PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI
JUNE 17, 1914
"The Pocket Asquith" is announced, and we are asked to say that the pocket in question is not Mr. REDMOND'S.
The discovery of gold particles in a duck's gizzard has, we are told, caused a rush of mining prospectors to Liberty Township, Ohio. It is expected that the duck will shortly be floated as a limited liability company.
The Valuation Department has discovered at Llangammarch Wells, Brecknockshire, 50 acres of land for which no owner can be found. Anyone, therefore, who has lost any land is recommended to communicate at once with the Department.
The ASTRONOMER-ROYAL, in reading his annual report at the Royal Observatory last week, said that the mean temperature of the year 1913 was 50.5 degrees. Seeing that this temperature was one degree above the average for the 70 years ended 1910, we consider that the epithet was undeserved.
We hesitate to suggest that The Times is catering for cannibals, but it is certainly curious that a recent issue should have contained the following headlines:—
"PREPARED FOODS. INFANTS, CHILDREN & INVALIDS."
By the way, the little essay on "Foods of Antiquity" omitted to mention that these may still be picked up by curio-hunters at certain railway buffets.
What has become of all the cabs which have been displaced by the taxis? is a question which is often asked. It has now been partially answered. According to a cable published last week, "The steamer Rappahannock reports the presence of numerous icebergs and 'growlers' on the North Atlantic steamship routes."
At last there are signs of a reaction against under-dressing on the stage. The producers of a new revue advertise:—
50 REAL LIVE PERFORMERS. OVER 250 PARISIAN MODEL FROCKS AND HATS.
Mr. H. CSCINSKY, the author of the standard work, English Furniture of the Eighteenth Century, says that 999 out of every 1,000 pieces of old oak furniture in the present day are forgeries. The only way, therefore, to ensure that you get a genuine specimen is to order 1,000 pieces, and the furniture trade trusts that all collectors will take this elementary precaution when purchasing.
The abandonment of the scheme for the rebuilding of the Lambeth Police Court has caused some disappointment among local criminals, some of whom, we are glad to hear, are ashamed to be seen in the present structure.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Being convinced that Germany possesses too many Leagues and Associations the town of Seesen, in the Harz, has established an "Association for Combating the Mania for the Formation of Leagues and Associations"—not realising until too late that they have thereby formed one more.
"Keep your arms" is Sir EDWARD CARSON'S latest advice to the Ulster volunteers—and they have kept their heads so well that they should have no difficulty in this respect.
An American clergyman got into trouble last week for holding up his hand and trying to stop the traffic in the Strand. The sky-pilot found out pretty soon that he was out of his element.
A man placed a bank paper bag containing L63 10s. on the counter at the chief post-office in Swansea, one day last week, while he changed a postal order. When he turned to pick up the bag it had disappeared. The local police incline to the view that someone must have taken it.
A muddle-headed correspondent writes to express surprise on learning that the day devoted to collections for the charities connected with the Variety Stage should be known as "Tag Day." The old fellow had always imagined that "Tag Day" was a toast on German war vessels.
* * * * *
A TIME EXPOSURE.
I turned the family album's page And noted with a smile The efforts of a bygone age At photographic style; There, pegtopped, grandpa could be seen, While grandma beamed, contented To know her brand-new crinoline The latest thing invented.
And there Aunt Mary's looks belied Her gravity of dress; That great poke-bonnet could not hide Her youthful comeliness; There, too, was father when a boy, And elsewhere in the series A youthful cousin (Fauntleroy), An uncle in Dundrearies.
And then before my scornful eye A smirking youth appeared, Flaunting a loose aesthetic tie And embryonic beard; With laughter I began to shake, Noting the watch-chain (weighty) And all the things that went to make A "nut" in 1880.
I looked upon the other side, Still tittering, to see What branch the fellow occupied Upon our family tree; A name was scrawled across the card With flourishes in plenty, And lo! it was the present bard Himself at five-and-twenty.
* * * * *
From a testimonial to a system of health culture:—
"I think I have never felt so glorious as I do this morning. At 4.30 I woke up after a wet waist pack, got hot water, cleaned myself, took a glass of lemon juice, exercised, and for the last three-quarters of an hour I have been running through your notes."
He mustn't take too much exercise.
* * * * *
THE COMPLETE DRAMATIST.
III. MEALS AND THINGS.
In spite of all you can do in the way of avoiding soliloquies and getting your characters on and off the stage in a dramatic manner, a time will come when you realise sadly that your play is not a bit like life after all. Then is the time to introduce a meal on the stage. A stage meal is popular, because it proves to the audience that the actors, even when called GEORGE ALEXANDER or ARTHUR BOURCHIER, are real people just like you and me. "Look at Sir HERBERT eating," we say excitedly to each other in the pit, having had a vague idea up till then that an actor lived like a god on praise and grease-paint and his photograph in the papers. "Another cup, won't you?" says Miss GLADYS COOPER; "No, thank you," says Mr. DENNIS EADIE—dash it, it's exactly what we do at Twickenham ourselves. And when, to clinch matters, the dramatist makes Mr. GERALD DU MAURIER light a real cigarette in the Third Act, then he can flatter himself that he has indeed achieved the ambition of every stage writer, and "brought the actual scent of the hay across the footlights."
But there is a technique to be acquired in this matter as in everything else within the theatre. The great art of the stage-craftsman, as I have already shown, is to seem natural rather than to be natural. Let your actors have tea by all means, but see that it is a properly histrionic tea. This is how it should go:—
Hostess. You'll have some tea, won't you? [Rings bell.
Guest. Thank you.
Hostess. Tea, please, Matthews.
Butler (impassively). Yes, m'lady. (This is all he says during the play, so he must try and get a little character into it, in order that "The Era" may remark, "Mr. Thompson was excellent as Matthews." However, his part is not over yet, for he returns immediately, followed by three footmen—just as it happened when you last called on the Duchess—and sets out the tea.)
Hostess (holding up the property lump of sugar in the tongs). Sugar?
Guest (luckily). No, thanks.
Hostess replaces lump and inclines empty teapot over tray for a moment, then hands him a cup painted brown inside—thus deceiving the gentleman with the telescope in the upper circle.
Guest (touching his lips with the cup and then returning it to its saucer). Well, I must be going.
Re-enter Butler and three Footmen, who remove the tea-things.
Hostess (to Guest). Good-bye; so glad you could come. [Exit Guest.
His visit has been short, but it has been very thrilling while it lasted.
Tea is the most usual meal on the stage, for the reason that it is the least expensive, the property lump of sugar being dusted and used again on the next night. For a stage dinner a certain amount of genuine sponge-cake has to be made up to look like fish, chicken or cutlet. In novels the hero has often "pushed his meals away untasted," but no stage hero would do anything so unnatural as this. The etiquette is to have two bites before the butler and the three footmen whisk away the plate. The two bites are made, and the bread is crumbled, with an air of great eagerness; indeed, one feels that in real life the guest would clutch hold of the footman and say, "Half a mo', old chap, I haven't nearly finished;" but the actor is better schooled than this. Besides, the thing is coming back again as chicken directly.
But it is the cigarette which chiefly has brought the modern drama to its present state of perfection. Without the stage cigarette many an epigram would pass unnoticed, many an actor's hands would be much more noticeable; and the man who works the fireproof safety curtain would lose even the small amount of excitement which at present attaches to his job.
Now although it is possible, in the case of a few men at the top of the profession, to leave the conduct of the cigarette entirely to the actor, you will find it much more satisfactory to insert in the stage directions the particular movements (with match and so forth) that you wish carried out. Let us assume that Lord Arthur asks Lord John what a cynic is—the question of what a cynic is having arisen quite naturally in the course of the plot. Let us assume further that you wish Lord John to reply, "A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." It has been said before, but you may feel that it is quite time it was said again; besides, for all the audience knows, Lord John may simply be quoting. Now this answer, even if it comes quite fresh to the stalls, will lose much of its effect if it is said without the assistance of a cigarette. Try it for yourself.
