PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI
MARCH 11, 1914
A contemporary describes one of the deported Nine as the Brain of the party. This is a distinction which just eluded Mr. BAIN.
* * *
The Admiralty has decided that, in the place of the grand manoeuvres this year, there shall be a surprise mobilisation. Last year's manoeuvres were, we believe, something of a fiasco, but to ensure the success of the surprise mobilisation five months' previous notice is given.
* * *
"Every man," says the Bishop of LONDON, "must be his own Columbus and find the continent of truth." This is the first time that we had heard America called the continent of truth, and one wonders where the present fashion of flattery is going to end.
* * *
We read that a Russian writer named LUNATCHARSKY has been expelled from Germany. Is it possible that he is a relative of Mr. MAX BEERBOHM'S friend Kolniyatchi?
* * *
At the Grand Military Meeting at Sandown Park, two young millionaires figured as amateur jockeys. We understand now the meaning of the expression "putting money on a horse."
* * *
"Futurist frocks," we are told, were a feature of the Chelsea Arts Club ball. Just as in these days "Fancy Dress" often seems to mean that the dress is left to the fancy, Futurist frocks, we presume, are frocks that may appear in the future.
* * *
An American journalist has been pointing out how London lags behind other great cities in the matter of shop-window dressing. There would seem to be no limit to our decadence. Even our shop-windows are inadequately clothed.
* * *
A meeting has been held at Kingston to consider the possibility of providing "some counter attraction" for the young people who frequent the streets on Sunday evenings. Seeing that most of them are at the counter during the week—you catch the idea?
* * *
"Monkey nuts are dangerous," said Dr. ROUND at an inquest last week. Judging by the mild-looking specimens one sees walking about in the streets appearances are certainly deceptive.
* * *
A contemporary, by the way, propounds the question: Why does the "nut" always wear his headgear on the back of his head? This custom is certainly queer, for, if he really cared about his personal appearance, he would wear the hat over his face.
* * *
We regret to learn that an attempt to teach a modern Office Boy manners has failed. A friend of ours met his Office Boy in the street, and the lad merely nodded to him. To shame him the Master raised his hat with mock solemnity, at which the lad said, "That's all right, but you needn't do it."
* * *
The fashion, which originated on the Continent, of having the face and neck painted with miniature works of art is reported to be spreading to London. And the practical Americans are said to be considering a further development in the form of advertisements on the face by means of neat inscriptions, such as "Complexion by Rouge et Cie," "Teeth by Max Gumberg," and "Dimples excavated by the American Face Mining Co."
* * *
"England," says General CARRANZA, "is the world's bully." The General must please have patience with us, for there are signs that we are improving. In the same issue of the evening paper which reported this dictum of his the following announcement appeared under the heading "LATEST NEWS":—"There were no bullion operations reported at the Bank of England to-day."
* * * * *
* * * * *
BYLES FOR THE BILL.
[In a letter addressed to The Times, headed "PASS THE BILL AND TAKE THE CONSEQUENCES," Sir WILLIAM BYLES makes the statement:—"I for one will take the risk without hesitation."]
Darkling I sing. Ere Tuesday's hour for tea Shall set this doggerel in the glare of day, He who adjured us still to "wait and see," He will have tweaked the mystic veil away, And you will know—whatever it may be.
You, but not I; for I have yet to wait. Far South, beneath (I hope) a stainless sky The pregnant news shall find me, rather late, Powerless to watch the ball with steadfast eye Through sheer distraction as to Ulster's fate.
Fain would I have upon my well-pricked ear Such tidings fall as prove that party pride Yields with a mutual grace. And yet I fear These desperadoes on the Liberal side— BILL BYLES (for one), the Bradford Buccaneer.
"Pass"—so he boldly writes—"the Bill and take (His conscience will not let him run to "damn") "The Consequences." That is why I shake Even as when the shorn and shivering lamb Observes the wolf advancing in his wake.
I see him bear, this dreadful man of gore, A brace of battleaxes at the slope; I see him fling his gauntlet on the floor, And (shouting, "BYLES for REDMOND and the POPE!") Let loose the Nonconformist Dogs of War.
Ah! take and hide me in some hollow lair, Red hills of Var! and ye umbrella-pines, Cover me like a gamp! I cannot bear This Apparition with its armed lines Humming the strain, "Sir BYLES s'en va-t-en guerre."
* * * * *
THE END OF IT ALL.
It was the opening of the new Parliament of 1919 A.D.
They had got IT.
If you can't guess what they had got you must be obtuse.
The great procession of Women M.P.'s formed in Trafalgar Square. Behind them were the ruins of the National Gallery (the work of the immortal Miss Podgers, B.Sc.); before them were the fragments of the Nelson Column (Miss Tunk's world-famous feat).
The free fight concerning the leadership of the procession was settled by the intervention of mounted police. They decided that all the would-be leaders should march abreast with two armed policemen between each pair of them to prevent casualties by the way. So the head of the procession started off sixty abreast down Whitehall.
It was a magnificent spectacle. All the M.P.'s wore green-and-white wigs because it was the fashion, and in addition green-and-white whiskers to assert their equality with men. Each processionist carried a model of her greatest work. There was Mrs. Spankham with a superb model of Westminster Abbey—its petrolling had been the greatest stroke in convincing the voters of the pure motives of the feminists. Miss Sylvia Spankham bore aloft the City Temple, Miss Christabel Spankham the Albert Hall, whilst Mrs. Lawrence Pothook waved triumphantly a lovely representation of King's Cross Station. Magnificent too was Mrs. Drummit riding astride a fire-engine as an emblem of peace and goodwill.
The crowd viewed the procession with awed silence, only breaking into cheers when Miss Blithers, blushing modestly, held up a cardboard representation of the Albert Memorial she had nitro-glycerined. Miss Bliggs marched triumphantly in a bishop's mitre bearing a pastoral staff, in recognition of her great feat in forcibly feeding a wicked bishop who had written a letter to the Press against forcible, feeding. Misunderstood by the crowd was Mrs. Trudge, who wheeled a perambulator containing two babies. The onlookers thought that Mrs. Trudge was about to take her innocent offspring to the House of Commons, and those out of hat-pin range murmured, "Shime," "Give the kids a chawnce." They did not know that Mrs. Trudge was no base slave of man, that she had no children of her own, and that the wax babies she wheeled in the perambulator merely indicated that she was the heroine who had doped a nursemaid with drugged chocolate and abducted a Cabinet Minister's twins.
Unhappily Miss Bolland also passed unidentified, though she held a cardboard tube aloft. Not even a taxi-driver cheered as the intrepid lady passed who had blown up the electrical-generation station of the Tubes and made London walk for a month. There too was Mrs. Tibbs, brave in her misfortunes. She had missed her election by one vote just because, when she came to the booth to vote for herself, lifelong habit had been too strong for her and she had phosphorused the ballot box.
An unfortunate breeze from the river played havoc with the processionists' whiskers, and one or two of the weaker spirits in the ranks argued that some of the Government offices in Whitehall ought to have been left standing for protection—at any rate till the procession was over.
On they went, each of the twenty leaders in front explaining how SHE had led the movement to triumph. On the top of the fire-engine Mrs. Drummit danced a futurist dance, symbolic of the subjection of man. At last they reached the portals of the House. The leaders broke into a run to secure front places on the Government benches.
"Stop," cried a police superintendent, rushing from the building.
"The days of man's tyranny are over!" shouted twenty voices together.
"Maybe," said the police superintendent, "but some of 'em are catching up to you. They've dynamited the Houses of Parliament, and if you go inside you'll pop like roasted chestnuts."
And as they watched the flame the leaders realised the sad fact that they had not left a building standing in London roomy enough for a Parliament.
* * * * *
"—— Tooth Brushes are so constructed that the bristles get right into the smallest crevices of the teeth. Moreover the bristles positively won't come out."—Advt. in "London Opinion."
That has sometimes been our bitter experience.
* * * * *
The Choir Inaudible.
