have lived in our Castle of Stopes. I see Celia there in her pink sun-bonnet, gathering the flowers lovingly, bringing an armful of them into the hall, disturbing me sometimes in the library with "Aren't they beauties? No, I only just looked in—good luck to you." And she sees me ordering a man about importantly, or waving my hand to her as I ride through the old barn on my road to the golf-course.
But this morning she had an idea.
"Suppose," she said timidly, "you wrote about Stopes, and Mr. Barlow; happened to see it, and knew how much we wanted it, and——"
"Then," said Celia firmly, "if he were a gentleman he would give it to us."
Very well. Now we shall see if Mr. Barlow is a gentleman.
A. A. M.
* * * * *
"Equal Rights" writes:—
"Dear Sir,—Why are descriptive names confined to boxers, such as Bombardier Wells and Gunboat Smith? Why not Rifleman Redmond, Airman Churchill, Solicitor George, Golfer Asquith, Bushman Wilding, Trundler Hitch, Dude Alexander, Bandsman Beecham, Hunger-Striker Pankhurst? Or, to take Editors——"
[The rest of this communication is omitted owing to considerations of space.—Ed.]
* * * * *
WHEN THE SHIPS COME HOME.
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* * * * *
EGYPT IN VENICE.
"La Legende de Joseph."
Those who know the kind of attractions that the Russian ballet offers in so many of its themes could have easily guessed, without previous enlightenment, what episode in the life of Joseph had been selected for illustration last week at Drury Lane. But they could never have guessed that Herr Tiessen, author of a shilling guide to the intentions of the composer, would attach a transcendental significance to the conduct of Potiphar's Wife. "Through the unknown divine," he informs us, "which is still new and mysterious to her, an imperious desire awakens in her to fathom, to possess this world"—the world, that is to say, which Joseph's imagination creates in the course of an exhibition dance. If this is so, I can only say that her behaviour is strangely misleading.
The scene opens at a party given by Potiphar in Venice. Venice, of course, was not Potiphar's home address; and I marvel a little at the change of venue when I think how much more harmony could have been got out of an Egyptian setting. But then I remind myself that the Russian ballet is nothing if not bizarre. The long banqueting-table recalls the canvases of Veronese, but with discordant notes of the Orient and elsewhere. Potiphar himself, seated on a dais, has the air of an Assyrian bull. By his side Mme. Potiphar wears breeches ending above the knee, with white stockings and high clogs.
For the entertainment of the guests there was a dance of nuptial unveiling and a bout between half-a-dozen Turkish boxers. But it was a decadent and blaze company, and something more piquant was needed for their titillation. This was supplied in the shape of an original dance by the fifteen-year-old Joseph, whom my guide describes as "graceful, wild and pungent." He was introduced in a recumbent posture, and asleep, on a covered stretcher, and at first I had the clever idea that he was the customary corpse that appeared at Egyptian feasts to remind the company of their liability to die. But when he woke up and began to dance I saw at once that I was wrong.
I now know all about the interpretation of Joseph's dance; but I defy anyone to say at sight and without a showman's assistance what precisely he was after. In the Third Figure (according to my guide-book) "there is in his leaps a feeling of heaviness, as if he were bound to earth, and he stumbles once or twice as one who has missed his goal;" but how was I to guess that this signified that his "searching after God" was still ineffectual? or that when in the Fourth Figure he "leaps with light feet" this meant that "Joseph has found God"? I don't blame the boy for not knowing the rule that forbids one art to trespass on the domain of another; but there is no excuse for Herr Strauss, who must have been well aware that, for the conveyance of any but the most obvious emotions, mute dancing can never be a satisfactory substitute for articulate poetry.
However, Potiphar's guests seemed better instructed than I was, for they threw off their apathy and took quite an intelligent interest in Joseph's pas seul. Indeed, one young man (the episode escaped me at the dress rehearsal, but I have it in the guide-book)—one young man, "sobbing, buries his head in his hands, upsetting thereby a dish of fruit." As for Potiphar, it failed to stir the sombre depths of his abysmal boredom, but his wife, whose ennui had hitherto been of the most profound, began to sit up and take notice, and at the end of the dance she sent for Joseph and supplemented his rather exiguous costume with a gross necklace of jewels, letting her hand linger awhile on his bare neck. Already, it will be seen, she was intrigued with the "unknown divine." Joseph, on the contrary, received her attentions without empressement.
In the next scene—after a rather woolly and unintelligible interlude—we see Joseph retiring to his couch in an alcove behind the place where the banqueting-table had been. You will judge how urgent was the lady's keenness to probe the mysteries of his divine nature when I tell you that she could not wait till the morning to pursue her enquiries, but must needs visit him in his chamber at dead of night, and wearing the one garment of the hour. At first, still half dreaming, he mistakes her for an angel (he had already seen one in his sleep), but subsequently, growing suspicious, he repels her with a dignified disdain. For I must tell you that, whatever the guide-book may allege about the loftiness of her designs, the music gave her away. It reverted, in fact, to the motive of those passages which had already accompanied and illustrated the nuptial dance, the dance (as Herr Tiessen calls it) of "burning Love-longing."
At this juncture, Potiphar and his minions break upon the scene. His wife, after denouncing Joseph, is distracted between passion of hatred and passion of love, and there is some play (reminding one of L'Apres-midi d'un Faune) with the purple cloak which Joseph had discarded. Presently she eludes her dilemma by fainting.
Meanwhile it has been the work of a moment to order up a brazier, a pair of pincers, a poker, a headsman and an axe. The instruments of torture waste no time in getting red-hot; and we anticipate the worst. Joseph, however, who has ignored these preparations and maintained an attitude of superbly indifferent aloofness, suddenly becomes luminous under great pressure of limelight; and most of the cast, including a ballet of female dervishes, are abashed to the ground.
Now appears, on the open-work entresol at the back of the stage, an archangel. The guide-book is in error where it says that he glides downwards on a shaft of light radiating from a star. As a matter of fact he walks down the main staircase to the ground floor. Approaching Joseph he takes him by the hand and "leads him heavenwards" by the same flight of steps; and we are to understand that, in the opinion of Herr Strauss, the boy's subsequent career, as recorded in the Hebraic Scriptures, may be treated as negligible.
I should like, in excuse of my own flippancy, to assume the same detachment, and to regard this ballet-theme as having practically no relation whatever to Biblical history, but being just one of many themes out of Oriental lore, mostly secular, that lend themselves to the drama of disappointed passion. My only serious protest is against the hypocrisy which pretends, with regard to Potiphar's Wife, to see a spiritual significance in what is mere vulgar animalism.
