PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI
MARCH 18, 1914
In view of the grave importance of the present political situation, the price of Punch will remain as heretofore.
"The risk of flying is very greatly exaggerated," says Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL. Then why funk a General Election?
Some people have such a nasty way of putting things! Liberal gentleman to Unionist gentleman: "Well, have you taken the pledge?"
Attempts are now being made to establish penny postage between England and France. The Germans are said to feel flattered that we should still consider the privilege of corresponding with them worth two-pence-halfpenny.
The public indignation against the woman who damaged the "Rokeby Venus" continues unabated, and most inhuman propositions are being made. One gentleman has even been heard to suggest that the woman ought to be made to serve her term of imprisonment in the Royal Academy.
General VILLA'S statement that, unless the ransom he demands is paid at once, he will expose the body of the son of General TERRAZAS to the fire of the Federals confirms the opinion prevalent in this country that General VILLA is not really a very nice man.
"THE BENTON INQUIRY
PROMISE THAT JUSTICE WILL BE EXECUTED."
We were under the impression that this execution had taken place, some time since in Mexico, for Justice has not been seen there for a long time.
A Norfolk doctor declares that the sting of a bee is a most effective cure for both rheumatism and sciatica. It is also an infallible cure for inertia.
The yearly volume of judicial statistics just issued shows a marked decrease in business in all the courts except the Divorce Court; and there is some talk of the legal profession erecting a statue of a co-respondent as a mark of their appreciation.
Persons who like to be seen reading a two-penny newspaper are now in a quandary since the price of The Times has been reduced, and it is again rumoured that, in order to cater for this class, an unsuccessful halfpenny paper is about to raise its price to twopence.
Sussex has been suffering from an epidemic of sheep-stealing. The police theory is that the sheep are carried off at night in motor cars—the silly creatures, accepting with alacrity the novel offer of a ride in an automobile.
Several prominent authors having stated that their best ideas come to them while taking a tub, quite a number of unsuccessful scribes have, we hear, almost made up their minds to the experiment of one bath a week.
In an Introductory Note to the serial publication of The Woman Thou Gavest Me, entitled "Why I wrote the Story," the Master attempts to shift the blame—or, anyhow, to apportion the responsibility. One day, it seems, Mr. CAINE heard the story which forms the basis of the novel. He first told it to a Cabinet Minister, who was "visibly touched." He next tried it on a tailor, who was "just as obviously affected." Then comes this delicious passage:—"After that I called on my publisher and, not being able to get the story out of my thoughts, I told it to him as well. His eyes filled, his head dropped, and he was as deeply touched as I and the tailor and the Cabinet Minister had been." It is generally understood that Mr. HEINEMANN has since had a complete recovery.
* * * * *
LOOKING WELL FORWARD.
* * * * *
"Owing to the number of rats and crickets in her bedroom a nurse employed by the Dudley Board of Guardians, it was stated at the meeting of the board yesterday, had resigned.
"It was decided to engage a professional rat-catcher."—Daily Mail.
It is, however, not altogether satisfactory to be nursed by a professional rat-catcher, and some of the patients are already complaining most bitterly of the change.
* * * * *
"Of course," said the lady of the house, "you can turn yourself into a hermit if you like. We'll build you a little cell, and——"
"What?" I said. "A real hermit, in a long robe like a bath-gown? With a real cell, and a dish of herbs on a plain deal table, and some rocks to sleep on, and a folio volume always open at the same place? May I really be like that?"
"Yes," she said, "that's what you're coming to. And there'll be a notice stuck up on a tree—'This way to the Hermit,' with a painted hand."
"I know the sort," I said. "A hand with only one finger."
"Yes, one finger pointing in the direction of the cell. And all the village children will follow you when you go out, and you'll threaten them with a gnarled stick, and you'll be indicted as a nuisance."
"But not for a long time," I said. "I shall have lots of good hermiting before that happens. I shall have my breakfasts quite alone and nobody will ask me to go to Mrs. Latimer's musical afternoon in London, 4 to 7."
"Well, you're not a hermit yet, so you'll have to come to Mrs. Latimer's with me. You know you'll enjoy it when you get there."
"And you'll meet plenty of your friends."