"The chorus gave ample evidence of having made great strides since their last appearance in public, all the items for which they were responsible being well sustained and rendered in first-class style. Special mention should be made, however, of their rendering of 'A Spring Song,' which was given in quite a professional manner, the chorus dispensing with both music and words, and the audience evinced their appreciation of this really fine effort by long continued applause, to which the chorus responded by repeating it."
There would probably be no words to the applause and very little music; so the chorus could easily repeat it.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
STUDIES IN DISCIPLESHIP.
THE TIMES' THIRD LEADER.
The statement made in these columns by a well-informed correspondent that the incomparable NIJINSKY is so delicate that by his doctor's decree he is obliged to abstain from all forms of exercise save that involved in his beloved art, gives us, in the vivid phrase of our neighbours, "furiously to think." At the first blush incredulity prevails, but recourse to the annals of history, ancient and modern alike, furnishes us with abundant confirmation of this strange anomaly. HANNIBAL was a martyr to indigestion, while his great rival, SCIPIO AFRICANUS, suffered from sea-sickness even when crossing the Tiber. Wherever we look we are confronted with the spectacle of genius fraying its way to the appointed goal in spite of physical drawbacks which would have paralysed meritorious mediocrity. WOLFE was a poitrinaire, and NELSON would never have passed the medical examination to which the naval cadets of to-day are subjected. But the case of NIJINSKY is more tragic because abstinence from skating and riding, of which he was passionately fond, entails greater anguish on so sensitively organised a temperament than it would on a mere man of action, and the suffering of a great artist may lead to international complications which it is terrible to complicate. Russian dancing is as necessary to the well-being of our social system as standard bread, yet when we think of the sacrifices which its hierophants undergo in order to minister to our pleasure the sturdiest Hedonist cannot escape misgivings. Still, we may find consolation in the thought that sacrifice is necessary to perfection. Such sacrifices take various forms. In the case of NIJINSKY we see a man of immense brain power specialising in a most exhausting form of physical culture to remedy his extreme delicacy. At the opposite extreme we find cases of men so extraordinarily powerful that they are obliged to abandon all exercise and lead a purely sedentary life in order to counteract their abnormal muscularity. Thus Lord HALDANE, who in his earlier days thought nothing of walking to Cambridge one day and back to London on the next, has now become more than reconciled to the immobility imposed on the occupant of the Woolsack.
It needs no little exercise of the imagination to form a mental picture of Lord HALDANE as a member of the Russian ballet, or, to put it in a more concrete form, making the famous flying exit in Le Spectre da la Rose. Could fancy be translated into fact, the drawing power of such a spectacle would be prodigious. On the other hand, and in view of the notorious adaptability of the Slavonic temperament, we can well imagine NIJINSKY proving an admirable Lord Chancellor. Exchanges of this sort would add to the comity of nations besides enhancing the amenities of public life, and it is perhaps not too much to hope that provision for carrying this out may be in the Government's scheme for the Reform of the House of Lords.
* * * * *
"New Zealand mutton was yearly increasing in public flavour."—Times.
It mustn't get too powerful.
* * * * *
From an advertisement of a land sale in Ceylon Morning Leader:—
"An undivided 1/3 + 1/36 + 1/2 of 3/80 + 1/24 + 1/2 of 1/18 parts of the land called Vitarmalage Gamwasama at Yatawala in extent 500 amunams paddy sowing."
A chance for a newly-created peer who wants a family seat from which to take his title and quarterings.
* * * * *
The meeting of ANTONY and CLEOPATRA as described in HUTCHINSON'S History of the Nations:—
"When they met first he was twenty-nine and she was sixteen; now he was forty-two and she was twenty-seven."
Anyhow she would say so.
* * * * *
* * * * *
A LOST LEADER.
"Enid," I said, "we must offer something to somebody."
"You don't mean Squawks?" she pleaded piteously.
"I wish I did," I sighed. Squawks is a Pomorachshund—at least I think so; though Enid inclines towards the Chowkingese theory. Anyhow, he himself has always realised that someone had blundered, and has worked steadily to make a dog of himself.
"Well, if it's not Squawks, I don't care," remarked Enid.
"I wish you'd take some interest."
"In what I say."
"What did you say?"
"We must," I repeated, "offer something to somebody."
"That's not very enthusey. Unless"—and her whole face brightened—"you mean what you call your reading-chair. It threw me on to the floor and knelt on me only yesterday; and I know Aunt Anne——"
"Enid," I said sternly, "that's not the point."
"I was afraid not."
"The thing is, one must be in the swim. Everybody is offering things right and left now. Look at SUTHERLAND, DERBY—even LLOYD GEORGE."
"I didn't know they were friends of yours."
"Not exactly; but——"
"Then why so familiar?"
"My dear," I explained, "that is the point. Once get your name in the papers at the end of a two-column letter and you are the friend of all the world—it gives one an entree to the castle of the Duke and the cottage of the crofter."
"Even before you've written it?"
"I have written it!"
"Oh, how splendid! Where?"
"In here," I said, tapping the best bit of my head.
"Oh, that!" And then, pensively: "Next time Mary Jane has a brainstorm, I'll tell her to call you 'Charley.' Poor girl!"
"I don't think you quite appreciate," I remarked.
"I don't. What exactly do we stand to gain?"
"There's the rub. Not lucre. Perish the thought! But one begins to be a power, an influence. People whisper in the Tube, 'Who's that?' 'That! Don't you know? Why Him—He! The man who is making the Government a laughing-stock. The man who holds the Empire in the palm of his hand. The man who——'"
"Thanks," said Enid. "We had better buy a gramophone. I thought you were getting fidgety at home."
"Dearest," I explained, "it is not that. It is because I feel in me a spirit that will not be denied. Give me the opportunity and I will make this land, this England——"
"Hush, Squawks. Was'ms frightened then, poor darling!"
"Hush!" said Enid to me. "How are you going to begin?"
"It is quite simple. Somebody writes something to the papers."
"Yes; so far it sounds easy."
"Now that something is hideously disparaging to my class and calling. I promptly answer him."
"That is, if you can be funnier at his expense than he at yours."
"I shan't be funny at all."
"No?" said Enid thoughtfully.
"Mine will be a scathing indictment, and of course I shall bring in the political situation. He writes back, evading the point at issue. I crush him with figures and statistics, and make him a practical offer—a few deer-forests, a paltry township, or my unearned increment, as the case may be."
"The mowing-machine is out of order," Enid remarked.
"I quote passages in his letter as the basis of negotiation. He pretends to accept. I point out how, when and why he has been guilty of paltry quibbling, and show that the Party he supports fosters such methods and manners."
"Is that all?"
"No. And that is just where I shall differ from everybody else. I shall go on where they have stopped. Having made one individual ridiculous, I shall broaden the basis of operation. With consummate skill I shall gradually draw the public officials down into the arena."
"Don't forget the gas-man; he was very rude last month."
"Not that kind," I explained. "Cabinet Ministers, Secretaries of State, the whole machinery of government shall writhe under the barbed shafts of my mockery. Ridicule is the power of the age. Ridicule in my hands shall be as bayonets to NAPOLEON, as poison to a BORGIA." I gasped.
"Help!" said Enid, taking up The Daily Most. "Here's the very thing," she went on. "Somebody called 'A. Lethos'——"
"Pah! A pseudonym."
"Well, anyhow, he says that all political writers are worthless sycophants. You might begin on that."
"I will," I cried. "But craven anonymity is not my part. My name shall stand forth boldly. Fate's linger points the way. How do you spell 'sycophant'? The type has gone a bit dizzy over it."
And I plunged into the fray.
"Sir," I began; and there followed 2,000 words of closely-woven argument, down to "I remain, Sir, your obedient Servant."
I read it through carefully, looked up "sycophant" in the dictionary, and wrote it all out again.
Then I showed it to Enid.
"Why have you spelt 'sycophant' like that?" she asked.
"It is a 'y.'"
"Oh!" (Pause.) "What about the offer? Mr. Lethos says that ninetenths of what is written nowadays is only worth the ink and paper."
"The offer," I reminded her, "will come later."