Lord John. A cynic is a man who, etc....
Rotten. Now try again.
Lord John. A cynic is a man who, etc.... (Lights cigarette).
No, even that is not good. Once more:—
Lord John (lighting cigarette). A cynic is a man who, etc.
Better, but leaves much too much to the actor.
Well, I see I must tell you.
Lord John (taking out gold cigarette case from his left-hand upper waistcoat pocket). A cynic, my dear Arthur (he opens case deliberately, puts cigarette in mouth, and extracts gold match-box from right-hand trouser) is a man who (strikes match) knows the price of (lights cigarette)—everything, and (standing with match in one hand and cigarette in the other) the value of—— pff (blows out match) of (inhales deeply from cigarette and blows out a cloud of smoke)—nothing.
It makes a different thing of it altogether. Of course on the actual night the match may refuse to strike, and Lord John may have to go on saying "a man who—a man who—a man who" until the ignition occurs, but even so it will still seem delightfully natural to the audience (as if he were making up the epigram as he went along); while as for blowing the match out he can hardly fail to do that in one.
The cigarette, of course, will be smoked at other moments than epigrammatic ones, but on these other occasions you will not need to deal so fully with it in the stage directions. "Duke (lighting cigarette). I trust, Perkins, that ..." is enough. You do not want to say, "Duke (dropping ash on trousers). It seems to me, my love ..." or, "Duke (removing stray piece of tobacco from tongue). What Ireland needs is ..."; still less "Duke (throwing away end of cigarette). Show him in." For this must remain one of the mysteries of the stage—What happens to the stage cigarette when it has been puffed four times? The stage tea, of which a second cup is always refused; the stage cutlet, which is removed with the connivance of the guest after two mouthfuls; the stage cigarette, which nobody ever seems to want to smoke to the end—thinking of these as they make their appearances in the houses of the titled, one would say that the hospitality of the peerage was not a thing to make any great rush for....
But that would be to forget the butler and the three footmen. Even a Duke cannot have everything. And what his chef may lack in skill his butler more than makes up for in impassivity.
A. A. M.
* * * * *
From a column headed "Crimes and Tragedies" in The Western Weekly Mercury:—
"Sir J. W. Spear, M.P., has consented to become patron of the newly-formed Highampton Rifle Club."
And we are left wondering which it is.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
Once more the tireless putter-right of men, Our roaring ROOSEVELT, swims into our ken. With clash of cymbals and with roll of drums, Reduced in weight, from far Brazil he comes. What risks were his! The rapids caught his form, Upset his bark and tossed him in the storm. Clutching his trumpet in a fearless hand, The damp explorer struggled to the land; Then set the trumpet to his lips and blew A blast that echoed all the wide world through, And in a tone that made the nations quiver Proclaimed himself the finder of a river. Maps, he declared, were made by doddering fools Who knew no better or defied the rules, While he, the great Progressive, traced the course Of waters mostly flowing to their source. Emerged at last and buoyed up with the sure hope Of geographic fame, he made for Europe; Flew to Madrid, and there awhile he tarried Till KERMIT went (good luck to K!) and married. Next London sees him, and with loud good will Yields to the mighty tamer of Brazil, And hears and cheers the while by his own fiat he Lectures our Geographical Society. Soon to his native land behold him go To take a hand in quelling Mexico. Does WILSON want him? Well, I hardly know.
* * * * *
IN THE NAME OF PEACE.
SIR,—I read with intense satisfaction that at the Peace Ball at the Albert Hall last week the lady representing Britannia carried a palm branch in place of the customary trident. This, I venture to think, is a step in the right direction. For many years, from the pulpits and platforms not only of our own land but of America, I have advocated a substitution of peaceful objects for the weapons of bloodshed with which so many of our allegorical figures are encumbered. I still wait for some artist to depict the patron saint of this fair land of ours, not attacking the dragon with a cruel sword, but offering it in all brotherliness an orange, let us say, or a bath bun.
But, Sir, one feature of this ball (putting aside for a moment the many reprehensible characteristics of all such entertainments) I must and do protest against. What do I read in the daily press? When it was desired to clear the floor, "a brigade of Guards, by subtle movements, drove the masqueraders, who were to form the audience, behind the barricades." Now, were I a member of the House of Commons—as some day I may be—I would make it my business to stand up in my place and fearlessly demand of the Minister for War an explanation as to how these men of blood came to be admitted to a Peace festival. Was it with his knowledge that they were present? and, if so, was it with his consent? I should also desire to know whether the cost of the expedition would fall upon the British tax-payer.
I am, Sir, Yours, etc., (Rev.) AMOS BLICK.
* * * * *
AMENDING A BILL.
As the drought wore on to its third day I began to perceive that siphoning the pinks with soda-water out of the dining-room window was insufficient to meet the crisis. I rang up the nearest fire station and told them in my most staccato tones that the garden was being burnt to a cinder and would they please—but they rang off suddenly without making a reply. It was then that I had a bright idea—so bright that the thermometer which was hanging near my head went up two degrees higher still.
"Araminta," I cried (she was out on the lawn tantalising a rose-bush with a kind of doll's-house watering-can),—"Araminta, where does one go to get hose?"
"I didn't mean that," I said, hastily coming out of the French-window to explain. "I meant the kind of long wiggly thing you fix on to a tap at one end and it squirts at the other."
She unbridled prettily. "Oh, that!" she said. "Altruage's have them, I suppose. Altruage's have everything. But I shouldn't get one if I were you. I believe they're fearfully expensive, and I'm going to buy a proper watering-can this morning."
My mind, however, was made up. "Expense," I thought, "be irrigated!" I said nothing about it to Araminta, but I decided to act.
* * * * *
The sun was still blazing with abominable ferocity at half-past twelve when I crossed the threshold of the Taj Mahal Stores and button-holed the first peripatetic marquis I could find.
"I want," I said, mopping my brows with the disengaged hand, "to see some hose."
"Certainly, Sir," he replied with a beaming smile. "For wear on the feet, I presume?"
"Not at all," I replied as coolly as possible. "For shampooing the head."
He looked puzzled.
"I want it to water my pinks with," I explained.
A look of divine condescension overspread his features. "Ah, you require our horticultural department for that, Sir," he said. "Fourth to the left, fifth to the right, and ask again." And with an infinitely horticultured gesture of the hand he motioned me on.
After a long and adventurous Odyssey and fifteen fruitless appeals I sighted a kind of green island shore, where a young man stood in an attitude of hauteur, surrounded by a number of pink and grey snakes and brightly coloured agricultural machines.
Making my way to him I sank exhausted into a wheel-barrow and murmured my request again.
"About what size is your garden?" he asked me when I had partially recovered.
"Slim," I said, "slim and graceful, but not really tall. Petite I believe is the technical term. What sizes have you got in stock?"
"Perhaps about forty yards would do, Sir," he suggested, uncoiling a portion of one of the reptiles at his feet. "I can recommend this as a strong and thoroughly reliable article. Then you will want a union, I suppose, and a brass nozzle and a drum."
"We all want union nowadays so much in everything, don't we?" I agreed pleasantly, "but I'm not so sure about the drum. You see the baby makes a most infernal noise as it is with a——"
He interrupted me to explain the uses of these things. The union, it seemed, was a kind of garter to attach the hose to the tap, and the drum was where the snake wound itself to sleep at night. "And the little pepper-castor, of course," I said, "is what one puts at the end to make it sneeze. I understand completely. If you will have them all sent round to me to-morrow I will pay on delivery."
* * * * *
When I got out into the street I found that a great change had taken place. The sky overhead was black with imminent rain. A sharp shower pattered at my heels as I sprinted for the 'bus, and when I disembarked from it the gutters were gurgling with ill-concealed delight. As I walked up the garden I noticed that the majority of the pinks were lying in a drunken stupor upon their beds.
Araminta met me at the door. "Why, you must be wet through," she said. "Go up and change instantly. And aren't you glad now you haven't got a silly old hose after all?"
"I am indeed," I replied.