"But I don't want to meet my friends," I said. "Friends are people yon go on being friends with without meeting them. That's the essence of true friendship, you know. Absence doesn't alter it. You keep on thinking of dear old Jack and what fun you used to have together at Cambridge; and then some day a funny old gentleman comes up to you in the street and says you don't remember him, and you pretend you know him quite well, and it's Jack all the time, and you wonder how he's got so old while you yourself have kept on being as young as ever. That's friendship."
"This," she said, "is not an Essay Club."
"What should a woman know of friendship?" I said bitterly. "Besides, I shall have to get a new top-hat."
"Well," she said, "there's nothing so very awful in that. But what's the matter with the old one?"
"The old one," I said, "is a blacked sepulchre, and even the black part of it is not very good. The lining is of the sort that makes it necessary to place it on a table with the opening down. Fortunate woman, your hats require no lining and you don't take them off. You cannot sympathise with my feelings. Such a top-hat as mine is good enough for a Board meeting, but it cannot go to Mrs. Latimer's musical afternoon. Her footman would despise me."
"Very well," she said, "get your new hat and have it ready for this day fortnight."
The upshot of this conversation was that on the following day I went to London, wearing my old top-hat, and called at Messrs. Hutchfield's, the famous hatters. It is not a very large shop, but it is very high, and something like a million white hat-boxes, each presumably containing a hat, are stacked in gleaming tiers from floor to ceiling. The higher ones are fetched down by means of a long pole provided at one end with a sort of inverted hook. It is a most dexterous and pleasing trick, only to be attempted by an old hand. An inexperienced practitioner would certainly bring down an avalanche of hat-boxes on the heads of the customers. On one side of the room there is a patent stove in which several irons were heating, not for torture, but for the improvement of hats. Several aproned attendants were bustling about, and one or two customers with bare heads were eyeing one another with an exaggerated air of haughty nonchalance, as who should say, "Observe, we do not wear white aprons. We do not belong to the shop. We are genuine customers. We are waiting for our hats."
"Good morning," I said.
"Good morning, Sir," said one of the attendants; "what would you be requiring to-day?"
"I think," I said, "it was a hat. Yes, I'm sure it was. A top-hat, you know—one of your best."
"Pardon me, Sir." With a graceful and airy movement he whisked off my old hat and took its measure in length and breadth.
"You mustn't draw any inference from the lining," I said. "I'm not really as poor as all that. I've meant to have it re-lined several times, but somehow I never brought it off. Still, it's been a good hat."
"Yes, Sir," he said.
"Could it be——"
"Oh, yes, Sir, we could re-line it for you and make it look almost as good as new."
"Splendid!" I cried. "Then I shan't want a new one, shall I?"
"Well, Sir, it would take some little time. You would want to wear something to go on with till it's finished."
"There is," I said, "some force in that. Put the machine on me at once."
"The what, Sir?"
"The machine," I said. "The beautifully contrived, apparatus made of ever so many wooden keys like the inside of a piano—only those are set in circles. It fits close to the head and you can make it looser or tighter, and when you've got it on you look like a Siamese king in his crown. And when you take it off you tear out a piece of paper and that gives you the exact measure to a hair's-breadth. Come, I'm ready."
His face relaxed into a serious kind of smile.
"Certainly," he said, "you shall have it on, Sir, if you like. But I thought, being an old customer and your measure being known, it might not be necessary."
"Very well," I said, "I'll give up the machine, but I don't see how I can take any further pleasure in this purchase. Still, if you know me so well——"
"We don't forget customers of thirty years' standing," he said proudly.
"That settles it," I said. "I will now buy four hats—a top-hat, a bowler, a soft felt and a straw hat."
"Yes, Sir," he said, and from an upper tier he extracted a hat-box out of which he shortly produced a top-hat and placed it on my head. It did not fit at first, but fire soon reduced it to obedience.
"The others must be similarly treated," I said as I left the shop.
Unfortunately in the interval it had begun to rain and every taxi seemed to be taken. You know what a new top-hat looks like after that. However, with two hats to choose from, I am now ready to face Mrs. Latimer's footman.