I ought, by the way, to have said that, in a spasm of chagrin, she chokes herself with the pearl necklace which lent the only touch of superfluity to her night attire, and was carried out—but not up the main staircase. Thus ends this sordid tragedy that so well illustrates that quality in Herr Strauss to which my guide refers when he speaks of his realization of a "poignant longing for divine cheerfulness."
* * * * *
* * * * *
My love to me is cold, And no more seeks my gaze; I wonder why! The smile of welcome that I loved of old No longer lights her eye.
One little week ago I asked no surer guide than Cupid's chart; I said, "Your eyes reveal the depths below, And I can read your heart."
She let her shy gaze fall, And smiling asked, "Is then my face a screed, My brow an open love-letter, where all The world my thoughts may read?"
Said I, "The world, I'll vow, Is blind! Myself alone may see the signs, And know the message written on your brow: I read between the lines."
My dear to me is cold; Gone somewhere is the love-light from her eye; And, when our ways meet, stately she doth hold Her course. I wonder why.
* * * * *
"Curiously, the Australian Minister of Defence in the last Parliament bore the same name as the Prime Minister in that which has just been dissolved."
A similar curious coincidence happened in England, the War Minister in the last Parliament bearing the same name as the present Lord Chancellor.
* * * * *
"MEN FOR THE ANTARCTIC.
105 Canadian Dogs to go with Sir E. Shackleton."
A gay lot, these Canadians.
* * * * *
A SCANDALMONGRIAN ROMANCE.
(By Francis Scribble.)
[The following article, specially written for us by the Author of "Ten Frail Beauties of the Restoration," "Tales Told by a Royal Washerwoman," etc., is another important contribution to the literature of the Royal Dirty-Linen Bag.]
A day or two ago a short notice in the papers told of the death of Mrs. Maria Tubbs at Cannes; but few, if any, of those who read that brief announcement will have recognised in it the close of one of the most amazing careers of the nineteenth century. Yet little surprise need be expressed at this general ignorance, for who would think to find under that somewhat common-place name the ravishingly beautiful Maria Cotherstone, who, forty years ago, was swept by Fate into the track of the late King of Scandalmongria, and well-nigh caused that singularly unstable bark to founder? It is with the kindly object of rescuing her romance from oblivion that this brief chronicle is written.
In 1873 the Scandalmongrian Minister in London was requested to find an English lady to take charge of the two children of his Royal master, and, after searching enquiries, he was successful, and Miss Maria Cotherstone turned her back on England never more to return. She was just twenty-two, fresh and blooming, possessed of the gayest of spirits, delightful manners and the highest accomplishments. Quietly she assumed control of the Royal schoolroom, and by her charm no less than by her firmness she quickly won the respect and love of her charges. Well had it been for her memory if her influence had never spread beyond the walls of her schoolroom; this article had then been unwritten. But alas for human nature! One day His Majesty's eyes fell upon the person of his children's governess, and then began one of the most sordid intrigues it has ever been my pleasure to recall. [A large statement, as readers of our author's Gleanings from a Royal Dustbin will readily acknowledge. However, the succeeding three-quarter of a column of details, here omitted, prove that there is at least some foundation for the remark.]
... And so their romance ended, and His Majesty returned to the bosom of his family and became once more the righteous upholder of the sanctity of the marriage tie. At first his easy-going Court smiled somewhat at the claim; but, when one or two highly-placed officials presumed to follow in the footsteps of their Sovereign, and were in consequence banished irrevocably from his presence, Scandalmongrian Society realised with a pained surprise that what is venial in a monarch may, in a subject, be a damnable offence.
And what of Maria, the charming, fascinating, much injured Maria? For several years she is lost, and then we hear of her marriage at Rome to "John Tubbs, Esq., of London," and once again she vanishes, only to turn up many years later at Cannes. She is a widow now, and a model of all the virtues. Who so staid and respectable as Madam? Who so charitable to the poor? Few, it is to be feared, will have recognised in that handsome old lady, so regular in her attendance at the services of the English Church, the beauteous Maria Cotherstone whose name was once on the lips of everybody from one end of Europe to the other. It nearly happened, indeed, that she went down to her grave with all her scandalous, feverish past forgotten, leaving behind her only the fragrant memory of her later life. But I have saved her. It is a queer story, quite interesting enough to recall.
* * * * *
THE HIGHER EDUCATION OF WOMEN.
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It is not only misfortune that makes strange bedfellows. Both Earl Beauchamp and Sir Joseph Beecham appear in the recent Honours List.
By-the-by, it is denied that Sir Joseph Beecham was in any way responsible for the Government's "Pills for Earthquakes," by which it was hoped to avert the Irish crisis.
A New York cable announces that the Duke of Manchester is interesting himself in a cinematograph proposition of a philanthropic nature, and that the company will be known as the "Church and School Social Service Corporation for the Advancement of Moral and Religious Education and Social Uplift Work through the medium of the Higher Art of the Moving Picture." It will of course be possible for the man in a hurry to call it, tout court, the "C.&S.S.S.C.F.T.A.O.M.&R.E.&S.U.W.T.T.M.O.T.H.A.O.T.M.P."
The penny off the income tax came just in time. It enabled several Liberal plutocrats to buy a rose on Alexandra Day.
The balance-sheet of the German Company which had been running a Zeppelin airship passenger service has just been issued, and shows a loss of L10,000 on the year's working. This is not surprising, the difficulty which all aircraft experience to keep their balance.
At the launch of the liner Bismarck last week, the bottle of wine—which was thrown by the Countess Hannah von Bismarck missed the vessel, whereupon the Kaiser hauled back the bottle, and with his proverbial good luck hit the target.
Five shots were fired last week at Baron Henri de Rothschild. At first it was thought that this was done to stop the author of Croesus from writing more plays, but, when it transpired that the assailant was a man who objected to the "Rothschild Cheap Milk Supply," public sympathy veered round in favour of the Baron.
Messrs. Selfridge and Co. were last week defrauded by a well-dressed man, who obtained two dressing-bags with silver fittings by means of a trick without paying for them. This is really abominable. It is bad enough when merely commercial firms are victimised: to best a philanthropic institution in this way is peculiarly base.
"Mexican Rebel Split."
Now perhaps the other civilised Powers will intervene. We have heard of many inhumanities marking the war in Mexico, but this treatment of a rebel is surely the limit.
It is not often, we imagine, that the British Navy is used to enforce a change of diet. H.M.S. Torch has just been ordered on a punitive expedition to Malekula Island, where certain of the natives have been eating some of their compatriots.