Whilst I changed I thought deeply, and after dinner I sat down and wrote politely to Messrs. Altruage as follows:
"Mr. Hopkinson regrets that through inadvertence he ordered a quantity of hose this afternoon in Messrs. Altruage's horticultural department instead of their foot-robing studio. If Messrs. Altruage will kindly cancel this order Mr. Hopkinson will call in the morning and select six pairs of woollen socks."
In a climate like ours, I reflected as I posted the letter, there is a good deal to be said for these mammoth stores.
* * * * *
* * * * *
IN THE PARK.
(Souvent femme varie.)
Little girls in June attire, Grumbling to your governesses, What is it that you desire— Chocolates or satin dresses, Jewels, or a tiny hound, All your own, to drag around?
Governesses who betray Little love for your employment, If a fairy bade you say What would give you most enjoyment, Would your fancy not pursue Unsubstantial shadows too?
"Fleeting joys have little use"— So, as teachers, you endeavour In your charges to induce Virtues which will last for ever; But, as women, you resent Anything so permanent!
* * * * *
"A half followed, which made Vardon dormy 3, and another half at the 16th, where he made a brilliant recovery after he had hit a spectator, gave him the match by 3 and 2."
The recovery of the spectator wouldn't matter so much.
* * * * *
"A man who gave the name of James DewTJnamedhiskmhmhfr mhafr awdih acsih frdw hurst was remanded at Doncaster to-day charged with attempting to pass a worthless cheque for 30s."—Liverpool Express.
As soon as the cashier saw the first eighteen inches of the name at the bottom of the cheque he had his suspicions.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE YOUNG EVERYTHING.
Under this comprehensive title Messrs. Byett and Prusit have arranged for a new series of books for the youth of both sexes, the aim of which is to provide instruction in a number of the most desirable and profitable walks of life. The principle of the work is that it is never too soon to end. The General Editor will be that profound and encyclopaedic scholar and publicist, Mr. ANTHONY ASQUITH, who will be assisted by some of the ablest pens in the country.
THE YOUNG BANKRUPT, by Sampson Waterstock.
An exhaustive treatise on the right mismanagement of one's affairs, with hints on the best method of bringing about a meeting of creditors. Among the chapters are the following: "The Way to Carey Street;" "How to settle things on one's Wife;" "Eccentric Bankrupts who have subsequently paid in full, with Interest."
THE YOUNG BOOKMAKER, by Sharkey Hawker.
A complete guide to the Turf, than which few professions offer a more exciting opening to a boy. How to calculate odds; how to cultivate the voice; how to concentrate public attention on the wrong horse—these and other topics are dealt with by competent hands.
THE YOUNG FILBERT, by Gilbert Hallam.
In this entertaining volume the complete art of youthful boredom and ornamental and expensive sloth is exploited. Where to get clothes; how much to owe for them; how soon to discard them and get others; what adjectives to use; and where, the best nut food may be obtained—all is told here.
THE YOUNG CENTENARIAN, by S. W. Calceby.
Hints on regimen by one of the most lucid and distinguished salubrists of the day. Everything that can assist a boy or girl quickly to attain to the status of honourable and decrepit old age is here carefully set forth. The author guarantees that if his instructions are carried out the conditions of centenarianism can be reached in ten years. "Lobster salad for new-born babes" is one of his more original ideas.
THE YOUNG AUTHOR, by Brompton MacGregor.
This illuminating treatise contains the fullest directions yet given for the securing of a mammoth circulation and a corresponding revenue. How to exasperate Mrs. Grundy; how to secure testimonials from Bishops and Archdeacons; how to get banned by the libraries—these and other passports to fame and fortune are set forth with the utmost particularity in this marvellous manual.
THE YOUNG COMPOSER, by Eric Kornstein.
This fascinating brochure gives in a succinct and animated form absolutely infallible instructions for storming the citadel of musical fame. The enormous importance of capillary attraction, sartorial extravagance and controversial invective are duly dwelt on, while the charming tone and temper of the work may be gathered from the headings of some of the chapters: "The Curse of Conservatoriums;" "The Tyranny of Tune;" "The Dethronement of WAGNER;" "A bas BEETHOVEN."
THE YOUNG AMERICAN, by Dixie Q. Peach.
In this priceless work everything that is most characteristic of the great American nation is invitingly spread before the English youth, so that in a few weeks he will be so well equipped with Transatlantic details as (if he wishes) to be mistaken for a real inhabitant either of a big London hotel or a Bloomsbury boarding-house.
* * * * *
To the list of signally good men must now be added Mr. B. I do not say that he should be included in any extension of The Golden Legend, but no catalogue of irreproachables, beyond the wiles of temptation, can henceforth be complete without him, and as a model of rectitude in business his portrait should be on the walls of every commercial school. I can see him as the hero of this tract and that, and in course of time his early life may be written and circulated: The Childhood of Mr. B., or, The Boy Who Took the Right Turning.
And who is Mr. B.? All that I know of him I find in an Eastern sheet which I owe to the kindness of a friend—The Bangkok Times Weekly Mail. Glancing through this minute and compact little paper, which is as big as any paper ought to be, my eye alighted upon an extract from The North China Daily News, and it is here that Mr. B. shines forth.
A certain dealer, it seems, had received an order for a machine, but, being unable to deliver it, and wishing to avoid the penalties attending a breach of the contract, he had to resort to guile. The following letter to a confederate at once displays him as a Machiavellian and introduces us to that inconvenient thing, a Far Eastern incorruptible:—
"Regarding the matter of escaping the penalty for non-delivery of the Bar Machine, there is only one way, to creep round same by diplomat, and we must make a statement of strike occur our factory (of course big untrue) and please address person on enclosed form of letter, and believe this will avoid the trouble of penalties of same.
"Mr. B. is most religious and competent man, also heavily upright and godly, it fears me useless apply for his signature. Please attach same by Yokohama Office, making forge, but no cause for fear of prison happenings as this is often operated by other merchants of highest integrity.
"It is the highest unfortunate Sir. B. is so godlike and excessive awkward for business purposes."
So there you have Mr. B. Some day, perhaps, he may read this letter and realise how extremely awkward an inflexible standard of morality can make things for one's neighbours. The last sentence of all has a pathetic ring, as of a Utopian throwing up the sponge: "I think much better to add little serpent-like wisdom to upright manhood and thus found good business edifice."
* * * * *
"L1 down secures a —— bicycle for you in time for Whitsuntide."
Advt. in "Yorkshire Observer, June 9."
So if you are in a hurry and want it by next Christmas you had better go somewhere else.
* * * * *
THE MAN OF THE EVENING.
To be perfectly fair, it was not that Dorice gave me too few instructions, but rather too many.
"I'm over at Naughton," she said through the telephone; "I'm staying with some people named Perry."
"How ripping of you to ring me up!" I said, flattered; "it's heavenly to hear your voice, even if I can't see you."
It was a pretty little speech, but Dorice ignored it.
"There is a dance on here, to-night," she continued hastily, "and at the last minute they are short of men, so I've promised to get them someone."
I gripped the receiver firmly and groaned. I knew what was coming.
Dorice proposed that I should leave the office instantly and catch the next train to Naughton.
She adopted rushing tactics with which it was practically impossible to cope.
All the time I was explaining to her how busy I was, and how I found it out of the question even to think of leaving the office, she kept on giving me varied and hurried directions.
I was to be sure to remember the steps she had taught me last time.
I was not to take any notice of a dark girl in a red dress, because she wasn't the slightest bit nice when you really got to know her.
I was to drive straight to the hall, where Dorice would be looking out for me.
"And now I can't stay any longer, and you must fly and catch the train, and so 'good-bye,' and I'll keep some dances for you!"
"Half a minute," I protested. "Where do I——? What is the name of——?"
But Dorice, with that delightful suddenness which is one of her most charming characteristics, had rung off, leaving my destination a mystery.
However, there was no time to worry about details. I told a dreadful lie to a man with whom I had an appointment, left the office and did wonderful things in the way of changing my clothes, packing my bag, and boarding a moving train.
