PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
February 11, 1914.
SIR EDWARD GREY is to accompany the KING on his visit to Paris in April next. Nobody will grudge the FOREIGN MINISTER this little treat, which he has thoroughly well earned.
* * *
According to The Express the South African police discovered an elaborate plot for kidnapping all the Ministers as a preliminary to declaring a Labour Republic. In Labour circles, however, it is declared that the scheme was drawn up for a joke. To this the South African Government will no doubt retort that the kidnapping of the Labour leaders was also a joke—and so the whole matter will end in genial laughter.
* * *
Speaking at Toronto, ex-President TAFT stated that the world would have been much worse off without England. We believe that this is so. Without England there might have been no American nation to speak of.
* * *
Sir EDWARD GREY remarked at Manchester that at "the time when we built the first Dreadnoughts Dreadnoughts were in the air." So our backwardness in naval aviation is no new thing.
* * *
An attempt is to be made to raise thirteen French warships which were sunk when the English and Dutch fleets routed the French off Cape La Hogue. It is feared in nervous quarters that this may be used by the Germans as an excuse for further increasing their fleet.
* * *
Although it is frequently stated that our army is fit to cope with the army of any Foreign Power it is evident that the War Office itself is not quite satisfied, and reforms are instituted from time to time. For instance last week it was officially announced that the title of Deputy-Adjutant-General, Royal Marines, had been altered to Adjutant-General, Royal Marines.
* * *
"Arising out of" KID LEWIS'S victory last week over PAUL TIL, it is the opinion among a good many Germans that the French Government, being determined that the Entente should not be imperilled, decided to send over a French boxer whom an Englishman could defeat.
* * *
Letchworth Garden City is now considered large enough to possess its own police court, and the Herts County Council has sanctioned its erection. Four Letchworth residents have been made J.P.'s, and it is now up to the residue to supply sufficient criminals to make the venture a success.
* * *
Last week, in the City of London Court, a man was ordered to pay L15 damages and costs for pouring a basin of thick ox-tail soup over another man. We are glad that this action has been held to be illegal, as thick ox-tail is such nasty sticky stuff.
Meanwhile what the law is as to clear soup is a point which still remains to be tested.
* * *
According to figures published in our bright little contemporary, Fire, property amounting to L359,875 was destroyed by fire in Great Britain during the past year. This seems to us more than enough, but it is not easy to satisfy a militant suffragette.
* * *
Mr. "MARK ALLERTON" has suggested that London ought to have a special golf course for beginners. If it could be arranged for spectators to be admitted at a moderate charge we believe this might become one of the most successful places of amusement in the Metropolis.
* * *
A suggestion that school children shall be taken to museums, as a reward for good school work, has been made by Lord SUDELEY. This is scarcely a new idea. We remember that when we were at school there was a feeling that the very good boys ought to be in a museum.
* * *
We have been favoured with the sight of a letter from a money-lender, in which the following remarkable passage occurs:—"The above terms are for short periods, to be repaid as mutually agreed upon before the advance is made." The italics are ours, but the proleptic idea is a happy invention of the author himself.
* * *
"SPRING IN THE AIR."
We are sorry not to oblige our contemporary, but advancing years have taken something from our resiliency.
* * *
ANOTHER IMPENDING APOLOGY.
"Dr. Glover, in giving up the Editorship of this most valuable periodical, has earned the grateful thanks of the whole Diocese."
Chichester Diocesan Gazette.
* * *
"A ridiculous fad that some society ladies are adopting at the present time is not to place any month on the date of their correspondence, simply giving the day of the year. Thus to-day will be marked '34, 1914.' This is not very difficult, but when it comes to, say, '271, 14,' it will need more than a little calculation to discover the actual date."
Pall Mall Gazette (Feb. 4th).
Even "to-day" is too difficult for our contemporary.
* * *
Advt. in "Bedale Chronicle" (its full title being "Bedale, Leyburn and Hawes Chronicle," but that would make the name of the paper longer than the quotation from it—always a mistake.)
We don't care for the second helping.
* * *
"'Ha! ha!' the others laugh in their native tongue."—Evening Dispatch.
You should hear us gargle in German.
* * *
The Editor of Punch has reproved his Dramatic Critic for referring to It, in The Darling of the Gods, as "a precocious babe." He is assured that Mr. BURTIE, who plays this neutral part, "has seen some five-and-twenty summers, and has advanced intellectual views about most things." Mr. Punch's Dramatic Critic has been instructed to "give him double bowing" by way of deferential compensation.
* * * * *
* * * * *
BOWLES WITHOUT A BIAS.
[With the author's congratulations to "Cap'n" TOMMY BOWLES on the appearance of his new quarterly review, The Candid, whose declared aim is "to deal with Public Affairs faithfully and frankly ... and without Party bias." Among its contents are articles on "The New Corruption: The Caucus and the Sale of Honours," and "An Opposition Impotent."]
I know a man of simple mind, Gamaliel Nibbs by name, Whose early faith in human kind Burned like a Vestal flame; No wind of doubt that stirs the dust Fluttered that bright and constant taper; But oh, he had his dearest trust Pinned to his daily paper.
Not once he paused awhile to ask Whence was their wisdom caught Who undertook the nightly task Of shaping England's thought; He pictured gods that drove the pen Aloof on high Olympian levels, And not a staff of haggard men Hustled by printer's devils.
Then came a shock eight years ago: The Rads, he thought, were dished; The Tory Press had just to show The People what it wished; And yet, for all its wealth and size, For all its mammoth circulations, The country saw the Liberals rise And sweep the polling-stations.
And, when the same sad case occurred Twice in a single year, Gamaliel, moulting like a bird, Mislaid his lightsome cheer; Yet, even so, he would not let His confidence in all that's best rust Until The Pall Mall went and set Its teeth against "The Press Trust."
The writer dropped some dreadful hints Of One whose sole decree Governed the views of various prints Not to be named by me; He disapproved of paper rings; In language almost rudely blunt he Dilated on the puppet-strings Pulled by a monstrous Bunty.
Our hero's faith grew sick and pale, Yet was not all forlorn, Till Mr. MAXSE charged The Mail With blowing WINSTON'S horn; And drew his axe and dyed it pink With blood of Tories, blade to handle— Blood of a Press that chose to blink The late Marconi scandal.
This finished off Gamaliel Nibbs. Beside his morning mess No journal lies to-day: he jibs At all the Party Press; He counts it stuff for common souls, And means to get his mind expanded By sampling truths that Mr. BOWLES Embodies in The Candid.
Browsing on TOMMY'S fearless Tracts, A strong and generous food, He'll take his fill of meaty facts Not to be lightly chewed:— Corruption in the highest seats; Impotence in the Opposition; The Ship of State, with flapping sheets, Moving to mere perdition.
A sovereign (net) for entrance fee— And Nibbs is on the list Of patrons who support a free Impartial pessimist; Yet shall his faith not wholly burst; He shares, in common with his "Cap'n," The view that, when we reach the worst, Then nothing worse can happen.
* * * * *
THE CABINET MEETS.
Mr. ASQUITH. Perhaps the most important point before us, now that the Naval Estimates are settled satisfactorily, is the question how we're to get through the Session. The Labour Party seems discontented.