An American woman, according to The Express, has a serious complaint about the London policeman. She declares that she walked all the way from Queen's Hall to Piccadilly Circus with three buttons of her blouse undone at the back, and "not a single policeman" offered to do it up for her. No doubt the Force was reluctant to interfere with what might turn out to be the latest fashion. A Boy Scout who offered, the other day, to sew up a split skirt got his ears soundly boxed.
Meanwhile the glad tidings reach us that women's skirts and bodices are to fasten in front instead of at the back. Husbands all over the world who have on occasions been pressed into their wives' service as maids, only to learn that they were clumsy boobies, would like to have the name of the arbiter of fashion who is responsible for this innovation, as there is some thought of erecting a statue to him.
Some distinguished German professors have been discussing the question of the best place in which to keep a baby in summer. It is characteristic, however, of these unpractical persons that not one of them suggests the obvious ice-safe.
"One of the first things the rich should learn," says Dean Inge, "is that money is not put to the best use when it is merely spent on enjoyment." It is hoped that this pronouncement may lead wealthy people to patronise our concert-halls more than they do.
"L1,600," a newspaper tells us, "were found hidden in the cork leg of Harry C. Wise while he was undergoing treatment in a hospital at Denver." And now, we suspect, Harry's friends will always be pulling his leg.
"Have you seen Pelleas and Melisande?"
"No. Is it as funny as Potash and Perlmutter?"
* * * * *
My dinner partner was a self-made man and not ashamed of it.
"Do you take an interest in china, ma'am?" he asked me.
I felt that if I said "Yes" I should have to buy some. So I said "No," but he didn't wait to hear what I said.
"I think I may say," he continued, "that I have the finest collection of old Dresden china in London."
He went into the figures, explaining the cost price and the difficulty of storage.
"Oh," said I, "if you find it a nuisance, I've a parlour-maid I could recommend to you; just the girl to help you to get rid of it."
At this point I think he had some idea of having the finest collection of parlourmaids in Middlesex, but he made it small dogs instead. Was I interested in these? No, but I supposed I'd have to be if he insisted.
"I don't think I should be far wrong," he began, but I hustled him through to the end of his sentence.
"Finest collection in—?" I asked.
"England," he said.
He went over their points, and in an expansive moment I marvelled. This was imprudent, as it caused him to search his mind for some further spectacular triumph wherewith to amaze and delight.
"That," he said, looking up the table, "is my wife."
"Marvellous," said I.
He took this in the best part. "You refer to her diamonds?" he said.
"Did I?" said I.
"The finest collection in Great Britain," he declared, and spread himself over the subject.
Later, in a mood of concession, he inquired as to my specialities. I had none, at least none that I could think of. Determined to extract something noteworthy, he questioned me on every possibility. Was I not married? That was so, I agreed, but then so many women are.
"You have sons, ma'am?" he persisted, with that implacable optimism to which, among other things, he no doubt owed his success in the world.
I thought of Baby. "Ah yes, of course," I said. "The finest collection in Europe."
* * * * *
"'In Norway,' she says, 'we do not eat one-third the quantity that the English eat; our meals are simpler and shorter. I believe that this is the cause of the enormous amount of indigestion that is suffered by the English.'"
Daily News and Leader.
So our doctor, who attributed our indigestion to lobster mayonnaise, was wrong again.
* * * * *
KINDNESS TO SUBJECTS.
[One of our illustrated papers recently published a picture of the King of Spain in a motor-car which had broken down. The car was being pushed along by some helpful people, and the comment on the picture was, "It is these thoughtful little acts that make royalty so popular nowadays." Lest it should be thought that the other potentates of Europe take less trouble to make themselves beloved by their subjects, we hasten to give a few instances which have come to our notice.]
* * * * *
* * * * *
There were eight pretty walkers who went up a hill; They were Jessamine, Joseph and Japhet and Jill, And Allie and Sally and Tumbledown Bill, And Farnaby Fullerton Rigby.
They were all in good training and all of them keen, And their chief wore a coat and a waistcoat of green; He was always a proud man and kept himself clean, Did Farnaby Fullerton Rigby.
They intended to lunch when they got to the top On a sandwich apiece and a biscuit and chop. The provisions were carefully bought in a shop By Farnaby Fullerton Rigby.
They were jesters of merit—the sort who can poke Funny tales in your ribs till you splutter and choke; But the best of the lot at a jibe or a joke Was Farnaby Fullerton Rigby.
It was ten of the clock when the walking began, And they started with Tumbledown Bill in the van; And the rear was brought up by that excellent man, By Farnaby Fullerton Rigby.
They went off at a pace I am bound to deplore, For they did twenty yards in a minute or more And a yard or two over, a capital score For Farnaby Fullerton Rigby.
They had all that pedestrians fairly can ask: Smooth roads, sunny weather and beer in a cask, And a friend who could teach them to stick to their task, Viz.: Farnaby Fullerton Rigby.
Yet I somehow suppose that they hadn't the knack, For in spite of it all they have never come back, And I own that the future looks dismally black For Farnaby Fullerton Rigby.
Now the walkers who seem to be stuck on the hill, They are Jessamine, Joseph and Japhet and Jill, And Allie and Sally and Tumbledown Bill, And Farnaby Fullerton Rigby.
* * * * *
King Peter of Servia.
(From The Daily Mirror.)
"The proclamation, however, as given in a later message, reads thus:—To My Beloved People: As I shall be prevented by illness from exercising my royal power for some time, I order, by Article 69 of the Constitution, that so long as my cure lasts the Crown Prince Alexander shall govern in my name. On this occasion I recommend my dear fatherland to the care of the Almighty.
"On this occasion" is perhaps a little invidious.
* * * * *
Two consecutive books in The Western Daily Press list of publications received:—
"Ring Strategy and Tactics.
Charles Dickens in Chancery."
The boxing boom continues.
* * * * *
THE EMERGENCY EXIT.
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
(Extracted from the Diary of Toby, M.P.)
House of Commons, Monday, June 22.—Great muster of forces on both sides. Not wholly explained by second reading of Budget Bill standing as first Order. A section of Ministerialists, purists in finance, took exception to proposed procedure. Holt, spokesman at mouth of new Cave, put down amendment challenging Chancellor of Exchequer's proposals. Here was chance for watchful Opposition. If some thirty Ministerialists would go with them into Lobby it would not quite suffice to turn out Ministry; but it would be better than a Snap Division, with its personal inconvenience of preliminary hiding in bath-rooms and underground cellars.
