PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
February 18, 1914
"I come," said Mr. LLOYD GEORGE last week, "from a farming stock right down from the Flood. The first thing a farmer wants is to be secure." It was of course during the Flood that the insecurity of land tenure was most noticeable.
Lord CARRICK, who a few months ago was appearing in a sketch at the Coliseum, seconded the Address in the House of Lords. We are glad to note the growth of ties between Parliament and the Stage, and we are not without hope that before long a further link will be added in the person of SIR GEORGE ALEXANDER.
A new form of flying boat is being built in America, in which it is hoped that somebody may fly from Newfoundland to Ireland in fifteen hours. In the event of Home Rule, we trust, for the sake of the intrepid aviator, that a still fleeter flying boat will be designed for the return journey.
A resident of Waltham Abbey has just received a letter with a Waltham Cross post-mark on the back of the envelope dated February, 31, 1914. We understand that the recipient proposes to return the letter to the Post Office marked "Date unknown."
With reference to the Old Time Supper which is to be a feature of the Chelsea Arts Club Ball we are requested to state that it must not be taken that all the food offered for consumption on that occasion will bear the stamp of antiquity.
An enterprising publisher has, it is rumoured, persuaded no less a personage than Mr. LLOYD GEORGE to write some books for him, and we are promised at an early date, "Essays on Lamb (shorn)," "The Fortunes of Montrose," and other works of creative fancy.
"I was shaved yesterday by a highly intelligent young Pole," says a writer in The Express. The Barber's Pole is of course a very old institution.
"Old Masters—VELASQUEZ and so on—what are they?" said Mr. Justice EVE last week during a case dealing with pictures. "I should turn them into cash if they were mine." Seeing how often the old fellows painted EVE'S portrait, this dictum of his Lordship strikes one as ungracious.
Messrs. BRYANT AND MAY have issued a brochure describing how little houses may be made out of matches. A companion volume, entitled "How to light them," by a Suffragette, may be expected shortly.
It is sometimes asked, Why do so few individuals when sentenced to death for murder take advantage of their right to appeal? The answer is, Because the Court of Criminal Appeal has the power of increasing a sentence.
"Samuel, in the spirit of a notorious member of his race, one Pontius Pilate, disavows all responsibility in the matter of the shooting of Englishmen in the Transvaal."
Mr. Punch (to Mr. SAMUEL) Ave! Civis Romane!
"BRIC-A-BRAC.—'My Somali Book' is a work by Captain Mosse, who spent a considerable time in the country, which Sampson Low is about to publish."—Daily Chronicle.
Modesty is all very well in its place, but to publish an area of over 400,000 square miles and then call the feat "Bric-a-Brac"—well!
"The full penalty of L20 and costs was imposed at Croydon Borough Police-court upon Ernest Montefiore de Wilton, of St. James's-street, W., for exceeding the ten-mile limit at Southend on Jan. 25.
Burroughes & Watts' Billiard Tables for Speed."—Daily Telegraph.
Mr. DE WILTON, reading the advertisement: "No, thanks. A really slow table for me."
THE STRIKE OF SCHOOL-TEACHERS.
Sir,—Is the nation properly alive to the seriousness of the educational impasse in Herefordshire? Personally I view with alarm the state of things of which that is a symptom.
What will it mean if this sort of thing spreads, as I fear it may? We shall have the children of our working-classes growing up ill-educated and with imperfect manners. Their spelling will become phonetic. They will cease to speak grammatically. They will lose their pleasing accent. Their lack of instruction in arithmetic may even lead them into errors savouring of criminality. Worse, they will fall back in their appreciation of music, art and poetry. They will be reading trashy and sensational literature rather than the classical works to which our elementary education directs their tastes.
To my mind, the condition of things is grave in the extreme, and for the sake of the children I beg the nation to wake up and put an end to conditions which make these strikes possible.
Sir,—The most promising event of last week was the delightful strike of school-teachers in that beautiful county of Hereford. Happy children, thus to be freed from the shackles of our so-called education. They will now go to the only school worth learning in—the school of Mother Nature; and if only the strike will continue long enough we shall see in years to come poets and painters and musicians making a glad procession from their Herefordshire homes to carry light and joy into our dark places.
"The Bishop of Zanzibar (Dr. Weston) arrived at Charing-cross from Paris yesterday afternoon.... He went to the House of Charity, 1, Greek-street."—The Times.
And a very good address for him.
"Shea, Blackburn Rovers' clever insight-right, scored all three goals for the Football League against the Southern League at New Cross."—Westminster Gazette.
Selection Committee's insight also right, evidently.
* * * * *
GUESS WHO IT IS.
From a Competition in People of Position (with which are incorporated West End Whispers and Mayfair Mysteries). Prizes will be awarded to the three readers who are first, second, and third in guessing the identities of the greatest number of Society Personages indicated in the Guess Who It Is series of articles.
First Prize, a copy of this year's Debrett. Second Prize, a copy of last year's Debrett. Third Prize, a bound volume of People of Position (with which are incorporated West-End Whispers and Mayfair Mysteries.)
* * * * *
She is a woman who matters very much indeed. By birth and by marriage she belongs to two extremely ancient families, which were settled in Britain when it was entirely covered with forests and inhabited largely by wild beasts. But it is not any advantage of birth or of wealth that has made her the great social figure she is. It is her extraordinary charm and her arresting personality. She is not strictly beautiful, but her smile is peculiarly her own—a rare distinction in these days when there is so much that is artificial.
She has the reputation of being one of the three best dressed women in Europe, and never wears anything, not even her boots, more than once. Her wit is positively brilliant, and in this connection it may be asserted once for all that it was she who first gave vogue to the greeting, "Doodledo," an abbreviated form of "How d'you do," though others have been given the credit for that sparkling pleasantry. In the art of "setting down" she is unapproachable, combining gentle courtesy with fine satire and mordant epigram, as on the occasion when a certain pushing and impossible outside person claimed her acquaintance in public with a loud "How are you?" With her own look and smile she turned and gave him his coup de grace—"Not any the better for seeing you!"—at which an exalted foreign Personage, who was chatting with her laughed so much that he fell into an apoplexy.
She and her husband are sometimes at their beautiful place in Middleshire, and sometimes at their mansion in Belvenor Square. When they are not in England they are generally abroad. She is devoted to horse-riding, motoring, yachting, and ski-ing, but has not, like some of her set, forgotten how to walk. On the contrary, when in town she may occasionally be seen taking this old-fashioned form of exercise in the Park, placing one foot alternately before the other in her charmingly characteristic manner.
She has once or twice, in a delightfully mischievous spirit, amused herself by flouting those very social ordinances of which she is an acknowledged high priestess. When wars, strikes, and Governments are forgotten, it will still be remembered how, some years ago when she was a few months younger than she is now, she appeared in her box at the opera on a MELBA (and therefore a tiara) night wearing a necklace of spar beads and a large ribbon bow on her head. An electric shock ran through the house; opera and singers were unheeded; and the beautiful Countess of —— tore the family diamonds from her head and neck, and, with a shriek of despair, flung them into the orchestra.
The subject of our article could have shone in any or all of the arts, had she cared to give her time and talents to them. Let it be said, too, that, though surrounded from her infancy with "all this world and all the glory of it," she has a serious side to her character, countenances the Church, and by no means discourages religion.
It is widely known that she keeps a diary. Ah! if only that diary, in its dainty, morocco, gold-clasped volumes, could be abstracted from the wonderful mother-o'-pearl escritoire, carried out of the exquisite Renaissance boudoir, down the noble staircase and out of the massive hall-door, and, after the spelling, grammar and composition had been slightly overhauled, if it could but be published and given to the eager world, what an intellectual feast it would provide! And to the fair, gifted, high-born diarist what a fortune it would bring, and what a number of simply absorbing libel cases!
GUESS WHO IT IS.