"Oh! I just thought—— You might get rid of those articles on 'Happiness in the Home' at cost price. They're running up to quite a lot in stamps."
I posted the letter to the Editor.
Next morning I seized the paper nervously. There was my name at the end of a column and a half. I had begun.
I sat down to wait for the next step. It came with the mid-day post in a letter from Saxby, who is—or was—my friend.
"Good old Tibbles," it ran; "I knew some juggins would rise, whatever I wrote. But fancy landing you!—Yours ever, BEEFERS."
Now how can a man save his country on a thing like that?
* * * * *
SMILES AND LAUGHTER.
On days of gloom and sadness, When nothing brings relief, When men are moved to madness And women groan with grief; Though growing daily dafter, I might, as once I did, Have cheered myself with laughter, But laughter is forbid.
If I should treat of CARSON, His guns and rataplan, It's something worse than arson To smile at such a man; Since chaff would make his pulse stir— And this he cannot brook— The more he talks of Ulster The solemner we look.
Then, should I meet a CECIL, (Lord ROBERT or Lord HUGH), His manifest distress'll Be very sad to view Unless I'm in a proper, A gloomy frame of mind, And put a heavy stopper On mirth of any kind.
Next POUTSEA brings his quota For giving me delight, Who wants to punish BOTHA By living in his sight; Or, foiled of such a strife-time, Decides to have a blow And spend a briny lifetime In sailing to and fro.
And SEDDON, who gave greetings To those deported nine, Invited them to meetings And asked them out to dine, And begged of them and prayed them To be no longer banned, But hardly could persuade them To leave the ship and land.
These two, the gloom beguiling, Might make me greatly dare, Might set my face a-smiling And win my soul from care; The feted and the feeders Might well provoke some chaff; But no—they're Labour Leaders, And so we mustn't laugh.
And, last, there's LAW, our BONAR, Who in a burst of tact Is minded to dishonour The loathed Insurance Act; With opposites agreeing, He faces North by South, And keeps the Act in being And kills it with his mouth.
He too might smooth a wrinkle, Although he's stern and grim, And make my eyes to twinkle By seeing fun in him; Cursed be that cheerful vision, And cursed all sense of fun: It is a foul misprision To smile at anyone.
* * * * *
* * * * *
HAVE YOU ANYTHING TO SELL?
(With acknowledgments to "The Daily Mail.")
Have you anything you think of burning as useless, but would naturally prefer to sell? Why not try one of our small advertisements? Every day we receive thousands of letters testifying to their power. Here is one, picked up at random:—
"Please discontinue my advertisement of a half-pair of bellows and a stuffed canary, as the first insertion has had such remarkable results. On looking out of my bedroom window this morning I observed a queue of some hundreds of people extending from my doorstep down to the trams in the main road. They included ladies on campstools, messenger boys, a sad-looking young man in an ulster who was reading SWINBURNE'S poems, and others. Only with difficulty could the milkman fight his way through to place the can on the doorstep, and the contents were quickly required to restore a lady who had turned faint for want of a camp-stool. While I was shaving, a motor mail-van dashed up and left seven sacks of postal replies to the advertisement. One by one, eighty-three people were admitted to view the goods, and a satisfactory bargain was made with the last of these. I then telephoned for the police to come and remove the disappointed thousands, who were disposed to be riotous. My garden gate is off its hinges, the garden itself has the lawn inextricably mixed with the flower-beds, my marble step is cracked in three places, and my stair-carpet is caked with mud. I do not know any other paper in this country in which a two-shilling advertisement could produce such encouraging results."
* * * * *
ORANGES AND LEMONS.
"DEAR MYRA," wrote Simpson at the beginning of the year,—"I have an important suggestion to make to you both, and I am coming round to-morrow night after dinner about nine o'clock. As time is so short I have asked Dahlia and Archie to meet me there, and if by any chance you have gone out we shall wait till you come back.
Yours ever, SAMUEL.
P.S.—I have asked Thomas too."
"Well?" said Myra eagerly, as I gave her back the letter.
In deep thought I buttered a piece of toast.
"We could stop Thomas," I said. "We might ring up the Admiralty and ask them to give him something to do this evening. I don't know about Archie. Is he——"
"Oh, what do you think it is? Aren't you excited?" She sighed and added, "Of course I know what Samuel is."
"Yes. Probably he wants us all to go to the Wonder Zoo together ... or he's discovered a new way of putting, or—— I say, I didn't know Archie and Dahlia were in town."
"They aren't. But I expect Samuel telegraphed to them to meet him under the clock at Charing Cross, disguised, when they would hear of something to their advantage. Oh, I wonder what it is. It must be something real this time."
Since the day when Simpson woke me up at six o'clock in the morning to show me his stance-for-a-full-wooden-club shot I have distrusted his enthusiasms; but Myra loves him as a mother; and I—I couldn't do without him; and when a man like that invites a whole crowd of people to come to your flat just about the time when you are wondering what has happened to the sardines on toast, and why doesn't she bring them in—well, it isn't polite to put the chain on the door and explain through the letter-box that you have gone away for a week.
"We'd better have dinner a bit earlier to be on the safe side," I said, as Myra gave me a parting brush down in the hall. "If any further developments occur in the course of the day ring me up at the office. By the way, Simpson doesn't seem to have invited Peter. I wonder why not. He's nearly two, and he ought to be in it. Myra, I'm sure I'm tidy now."
"Pipe, tobacco, matches, keys, money?"
"Everything," I said. "Bless you. Good-bye."
"Good-bye," said Myra lingeringly. "What do you think he meant by 'as time is so short'?"
"I don't know. At least," I added, looking at my watch, "I do know. I shall be horribly late. Good-bye."
I fled down the stairs into the street, waved to Myra at the window ... and then came cautiously up again for my pipe. Life is very difficult on the mornings when you are in a hurry.
At dinner that night Myra could hardly eat for excitement.
"You'll be sorry afterwards," I warned her, "when it turns out to be nothing more than that he has had his hair cut."
"But even if it is I don't see why I shouldn't be excited at seeing my only brother again—not to mention sister-in-law."
"You only want to see them so that you can talk about Peter."
"Oh, Fatty, darling"—(I am really quite thin)—"oh, Fatty," cried Myra—("lean and slender" would perhaps describe it better)—cried Myra, clasping her hands together—(in fact the very last person you could call stout)—"I haven't seen the darling for ages! But I shall see Samuel," she added hopefully, "and he's almost as young." ("Svelte"—that's the word for me.)
"Then let's move," I said. "They'll be here directly."
Archie and Dahlia came first. We besieged them with questions as soon as they appeared.
"Haven't an idea," said Archie. "I wanted to bring a revolver in case it was anything really desperate, but Dahlia wouldn't let me."
"It would have been useful too," I said, "if it turned out to be something merely futile."
"You're not going to hurt my Samuel, however futile it is," said Myra. "Dahlia, how's Peter, and will you have some coffee?"
"Peter's lovely. You've had coffee, haven't you, Archie?"
"Better have some more," I suggested, "in case Simpson is merely soporific. We anticipate a slumbering audience, and Samuel explaining a new kind of googlie he's invented."
Entered Thomas lazily.
"Hallo," he said in his slow voice, "What's it all about?"
"It's a raid on the Begum's palace," explained Archie rapidly. "Dahlia decoys the Chief Mucilage; you, Thomas, drive the submarine; Myra has charge of the clockwork mouse, and we others hang about and sing. To say more at this stage would be to bring about a European conflict."
"Coffee, Thomas?" said Myra.
"I bet he's having us on," said Thomas gloomily, as he stirred his coffee.
There was a hurricane in the hall. Chairs were swept over; coats and hats fell to the ground; a high voice offered continuous apologies—and Simpson came in.
"Hallo, Myra!" he said eagerly. "Hallo, old chap! Hallo, Dahlia! Hallo, Archie! Hallo, Thomas, old boy!" He fixed his spectacles firmly on his nose and beamed round the room.
"You haven't said 'Hallo!' to the cook," Archie pointed out.