Cassel, adding to Parliamentary reputation studiously attained, raised subject on point of order. Underlying suggestion was that Budget Bill should be withdrawn and reintroduced under amended form of procedure. Speaker, whilst admitting irregularity, stopped short of approving extreme course. Pointed out that the matter might be put right by moving fresh resolutions.
This disappointing. Worse to follow. The Infant Samuel, making fresh appearance in new part of understudy of Chancellor of Exchequer, conceded point of procedure made by Radical Cave. Promised objection should be fully met. Holt, amid ironical cheers from Opposition, said in these circumstances would not move amendment. Incident reminded Walter Long of story of the Colonel and the opossum up a tree.
"Don't shoot!" said the Opossum; "I'll come down."
Chancellor of the Exchequer had come down. No need for Colonel Holt to discharge his gun.
Thus threatened crisis blew over. Members, cheered by promise of reduction by one half of proposed increase in Income Tax, got away early to attend various functions in honour of King's birthday.
Business done.—Second reading of Budget Bill moved.
House of Lords, Tuesday.—London season in full fling. May be said to reach dizziest height in this birthday week. Social engagements numerous and clashing. To-day House of Lords magnet of attraction of surpassing force. The thing for grandes dames to do is to go down to the House and be present at opening of fresh tourney round Home Rule Bill. Accordingly, the peeresses, alive to their responsibility as leaders of high thinking and simple living, flock down to Westminster, filling side-galleries with grace, beauty, and some finely feathered hats.
Seats on floor also crowded. Patriotic peers arriving late, finding no room on the benches where the Union Jack is kept flying, cross over. Temporarily seat themselves among the comparatively scanty flock of discredited Ministerialists. Bishops muster in exceptional number. Their rochets form wedge of spotless white thrust in centre of black-coated laity seated below Gangway on right of Woolsack. Space before Throne thronged with Privy Councillors availing themselves of the privilege their rank confers to come thus closely into contact with what is still an hereditary chamber.
In centre of first row Carson uplifts his tall figure and surveys a scene he has done much to make possible.
Perhaps in matter of dramatic interest the play did not quite come up to its superb setting. Principal parts taken by Crewe and Lansdowne. Neither accustomed to move House to spasms of enthusiasm. Leader of House, introducing what is officially known as Government of Ireland Amending Bill, made it clear in such sentences as were fully audible that scheme does not go a step beyond overture towards settlement proffered by Premier last March.
Lansdowne expressed profound disappointment at this lack of enterprise. "Rather a shabby and undignified proceeding on the part of a strong Government," he said, "to come down with proposal they know to be wholly inadequate, and to hint that we ought to assist them in converting it into a practical and workable measure."
Actual condition of things could not with equal brevity be more clearly stated. Bill presented to Lords as sort of lay figure, which they may, in accordance with taste and conviction, suitably clothe. No assurance forthcoming that style and fit will be approved when submitted to House of Commons, final arbiters.
Meanwhile Bill read a first time, and ordered to be printed.
Business done.—The Commons still harping on the Budget. Tim Healy enlivened proceedings by vigorous personal attack on "the most reckless and incapable Chancellor of the Exchequer that ever sat on the Treasury Bench." Lloyd George's retort courteous looked forward to with interest.
House of Commons, Wednesday.—When, shortly after half-past five, Chancellor Of Exchequer rose to take part in debate on new development of Budget Bill, House nearly empty. Interests at stake enormous. Situation enlivened for Opposition by quandary of Government. But afternoon is hot, and from the silver Thames cool air blows over Terrace. Accordingly thither Members repair, leaving House to solitude and Chiozza Money.
Benches rapidly filled when news went round that Chancellor was on his legs. Soon there was crowded audience. Sound of cheering and counter-cheering, applausive and derisive, frequently broke forth. Chancellor in fine fighting form. Malcontents in his own camp are reconciled. Hereditary foe in front. Went for him accordingly. Walter Long seated immediately opposite conveniently served as suitable target for whirling lance. Effectively quoted from speeches made by him at other times, insisting upon relief of the rate so heavily burdoned as to make it impossible to carry out social reforms of imperative necessity.
"After these lavish professions of anxiety to help local authorities, I did not," said the Chancellor, "expect the right hon. gentleman and his friends would go rummaging in the dustbins of ancient precedent, to find obstacles to place in the way of proposals of reform."
Carried away by his own eloquence, the Chancellor, whilst sarcastically complimentary to Walter Long, went so far as to call him "The Father of Form IV." The putative parent blushed. There were cries of "Order!" and "Withdraw!" Speaker did not interpose, and Chancellor hurried on to another point of his argument.
Quite a long time since our old friend Form IV., at one time a familiar impulse to party vituperation, was mentioned in debate. This unexpected disclosure of its paternity made quite a stir.
Son Austen followed Chancellor in brisk speech that led to one or two interludes of angry interruption across the Table. When he made an end of speaking, debate relapsed into former condition of languor. Talk dully kept up till half-past eleven.
Business done.—Further debate on Budget.
Thursday.—Chancellor of Exchequer admittedly allured by what he describes as "attractive features" of proposal to raise fresh revenue. It is simply the levying of a special tax on all persons using titles.
Idea not absolutely new. Principle established in case of citizens displaying crest or coat-of-arms. What is novel is suggested method of taxation. Differing from the dog-tax, levied at a common rate, it is proposed that our old nobility shall, in this fresh recognition of their lofty estate, be dealt with on a sliding scale. A duke will have his pre-eminence recognised by an exceptionally high rate of taxation. Marquises, earls and a' that will be mulct on a descending scale, till the lowly knight is reached. He will be compensated for comparative obscurity in the glittering throng by being let off for a nominal sum.
Chancellor fears it is too late to adopt proposal this year, a way of putting it which seems to suggest that we may hear more of it in next year's Budget.
Business done.—Hayes Fisher's Amendment to Budget Bill negatived by 303 votes to 265. Reduction of Ministerial majority to 38 hailed with boisterous burst of cheers and counter-cheers.
* * * * *
* * * * *
The Lord Mayor (on hearing a certain Peel): "Turn again (in your grave), Whittington."
* * * * *
New song for old Cantabs.:—
"O. B., what can the mate be?"
* * * * *
RUS IN URBE.
No, this is not the Russian ballet. It is the English Folk Dance Society, and their performances at the Royal Horticultural Hall at Westminster the other day showed that the Russian ballet is not to have things all its own way. I am not going to moralise upon the salacious quality of some of the themes of our exotic visitors, but certainly it would be difficult to find a stronger contrast to their ruling passion than is presented by the purity and simplicity of these country dances.
