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Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 146, January 7, 1914
Author: Various
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PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.

VOL. 146.



JANUARY 7, 1914.



* * * * *

AMENDE DESHONORABLE.

Heavily dragged the night; the Year Was passing, and the clock's slow tick Boomed its sad message to my ear And made me pretty sick. "You have been slack," I told myself, "and weak; You have done foolishly, from wilful choice; Sloth and procrastination—" Here my voice Broke in a squeak.

And deep repentance welled in me As I mused darkly on my sin; Yea, Conscience stung me, like a bee That gets her barb well in. "Next year," I swore, in this compunctious mood, "I will be energetic, virtuous, kind; Unflinching I will face the awful grind Of being good."

I paused, half troubled by a thought— Were my proposals too sublime? Vowed I more deeply than I ought? I glanced to see the time. It was 12.10 A.M. At once a thrill, A wave of manful resolution, sped Through all my being. "Yes," I bravely said; "Next year I will!"

* * * * *

A PLAY OF FEATURES.

[Being Sir GEORGE ALEXANDER'S production of The Attack at the St. James's.]

SCENE—Alexandre Merital's house.

ACT I.

Daniel Merital. My father is a wonderful man. Leader of the Social Party in the Chamber of Deputies, noted among his colleagues for his absolute integrity, supported by the millionaire newspaper proprietor, Frepeau, whose motives, between ourselves, are not altogether above— Oh, are you there, Father? I didn't see you. I'm just off to play tennis. [Exit.

Enter Renee de Rould.

Renee. Mr. Merital, may I speak to you a moment?

Georges Alexandre Merital (with, characteristic suavity). Certainly.

Renee, I love you. Will you marry me?

Merital (surprised). Well, really—this is—I—you—we—er, he, she, they—Frankly, you embarrass me. (Apologetically) This is my embarrassed face.

Renee. But I thought you loved me. Don't you?

Merital. No. That is to say, yes. Or rather—

Renee (tearfully). I w-wish you could make it plainer whether you d-do love me and are pretending you don't, or you d-don't love me and are pretending you do. It's v-very unsettling for a young girl not to know.

Sir GEORGES ALEXANDRE (surprised and a little hurt). Can't you tell from my face?

Miss MARTHA HEDMAN. This is my first appearance in England, Sir GEORGES.

Sir GEORGES. True. I was forgetting. Well, when you have been with us a little longer, you will know that this is my face when I adore anyone very much, but, owing to an unfortunate episode in my past life, am forced to hide my love.

Renee (alarmed). Your past wife isn't alive somewhere?

Merital. Oh no, not that sort of thing at all. (Embracing her carefully.) I will marry you, Renee, but run along now because my friend Frepeau is coming, and he probably wants to talk business. [Exit Renee.

Enter Frepeau.

Frepeau (excitedly). Merital, you are in danger. A scandalous libel is being circulated about you.

Merital (calmly). Pooh! Faugh!

Frepeau. It is said that thirty years ago (Alexandre's nose twitches), when you were in a solicitor's office (Alexandre's jaw drops), you stole ninepence from the stamp drawer (Alexandre's eyeballs roll). Of course it is a lie?

Merital (with a great effort obtaining command of his features again). Of course.

CURTAIN.

ACT II.

_Daniel Merital_. Father's face has been very odd these last few weeks. Sometimes I wonder whether he didn't steal the money after all. But we shall know after the libel action this afternoon. It starts at two. Oh, are you there, Father? I'm just going to see a man about something. [_Exit.

Enter_ Frepeau.

Merital. Ah, Frepeau, the man I wanted to see. (Plaintively) Frepeau, when you called on me in the First Act, don't you think you might have given some indication by the play of your features that it was you who originated this libel against me, and that you are my deadly enemy? The merest twitch of the ears would have been enough.

HOLMAN CLARK. I wanted it to be a surprise for the audience.

Sir GEORGES. Yes, but is that art?

HOLMAN CLARK. Besides, in real life—

Sir GEORGES (amazed). Real life? Good Heavens, HOLMAN, is this your first appearance in England too?

HOLMAN CLARK (annoyed). Let's get on with the play.

Sir GEORGES. Certainly. Wait a moment till I've got my "strong-man-with-his-back-to-the-wall" expression. (Arranging his face.) How's that?

HOLMAN CLARK. Begin again.... That's better.

Merital (sternly). Now then, Frepeau! I must ask you to give instructions that the libel is withdrawn in court this afternoon. If not—

Frepeau. Well?

Merital (softly). I know somebody else who stole something from the stamp drawer thirty years ago. (Frepeau's whiskers tremble.) Aha, I thought I'd move you this time.

Frepeau. It's a lie! How did you find out?

Merital (blandly). I said to myself, "I am the hero of this play and I've got to get out of this mess somehow. If I could only find some papers incriminating the villain—that's you all would be well." So I—er—found them.... It's no good, Frepeau. Unless you let me off, you're done.

Frepeau (getting up). Well, I suppose I must. But personally I'd be ashamed to escape through such a rotten coincidence as that. (Making for the door.) I'll just go and arrange it. Er, I suppose this is the end?

Sir GEORGES. The end? Good Heavens, man, I've got my big scene to come. I have to explain why Merital stole the money thirty years ago!

HOLMAN CLARK (eagerly). Let me guess. His wife was starv—

SIR GEORGES. No, no, don't spoil it. (Sternly) It's a very serious thing, HOLMAN, to spoil an actor-manager's big scene.

CURTAIN.

ACT III.

_Daniel Merital_. Father has won his case. I _am_ glad. Oh, are you there, Father? I'm just going downstairs to count the telegrams. [_Exit.

Enter_ Renee.

Renee. You have won the case? I knew it. I knew you were innocent.

Merital (nobly). Renee, I am not innocent. I did steal that ninepence. I would have confessed it before, but I had to think of my family. (Cheers from the gallery.) Of course it would also have been unpleasant for me if it had been known, but that did not influence me. (More cheers.) I thought only of my children. Let me tell you now why I stole it.

Renee (eagerly). Let me guess. Your wife was starving—

Merital (astounded). Wonderful! How ever did you know?

Renee. —and you meant to repay the money.

Merital. More and more marvellous. Yes, Renee, that was how it was. But it hardly does justice to the affair. It is too short. I want to tell you the story of my whole life and then you will understand. Watch my face carefully and observe how it works; notice the constant movement of my hands; listen to the inflections of my voice. This is going to be the longest speech ever made by an actor-manager, and you mustn't miss a moment of it. H'r'm! Now then. (Nobly) I was born fifty-three years ago. My father....

Renee (half-an-hour later). I still love you.

Merital (with some truth). What a love yours is!

Enter Daniel, Julien and Georgette Merital.

Daniel. Father, we have a confession to make. For some time we doubted your innocence. Your face—well, you'd have doubted it yourself if you'd seen it.

Merital (taking his hand affectionately). Ah! Daniel, I see I must tell you the story of my life. (Excitement among the audience.) And you too, Julien. (Panic.) Yes, and—little Georgette!

SAFETY CURTAIN.

A. A. M.

* * * * *



* * * * *



* * * * *

THE ROMANCE OF A BATTLESHIP.

(From the Navy League Annual of 1916.)