R. C. L.
* * * * *
"It has been arranged that the dinner which the Modern Languages Association had intended to give to Professor Rudolf Eucken, of Jena, on the occasion of his forthcoming visit to England to lecture before the Association, shall be amalgamated with the public dinner arranged by the Committee of Friends and Admirers of Professor Eucken."—Morning Post.
Professor Eucken (at last giving way): "What is this, waiter?"
Waiter (confidentially): "Another little amalgamation, Sir. The Modern Languages' ice pudding and the Friends and Admirers' soft roes on toast."
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
OUR NEW PENNY PAPER.
Thanks to Sir EDWARD CARSON—or, as The Times prefers to put it, "the grave importance of the present political situation"—the price of The Times has fallen to one penny.
While it must be admitted that the famous journal is well worth a penny, we think it only fair to say that certain issues of The Daily Mail and Evening News last week, whose amazing editorial organisations were so freely and disinterestedly engaged in overcoming colossal obstacles in order to give information about the approaching revolution, were worth anything from fourpence to ninepence apiece.
If these philanthropic journals had not been behind The Times last week, what might we not have missed? Who, for instance, would have learned that; "the price (2d.) ... was equivalent to that of one penny paper and two halfpenny papers per diem"? We have checked that statement, with the aid of a ready-reckoner and a Latin dictionary, and we find it substantially correct. We are also able to agree to the further statement made last Thursday, that "from Monday next The Times, together with any one of the halfpenny morning papers, will be obtainable for less than the present price of The Times alone." If the mathematician who dug up that fact had said "evening" instead of "morning" his statement, curiously enough, would still have been right.
Thanks to the reminder from The Evening News that first numbers had been known to become valuable, fetching from L10 to L100, some 27,000 people put aside nice clean copies of The Times on Monday, in the hope of selling them at a profit of about 24,000 per cent, in 1964.
The greatest achievement in the annals of journalism was of course The Daily Mail man's successful attempt to interview the publisher of The Times. How he managed it we cannot think; but we are very, very grateful to him. We may add that ours is the only journal that has succeeded in interviewing the intrepid reporter. "How did you contrive to force your way through the seething mass in Printing House Square, and pass the closely-guarded portals of the world's chief and largest newspaper office; and by what means did you persuade the Colossus of publishing to tell you anything about it?" we asked. We regret that we cannot give his reply; only the incomparable genius of the painter of La Gioconda could do that.
A curious incident took place outside the Mansion House on Monday. In the Agony Column of a famous two-penny newspaper on Saturday the following announcement had appeared: "Will wate f. u. outsd. Mansn. Hs. 10-11 Mon. morn. Carry cop. Times so I may no its u." A frantic lady rushed at so many young and middle-aged men, exclaiming, "Horace! at last we meet!" that long before 10.30 it was necessary for a kindly City policeman to lead her away to a neighbouring chemist's for first aid.
* * * * *
"The fact that to-day is the 104th anniversary of the birth of Mr. Gladstone prompts reflection as to the different ways in which their birthdays have been regarded by some famous men."—Westminster Gazette.
The Writer (as he finishes): "Got it in at last, thank Heaven!"
* * * * *
"A number of motor-cars, including one belonging to Mr. Lloyd George, are blocked in the Snowdon district, and the sheep farmers are much perturbed."—Morning Post.
However, they can sleep soundly in their beds now, for he is back in London again.
* * * * *
THE SLIT TROUSER.
(Whose arrival in England is reported in the photographic press.)
You who see advanced attire Photographed for you to mock, Hold your ridicule or ire, Wax not scornful at the shock; Let not your compassion freeze, Hark to Archie for a bit, Ponder, if you please, his pleas, Patience, ere you slight his slit.
Long there raged a warfare grim In the councils of the Nut; Socks were all in all to him Abso-simply-lutely; but— Here's a problem for you pat— How shall Archibald disclose Through the thickness of the spat Iridescent demi-hose?
Yesteryear that problem vexed; One day spatted he would fare, Lacking colour; and the next Spatless, in chromatic wear. No dilemma reads him now, Bidding this or that to go. See, his side-cleft bags allow Spat and sock an equal show.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"There's no book like it," said A. "Get it at once."