* * * * *
The Daily Mail must be more careful with its posters. Here are two recent examples:—
L2 A WEEK FOR LIFE.
DRAMATIC END TO SACK CRIME TRIAL.
L2 A WEEK FOR LIFE.
COOLEST FRAUD ON RECORD.
* * * * *
"Lady Dorothy Wood, sister of the Earl of Onslow and wife of the Hon. E. F. Wood, M.P., son and heir of Viscount Halifax, was the recipient of birthday congratulations yesterday, when the Earl of Erroll, of Slain's Castle, Aberdeenshire, completed his 62nd year."—Observer.
The Earl of ERROLL'S turn for congratulations will come when Lady DOROTHY has a birthday.
* * * * *
MR. PUNCH'S PANTOMIME ANALYSIS.
Now that the Pantomime season is drawing to a close and the intelligent student of this branch of Drama is tempted to pass it in review, it may be useful to him to have a list of possible Pantomimes drawn up in a tabulated form according to genus and species, that their finer distinctions, so easily overlooked, may be the better apprehended. Mr. Punch has no hesitation in placing his nice erudition at the disposal of his readers.
Pantomimes may be divided into those of a distinctly Oriental origin and milieu and those which are either associated with Occidental localities or with none in particular. For convenience we may divide them broadly and loosely into Oriental and Non-Oriental Pantomimes. Very well, then.
A. With a ship (Sinbad the Sailor).
B. Without a ship. (a) With a cave. (1) Password to cave, "Open Sesame" (The Forty Thieves). (2) Password to cave, "Abracadabra" (Aladdin).
(b) Without a cave (Bluebeard).
A. With a ship. (a) With a cat (Dick Whittington). (b) Without a cat (Robinson Crusoe).
B. Without a ship. (a) With a giant. (1) With a cat (Puss-in-Boots). (2) Without a cat. (i.) With a bean-stalk (Jack and the Beanstalk). (ii.) Without a beanstalk (Jack the Giant-Killer).
(b) Without a giant: (1) With animals: sheep (Bo-Peep); wolf (Little Red Riding-Hood); goose (Mother Goose); uncertain (Beauty and the Beast); two children (The Babes in the Wood).
(2) Without animals. (i.) With footgear: shoes (Goody Two-Shoes); slippers (Cinderella). (ii.) No particular footgear. (a) With a "Jack" (Jack and Jill, Little Jack Horner, The House that Jack Built). (b) Without a "Jack" (The Sleeping Beauty).
* * * * *
Notice on a suite of furniture:—
"Monthly payments 12/6. They will last a lifetime."
* * * * *
ONE OF US—NOW.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"CINES" OF THE TIMES.
(A far-away Project of educational Films.)
O advent of the age of gold, O happy day for proud papas When Hellas shall her tale unfold On secondary "cinemas"!
When "all the glory that was Greece And all the grandeur that was Rome" Shall hire on a perpetual lease The academic "Picturedrome."
O OVID on the screen for kids! O Helicon attained by 'bus! O filmographic Aeneids! O vitoscoped HERODOTUS!
Our boys shall note the sacred Nine Ascending their immortal peak, Also Apollo (he was fine In the old films as Alf the Freak).
They shall behold TEIRESIAS Telling the doom of Thebes, and con With eyes but not with lips the crass Way in which OEDIPUS went on.
They shall observe quite painlessly The heroes toiling as they sit Rowing upon the sun-kissed sea With black smuts racing over it.
Some stout electroscopic "star," Some Gallic beauty bistre-eyed, Shall show them in the years afar How Helen laughed, how Priam died,
And how the good AENEAS came Through faked adventures on the screen To Latium, and what forks of flame Devoured a dummy Punic queen.
What snares the Queen of Love employed, What Juno: mixed with local ads, These shall be thoroughly enjoyed By all appreciative lads.
And some day, if the gods are kind To hearts so filled with classic feats In many a marble palace "cined" And puffed so oft in halfpenny sheets,
Shall come revulsion, faintly stirred By Phoebus' and the Muses' laugh, Against the foul sins of a word Like spectodrome or vitagraph.
Youth shall draw learning from the spring Pierian, and be taught to know The clustered verbal shames that cling About the moving picture show,
Till at the last shall dawn a bright, A long-to-be-remembered day, When porticos of fanes of light Shall print Kinema with a K.
* * * * *
The Municipality to-day gave a luncheon in honour of the officers and cadets of the training ship Cumberland.—Reuter."
Naval and Military Record.
Another record for WINSTON. He alone could succeed in getting H.M.S. Cumberland to Geneva.
* * * * *
"Widcombe Manor, Bath, in which Fielding is said to have written 'Tom Jones,' is to come under the hammer shortly. It is one of the smaller houses erected by Indigo Jones."
Manchester Evening News.
It was, of course, the influence of his ancestor Indigo which so tinged certain episodes in Tom's career.
* * * * *
THE BAZAAR CUSHION.
"Ha! Someone has been sitting on it," cried Father William, snatching a flattened object off the piano-stool in high irritation. "It's abominable, you know," turning to me. "There are any number of cushions. The house is stuffed with cushions. Why people should always pounce upon this one and manhandle it in this way"—He put it on the table and began punching and squeezing and puffing and smoothing it till it had expanded to its full extent. Then he flicked the dust off it with his handkerchief. "I'll put it back in its box under the sofa," he said. "I can't understand how it ever got out."
He dropped into an armchair and instantly recovered his equanimity.
"And why should they spare that one?" I asked.
"That," said the old man solemnly, "is my bazaar cushion."
"I thought it looked as if it had escaped from a bazaar," said I.
"It came back only last night," he went on. "Are you a judge of cushions? How do you like it? Pretty nice piece of work, eh?"
"Yes," said I cautiously. "Looks to me pretty well put together and all that; but it's rather—well, hideous, isn't it?"
"Yes, yes," said Father William. "I suppose it's the colour you object to. I confess it's a bit of an eyesore. But of course it has to be like that. It's a case of protective colouring, you know."
I didn't quite follow his line of thought and there was a short pause. "You would hardly think to look at it," the old man went on at last, "that that cushion has stood between me and all the trials and persecutions incidental to bazaars for nearly half a century. Perhaps the plague is not quite so bad as it was in the old days when I was in my first City parish, but I must say they were particularly active last summer. They have taken to holding them outside now, with Chinese lanterns, so that there is no close season at all. I had the wit at the very outset to see that the thing must be grappled with. They used to badger me in two separate ways. I was always expected to send some sort of contribution—and then I had to go and buy things. That was the worst of it. I used to dive about, harassed and pursued, searching in vain for the price of my freedom, always confronted by smoking-caps and impossible needlework. It was a fearful ordeal."
"I know," said I, with sympathy. "I know all about it."
"But I found a way out, thanks to my cushion. I bought it at a Sale of Work for Waifs and Strays nearly forty-seven years ago, and I think you will agree with me that it is a fairly good cushion yet. Of course it has been re-covered more than once. It was getting altogether too well known in Streatham at one time. It used to be blue with horrid little silver spangles."
"And how does it work?"
"It is beautifully simple. I am told that a bazaar is contemplated and asked if I will assist. Very well, I send my cushion. That is quite good enough; no one would expect me to do more. Then I go, on the appointed day, buy the cushion, and walk out with an enormous parcel for all the world to see that I have done my duty. Then it goes back in its box. The only bazaars that I am unable to assist are those which occur (as they sometimes do) when my cushion happens to be out."
"And is it never sold?"
"Well, look at it!" said Father William. "Of course it had to be of such a nature that there was no danger of its going off too quick. I used always to go early on the first day to make sure. But since the last time it was re-covered I have had more confidence in its staying powers. I find there is no particular hurry."
"Do you put a price on it?" I asked.