At Naughton station I engaged a cab.
"Where to?" asked the driver, as he readied down for my bag.
It was the question I had been asking myself all the way in the train.
"That's just it," I said miserably, "I don't know."
He was a sympathetic-looking cabman—not one of the modern type, but the aged director of a thin horse and a genuinely antique four-wheeler.
"It's rather an awkward situation," I explained doubtfully; "you see, Dorice forgot—I mean I'm supposed to be going to a dance somewhere round here. I was told to drive straight to the hall—I don't know what hall."
"That's all right, Sir," answered the sympathetic cabman encouragingly; "you were told to drive straight to the 'all; that'll be Naughton 'All."
He proceeded to awaken the thin horse.
"There is a big do on there to-night, Sir. It's a fair way out, but I'll 'ave yer there in no time."
"My dear good man," I remonstrated nervously, "for heaven's sake don't rush at things like that. Is this particular dance you wish to take me to given by some people named Perry?"
"Perry? Lord! no! Sir John Oakham, lives at Naughton 'All. It's 'is party."
The sympathetic cabman was a little pained at my ignorance.
Dorice had not said who was actually giving the dance.
With vague misgivings I climbed into the cab.
"Go ahead," I said, with my heart in my boots; "drive away and let's get it over."
It was a long drive, and more than once I was nearly killed through hanging my body from the cab window in a vain attempt to catch a glimpse of Dorice in one or other of the motors that passed us on the road.
At Naughton Hall I looked out for her expectantly.
There was not a soul in the room that I knew. In a fit of dreadful panic I began to search desperately. Dorice was nowhere to be found, and the hand started upon the first waltz.
To me it was like a nightmare.
One thing I remember was finding myself dancing with a Miss Giggleswick.
I don't pretend to explain how it happened. As far as I can make out, some hospitably disposed person decided that he was expected to know me and find me a partner.
Anyhow, I danced with a Miss Giggleswick, and also I talked to her.
I asked her very seriously if she knew anything of Dorice.
Miss Giggleswick thought I was referring to some new authoress.
"Yes—yes," she said thoughtfully, "I must have read some of them, but I can't remember which ones—I'm so silly about names."
After a time I pulled myself together, and somehow escaped from Miss Giggleswick. I made my way to the cloakroom, grabbed my coat and bag, and rushed for the front door.
Once outside I ran for my life.
I ran down the drive and along the road towards Naughton.
I floundered on blindly through thick mud and pools of water.
"A fine night!" shouted a cheerful ass as I struggled past him.
I pulled up sharply and peered at him through the darkness.
"A fine night? Oh, yes, it's a fine night," I laughed wildly; "but just tell me one other thing. Is there any other hall in this district except Naughton Hall?"
"Noa—unless of course yer mean Naughton Parish 'All," he added after deep consideration.
"Has anybody ever been known to give a dance there?"
"Ay, I dare say."
With grim determination I clutched my bag and trudged on.
It was late when I crawled up the steps of Naughton Parish Hall.
I threw my things in a corner, scraped some of the mud off my trousers, removed my bow from the back of my neck, and staggered in the direction of the music. A one-step was just over, and the dancers were crowding the foyer.
Dorice appeared with her partner.
I went and stood before her.
"Dorice," I stammered brokenly, "I—I've come."
Dorice excused herself from her partner and took me into a corner.
"Hear me first," I pleaded, utterly crushed. "Hear me first, Dorice. I've done my best. I went to the wrong place. You rang off without giving me the proper address. A blundering villain of a cabman took me to—Naughton Hall. They made me dance with somebody named Giggleswick. I escaped as soon as I could and came here. I ran a lot of the way."
I looked up at her beseechingly.
Then I discovered that my life was not blighted for ever.
Dorice was smiling upon me—yes, smiling! She leant forward eagerly and touched my hand.
"You've been to Naughton Hall!" she whispered delightedly; "but, my dear old boy, it's simply the dance of the season round here! All these people would do anything to get invited. The Perrys only gave this dance so that they could use it as a sort of excuse for not being seen at the Naughton Hall one!"
"Anybody could have gone in my place," I murmured; "I didn't enjoy it at all."
Dorice got up and took hold of my arm.
"Come on," she said with suppressed excitement, "this is splendid!"
She took me through a crowd of people and introduced me to Mr. and Mrs. Perry.
Then she raised her voice.
"He's sorry to be so late," she apologised as loudly as possible, "but you see he was forced to look in at the Naughton Hall ball. However, he got away as soon as he could and came on to us."
Mrs. Perry received me almost with open arms.
"We must try and find you some really good partners," she announced enthusiastically.
"Rather!" echoed Mr. Perry.
It was then close upon midnight. For the two hours of the dance that remained I was the man of the evening.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Rumoured Mutiny in the Navy.
"The destroyers patrolling the Irish coast are being boarded and searched for rifles by order of the Admiralty."—Daily Express.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE CALL OF THE BLOOD.
Happy the man who brushes up his topper And sallies forth to call upon a maid, Knowing his converse and his coat are proper, That, come what may, he will not be afraid, Not lose his nerve, and yawn, or tell a whopper, Or drop the marmalade.
Not such the bard; not thus—but Clotho (drat her) Was wakeful still, and plied a hostile loom— I sought Miss Pritt. She mooted some grave matter And looked for light; my lips were like the tomb, Sealed, though they say they heard my molars chatter Up in the smoking-room.
Cold eyes regarded me. My front-stud fretted; A stiff slow smirk belied my deep unrest; My tea-cup trembled and my cake was wetted; My beauteous tie worked round toward the West; My brow—forgive me, but it really sweated; I did not look my best.
To Zeus, that oft would make a mist and smother Some swain beset, and screen him from the crowd, I prayed for vapours; but his mind was other: Yet was I answered, though the god was proud, For, anyhow, I trod on Miss Pritt's mother And left beneath a cloud.
Not to return. O'er fair free hills and valleys I can converse and carry on ad lib.; On active tennis-courts (between the rallies) I can be confident, and none more glib; But not in drawing-rooms my bright star dallies— I'm not that sort of nib.
We'll meet no more; but I shall send some token Of what I'm worth outside the world of teas— A handsome photograph, some smart things spoken, A few sweet verses (not so bad as these), And hockey-groups that show me stern and oaken And nude about the knees.
It may be, though she deemed me dunder-headed, She'll sometimes take them from her chamber-wall, Or where they lie in lavender embedded, And tell her family about them all— About the gentleman she might have wedded, Only he could not call.
* * * * *
"John William Burrow, of Overton, who is about 16 years old, caught six salmon in the heave net last week, their respective weights being 9 lbs., 28 lbs., 5-1/2 lbs., 12 lbs., 22 lbs., 13 lbs., a total of 89-1/2 lbs. Last season, when between 13 and 14 years old, he caught three salmon. His record is probably unique for inshore fisher boys."—Lancaster Guardian.
Anyhow the rate at which he grows up is.
* * * * *
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
(EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.)
House of Commons, Tuesday, June 9.—Recorded in Parliamentary history how a debate on Budget of the day a great statesman began his speech by utterance of he word "Sugar." Contrast of imposing personality of the Minister and sonorousness of his voice with commonplace character of utterance tickled fancy of House, then as now almost childishly eager to be amused. The great man looked round with stern glance that cowed the tittering audience. "Sugar," he repeated amid awed silence, and triumphantly continued his remarks.
It wasn't sugar that occupied attention of House on resuming sittings after Whitsun recess. It was Milk. Naturally Bill dealing with subject was in hands of the INFANT SAMUEL. Debate on Second Reading presented House in best form. Impossible for most ingenious and enterprising Member to mix up with milk the Ulster question or hand round bottles accommodated with india-rubber tubes and labelled Welsh Church Disestablishment. Consequence was that, in Second Reading debate on Bill promoted by Local Government Board, Members on both sides devoted themselves to single purpose of framing useful measure.