Mr. HARCOURT (airily). I like talking over their denunciations with them as they walk through the lobby with us afterwards.
Mr. ASQUITH. Yes, I agree that their altitude is not of overwhelming importance. Oh, by the way, I have had an interview with Mr. REDMOND. He is pleased to say that at present he is favourably disposed to us.
All (except Lord CREWE). That's all right.
Lord CREWE. H'm.
Mr. JOHN BURNS. I——
Mr. ASQUITH. Pardon me if I interrupt, but there is a bad feeling in the country. A paper known as The Spectator even suggests the impeachment of the Government.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE. I am not surprised. Unprincipled attacks are often made on me by political muckrakers. I sometimes think that I shall give up politics.
Lord CREWE. H'm.
Mr. BIRRELL. And suggestions are made that Ministers should be hanged in Downing Street. Now in Dublin one allows a certain latitude, but in Downing Street!
Mr. MCKENNA. I have consulted the police authorities on the point. They inform me that the lamp-posts would only bear an exceedingly light weight.
Lord HALDANE. That is most reassuring.
Colonel SEELEY. There's another threat. They talk of the Lords throwing out the Army Bill.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE. Good—a saving of thirty (or is it fifty?) millions—a great democratic Budget—and an election-winning cry, "The Lords destroy the Army."
Lord CREWE. H'm.
Colonel SEELEY. But we need the Army.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE. What for? Its elimination would be a great moral example to Germany. Some nation must take the lead in the peace movement.
Mr. CHURCHILL. The third great election-winner! I suppose National Insurance and Land go back to the stable.
Mr. BURNS. I——
Mr. BIRRELL (hastily). But there's Ulster. What about Ulster?
Mr. CHURCHILL. The solution is simple. We revive the Heptarchy.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE. The Heptarchy was a Saxon institution. It makes no appeal to the ardent, fervid intensely religious Celt.
Lord CREWE. H'm.
Mr. BURNS. I——
Mr. HARCOURT (interrupting). But what are we to do about Ulster?
Mr. ASQUITH. We must await the reply to our offer.
Mr. BIRRELL. But have we made an offer? I said we had, but have we?
Mr. MCKENNA. (acutely). We might await a reply to our tentative offer of an offer.
Mr. ASQUITH. Good, MCKENNA, very good. I appreciate the delicate distinction.
Lord HALDANE (aside to Lord MORLEY). Had MCKENNA been caught young and forcibly educated, he would have made a metaphysician.
Mr. ASQUITH. We have not yet considered whether anything can be done to remedy the temporary unpopularity of the Government.
Colonel SEELEY. Suppose HOBHOUSE resigned. (A hum of approval.)
Mr. ASQUITH. Say, rather, accepted a lofty Imperial post.
Mr. HOBHOUSE. And made room for LLOYD GEORGE'S Man Friday! It would mean a by-election in Bethnal Green, where he comes from. (Consternation.)
Mr. BURNS. I——
Mr. ASQUITH (suddenly). I accept your resignation with great regret, BURNS.
Mr. Burns. (indignantly). I was about to say that under no circumstances would I resign.
Mr. ASQUITH (sadly). Pardon me. I thought you were anxious for leisure to complete your autobiography. Well, if there are no resignations, I think we have ended the business of the day.
* * * *
A CLEAN SLATE.
* * * *
* * * *
THE CLUB MUSIC HALL.
The Royal Automobile Club having decided to enter into serious competition with the Music Halls in order to encourage active membership, it is rumoured that one or two other clubs are determined not to be left behind, and the following announcements may be expected shortly:—
Notice to Bishops-Elect.
Every Evening at 8 and Matinees (Weds. and Sats.) at 2.30:
"SHOULD A WOMAN CONFESS?"
Kinoplastieon drama by THE DEAN OF TOOTING.
Evenings at 10:
"THE SARUM LILY" in her marvellous Ecclesiastical Dances.
THE UNITED DIVERSITIES CLUB.
Every Afternoon at 2.30 and Every Evening at 9:
Grand Co-operative Concert and Variety Entertainment.
Davy Lloyd in His Great Land Act, with Troupe of Performing Scotch Woodcocks.
Bonnie Lawder ... "My True Blue Belfast." Ted Carson and Chorus of Outlaws.
Bertie Samuel ... Heard at the Telephone (farcical comedy).
Reggie McKenna ... "Nose-bagtime." By-electionscope.
* * * * *
"He wanted to see the town grow larger and the dates grow less."
Birmingham Daily Post.
"Come where the dates grow smaller!"
* * * * *
A KEY TO CUBISM.
The chief exponent of "the new geometric art" explains the whole movement in the following passage, as reproduced in The Observer:—
"Primitive space has entered into us, as it were.... Against that space within us, as against the space that appalled the savage from without, we erect always more hard and logical images.... All brute material, animate and inanimate, of earth, becomes an organism to confront the soul. Formerly the soul as a simple figure, like a ballet, faced the environing vagueness.
"Appearance then, at present, becomes a dyke around the invision from within. And, as a consequence even of this, the appearance, as it is seen in art to-day, tends to be more removed from everyday objective reality than at any former period of art. A new religion is being built up, girder by girder, around the vague spirit. Space, the physical space of savage shyness, is now on our side."
The comment of the writer in The Observer runs thus: "This, at any rate, is the language of people who know what they are about."
Mr. Punch, being a little fearful lest the average reader of the above passage may not share this knowledge of "what they are about," ventures to add his own views on Cubism, confident that even those who disagree will applaud his clarity.
From RAPHAEL until PCESZY TURGIDOFF (the brilliant young Slav whose canvas has recently been acquired by the Royal Geological Museum) all true artists have striven to adumbrate the eternal conflict between the morbid pathology of Realism and the poignant simplicity of Nihilism. In other and shorter words, chaos must ever be on the side of the angels. But, until the advent of the new Truth, the whole mission of art had trickled into a very delta of arid sentiment. The critic could walk all the galleries of Europe and find nothing to lighten his melancholy until he entered one of those caverns of earliest man and stood in ecstatic reverence before the incomparable masterpieces wherein the first of the Futurists created (with perfect parsimony of a sharpened flint) Man, not as he is to his own dull eye, but Man as he is to the inner retina of the universe. Man, the simple triangle on two stilts, the creature on one plane and of one dimension, an outline without entity, a nothingness staring, faceless, at the nothingness which baffles his soul.
Emotion, idealism, beauty—these have been always the evil spirits that have fettered art. The new art has so exorcised them that they have fled from it with demoniac cries. Pulziacco's splendid rhomboid, "Cleopatra"; Weber-Damm's tender parallelograms, "The Daughters of James Bowles, Esq., J.P"; Todwarden Jones's rectilineal wizardry, "A Basket of Oranges"; and Arabella Machicu's triumph of astigmatism, "The Revolving Bookcase," are examples of this conquest of the inner retina over the brutal insistences of form and matter.
Of still deeper significance is that terribly sad picture of Philip Martini, "The Mumpers: a Group at Lloyds." Nothing is more illustrative of the courage demanded for the struggle of the new art against convention than this poignant work, wherein, true to the verities, the artist has confounded realism in its own domain by the unrecognisable faces of his sitters.