"You must read Dash," said B.
"If you take my advice," said C., "and you know I'm not easily pleased by modern fiction, you'll get Dash and simply peg away till you've finished it. It's marvellous."
"I suppose you've read Darnock's Dash?" said D. "It's by far his best thing."
At dinner my partner on each side gurglingly wished to know how I liked Dash, taking it for granted that I knew it more or less by heart.
So having read some of Darnock's earlier work and thought it good, I acquired a copy of Dash and settled down to it.
I had not read more than two pages when it occurred to me that I ought to know what the other books in the library parcel were; so I went to look at them. One was a series of episodes in the career of a wonderful blind policeman who, in spite of his infirmity, performed prodigies of tact on point duty, and by the time I had finished glancing through this it was bed-time. I put Dash under my arm, for I always read for half-an-hour or so in bed. How it happened I cannot imagine, but when I picked up the book and began to read I found, much to my surprise, that it was the other library novel.
"Have you begun Dash yet?" B. asked me at lunch.
"Oh, yes, rather," I said.
"I envy you," he replied. "How far have you got?"
"Not very far yet," I said.
"It's fine, isn't it?" he remarked.
The next evening I had just taken up Dash again when I remembered that that other novel must be finished if it was to be changed on the morrow, so I turned dutifully to that instead. It was a capital story about a criminal who murdered people in an absolutely undetectable way by lending them a poisoned pencil which would not mark until the point was moistened. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
The next evening I was getting on famously with the fifth page of Dash when the library parcel again arrived, containing two new books for those I had returned in the morning.
Meeting C. the next day he asked me if I did not think Dash the finest thing I had ever read.
I said yes, but asked him if he had not found it a little difficult to get into.
"Possibly," he said, "possibly. But what a reward!"
"You like books all in long conversations?" I asked.
"I love Dash," he said, "anyway."
"Did you read every word?" I asked.
"Well, not perhaps every word," he replied, "but I got the sense of every page. I read like that, you know—synthetically."
"Yes, of course," I said.
The next day I changed the two library books that were finished for two more, but it was Dash which I took up first. There is no doubt about its being a very remarkable book, but I had had a rather heavy day and my brain was not at its best. What extraordinary novels people do write nowadays! Fancy making a whole book, as the author of Hot Maraschino has done, out of the Elberfeldt talking horses! In this book, which has an excellent murder in a stable in it, the criminal is given away by a horse who tells her master (it is a mare) what she saw. I couldn't lay the story down.
That night I dined out and heard more about Dash. In fact, I myself started one long conversation on that topic with an idle lady who really had read every word. I went on to recommend it right and left. "You must read Dash," I said at intervals; "it's extraordinarily good."
"Some one was telling me he couldn't get on with it at all," said one of my partners.
"Not really?" I said, and clicked my tongue reproachfully.
"Yes, he says it's so involved and rambling."
"Ah, well," I said, "one must persevere. Books mustn't be too easy. For my part——Yes, champagne, please."
"I'll get it, anyway," she said. "I feel sure your judgment is sound."
Looking in at the club later I found D. playing snooker. After missing an easy shot he turned the talk to Dash.
"Tip-top, isn't it?" he said.
"Which is your favourite chapter?" I asked.
His face told me I had him.
"Oh, well, that's difficult to say," he replied.
"Surely you think that one about the stevedore's spaniel, towards the end, is terrific?" I said.
"Of course that's fine," he replied, "but I was just wondering whether——"
But I didn't stop to listen. There is no stevedore and no spaniel in the whole book, as I had carefully ascertained.
The next day I had A., B. and C. with the same device.
Meanwhile I am plodding away with Dash. I have now reached page 27. A great book, as all agree. But the books that I shall read while I am reading it will make a most interesting list.
* * * * *
* * * * *
A HARD CASE.
DEAR MR. PUNCH,—As the friend of my family from 1846, I ask you for advice on a subject which touches me painfully both as a husband and a father. My wife is, as I personally know, the dearest woman in Great Britain, and our child is, I am credibly informed, the finest child in Europe. Infandum renovare dolorem.