"We're all here—thanking you very much for inviting us," I said. "Have a cigar—if you've brought any with you."
Fortunately he had brought several with him.
"Now then, I'll give any of you three guesses what it's all about."
"No, you don't. We're all waiting, and you can begin your apology right away."
Simpson took a deep breath and began.
"I've been lent a villa," he said.
There was a moment's silence ... and then Archie got up.
"Good-bye," he said to Myra, holding out his hand. "Thanks for a very jolly evening. Come along, Dahlia."
"But I say, old chap," protested Simpson.
"I'm sorry, Simpson, but the fact that you're moving from the Temple to Cricklewood, or wherever it is, and that somebody else is paying the thirty pounds a year, is jolly interesting, but it wasn't good enough to drag us up from the country to tell us about it. You could have written. However, thank you for the cigar."
"My dear fellow, it isn't Cricklewood. It's the Riviera!"
Archie sat down again.
"Samuel!" cried Myra. "How she must love you!"
"I should never lend Simpson a villa of mine," I said. "He'd only lose it."
"They're some very old friends who live there, and they're going away for a month, and the servants are staying on, and they suggested that if I was going abroad again this year——"
"How did the servants know you'd been abroad last year?" asked Archie.
"Don't interrupt, dear," said Dahlia. "I see what he means. How very jolly for you, Samuel."
"For all of us, Dahlia!" "You aren't suggesting we shall all crowd in?" growled Thomas.
"Of course, my dear old chap! I told them, and they're delighted. We can share housekeeping expenses, and it will be as cheap as anything."
"But to go into a stranger's house," said Dahlia anxiously.
"It's my house, Dahlia, for the time. I invite you!" He threw out his hands in a large gesture of welcome and knocked his coffee-cup on to the carpet; begged Myra's pardon several times; and then sat down again and wiped his spectacles vigorously.
Archie looked doubtfully at Thomas.
"Duty, Thomas, duty," he said, thumping his chest. "You can't desert the Navy at this moment of crisis."
"Might," said Thomas, puffing at his pipe.
Archie looked at me. I looked hopefully at Myra.
"Oh-h-h!" said Myra, entranced.
Archie looked at Dahlia. Dahlia frowned.
"It isn't till February," said Simpson eagerly.
"It's very kind of you, Samuel," said Dahlia, "but I don't think——"
Archie nodded to Simpson.
"You leave this to me," he said confidentially. "We're going."
A. A. M.
* * * * *
* * * * *
(From "The Gladiator," Nov. 1914.)
WHITEBROOK ROVERS V. BROMVILLE.
The meeting of these teams on Saturday last produced a struggle of titanic dimensions worthy of the best traditions of the famous combinations engaged. On the one hand we saw the machine-like precision, the subtle finesse so characteristic of the Whitebrook men, while at the same time we revelled in the dash and speed, the consummate daring displayed by their doughty opponents. We have witnessed many games, but for keenness and enthusiasm this one must rank.... In a game where every man acquitted himself well it is difficult to particularise; but Brown, Jones, Green and McSleery for the Rovers, and Gray, Smith, Black and McSkinner for the Broms, may be mentioned as being shining lights in their respective positions.
(From "The Gladiator," Nov. 1915.)
WHITEBROOK ROVERS V. BROMVILLE.
Before a huge crowd exceeding 60,000 these historic combinations met on Saturday, and provided a rich treat for those who had the privilege to be there. The officials of both clubs have been busy team-building, and the sides differed in many instances from those antagonizing on the same ground a year ago. That the changes have been judicious and beneficial Saturday's game abundantly proved. The men played with great earnestness, evincing much local patriotism, and in their contrasted styles—the polished artistry, the scientific precision of the Rovers, and the dash and forceful intrepidity of the Broms—were at their very best. We have seen many games, but this must rank.... While every man did himself justice, it may not be invidious to mention, for the Rovers, Gray, Smith, Black and McSkinner, and for the Broms, Brown, Jones, Green and McSleery, as being bright particular stars in their respective departments.
* * * * *
From a literary weekly:—
"It is a terribly accurate saying about the loud laugh and the vacant mind—Pope never got down surer to the bare bones of the truth."
Nor did GOLDSMITH when he pointed out the danger of "a little learning."
* * * * *
From two consecutive items of "News in a Nutshell" in the North-Eastern Daily Gazette:—
"Lieut. ——, of an infantry regiment at Lemburg, Austria, fell fast asleep on February 14, and all efforts to wake him have proved futile ever since.
A sleeper weighing 8 cwt. was found on the Great Western Railway near Banbury just before the arrival of a train from the north."
However, it was not the lieutenant.
* * * * *
* * * * *
(A Dream after losing a Dog.)
Methought I saw the man that stole our Tim In a night vision; and "Behold!" he cried, "This was a task too easy for my whim, A job of little worth and little pride, An Irish terrier." Then his pal replied, "I know a place where you may pinch with ease One of these here carnation Pekinese.
"You see them nasty spikes on that there wall? Climb it, and you shall find a little yard; An unlatched casement leads you to a hall, Thence to the crib where, odorous with nard, Slumbers the petted plaything; 'twere not hard Out of his cushioned ease (and gorged belike With sweetmeats) to appropriate the tyke."
So, filled with high ambition and the hope Of gaining huge emolument, this man Hung to the toothed battlements a rope, Climbed and leapt down to execute his plan— But even as he leapt a noise began As when the Arctic icebergs break and grind; This was because his pants were caught behind.
Awhile they tore, then stayed. And helpless there Betwixt the silvery moonlight and the ground He hung convulsive, grasping at the air, For two full hours it may be, whilst a hound Of the Great Danish breed, that made no sound Save a deep snarl, below him watching stood (This portion of my dream was very good).
And much he vowed because of his great pain That he was the most dashed of all dashed fools And never would he steal a dog again, No (strite!) he would not. He recalled the rules That teachers taught him in the Sunday Schools And thought on serious happenings and the grave; And with dawn's earliest flush his trousers gave.
* * * * *
And having waited for a time I went To see him in the hospital. And hours Of earnest converse with the man I spent, Told him of Nemesis and what dark powers Punish our mortal crimes, and brought him flowers, Dog-roses and dog-violets, and read The Eighth Commandment out beside his bed.
* * * * *
The Daily Telegraph on the next Drury Lane melodrama:—
"We are able to say on the very best authority that the idea at the root of the story is of a quite unusual nature; indeed, if secrecy were not for the moment imposed, one might even go a step further and declare it to be of startling originality."
As it is, one doesn't; for if once the secret got about that the play was to be original there would be riots in Fleet Street.
* * * * *
"Song, 'March of the Men of Garlick' (Tune, Welsh melody)."
A pardonable mistake. The national emblem is of course the leek.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
(EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.)
House of Commons, Monday, March 2.—In speech of flawless lucidity displaying perfect command of columnar figures upon which strength of British Navy is based, the WINSOME WINSTON moved Supplementary Estimates amounting to two and a-half millions. These raise total expenditure of year on the Navy to forty-eight millions. "A serious event," he admitted amid sympathetic cheers from below Gangway to his right. Necessity arises from increased expenditure on oil reserves; from demand for a quarter of a million for the new aircraft programme, an item unknown to OLD MORALITY or CHILDERS when successively at the Admiralty; from increment of wages and acceleration of ship-building.
He might have mentioned that of grand total close upon two millions is legacy left by former Ministry on account of liabilities incurred before 1905. Whilst present Government, austerely-minded, pay their way as they go, meeting increased expenditure out of revenue, PRINCE ARTHUR, with characteristically light heart, built ships and strengthened fortifications, raising the money by loan, which he gaily left to posterity to pay off. Posterity has this pleasant task in hand now, and will continue to be engaged upon it for next twenty years.
WINSTON judiciously refrained from pressing the point. Had enough on his hands with discontented supporters below Gangway, who resent ever-increasing burden of Naval expenditure. RAMSAY MACDONALD lodged protest on behalf of Labour Members; stopped short of moving reduction of vote. This done by DAVID MASON of Coventry.