Let us sum up the new movement so clearly that the dullest will apprehend. Surely the inhibition of all apperceptions in art is correlative to the inner ego? That simple postulate granted, it will be unquestioned that the true focus of vision should co-ordinate the invisible. Faith we must have, or we faint by the roadside of the intelligible. The only altruism is that which can defy the cold brutality of things as they are, and convince us with things as they are not. Thus alone can the contemplation of art bring us back to primal infelicity, and restore in our souls the perfect vacuity of infants and cows. Thus only can we achieve the suffusion of vision of the happy inebriate.
* * * * *
* * * * *
I'd dined at home; I'd read till ten; I'd thought, "The space upon the wall Above the stuffed Thames trout Wants filling." That was really all: And then I closed my eyes, and then I let my pipe go out.
* * * * *
We crawled, the Khan of Khot and I, On a Thibetan precipice (It was Thibet, I think), A place of snow and black abyss; We lay on rock—mid wind and sky— Above a beetling brink.
For lo, along the ridge there fed The sheep that ne'er a shepherd know Save the shrill wind of morn, Five "Oves Ammon" of the snow; I saw the big ram lift his head, Twin-mooned in mighty horn.
Broadside he turned, a mountain-god In sweep of coronal sublime, And the fierce whisper broke— The Khan of Khot's, he hissed, "Tak time!" And handed me my spinning-rod; And as he did I woke!
* * * * *
One thing at least is clear, and that's My empty wall is yet to fill; Though oft with even's shade I see that great head from the hill, Unstable as the Cheshire cat's, Look down therefrom and fade.
* * * * *
Two quotations from The Publisher's Circular:—
"Mr. Robert Bowes (who by the way is in his sixty-seventh year)...."
"Mr. Robert Bowes is in his seventy-ninth year.... But then he is much younger than many older men."
So are all of us. Mr. BOWES'S distinction is in being twelve years younger than himself.
* * * * *
ALL'S WELL THAT BEGINS WELL.
* * * * *
I was showing Celia a few fancy strokes on the billiard table. The other members of the house-party were in the library, learning their parts for some approaching theatricals—that is to say, they were sitting round the fire and saying to each other, "This is a rotten play." We had been offered the position of auditors to several of the company, but we were going to see Parsifal on the next day, and I was afraid that the constant excitement would be bad for Celia.
"Why don't you ask me to play with you?" she asked. "You never teach mo anything."
"There's ingratitude. Why, I gave you your first lesson at golf only last Thursday."
"So you did. I know golf. Now show me billiards."
I looked at my watch.
"We've only twenty minutes. I'll play you thirty up."
"Right-o... What do you give me—a ball or a bisque or what?"
"I can't spare you a ball, I'm afraid. I shall want all three when I get going. You may have fifteen start, and I'll tell you what to do."
"Well, what do I do first?"
"Select a cue."
She went over to the rack and inspected them.
"This seems a nice brown one. Now then, you begin."
"Celia, you've got the half-butt. Put it back and take a younger one."
"I thought it seemed taller than the others." She took another. "How's this? Good. Then off you go."
"Will you be spot or plain?" I said, chalking my cue.
"Does it matter?"
"Not very much. They're both the same shape."
"Then what's the difference?"
"Well, one is more spotted than the other."
"Then I'll be less spotted."
I went to the table.
"I think," I said, "I'll try and screw in off the red." (I did this once by accident and I've always wanted to do it again). "Or perhaps," I corrected myself, as soon as the ball had left me, "I had better give a safety miss."
I did. My ball avoided the red and came swiftly back into the left-hand bottom pocket.
"That's three to you," I said without enthusiasm.
Celia seemed surprised.
"But I haven't begun yet," she said. "Well, I suppose you know the rules, but it seems funny. What would you like me to do?"
"Well, there isn't much on. You'd better just try and hit the red ball."
"Right." She leant over the table and took long and careful aim. I held my breath.... Still she aimed.... Then, keeping her chin on the cue, she slowly turned her head and looked up at me with a thoughtful expression.
"Oughtn't there to be three balls on the table?" she said, wrinkling her forehead.
"No," I answered shortly.
"But why not?"
"Because I went down by mistake."
"But you said that when you got going, you wanted—I can't argue bending down like this." She raised herself slowly. "You said—Oh, all right, I expect you know. Anyhow, I have scored some already, haven't I?"
"Yes. You're eighteen to my nothing."
"Yes. Well, now I shall have to aim all over again." She bent slowly over her cue. "Does it matter where I hit the red?"
"Not much. As long as you hit it on the red part."
She hit it hard on the side, and both balls came into baulk.
"Too good," I said.
"Does either of us get anything for it?"
"No." The red and the white were close together, and I went up the table and down again on the off-chance of a cannon. I misjudged it, however.
"That's three to you," I said stiffly, as I took my ball out of the right-hand bottom pocket. "Twenty-one to nothing."
"Funny how I'm doing all the scoring," said Celia meditatively. "And I've practically never played before. I shall hit the red hard now and see what happens to it."
She hit, and the red coursed madly about the table, coming to rest near the top right-hand pocket and close to the cushion. With a forcing shot I could get in.
"This will want a lot of chalk," I said pleasantly to Celia, and gave it plenty. Then I let fly....
"Why did that want a lot of chalk?" said Celia with interest.
I went to the fireplace and picked my ball out of the fender.
"That's three to you," I said coldly. "Twenty-four to nothing."
"Am I winning?"
"You're leading," I explained. "Only, you see, I may make a twenty at any moment."
"Oh!" She thought this over. "Well, I may make my three at any moment."
She chalked her cue and went over to her ball.
"What shall I do?"
"Just touch the red on the right-hand side," I said, "and you'll go into the pocket."
"The right-hand side? Do you mean my right-hand side, or the ball's?"
"The right-hand side of the ball, of course; that is to say, the side opposite your right hand."
"But its right-hand side is opposite my left hand, if the ball is facing this way."
"Take it," I said wearily, "that the ball has its back to you."
"How rude of it," said Celia, and hit it on the left-hand side, and sank it. "Was that what you meant?"
"Well ... it's another way of doing it."
"I thought it was. What do I give you for that?"
"You get three."
"Oh, I thought the other person always got the marks. I know the last three times——"
"Go on," I said freezingly. "You have another turn."
"Oh, is it like rounders?"
"Something. Go on, there's a dear. It's getting late."
She went, and left the red over the middle pocket.
"A-ha!" I said. I found a nice place in the "D" for my ball. "Now then. This is the GRAY stroke, you know."
I suppose I was nervous. Anyhow, I just nicked the red ball gently on the wrong side and left it hanging over the pocket. The white travelled slowly up the table.
"Why is that called the grey stroke?" asked Celia with great interest.
"Because once, when Sir EDWARD GREY was playing the German Ambassador—but it's rather a long story. I'll tell you another time."
"Oh! Well, anyhow, did the German Ambassador got anything for it?"
"Then I suppose I don't. Bother."
"But you've only got to knock the red in for game."
"Oh!.... There, what's that?"
"That's a miscue. I get one."
"Oh!.... Oh well," she added magnanimously, "I'm glad you've started scoring. It will make it more interesting for you."