Our child is four months old; it is named Eunice. Yesterday I found my dear wife with the infant weeping piteously—my wife, that is, not the infant. I proceeded at once to use all the means in my power to soothe her and to ascertain the reason of her unhappy state. But it was only after a considerable time and the expenditure of no little ingenuity on my part that she revealed the secret.
"I knew how it would be, John," she said between her sobs, "I knew from the first. I felt sure that, when baby came you wouldn't care for her. And—and you don't."
I at once took the child in my arms and guggled to it. The child, I am happy to tell you, Sir, responded at once to my paternal attention and guggled happily in reply. I felt patriotic pride in the part I had taken in adding to the womanhood of my beloved country.
A few days later I found my wife sobbing violently. Carrying the child with me—it was still guggling—I crossed to her and again used my best endeavours, not only in consolation, but to ascertain the cause of her fresh unhappiness. Again it was long before I obtained a reply. But at last she said: "I knew how it would be, John," her sobbing was as violent as before, "I knew from the first. I felt sure that when baby came you would only care for her and neglect me."
Now, Sir, what shall I do?
Your inquiring admirer,
P.S.—My wife is sobbing again as I write. I have at last ascertained her trouble. It is that I don't care for the baby.
* * * * *
"The other night a rabbit ran for a quarter-of-a-mile in the flare of a lighted motor-car on the Eggleston road."—Teesdale Mercury.
"I hope," puffed the rabbit, well within record at the end of the fourteenth lap, "I hope it won't burn itself out before I've finished."
* * * * *
"To accomplish this distance at an average speed of 20 miles per hour would take 281/2 hours. To this time, however, had to be added the Channel crossing both ways, which takes, roughly, about eight hours."—Motor Cycling.
"Roughly" is good, alas!
* * * * *
It is difficult to order our emotions as we would have them be. Try as we will, we cannot read aloud the following extract from The Birmingham Weekly Post with the solemnity which properly it should call forth:—
"A feature of the programme was the opening chorus. During this a lady gardener in male attire arrived on the stage with a wheelbarrow full of vegetables, and caused amusement by throwing these among the audience. Presently the missiles commenced to hit persons, one victim, being the vicar, who, struck in the eye by a turnip, was compelled to retire."
* * * * *
ORANGES AND LEMONS.
II.—On the way.
"Toulon," announced Archie, as the train came to a stop and gave out its plaintive dying whistle. "Naval port of our dear allies, the French. This would interest Thomas."
"If he weren't asleep," I said.
"He'll be here directly," said Simpson from the little table for two on the other side of the gangway. "I'm afraid he had a bad night. Here, garcon—er—donnez-moi du cafe et—er"—But the waiter had slipped past him again—the fifth time.
"Have some of ours," said Myra kindly, holding out the pot.
"Thanks very much, Myra, but I may as well wait for Thomas, and—garcon, du cafe pour—I don't think he'll be—deux cafes, garcon, s'il vous—it's going to be a lovely day."
Thomas came in quietly, sat down opposite Simpson, and ordered breakfast.
"Samuel wants some too," said Myra.
Thomas looked surprised, grunted and ordered another breakfast.
"You see how easy it is," said Archie. "Thomas, we're at Toulon, where the ententes cordiales come from. You ought to have been up long ago taking notes for the Admiralty."
"I had a rotten night," said Thomas. "Simpson fell out of bed in the middle of it."
"Oh, poor Samuel!"
"You don't mean to say you gave him the top berth!" I asked in surprise. "You must have known he'd fall out."
"But Thomas dear, surely Samuel's just falling-out-of-bed noise wouldn't wake you up," said Myra. "I always thought you slept so well."
"He tried to get back into my bed."
"I was a little dazed," explained Simpson hastily, "and I hadn't got my spectacles."
"Still you ought to have been able to see Thomas there."
"Of course I did see him as soon as I got in, and then I remembered I was up above. So I climbed up."
"It must be rather difficult climbing up at night," thought Dahlia.
"Not if you get a good take-off, Dahlia," said Simpson earnestly.
"Simpson got a good one off my face," explained Thomas.
"My dear old chap, I was frightfully sorry. I did come down at once and tell you how sorry I was, didn't I?"
"You stepped back on to it," said Thomas shortly, and he turned his attention to the coffee.