"A hollow demonstration," was GILBERT PARKER'S terse description of the revolt. On a division Estimates were carried by a majority of 203. Only 34 voted for reduction.
Prolongation of debate plainly boring. By exception, one listener sat it out with unwearied attention. Nothing precisely cherubic in face or figure of Lord FISHER OF KILVERSTONE, better known on sea and land by the affectionate diminutive JACKY FISHER. Nevertheless, as he sat perched in Peers' Gallery immediately over the clock, a place ever associated with the genial presence of EDWARD PRINCE OF WALES, there flashed across the mind a familiar couplet sung by DIBDIN:—
"There's a sweet little cherub that sits up aloft To keep watch for the life of poor Jack."
Whilst jealous for maintenance of Naval power, no Admiral or Sea Lord did more to improve conditions of life on the lower deck than did JACKY FISHER. Retired from active service, his multiform commissions under hatches, to-night his body has gone aloft to a seat in Peers' Gallery. There he heard expounded biggest Navy vote submitted since days of the "Great Harry." Exceptionally swollen by provision for reserves of oil fuel, a new departure, for which he in his capacity as Chairman of a Royal Commission has, as WINSTON testified, been chiefly responsible.
Business done.—Naval Estimates discussed.
Tuesday.—Another scene testifying to electricity of atmosphere. As usual, explosion from unexpected quarter. House in committee on Naval Estimates. Lord ROBERT CECIL, ever alert in interests of working-man with a vote, moved reduction in order to call attention to housing accommodation provided for men employed at Rosyth. Chairman ruled debate out of order on Supplementary Estimates. Lord BOB nevertheless managed to sum up purport of intended speech by denouncing state of things as "a scandal and disgrace to the Government." At this stage Opposition Whips, counting heads, discovered that, if not at the moment in actual minority, Government would, if division were rushed, find themselves in parlous state. The word—it was "Mum"—went round Opposition benches.
Unfortunately for success of plot Ministerial Whips also alive to situation.
"After your ruling, Sir," said Lord BOB with ominous politeness, "I cannot develop my argument, but I propose to persist in my motion, and will divide the Committee."
Not if LEIF JONES knew it. For him, as for all good Ministerialists, subject suddenly developed interest, urgently demanded consideration. This he proposed to bestow upon it. A Bengal tiger about to lunch off a toothsome native, discovering the anticipated meal withdrawn from his reach, could not be more sublimely wrathful than were gentlemen on Opposition benches. And LEIF JONES, too! The mildest-mannered man that ever turned on a water-tap.
After a moment of petrified pause, natural to Bengal tiger on discovering reality of his discomfiture, there burst forth roar of "'Vide! 'Vide! 'Vide!" From appearance of LEIF JONES'S lips, he was continuing his remarks. Not a syllable rose above the storm. After it had raged for some moments CHAIRMAN pointed out that, whilst divigation in direction of Rosyth was out of order, it was competent to any Member to discuss the vote as a whole.
This too much for A. S. WILSON, who has been surprisingly reticent since Session opened.
"Is it right for the CHAIRMAN," he asked, "to protect the Government from what may be an inconvenient position?"
"A grossly disorderly observation," the CHAIRMAN retorted.
A. S. withdrew the remark, the more willingly since designed effect gained.
COUSIN HUGH, for some time moving uneasily in corner seat below Gangway, bounded to his feet. Member near him simultaneously rose. With sweep of left arm, after manner of RICHARD III. directing the cutting off of the head of BUCKINGHAM, he waved the appalled Member down. Was getting on nicely with what he had to say when, like GRAND CROSS on historical occasion, he "heard a smile."
It came from WINSTON.
"I notice," said COUSIN HUGH glaring on the Treasury bench, "that the FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY, who is very ignorant on many matters, is amused at this observation."
WINSTON explained that what he had laughed at was "the lordly gesture with which the noble Lord swept away another honourable gentleman."
LEIF JONES, proposing to continue his remarks, presented himself again. Greeted with fresh yell of execration. Battled for some moments with the storm. Too much for him. Reached forth hand; seized imperceptible tankard of invisible stout; gratefully wetted his parched lips withal. Refreshed, he tried again; no articulate word dominated the din.
After further ten minutes of uproar, through which from time to time A. S. WILSON tried to get in more or less relevant remark and was instantly extinguished by the CHAIRMAN, who masterfully managed difficult situation, WINSTON interposed. A bird of the air had brought news from Whips' Room that all was well. Accordingly the FIRST LORD graciously conceded division clamoured for.
Its result profound surprise. So far from Government lacking support, the amendment was negatived by more than two to one. Majority rushed up to 140.
Evidently been a mistake somewhere.
Business done.—Supplementary votes agreed to.
Thursday.—Dramatic turn in position of Home Rule Bill. PREMIER hitherto steadfast in deferring Second Reading till close of financial year. As result of confabulation between two Front Benches arranged that Supplementary Estimates shall be hurried up so as to make opening for immediate debate on Second Reading.
Accordingly ST. AUGUSTINE BIRRELL to-day brought in Bill for First Reading. No need of persuasion of silver tongue to carry this stage. Proceeding purely formal. Fight opens on Monday, when PREMIER, moving Second Reading, will explain his "suggestions" of amendment.
Business done.—Home Rule brought in, being third time of asking. Welsh Church Disestablishment Bill and Plural Voting Bill also read amid vociferous cheering by Ministerialists.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"His brilliant flashes of wit and humour evoked hearty applause, and sometimes even laughter."—Teesdale Mercury.
Almost the last thing you would have expected.
* * * * *
"One of the strongest traits in Mrs. Barclay's character is a love of all creatures, great and small—thrushes, wagtails and robins come to her when she calls, and she keeps a little box of worms to feed them."—Woman at Home.
Sometimes the worms must wish she wasn't quite so loving.
* * * * *
THE DOWNWARD TREND.
Come, Nora, Nance and Nellie, Let us study BOTTICELLI When we feel the gnawing craving to be smart; If we want to be de rigueur We must educate the figure To show the downward trend of "plastic art." The outline should be slack, Slippy-sloppy, front and back, Till bodice, skirt and tunic—every stitch— Seems to call for the support Of the handy-man's resort— That naval gesture termed the "double hitch." The shoulders must be drooping. The knees a trifle stooping, And the widest waist, remember, takes the prize; When motoring or shopping The coatee must be flopping Through a belt that's sagging downward to the thighs. But the evening toilette scheme Shows the opposite extreme, And, when for dance or dinner you're equipped, A clinging "mermaid's tail" The nether limbs must veil, While the corsage is the only part that's slipped.
* * * * *
"At the close of the match, Mr. Burnett, Kenmay, announced the result and called for cheers for the winners. Mr. J. Fulton, President English Province R.C.C.C., responded."—Field.
We are sorry that Mr. FULTON was the only one. After his opening "Hip—hip—hip" even the most timid or indifferent should have joined in.
* * * * *
"Tickets purchased before the date will admit holders at 2 p.m. to view the machine used when 'looping the loop,' and the passenger carrying machine."
Advt. in "The Varsity."
At the risk of embarrassing this anonymous Samson we shall go early and view him.
* * * * *
"Councillor Johnson said the Bye Laws wore not in a satisfactory state, and suggested that Councillor Bayman be added to the number."
Mossel Bay Advertiser.
Henceforward the penalty for breaking Councillor BAYMAN is forty shillings.
* * * * *
Report received by a South African mine-manager:—
"The mule being experimented with by feeding on bad mealies is still being carried out, but up to date the animal seems to keep in normal condition."
They must carry him out again.
* * * * *
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
"THE TWO VIRTUES."
The news, which ran like wildfire through the town on Wednesday morning, that Sir GEORGE ALEXANDER had signed the Covenant, must have stirred many hearts; but those of us who saw him on the next night as the hero of Mr. ALFRED SUTRO'S comedy are hoping that, at any rate, there will be no fighting on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, and that sentry duty in the evenings may be performed by less valuable signatories. For in Jeffery Panton he has really found a part to suit him, and a part which should keep him busy for some months. Comedy is certainly his medium.