There was just room to creep in off the red, leaving it still over the pocket. With Celia's ball nicely over the other pocket there was a chance of my twenty break. "Let's see," I said, "how many do I want?"
"Twenty-nine," replied Celia.
"Ah," I said.... and I crept in.
"That's three to you," I said icily. "Game."
A. A. M.
* * * * *
OUR READY WRITERS.
The astonishing rapidity attained by Mr. WALTER MELVILLE in the composition of his plays as revealed in the evidence given in court last week has suggested an appeal to other leading authors for information as to their rate of production. We append the results herewith:—
Mr. MAX PEMBERTON observed that the speed of composition varied with the literary quality of the work produced. Personally he found that by far the most laborious and protracted mental effort was entailed in the writing of Revues. He had calculated that the amount of brain force he had spent on his last masterpiece was fully as large as that expended by GIBBON on his monumental History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. In evidence of the strain he added the following interesting statistics. He had worn out thirteen of the costliest gold-nibbed fountain pens; seven expert typists had been so exhausted that they had to undergo a rest-cure; and finally he himself had consumed no fewer than nineteen seven-and-sixpenny bottles of Blunker's Sanguinogen.
Sir EDWIN DURNING-LAWRENCE, Bart., poohpoohed the notion that the moderns were more rapid producers than their forefathers. As the result of his investigations he had conclusively proved that BACON was an infinitely more rapid producer than any living author. His time-table worked out as follows. BACON wrote Chaucer in a little less than three weeks. He completed the Faerie Queene in one sitting, allowing for refreshments, of seventy-four hours. The Plays of SHAKSPEARE occupied him from first to last not more than ten months. Montaigne was dashed off in just a fortnight, while Beaumont and Fletcher, Marlowe, Greene, Webster and Ben Jonson took him exactly 37-1/2 days. Next to SHAKSPEARE'S Plays the Divina Commedia was his most protracted effort, costing him nearly four months of unremitting labour. Sir EDWIN added in pathetic proof of the degeneracy of the moderns that his own famous pamphlet had taken him twice as long to compose as Chaucer had taken BACON.
Mr. HALL CAINE strongly deprecated the tendency to put a premium on rapid composition, as though there were any special virtue in speed. His own novels, which were written with his heart's blood, represented in their ultimate form a rigorous condensation of materials ten or even fifteen times as bulky. It was in this process of condensation that the self-sacrificing side of true genius was most convincingly shown. But, great as was the strain involved in this painful process, even greater was that imposed on a successful author by the cruel importunity of the interviewer on the eve of publication. Such methods were absolutely alien to his nature, but he had to set against his own convenience the immeasurable disappointment which his refusal would cause his readers. It was one of the most pathetic tragedies of genius that the dictates of an austere reticence were so often set at nought by the impulses of a tender heart.
Sir H. H. HOWORTH said that the 6,500 columns of The Times which he had filled in the last thirty years had been covered in exactly 3,000 minutes or 500 hours. In his contributions to The Morning Post, where he was accorded a larger type, he had attained a slightly greater velocity, almost equalling that of LOPE DE VEGA, the most prolific writer on record. On the other hand, in his History of the Mongols he had adopted a rate of progress more in keeping with the leisurely habits of the race whose records he was collating. He added the interesting fact that, in spite of the saying nomen omen, both Dean SWIFT and Archdeacon HARE were slow composers.
* * * * *
THE SECRET OF OUR COMMERCIAL SUPREMACY.
* * * * *
"Coroners' juries have frequently placed on record their disapproval of amateur doctring."
Which, in the opinion of Mrs. Gamp, they ought to mind their own business and not interfere with matters connected with religion.
* * * * *
* * * * *
MANES A LA MODE.
(A vision suggested by the inspiriting rumour that green hair is about to become fashionable.)
In Springtide when the copses stir And hawthorn buds on boughs are seen, My love shall seek the hairdresser And have her hair dyed green.
Gay priestess of a Dryad cult With leaf-like locks she'll haunt the trees, Securing this superb result With Boffkin's verdigris.
And feathered songsters all secure, The merle, the lark, shall come and sit Amongst her emerald chevelure And build their nests in it.
But when sweet Maytime draws to close Neaera still shall mark the date; She'll steal the red fires of the rose And daub them on her pate.
The ensanguined peonies shall grudge Her flaming top-knot's stolen hue (The bill shall come from Messrs. Fudge, "To tincture, Two Pound Two").
And bees and wasps to sip its bloom Shall buzz about that glorious tire And, having sipped, shall feel a gloom And painfully expire.
Sad Autumn shall arrive, and still To suit the note the glades have struck, Moat sweetly shall Neaera swill Her poll with barber's muck.
And now with gold and purple glow, Now russet and now rather wan, Weekly her scalp shall undergo Some transformation.
Till lastly, when by chymic jolt And sheer corrosion of the thatch, What time the withering woodlands moult My love shall moult to match,
And all those curls I loved to beg For keepsakes on the earth be strewed, Leaving her cranium like an egg Incomparably nude.
What matter? She can start again And ape the season's altering rigs More simply, having lost her mane, With repertoires of wigs.
* * * * *
A Gold Coast Nut.
(Copy of Letter addressed to a London Tailor.)
"Dear Sir—I beg to say these words to you. I deem you will not have any vexation about my requirement. You may be pleased for my saying, your name having recommened to me by a certain friend of mine. He knows very well, else he could not give your name to me. Because no one knows you in this Gold Coast, with exception of him. That you are the best tailor at city called London. I desiderate to deal with in England. On the receipt of this note, genial forward me your samples by returning mail together with price list. I will be pleased to open a great business with you.... I will gladly submit your good reply by my great opportunities, hoping you will not fail. Yours faithfully ——"
* * * * *
"To name a girl after a battle or other public event," says The Daily News, "is positively wicked, as it gives away her age. The numerous 'Almas' christened during the Crimean War had good reason to know this; so have the 'Jubilees' and the 'Trafalgars.'" Quite so. We know a dear lady who might easily pass for twenty if her parents had not named her "Ramillies."
* * * * *
THE GIFT HORSE.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE THREE WISHES.
(A Story for Little Innocents.)
Once upon the usual time, a poor but comparatively honest woodcutter dwelt in a tiny hut on the edge of a great forest. Since he was so poor, his fare was simplicity itself: black bread and a cheese of goat's milk, washed down by draughts of cold water bottled at a neighbouring spring—in a word, just those articles of food which your dear mamma has nowadays to order specially from the most expensive shops.
Well, one winter evening the poor man was enjoying (if you can call it so) his frugal supper as above, when there came a gentle tap at the door; and on opening it he perceived upon the threshold a very old woman dressed in a cloak of faded rags. She was so old and so remarkably ugly that had she been a duchess not the most inventive of reporters could have done better for her than "distinguished looking." So the woodcutter, not unnaturally, regarded his visitor with some suspicion.
"Kind Sir," quavered the old woman, "I perish with hunger. Grant me, I entreat you, a crust of bread."
"Ah!" said the woodcutter—to gain time. He was, of course, well aware that there was at least a sporting chance of the old woman being a fairy in disguise, in which case it would be perfectly sickening to have neglected so good a thing. On the other hand he knew also that there were a great many undeserving cases. As he was deliberating, however, he perceived beneath the old woman's gown the glitter of a white satin toe, and this decided him to risk it. [N.B. For our youthful readers, this is an infallible sign for the detection of disguised fairies—try it at the next pantomime you go to.] "Come in and welcome, Mother," said the woodcutter, and flung wide the door.