"Oh, no. I don't like to do that. That might put me in an awkward position if it came out. But I find it fairly exciting on each occasion to discover what I shall have to pay for it. It is generally more expensive now than it used to be in the old days. I suppose it is the rise in the cost of living. But I am seldom satisfied, either way. If it is too cheap I naturally feel rather slighted, seeing that it was I who sent it; and if it is too dear of course I am annoyed because I have to buy it. And it fluctuates extraordinarily. I have more than once bought it in at half-a-crown and come home burning with indignation, and, if you will believe me, there was a blackguard at that big Sale of Work for the Territorials in the autumn who had the effrontery to charge me a guinea and a half. I was furious with him."
"I wish you would lend it to me, Father William," said I, after a pause. "We are getting up a Jumble Sale in Little Sudbury."
"No," said Father William firmly, "no. Little Sudbury is barred. The last time it was there on sale there was a very painful scene. I had arrived rather late, I remember, and I found my cushion actually being sold by auction along with a pair of worsted slippers and a woolly door mat—in one lot. I thought it showed very poor taste. Besides, it is already booked to appear six times in the next fortnight."
* * * * *
* * * * *
"How stupid are the degenerate Tories who call this man [Mr. LLOYD GEORGE] a demagogue."—Mr. BEGBIE on Mr. LLOYD GEORGE in "The Daily Chronicle," Feb. 5.
"He [Mr. Lloyd George] was, if you like, a demagogue."—Mr. BEGBIE on Mr. BALFOUR in "The Daily Chronicle," Feb. 7.
* * * * *
The Duke of SUTHERLAND, we see, values the diamond-studded gold watch and chain, of which he has just been relieved by two desperate Neapolitans, at L60. But the real question is, would the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER accept that valuation?
* * * * *
* * * * *
WHEN BOSS EATS BOSS.
According to the New York Correspondent of The Daily Chronicle, the publication of a letter from Mr. CROKER, formerly the great Tammany Chief, attacking his successor, Mr. MURPHY, has greatly strengthened the campaign for purifying the Administration.
The recent meeting of the Statistical Society was rendered remarkable by a letter from Mr. LLOYD GEORGE who, in regretting his inability to be present, impressed upon the Society the need of upholding a vigorous and fastidious accuracy in the use of facts and figures. "To gain a momentary triumph over an antagonist in a public controversy by a misquotation, even though only a fraction is involved, is, in my opinion, an act which permanently disqualifies the offender from holding any place of responsibility." These golden words, so the President observed, ought to be engraved in indelible letters in every school in the kingdom.
The dignified and telling rebuke recently addressed by Mr. BERNARD SHAW to Mr. G. K. CHESTERTON, for undue indulgence in paradoxical gymnastics, has given great satisfaction to the members of the Society for the Promotion of Simplified Thought. As the President of the Society, Dr. Pickering Phibbs, puts it, to have Mr. SHAW on the side of the angels is enough to make the Powers of Darkness throw up the sponge.
Mr. KEIR HARDIE'S remarkable speech at Wolverhampton, when he declared that it was the duty of Labour to uphold the British Constitution, has profoundly impressed Mr. LARKIN and Mr. LANSBURY, who are of opinion that the stability of the British Empire is now assured for at least one hundred years.
The publication of a letter from Mr. ROOSEVELT, censuring President WILSON for the prolixity and verbosity of his Presidential messages, will, it is believed, lend a powerful impetus to the campaign on behalf of brevity in public utterances.
* * * * *
"YOUNG LADY APPRENTICE WANTED—must be tall to learn all higher branches of the trade."—Advt. in (our favourite news-paper) "The Hairdressers Weekly Journal."
You want to be tall to reach up to the higher branches.
* * * * * From an Aberdeen firm's advertisement:—
Success comes in Cans, not in Can'ts.
To-day and Following Days.
Stimulants to Encourage Purchasers.
In the cans, we suppose.
* * * * *
A GOLF JUDGMENT.
(To the Editor of "Punch.")
Dear Sir,—As I am not at all satisfied with the recent decision of The Rules of Golf Committee on the position created by a cow carrying off a ball in her hoof, I appeal to you to arbitrate in the following dispute between myself and my friend A (for I am too courteous to expose his actual name).
During some very wild weather we made an arrangement, before starting out, that, in the event of another storm coming on, the game should be decided by the score existing at the moment of our consequent retirement.
A was in receipt of six bisques. I holed out the first in five. A, who was in well-deserved trouble all the way, holed out in ten. I remarked, "One up!" to which A made no response. As we moved off to the second tee there was a loud clap of thunder and the heavens burst over our heads. A at once shouted above the tumult, "I take my six bisques and claim the hole and the match." He then headed swiftly for the pavilion.
I cannot believe that he was justified in his claim. What do you think?
Yours faithfully, FAIR PLAY.
Editor's Decision.—The original arrangement was bad in Golf Law. The match is therefore off, and each party must pay his own costs.
* * * * *
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.
"Do you believe in magic?" Jack asked.
"Well, whether you do or not," he said, "I've got a rather rum story for you."
"Go ahead," I replied.
"Very well," he said. "It was on last Tuesday morning that I looked in at the watchmaker's to see if my watch was mended yet.
"It was hanging up in the glass case above the bench where he worked, with my name on a little tab attached to the ring.
"'No,' the man said, 'it's not done—in fact, I'm still observing it.'
"'But it seems to be recording the time all right,' I said.
"'Yes,' he replied—'seems, but it isn't. That's mere chance. Do you know, it's so fast that it's gained exactly twenty-four hours since you brought it in. That's not to-day's time it's registering, but to-morrow's. Leave it here another week, and I'll have got to the bottom of the mystery.'
"At first I was disposed to do so; and then I had an idea.
"'No,' I said, 'I'll take it.'
"'But it's useless to you,' he replied.
"'I'll take it," I said. 'Just for fun.'
"He gave it me reluctantly and returned to his labours.
"I walked away from the shop very thoughtfully. Here was a curious state of things. I and the rest of the world were living on Monday, February 9th, while my watch was busily recording, a little too hurriedly, the progress of time on Tuesday, February 10th. To see into the future has ever been man's dearest wish, and here was I in possession of a little piece of machinery which actually was of the future and yet could tell none of its secrets.
"But couldn't it? Couldn't I wrest one at least from it?—that was what worried me.
"As I pondered, a newspaper boy passed me bearing the placard 'Selections for Lingfield,' and in a flash I bought one. My watch knew who had won! How could I extract that information from it?"
"Good heavens," I interpolated, "what an extraordinary situation!"
"You may well say so," he said. "You see, if only I could share its knowledge, I should be rich for life; for it was now only a quarter to eleven, and the first race was not till one-fifty, and there was plenty of time to bet.
"I continued on my way deep in thought," Jack went on, "when whom should I meet but Lisburne? Lisburne is the most ingenious man I know.
"'Come and advise me,' I said, and led him to a quiet corner.
"'It's jolly interesting,' he remarked, when I had finished, 'but of course it's black arts, you know, and we've lost the key nowadays. Still we must try.'
"We discussed the thing every way, in vain.
"Then suddenly he said, 'Look here, this watch represents to-morrow. That means it is through the watch that we must work. Here, let's get to-day's Mail and read it through the watch-glass and see if there's any difference?'
"We got it and did so.
"Lisburne removed the glass, found the racing news and read them through it. 'Good heavens!' he said, and turned white. 'Here, read this with your naked eye,' he said, pushing the paper before me.
"I read 'Saturday's racing results: 1.30, Midas 1, Blair Hampton 2, Chessington 3,' and so on. 'Prices, Midas 6-4,' etc.
"'Those are Saturday's results,' he said, shaking with excitement. 'But now read them through the watch-glass.'
"I did so, and they immediately changed to Monday's results. I was reading to-morrow's paper!
"'Look at the prices,' he cried.