"Sellinger's Bound," danced to an air that lulled Titania to sleep all through the winter at the Savoy, was the most popular, with its ring of a dozen dancers, hands joined, running together into the centre of their circle, as if to honour some imaginary deity—possibly Mr. Cecil Sharp, director of the Society, who has collected and revived the airs to which they dance.
Then there were the Morris-dances, "Shepherd's Hey" (with nothing about a "nonny-nonny" in it), and "Haste to the Wedding." There might perhaps be a greater propriety in the latter if it were confined to men; but at least it raised no apprehension that anybody was going to "repent at leisure." In the "Flamborough Sword" dance, the men (with no Amazon assistance) raced through the figure and out again, eight of them, armed with bloodless wooden swords—a finely ordered riot.
"Lady's Pleasure," a Morris-jig for two men, lays hold of you at the first bar, and again with a fresh grip and a tighter as the music slows up for the dancers to do their "capers"—all to the music of Mr. Cecil Sharp at the piano and Miss Avril at the fiddle.
The object of The English Folk Dance Society is to teach rather than to perform in public. Hence the rarity of their displays, and the better reason why we should seize, when they come, our chances of assisting at these delightful exhibitions of an art whose revival has done so much to restore to the countryside the unpretentious joys that gave its name to Merrie England.
* * * * *
"It was the time when Henry III. was batting with Simon de Montfort and his Barons"—Straits Times.
But not at Lord's, which has only just celebrated its centenary.
* * * * *
GREAT ECONOMY EFFECTED BY CO-OPERATION IN ADVERTISEMENT.
* * * * *
THE MILITANTS' TARIFF.
Etna Lodge, W.
Mrs. Bangham Smasher, having entered into partnership with the Misses Burnham Blazer, as General Agents of Destruction, begs to inform the public that the firm will prepared to execute commissions of all kinds, at the shortest notice, on the very moderate terms given below:—
L s. d.
For breaking windows, per window 0 7 6 For howling, kicking, or biting during service in church, per howl, kick, or bite 0 10 6 For sitting on doorsteps of obnoxious persons, per hour, if fine 0 15 0 For sitting on doorsteps of obnoxious persons, per hour, if wet 1 1 0 For damaging golf greens, per green 1 11 6 For throwing shoes at magistrates in court, according to size and weight of shoe, from 2 2 0 For beating officials connected with gaols 3 3 0 For slashing and hacking valuable pictures, from 7 7 0 For bombs not intended to explode 8 8 0 For burning down a house, according to value and social position of owner, from 10 0 0 For insulting exalted Personages, per insult 10 10 0 For burning down a modern red-brick church 15 15 0 For burning down a specially valuable and interesting ancient one (eleventh and twelfth centuries extra) 21 0 0 For bombs warranted to destroy an ordinary church. 30 0 0 For bombs suited to wreck really superior Buildings, such as Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's 50 0 0 For disturbing public meetings and the general harassing and annoyance of all peaceable and decent people No charge.
Bangham Smasher, Burnham Blazer & Co. beg to assume their patrons that all the choppers, hammers, bombs, stones, etc., employed in their business are of the very best quality, and only refined paraffin and wax matches will be used in burning down any building.
Being in a position to offer such exceptional advantages they trust to receive a large measure of support in their elevating and enlightening work.
If none of the above is found suitable to the needs of intending clients, a further list of assorted outrages will be supplied on application.
* * * * *
My happiness is in another's keeping, My heart delivered to a maiden's care, And she can cast it down or set it leaping (The latter process is extremely rare); Ah, would that love indeed had made me blind, That I might put her image out of mind!
Yet if I looked at her with eyes unseeing Her voice and laughter would not pass unheard; I should not be a reasonable being, I still should tremble at her lightest word; How could I then gain freedom from the spell Unless I turned completely deaf as well?
So, blind and deaf, I might perhaps recover A partial peace of mind, but all in vain, For memories pursue the luckless lover, And only death can ease him of his pain. Thus, having proved that I were better dead, I think I'll go and talk to her instead.
* * * * *
BALM FOR THE BRAINLESS.
["If one man has more brains than another, which enable him to outstrip his fellows, is not that good fortune? What had he got to do with it? If your brain is a bad one, it is not your responsibility. If your brain is a good one it is not your merit. Some men have greater physical, mental, moral strength than others that enables them to win in the race. That is their good fortune and they ought to be grateful for it; and the one way they can best show their gratitude is by helping those who are less fortunate than themselves. Men endowed with any, or most, or all of these fortunate conditions ought not to be stingy in helping others who have not been so fortunate as themselves."—Mr. Lloyd George at Denmark Hill, June 30.]
As a result of Mr. Lloyd George's vivid and convincing pronouncement on the responsibilities of the fortunate, we have been deluged with appeals from all sorts and conditions of unlucky correspondents. We select the following from among the most deserving cases in the hope that our opulent readers may avail themselves of the chances thus offered of redressing the partiality of fortune.
The Cry of the Cracksman.
The Sanctuary, Crookhaven.
Sir,—Endowed by nature with an imperfect moral sense and a complete inability to discriminate between meum and tuum, I was irresistibly impelled at an early age to adopt the precarious profession of housebreaker. I have just served a sentence of three years, and was on the point of resuming my career when I read Mr. Lloyd George's epoch-making speech at Denmark Hill, in which he clearly defines the duty of the State to redress the inequalities of moral as well as material endowment by which so large a proportion of the community is penalised. I am the master of a fine literary style and admirably suited to discharge any secretarial duties, but it is only right that I should clearly explain at the outset that it is no use offering me any post unless it is so well salaried that I should never feel it was worth while to explore or appropriate the contents of my employer's safe.
The Luck of the Law.
_Railway Carriage Bungalow,
Sir,—It is precisely thirty years since I was called to the Bar, and several of my contemporaries have already been elevated to the Bench, while Sir John Simon, who is considerably my junior, is in the receipt of a salary probably double that drawn by an ordinary Judge. My earnings for the last ten years have exempted me from income-tax, but this is but a poor consolation when I consider that were it not for the caprice of fortune I should probably be returning L400 or L500 a year to the Exchequer in super-tax. But not only have I been badly treated in regard to mental equipment; I have been further handicapped by hereditary conscientious objection to pay any bills. An annuity of L500 a year, or only one-tenth of the salary of a Judge, is the minimum that my self-respect will allow me to accept in payment of the State's long-standing debt to
The Cruelty of Competition.