Accordingly the old woman entered the hut, and having done apparent justice to what was left of the woodcutter's meal, "Now," said she, striking an appropriate attitude, "behold!" and in the twinkling of an eye there she stood, the complete fairy, all shimmer and spangles.
"Well!" exclaimed the woodcutter, looking as astonished as he could manage, "I haven't a notion how that's done!"
"And as a reward for your hospitality," continued the fairy, "choose three wishes, and they shall be granted."
"I assure you," began the woodcutter politely, "nothing was further from my——" but a look in the fairy's eyes stopped him. "Of course, if you insist," he said; adding in rather a different tone, "Perhaps you'll excuse me for putting the matter on a business-like footing."
So saying, he produced from his pocket a small pamphlet entitled, On Transactions with Fairies; with Some Hints to Beginners. Having studied this for a moment, "I suppose," said the woodcutter, "that by 'wishes' you mean without restriction? Not anything within reason, or economies of that sort?"
The visitor looked surprised and a little hurt. "There is no such thing as reason in Fairyland," she said stiffly.
"The mistake was mine," said the woodcutter.
"Only one wish is closed to you," resumed the fairy; "you may not wish to have any more wishes."
"That's a pity," said the woodcutter, "especially as I'd only just thought of; it."
"An obvious precaution that we were obliged to take in our own interests. We lost heavily in that way at one time. But consider well. You have the choice of wealth beyond the dreams of avarice. You can become the most powerful monarch in the world. Beauty can be yours, or wisdom or piety. You can—"
"I wonder," asked the woodcutter, "if you'd mind not talking for a moment? This is a delicate crisis and demands concentration. I think that first of all," he continued thoughtfully, "I will suggest that you endow me with perfect and unalterable self-esteem for ever, so that in case I make a fool of myself over the other two wishes I shall not have the misery of perceiving it."
"It is done," said the fairy, and at once the woodcutter was sensible of an inward elation like the effect of good champagne, only more so.
"I'm really managing this rather well," he thought with a smile. "I wish the foreman of the lumber works, who called me a fool yesterday, could see me now!"
And immediately there was the foreman, blinking and rubbing his eyes, and gazing with irritation at the fairy and the woodcutter. The latter laughed pleasantly.
"That," he said to the fairy, "is distinctly one up to you! If it wasn't for the gift of self-esteem I should be calling myself every kind of idiot. But the best of us are liable to error!"
"You have now," the fairy reminded him, "one wish left. Will you desire that your task-master here be returned to the place whence he came?"
"I will not," said the woodcutter. "If it amuses him to stay, he is quite welcome. If not, I imagine him to be capable of walking. Let me see. At the present moment the only wants I can suggest are both few and simple; a million pounds invested in Government stock, the constitution of a gladiator, and to be as wise as the greatest fool on earth imagines himself—these are the lot. But no doubt I shall recollect others presently."
"One wish only," the fairy repeated a little sharply, "and that without delay, for time presses."
"You needn't rub it in," said the woodcutter. "I have already made my choice. Are you ready? Go! I wish to have everything I really want in the world." He paused expectantly, and even a little apprehensively.
"It is done," said the fairy; but nothing happened.
"That's all right!" said the woodcutter with obvious relief. "I will now, as an extra, wish both you and the foreman good evening."
Whereupon he bowed them politely out of the hut and returned chuckling to his hygienic diet. Which appears to show that even in the year Once men were not always the fools that they are usually represented.
* * * * *
AIDS TO ADVERTISERS.
* * * * *
THE NOSE HAS IT.
I was presiding at one of my periodical stocktakings.
"Sort them all out," I had said, "and let me see them."
When I had reached home they were all there, on view.
There were thirty-four this time. I went through them—A.H.L., T.W.T., E.F., G.H., M.L.K., O.T., B., F.W.H., and so forth.
"What a lot," I said.
"Yes; I think it's the biggest lot you've ever had. Last time there were only seventeen."
"And what did we do about them?" I asked.
"You went through them and nothing happened."
"I didn't send any back?" I said in astonishment.
"No. You got ready to, and then, I don't know why, but you didn't."
"What a low trick!" I said. "Worse than borrowing books. Some of these are pretty good, aren't they?"
"Yes, this one"—holding up F.W.H.—"is a beauty. The very finest quality."
I took it and felt it.
"It is," I said. "I wonder where he buys them. Bond Street, I suppose. Is there anything else as good as that one?"
"No, nothing quite so good; but these are all right;" and I was handed E.F. and M.L.K.
I felt them too.
"Yes," I said, "they're first-rate."
I laid them on one side.
"Very well," I said, gathering the rest into a bunch, "see that all those go back with my compliments, best thanks and regrets for the delay. I'll keep these three a day or so longer for patterns."
Did I say that all this happened last year? It did.
Yesterday I had another borrowed-handkerchief parade and found forty-three. The spectacle was not without its pathos. F.W.H. now had a lot of holes; so had E.F. and M.L.K. But of a softness still!
All the old friends were there too, in spite of what I had directed.
"I thought these were to have gone back," I said. "Didn't I say so?"
"I didn't think you really meant it."
I suppose I didn't.
* * * * *
"Herr Ballin ... spends his whole day in the offices of his company on the Alster, and rarely leaves Hamburg except for business journeys or to escape from some public cemetery."—Manchester Guardian.
Why is he so unpopular?
* * * * *
"Some day, perhaps a few centuries hence, if it is desired to turn the ship to the starboard, the order starboard will be given, and to the star-order 'starboard' will be given, and to the star-simpler, does it not?"
Naval and Military Record.
* * * * *
"With the exception of the police, Press representatives, and photographers there were comparatively few people in the thoroughfare. The photographers were requested by the police to refrain from operating, and they withdrew, while the remainder found their virgil very cold and unexciting."
Newcastle Daily Journal.
We confess that the Roman poet often used to leave us cold and unexcited too.
* * * * *
* * * * *
I walked into Charles's room with undoubted meaning—that is to say, he could see I intended to be there.
"Hello!" said Charles. "Help yourself to a chair."
"Thanks," I said—"thanks," and I sat down.
Charles looked at me thoughtfully. "There's something the matter," he said.
"Ah! You've noticed it too, Charles. I thought so myself."
"Have you any idea what it is?" he asked.
I looked him steadily in the face. "Charles," I began, "you are a stockbroker. You know the value of money." He groaned.
"Very well, I have a question to ask you—a simple financial question. It is this. What, in your opinion as a stockbroker, a level-headed stockbroker, is the least one can start on?"
"It all depends," he said. "Of course there's the deposit of securities, L1000, and then—"
I waved my hand. "My dear man," I said, "I'm not thinking of marrying the Stock Exchange."
Charles closed his eyes. "Good Lord," he murmured. "Poor old thing. I never thought of this. Take a cigarette—or perhaps you don't smoke now."
I took a cigarette with a fine independence. I carried it further and borrowed a match.
"Now," I said, "we must try and keep to the point. What is the least one can start on?"