I have just returned (writes a Naval correspondent) from an interesting visit to the condemned battleship, H.M.S. Indefensible, which is now anchored off Brightlingsea, in the charge of retired petty-officer Herbert Tompkins and his wife.

The history of H.M.S. Indefensible, as gathered from the lips of her present curator, is so romantic as to be worthy of permanent record. In reply to my first question, "Whom did she belong to first of all?" Mr. Tompkins said, "Well, she was ordered first of all by the Argentine Republic, but, owing to a change of Government, they sold her to the Italians. I remember the launch at Barrow quite well," he said. "It was a mighty fine show, with the Italian Ambassador and his wife—the Magnifico Pomposo, they called her, I think it was—and there was speechifying and hurraying and enough champagne drunk to float her. That was just three years ago: a super-Dreadnought, they called her."

"Then how did the British Government get her?"

"Lor bless you, Sir, that didn't come for a long time yet. Ye see, Italy shortly afterwards made an alliance with Denmark, and, wishing to do the Danes a good turn, she arranged to sell them the Magnifico Pomposo at cost price—about three millions I think it was. But immediately afterwards the Russo-Chinese war broke out, and the Chinese offered the Danes four millions for the Dannebrog, as they had called her, so by the time the engines were put into her she had been rechristened the Hoang-Ho. But the war never came off: you remember that Mr. ROOSEVELT settled it by fighting a single combat with the Russian champion after he had been appointed President of China; so the Chinese leased the Hoang-Ho to the King of SIAM for four years at a million a year."

"Did she get out to Siam, then?"

"Oh no, Sir, no fear. The crew ran her on the Goodwin Sands on her trial trip, and there she stuck for a year. Before they got her off the Siamese had been released from their bargain by the Hague Tribunal, Mr. ROOSEVELT had resigned the Presidency of China for that of Mexico, and the new President sold the Chulalongkorn back to Great Britain. Of course by that time she was quite obsolete, so they called her the Indefensible, and put a nucleus crew on board for a few months. Then when Mr. LLOYD GEORGE became Prime Minister, they offered her to Canada as a gift; but the Canadians didn't like her name. And when Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL came back last month he decided that she was to be made a target; but last week I heard she was to be sold for scrap-iron."

"Then whom does she belong to now?"

"Well, Sir, some says she belongs to Canada, and others say she's British, and others say she belongs to Mr. CHURCHILL, but in a manner of speaking I think she rightly belongs to Mrs. Tompkins and me."

* * * * *

"On making enquiries at the Hospital this afternoon, we learn that the deceased is as well as can be expected."—Jersey Evening Post.

It would, of course, be foolish to expect much.

* * * * *

A NEW BOOK OF BEAUTY.

A hundred years ago they had line, engravings by CHARLES HEATH, and the long-necked, ringleted ladies looked wistfully or simperingly at you. I have several examples: Caskets, Albums, Keepsakes.

This book is different. The steel engravers have long since all died of starvation; and here are photographs only, but there are many more of them, and (strange innovation!) there are more gentlemen than ladies. For this preponderance there is a good commercial reason, as any student of the work will quickly discover, for we are now entering a sphere of life where the beauty of the sterner sex (if so severe a word can be applied to such sublimation of everything that is soft and voluptuous and endearing) is more considered than that of the other. Beautiful ladies are here in some profusion, but the first place is for beautiful and guinea-earning gentlemen.

In the old Books of Beauty one could make a choice. There was always one lady supremely longer-necked, more wistful or more simpering than the others. But in this new Book of Beauty one turns the pages only to be more perplexed. The embarrassment of riches is too embarrassing. I have been through the work a score of times and am still wondering on whom my affections and admiration are most firmly fixed.

This new Book of Beauty has a very different title from the old ones. It is called The Pekingese, and is the revised edition for 1914.

How to play the part of Paris where all the competitors have some irresistibility, as all have of either sex! Once I thought that Wee Mo of Westwood was my heart's chiefest delight, "a flame-red little dog with black mask and ear-fringes, profuse coat and featherings, flat wide skull, short flat face, short bowed legs and well-shaped body." But then I turned back to Broadoak Beetle and on to Broadoak Cirawanzi, and Young Beetle, and Nanking Fo, and Ta Fo of Greystones, and Petshe Ah Wei, and Hay Ch'ah of Toddington, and that superb Sultanic creature, King Rudolph of Ruritania, and Champion Howbury Ming, and Su Eh of Newnham, and King Beetle of Minden, and Champion Hu Hi, and Mo Sho, and that rich red dog, Buddha of Burford. And having chosen these I might just as well scratch out their names and write in others, for every male face in this book is a poem.

The ladies, as I have said, are in the minority, for obvious reasons, for these little disdainful distinguished gentlemen figure here as potential fathers, with their fees somewhat indelicately named; for there's a husbandry on earth as well as in heaven.

Such ladies as are here are here for their beauty alone and are beyond or below price. Their favours are not to be bought. Among them I note with especial joy Yiptse of Chinatown, Mandarin Marvel, who "inherits the beautiful front of her sire, Broadoak Beetle"; Lavender of Burton-on-Dee, "fawn with black mask"; Chi-Fa of Alderbourne, "a most charming and devoted little companion"; Yeng Loo of Ipsley; Detlong Mo-li of Alderburne, one of the "beautiful red daughters of Wong-ti of Alderburne," Champion Chaou Ching-ur, of whom her owner says that "in quaintness and individuality and in loving disposition she is unequalled" and is also "quite a 'woman of the world,' very blasee and also very punctilious in trifles;" Pearl of Cotehele, "bright red with beautiful back"; E-Wo Tu T'su; Berylune Tzu Hsi Chu; Ko-ki of Radbourne and Siddington Fi-fi.

Every now and then there is an article in the papers asking and answering the question, What is the greatest benefit that has come to mankind in the past half century? The answer is usually the Marconi system, or the cinema, or the pianola, or the turbine, or the Roentgen rays, or the telephone or the motor car. Always something utilitarian or scientific. But why should we not say that it was the introduction of Pekingese into England from China? According to an historical sketch at the beginning of this book, the first Pekingese were brought over in 1860, after the occupation of Pekin by the Allies. The first black ones came here in 1896, and now in 1914 there are thousands of these wholly alluring and adorable and masterful little big-hearted creatures in England, turning staid men and women into ecstatic worshippers and making children lyrical with cries of appreciation. The book before me is the finest monument yet raised to this conquering breed.

* * * * *



* * * * *

MISUNDERSTOOD.

(A Story of the Stone Age.)

Of all the young bachelors in his tribe not one was more highly esteemed than Ug, the son of Zug. He was one of the nicest young prehistoric men that ever sprang seven feet into the air to avoid the impulsive bite of a sabre-tooth tiger, or cheered the hearts of grave elders searching for inter-tribal talent by his lightning sprints in front of excitable mammoths. Everybody liked Ug, and it was a matter of surprise to his friends that he had never married.

One bright day, however, they were interested to observe that he had begun to exhibit all the symptoms. He brooded apart. Twice in succession he refused a second help of pterodactyl at the tribal luncheon table. And there were those who claimed to have come upon him laboriously writing poetry on the walls of distant caves.