Our table had finished breakfast. Dahlia and Myra got up slowly, and Archie and I filled our pipes and followed them out.
"Well, we'll leave you to it," said Archie to the other table. "Personally, I think it's Thomas's turn to step on Simpson. You ought to assert yourself, Thomas, anyhow. Throw some jam at him and then let bygones be bygones. But don't be long, because there's a good view coming."
The good view came, and then another and another, and they merged together and became one long moving panorama of beauty. We stood in the corridor and drank it in ... and at intervals we said "Oh-h!" and "Oh, I say!" and "Oh, I say, really!" And there was one particular spot—I wish I could remember where, so that it might be marked by a suitable tablet—at the sight of which Simpson was overheard to say "Mon Dieu!" for (probably) the first time in his life.
"You know, all these are olive trees, you chaps," he said every five minutes. "I wonder if there are any olives growing on them?"
"Too early," said Archie. "It's the sardine season now."
It was at Cannes that we saw the first oranges.
"That does it," I said to Myra. "We're really here. And look, there's a lemon tree. Give me the oranges and lemons and you can have all the palms and the cactuses and the olives."
"Like polar bears in the arctic region," said Myra.
I thought for a moment. Superficially there is very little resemblance between an orange and a polar bear.
"Like polar bears," I said hopefully.
"I mean," luckily she went on, "polar bears do it for you in the polar regions. You really know you're there then. Give me the polar bears, I always say, and you can keep the seals and the walruses and the penguins. It's the hall-mark."
"Eight. I knew you meant something. In London," I went on, "it is raining. Looking out of my window I see a lamp-post (not in flower) beneath a low grey sky. Here we see oranges against a blue sky a million miles deep. What a blend! Myra, let's go to a fancy-dress ball when we got back. You go as an orange and I'll go as a very blue, blue sky, and you shall lean against me."
"And we'll dance the tangerine," said Myra.
But now observe us approaching Monte Carlo. For an hour past Simpson has been collecting his belongings. Two bags, two coats, a camera, a rug, Thomas, golf-clubs, books—his compartment is full of things which have to be kept under his eye lest they should evade him at the last moment. As the train leaves Monaco his excitement is intense.
"I think, old chap," he says to Thomas, "I'll wear the coats after all."
"And the bags," says Thomas, "and then you'll have a suit."
Simpson puts on the two coats and appears very big and hot.
"I'd better have my hands free," he says, and straps the camera and the golf clubs on to himself. "Then if you nip out and get a porter I can hand the bags out to him through the window."
"All right," says Thomas. He is deep in his book and looks as if he were settled in his corner of the carriage for the day.
The train stops. There is bustle, noise, confusion. Thomas in some magical way has disappeared. A porter appears at the open window and speaks voluble French to Simpson. Simpson looks round wildly for Thomas. "Thomas!" he cries. "Un moment," he says to the porter. "Thomas! Mon ami, il n'est pas——I say, Thomas, old chap, where are you? Attendez un moment. Mon ami—er—reviendra"—He is very hot. He is wearing, in addition to what one doesn't mention, an ordinary waistcoat, a woolly waist-coat for steamer use, a tweed coat, an aquascutum, an ulster, a camera and a bag of golf clubs. The porter, with many gesticulations, is still hurling French at him.
It is too much for Simpson. He puts his head out of the window and, observing in the distance a figure of such immense dignity that it can only belong to the station-master, utters to him across the hurly-burly a wild call for help.
"Ou est Cook's homme?" he cries.
A. A. M.
* * * * *
"THE GREAT CONFLICT.
The End is Not Yet.
Well, well! After twenty-eight years we can wait another day.
* * * * *
"ESSAY CLUB: March 1st. The Poetry of John Masefield, or Vegetarianism—is it more Humane?"—Time and Talents.
Less blood-stained, anyhow.
* * * * *
From a letter in The Natal Mercury headed "Butter through the Post":—
"We send it to Donnybrook by the quickest method, i.e., on the post-card."
We have often found some on our post-cards.
* * * * *
THE GALLANT SONS OF MARS.
["A troop of the Queen's Bays, 2nd Dragoon Guards, while galloping past the Royal Pavilion at Aldershot, observed a woman fall from her bicycle in a faint.