Animated debate on another Bill in charge of JOHN BURNS amending Insurance Act in direction of removing administrative difficulties and diminishing working costs. Nothing to complain of in way of acerbity. Second Reading stages of both measures passed without division, and House adjourned before half-past ten.
At Question time peaceful prospect momentarily ruffled. The SAHIB REES, taking advantage of absence of SPEAKER, prolonging his holiday amid balmy odours of Harrogate Pump Room, was in great form. With extensive view he surveyed mankind from British Columbia to the Persian Gulf, just looking in at Australasia to see what IAN HAMILTON has lately been up to in matter of compulsory military service.
It was in Persian Gulf that squall suddenly threatened. SAHIB wanted to know whether HIS MAJESTY'S ships in that quarter of the world "had been engaged with gun-runners."
BYLES OF BRADFORD, seated on Front Bench below Gangway, pricked up his baronial ears. What! More gun-running and nobody either hanged or shot? On closer study of question perceived that use of ambiguous word misled him. When the SAHIB enquired whether HIS MAJESTY'S ships had been "engaged" with gun-runners he did not mean that they had rendered assistance in illegal enterprises, nocturnal or other. On the contrary, word had directly opposite meaning.
BYLES OF BRADFORD accordingly abandoned intention of putting Supplementary Question, reserving his energy for his own searching inquiry, which appeared lower down on paper, impartially denouncing importation of arms "whether by the Ulster Volunteers or the National Volunteers, or both."
Business done.—National Insurance Act Amendment Bill, and Milk and Dairies Bill read a second time.
Wednesday.—Attendance still small, especially on Opposition Benches. Hapless Ministerialists, warned by urgent summons hinting at surprises in store in the Division Lobby, loyally muster. Nothing happened; perhaps in other circumstances something might.
Whilst the Benches are half empty Order Book is crowded. To-day's list catalogues no fewer than 142 Bills standing at various stages awaiting progress. Thirty-five are Government measures. The rest proofs of the energy and legislative capacity of private Members.
Of course at this stage of Session only small proportion of Government Bills are likely to reach the Statute Book; those in hands of private Members have no chance whatever. Still, imposing display looks well on paper. In its various developments adds considerably to amount of stationery bill.
Business done.—In Committee of Supply on Post Office Vote, a trifle of L26,151,830, the Holt Report on postmen's demand for higher wages discussed.
Thursday.—Walking down Victoria Street on way to House of Commons, as is my custom of an afternoon, I come upon my old friend the sandwich-board man. He stands in the shadow of Westminster Abbey panoplied back and front with boards making the latest announcement of newcomers to Madame Tussaud's. Morning and afternoon, all day long, he stands there, the life of London surging past. We generally have a little chat, and occasionally he gets a cigar.
One mystery that long piqued me he solved. If you chance upon sandwich-board men marching to head-quarters, like old Kaspar at his garden gate their day's work done, you will notice they always carry their boards upside down. The passer-by, consumed by desire to know what truth these proclaim, must needs assume inverted attitude in order to profit by announcement. Why do they so scrupulously observe that custom?
"Point of honour," says my sandwich-board man. "What you call class interests. We are paid little enough for so many hours' tramp. When the hour of deliverance strikes we turn the board upside down. So we do when we sit down by crowded thoroughfare to eat our mid-day bread-and-cheese, or bread without cheese as may happen. Not going to give the master more than he pays for."
What specially attracted me to-day was communication received from MEMBER FOR SARK. Says he hears that WINTERTON is about to be added to Madame Tussaud's!
Suppose this, next of course to Westminster Abbey, is highest compliment possible for public man. On reflection I say not quite. LULU stands on triple pinnacle of fame. On one or other the New Zealander, bored with the monotony of the ruins of London Bridge, sure to hap upon his name writ large.
There is the Harcourt Room in House of Commons, a spacious dining-hall cunningly contrived with lack of acoustical properties that make it difficult to hear what a conversational neighbour is saying. In time of political stress this useful, as preventing lapse into controversy at the table. Homeward bound from his last Antarctic trip, ERNEST SHACKLETON discovered three towering peaks of snow and ice. One he named Mount Asquith; another Mount Henry Lucy; a third Mount Harcourt.
Now a great shipping company, having business on the West Coast of Africa, making welcome discovery of a deep water port in the estuary of the Bonny River, have named it Port Harcourt.
This concatenation of circumstance more striking than the lonely eminence of a pitch in the hall of Madame Tussaud, and a name flaunting on her sandwich-board. Moreover than which, as grammarians say, SARK has evidently been misinformed. My sandwich-board man has heard nothing of reported addition to our Valhalla. Certainly his boards do not confirm the pleasing rumour.
Business done.—HOME SECRETARY announces intention of Government to go to fountain-head of trouble with Militant Suffragists. Will proceed by civil or criminal action directed against the persons who subscribe sinews of war. Loud cheers from both sides approved the plan. Followed at short interval by sharp report distinctly heard in Lobby. Was it echo of the strident cheer? No. It was the ladies demonstrating afresh their eligibility for exercise of the suffrage by attempting to blow up the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey.
* * * * *
"Candidates for divinity degrees at Cambridge should, it is proposed, be required to give evidence of a competent general knowledge of Christian theology."—Times.
Every now and then the authorities get these bright ideas, and thus our old Universities keep up to date.
* * * * *
From a list of entries for the golf championship:—
"Geo. Oke (Honor Oke)."—Dundee Courier.
We will if he wins.
* * * * *
"How can you have precisely the same cottage on the north and the south side of a road? In the one case the larder is to the south, and the butler is melting."
He should return to the wine cellar.
* * * * *
RED HEAD AND WHITE PAWS.
[Why should the popular magazines monopolise all the tragic animal sketches? Mr. PUNCH'S menagerie is just as ferocious.]
Silence reigned in the woods! Silence! Deep silence! Save for the chortle of the night-jar, the tap of the snipe's beak against the tree-trunks, the snores of a weary game-keeper, the chirp of the burying-beetle, the croak of the bat, the wild laughter of the owl and the boom, boom of the frog, deep silence reigned. The crescent moon stole silently above the horizon. Wonderful, significant is that silent, stealthy approach of the moon. Red Head lumbered from his lair and crouched beside the shimmering fire of the furze. A startled grass-snake strove to leap out of the way of the monarch of the woods—- a hurried crunch and a string of thirty white eggs was left motherless, forlorn.
A careless cock-pheasant gurgled on a bough. In a moment Red Head had silently scaled the tree. Two tail feathers alone remained to show an awed game-keeper that Red Head had passed that way. A woodcock floated silently on the bosom of the tiny lake. He did not note the ripple which showed that a powerful animal was swimming towards him. A scream, and the woodcock, trumpeting shrilly, is drawn into the depths.
[Editor. But what is Red Head?
The Expert. I am not quite sure whether he is a tree-climbing fox or a swimming badger. Anyhow he might have escaped from a menagerie.]
Peace reigned in the hole of the bumble-bee. Weary with culling sweets from the lime-trees, the heather-bloom, the apple-blossom and the ivy-flower be had sought his humble couch. Suddenly great claws tear away his roof-tree. Red Head is at work. Bees and honey make his nightly meal.
White Paws had listened from his burrow. All seemed well. He darted forth and bathed in the bright light of the full moon.
[Editor. Wasn't it a crescent moon?
The Expert. You must make allowances for development in the course of a story. Suppose we say it was a full-sized crescent.]
Then White Paws, standing on his hind-legs, danced for sheer joy of life.
A leaf bitten from a bough by a sturdy green caterpillar fell suddenly to the ground. Like lightning White Paws darted to the top of an immemorial elm. In a moment he was reassured and returned to his graceful dance in the bosky dell.
But what is this? A hideous red head emanates slowly from a bush. A protruding tongue vibrates in the pale moonlight. Weak, curious White Paws wonders what this strange thing is. Beware, White Paws! Think of thy tender mate and innocent cubs.