It should be understood that in those days only the most powerful motive, such as a whole-hearted love, could drive a man to writing poetry; for it was not the ridiculously simple task which it is to-day. The alphabet had not yet been invented, and the only method by which a young man could express himself was by carving or writing on stone a series of pictures, each of which conveyed the sense of some word or phrase. Thus, where the modern bard takes but a few seconds to write, "You made me love you. I didn't want to do it, I didn't want to do it," Ug, the son of Zug, had to sit up night after night till he had carved three trees, a plesiosaurus, four kinds of fish, a star-shaped rock, eleven different varieties of flowering shrub, and a more or less lifelike representation of a mammoth surprised while bathing. It is little wonder that the youth of the period, ever impetuous, looked askance at this method of revealing their passion, and preferred to give proof of their sincerity and fervour by waiting for the lady of their affections behind a rock and stunning her with a club.

But the refined and sensitive nature of Ug, the son of Zug, shrank from this brusque form of wooing. He was shy with women. To him there was something a little coarse, almost ungentlemanly, in the orthodox form of proposal; and he had made up his mind that, if ever he should happen to fall in love, he would propose by ideograph.

It was shortly after he had come to this decision that, at a boy-and-girl dance given by a popular local hostess, he met the divinest creature he had ever seen. Her name was Wug, the daughter of Glug; and from the moment of their introduction he realised that she was the one girl in the world for him. It only remained to compose the ideograph.

Having steadied himself as far as possible by carving a few poems, as described above, he addressed himself to the really important task of the proposal.

It was extraordinarily difficult, for Ug had not had a very good education. All he knew he had picked up in the give and take of tribal life. For this reason he felt it would be better to keep the thing short. But it was hard to condense all he felt into a brief note. For a long time he thought in vain, then one night, as he tossed sleeplessly on his bed of rocks, he came to a decision. He would just ideograph, "Dear Wug, I love you. Yours faithfully, Ug. P.S. R.S.V.P.," and leave it at that. So in the morning he got to work, and by the end of the week the ideograph was completed. It consisted of a rising sun, two cave-bears, a walrus, seventeen shin-bones of the lesser rib-nosed baboon, a brontosaurus, three sand-eels, and a pterodactyl devouring a mangold-wurzel. It was an uncommonly neat piece of work, he considered, for one who had never attended an art-school. He was pleased with it. It would, he flattered himself, be a queer sort of girl who could stand out against that. For the first time for weeks he slept soundly and peacefully.

Next day his valet brought him with his morning beverage a piece of flat rock. On it was carved a simple human thigh-bone. He uttered a loud cry. She had rejected him. The parcel-post, an hour later, brought him his own ideograph, returned without a word.

Ug's greatest friend in the tribe was Jug, son of Mug, a youth of extraordinary tact and intelligence. To him Ug took his trouble.

Jug heard his story, and asked to see exactly what he had ideographed.

"You must have expressed yourself badly," he said.

"On the contrary," replied Ug, with some pique, "my proposal was brief, but it was a model of what that sort of proposal should be. Here it is. Read it for yourself."

Jug read it. Then he looked at his friend, concerned.

"But, my dear old man, what on earth did you mean by saying she has red hair and that you hate the sight of her?"

"What do you mean?"

"Why, this ichthyosaurus."

"That's not an ichthyosaurus. It's a brontosaurus."

"It's not a bit like a brontosaurns. And it is rather like an ichthyosaurus. Where you went wrong was in not taking a few simple lessons in this sort of thing first."

"If you ask me," said Ug disgustedly, "this picture-writing is silly rot. To-morrow I start an Alphabet." * * * * * But on the morrow he was otherwise employed. He was standing, concealed behind a rock, at the mouth of the cave of Wug, daughter of Glug. There was a dreamy look in his eyes, and his fingers were clasped like steel bands round the handle of one of the most business-like clubs the Stone Age had ever seen. Orthodoxy had found another disciple.

* * * * *



* * * * *

CHARIVARIA.

Sir ERNEST SHACKLETON is to undertake a new expedition to the South Pole, and across the whole South Polar Continent. It is said that an offer from Dr. COOK, who happens to be over here, to show Sir ERNEST how he might save himself much wearisome travelling in achieving his object, has been rejected.

***

Judge PARRY declares, in the current number of The Cornhill, that lost golf balls belong to the KING; and the ballroom at Buckingham Palace is, we understand, to be enlarged at once.

***

Mr. BERNARD SHAW is the latest addition to Madame TUSSAUD'S gallery of wax-works. But Mr. CHESTERTON must not be jealous. He too, we understand, will be placed there if room can be found for him.

***

From some correspondence in The Express we learn that members of more than one savage tribe have a habit of standing on one leg. We see no objection to this at all, but we were bound to protest the other day, in a crowded train, when we came across a stout gentleman standing on one foot. The foot, we should mention, was ours.

***

Of the late Mr. JOHN WILLIAM WHITE, who was only twenty-one inches in height, we are told that he was an ardent politician. Could he have been a Little Englander?

***

Straws show which way the wind blows, and the fact that the first prize in the Christmas Lottery at Madrid has been won in Madrid, and the second in London, is held by wiseacres to prove that there is a secret understanding between our country and Spain.

***

The fact that France's Colonial Empire, which is already extensive, has been increased by the birth, during a volcanic eruption, of a new island in the New Hebrides, has caused some little irritation in Germany.

***

The Lost Property department of Scotland Yard will, it is said, this year easily beat all previous records in the number of articles lost. But we English have always had the reputation of being good losers.

***

It is announced that Miss PHYLLIS DESMOND, of the Gaiety Theatre, and Mr. C.R. FINCH NOYES, of the Royal Naval Flying Corps, were married secretly last June. As proving how difficult it is to keep a secret we believe that the fact has been known for some time past both to Miss DESMOND and Mr. NOYES.

***

Special cinema productions depicting scenes of a sacred nature were provided by enterprising managers for the clergy during the holiday season. When one remembers that there is also Who's the Lady? running under distinguished episcopal patronage, the modern curate cannot complain that he is not well catered for.

***

We congratulate The Daily Mail on finding a peculiarly appropriate topic for discussion at Christmas time. It was "Too Much Cramming."

***

Thieves broke into the vestry during the service and stole the gold watch and chain which the minister preaching the Christmas sermon at Marylebone Presbyterian church had left there. The minister must be sorry now that he did not trust his congregation.

***

Mr. GEORGE BAKER, of Brentwood, received a presentation the other day on completing his fiftieth year as a carol singer. He mentioned that once, at the beginning of his career, his carol party was broken up by an angry London householder, who fired a pistol-shot from his bedroom window. The modern Londoner, we fear, is decadent, and lacks the necessary spirit.

***

Dr. MARY WILLIAMS, medical inspector of schools under the Worcestershire County Council, has discovered, as a result of investigations, that there is a higher proportion of nervous, excitable children among the red-haired ones than among the others. We have ourselves known more than one such lad lose all self-control merely upon being addressed as "Carrots."

***

Is a motor-car, it is being asked, feminine—like a ship? A correspondent in The Times refers to her as a lady. Presumably because she wears a bonnet.

***

A correspondent writes to The Pall Mall Gazette asking whether there is anything in the idea that a large number of used penny postage stamps will enable a person to be received into a charitable institution. We have always understood that the collector of one million of these stamps is admitted into a lunatic asylum without having to pass the entrance examination.