"They instantly drew rein, and, dismounting, assisted her to the 5th Dragoon Guards orderly room, where they vied with each other in giving her every possible attention.
"She speedily recovered and was able to resume her journey to Farnborough."—Daily Paper.]
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE WILD SWAN.
(Lament on a very rare bird who recently appeared in England and was immediately shot.)
Over the sea (ye maids) a wild swan came; (O maidens) it was but the other day; Men saw him as he passed, with earnest aim To some sequestered spot down Norfolk way— A thing whose like had not been seen for years: Lament, ye damsels, nor refuse your tears.
Serene, he winged his alabaster flight Neath the full beams of the mistaken sun O'er gazing crowds, till at th' unwonted sight Some unexpected sportsman with a gun Brought down the bird, all fluff, mid sounding cheers: Mourn, maidens, mourn, and wipe the thoughtful tears.
Well you may weep. No common bird was he. Has it not long been known, the whole world wide, A wild swan is a prince of faerie, Who comes in such disguise to choose his bride From those of humble lot and tame careers, Of whom I now require some punctual tears.
Wherefore, I say, let every scullion-wench Grieve, nor the dairy-maid from sobs refrain; The sad postmistress, too, should feel the wrench, And the lone tweeny of her loss complain; Let one—let all afflict the listening spheres: Deplore, ye maids, his fate with rueful tears.
It was for these he sought this teeming land, High on the silvery wings of old romance; One knows not where; he had bestowed his hand, But e'en the least had stood an equal chance Of such fair triumph, o'er her bitter peers And the sweet pleasure of their anguished tears.
O prince of faerie! O stately swan! And ye, whose hopes are with the might-have-beens, Curst be the wretch through whom those hopes have gone, Who blew your magic swain to smithereens; Let your full-sorrows whelm his stricken ears; Lament, ye damsels, nor refuse your tears.
* * * * *
The Lady's Realm on a new film:—
"The cost from first to last amounted to L12,000 ... The entire cast—an enormous one, numbering eight thousand people ... visited Rome and the Nile."
This decides us where to spend our holidays. To do Rome and the Nile for L1 10s. a head is not a chance to be missed.
* * * * *
It has been asked, "Where were the police?" Here is the answer:—
"The six cuts appeared to have been inflicted with the cutting edge of a chopper, and the seventh with the flat part of the end of the copper."—Manchester Guardian.
Robert (putting his foot through the picture): "May as well make a job of it."
* * * * *
THE LATEST VELASQUITH.
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
(Extracted from the Diary of Toby, M.P.)
House of Commons, Monday, March 9.—When on conclusion of Questions the PRIME MINISTER rose to move Second Reading of Home Rule Bill, House presented appearance seen only once or twice in lifetime of a Parliament. Chamber crowded from floor to topmost bench of Strangers' Gallery. Members who could not find seats made for the side galleries, filling both rows two deep. Still later comers patiently stood at the Bar throughout the full hour occupied by the historic speech. A group more comfortably settled themselves on the steps of the SPEAKER'S Chair. The principal nations of the world were represented in the Diplomatic Gallery by their ambassadors. As for the peers, they fought for places in limited space allotted to them with the energy of messenger-boys paid to secure places in the queue of first night of new play at popular theatre.
Entering while Questions were in progress PREMIER was received with rousing cheer. Renewed with fuller force when he stood at the Table to discharge his momentous task. That the enthusiasm was largely testimony to personal popularity and esteem appeared from what followed. Weighed down with gravity of responsibility, as he unfolded his plan he found lacking the inspiration of continuous outbursts of cheering that usually punctuate important speeches by Party leaders.
Radicals and Nationalists were prepared to accept his concessions to Ulster feeling; but they did not like them. REDMOND'S declaration that the PREMIER "has gone to the very extremest limits of concession" drew from Ministerialists a more strident cheer than any accorded to their Leader as he expounded his plan.
Consciousness of this significant luke-warmness reacted upon PREMIER. He spoke with unusual slowness, further developing tendency of recent growth to drop his voice at end of sentence.