"I don't know," he replied. "I've never begun. By the way, I must congratulate you. Who is she?"
"Daphne," I said, and smiled wanly.
"You don't look well."
"I love her," I said simply, and the pathos of it all fairly gripped me.
Charles smoothed his hair. "We'd better stick to business," he said.
In an instant I was a business man. "Right," I said crisply. "Let me put the question in another way. What is the least on which one can start?"
"Well, it all depends on what sort of an establishment you wish to keep up. If you—"
"Nothing," I said quickly, "is good enough for Daphne. She's so absolutely sweet. She sings, Charles, divinely. She dresses perfectly. She plays the pianoforte exquisitely. She sings, did I say, divinely."
"Talking of establishments," said Charles—
"You're right," I agreed, and I moved into a chair by the table and drew out my fountain pen. "We shall want a house," I began helpfully.
"A house? Oh, yes, I know. One of those things with rooms. Just one house would do for a start, I suppose?"
I regarded him sorrowfully. "Charles, this is a serious matter."
"There's humour in everything if you look for it. How about eight hundred?"
"Eight hundred!" I laughed brokenly.
"Well, seven hundred?"
"Six hundred? Dash it, that's very little."
"Charles," I pleaded.
"I don't want to be hard," he said, "but in justice to the people who come to stay with you I can't go any lower."
"Not if we did without wine?"
"Wine and cigars, Charles?"
"I'll give up auction."
Charles cleared his throat as though about to make a concession.
"Make it five," I pleaded. "Make it five and you shall be my best man."
"Very well," he said, "I make it five hundred."
"And now, Charles, good-bye."
"I love her," I said simply.
"Poor old thing," he said. "Let me know about the wedding. I must make a point of being there."
I pressed his hand. "You're a brick," I said.
Then I hurried out into a taxi and drove to Daphne's.
She refused me.
* * * * *
THE LEAN-TO SHED.
(Communicated by an eight-year-old.)
I've a palace set in a garden fair, And, oh, but the flowers are rich and rare, Always growing And always blowing Winter or summer—it doesn't matter— For there's never a wind that dares to scatter The wonderful petals that scent the air About the walls of my palace there. And the palace itself is very old, And it's built of ivory splashed with gold. It has silver ceilings and jasper floors And stairs of marble and crystal doors; And whenever I go there, early or late, The two tame dragons who guard the gate And refuse to open the frowning portals To sisters, brothers and other mortals, Get up with a grin And let me in. And I tickle their ears and pull their tails And pat their heads and polish their scales; And they never attempt to flame or fly, Being quelled by me and my human eye. Then I pour them drink out of golden flagons, Drink for my two tame trusty dragons.... But John, Who's a terrible fellow for chattering on, John declares They are Teddy-bears; And the palace itself, he has often said, Is only the gardener's lean-to shed.
In the vaulted hall where we have the dances There are suits of armour and swords and lances, Plenty of steel-wrought who's-afraiders, All of them used by real crusaders; Corslets, helmets and shields and things Fit to be worn by warrior-kings, Glittering rows of them— Think of the blows of them, Lopping, Chopping, Smashing And slashing The Paynim armies at Ascalon.... But, bother the boy, here comes our John Munching a piece of currant cake, Who says the lance is a broken rake, And the sword with its keen Toledo blade Is a hoe, and the dinted shield a spade, Bent and useless and rusty-red, In the gardener's silly old lean-to shed.
And sometimes, too, when the night comes soon With a great magnificent tea-time moon, Through the nursery-window I peep and see My palace lit for a revelry; And I think I shall try to go there instead Of going to sleep in my dull small bed. But who are these In the shade of the trees That creep so slow In a stealthy row? They are Indian braves, a terrible band, Each with a tomahawk in his hand, And each has a knife without a sheath Fiercely stuck in his gleaming teeth.
Are the dragons awake? Are the dragons sleepers? Will they meet and scatter these crafty creepers? What ho! ... But John, who has sorely tried me, Trots up and flattens his nose beside me; Against the window he flattens it And says he can see As well as me, But never an Indian—not a bit; Not even the top of a feathered head, But only a wall and the lean-to shed.
R. C. L.
* * * * *
A Nut lay dying. He was twenty-five. He had had a good time—too good—and the end was near.
There was no hope, but alleviation was possible. "Is there anything," he was asked, "that you would like?"
He was plucky and prepared for the worst.
"Yes," he said, "I'd like to know what I've spent since I was twenty. Could that be arranged?"
"Easily," they said.
"Good," he replied. "Then tell me what I've spent on my bally old stomach—on food."
"On food," they replied. "We find that you have spent on yourself an average of a pound a day for food. For five years that is, roughly, L1825."
"Roughly?" said the Nut.
"Yes. Counting one leap year, it would be L1826. But then you have entertained with some freedom, bringing the total to L3075."
"Yes," said the Nut. "And what about drinks?"
"We find," was the reply, "that on drinks your average has been eighteen shillings a day, or L1643 8s. 0d. in all."
"Good heavens!" said the Nut. "What a noble thirst! And clothes?"
"The item of clothes comes to L940," they said.
"Only three figures!" said the Nut. "How did I come to save that odd L60, I wonder?"
"Not by any idea of economy," they replied. "Merely a want of time."
"And let's see," said the Nut, "what else does one spend money on? Oh, yes, taxis. How much for taxis?"
"Your taxis," they said, "work out at seven shillings a day, or L639 2s. 0d."
"And tips?" the Nut inquired.
"Tips," they said, "come to L456."
The Nut lay back exhausted and oxygen was administered. He was very near the end.
"One thing more," he managed to ask. "What have I paid in cloak-room fees for my hat and stick?"
"Only L150," they said.
But it was enough: he fell back dead.
* * * * *
"An extremely able statement of the case for Federation is made up in a little book by Mr. Murray Macdonald and Lord Charnwood, which is just published (T. Fisher Unwin, 22s. 6d.)"—Daily News.
Look out for a really big book by the same authors, at L22.
* * * * *
We have long waited for a good definition of "tact," and here it is in The Transvaal Leader:—
"The police handled the large crowds who assembled at the station with considerable tact. One obstreperous fellow who appeared to be the worse for liquor got the butt-end of a rifle in his jaw after grossly insulting a constable, and he was then chased off by the crowd, who appeared to appreciate the tact of the police."
* * * * *
A chance for Mr. LLOYD GEORGE:—The Deforestation of Bootle.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES."
"You know this sort of thing isn't good enough," said I, returning the document to Minerva.
"His charges are certainly high," observed the lady of the house; "but I don't think, Jack, we could get as good a doctor anywhere for less money."
"I don't complain about the charges; I suppose they are all right. What I object to is this pompous way of telling me I am in his debt: 'Mr. John Spratt to Dr. Thom. For Professional Services to date, Ten Guineas.'"
"But, my dear, they all do it like that."
"Then they shouldn't. Tradesmen give full particulars of all charges made for their services: why not doctors?"
"Oh, they would never agree to that, Jack!" said Minerva in surprise. "It isn't etiquette. After all, a doctor is a doctor!"
"Let us hope so. At times I doubt it. But that is not the story. How do you suppose I am to check this account without the necessary details?"