***

A lion from the bush, attracted by the roaring of its caged relatives in a circus at Wankies, South Africa, suddenly made its way into the menagerie. The beast was ultimately driven away by attendants armed with red-hot pokers, but five persons were seriously injured in the panic. The ticket-collector who let the animal in without payment has been reprimanded.

***

Speaking of MEDWIN'S Revised Life of Shelley a critic says, in a contemporary: "He puts the well-known boats of Archimedes into blank verse." These boats were, we presume, fitted with ARCHIMEDES' famous screw?

***

The Hindujah barrage on the Euphrates has now been completed by an English firm, and will provide water for the Garden of Eden. The structure, we presume, is a blend of the ADAM style with NOAH'S architecture.

***

"TRAINING SHIP OFF THE EMBANKMENT" is a heading which attracts our attention. This seems a much better idea than having the vessel on the Embankment, where it would be in everyone's way.

* * * * *

THE LAST STRAW.

["The way in which individual taste is allowed to assert itself lends a curious charm to the present modes."—Fashion Note.]

This is the finish, Josephine. Through every swift sartorial change Constant and true my love has been, Nor showed the least desire to range. The hobble only brought to me These thoughts with consolation laden:— "Lo, this is Fashion's fell decree; One must not blame the maiden.

"It is not hers this hideous choice; She blindly follows Fashion's lead, And deference to a ruling voice Proclaims her just the wife I need. Nought questioning, she answers to That voice, as soldiers to a trumpet;" And thus I choked the thought that you Were barmy on the crumpet.

But now unhappy doubts intrude To bid my satisfaction shrink; For Fashion in a gracious mood Allows her devotees to think. Since for your present garb, it seems, The mode is not to blame in toto, This is the end of love's young dreams (Dear, you may keep my photo).

* * * * *

"Of course, there is a dress parade, with some wonderful dresses, but if it had been only a parade it would not have been less interesting."—Daily News.

It would have been more interesting—but we hardly expected The Daily News to say so.

* * * * *



* * * * *



* * * * *

THE SUBSCRIPTION.

Charles, when our protest was lodged, merely replied that our favour of the 10th inst. was to hand, and that he really could not see his way to moving further in the matter. Let me explain the present extent of Charles's movement.

Miss Donelan, who ought to have known better, had allowed herself to be saddled with a thing called a Branch subscription list on behalf of the St. Nicholas New Year Offering.

Having exploited the probables and possibles she finally handed the document on to me with instructions to tout it round among my friends. (This is the sort of thing you get nowadays for placing your life at a young woman's disposal.)

Unfortunately I have no friends just now, except what I want to keep. While I was thus at a loss, Charles came to stay for a few days three doors off. He lives a long way away and would have time to forget before I saw him again. So on the day before his departure I bearded him like a man.

"Charles," I began, "you are fabulously rich. Your income comes in at such a pace that you hardly ever know within five shillings how much you have at the bank."

Charles blinked through the smoke of a violet-tipped cigarette.

"What about it?" he asked.

"This," I said; "I am, very reluctantly, offering you the chance of doing good. All you have to do is to sign your name here for anything up to a hundred pounds, and the good does itself. It is the Saint Nicholas New Year Offering."

"What does it do?" asked Charles uncomfortably.

"Do?" I answered. "Why, I don't think it does exactly do. You see it's a New Year Offering."

"I see," said Charles. "It doesn't do; it offers. Just like a Member of Parliament."

"I wish," I said, "instead of being funny at other people's expense you would be serious at your own, and tell me exactly how much I can put you down for?"

"There you go again," said Charles. "You want me to think of some definite amount on the spot. You know I hate thinking, and I hate definite amounts. And I loathe doing anything on the spot."

I looked at the subscription list. The last entry was:—

Major-General R. Hewland, L5 5s. 0d.

"You needn't do any thinking," I explained patiently. "You need only stick down exactly the same as the last man. And if you'll promise to do it I'll leave the list with you, and you can fill it in when you feel sufficiently off the spot."

"Exactly the same?" asked Charles.

"Exactly," I said, with rising hopes.

"All right," said Charles. "I'll let you have it some time."

Four days later, at Miss Donelan's urgent request, I wrote to Charles for it. It came in less than forty-eight hours.

Extract from conclusion of subscription list returned by Charles:—

Major-General R. Hewland, L5 5s. 0d.

" " " " " " "

* * * * *

DINNER-TABLE TOPICS.

"MR. LLOYD GEORGE GOING TO A WARMER CLIMATE."

Midland Evening News.

* * * * *

ANOTHER ACCIDENT TO AN INFINITIVE.

"It is good news to at last hear that progress is being made again towards healing the 'split.'"—Nottingham Football Post.

So far not much progress is visible.

* * * * *

"Lord and Lady Arthur Hill arrived at Maples yesterday from London."—Observer.

And Mrs. and Miss Tomkins (in pursuit of bargains) continue to arrive daily at Peter Snelbody's from Cricklewood.

* * * * *



* * * * *

THE SPELL

whereby the Good People may be brought back to a house which they have deserted.

Fairies!—whatsoever sprite Near about us dwells— You who roam the hills at night, You who haunt the dells— Where you harbour, hear us! By the Lady Hecate's might, Hearken and come near us!

Though we greatly fear, alack! Cloddish unbelief Angered you and made you pack To our present grief, Hearts you shall not harden: Bathe your hurts and come you back Here to house and garden!

By the oak and ash and thorn, By the rowan tree, This was done ere we were born: Kith nor kin are we Of the folk whose blindness Shut you out with scathe and scorn, Banished with unkindness.

See, we call you, hands entwined, Standing at our door, With the glowing hearth behind And the wood before. Thence, where you are lurking, Back we bring you, bring and bind With our magic's working.

Lo, our best we give for cess, Having naught above Handsel of our happiness, Seizin of our love. Take it then, O fairies! Homely gods that guard and bless, Little kindly Lares.

* * * * *



* * * * *

WHAT OUR READERS THINK OF US.

The Daily Express having invited its readers to intimate their opinion of that journal, Mr. Punch decided also to give the grumblers a chance of saying what they think of his production, and he now publishes a typical selection of the letters which have reached him:—

Sir,—I gave up your journal many years ago on account of its partisanship, and never read it now. Only last week I came across a paragraph in my copy which made me throw the paper into the waste-paper basket.

Yours faithfully,

VERITAS.

Sir,—Why is it you always favour the Tories?

Yours faithfully,

WELSH MEMBER.

Sir,—If you continue to publish cartoons with a pronounced Radical bias I am afraid you will lose at least one.

OLD SUBSCRIBER.

Sir,—I object to the advertisements. I think it would be a good move if you were to drop these, increase the number of pages, and reduce the price to a halfpenny. In taking this course you would have the support of several influential members of my parish, in addition to myself.

Yours faithfully,

A COUNTRY PARSON.

Sir,—What your paper needs is light relief. Could you not give us a little humour now and then?

Yours faithfully,

A POPULAR WRITER.

P.S.—The last MS. you returned to me was very much crumpled. Please be more careful in the future.

Sir,—I think it a pity you publish jokes. In this age, when all things—even our dear Bishops—are considered fit subjects for jest, we could do with one serious-minded paper. Trusting you will think this over,

Yours faithfully,

HITCHY KIKUYU.

Sir,—-You should see our American comic papers.

Yours faithfully,

WASHINGTON G. BUSTER.