"'The prices! I hastily ran through them. They were splendid. "Captain Farrell 10-1, Woodpark 10-1, Flitting Light 4-1." And these horses, remember,' he said, 'are going to run this afternoon!'
"'What's the next thing to be done?' I gasped.
"'The bookies,' he replied.
"'I suppose they're fair game,' I said.
"'Of course,' he replied. 'The very fairest. But that's nothing to do with you, anyhow. You're in possession of magic and must employ it. They are the natural medium. How much can you muster?'
"'I'd risk anything I could scrape up,' I said. 'Say L750. And you?'
"'Oh, I'm broke,' he replied. 'How many bookies do you know?'
"'Three,' I said.
"'Well,' he replied, 'I know three more, and we can find men who know others, and who will bet for us. Because we must plant this out warily, you know, or they'll be suspicious.'
"'Will you take it in hand,' I asked, 'leaving me L150 for my own commissioners?'
"'Of course,' he said, 'if you'll give me ten per cent.;' and having copied out all the longer-priced winners through the watch-glass he hurried off, promising to meet me at lunch.
"How to get through the intervening time was now the question. First I went to the telegraph office, and then to the barber's to have my hair cut. Forcibly to be kept in a chair was what I needed. The hair-cut took only half-an-hour; so I was shaved; then I was shampooed; then I was massaged; then I was manicured. I should have been pedicured, but the clock mercifully said lunch-time.
"Lisburne was there in a state of fever. He had distributed the L600 among fourteen different commission agents.
"'Now we can have lunch,' he said, 'with easy minds.'
"'But suppose the whole thing is a fizzle,' I said. 'We've been far too impetuous. Impulse was always my ruin.'
"'Oh no,' he said.
"'But if it's a fizzle,' I said, 'what about my L750?'
"'It won't be,' he replied. 'It's magic. Let's order something to eat.'
"He ate; that is the advantage of being on ten per cent. commission. I couldn't."
"Go on," I said. "Did the horses win?"
"Every one," he replied.
"At those prices?"
"Then you're frightfully rich?"
"No," he said.
"Why ever not? Surely the bookies haven't refused to pay?"
"Then why aren't you rich?"
"Because I did the usual silly thing—I woke up."
* * * * *
"The Cafe Chantant.
To the Editor of 'The Evening Post.'
Sir,—In writing on the 4th February I omitted from the lists of names of two of our kind helpers at the Cafe Chantant, Messrs. Le Cheminant and the Victoria Dairy. Will you kindly allow me to do so now. Yours faithfully, M. P. PIPON."
"The Evening Post," Jersey.
Apparently the Editor wouldn't!
* * * * *
"Yesterday a metal-gilt chandelier, 5ft. high, with branches for twenty-five lights, and numerous cut-glass pendants, fell at the one bid of half a guinea. The purchaser, who was sitting under it, seemed to be the most surprised person in the room."
If it fell on his head, we fear he must have been pained as well as surprised.
* * * * *
"N.B.—Welsh rarebit is most nourishing, and, with a plate of soap, makes an excellent dinner." Bombay Gazette.
The soap, however nourishing, should be disguised; otherwise your guests will misunderstand you.
* * * * *
* * * * *
LETTERS AND LIFE.
Preparations are already on foot for the great banquet to be given in honour of the famous Russian novelist, Dr. Ladislas Plovskin, who is to visit England in July. A representative committee has been formed, which includes, amongst others, Sir GILBERT PARKER, Mr. CHARLES GARVICE, Mr. SILAS HOCKING, Mr. C. K. SHORTER, Lord DUNSANY, Mr. JAMES DOUGLAS and Mr. EDMUND GOSSE, who will take the chair at the banquet. There is a peculiar appropriateness in this, for it was Mr. GOSSE who, some ten years ago, first called attention to Plovskin in one of his masterly studies. Since then, Plovskin has gained the Nobel Prize and become the object of a special cult which has centres from Tomsk to Seattle, and from Popocatapetl to Oshkosh.
The address which will be presented to the great Muscovite fictionist has been written by Mr. JAMES DOUGLAS, and is a masterpiece of sensitive and discriminating eulogy. Thus in one passage Mr. DOUGLAS says, "while preserving your own individuality with miraculous independence, you have summed up in your work all the inchoate influences to be found in HOMER, DANTE, SHAKSPEARE, VOLTAIRE and VERLAINE, and carried them to a pitch of divine effulgence only to be equalled in the godlike work of our marvellous MASEFIELD."
Dr. Plovskin is no stranger to England, for he was an intimate friend of the late EDWARD LEAR, who alludes to him under the name of Ploffskin in one of his touching lyrics, and, as we have seen, he owes almost everything to the generous appreciation of Mr. GOSSE, to whom he has dedicated his last novel, which bears the fascinating title of The Bad Egg. Portions of this, it is to be hoped, will be recited at the banquet by the author's brother-in-law, Mr. Ossip Bobolinsky, Managing Director of the Anglo-Manchurian Steam Tar Company.
* * * * *
In smart intellectual circles Tagore Teas are now all the rage. At these elegant and up-to-date entertainments China tea is absolutely proscribed, the refreshments, solid and liquid, being exclusively of Indian origin. After tea the guests cantillate passages from the prose and poetry of the Great Indian Master to the accompaniment of gongs (the Sanskrit tum-tum) and one-stringed Afghan jamboons, for the space of two or three hours, when their engagements permit. Sometimes the reading is varied by mystical dances of a slow and solemn character, but all laughter, levity and exuberance are sedulously discountenanced, the aim of all present being to attain an attitude of serene and complacent ecstasy which enables them to invest utterances of the most perfect ineptitude with a portentous and pontifical significance.
* * * * *
"The advent to the episcopal bench of Dr. Russell Wakefield—the only Anglican Bishop on record to wear a moustache with a clean-shaven chin—does not appear to have aroused so much comment as the appointment of Dr. Ryle to the See of Liverpool in 1884. It was then said that the new prelate was the first Anglican Bishop to wear a beard for over 200 years."—The Daily Chronicle.
Dr. RUSSELL WAKEFIELD, of course, has not worn his moustache for a quarter of that time.
* * * * *
From a Hong Kong tradesman's circular:—
"EGGS! FRESH EGGS! AND TASTEFUL EGGS! FOR SALE.
These eggs are exceedingly pure and fresh, and can be proved by looking at or breaking them. The yelk when boiled—smell sweet, the white—glistened, relished, and favourable to health as well.
TRY our taseeful eggs as their quality bears.
COME! COME! COME! AND TRY TO HAVE SOME."
* * * * *
* * * * *
To-day it is not mine to sing A lay of love, a song of Spring; I tackle no uplifting thing Of arms and men; My muse is otherwise beguiled To gentler themes and measures mild; I sing of nature's artless child, The common hen.
Little she has of lyric stuff; Her bows, I grant, are merely bluff, Her sternmost pile of windy fluff Would leave one cool; Yet never since the world was planned Was aught more lofty and more grand Regarded as a mother—and Such an old fool.
In laying eggs is all her joy; Its rapture never seems to cloy; She knows no worthier employ In life than this, So to collect a fertile batch Still young, still fresh enough to hatch, And thus, by sterling effort, snatch A mother's bliss.
But, though the futile one will lay (When she's in form) an egg per day, She always gives the fact away With loud acclaim That all the novel truth may know; Whereby the unsleeping human foe Derives a tip on where to go To get the same.
It does not make her senses reel, This mystery, or dim her zeal, Till by degrees she seems to feel Her broken lot; She roams aloof, she grows depressed; And then, her broody sorrow guessed, Men lure her to a well-filled nest And bid her squat.
And now behold her, warm and wide, Her rounded form well satisfied, Though even in her highest pride She has no luck; The offspring that she tends so well Are probably of alien shell; Indeed, for all that she can tell, They may be duck.