Drawn by a fatal curiosity he advances towards it. The awful glimmer of Red Head's eye fascinates him. He must see. Nearer he draws and nearer. A sudden plunge from the bush—a sickening crunch. Red Head has dined for the fifth time in one evening.
Death and Silence reign in the woods. Save for the chortling of the night-jar, the chirp of the burying-beetle, the snores of the gamekeeper, etc., etc. (see above) one might imagine oneself in the solemn stillness of Piccadilly Circus at midnight.
Death and Silence.
[Editor. "Yes, but the identity of the protagonists in this Sophoclean tragedy is still a little in doubt."
The Expert. "Any nature sketch ends satisfactorily with a meal."]
All this time the crescent moon has been swelling silently under the watchful stars. It is now at the full. So is Red Head. He has dined five times. He sleeps.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE ROCK GARDENESS IN LONDON.
(A Ballad of Labels.)
Dame Fashion, when she calls the tune, Must surely crave my pardon For prisoning me in leafy June Far from my Alpine garden.
So that in crowded square or street My Fancy's playful mockery Plants all the pavement at my feet With favourites from the rockery.
And so that, heedless to the claims Of passing conversation, I murmur to myself their names By way of consolation.
The thread of compliment may run Through many ball-room Babels— I have one language, only one, The language of the labels.
In Kedar's tents are festive hours, The noctes and the coenae; My heart is where RETUSA flowers, And crimson-starred SILENE.
I see the grey stones overhung With lilac and laburnum; I hear the drone of bees among Blue depths of LITHOSPERNUM.
And in the box on opera nights Between each thrilling scene I Recall the miniature delights Of MENTHA REQUIENII;
Admirers find me deaf and dumb To all their honeyed wheedling, I muse on LONGIFOLIUM And dream of STORMONTH SEEDLINGS.
And, when they come to hint their loves Through all the usual stages, I wish I were in gardening gloves Among my Saxifrages.
* * * * *
More Russian Methods.
"EAST-END DEPUTATION RECEIVED BY WHIP."
Daily News and Leader.
* * * * *
The Daily News, in describing an adventure between the CROWN PRINCE of Germany (in a motor) and a peasant of Saarbruecken, ventures (with a knowledge of the Saarbruecken dialect which we ourselves cannot claim) to give the peasant's actual words:—
"'Ain't 'eard nowt,' said the peasant; 'the lane be narrow like. You must just wait till I be druv ahead.'"
Its likeness to the Loamshire dialect of England will interest the philologist.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
"AN INDIAN SUMMER."
We plunged into the action quickly enough. A breakfast-gong—a sip of coffee—a bite of toast—and Nigel Parry locks up his morning's love-correspondence; Helen, his wife, breaks open the drawer and peruses the damning letter; Nigel returns and catches her red-handed. After this we took a long breath and lingered over the moral aspect of the situation. Indeed, during the next ten years nothing occurred except the separation of the couple; the reported decease of the other woman (whom we never saw, dead or alive), and the marriage of the boy Parry with an actress bearing the ascetic name of Ursula. We now left the old trail in pursuit of this red herring; and for the rest of the play, up to the last moment, our attention was concentrated on the attitude of the elder heroine to her daughter-in-law, to whom she had taken a profound dislike at sight.
But something had to happen if the author was to bring about a reconciliation of the original pair and so justify the symbolic title of her play. Thinking it out, she seems to have recalled that it is customary in these cases to let an accident occur to some junior member of the family, over whose prostrate body the old ones may kiss again with tears. Accordingly, no sooner had mention been made, quite arbitrarily, of an automatic pistol, alleged to be unloaded, than old stagers knew by instinct that Ursula would shoot herself inadvertently. This occurred with such promptitude that even the author recognised that we should not be satisfied with so ingenuous an episode. Complications had therefore to be devised at all costs. Young Parry must be kept in ignorance of the fact that the episode was due to his stupidity in leaving the weapon loaded. So Ursula invents a story to show that the wound in her thigh was due to a fall downstairs. It is true that blood-poisoning—not amongst the more familiar sequelae of a fall downstairs—supervened. But the legend served well enough on the stage. Among other effects it increased the irritation of the mother-in-law, who felt that the accident indicated a criminal carelessness in one who was about to make her a grandmother, a condition of things that had been brought home to us in the course of some female conversation flavoured with the most pungent candour. When the truth came out, the proved devotion of the young wife causes an entente between her and her mother-in-law, accompanied—for reasons which I cannot at the moment recall—by a parallel reconciliation between the senior couple. Personally, I felt that the threatened "Indian Summer" was not likely to be much warmer than the ordinary English kind.
Perhaps the most intriguing feature of the play was the author's attitude toward her own sex. Mrs. HORLICK frankly took the man's point of view. Never for one moment did she attempt to encourage our sympathy for Helen as a wronged wife. Commonly in plays it is the woman, married to a man she never loved, who claims the liberty of going her own way and getting something out of life. Here it is the man who is the victim of a marriage not of his own making (as far as love was concerned), and the author, through the mouthpiece of the woman's confidante, makes ample excuse for his desire to snatch some happiness from fate.
Unhappily Mrs. HORLICK has much to learn in stage mechanism. The motive of her exits when, as constantly, she wanted to leave any given couple alone together, was insufficiently opaque. She began very well and held our interest closely for some time; but long before the end we should have been worn out but for the childlike charm and attractive gamineries of Miss DOROTHY MINTO as Ursula. Mr. ALLAN AYNESWORTH, who acted easily in the rather ambiguous part of Nigel Parry, seemed to share our doubts as to the chances of Mrs. HORLICK'S achieving popularity at her first attempt, for he confided to us, in a brief first-night oration, that she was engaged on another play which he hoped to secure.
But no one will question the serious promise of her present comedy, and I trust that in any future production she may be assisted by as excellent a cast. For they all played their parts, however trivial in detail, with great sincerity. Miss GOODALL was the only disappointment, though the fault was not altogether her own. At first she was very effective, but later her entries came to be a signal for gloom, like those of a skeleton emergent from the family cupboard.
All is fair in Love and War, and the only ethical difficulty arises when they clash. This was the trouble with Vladimir Igorievich, heir of Prince Igor. Father and son had been taken in battle, and were held captive in the camp of the Tartars; but, while Prince Igor felt very keenly his position (though treated as a guest rather than a prisoner and supplied every evening with spectacular entertainments), Vladimir beguiled his enforced leisure by falling in love (heartily reciprocated) with the daughter of his captor, Khan Konchak. An opportunity of escape being offered, Prince Igor seizes it, but Vladimir's dear heart is divided between passion and patriotism, and before he can make up his mind the chance of freedom is gone. A study of the so-called "libretto" showed that this was the only thing in the opera that bore any resemblance to a dramatic situation. Figure, therefore, my chagrin when I discovered that the character of Vladimir Igorievich had been cut clean out of the text of the actual opera. I could much more easily have dispensed with the buffooneries of a couple of obscure players upon the goudok (or prehistoric hurdy-gurdy), who wasted more than enough of such time as could be spared from the intervals.
There was no part of adequate importance for M. CHALIAPINE, so he doubled the roles of Galitsky, the swaggering and dissolute brother-in-law that Prince Igor left behind when he went to the wars, and Khan Konchak, most magnanimous of barbarians. Neither character gave scope for the particular subtlety of which (as he proves in Boris Godounov) M. CHALIAPINE is the sole master among male operatic singers. But to each he brought that gift of the great manner, that ease and splendour of bearing, and those superb qualities of voice which, found together, give him a place apart from his kind.
Of the rest, M. PAUL ANDREEV, as Prince Igor, gave his plaint of captivity with a noble pathos. As for the chorus, it sang with the singleness and intensity of spirit which are only possible to a national chorus in national opera, and which (I hope) are the envy of the cosmopolitans of Covent Garden.
The clou of the evening was the ballet, already well-known, of the Polovtsy warriors, executed with the extreme of fanatic fervour and frenzy. The art of M. MICHEL FOKINE can turn his Russians into Tartars without a scratch of the skin. BORODINE'S music, taking on a more barbaric quality as the action travelled further East, here touched its climax, and the final scene, where Prince Igor returns home and resumes the embraces of his queen, (a model of fidelity), was of the character of a sedative.