Sir,—I find the blank pages at the back of the cartoons very useful for making notes on. Could you not extend this feature?

Yours faithfully,

PROFESSOR.

Sir,—I think you would do well to cater more for women—who, after all, are a rising sex. A page each week devoted to modern fashions would not be at all out of place in your paper.

Yours faithfully,

EVE.

Sir,—In my opinion your paper is the cleverest in the country—nay in the world. Nowhere else is such exquisite literary discrimination shown. I enclose a small contribution for your consideration, and am,

Yours faithfully,

CONSTANT READER.

* * * * *



* * * * *

THE PAPER-CHASE.

I arrived at home at three o'clock on a frosty afternoon. "Now," thought I, "I shall have a quiet time before tea and shall be able to write a few letters and start my article." It was a dream of usefully employed leisure, but it didn't last long.

I found the whole family, with the addition of a little boyfriend, gathered together in a very purposeful and alarming way in the library There was about them an undefinable air of the chase, for they were all well-booted and belted, and Peggy had a large clasp-knife dangling at her waist. "It is for the hare," she said, "when we catch him."

"The hare?" I said. "What hare?"

"You," said the lady of the house cheerfully, "are to be the hare. You are to run till you are cooked, and then you will be caught."

"What madness is this?" I said.

"It's not madness a bit," said Helen indignantly. "It's a paper-chase."

"And I," said Rosie, "have torn up all The Timeses."

"And I," said John, who is not always sure of his tenses, though he is very voluble, "have tored up The Daily Newses."

"That's capital," I said with enthusiasm. "A paper-chase is the best fun in the world. I'll see you start and give you a cheer."

"You can't do that," said Helen firmly, "because we've settled that you're to carry the bag and be the hare."

"Come, come," I said, "this is an unworthy proposal. Would you chase your more than middle-aged father over the open country? Never. How could he look the village in the face if he were to be seen scattering little bits of paper from a linen bag? He would fall in their estimation and would drag you all with him in his fall. John," I said, "you would not have your father fall, would you?"

"It would make me laugh," said John, and the rest seemed to think that this callous remark settled the matter.

"Anyhow," I said, "I must have plenty of law."

"We won't have any law," said Helen, who is an intelligent child; "it's all quarrellings."

"Law," I said, "is the embodiment of human wisdom. In this case it means that I'm going to have ten minutes' start. Everyone of you must pledge his or her honour not to move until I've been gone ten minutes."

They made no difficulty about this, and, the lady of the house having appointed herself time-keeper and having promised to have a large tea ready for us when we returned, I was sent on my way with a bag of paper and many shrill shouts of encouragement.

Now I ask my colleagues in the parental business to consider my case. I daresay they fancy themselves as runners on the strength of their remembered boyish feats and of certain more recent runs when they have lingered too long over breakfast and have had to catch a train. I warn them not to build a paper-chase on so slender a foundation. A jog-trot seems the easiest thing in the world, but after two hundred yards the temptation to lapse into a walk becomes irresistible. I will dwell no further on my own experiences, but transfer myself in imagination to the hounds who were chasing me. Afterwards I heard so much of their exploits that I almost came to feel I had shared in their daring and been a party to their final success.

From the garden door the line led across the road and on to a track skirting the railway. This piece was taken at a brisk pace, the scent being breast-high. A sheet might have covered the whole pack. Then came a hairpin turn over the level crossing, a swing to the right and a steady trudge up the hill. Half-way up there were gates to the right and the left, and here the blown but wary hare had laid his first false trail. This unsuspected device roused the utmost indignation, and doubts were freely expressed as to its being legitimate. John was sent to the right to investigate; Peggy went off to the left, which proved to be the true trail, and in a very short time the dauntless five were once more in full cry. Rosie, who is a reader of books, afterwards said that no sleuth-hounds could have done the thing better. So by paths and ploughed fields and over gates and stiles the dreadful chase continued until there came another check. "These," said Helen, pointing to some pieces of paper, "are not newspaper. They are bits of letters." It was too true. The Timeses and The Daily Newses had given out, and the hare, omitting nothing that might lead to his destruction, had torn up all his available correspondence. It threw the pack out for a few minutes, but they rallied. In another hundred-and-fifty yards they ran into their hare, who, paperless and letterless, had taken refuge behind a tree and was ignominiously hauled out.

So ended our great Christmas paper-chase, an event which must remain justly celebrated both for the ardour with which it was undertaken and for the endurance with which it was pursued. What a chatter there was as we returned, what a narration of glorious incidents of pace, of skill and of cunning defeated by greater cunning. Falls there had been and shin-scrapes and the tearing of skirts and stockings, and legends were made up and told again and again. And at home the lady of the house had to hear it all once more, and the tea she gave us was voted the best in the world.

* * * * *

Copy of letter to Clerk of the Peace in reply to Jury Summons:—

DEAR SIR, Your to hand re Sumons to Quarter Sessions on Jany 9/14

I beg to be excused from this as I have ann absess forming under a bad tooth and at the present time my face is very much swollen.

further that the 9th being a red letter day in my life being the day on which my dear wife passed away

and I have understood that all those over 60 year of age was exempt from these things. So I shall be extreemly obligid if you could free me this time answer by bearer will oblig your respectfully

* * * * *



* * * * *

CONTINENTAL INTELLIGENCE.

An extraordinary domestic tragedy is reported from a remote province of Poland. A beautiful young woman, named Vera Alexandrina Polianowski, who had been married only about two years, was expecting the return home of her husband, a sailor. During his absence of five months a mournful calamity had befallen her in an affection of the larynx, which threatened to deprive her temporarily of the power to articulate. Realising her impending affliction, she had taught a grey parrot, which her husband had left with her, to exclaim repeatedly from just inside the door of her cottage, in joyous accents that bore no inconsiderable resemblance to her own once melodious voice, these touching words, "Enter, dearest Vladimir, and console me for my misfortune!"

It chanced, however, that before marrying Vladimir Polianowski, the sailor, Vera Alexandrina had had a lover in poor circumstances named Vladimir Crackovitch, whom, with the thoughtlessness of a beautiful young girl, she had encouraged to get rich as quickly as he could in America and then return to claim her as his bride. Vladimir Crackovitch had taken her at her word. With the silent determination of a great soul, he had amassed about a hundred thousand dollars in America in less than four years, and only two or three minutes before Vera Alexandrina's husband was due to arrive he himself stood at the cottage door with folded arms, asking himself if he should or should not enter and reproach Vera Alexandrina for her inconstancy.

His hesitation was suddenly overcome by the parrot. "Enter, dearest Vladimir, and console me for my misfortune!" it cried eagerly from within, and, not for an instant doubting that it was an invitation from the woman whom he still loved fondly in spite of her perfidy, and being unaware of her laryngeal affliction, he bounded into the house and hurried from room to room until he found Vera Alexandrina Polianowski.

But Vladimir, the sailor, had already in the meantime, from the top of an adjacent lane, beheld Vladimir Crackovitch at the door of his home, and, being a man of the most blindly passionate and jealous impulses, his next procedure may be imagined.

Several hours later a neighbour called at the cottage and discovered the three corpses in one sad heap: Vera Alexandrina Polianowski, shot through the breast; at her side, Vladimir Crackovitch, with a bullet in each eye; and, still clutching his revolver, Vladimir, the sailor, seated upon his grim cushion of the dead, his back supported against the wall under the domestic lamplit icon, with a smile of hellish satisfaction frozen upon his lips and the remaining three bullets buried in his heart.