Yes, one may grant that on the whole She would not thrill the poet soul; For, tho' she plays a decent role Beyond all doubt, Where mental qualities are lacked We find but little to attract; She does not make, in point of fact, The heart go out.
But see her when some danger lies O'er her young brood, and, with wild eyes, Straight at the sudden foe she flies, Her full soul spurred To battle with the gnashing beak— A roaring tiger is more meek; And somehow one is bound to speak Well of the bird.
* * * * *
From the "Found" column in The Standard:—
"Fox Skin Fur, on Hog's Back."
The last place where you would look for it.
* * * * *
"Natal first innings—Barnes, 5 wickets for 44 runs; Rolf, 4 for 59; Woolley, 6 for 6; Douglas, 8 for 8; Hearne, none for 15; Bird, 1 for 9.—P.A. Foreign Special Telegram."
And yet Natal won.
* * * * *
THE MISSING WORD.
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
(Extracted from the Diary of Toby, M.P.)
House of Commons, Tuesday, February 10.—Odd to find proceedings in House to-day reminiscent of incident in a famous trial. Occasion recognised as supremely momentous. Marks, within defined limit of time, crisis of bitter controversy. Before Session closes fate of Ireland and of the Ministry will be settled. PREMIER'S speech awaited with gravest anxiety. Lobby thronged with animated groups. Before four o'clock—when SPEAKER returned to Chair elate with consciousness of singular foresight in having "for greater accuracy" possessed himself of copy of KING'S Speech, presently read to expectant Members, most of whom heard it delivered from the Throne two hours earlier—stream of humanity flooded House, filling every seat and crowding Bar.
It was at preliminary gathering that case of Bardell v. Pickwick was recalled. House awaiting arrival of Black Rod with summons to repair to gilded Chamber. Message delivered, SPEAKER, escorted by SERJEANT-AT-ARMS carrying Mace, marches off. From Treasury Bench and from Front Bench opposite, Leader of House and Leader of Opposition simultaneously rise and fall in. Other Ministers and ex-Ministers with mob of Members complete procession.
When PREMIER and BONNER LAW met they heartily shook hands. CAPTAIN CRAIG and MOORE (of Armagh) looked at each other in pained surprise.
Here was the touch of nature that makes the whole world kin. When seated in court awaiting opening of trial, Mr. Pickwick observed a learned serjeant-at-law make friendly salutation to his own counsel.
"Who's that red-faced man who said it was a fine morning, and nodded to our counsel?" he whispered to his solicitor.
"Mr. Serjeant Buzfuz," was the reply. "He's opposed to us; he leads on the other side."
Mr. Pickwick, it is recorded, regarded with great abhorrence the cold-blooded villainy of a man who, as counsel for the opposite party, presumed to tell Mr. Serjeant Snubbin, who was counsel for him, that it was a fine morning.
Thus MOORE (of Armagh) and the COURAGEOUS CRAIG. Here were the contending forces set in battle array, and the first thing they behold is their Captain shaking hands with the commander of the enemy! An ominous beginning, they agreed, well calculated to depress the spirits of men who mean business.
It proved emblematical of what followed. Expected that stupendous occasion would be marked by dramatic scenes, possibly by outbreak of disorder. Nothing of that kind happened. Scene was indeed impressive by reason of Chamber being crowded from floor to topmost bench of Strangers' Gallery. Also, whilst PREMIER in unusually low-spoken, comparatively halting voice, delivered critical passages of his speech, there was movement marking intense interest. Multitude on floor of House bent forward to catch the murmured syllables. Members crowding the side galleries stood up in same anxious quest.
Otherwise the accustomed signs and tokens of Parliamentary crisis were conspicuously lacking. WALTER LONG, whose return to fighting-line after bout of illness was warmly welcomed on both sides, pitched the opening note a little low. Not fierce enough to gratify Ulster, he correspondingly failed to irritate the Home Rulers.
As for PREMIER, his part, adroitly played, was to appear to be saying a good deal without committing himself to definite pledges. Above all, not to inflame controversy. He brought with him unusually copious notes, but did not, as is his wont on such occasions, read from them the text of especially weighty passages. Spoke slowly, occasionally in a murmur, uttering his sentences as if deliberately weighing each word. Following WALTER LONG, he was received with prolonged cheers, testifying to personal popularity. When he sat down cheering was more polite than effusive.
Irish Nationalists barely contributed even to this circumspect note of approval. Throughout nearly an hour's speech they sat in ominous silence, listening to passages in which they seemed to recognise disposition on part of PREMIER towards mood of Benedick, who, when he said he would die a bachelor, never thought he would live to be married.
Had not PREMIER within the last twelve months frequently declared he would never consent to exclusion of Ulster from Home Rule Bill? And wasn't he now showing signs of disposition to surrender?
Business done.—Parliament reassembles. WALTER LONG, on behalf of Opposition, moves amendment to Address, calling upon Government to appeal to country before proceeding further with Home Rule Bill.
Wednesday.—Interest of sitting centred in speeches of CARSON and JOHN REDMOND. Former met with rousing reception from Opposition. Some Ministerialists would have liked to join in the demonstration, not because they share CARSON'S views or admire his policy, but because they instinctively feel admiration for a man of commanding position who has sacrificed personal and professional interests to what he regards as the well-being of his country. Esteem increased by merit of his speech. Only once did he lapse into tone and manner of personal attack familiar to House when Ulster Members and Nationalists, hating each other for love of their country, join in debate. Turning round to top bench below Gangway, where JOHN REDMOND sat attentive, he said: "If you want Ulster, come and take her, or come and win her. But you have never wanted her affections; you have wanted her taxes."
This stung to the quick. REDMOND, leaping to his feet when CARSON resumed his seat, hotly denounced accusation as unworthy of his countryman.
House already began to show signs of satiety. Long intervals when benches were empty. COUSIN HUGH, speaking at favourable hour of six o'clock, failed to attract an audience to whom he might present his cheering forecast of an interval of six weeks spent in listening to speeches of Members below the Gangway, "poked up by the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER to attack the FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY." Benches crowded whilst CARSON and REDMOND spoke. Filled up again when CHANCELLOR OF EXCHEQUER in brief speech wound up debate on behalf of Government, and BONNER LAW, as usual unencumbered by notes, replied.
Business done.—Demand for immediate dissolution negatived by 333 votes against 255. Opposition elate at reduced majority.
"I fancy," said PREMIER, smiling serenely upon the WINSOME WINSTON, "they would gladly suffer from our complaint."
House of Lords, Thursday.—Noble Lords, having disposed of Address, already find themselves in condition of frozen-out gardeners who have no work to do. Session but a few days old has already afforded fresh sign of disposition to belittle hereditary Chamber.
It happened thus. On opening night Lord LONDONDERRY, making his way along Peers' Gallery in Commons, came upon extraordinary sight. A stranger on front seat overlooking sacred quarter allotted to Peers, finding himself incommoded by hat and overcoat, neatly folded up the latter, dropped it on the Peers' bench beneath and carefully placed his hat upon it. Hadn't LLOYD GEORGE demonstrated that the land belonged to the people? Here was undeveloped space. As a free man he claimed it for his own uses.
LONDONDERRY, halting, angrily regarded the incumbrance. Turned about with evident intention of calling attendant's notice to unparalleled liberty. At that moment his eye fell on the countenance of the stranger. Could it be? Yes; it was the school proprietor whose patriotic offer of aid to Ulster in approaching civil war he had a few days earlier reported to an admiring nation. Letter offered to provide for two sons of any Ulster volunteer who fell in battle with the myrmidons of an iniquitous Ministry. As sometimes happens, pearl of the letter was hidden in the postscript. Writer explained that he could not very well go to the war himself but would send his partner.
Recognition placed new aspect on little affair.>LONDONDERRY perceived it was simple ignorance of customs of the place that led to apparent indiscretion. So with genial nod passed on to seat over the clock.