It is not, alas, Miss MARTHA HEDMAN'S, nor is English her language. Her pretty foreign accent and tearful manner became her as a French girl in The Attack, but it won't do for every part she plays. It didn't do in the least for Mrs. Guildford. The difficulty of understanding what she said was made greater by a surprising catarrh amongst the first-night audience, so that her scenes had a way of going like this:—
Jeffery Panton (clearly). But I must just talk to you a moment.
Stall on left. Honk—honk! Honk! H'r'r'm!
Dress circle. HONK! HONK!!
Mrs. Guildford. No, no, I must get on with my work.
Stall just behind. WHAT DID SHE SAY?
Her neighbour. Something about her work.
Her other neighbour. Honk—honk! H'r'm! Honk—honk!
Gallery boy. HONK—HONK—HONK!
Several voices. Sh'sh!
Mrs. Guildford. No ... I ... you ...
Second gallery boy. Stop that coughing there!
Injured voice. I can't 'elp coughing!
Several voices. Sh'sh!
But I'm afraid the coughing was not always the fault of the microbes but sometimes of Mr. SUTRO, who seemed to be exploiting a wonderful talent for starting his Acts dully. The opening scene of the Second Act, between Mrs. Guildford and Alice Exern, was particularly tiresome. It went on a long time, and seemed when audible to be only a recapitulation of Act I. We simply had to cough.
I have said nothing of the story, for the reason that a summary of it would hardly do it justice. It is slight, and yet just strong enough to carry two or three pleasant creations and much happy dialogue. The important thing is that Sir GEORGE is on the stage most of the time, has many delightful things to say, and says them delightfully. There are also Miss HENRIETTA WATSON, Miss ATHENE SEYLER, and Mr. HERBERT WARING, all excellent.
It remains to be said that the Two Virtues are Chastity and Charity; that Mrs. Guildford lacked (I think—but they were coughing a good deal just then) the first virtue, and the other ladies the second; and that the reclining chair in Act I. was kindly lent by—but the name of the generous fellow will be revealed to you in your programme when you go.
* * * * *
"'Paphnutius' was given its first public performance in London recently. Miss Ellen Terry appeared in it as an abbcess."
Hong Kong Telegraph.
Our impersonation of a nasty sore throat "off" is still the talk of China.
* * * * *
ONE WAY WITH THEM.
Leeson is the best of living creatures (as so many of us are), but he has one detestable foible—he always wants to read something aloud. Now, reading aloud is a very special gift. Few men have it, and even of those few there are some who do not force it upon their friends; the rest have it not, and Leeson is of the rest.
In fact, it is really painful to listen to him, because he not only reads, but acts. If it is a woman speaking, he pipes a falsetto such as no woman outside a reciter's brain ever possessed. If it is a rustic, he affects a dialect from no known district. In emotional passages one does not dare to look at him at all, but we all cower with our heads in our hands, as though we were convicted but penitent criminals. So much for dramatic or dialogue pieces. When it comes to lyric poetry—his favourite form of literature—Leeson sings, or rather cantillates, swaying his body to the rhythm of the lines. If any of the poets could hear him they would become 'bus-conductors at once; it is as bad as that.
Otherwise Leeson is excellent company and one likes dining with him. But there's always hanging over one the dread that he may have alighted on something new and wonderful, and at any moment....
Directly I entered the house last week I was conscious that this had happened—Leeson had made another discovery. I had not been in the drawing-room for more than a minute, and had barely shaken hands with Mrs. Leeson, when he pulled from his pocket a thin book. I knew the worst at once: it had about it all the stigmata of new poetry. It was of the right deadly hue, the right deadly size, the right deadly roughness about the edges.
"I've got something here, my boy," he said. "The real stuff. Let me——"
Just at this moment the door opened and some guests entered.
"Never mind," he remarked to me, as he approached to welcome them; "later. It's wonderful—wonderful!"
Other guests arriving occupied him, and then a servant came in to say that he was wanted on the telephone.
He returned with the message that Captain Cathcart was sorry to say he could not possibly be there until a quarter-past eight. But please don't wait.
It was now five minutes past eight.
"What I suggest," said Leeson, "is that we do wait, and that we fill up the time by reading one or two poems by a new man that I've just discovered? They're simply wonderful!"
He drew out the book and we all composed ourselves to the ordeal; Mrs. Gaston, who is the insincerest creature on earth and has no thoughts beyond Auction Bridge, even going so far as to say, ecstatically, "A new poet! How heavenly!"
But Mrs. Leeson stopped it. "Oh, no," she said, "don't let us wait. Very likely Captain Cathcart will be later still." And with a sigh of relief that was almost audible we marched down to dinner.
I thought that Leeson cut the time over our cigars rather short, and we had no sooner returned to the drawing-room than he began again. "I won't keep you more than a few moments," he said, "but I very much want your opinion of a new poet I have discovered. I have his work here," and out came the deadly book, "and I want to read one or two brief things."
"Oh, George, dear," said Mrs. Leeson, "do you mind postponing that for a little? Miss Langton is very kindly going to sing for us, and she has to leave early."
Leeson accepted the situation with as much philosophy as he could muster.
As a rule I am bored by amateur, or indeed any, singing after dinner, but I looked at Miss Langton with an expression which a Society paper reporter might easily have misconstrued.
Long before she had finished we were all calling out, "Thank you! Thank you! Encore! Encore!"
Leeson alone was faint in his praises and his face fell to a lower depth when she began again.
No sooner had she finished and gone than he was planning another effort, but during the opportunity afforded by her departure we had, with great address, divided ourselves into such animated groups that Mrs. Leeson, like a tactful hostess, laid her hand on his arm and caused him again to postpone it.
He wandered forlornly from chair to chair, seeking an opening, and at last ventured to clear his throat and again ask if we would like to hear his new poet. "I assure you he's wonderful!"
But at this moment old Lady Thistlewood uttered a little cry and at once bells were rung for sal-volatile. Her ladyship, it seems, is subject to attacks of faintness.
When next Leeson made his proposal the Buntons rose and, expressing every variety of sorrow and regret, stated that they had no idea it was so late and they must really tear themselves away; Mrs. Bunton tactfully taking down the title of this dear new poet's book and its publisher.
This being the signal for the others to leave, I soon found myself alone.
"Now!" said Leeson with a triumphant expression. "Thank goodness they're out of the way and we're quiet and snug. Now you shall hear my poet." He felt for the book. "I tell you——" He stopped in dismay.
"I could have sworn it was in my pocket," he said, and began to hunt about the room.
"Where on earth can it be?" he said.
I helped him to look for it, but in vain.
"Perhaps Mrs. Bunton took it?" I suggested.
"I'm sure she didn't," he replied.
"Perhaps Mrs. Leeson has it?" I said.
But she had not. The last time she had seen it it was on the table after Mrs. Bunton copied the title.
Leeson was so utterly dejected that I felt almost sorry for him.
"Well," he said at last, "that's the strangest thing I ever heard of. What a disappointment! I did want you to hear it."
But it was precisely because I didn't that in my own pocket was the volume's present hiding-place. When the front door had closed behind me half-an-hour later, I slipped it into the letter-box.
* * * * *
The birds see him first, jay and blackbird and thrush; They shriek at his coming and curse him, each one; With the clay of the vale on his pads and his brush, It's the Fallowfield fox and he's pretty near done; It's a couple of hours since a whip tally-ho'd him; Now the rookery's stooping to mob and to goad him; There's an earth on the hill, but he's cooked past believing, And his tongue's hanging out and his wet ribs are heaving. Here he comes up the field at a woebegone trot; He's stiff as a poker, he's done all he knows; Now the ploughmen'll view him as likely as not; There—they run to the paling and yell as he goes: Here's an end, if we live to be two minutes older; See, he turns a glazed eye o'er a mud-spattered shoulder; There's a hound through the hedgerow.... Game's up, and he's beaten, And he faces about with a snarl to be eaten.