The above is not necessarily a true story. It is a specimen of the small-print news with which the rather young Assistant Sub-Editor of The Dullandshire Chronicle (established 1763) is permitted, occasionally, to divert those of The Chronicle's subscribers who take an intelligent interest in continental affairs.

* * * * *

"You know the 'Tziganes,' don't you?—those marvellous gentlemen in red coats with sleek dark singlets, exotic complexions, and bold, rolling black eyes."—Sunday Chronicle.

Strictly speaking, singlets, of whatever colour, should be worn under the coat.

* * * * *

THE HUNTSMAN'S STORY.

I heard the huntsman calling as he drew Threeacre Spinney; He found a fox and hunted him and handled him ere night, And his voice upon the hill-side was as golden as a guinea, And I ventured he'd done nicely—most respectful and polite— Jig-jogging back to kennels, and the stars were shining bright.

Old Jezebel and Jealous they were trotting at his stirrup; The road was clear, the moon was up, 'twas but a mile or so; He got the pack behind him with a chirp and with a chirrup, And said he, "I had the secret from my gran'dad long ago, And all the old man left me, Sir, if you should want to know.

"And he was most a gipsy, Sir, and spoke the gipsy lingos, But he knew of hounds and horses all as NIMROD might have know'd: When we'd ask him how he did it, he would say, 'You little Gringos, I learnt it from a lady that I met upon the road; In the hills o' Connemara was this wondrous gift bestowed.'

"Connemara—County Galway—he was there in 1830; He was taking hounds to kennel, all alone, he used to say, And the hills of Connemara, when the night is falling dirty, Is an ill place to be left in when the dusk is turning grey, An ill place to be lost in most at any time o' day.

"Adown the dismal mountains that night it blew tremendous, A-sobbing like a giant and a-snorting like a whale, When he saw beside the sheep-track ('Holy Saints,' says he, 'defend us!') A mighty dainty lady, dressed in green, and sweet and pale, And she rode an all-cream pony with an Arab head and tail.

"Says she to him, 'Young gentleman, to you I'd be beholden If you'd ride along to Fairyland this night beside o' me; There's a fox that eats our chickens—them that lays the eggs that's golden— And our little fairy mouse-dogs, ah, 'tis small account they'll be, Sure it wants an advertising pack to gobble such as he!'

"So gran'dad says, 'Your servant, Miss,' and got his hounds together, And the mountain-side flew open and they rode into the hill; 'Your country's one to cross,' says he, and rights a stirrup-leather, And he found in half-a-jiffey, and he finished with a kill; And the little fairy lady, she was with 'em with a will.

"Then 'O,' says she, 'young man,' says she, ''tis lonesome here in Faerie, So won't you stay and hunt with us and never more to roam, And take a bride'—she looks at him—'whose youth can never vary, With hair as black as midnight and a breast as white as foam?' And 'Thank you, Miss,' says gran'dad, 'but I've got a wife at home!'

"Then, 'O, young man,' says she, 'young man, then you shall take a bounty, A bounty of my magic that may grant you wishes three; Come make yourself the grandest man from out o' Galway County To Dublin's famous city all of my good gramarye?' And, 'Thank you, Miss,' says gran'dad, 'but such ain't no use to me.'

"But he said, since she was pressing of her fairy spells and forces, He'd take the threefold bounty, lest a gift he'd seem to scorn: He'd ask, beyond all other men, the tricks o' hounds and horses, And a voice to charm a woodland of a soft December morn, And sons to follow after him, all to the business born.

"And—but here we are at home, Sir. Yes, the old man was a terror For his fairies and his nonsense, yet the story's someways right; He'd the trick o' hounds and horses to a marvel—and no error; And to hear him draw a woodland was a pride and a delight; And—was it luck entirely, Sir, I killed my fox to-night?"

* * * * *

THE LITTLE WONDER.

The crowd had gone, the lights had been extinguished, and the doors of the music-hall were shut. The Little Wonder was tired after the performance; his attempt to do the double somersault had strained him, and his failure had brought a whipping. Although the outhouse in which he was to lie was cold and damp and smelt horribly, he was glad when his master thrust him into it, and he was content to lie down in the straw and forget his misery in sleep.

He dreamt a beautiful dream. He dreamt that he was a master, and that he was presenting to a crowded audience what he had billed as "A Marvel of the Twentieth Century"—a performing man. The man was a creature with a pink face, oily hair, and a black moustache; and the Little Wonder, in his capacity as master, made the Marvel bark like a dog, whereat the audience yelped its approval. Then the collar of a member of the audience was handed on to the stage, while the Marvel was blindfolded, and, after sniffing the collar, he succeeded in tracking down its owner—like a dog again. And in whatever trick the Marvel did, the Little Wonder was close behind him, looking so friendly and threatening him with low growls at the same time. If the Marvel happened to remember for a moment his miserable condition and to look unhappy, his master would look still more kindly and threaten even more sternly. Then came the moment when the orchestra stopped suddenly, and the kettledrum rolled, and the eyes of the audience were fixed upon the Marvel. For this remarkable performing man was scratching in a tub of earth to find a bone—just like a real dog; and that was his greatest trick. When he had successfully performed it, his master (the Little Wonder) presented him with a twopenny cigar clothed in a flashy cummerbund, to show how generously he rewarded achievements. Then, as the curtain fell, he retired with many bows—and in the wings gave the Marvel a hot time for shirking the biscuit trick.

I question whether the Little Wonder in real life would have so ill-treated any creature; but things are different in dreams; and, as he slept, a smile seemed to come into the shaggy face of this little Irish terrier.

* * * * *

"In a fierce game at Ilfracombe yesterday morning several houses were partially unroofed, and an arcade blown in."—Scotsman.

Where was the referee?

* * * * *

RECORD RISKS.

(A Sequel to "Narrow Escapes.")

The report that M. PADEREWSKI has been hunted by Nihilists out of Denver has suggested to the Editor of The Musical Mirror the happy thought of circularising a number of prominent musicians with a view to ascertaining the most dangerous experiences they have ever undergone.

Sir FREDERICK BRIDGE writes to say that the worst quarter of a minute he ever spent was while tarpon fishing off the coast of Florida, when a gigantic tarpon, weighing some 400 lbs., leaped into the boat with its mouth wide open. With great presence of mind the famous organist thrust into the monster's gaping jaws a full score of STRAUSS'S Elektra, which he was studying between the casts, and the tarpon at once leaped out of the boat and was never seen or heard of again.

Madame MELBA'S most perilous experience was on a tour in the Far East, when the liner in which she was travelling was caught by a tidal wave and hurled with enormous velocity towards the rocky coast of Sumatra. Noticing that a large whale was following the vessel, and remembering the peculiar susceptibility of these giant mammals to musical sounds, Madame MELBA sang the scena, "Ocean, thou mighty monster," with such persuasive force that the whale allowed itself to be made fast with a hawser and then towed the liner back safely into the open sea.

Mr. Bamborough (formerly M. Bamberger) recounted the episode, already alluded to in these columns, when he was partially eaten by cannibals in the Solomon Islands; but the details are too harrowing for reproduction, even in a condensed form. It is interesting to learn, however, that a punitive expedition was despatched by the British Government to avenge the insult, as a result of which Mr. Bamborough was awarded an indemnity of 1,000 bales of copra, 20 tons of sandalwood, and L3,000 worth of tortoiseshell.