Few minutes later outraged attendant, catching sight of the bundle, peremptorily ordered its removal.
Business done.—By 243 votes against 55 Lords carried MIDDLETON'S amendment to Address demanding immediate dissolution. WILLOUGHBY DE BROKE communicated to the MEMBER FOR SARK his conviction that this hide-bound Government will take no notice of the mandate.
"Reminds me," said the Bold Baron, brushing away a manly tear, "of a hymn I learned in the nursery:—
'Tis not enough to say You're sorry and repent If you go on in the same way As you did always went.'"
* * * * *
ANOTHER HAPPY ACCIDENT.
(From "The Daily Sale.")
The Daily Sale has peculiar pleasure in announcing that another of its insured readers has been gravely injured by an accident to the taxi-cab, omnibus, train or tram, in (or on) which he was travelling at the time of the disaster. The name of this reader (whose portrait is given) is Mr. Vivian Brackendope, the well-known amateur actor of Burton-on-Beer. Mr. Vivian Brackendope is indeed a lucky man. He is the ninth of our readers to be badly smashed up during the past six weeks. Now, who will be the tenth? Fill up the coupon on page 2 and you will be eligible.
* * * * *
AN ADMIRABLE CRICHTON.
"In the list of successes in the Cambridge Local Examinations we notice the name of P. T. Harris, of Wellingborough Grammar School, who gained credit for himself and his school by passing in every subject and gaining four distinctions, the distinctions being gained in arithmetic, French, algebra, and Little Bowden Pig Club."
Market Harborough Advertiser.
* * * * *
"COUNTRY LIFE: an Illustrated Journal for all interested in Country Life and Country Pursuits, complete from its beginning in 1897 to June 1906, profusely illustrated with views of ancient and modern seats, Country scenes, sporting incidents, and portraits of winning horses, prize beasts, and fashionable beauties."
An ungallant sequence.
* * * * *
THE WISH IS FATHER TO THE THOUGHT.
"Then, after a last earnest statement of the Ulster position by Mr. Gordon, the Chancellor of the Exchequer rose to wind up the Government."—Daily Telegraph.
* * * * *
* * * * *
A TYPICAL AMERICAN.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
"The Melting Pot."
It is impossible not to respect the earnestness of Mr. ZANGWILL when he treats of the persecution of his co-religionists in Russia, or their social exclusion in America. But when he appeals to an English audience he is addressing the converted. It is a good many years since the pogram was a popular form of amusement in this country, and at present the Jew is the flattered idol of English Society. It may seem surprising that his play should have had so great a success in the States, where they are not supposed to have a passion for hearing home truths. But then its main theme is the glorification of America as the Melting Pot or crucible into which are flung the wrongs and hatreds and slaveries of the old world, to re-appear in the shape of justice and love and freedom. This is the theme upon which David Quixano, a Kishineff Jew who has lost all his family in a massacre, goes from time to time into an orgy of lyrical raptures. And indeed the swiftness with which the naturalised immigrant, of just any nationality, assimilates himself to local conditions, instantly changing his heart with his change of sky, and learning to wave his stars and stripes with the best of the native-born, must seem miraculous to the ordinary patriot. And here we touch the weak spot in Mr. ZANGWILL'S paean of the Melting Pot. For those who migrate to America for the sake of its democratic freedom are the few; and those who go there for the sake of its dollars are the many; and into the Melting Pot—or, to use an image more apposite to indigenous tastes, its Sausage Machine—are thrown not only the wrongs and hatreds of unhappy races but also the dear traditions of birth and blood and family ties and pride of country, to emerge in a uniform pattern without a past.
For his plot, Mr. ZANGWILL relies upon a very stagy coincidence. Quixano falls in love with a young Russian girl who conducts a Settlement Home in New York, and conquers her prejudice against his race, only to find that she is the daughter of the very officer who permitted the massacre at Kishineff in which Quixano's family had perished, and himself been wounded. In turn he naturally has his own prejudices to conquer, and does so. But not till he has scared us with the fear that he is going to be false to his theory of purification by process of the Melting Pot.
Mr. WALKER WHITESIDE, who plays the part, was excellent in his quiet moods, and when he was obliged to rant was no worse than other ranters. The superb solidity of Mr. SASS as the Russian officer served as an admirable foil to the mercurial methods of Quixano. Miss PHYLLIS RELPH as the heroine mitigated the effect of her obvious sincerity by a bad trick of showing her nice teeth. Mr. PERCEVAL CLARK, as a young American millionaire, was pleasantly British. Humorous relief of a cosmopolitan order was provided by the Irish brogue of Miss O'CONNOR; the broken English of Miss GILLIAN SCAIFE; the Anglo-German of Mr. CLIFTON ALDERSON who played very well as Herr Pappelmeister (Kapellmeister to a New York orchestra); and what I took to be the Yiddish of Miss INEZ BENSUSAN as the aunt of the hero, a pathetic figure of an old lady with firm views about the keeping of the Jewish Sabbath, and a pedantic habit of celebrating with a false nose and other marks of hilarity the anniversary of the escape of the Chosen People from a Persian pogram twenty-five centuries ago.
It might seem from this long catalogue of humorists that frivolity was the prevailing note of the play. But I can give assurances that this was not so. The prevailing note was a high seriousness, culminating in the last Act, when tedium supervened. I attribute my final depression in part to the scene—a bird's-eye view of New York from the roof-garden of the Settlement House. It was impossible to share Quixano's spasm of exaltation in the matter of the Melting Pot as he gazed on this very indifferent example of scenic art.
* * * * *
"A Midsummer Night's Dream."
I am not sure that Mr. GRANVILLE BARKER'S faithful followers are being quite kindly entreated by him. He happens to have a keen sense of humour and for some little while he has been trying, with a very grave face, to see how much they will swallow. This time, everybody else except the initiated can see the bulge in his cheek where his tongue comes.
The alleged faults of the old school, which the new was to correct, were (1) an over-elaboration of detail in the setting; (2) a realism which challenged reality. ("Challenge," I understand, is the catch-word they use.) Both these qualities were supposed to distract attention from the drama itself. The answer, almost too obvious to be worth stating, is that the grotesque and the eccentric are vastly more distracting than the elaborate; and that, if you only sound the loud symbol loud enough the audience has no ear left at all for the actual words. As for the "challenging" of reality the new school would argue that, as the stage is a thing of convention to start with—artificial light, no natural atmosphere or perspective, no fourth wall, and so on—all the rest should be convention too. The answer, again almost too obvious, is that, since the audience has to bear the strain of unavoidable convention, you should not wantonly add to their worry. And, anyhow, the human figures on your stage (I leave out fairies and superhumans for the moment) are bound to challenge reality by the fact that they are alive. If Mr. BARKER wants to be consistent (and he would probably repudiate so Philistine a suggestion) his figures should be marionettes worked by strings; and for words—if you must have words—he might himself read the text from a corner of the top landing of his proscenium.
And the strange thing is that no one in the world has a nicer sense of the beauty of SHAKSPEARE'S verse than Mr. BARKER. Indeed he protests in his preface: "They (the fairies) must be not too startling.... They mustn't warp your imagination—stepping too boldly between SHAKSPEARE'S spirit and yours." (The italics are my own comment.) He is of course free, within limits, to choose his own convention about fairies, because we have never seen them, though some of us say we have. Mr. CHESTERTON naturally says they can be of any size; Mr. BARKER says they can be of any age from little Peaseblossom and his young friends to hoary antiques with moustaches like ram's horns and beards trickling down to their knees. And as many as like it, and are not afraid of being poisoned, may have gilt faces that make them look like Hindoo idols with the miraculous gift of perspiration. But he should please remember that the play is not his own. It is, in point of fact, SHAKSPEARE'S, and I am certain he was not properly consulted about the Orientalisation of the fairies out of his Warwickshire woodlands. You will be told that he has been properly consulted; that he himself makes Titania say that Oberon has "come from the furthest steppe of India," and that she too had breathed "the spiced Indian air." But on the same authority Mr. BARKER might just as well have fixed on Asia Minor or Greece as their provenance. She charges Oberon with knowing Hippolyta too well, and he accuses her of making Theseus break faith with a number of ladies. Clearly they were a travelling company and would never have confined themselves to the costumes of any particular clime.