Sir,—I confidently appeal for your support in the application for a grant which I am forwarding to the Prime Minister. My son, aged 14, has failed to win an entrance scholarship at Winchester and Charterhouse, not from any fault of his own, but simply owing to the unfair competition of other candidates more liberally endowed with brains. At a modest estimate I calculate that the extra drain on my resources for the next eight years in consequence of this undeserved hardship will amount to at least L600, which I can ill afford owing to unfortunate speculations in Patagonian ruby mines—another example of that bad luck which, in the noble words of the Chancellor Of the Exchequer, it is the privilege of the prosperous to remedy.
I am, Sir, yours expectantly,
(Rev.) J. Stonor Brooke.
Lotus Lodge, Limpsfield.
Sir,—A victim since birth to congenital lassitude, which has rendered all labour, whether manual or mental, distasteful, nay, intolerable to me, I find myself at the age of 41 so out of touch with the spirit of strenuous effort which has invaded every corner of our national life that I am anxious to confer on the State or, failing that, some meritorious millionaire the privilege of providing for my modest needs. A snug sinecure with a commodious residence and a good car—cheap American motors are of course barred—represent the indispensable minimum.
I am, Sir, yours faithfully,
* * * * *
Some day, says the President of the Aero Club, we shall be able to go into a shop and buy a pair of wings. But we can do that already; the only difficulty is to fly with them.
* * * * *
"Gentleman, middle aged, would be glad of a few correspondents (40 to 60)."
T. P.'s Weekly.
* * * * *
THE SILENT CHARMER.
[Speaking of flowers a contemporary recently remarked:—"These careless-looking creatures filling the air with delight, robbing tired brains of tiredness, are a delicate texture of coloured effort that has prevailed out of a thousand chances, aided in all that effort by man. Without man they would be but weeds—a profusion of Nature's quantity."]
My dearest Thomas, I would not Deny the fact that you are clever; You've taught Dame Nature what is what At horticultural endeavour (She has not got that useful thing, The shilling book of gardening).
She has her merits, but, of course, Her wild attempts won't stand comparing With such a floral tour de force As that geranium you are wearing; Yon chosen emblem of your skill Must surely make her wilder still.
But give me Nature; when we meet She does not prattle of her posies, Dull facts of what begonias eat, The dietetic fads of roses, And how she strove with spade and spud. Or nipped the green fly on the bud.
'Tis she that really soothes the brain, Spreading her weeds in bright profusion, And never troubling to explain How much they owe to her collusion, While, Thomas, your achievements seem To be your one and only theme.
* * * * *
Mr. J. C. Parke, writing in The Strand Magazine on the best way to beat Wilding, says:—
"Personally, after close observation and from playing against him, I would suggest a determined attack on the champion's forehead from the base-line."
That ought to learn him.
* * * * *
"His Majesty has been pleased to confer the dignity of an Earldom of the United Kingdom upon Field-Marshal the Viscount Kitchener of Khartoum, P.G.C., B.O.M.G.C., S.I.G.C.M., G.G.C.I.E."
Newcastle Daily Journal.
The old orders change, yielding place to new.
* * * * *
From a magazine cover:—
"This magazine has been the turning point in many a man's career. Spend twopence and half-an-hour on it.... Price Threepence."
We would rather pay the threepence.
* * * * *
"In our report of the wedding of Mr. Lee Kwee Law to Miss Chan Siew Cheen we inadvertently left out the following, who also sent presents:——"—Straits Echo.
And then they inadvertently left them out again.
* * * * *
THE CURE FOR CRICKET.
There is no longer any doubt that golf is threatening the supremacy of our national game. Judged by the only true standard—the amount of space allotted to it in the daily press—it is manifest that the encroachments of this insidious pastime have now reached a point where the cricket reformer must bestir himself before it is too late. We are convinced that so far we have been taking much too narrow a view. The time has come to look for light and leading outside the confines of our own Book of Rules. There are other games besides cricket. Let us call them to our councils.
In the first place a valuable hint may surely be found in the development of Rugby football. It is common knowledge what immense results have followed the introduction, some twenty years ago, of the Four Three-quarter System. No spectator (and we cannot exist without the spectator) would ever dream now of returning to the old formation. Very well. The same principle can be easily adapted to our requirements in the form of the Three Batsmen System. The pitch would become an equilateral triangle, and we should suggest that the bowler have the option of bowling (from his own corner) at either of the two outlying batsmen (at theirs). Lots of interesting developments would follow, as, for instance, the institution of a sort of silly-point-short-mid-on in the centre of the triangle. (Should he be allowed to wear gloves?)
Golf has also a lesson to teach us. We are all familiar with the huge strides that have been made by the introduction of the rubber-cored ball. We don't want to plagiarize, although a rubber-cored cricket ball is a nice idea. Why not aim at the opposite extreme and try a ball "reinforced" with concrete? The tingling of the batsman's fingers which might result could be neutralised by the use of a rubber-faced bat. This reform would, we believe, have one happy consequence. People wouldn't be so keen to play with their legs.
As to lawn tennis—another dangerous rival—we hear a good deal in these days about "foot-faults." That seems to show the trend of modern thought. If we are to be in the swim we shall have to reconsider our no-ball rule. Why not make it a no-ball every time unless the bowler has both feet in the air at the moment when the ball leaves his hand? One might put up a little hurdle—nothing obtrusive—only a matter of a few inches high.
We believe that something might even be done by borrowing from hockey the principle of the semi-circle, outside of which a goal may not be shot. The whole pitch might be enclosed in a circular crease—which would look uncommonly well in Press photographs. (We cannot exist without the Press.) No fielder inside the magic circle would be allowed to stop the ball with his feet.
Finally there is the case of billiards, not a game that is very closely allied to cricket, but one from which much may be learned. How has billiards brightened itself? By adopting the great principle of "barring" certain strokes. Here we have got on to something really valuable. We propose to go one better, and draw up a schedule of the different conditions of barring under which matches may be played. It will only remain for secretaries, when fixtures are made, to arrange the terms by negotiation. In time to come, should we be able to carry our point, we shall all be familiar with such announcements as the following:—
Notts. v. Surrey. (Cut-barred.) Gentlemen v. Players. (L.b.w.-barred.) England v. Australia. (Googly-and-yorker-barred.)
We do not pretend to have exhausted the subject, but we have made a start. We must look about us. Something may be learned, we firmly believe, even from skittles and ping-pong. Our national game cannot afford to exclude special features. It should have the best of everything.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"The sermon over, a collection was taken, and hardly a person present did not contribute. Mgr. Benson's sermon went to the hardest heart there. Even the journalists contributed."