"DAPHNIS ET CHLOE."
Those who complained—I speak of the few whose critical faculties had not been paralysed by M. NIJINSKI—that in L'Apres-midi d'un Faune the limitations of plastic Art (necessarily confined to stationary forms) were forced upon an art that primarily deals with motion, will have little of the same fault to find in Daphnis et Chloe. Here there is no fixed or formal posing, if we except the attitude adopted (after a preliminary and irrelevant twiddle) by certain Nymphs to indicate, appropriately enough, their grief over the inanimate form of Daphnis. The dances in which, to the mutual suspicion of the lovers, Chloe was circled by the men and Daphnis by the maidens, were a pure delight. There was one movement, when heads were tossed back and then brought swiftly forward over hollowed breasts and lifted knees that had in it an exquisite fleeting beauty. But memory holds best the grace of the simpler and more elemental movements, the airy swing and poise of feet and limbs in straight flight, linked hands outstretched.
In the pas seul competition M. ADOLPH BOLM as Darkon did some astonishing feats which made the performance of M. FOKINE as Daphnis seem relatively tame and conventional; and if I, instead of Chloe, had been the judge I should have awarded the palm to the former. I am sure that Chloe was prejudiced, though certainly Darkon was a very rude and hirsute shepherd, and had none of Daphnis' pretty ways.
The dancing of the brigands was in excellent contrast with the methods of the pastoral Greeks. I will not, like the programme, distinguish them as "Brigands with Lances," "Brigands with Bows" and "Young Brigands." To me they were all alike very perfect examples of the profession; though I admit that the flight of their spears was not always as deadly as it should have been, and that one of the arrows refused to go off the string and had to be thrown by hand into the wings.
It is not easy at a first performance to take in everything with both eye and ear, and I shall excuse myself from attempting to do justice to M. RAVEL'S music. But I was free (the curtain being down) to listen to one long orchestral passage which followed the capture of Chloe. It was of the nature of a dirge, and it seemed to me to suggest very cleverly the sorrows of a poultry-yard. I suppose Chloe must have been in the habit of feeding them and they missed her.
I hate to say one word of disparagement about a performance for which I could never be sufficiently grateful. But I agree with a friend of mine who complained to me of the way in which Pan was presented. It was this beneficent god who caused a panic among the brigands and so enabled Chloe to return to her friends, though I don't know why he ever let her be captured, for he was there at the time. Well, I agree that he ought to have been represented by something more satisfactory than a half-length portrait painted on a huge travelling plank of pasteboard, which was pushed about from Arcadia to Scythia (if this was the brigands' address) and back again, appearing in the limelight, when required, like a whisky sky-sign.
* * * * *
* * * * *
[Suggested by recent correspondence in a leading journal.]
WHY USE SPECS?
A Centenarian's Testimony to the Editor of "The Chimes."
SIR,—I was 117 on the 1st of April and have never used any artificial aid to eyesight, yet I can read the articles for ladies on the Court Circular page of your splendid publication without turning a hair. It is true that I am, and have always been, of an iron constitution, having practically dispensed with sleep for the last sixty years. For some considerable time I have been able to do without physical sustenance as well, owing to the extraordinarily nutritious nature of the contents of your superb South American Encyclopaedias.
A PERFECT CURE.
To the Editor of "The Chimes."
SIR,—Is my experience worth recording? Until two or three years ago I was entirely dependent on spectacles, and suffered unspeakable inconvenience if I happened to mislay them. But since I became a subscriber to your unique and unparalleled organ I have found my eyesight so marvellously improved that I am now able to discard glasses entirely. The extraordinary part of the business is this, that if I take up any other paper I am utterly unable to decipher a word. As my wife cleverly put it the other day, of all the wonderful spectacles in the world the new Chimes is the most amazing.
Yours gratefully, VERAX.
FROM AN ARTIFICIAL EYE-MAKER.
To the Editor of "The Chimes,"
SIR,—An extraordinary case of recovery of sight was brought to my knowledge yesterday by an esteemed customer. About thirty years ago I supplied him with an artificial eye to replace one which he lost while duck-shooting in the Canary Islands. About six months ago he lost the remaining sound eye through a blow from a golf-ball. I accordingly fitted him with a second artificial eye, and you may imagine my surprise when he came round to my place of business a few days later by himself and read aloud to me the whole of your admirable leading article on "Braces v. Belts." The therapeutic effect of high-class journalism on myopic patients has, I believe, been noted by Professor Hagenstreicher, the famous German oculist, but this is, I believe, the first instance on record of a patient recovering his sight after both eyes had been removed.
I am, Sir, etc., ANNAN EYAS.
To the Editor of "The Chimes."
SIR,—Yesterday, which happened to be my ninety-seventh birthday, I spent in reading your wonderful Potted Meat Supplement from cover to cover. As there is more printed matter in it than in Mr. DE MORGAN'S latest novel you might expect to hear that I am suffering to-day from eye-strain. On the contrary the symptoms of incipient cataract, which declared themselves a few months ago, have entirely disappeared, and I was able to see the French coast distinctly this morning from my house on the sea-front.
Folkestone. JUDITH FITZSIMONS.
FROM OUR OLDEST SUBSCRIBER.
To the Editor of "The Chimes."
SIR,—I was 165 last birthday. I was in the merchant marine for upwards of eighty years, and then became a Swedenborgian, but never had occasion to consult an oculist. I was born in the reign of George II., or was it Queen Anne?—I really forget which. My wife is 163, and we walk out, when weather permits, and seldom omit church on Sundays. We both still read your "Births, Deaths, and Marriages," and consider that they are the best.
Yours venerably, W. A. G.
* * * * *
Another Suffragette Outrage.
"Among the elementary and fundamental rights and duties are (sic) the security of the person. But it is violated as much by he (sic) or she (sic) who challenges assault as by he (sic) or she (sic) who assaults."
The five "sics" are ours. The rest belongs to the leader-writer of The Morning Post, on whom militancy seems to have had a painful effect.
* * * * *
"A Central News telegram from Montreal states that Miss Edith Shaughnessy, daughter of Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, was married at St. James's Roman Catholic Cathedral yesterday to Mr. W. H."—Morning Post.
From the wedding presents, which were both numerous and costly: "Mr. W. Shakespeare to Bridegroom—Sonnets."
* * * * *
A correspondent in The Exchange and Mart writes:—
"At night Tree-Frogs are active and utter various sounds, some a pleasing chirrup (like mine), others a loud shriek."
We shall hope to hear the writer's pleasing chirrup in Bouverie Street some day.
* * * * *
It must have been off a pirate trip, In a life forgot 'o me, That I saw the Barbary pirate ship Come close-hauled out of the sea; She crawled in under a goat-cropped scaur Beneath the fisher-huts, And she sent a dozen o' men ashore To fill her water-butts.
I clambered up where the cliff sprung sheer Till I looked upon her decks And saw the plunder of half-a-year And the loot of her scuttled wrecks; There were gems and ivory, plate and pearl, And Tyrian rugs a-pile, And, set in the midst, was a milk-white girl, The loot of a Grecian isle.
As white as the breasted terns that flit Was the smooth arm's rounded shape As she idly played with a pomegranate To anger a chained grey ape; And her Sun-God's self for diadem Had kissed her curls to gold; But blue—sea-blue as the sapphire gem, Her eyes were cold, sea-cold.
And, gleam of shoulder and glint of tress, They sailed ere the sun went down And sold her, same as a black negress, For the marts o' Carthage town, Where she lived, mayhap, of her indolent grace, Content with her silks and rings, Or rose, by way of her wits, to place Her foot on the necks of kings.
The deuce can tell you how this may be, 'Tis far as I take the tale; For it's lives upon lives ago, you see, That the Barbary men set sail; So I only know she was ivory white, As white as a sea-bird lone; And her eyes were wonderful blue and bright And hard as a sapphire stone.