Anyhow, when at His Majesty's you saw Oberon in sylvan dress moving lightly through a wood that looked like a wood (and so left your mind free to listen to him), you could believe in all the lovely things he had to say; but when you saw Mr. BARKER'S Oberon standing stark, like a painted graven image, with yellow cheeks and red eyebrows, up against a symbolic painted cloth, and telling you that he knows a bank where the wild thyme blows, you know quite well that he knows nothing of the kind; and you don't believe a word of it.
But, to leave SHAKSPEARE decently out of the question, I liked the gold dresses of the fairies enormously, so long as Puck—a sort of adult Struwel-Puck that got badly on my nerves—was not there, destroying every colour scheme with his shrieking scarlet suit, which went with nothing except a few vermilion eyebrows. I liked too the grace of their simple chain-dances on the green mound (English dances, you will note, and English tunes—not Indian). But in the last scene, where they interlace among the staring columns, their movements lacked space. Indeed that was the trouble all through; that, and the pitiless light that poured point-blank upon the stage from the 12.6 muzzles protruding from the bulwarks of the dress-circle. There was no distance, no suggestion of the spirit-world, no sense of mystery (except in regard to Mr. BARKER'S intentions).
The best scene was the haunt of Titania, with its background of Liberty curtains very cleverly disposed. As drapery they were excellent, but as symbols of a forest I found them a little arbitrary. I do not mind a forest being indicated, if you are short of foliage, by a couple of trees (in tubs, if you like) or even a single tree; but somehow—and the fault is probably mine—the spectacle of hanging drapery does not immediately suggest to me the idea of birds' nests. I am afraid I should be just as stupid if Mr. BARKER gave me the same convention the other way round, and showed an interior with foliage to indicate window-curtains.
The play itself, with its rather foolish figures from the Court and the easy buffoonery of its peasants, does not offer great chances of acting; and Miss LAURA COWIE was the only one in the cast who added to her reputation. Her Hermia was a delightful performance full of charm and piquancy and real intelligence. Miss LILLAH MCCARTHY sacrificed something of her personality to the exigences of a flaxen chevelure. Mr. HOLLOWAY'S Theseus was wanting in kingliness, and his hunting scene was perhaps the worst thing in the play. He was not greatly helped by his Hippolyta, for Miss EVELYN HOPE never began to look like a leader of Amazons. Miss CHRISTINE SILVER'S Titania had a certain domestic sweetness, but even a queen of fairies might be a little more queenly. Mr. DENNIS NEILSON-TERRY as Oberon was a curiously effeminate figure for those who recalled the manly bearing of his mother in the same part. Of the two bemused Athenian lovers, Mr. SWINLEY, as Lysander, bore himself as bravely as could be expected.
Mr. NIGEL PLAYFAIR had, of course, no difficulty with the part of Bottom, and Mr. ARTHUR WHITBY'S Quince and Mr. QUARTERMAINE'S Flute were both excellent. It is to the credit of the whole troupe of rustic players that nobody tried to force the fun.
Apart from a slight tendency to hurry, a trick that, except in swift dialogue or passionate speech, gives the effect of something learnt by heart and not spontaneous, the delivery of the lines—and some of SHAKSPEARE'S most exquisite are here—was done soundly.
Finally, no one who wants to keep level with the table-talk of the day should miss this interesting and intriguing production, especially if he hasn't been to Parsifal.
* * * * *
HOW TO GET YOUR PHOTOGRAPH INTO THE ILLUSTRATED DAILY PAPERS.
* * * * *
OVER MONT BLANC BY AEROPLANE.
"'Thou, too, hoar Mount! with they sky-pointing peaks, Oft from whose feet the avalanche, unheard, Shoots downward.'"—Daily Chronicle.
Conquered, alas! and by one of they dratted flying machines.
* * * * *
"Eastbourne.—Furnished double-fronted villa, from April, for six or twelve months; facing south; near the downs, fifteen months from pier, five from 'buses."—The Lady.
Too near for us.
* * * * *
TO SEPTIMIUS ON TROUT.
(A February Ode.)
To-day the young year in her sleep was stirring In woods and hearts of men; To-night 'tis sharper and the cold's recurring— Septimius, what then?
Draw in and talk of politics and speeches To the old tiresome tune? Not we who saw pale sunshine on the beeches Only this afternoon;
Who saw the snowdrops frail in woodland hollows, Who heard the building rooks Herald a time of flowers and skimming swallows, Green fields and brawling brooks!
Nay, pledge anew, Septimius, such gages Of May-time's radiant rout Till, as becometh fishermen and sages, Our talk shall trend to trout—
To little trout, to little streams that scurry Where the hill curlews cry, O'er which the neophyte may splash and flurry, Yet heap his basket high;
To careful trout, for pundits skilled and wary, That use upon the chalk, Plump and recondite, dubious and chary— On such shall turn our talk.
Then since we're of the Faithful, vowed to follow Old Thames's placid flow, We'll breathe of his leviathans that wallow, In bated tones and low;
And I mayhap shall say a word in token Of one prodigious friend Who lurks—excuse a statement more outspoken— 'Twixt Marlow and Bourne End;
While you, Septimius, set memory roaming To That which smashed amain Your trace of proof, and hint how some soft gloaming He yet shall come again.
So shall we sit this firelit hour, contriving Blue halcyon days that hold The lisp of streams in crisping reed-beds striving, And meadows spun with gold.
* * * * *
"Insurance business is ransacted."
Quarterly Post Office Guide, p. 154.
The influence of Mr. LLOYD GEORGE again.
* * * * *
INTELLECTUAL DAMAGE TO ANIMALS.
We gather from The Daily Sketch that a reverend gentleman at Herne Bay has just founded the S. P. M. C. A., or "Society for the Prevention of Mental Cruelty to Animals," and holds, as part of his propaganda, that the Zoo should be disbanded and abolished, and, in fact, that no wild animals or birds should be kept anywhere in captivity at all.
The S. P. M. C. A. fills a long-felt want. Everyone with any sense of politeness or tact must recognise that it is grossly improper to wound the feelings of the lower orders of creation by the opprobrious use of such epithets as ass, donkey, cat, mule, pig, goose, monkey, and so on. Picture the mental torture and degradation undergone by the self-respecting rodent who overhears the contemptuous exclamation, "Rats!" Realise, if you can, the stigma attached to the hard-working order of garden annelids when, possibly in their very presence, one human being addresses another as a "worm"!
Then, again, take the deplorable breaches of etiquette on the part of visitors at the Zoo. We ourselves have heard the most uncomplimentary allusions made to the appearance of the baboons and the hippopotamus, in the hearing of those unfortunate creatures, and quite regardless of their amour propre. The callous Cockney takes care to insult his helpless victims only when they are behind bars and cannot retaliate effectively. One shudders to think of the mental humiliation that is daily experienced by the warthog and the mandrill. And even the nobler animals—the lions and bears—are not allowed to escape without prejudicial comment, especially at feeding-time. Not the slightest deference is paid to the private opinions and sentiments of these carnivores by the vulgar crowd of sight-seers. The parrots alone can ease their harassed souls and have the last word with the passer-by.
Meanwhile, we have to apologise to our cat for having recently upbraided him rather too freely for his nocturnal habits and general lack of discipline, not having considered the shock of such language to his sensitive mind.