* * * * *
* * * * *
KEEKS v. COCKLES.
By Tony Shovell.
The much-boomed fight between Nobby Keeks and Bill Cockles ended in something of a fiasco, the last named being knocked out with a terrific uppercut in the first round.
The men stripped well, and appeared in excellent fettle. The fight commenced precisely at 11.22, only fifty-two minutes after the advertised time.
1st Round.—Both men opened warily, sparring for an opening. Presently Cockles stepped in and drove his left hard to the nose, drawing blood. Keeks drew back, and Cockles, following up his advantage, got in a nicely-judged left hook on the eye, which began to swell ominously. Though his supporters were obviously chagrined, Keeks kept his head admirably, and cleverly ducked under a right swing and clinched. At the breakaway Cockles got his left home on the ribs, but in doing so left himself open, and Keeks shook him up badly with a jab to the jaw. Cockles' hands dropped momentarily, and Keeks, whipping in a smashing right uppercut, had his man down and out.
A poor struggle, lost solely through carelessness.
By Philip Keppermann.
At twenty-two and a-half minutes past eleven last night a man stood looking wistfully over a sea of faces looming whitely through a thin blue haze of tobacco smoke. At his feet lay stretched the limp body of his antagonist. The disappearance of one eye; under a large red swelling, combined with a patulous and rubescent nose, detracted to some extent from the dignity of his appearance. An ugly patch of crimson over his left ribs held the attention fantastically, morbidly. It was blood, human blood, his own blood. The thought fascinated me....
Somewhere a voice was counting slowly, steadily, unhesitatingly—one—two—three.... The voice had in it the inexorable quality of Fate; it brought tears to the eyes like the wail of the Chorus in some Greek drama.
I looked at the man by my side. His regard was fixed intently on the prostrate figure in the ring. His fingers played uneasily with his watch-chain. He wore evening dress, and I noticed that his tie was a little crooked.
Away outside we caught the distant hoot of a motorcar. A dog barked. Then a woman in the audience sneezed; it seemed unwarrantable, impertinent, almost a desecration....
The voice that was counting ceased. The limp figure did not move. The one wistful eye of the victor closed for a moment in relief. There was a sudden incursion of hurrying figures into the ring....
The great fight was over. Nobby Keeks had beaten Bill Cockles.
By Theresa Chingles.
I was one of forty-four women who witnessed the great battle last night. There were, it was said, over three thousand men.
On my left sat a young girl in a rose-pink evening dress, with a dove-colour opera cloak covering her bare shoulders. Her eyes followed intently the struggling figures on the stage, and I observed that she wore an engagement ring with three diamonds.
A few seats away, surrounded by a swarm of men in evening dress, sat a grey-haired woman, watching the fight with interest through a gold-rimmed lorgnette. Her eyes twinkled as heavy blows were delivered, and when one of the men began to bleed copiously from the nose, she uttered an exclamation of delight. She wore black.
So far as I could observe, no woman present showed any sign of repulsion. It seemed to me significant of the times. I whispered to my neighbour, "O tempora! O mores!" but she replied coldly, "Not at all!" I checked my impulse to add "Autres temps, autres moeurs!"
Of the actual fight I am not competent to speak. I was most interested in the referee, whose strong mobile face reminded me occasionally of Lord BYRON, at other times of Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL.
By the Rev. Robert Shackleberry.
I had never seen a boxing contest before I was invited by the enterprising editor of The Daily Gong to witness the encounter last night between "Nobby" Keeks and William Cockles.
I found an excellent seat reserved for me. It was nearing midnight when the two men mounted the platform. Cockles came first, wearing a scarlet dressing-gown with yellow collar and cuffs. He seemed to me a bluff, hearty, good-tempered-looking man, though perhaps unduly prominent in the lower jaw. Keeks, who followed, wore a bright green dressing-gown with a pink sash, and shook hands with six or seven members of the audience. He was taller and heavier than his opponent, and his features, to my mind, more intelligent but less amiable.
There was a long delay, during which I was given to understand that the men's hands were being bandaged for some reason. At length the swarm of seconds and advisers disappeared to the sound of a gong, and the combatants stood up and advanced upon one another. I was embarrassed to observe that they were nearly nude, but my embarrassment did not seem to be shared by any of the ladies present, so perhaps I have no right to complain.
The actual boxing did not last nearly so long as the preliminaries. This was perhaps just as well, since Keeks, afterwards announced the victor, unfortunately sustained considerable damage to his right eye and was also losing blood from his nose—nasty injuries which, in my opinion, should have led to the competition being stopped while he received medical attention. No doubt the injuries were undesigned.
Cockles soon afterwards fell down, and refused to rise while some individual slowly counted ten. This, I was told, indicated that he was desirous of withdrawing from the contest before his antagonist sustained any further damage. In my judgment this generosity merited the award of victory; but no doubt the authorities know their business.
I was glad to have an opportunity of gaining a new experience, but on the whole I must say I prefer a quiet rubber of whist.
* * * * *
The personal distinctions, experiences, successes, opinions, anecdotes and statistics of Dr. Peterson, F.R.C.S., M.R.C.P., are too many for me to mention here, but are never too many for him to mention anywhere. That was the difficulty with which the Governors of the St. Barnabas Throat and Ear Hospital were confronted from the beginning to the end of their business of administration. As member of their honorary staff he performed his fair share of successful operations, but when it came to speech-making he had no consideration either for his own throat or for anybody else's ears.
"It's my belief," said the Chairman, at the special meeting of the Board called to arrange the programme for the opening of the new wing, "that the whole of this project originated in Peterson's desire to make himself heard."
"I certainly remember his introducing the matter to the Board," said Thompson, "with a brief sketch of his own career."
"And if the foundation stone could only speak," said Vernon-White, "it probably wouldn't be able to recall the name of the man who laid it, but would repeat from memory the whole of Peterson's private history."
"Proposed, seconded and carried unanimously," reported the Secretary, "that at the opening of the new wing no speech be made by Dr. Peterson."
"So much for our resolution," said Bainbridge. "Nevertheless the company will have barely got seated before it hears Peterson wondering whether he may occupy a moment of their valuable time with a little experience which happened to him the other day."
"Even he will give way to Sir Thingummy," said Thompson, referring to the great man who had been invited to make the great speech.
Bainbridge was always a pessimist. "Whether," he said, "the context be the opening of the new wing or the duty of gratitude to the man that opened it, the one subject the meeting will hear all about will be the son of Peter."
"Proposed, seconded and carried unanimously," reported the Secretary, "that the vote of thanks to Sir Frederick Gorton be moved by the Chairman."
"I see myself," said the Chairman, "resuming my seat after a few moments of inaudible confusion, and I hear a ringing voice crying forth: 'In rising on behalf of the Medical and Surgical Staff to propose a vote of thanks to our dear Chairman, I may perhaps be permitted to remind you that I joined that staff in 1887, and that since I——?'"
"Who's the senior member of the staff?" asked the Chairman.
"Peterson," said Bainbridge.
"Who's the oldest in mere age?"
The Chairman thought hard. "The event is fixed for April 29th," said he. "Whose week on duty is that?"
The Secretary looked up the books. His face fell. "Peterson's," he said.
"Proposed, seconded and carried unanimously," said the Chairman hurriedly, without troubling to take the vote, "that Dr. Wilkes be appointed tomorrow the vote of thanks to the Chairman, and that the Secretary be instructed to explain the matter, with due tact and circumspection, to Dr. Peterson."
"Dear Peterson," wrote the Secretary,—"At the ceremony of the opening of the new wing, my Board is particularly anxious that everything should go with a swing, and that there shall be no possibility of any hitch. I am instructed to ask you if you will be so good as to hold yourself in readiness to make the big technical speech of the day in the unhappy event of Sir Frederick Gorton failing to turn up. One is never safe with these London men, and it is for that reason that the Board hopes you will not mind putting yourself to trouble which may prove wasted. Some of the less eloquent members of the Staff can be got to make the short formal speeches."