"My dear," exclaimed Minerva, "how positively quaint you are! One never dreams of checking a doctor's account; one simply pays. Imagine asking a doctor for an invoice! The idea!"
"And a jolly good idea too," I said. "Then we should know where we were. Would you pass your butcher's bills if they merely said, 'For Commercial Services to date'?"
"That is quite a different matter. Doctors are not butchers."
"Sometimes surgeons are, so it comes to much the same. Anyhow, I object to paying money without knowing what for. Let's apply for an invoice, if only for the principle of the thing."
"We'll do nothing of the sort," said Minerva rather sharply. "It sounds so mean, Jack, to ask a doctor for a detailed account—almost as if we didn't trust him."
"I shall mention that to the butcher next time I see him, and to the other tradesmen. It will save you a lot of trouble about the domestic accounts."
"Don't be absurd. If you're so anxious to have those petty details I think I can remember all the doctor's visits for you, without worrying him."
I drew out a sheet of account-paper.
"The first time he came this year," she began, "was to attend Tommy. You remember—after that New Year party. He called twice—no, three times to see him."
"'Item 1,' I wrote. 'To overhauling and repairing Tommy's tummy, time and material, say 15s.' When Tommy next overeats himself I shall attend to his little business myself. Yes?"
"Then there was Aunt Maria who was staying with us and imagined she had appendicitis, poor old thing! You remember the specialist, Jack?"
"I remember the specialist's fee—three guineas for absolute tomfoolery! 'Item 2. To diagnosing Aunt Maria and failing to find anything wrong and recommending appendicitis.... ' Shall we say a guinea for Aunt Maria's put-up job? I ought to get my money back since nothing was found in Aunt Maria. There should be at least a discount on false alarms."
"Then there was Baby," continued Minerva. "We didn't know what was wrong with him—and really I don't think now there was very much the matter, although I felt so anxious at the time. But the doctor never would explain fully."
"Of course not; that would be giving the game away. 'Item 3. To baby to rights, 2s. 11d.'"
"Two-and-elevenpence for baby!" protested Minerva. "If Aunt Maria was worth a guinea—"
"She was not. I said so at the time."
"—Baby is certainly worth more than two-and-elevenpence."
"Well, make it two pounds eleven. I don't care either way. What I want is an approximate idea of the way this fellow makes up his total."
"If he's charging two pounds eleven for all the little he did to Baby, he's certainly charging too much, Jack; and you ought to see him about it at once."
"Well, what next?"
"That was all, I think.... Oh, no. There was the time about Maudie's cold."
"Oh, those kids' colds!"
"Well, my dear, I have spoken to the children about it until I am tired. Do be reasonable."
"'Item 4. To thawing Maudie's chest, lubricating throat, and taking hard edge off voice, time and expenses.' ... How much?"
"He was only twice at Maudie, three times at Tommy. What did you put down for Tommy?"
"Fifteen bob; but Maudie is bigger than Tommy."
"She is big for her age," reflected Minerva. "I remember asking the doctor if he thought she was growing too fast."
"He'd call that a consultation."
"'Item 5. To advising on rate of speed recommended for Maudie's growth, one guinea.'"
"I might have saved that charge," sighed Minerva. "But that was all. How much does it come to?"
"Allowing two visits to Maudie to be equal to three visits to Tommy, the total bill amounts to six pounds three shillings."
"But that's four pounds seven less than he charges."
"And observe I am allowing two pounds eleven for Baby's fidgets—or rather for your fidgets about baby—on the basis of Aunt Maria being worth a guinea a whim."
"Two pounds eleven for looking at Baby's tongue every other day when there was nothing really the matter with him at all! It's preposterous, Jack. There must be something wrong. You must see Dr. Thom at once about that account. Call to-morrow, dear, on your way to town."
* * * * *
I called. After all there is, as Minerva says, something inexpressibly mean in asking a doctor for a detailed account. This thought occurred to me as Dr. Thom shook hands, beaming as usual with that genial heart-warming smile of his.
"Ah—er—Doctor—my wife would like to see you first time you're passing," I managed to say.
"Nothing serious, I hope?"
"Nothing much. A little matter of detail—that is—I mean Maudie's chest—or rather Tommy's stomach."
"Oh, we'll soon put that right, bless you. Don't you worry yourself about that, Mr. Spratt. Beautiful morning, isn't it?"
* * * * *
A little rough on Tommy, perhaps, but rougher on me.
* * * * *
THE AMERICA CUP.
* * * * *
Our village cobbler, Roberts, has reduced the principle, "Put not thy trust in any child of man," to its very lowest and worst. He regards himself as simply born to be robbed and oppressed. Yet is he so mild and uncomplaining and unassuming about it all that no one, even the most persistent robber and oppressor, could ever find it in his heart to do him down. But even so his pessimism and readiness to be done are such that he must make it very hard for people to spare him sometimes. I have this story from our local banker, who was called upon by the Income Producer Company, Limited (of some obscure address in the City of London) to put the matter right.
It appears that Roberts had, after many years of economy, amassed some savings, which from the first he regarded as bound to land him in trouble. He indulged in twenty L1 shares in the I. P. Co., Ltd., only because he had to do something with the twenty pounds. He told everybody that he neither expected to see his capital again nor even to get any interest on it. He hinted darkly at worse things to come from the transaction, though what these might be he didn't pretend to know.
I have no inside knowledge of the I. P. Company, except that its stock doesn't appear among the use of Trustee Securities. But whatever trustees may think of it, it did declare at the end of 1913 (after a somewhat prolonged silence) a decent dividend on its ordinary shares. Maybe this was by reason of its innate honesty; maybe it was simply because it hadn't the heart to deny his rights to such a man as Roberts. Anyhow it declared its dividend, and, what is more, proceeded to pay it in the manner usual to limited companies.
And so in due course Roberts received a formidable-looking piece of paper, with the title, in very impressive lettering, "DIVIDEND WARRANT," and below the figures L1 8s. 3d.
There must be many, among the uninstructed classes, who have no idea what a dividend warrant may be, but few would, I think, at once take the dismal view of the thing that Roberts took.
By return of post the Secretary of the Income Producer Company, Limited, received an envelope addressed in a shaky hand and enclosing a postal order for a pound, together with a letter from Roberts, in which he prayed for a few days of grace, in which a poor but honest old man might raise the further 8s. 3d. thus demanded of him by legal process.
* * * * *
"The bride will be supported by five piers."
Read this aloud to your wife and see if she isn't jealous. And then try her with this from The Greater Britain Messenger:—
"Big Dams and what they mean to the Church."
She ought to be shocked.
* * * * *
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
MR. CHARLES INGE has brought to the shaping of Square Pegs (METHUEN) some good and healthy thoughts about life and love and the waste of both, so that you get a wholesome impression of soundness and sincerity. And there's a dedication which makes one think the author is writing of realities which have been seen at close quarters. Bernard Farquharson, the big-hearted colonial, returning to England and seeing the waste of potentially good men in preposterous casual jobs which cannot lead anywhere, longs to give them the chances of the big spaces in South Africa (where, of course, there are no Labour troubles and a man's a man for a' that!). He ventures his capital in The Dictator, a Fleet Street derelict, in order to promote his emigration scheme, and his capital departs before either his public or the big-wigs are convinced. I can't think that Bernard had really thought out his scheme. And I wonder what he would have done if the little band of square pegs he got together in desperation hadn't had the sense to refuse his offer to ship them over to South Africa with his few remaining sovereigns. They would certainly have been in a fine round hole at the other side. But Bernard did a better thing. The only emigrant in his party was Leonora, and I like to think they lived happily ever after on his little orange-farm. I can only hope that his rival, Pike-Sarpe, a horrible little unctuous cad of a solicitor, will shortly do something to attract the official attention of the Law Society.