* * * * *
"Young lady requires secretarial work of any kind, good writer and correspondent, accustomed to literary work, or would write up Parish fashions."—Daily Mail.
Smocks are no longer being worn. Sun-bonnets may be expected in a few months.
* * * * *
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(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
"Anyhow, I can remember this Court and can tell a tale it plays a part in, only not very quick." Thus Mr. WILLIAM DE MORGAN, introductory, on the fourth page of his latest novel, When Ghost meets Ghost (HEINEMANN). Before it ends there have been as near nine hundred pages of it as makes no difference; and the things that the author remembers in the course of the tale, and the not-very-quickness with which he tells it, must be seen to be believed. The main outline of this more than leisurely plot is concerned with the coming together of two aged twin sisters, each of whom has been living for years in ignorance of the other's existence, so that they meet at last almost as ghosts. Hence the title. But you will not need to be told that there is ever so much more in the nine hundred pages than this. There are the children Dave and Dolly, for example; likewise Uncle Mo', and any quantity of humble London types; not to mention the group that includes Lady Gwen, and Adrian Torrens, and a score of others, all drawn with that verbal Pre-Raphaelitism in which the author takes such obvious delight. For myself I must honestly confess that I have found it a little overwhelming; but that, after all, is a question of individual taste. I suppose there is one comparison that is inevitable. I had meant to say never a word about CHARLES DICKENS in this notice, but, like the head of another CHARLES, it would come; and when the chief house in the story began to rumble and finally collapsed in a cloud of dust—well, could anyone help being reminded of how the same incident was handled by the master of such terrors? In brief, this latest De Morgan left me with a profound and increased respect for the author; some little envy for the reader whose time and taste enable him to enjoy it as it should be enjoyed; and, for proof-readers and reviewers, a very pure sympathy.
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The Duchess of Wrexe (SECKER) is, I think, the longest as it is certainly the most substantial novel that Mr. HUGH WALPOLE has yet given us. It is the work of one who has already made himself a force in modern fiction, and after this book will have more than ever to be reckoned with. Whether the reckoning will be to all tastes is another matter; I incline to think not. Four hundred closely printed pages, in which hardly anything happens to the bodies of the characters, but a great deal to their spirits—this perhaps is toughish meat for the ordinary devourer of fiction. But for the others this study of the passing of an epoch, the time of the Old Society, as symbolised by the figure of the Duchess, will be a delight. You might suppose from this (if you were unfamiliar with your author) that we had here a social comedy. Nothing in fact could be further from Mr. WALPOLE'S design. For him, as for his characters, there is almost too haunting a sense of the tragedy of trivial things. No one in the book is happy. The Duchess herself, stern, aloof, terrible, broken but never bent by the oncoming of the New Order; the various members of the family whom she terrified; Rachel, the granddaughter, between whom and the old woman there exists the bond of one of those hatreds in which Mr. WALPOLE so exults; the secretary, Lizzie Rand—all of them are tremendously and miserably alive. I think the matter is that they have too much sensibility, of the modern kind. They see too many meanings. A primrose by a river's brim, or more probably in a flower-seller's basket, is not for them a simple primrose, but a portent of soul-shaking significance. To make up for this the author has gifted them with his own exquisite sense of colour and words, and especially a feeling for the beauty of London that at times almost reconciles them to life. But I could wish them merrier.
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Mr. HAROLD SPENDER'S new novel, One Man Returns (MILLS AND BOON), opens with a very powerful and dramatic situation. Nothing in its way could be better than the description of the lonely Trevena family, of their vigil during the terrible storm, of the shipwreck and the sudden arrival of the two strangers, father and son, who are its only survivors. The father dies immediately without revealing his identity, and the son, slowly nursed back to health by the devoted care of Enid Trevena, resumes his life without any consciousness of the past, having forgotten even his own name. As a matter of fact he is Cyril Oswald, the lawful inheritor of Oswald Hall and great estates, which, of course, pass into the possession of the nearest villain. This is Major Harley, a gentleman of a lurid past and an infamous present, mitigated only by the fact that he has a beautiful and amiable daughter, Dorothy, who, having been educated at Roedean School, conceives herself to be qualified to run after beagles. In the natural course of things she sprains her ankle and is beloved by Rupert Sandford, the chief beagler of the novel. She then quarrels with her disgraceful parent, is adopted by Mrs. Sandford (mother to Rupert), and becomes the affianced bride of Rupert, though for a time she had been inclined to look with favour on Cyril. This young gentleman eventually recovers his estates by course of law and returns to Cornwall and Enid just in time to cut out that young lady from under the guns of Merrifield, a South African millionaire who had complicated the situation by providing Cyril with money for his law-suit. What happened to Major Harley is not stated, but I presume he must have drunk off the phial of poison which such desperate adventurers always carry concealed about their persons.
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"The matrimonial career of suburban lovers," says Miss JESSIE POPE in a prologue to The Tracy Tubbses (MILLS AND BOON), "is seldom variegated by so many curious happenings as fell to the lot of Mr. and Mrs. Tracy Tubbs;" and to this statement I can give my unqualified assent. No sooner were the T. T.'s married than they were beset by such wonderful and various misfortunes that I should like to try and "place" them. The Lion, I think, won in a canter, Aunt Julia was a bad second, and The Chafing-dish was third, while among the "also ran" were several Policemen, The Balloon, Cross-eyed Cranstone and The Motor-Bicycle. But whether the T. T.'s were nearly devoured by wild beasts or merely annoyed by aunts and chafing-dishes, they continued to embrace each other with magnificent heartiness whenever they had a moment to spare. In short, Miss POPE'S high spirits never flag; and, even if you fail to be amused by all the incidents in the T. T.'s career, you will be glad to make the acquaintance—under a new aspect, for Miss POPE'S talent as a maker of light verse is established—of a writer so unaffectedly cheerful and exhilarating.
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"I cannot marry you or any man; I am not free," said Polly Adair to Hemingway, and the italics were her own. For my part, having been rather pointedly informed earlier in the story that the lady was understood in Zanzibar to be a widow, I began at this stage to suspect that there was something lacking in the lateness of Mr. Adair. This was a great pity, because Polly and Hemingway were obviously meant for each other, as she and he and I and Mr. RICHARD HARDING DAVIS were unanimously agreed. But there the fatal obstacle was, whatever it might be. "I am not free," she repeated, and again the italics were her very own. After much to-do, it came out that what she meant was that she had a brother who oughtn't to be free; ought, if justice were done, to be picking oakum or whatever else they pick in their leisure hours way back in U.S.A. And this was the whole and the sole fatal obstacle! Hemingway took it as it came; Mr. DAVIS seemed quite pleased about it; but I felt that I had been wantonly deceived. Baffle me by all means, said I, but do not lie to me. Maybe I was not in a good temper at the time, for the three preceding stories were not calculated to stir the gentlest reader's sympathies. Possibly I am not in a good temper now, for the three later stories (though "The God of Coincidence" only just missed fire) were not distracting enough to deaden my sense of injury. A pity, for The Lost Road (DUCKWORTH) has such a good cover and the name of such a good author on the back of it.
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Notice in Nash's Magazine at the beginning of a new serial:—
"The theme of this story is a strange one handled with the consummate skill one expects from so clever a writer as Gouverneur Morris.... This story will stimulate your interest. It is quite different from anything Mr. Morris has previously written."
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The appointment of Mr. W. W. Buckland, of Caius, to be Regius Professor of Civil War is in accordance with general expectation, though there were those who thought that the Government might go outside the circle of University teachers."—The Record.
Mr. DEVLIN was surely indicated.
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"CANARY WANTED.—Young, intelligent bird wanted for training. For right bird, right price paid. Apply, with bird, Tuesday morning next, at 11 o'clock. M. D., Stage Door, Palladium, London, W.C."
Dangerous, asking for the bird like that.
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