Sir FREDERICK COWEN, in reply to the circular, states that the closest call he ever had was when adjudicating at a Welsh Eisteddfod. In consequence of an unpopular award he was besieged in his hotel by an infuriated crowd and only escaped by changing clothes with a policeman.

Professor Quantock de Banville relates how, while obtaining local colour for his new Choral Symphony, he was attacked by a gorilla in Central Africa, but tamed the mighty simian by the power of his eye.

In conclusion we may note that the only disappointing answer was received from Signor Crinuto, the famous pianist, who replied, "I have never had a close shave, and never intend to have one."

* * * * *



* * * * *

"A Christmas Tree Entertainment will be held in Pelican Lake schoolhouse on Tuesday, Dec. 23. Everybody welcome, no admission."—Vermilion Standard (Alberta. No relation to The Sporting Times).

You are at perfect liberty to hang about outside.

* * * * *

"No one can deny that it is essential London should have a thoroughly equipped shin hospital."—Advt. in "Sphere."

No footballer, anyhow.

* * * * *

FROM A GENERAL KNOWLEDGE (SIC) EXAMINATION.

The Cat and Mouse Act is an Act by which a cat may not kill a mouse unless when necessary.

The Apocalypse is an ailment one has apolcalyptic fits.

Sea-legs are when you don't have legs but a tail.

The All Red Route is the human throat or swallow.

Ten instruments for an orchestra are banjo, pianola, concertina, mandoline, psalteries, shawms, bagpipes, bells to clash with, violins, and bassinette.

To die in harness means to die married.

* * * * *

AT THE PLAY.

"THE POOR LITTLE RICH GIRL."

EMERSON says somewhere that there are great ways of borrowing; that, if you can contrive to transmute base metal into fine, nobody will worry as to where you got your base metal from. But, when it is the other way about, I think you must not be surprised if people ask you where you lifted your gold. And the answer, in the case of Miss ELEANOR GATES, is that the nuggets were the property of LEWIS CARROLL. She has taken the sprightly and fantastic humour of Alice in Wonderland, passed it through the alembic (if that is the word) of her American imagination, and the result is something that hardly lets you smile at all. It is not a typical product of native industry, but even that does not make it much easier for us to grasp the secret of its success over there. It would seem that nearly all Transatlantic humour, indigenous or adoptive, is apt, like certain wines, to suffer in the process of sea-transit.

Her "Poor Little Rich Girl" is poor because her parents are too rich. Her father is too busy with finance and her mother with social climbing to spare time for their daughter's company, so they leave her to the care of governesses and menials. Her nurse, anxious for an evening out at a picture-palace, gives the child an overdose of sleeping-mixture, with the result that she nearly dies of it. In the course of delirious dreams she finds herself in the "Tell-Tale Forest" (which threatens to recall The Palace of Truth), and here all the picturesque phrases which she has been in the childish habit of misinterpreting in their literal sense—"a bee in the bonnet," to "ride hobbies," "to play ducks and drakes," "to pay the piper," and so forth—are realised in human or animal form. With these are mixed the familiar figures of her waking life, all of them exposed in their true characters so that you can distinguish the devotion of the doctor (who now appears in pink because he likes riding hobbies) and the affection of the teddy-bear (now expanded to human proportions) from the serpentine nature of the governess and the double-faced dealings of the nurse. Her father, who is a stranger to her, comes on dressed in banknotes and chained to a safe; her mother, also a stranger, wears a society bee which buzzes in the place where her bonnet would have been; and five samples of the fashionable world, where, as you know, everybody thinks the same thing at the same time, let off recitatives from time to time in unison. And there was much talk about "Robin Hood's Barn," a thing I was never told about at an age when I am sure it would have given me sincere pleasure.

Here and there the symbolism was obvious to the point of crudity; but you searched in vain for a consistent scheme. The father in his banknotes lashed to a ponderous safe was an easy personification of the slavery of wealth, and the pantomime ducks and drakes were simple to understand as symbolizing the career of a spendthrift (though the father was never that); but why, you asked, did the double-faced nurse exhaust all her spare moments and our patience pirouetting about the stage? Did she represent the levity of the dual life? Not at all; her actions bore no moral significance: she was just giving a literal illustration of a phrase—"to dance attendance."

I don't know how the children in the audience appreciated all this, but I confess that some of it left me wondering whether my intelligence was too raw or too ripe for the fancies of this Wonder-Zoo-Land.

The First Act, which showed the child's life at home, had fallen altogether flat; but the Third, in which she wakes in her pretty bedroom, restored from the jaws of death to her repentant parents, put us on better terms with ourselves, for we were not really hard to please. The sweetness of it was perhaps a little cloying, but it was all quite nice and sympathetic. Still, I am afraid I agreed more than I was meant to with the speech of pretty little Miss STEPHANIE BELL, when she told us before the curtain that they would cable to the author in America to say how glad we were that it was all over.

Mr. ERNEST HENDRIE, who was translated from an organ-grinder to a maker of faces, played very soundly, but seemed to me a little too deliberate and conscious in his speech. I found a more moving appeal in the slight pathetic sketch of an old faithful butler by Mr. GEORGE MALLETT. Mr. FEWLASS LLEWELLYN might easily, with a little assistance from the author, have extracted a lot more fun from his Plumber. Mr. MALCOLM CHERRY had a simple and popular part as the good Doctor. Miss HELEN HAYE'S cleverness was wasted on the character of a sinuous governess. Miss EVELYN WEEDEN did all that was asked of the mother in both worlds—the world of fancy and the world of fact. But, to speak truth, there was little attraction in the performance apart from the personality of Miss STEPHANIE BELL in the title role. If the play is to succeed—and its hope lies in the good temper and high spirits of holiday time—the author will owe most to the natural charm of this delightful young lady, who played throughout with a most engaging sincerity and ease.

O.S.

* * * * *



* * * * *

"After fifty years of good conduct in the Ancona Penitentiary, the life sentence of Giacomo Casale has been remitted by King Victor Emmanuel. Casale's astonishment at the altered world in which he found himself on coming out of prison was unbounded. He immediately"—Daily Express.

Unfortunately our contemporary stops there, and leaves us all in an agony of doubt. Our own view is that CASALE bought the Mimosa Edition of a certain rival journal, and that the Editor of The Express only just censored the paragraph in time.

* * * * *

"The wireless station at Kamina, in Togo, German West Africa, has received a number of wireless telegrams from the station at Naten, a distance of 3,348 miles. The Kamina station will not be able to reply until its new plant, which is being set up with the utmost speed, has been completed."—Reuter.

Indeed, the opinion is held by some that it would be quicker to reply by post.

* * * * *

"The prison buildings themselves are separated from this wall by a yard measuring twenty-five years across."—Daily Dispatch.

Of course a yard ought to measure thirty-six inches.

* * * * *



* * * * *

OUR BOOKING-OFFICE.