* * * * *
There will, I have no doubt, be joy in many a gentle heart over the glad news that Mrs. GEORGE WEMYSS, whose Professional Aunt made for her so many friends, has created yet another charming relation. Grannie for Granted (CONSTABLE) is the story of a delightful old lady who from her country home takes a placid and grandmaternal interest in the affairs of her descendants—their love affairs mostly, of course, or the engaging chatter of the smaller third generation. Some of the sayings of the latter are worthy examples of the "good enough for Punch" variety, which, as most persons with married friends know too well, is a phrase covering a wide range of quality. Most of them, however, are excellent and ring true. Of the love-affairs I feel myself a less competent judge, but I should fancy their appeal will be compelling to the expert. It is perhaps impossible for a book of this type wholly to avoid the charge of being sugary or pretty-pretty, but with my hand on my heart I can declare that Mrs. WEMYSS has done less to deserve it than most other writers would. I shudder, for example, to imagine what certain Transatlantic novelists would have done with the same material. In fine, here is as pleasant and likeable a treatise on l'art d'etre Grand'-mere as anyone need wish to read. I am uncertain as to the precise significance of the title, which may refer to the fact that you have only to ask a grannie and get what you want, or to the equal truism that grandmotherly devotion is often accepted as a matter of course. However it doesn't really matter. The important thing is that the public have asked Mrs. WEMYSS for "another of the same," and the request has been appropriately "granted."
* * * * *
I happen to have incontrovertible proof (of the external kind) that the one and only Mr. G. K. CHESTERTON is the author of The Flying Inn (METHUEN). Otherwise I should have judged, by internal evidence, that it was the work of an inferior writer of the same name as himself, and, curiously enough, the same initials. Though hesitating to encourage litigation I should have been inclined to recommend Mr. CHESTERTON to apply as soon as possible for an injunction to restrain this person from doing anything further to damage the real G. K. C.'s reputation. I should have hinted that every now and then I had come upon a passage which might well be the work of the author of Heretics and Tremendous Trifles, and that only the intolerable dulness of the book as a whole persuaded me that it had been written by another hand. It deals with the adventures of Lord Ivywood and Captain Dalroy, men of opposite views on the subject of temperance. Lord Ivywood, having by some mysterious means (not explained) acquired despotic power in England, issued an edict that all inns should be abolished. At the same time he decreed that alcoholic liquor might be sold wherever an inn-sign stood. Captain Dalroy accordingly stole the sign of "The Old Ship," and carried it about with him, setting it up wherever his fancy dictated. And that, on my honour as a Learned Clerk, is the whole plot of a fat, closely-printed book of more than three hundred pages. I hope I have a fairly catholic appreciation of humour; certainly, I can enjoy most things, from MEREDITH to the American coloured comic supplement; but The Flying Inn was too much for me. It cannot have been easy to write, even given useful characters like Lord Ivywood and Captain Dalroy, whose remarks can be made to run into three or four pages; but it is considerably harder to read. There are good things in it, just as there is gold (I understand) in sea-water, but the process of extraction is tedious.
* * * * *
Miss UNA SILBERRAD's novels are invariably good, and Cuddy Yarborough's Daughter (CONSTABLE), is among the best of them. Cuddy himself is delightfully irresponsible, and I felt a pang of disappointment when he disappeared from the scene, although, considering that he became increasingly lazy and comatose as he grew older, his decease, perhaps, was not premature. Apart from his affability, Cuddy's only claim to distinction lay in the fact that he was the father of his daughter. Violet's lot fell in rather stony places; as a child she was practically the guardian of her own father, and after his death she was governess to the child of a woman as irresponsible as Cuddy, but not half so comfortable to live with. Men swarmed round this Lady Lassiter, and she loved most of them. Under the circumstances it was fortunate that she had a most unsuspicious and tolerant husband. With no hesitation I recommend the tale of Cuddy and his daughter to the notice of all except the ultra-moderns. But, lest I should fail as a critic if I did no carping, I will say that, though I do not belong to any Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Infinitives, I should like Miss SILBERRAD to look at page 94, where she will find one that is not only split but split to smithereens.
* * * * *
On the paper wrapper of Sarah Eden (MILLS AND BOON) the publishers themselves call it "a novel of great distinction." Filled as I am with the natural lust of the reviewer to contradict a publisher about his own wares, I am bound to admit that I can find no phrase more apt for the impression this book has made upon me. There is exceptional distinction in the scheme of Miss E. S. STEVENS' story, and there is even more in the grave charm and dignity of its telling. It is the record of the development of a singular and beautiful character; "a spiritual adventure" might have been its sub-title, for the events in Sarah Eden's life were those of mind rather than body. There are two main divisions of the story: in the first we watch Sarah from her beginnings as a quiet introspective child in her Devon home, and through the short course of her unsatisfactory married life. With considerable skill the author has here shown the various forces that were at work building up the heroine's character, and that strange blending of a practical and commanding efficiency with the idealism of a dreamer that exactly fitted her for the part she plays in the second half of her story. The change comes with the sudden death of her husband, and the first of the ecstatic visions that compelled Sarah Eden to leave her native country and prepare a place for her Divine Master in the home of His first coming. Thenceforward the scene is in Jerusalem, where Sarah establishes herself at the head of her strange little company of fanatics. You can see how large is the plan of such a tale; it is one of which you could not reasonably expect a wholly satisfactory ending, and to my mind the latter portion is the weaker. But there are some delightful scenes of life in modern Jerusalem. And Sarah Eden herself remains always a profoundly moving personality. For her alone the book deserves to be called "a novel of great distinction."
* * * * *
BEHIND THE SCENES IN THE PUBLIC SERVICE.
* * * * *
A CRY FOR GUIDANCE.
(In a weekly paper, a correspondent—presumably in the first raptures—recommends falling in love as a cure for all worries.)
It is all very well to go talking like that, But tell me, pray, how does one do it? How feel at the sight of a hobble or hat A passionate impulse to woo it? I'm eager enough of my woes to be rid, But Cupid needs help in the placing Of shafts in a heart that's apparently hid 'Neath a tough pachydermatous casing.
I have mingled with maidens—the tender, the hard, The coy and the clinging—in legions; But none has contrived to inflict on the bard A jolt in the cardiac regions; Must I turn for assistance to science or art, Or put my predicament meekly To "Mona" who handles affairs of the heart In Sensitive Simperings (weekly)?
Your wonderful cure, my beneficent lad, For me, who am ready to try it, Is robbed of its worth by your failure to add A hint as to how they supply it. So nice a prescription I'm anxious to trust; 'Tis milder than pills or emulsion; But I can't fall in love; I require to be thrust, And you ought to supply the propulsion.