Sir Frederick turned up all right, as the Secretary had taken care that he should, and declared the wing open, and thanked the Board for asking him. Thereupon the Board, by its Chairman, thanked him, and he rose again and very briefly thanked the Board for thanking him. Then Dr. Wilkes got up and thanked the Chairman even more briefly still, and the Chairman got up again and thanked Dr. Wilkes for thanking him. In fact, only one man didn't get his share of formal gratitude, for no one thanked Dr. Peterson for rising (if he might) to express a few words of thanks to Dr. Wilkes.
Anticipating this possibility, Dr. Peterson devoted the larger part of his speech to thanking himself.
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(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
To read An Englishman Looks at the World (CASSELL), a collection of "unrestrained remarks on contemporary matters"—aeroplanes, CHESTERTON and BELLOC, libraries, labour unrest, the Great State, and the like—by Mr. H. G. WELLS, is to be delighted or infuriated according to your natural habit of mind. If established in tolerable comfort in a world which you judge, for all its blemishes, to be on the whole rather well run, you will resent exceedingly this pert young man (for Mr. WELLS is still astonishingly young) with his preposterous eagerness, his insane passion for questioning and tinkering and most unfairly putting you and your kind in the wrong. You will no doubt find excellent grounds for doubting his ability to reconstruct; for suspecting what you will feel to be his pretentious breadth of view, his assumed omniscience. But if, on the other hand, thinking life in your sombre moments a nightmare of imbecility and in your more expansive moments a high adventure of immeasurable possibilities, you are straitened between cold despairs and immense hopes, you will readily forgive this irreverent, self-confident critic-journalist any crude things he may have said in his haste for sake of his flashes of perception, his happily descriptive phrases, his inspiring anticipations, his uncalculating candour, and above all his generous preoccupation with things that matter enormously. "What we prosperous people who have nearly all the good things of life and most of the opportunities have to do now is to justify ourselves." That is a sentiment and a challenge repeated or implied throughout the book. This Englishman looking at his world looks with quick eyes. He is himself so intensely interested that he can only fail to interest such as find his whole attitude an outrage upon their finally adopted convictions and conventions.
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Have you noticed the way in which certain stories bear the mark of a particular place or period? If ever there was a novel that vociferated "Cambridge" in every line, The Making of a Bigot (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) is that one. Well indeed may its paper wrapper display a drawing of King's Chapel, though as a matter of fact only the action of the first chapter passes in the University town. Miss ROSE MACAULAY has based her story upon a quaintly attractive theme. Her hero, Eddy Oliver, is a type new to fiction. Eddy saw good in everything to such an extent that he allowed himself to be persuaded into active sympathy with the aims of practically everyone who was aiming at anything, however mutually irreconcilable the aims might be. "He went along with all points of view so long as they were positive; as soon as condemnation or rejection came in, he broke off." Consequently, as you may imagine, his career was pleasantly involved. It embraced the Church, various forms of Socialism, and at one time and another some devotion to the ideals of Nationalism, Disarmament, Imperial Service and the Primrose League. But please don't imagine that all this is told in a spirit of comedy. Miss MACAULAY is, if anything, almost too dry and serious; this, and her disproportionate affection for the word "rather," a little impaired my own enjoyment of the book. It contains some happily sketched types of modernity—all of them Cambridge to the back-bone; and Eddy's final discovery (which makes the bigot), that one can't achieve anything in life without some wholesale hatreds, is genuine enough—more so than the system of card-cutting by which he settles his convictions. Miss MACAULAY has already, I am told, won a thousand pounds with a previous book; this one proves her the possessor of a gift of originality that is both rare and refreshing.
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I could imagine a novel with which I could sympathise deeply, based upon the theme of England's regeneration by means of the right type of Tory squire, but it would be a novel with a more credible hero and conceived in a less petty spirit of party bias than Mr. H. N. DICKINSON has given us in The Business of a Gentleman (HEINEMANN). For, in the first place, Sir Robert Wilton, who figured of course in Keddy and Sir Guy and Lady Rannard—he has, in fact, by this time married Marion, late Sir Guy's widow—is far too jumpy and nervy a person to fit my ideal of a paternal landlord, and what is, after all, more important, I feel convinced that his tenants and stable-lads would have thought the same. Secondly, I refuse to believe that a spinster, however soured, however much devoted to the cause of Labour and misguided crusades for social purity, would have behaved as Miss Baker does in this book; and deliberately attempted to father a false scandal on Sir Robert merely because she hated his type. And if the author replies that he knows of such an instance I maintain that it was just one of those things which the art of selection should have prompted him to leave out. I have, of course, no fault to find with Mr. DICKINSON'S style, which as usual is curiously simple yet at the same time attractive, nor with his powers of character-sketching. His schoolboy of seventeen, Eddie Durwold, is in this book particularly good. It is the things that these people do that bothers me. And if I might venture to rename The Business of a Gentleman the title I should choose is "The Escapade of an Egoist."
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Mr. SIDNEY LOW has paid some visits to Egypt and the Sudan, has kept his eyes very wide open and has written Egypt in Transition (SMITH, ELDER) in consequence. The Earl of CROMER, who has also been there or thereabouts, introduces the book to the notice of the public with an appreciative preface. Am I then in a position to pass judgment? Yes, I am; for I can claim to be literally more informed on the subject than most people, having above my share of friends and relations who have been there. I have the clearest possible picture of the country—a stretch of sand, some pyramids in the background, and, in the centre foreground, smiling enigmatically—not the Sphinx, but my friend or relation. I at once gave Mr. LOW five marks out of ten upon discovering that none of his illustrations reproduced himself on either on or off a camel. On less personal grounds, I have no scruple in giving him the remaining five for the vastly interesting facts, political, international, social and racial, with which he entertained me. It requires no small skill in a dispenser of such facts to make them entertaining. Twice only was I minded to quarrel with him; once when he expressed a general contempt, based upon one egregious example, for the foreign exports of Oxford and Cambridge, and again when he got on to the subject of tourists, who include my nearest and dearest, and abused them from the standpoint of a "visitor." In the first case he was absurd, in the second, common-place; but he made ample compensation for both by his memorable chapter of "Conclusions," in which he gave me clearly to understand why East, being East, will never be joined to West, always West, but yet how the twain have got within measurable distance of one another.
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There must have been moments when NAPOLEON found St. Helena a little quiet for a man of his temperament; when the monotony of his life there pressed somewhat hardly upon him. On these occasions I like to think of him saying philosophically to himself, as he remembered what Mr. RUDOLF PICKTHALL calls "the last phase but two," "Well, after all, this isn't Elba. I've got that much to be thankful for." In The Comic Kingdom (LANE) Mr. PICKTHALL shows how everybody on the island struggles to make a bit out of their visitors. Little children rallied round with posies of wild flowers, demanding large sums in payment. Bogus monks waved crosses at him, and, if he pretended not to notice them, rolled in the dust under his carriage wheels. There was never a moment when somebody was not calling with a bust of the Emperor or Empress, price three hundred francs. And itinerant bands played under his windows into the small hours of the morning. I can imagine him saying, in the words of ORESTES, "Dis is a dam country." ORESTES was the guide who conducted Mr. PICKTHALL through the island. It revolted him, but he did it. "I tink we better leave to-morrow," was a sort of refrain with ORESTES. He had a poor opinion of Elba, which I for one do not share. After reading The Comic Kingdom I feel that one of my coming holidays must be spent climbing its hills and supplying its thirsty inhabitants with wine. The scenery is apparently worth while, and the natives appear a friendly lot. I like their enthusiasm for literature. They turned out in their hundreds and insisted on Mr. PICKTHALL'S standing treat, just because they mistook him for a great historian. When I tell them I write for Punch they will be all over me.
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From a notice of "The New Standard Dictionary" in The London Teacher:—
"The Dictionary is arranged in alphabetical order, thus being a great time saver, and one can find what is required with the greatest ease."
Otherwise it is so awkward, when you want to know how to spell "parallel" in a hurry, to have to go through one volume after another until you come to it.
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Changed "there" to "three" in the second to last paragraph of "At the play" on page 195.