* * * * *
THE HERE, THERE AND LONDON LETTER.
_With apologies to "The Westminster_ Gazette."_
The Home of the South Saxons.
Sussex, the county for which Mr. C. B. Fry (who hurt his leg in the Lord's centenary match) used to play before he moved to Hampshire, is an attractive division of the country to the south of London with a long sea border. Mr. Kipling has praised it in some memorable verses, and among frequent visitors to its principal town, Brighton, is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The word Sussex is a contraction of South Saxon. All will wish the old Oxonian a speedy recovery from his strain.
A Monetary Proverb.
The origin of the old saying, "Penny wise, pound foolish," which has come into vogue again in connection with the revised income tax—for who can deny that the saving of the penny is wise?—is lost in obscurity; but there is no doubt that it is very ancient. Many nations have the same proverb in different terms as applied to their own currency. In France the coins to which the saying best applies would be the sou and the louis; in America, the cent and the dollar; and so forth.
Cordiality before Party.
The circumstance of Mr. Lulu Harcourt's unveiling a memorial to Mr. Joseph Chamberlain and Mr. Austen Chamberlain at the Albert Dock Hospital is not without precedent. On more than one occasion party differences have been similarly forgotten. Thus several golf-players contributed to The Daily Telegraph shilling fund in honour of the great W. G. Grace some few years ago. Such sinking of private shibboleths is a very excellent thing and goes far to show how thoroughly sound and healthy English public life really is au fond.
The Names of Colleges.
Exeter College, Oxford, which has just celebrated its six hundredth anniversary, is not the only college which bears the same name as that of a city. Pembroke is another. Keble is, of course, named after the hymn-writer and divine; and Balliol, where C. S. C. played the wag so divertingly, after Balliol. A propos of Oxford, it is a question whether that extremely amusing book, Verdant Green, is still much read by freshers.
The Author of The Little Minister.
Sir James Barrie, who is said to have written a revue for production this autumn at a West-End Theatre, must not be confounded with the French sculptor, Barye, in spite of the similarity of name. Barye is famous chiefly for his bronzes of lions; and fortunately, in making his studies of these dangerous animals, he escaped the fate which so often befalls the trainer of wild beasts whose animals suddenly turn upon him.
* * * * *
ONCE UPON A TIME.
Once upon a time a poet was sitting at his desk in his cottage near the woods, trying to write.
It was a hot summer day and great fat white clouds were sailing across the sky. He knew that he ought to be out, but still he sat on, pen in hand, trying to write.
Suddenly, among all the other sounds of busy urgent life that were filling the warm sweet air, he heard the new and unaccustomed song of a bird. At least not new and not unaccustomed, but new and unaccustomed there, in this sylvan retreat. The notes poured out, now shrill, now mellow, now bubbling like musical water, but always rich with the joy of life, the fulness of happiness. Where had he heard it before? What bird could it be?
Suddenly the poet's housekeeper hurried in. "Oh, Sir," she exclaimed, "isn't it a pity? Someone's canary has got free, and it's singing out here something beautiful."
"Of course," said the poet—"a canary;" and he hastened out to see it. But before he could get there the bird had flown to a clump of elms a little way off, from which proceeded sweeter and more tumultuously exultant song than they had ever known.
The poet walked to the elms with his field-glasses, and after a while he discerned among the million leaves, the little yellow bird, with its throat trembling with rapture.
But the poet and his housekeeper were not the only creatures who had heard the strange melody.
"I say," said one sparrow to another, "did you hear that?"
"What?" inquired the other sparrow, who was busy collecting food for a very greedy family.
"Why, listen," said the first sparrow.
"Bless my soul," said the second. "I never heard that before."
"That's a strange bird," said the first sparrow; "I've seen it. It's all yellow."
"All yellow?" said the other. "What awful cheek!"
"Yes, isn't it?" replied the first sparrow. "Can you understand what it says?"
"Not a note," said the second. "Another of those foreigners, I suppose. We shan't have a tree to call our own soon."
"That's so," said the first. "There's no end to them. Nightingales are bad enough, grumbling all night, and swallows, although there's not so many of them this year as usual; but when it comes to yellow birds—well."
"Hullo," said a passing tit, "what's the trouble now?"
"Listen," said the sparrows.
The tit was all attention for a minute while the gay triumphant song went on.
"Well," he said, "that's a rum go. That's new, that is. Novel, I call it. What is it?"
"It's a yellow foreigner," said the sparrows.
"What's to be done with it?" the tit asked.
"There's only one thing for self-respecting British birds to do," said the first sparrow. "Stop it. Teach it a lesson."
"Absolutely," said the tit. "I'll go and find some others."
"Yes, so will we," said the sparrows; and off they all flew, full of righteous purpose.
Meanwhile the canary sang on and on, and the poet at the foot of the tree listened with delight.
Suddenly, however, he was conscious of a new sound—a noisy chirping and harsh squeaking which seemed to fill the air, and a great cloud of small angry birds assailed the tree. For a while the uproar was immense, and the song ceased; and then, out of the heart of the tumult, pursued almost to the ground where the poet stood, fell the body of a little yellow bird, pecked to death by a thousand avenging furies.
Seeing the poet they made off in a pack, still shrilling and squawking, but conscious of the highest rectitude.
The poet picked up the poor mutilated body. It was still warm and it twitched a little, but never could its life and music return.
While he stood thoughtfully there an old woman, holding an open cage and followed by half-a-dozen children, hobbled along the path.
"My canary got away," she said. "Have you seen it? It flew in this direction."
"I'm afraid I have seen it," said the poet, and he opened his hand.
"My little pet!" said the old woman. "It sang so beautifully, and it used to feed from my fingers. My little pet."
The poet returned to his work. "'In tooth and claw,'" he muttered to himself, "'In tooth and claw.'"
* * * * *
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerics.)
Tents of a Night (Smith, Elder) is a quite ordinary story, about entirely commonplace persons, which has however an original twist in it. I never met a story that conveyed so vividly the nastiness of a summer holiday that isn't nice. The holiday was in Brittany, just the common round, Cherbourg, Coutances, Mont St. Michel, and the rest of it; and the holiday-makers were Mr. and Mrs. Hepburn, their niece Anne, and a rather pleasant flapper named Barbara whom they had taken in charge. Anne is the heroine and central character of the holiday; and certainly whatever discomforts it contained she seems to have done her successful best to add to. "This is a beastly place!" was her written comment upon St. Michel; and it was typical of her attitude throughout. Of course the real trouble with Anne was something deeper than drains or crowded hotels or the smell of too many omelettes: she was in love. Apparently she was more or less in love with two men, Dragotin Voinovich (whose name was a constant worry to Anne's aunt, and I am bound to say that I share her feelings about it) and Jimmy Fordyce, a pleasant young Englishman who pulls the girls out of quicksands and makes himself generally agreeable. In the end, however—but on second thoughts the end, emotionally speaking, of Anne is just what I shall not tell you, as it is precisely the thing that redeems the book from being commonplace. This you will enjoy; and also those remarkably real descriptions of various plage-hotels in August, the noise, the crowds, the long hot meals, the sunshine and constant wind, the sand on the staircase, and the general atmosphere of wet bathing-gowns—all these are a luxurious delight to read about in a comfortable English room. Miss Mary Findlater evidently knows them.