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The New Rowing.
"Give a last pull at the oar with clenched teeth and knit muscles."—The Young Man.
The Cork Examiner on Sir PERCY SCOTT'S letter:—
"'If a battleships is not safe either on the high seas or in rabour,' he asks, 'what is the use of a battlesh?'"
To be more accurate, this is how one puts it to one's neighbour after dinner, when—the ladies having removed themselves, and the necessity for mere social chit-chat being over—we men are at last able to devote ourselves to the affairs of empire.
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(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
The title of a book should be a guide to its contents, a simple enough rule which some authors overlook in their anxiety to start being clever and eccentric on the very outside cover. The book-buying public will appreciate Miss M. BETHAM-EDWARDS' title, From an Islington Window, Pages of Reminiscent Romance (SMITH, ELDER), and will gather from it that this is a book for those who prefer a long life and a quiet one to the short and thrilling. Incidentally I am relieved from divulging any of the plots in order to demonstrate the nature of the twelve short pieces embodied; enough to quote two typical sub-titles, "Mr. Lovejoy's Love-story" and "Miss Prime," and to put upon the whole the label of the author's own choice, "Early Victorian." Everybody knows where and what Islington is and the sort of minor tragedy and comedy that would be likely to occur in the lives of its inhabitants in the last reign but one. No one would look there for epoch-making crises, but many will find a longed-for relief from the speeding-up tendencies of modern romance. Lastly, but for a tendency at times to affectation, the style of the writer is as graceful and elegant as her themes are homely and serene, and that, I think, is all about it.
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Mr. W. E. NORRIS is subtle; at least if my idea of the genesis of Barbara and Company (CONSTABLE) is the right one. I believe, then, that Mr. NORRIS found himself possessed of plots sufficient for a number of agreeable short stories, but that, knowing short stories to be more or less a drug in the market, he very skilfully united them into one by the simple process of making all their characters friends of Barbara. Nothing could be more effective. For example, Mr. NORRIS thinks what fun it would be to describe a race ridden by two unwilling suitors, the prize to be the lady's heart, which neither in the least wishes to win. Promptly Miss Ormesby, the heroine, is asked down on a visit to Barbara, and the story is told, most amusingly and well, in a couple of chapters. Again, the pathetic and moving tale of Miss Nellie Mercer, the nameless companion, who blossomed into fierce renown as Senorita Mercedes, the dancer, and died of it. Why should not this same Barbara have adopted the parentless girl in childhood? It is all simplicity itself. Perhaps you may object that the useful Barbara shows some signs of being a little overworked, and that few women are likely to have had quite so adventurous a company of friends. In this case I shall have nothing to urge, except that, so far as I am personally concerned, Mr. NORRIS has such a way with him that if he chose to people Barbara's drawing-room with the persons of the Arabian Nights he could probably convince me that there was nothing very much out of the ordinary in that assembly. And, after all, pianists and writers and actors, all the kind of folk with whom Barbara surrounded herself, are precisely those to whom short stories should, and do, happen. Next time, however, I hope Mr. NORRIS'S inspiration will be less fragmentary but equally happy.
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Johnnie Maddison (SMITH, ELDER) was nice. And here and now I wish to propose a vote of thanks to Mr. JOHN HASLETTE for having the uncommon pluck to create a hero neither handsome nor strong. Brave of course he had to be, or how should that which is written in the proverbs have been fulfilled, but "he was slight," "he stooped a little," "he had an ordinary face." (What hopes that brings to the hearts of some of us!) For the rest, he lived in Sta. Malua, to which tropical port came Molly Hatherall, intending to be married to a handsome scamp who spent all his salary as a mining engineer and all the money he could borrow from friends in losing games of poker to a man who made a profession of winning them. Why he should have wanted to do this (for it seemed to be his solitary serious vice) in a place like Sta. Malua I cannot imagine. But there it is. For one reason or another the marriage was delayed, and after a long mental struggle Jno. Maddison, who had fallen in love with Molly, decided to tell her what kind of man her idol of romantic chivalry really was. It raises, you see, a nice point of ethics, since Edmund Serge was popular at the club and, except for the brand of the poker on his forehead, a pretty good fellow. Unfortunately Mr. HASLETTE rudely slices the knot of his difficulty by making Edmund embezzle money and abscond at the critical point of the story. The telling of the yarn is a little humdrum, but gains from a comparative leniency in the matter of local colour—for I feel that Sta. Malua is the sort of place which might have been rather ruthless about this—and the suspended banns keep the interest fairly warm. But I am not sure that Johnnie Maddison might not have been nicer if he had escaped a suspicion of priggishness and lost a trifle now and then at progressive whist.
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In Miss ELEANOR MORDAUNT'S new volume called The Island (HEINEMANN) all the tales have a common interest through their association with a corner of Empire easily recognisable by those who have ever seen it. I remember how greatly I have already admired Miss MORDAUNT'S power of vivid and picturesque scene-painting; there are several stories in this book that show it at its best. I wish I could avoid adding that there are others that seem to me entirely unworthy of their author, at least for any other purpose than that of boiling the pot. One of the best of the tales, "A Reversion," is both dramatic and realistic; it bears a strong resemblance to a sketch that recently made a successful appearance at the Hippodrome; indeed the good qualities of Miss MORDAUNT'S stories are precisely those that would help their development into excellent little plays. One thing that I cannot help wishing is that the writer had trusted a little more to my imaginative intelligence. There is a certain kind of detail that is best confided to this sanctuary, and Miss MORDAUNT'S difficulty seems to have been in realising when all the sayable things had been said. At least one of the stories plunges considerably beyond the limit of discretion and even good taste. But the heat and the colour, the thrills and the devastating ennui of life for the English in the island, are as well rendered as anything I remember in the fiction of Empire. For this alone there should be a warm welcome for the collection, with all its faults, both from those who know the original and those who need help in imagining it.
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The Purple Frogs (HEATH, CRANTON AND OUSELEY) I can only describe as the most exasperating, not to say maddening, product of modern fiction. What on earth Messrs. H. W. WESTBROOK and LAWRENCE GROSSMITH, the joint authors, mean by it I have not the ghost of an idea. Occasionally signs are detectable that the whole thing is a practical joke; still more occasionally it even promises to become mildly amusing; and then again one is confronted with an incident (such as the visit of the armed maniac to the house of Isambard Flanders) serious to the point of melodrama. Not for pages and chapters did I discover any excuse for the title; and even then not much. But it appeared eventually that Isambard Flanders was jealous of the friendship between his wife, Cicely, and Stephen, a young man who produced film-dramas; and that in order to score off them he wrote a novel called The Purple Frogs, in which he embodied his suspicions. The last half of the volume is occupied with this tale within a tale. Here possibly we have a key to the purpose of the collaboration. Anyhow, I permitted myself to form a theory that Mr. WESTBROOK (or Mr. GROSSMITH) had written a novel too exiguous for separate publication, and in this dilemma had appealed to Mr. GROSSMITH (or Mr. WESTBROOK) to provide a setting. But which wrote which, and why—these are problems that remain inscrutable. Yet another is furnished by the fact that Miss ELLA KING HALL has composed for the main story six "illustrations in music," duly reproduced. You may with luck be able to smile a little at the quaintness of these. But on the title-page they are said to be "arranged from the MS. notes of Botolf Glenfield." And Glenfield, being only a character in the novel written by Flanders, couldn't possibly ... Help!
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A singular accident happened to-day, Distressing to witness (I chanced to be there). A motor-'bus entered a tea-shop, and lay In some need of repair.
It was loaded with passengers, outside and in, Who straightway indulged in much turbulent talk; The latter declared that for less than a pin They would get out and walk.
But the customers who, with deplorable zest, Of tea and hot crumpets were taking their fill, Regarding the scene as an innocent jest, Simply laughed themselves ill.
Though I'm dreadfully nervous and suffer a shock At the slightest alarm, through that terrible fuss I was strangely composed and, as still as a rock,— I lay under the 'bus.