(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)

If for nothing else, Mr. JACK LONDON'S latest story would deserve a welcome for its topicality. In these days of strikes and industrial conflict every one might be glad to know what a writer of his individuality has to say about unions and blacklegs and picketing. True, this is hardly the kind of thing that one has learnt to associate with his name; and for that reason perhaps I best liked The Valley of the Moon (MILLS AND BOON) after its hero and heroine had shaken the unsavoury dust of the town from their feet and set them towards the open country. But much had to happen first. The hero was big Billy Roberts, a teamster with the heart of a child and the strength of a prize-fighter—which was in fact his alternative profession. He married Saxon Brown ("a scream of a name" her friend called it when introducing them to each other), and for a time their life together was as nearly idyllic as newly-wedded housekeeping in a mean street could permit it to be. Then came the lean years: strikes and strike-breaking, sabotage and rioting, prison for Billy, and all but starvation for Saxon. Perhaps you know already that peculiar gift of Mr. JACK LONDON'S that makes you not only see physical hardship but suffer it? I believe that after these chapters the reader of them will never again be able to regard a newspaper report of street-fighting with the same detachment as before, so vivid are they, so haunting. In the end, however, as I say, we find a happier atmosphere. The adventures of Billy and Saxon, tramping it in search of a home, soon make their urban terrors seem to them and the reader a kind of nightmare. Here Mr. LONDON is at his delightful best, and his word-pictures of country scenes are as fresh and fine as anything he has yet done. The Valley of the Moon, in short, is really two stories—one grim, one pleasant, and both brilliantly successful.

* * * * *

It is perhaps a mistake to read a novel at a sitting, since the reaction is too sudden and the reader is apt to find the real life and the real people surrounding him highly unsatisfactory by contrast. Mr. JAMES PROSPER has reduced me to this state by The Mountain Apart (HEINEMANN), but it is my duty as critic to disregard my personal feelings and judge impartially between the fictitious and the actual. Duty, then, compels me to say that the Mr. Henry Harding who at the last solved all the difficulties of Rose Hilton by the simple expedient of a romantic proposal is a hollow fraud. The position was this: Rose was a woman of flesh and blood and all the human limitations, blessed and cursed with all the intricacies allotted by Providence to the sex. Her trouble was that she had to face life as it is, and this she found very trying. She suffered from her marriage to a man old enough to be her grandfather, and from her abortive grapplings both with the abstract problems of her soul and the concrete mischiefs of her female friends. The influence of IBSEN and a militant Suffragette didn't help her meditations, and when her husband died she had the mortification to find that the first man of her own age who professed love to her was no man but a series of artistic poses. Of her difficulties, real enough up to this point, the solution was the fraudulent Henry, fraudulent because he was just a stage hero whose actions and conversation resembled nothing on earth. Henry, in fact, is the sort of person that doesn't exist, and, if he did, would be intolerable to everybody except a novel reader worked up to a climax. I doubt if even such a reader could stand the fellow on a longer acquaintance. To this conclusion all must come in their saner moments, and yet most will, I think, finish the book in one spell and be under the delusion at the end of it that all their troubles would be solved at once if only their friends would talk and conduct themselves more like Henry.

* * * * *

In Theodore Roosevelt: an Autobiography (MACMILLAN) the ex-President shows us how it was done: how he started life as a weakly lad and by perseverance made himself what he is to-day. But what is he? That is the insoluble problem. No two people, least of all Americans, seem to agree on the point. I have heard Mr. ROOSEVELT called everything from a charlatan to the Saviour of his Country. For myself, if I may intrude my own view, I have always admired the "Bull Moose." But, since nobody on this earth, in America or out of it, can really understand American politics, my respect has been for Mr. ROOSEVELT'S private rather than his public performances. And in the view that he is, take him all round, a pretty good sort of man, this book has confirmed me. He has told his story well. Nor is the Power of the Human "I" too much in evidence. It is just a simple, straightforward tale of a particularly interesting life. Whatever your views on Mr. ROOSEVELT may be, the fact remains that he has been a cowboy, a police commissioner of New York, a soldier on active service, and the President of God's Country, suh; and a man must have an unusually negative personality if he cannot make entertainment for us out of that. Now nobody has ever suspected Mr. ROOSEVELT of a negative personality; and it is certain that he has told a very entertaining story. There are in this volume battle, murder, sudden death, outlaws, cowboys, bears, American politics, and the author's views on the English blackbird, all handsomely illustrated, and the price is only what you would (or would not) pay for a stall to see a musical comedy. It's a bargain.

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Between the rising of the partisans of the Duchesse DE BERRI and the dawn of the Tractarian movement there would not seem, at first blush, to be any very close association apart from the coincidence of their dates; yet in The Vision Splendid (MURRAY), by D.K. BROSTER and G.W. TAYLOR, a link is furnished in the person of an English clergyman's daughter, who marries a Frenchman of the "Legitimist" aristocracy, and is loved, before and afterwards, by an enthusiastic disciple of the Oriel Common Room. But the link is too slight to give a proper unity to the tale; and we have to fall back upon contrasts. Even so, the two modes of life which made up, between them, the experience of the Comtesse de la Roche-Guyon (nee Horatia Grenville) are too cleanly severed by the estranging Channel to be brought into sharp antithesis, except in the heart of the one woman. And, since it is difficult to understand why anyone so British in her independence and aloofness should have surrendered her heart to the first good-looking Frenchman who came her way, we never get to be on very intimate terms with that organ. The construction of the story tends to break up the action and make its interest desultory. While we are spending a hundred odd pages at one time and fifty odd at another in Paris and Brittany we forget, very contentedly, about Oriel; and while we are in residence at Oxford we are practically cut off—no doubt, to our spiritual gain—from the things of France. The authors seem to belong to the solid old-fashioned school that had the patience to spread itself and leave as little as might be to the imagination. I suspect one of them of supplying the foreign information and the other of being the correspondent on home and clerical affairs. I don't know how many of them—if any—are women, but I seem to trace a female hand in some of the domestic details. But the book contains strong matter, too—both of narrative and characterization; as in the dying of Armand de la Roche-Guyon, and the picture of his lover, Madame de Vigerie. And there is something of the inspiration of the Holy Grail in that "Vision Splendid" which heartens Tristram Hungerford to make sacrifice of his passion that he may give his soul unshared to the service of the Church.

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Until I had read Mr. A. RADCLYFFE DUGMORE'S book and revelled in his most wonderful photographs I had never wished to be a caribou; but now that I have fully digested The Romance of the Newfoundland Caribou (HEINEMANN) there is only one animal whose lot in life I really envy. This is due not to a natural sympathy with caribous (for, as the author says, "In England it is quite the exception to find anyone who knows what the caribou is, unless he happens to have been to Newfoundland or certain parts of Canada," and I was never one of the exceptions), but to the extraordinary manner in which Mr. DUGMORE has imparted the affection that be himself entertains for his chosen beast. Although he shoots with no more formidable a weapon than a camera, the dangers and risks that he has run would appal many of the sportsmen whose aim is to destroy and not to study the lives of animals. He has, however, no contempt for hunters, provided that they will play the game and give a fair chance to their quarry. Another point in his favour, which appeals mightily to me, is that after nine consecutive seasons in Newfoundland he confesses that his knowledge of the caribou is still incomplete. This means that, when he does make an absolute statement, you may be pretty certain that it is true. If I ever have to argue about the habits of caribous, there is one shot that will remain in my locker until the very end of the argument, and it will be, "Well, DUGMORE says so."

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