* * * * *
Dippers who have given a new meaning to the classical motto, Respice finem, are so common amongst novel readers that Patricia Wentworth will only have herself to thank if many who are unfamiliar with her work fail to do justice to a book nine-tenths of which is thoroughly interesting and excellently well-written. As a boy, the hero of Simon Heriot (Melrose) is misunderstood, and although Mr. Martin, his step-father, is a somewhat stagey specimen of the heavy and vulgar papa, the child's emotions (as, for instance, when he pretends that the storm of his parent's wrath is the ordeal of the Inquisition or some far-away battle of paladins in which he is contending) are finely conceived, and many of the later passages in Simon's life—his unhappy love affair with Maud Courtney, his relations with his grandmother and with William Forster, the schoolmaster—are quite engrossing and give occasion for memorable sketches of character. It is when the natural end of the story is reached, and Simon has come into his own and has just been wedded to his proper affinity, that the structure seems to me to fall with a crash. I might perhaps, though not without reluctance, have pardoned an impertinent railway accident which leaves the young man apparently crippled for life, but the last chapters, in which he finds spiritual comfort and (after the doctors have given up hope) complete anatomical readjustment through the ministrations of faith healing, alienated me entirely. From the outset the obvious scheme of the novel is to bring the hero back happily to the home and, if you will, the rustic church of his ancestors; and, though the science of Christian healing may do all that its adherents claim for it, it has about as much to do with the case of Simon Heriot as the dancing dervishes or the rites of Voodoo.
Demetra Vaka has melted my literary heart. By way of homage to her I eat the dust and recant all the hard and bitter things I said and thought in my youth concerning Ancient Greece; especially I apologise, on behalf of myself and my pedagogues, for after regarding its language as a dead one. A Child of the Orient (Lane) has taught me better, though the last object the author appears to have in view is to educate. This "Greek girl brought up in a Turkish household" writes to amuse, entertain and charm, and her success is abundant. Whether it is attributable to the romantic particulars of the Turkish household or to the ingenuous personality of the Greek girl, I hesitate to say, since both are so captivating; but this I know, that, considered as descriptive sketches or personal episodes, each of the twenty-two chapters is a separate delight. For the ready writer material is not wanting in the Near East; a fine theme is provided in the national ambition of the Greek, who cannot forget his glorious past and be content with his less conspicuous present. As for the love interest, who should supply this better than the Turk? In these days of cosmopolitanism there are bound to be romantic complications in the lives of a polygamous people situate in a monogamous continent. By way of postscript the authoress travels abroad and deals with alien matters; her impression, I gather, is that if her ancestors of classical times could see our world of to-day and express an opinion upon it the best of their praise would be reserved for the fact of the British Empire, and the worst of their abuse be spent upon what is known as American humour. I am so constituted that I cannot but be prejudiced in favour of a writer gifted with so profound a judgment.
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The creatrix of Pam must look to her laurels. Slovenliness is the aptest word to apply to the workmanship of Maria (Hutchinson), the latest heroine of the Baroness Von Hutten. Maria has the air of having been contracted for, while that fastidious overseer who lurks at the elbow of every honest craftsman, condemning this or that phrase, readjusting the other faulty piece of construction, has frankly abandoned the contractor. Maria was the daughter of an artist cadger (name of Drello), friend of the great and seller of their autograph letters, whereby he was astute enough to make a comfortable living. Maria had a dull brother named Laertes, who accidentally met a highness, who fell very abruptly in love with Maria and made her strictly dishonourable proposals. Maria drew herself up, compelled him to apologise and go away, until the nineteenth chapter, when she made similar proposals to the highness, now a duly and unhappily married King of Sarmania. But she is saved by the chivalrous love-lorn dwarf, Tomsk, who, with the irascible singing-master Sulzer, is responsible for the chief elements of vitality in this rather suburban romance. And I found myself never believing in Maria's wondrous beauty and quite sharing Sulzer's poor opinion of her singing. But this of course was mere prejudice.
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In Grizel Married (Mills and Boon) Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey exhibits the highest-handed method of treating Romance that ever I met. For consider the situation to be resolved. Dane Peignton was engaged to Teresa, but in love with Lady Cassandra Raynor, whose husband, I regret to add, was still alive. Dane and Cassandra had never told their love, and concealment might have continued to prey on their damask cheeks, if Mrs. Vaizey had not (very naturally), wished to give us a big emotional scene of avowal. It is the way in which this is done that compels my homage. Off go the characters on a picnic, obviously big with fate. Teresa goes, and Dane and Cassandra, the fourth being Grizel, whom you may recall pleasantly from an earlier book; but, though she fills the title role in this one, she has little to do with its development. Of course I saw that something tragic was going to happen to somebody on that picnic—cliffs or tides or mad bulls or something. But I don't suppose that in twenty guesses you could get at the actual instrument of destiny. Cassandra chokes over a fish-bone! That's what I meant about Mrs. Vaizey's courage. And the reward of it is that, after your first moment of incredulity, the fish-bone isn't in the least bit absurd. Poor Cassandra comes quite near to expiring of it; and Dane, having thumped and battered her into safety, sobs out his wild and whirling passion, while Grizel and poor Teresa have just to sit about and listen. It really is rather a striking and original climax; incidentally it is far the best scene in an otherwise not very brilliant tale. But, having attended that picnic, I shall be astonished if you don't, want to go on to the end and see how it all straightens out.
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"At 9.30 o'clock, as the fog lifted somewhat, the rescuing steamer Lyonnesse had sighted the Gothland, fast on the rocks, with a bad list to starboard, and apparently partly filled with pater."
"Our Special Correspondent's" father seems to be a big man.
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"While the class watches, the teacher pronounces all the words. Then the whole class pronounces them while the teacher points, skipping around."—Hawaii Educational Review.
A pretty scene, if the teacher is a man of graceful movements.