BONNER LAW studiously quiet in manner, moderate in speech. Nevertheless, perhaps therefore, made it clear that PREMIER'S overtures, unloved by his followers, will not be welcomed by Opposition. CARSON, who had enthusiastic reception from Unionists, flashed forth epigram that put Ulster's view in a phrase.
"We don't want sentence of death," he said, "with a stay of execution for six years."
Circumstances provided TIM HEALY'S opportunity. Seized it with both hands. On behalf of Liberal Party, PREMIER proposed the vivisection of Ireland. JOHN REDMOND consented. Plan submitted was that four counties of Ulster might, if they pleased, be excluded from operation of Home Rule Act for period of six years.
"Would any sane Britisher," TIM asked, "embark upon civil war for the difference between six years and 666 years?" As he mentioned the Number of the Beast TIM turned to regard the Irish Leader perched in corner seat at top of Gangway. "Why should not the hon. gentleman give up that, as he has given up everything else? The remains of his principles ornament every step of the Gangway."
Business done.—Second Reading of Home Rule Bill moved. Debate adjourned for indefinite period.
Tuesday.—Prospect of CHANCELLOR OF EXCHEQUER brought up at Bar by RANDLES and CASSEL attracted big House in spite of trial opening in mid-dinner-hour. As the quarters of an hour sped benches continued to fill up till, when LLOYD GEORGE rose to offer his defence (which speedily merged into form of attack), there were fully live hundred present.
Prisoner indicted on grounds of repeated inaccuracy, particularly on account of ineradicable tendency to speak disrespectfully of dukes. Nothing could be nicer than manner of prosecuting counsel. They were there to discharge a public duty as champions of the truth, vindicators of desirable habit of abstention from exaggeration.
"I am," said RANDLES, "not here to be personally disagreeable to the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, whom I have always found genial and courteous."
As for the junior counsel, he was affected almost to tears in prospect of task jointly committed to him.
"I do not wish," he said in his opening sentence, "to make anything I say more offensive or unpleasant than—than the necessities of the case warrant."
Ribald Radicals laughed loudly at this way of putting it. With the more sober-minded its ingenuousness had favourable effect, maintained throughout admirable speech.
No one enjoyed the affair more than prisoner at the bar. Like his great prototype, LLOYD GEORGE is never so happy as when, with back against wall, he turns to face an attacking host.
"Reminds me of days that are no more," said the MEMBER FOR SARK, looking on animated scene from modest quarters on a back bench. "Feel thirty years younger. Am transported as by a magical Eastern carpet to times when DON JOSE rushed about the country, fluttering his Unauthorised Programme, bearding barons in their dens, lashing out at landlords, and unceremoniously digging dukes in the ribs, what time a pack of scandalised Tories barked furiously at his heels. LLOYD GEORGE is an able man, courageous to boot, endowed with gift of turning out sentences that dwell in the memory, delighting some hearers, rankling in hearts of others. After all, he is but a replica, excellently done I admit, of the greatest work of art in the way of Parliamentary and political debate known to this generation."
Even while SARK murmured his confidences to his neighbour they were pointed by dramatic turn in lively speech. Among charges of inaccuracy specially cited was LLOYD GEORGE'S description of the Highland clearances, whereby, he asserted, "thousands of people were driven from their holdings by the exercise of the arbitrary power of the landlord." "I will give you an authority for that," he said, and proceeded to read a passage of burning eloquence, in which multitudes of hardworking, God-fearing people were depicted as driven from the land that had belonged to their ancestors, their cottages unroofed, themselves turned out homeless and forlorn.
"Who said that?" scornfully inquired an incautious Member seated opposite.
Quick came the reply. "The Right Honourable Member for West Birmingham," the CHANCELLOR answered in blandest tones.
Followed up this neatly inserted thrust by quoting from Tory newspapers, platform and Parliamentary speeches what was said of DON JOSE in those his unregenerate days. Some of them curiously identical with those in use just now for edification and reproof of another public man.
Business done.—CHANCELLOR OF EXCHEQUER indicted for habitual inaccuracy, gross and unfounded personal attacks on individuals. Vote of censure negatived by 304 votes against 240.
Thursday.—Major JOHN AUGUSTUS HOPE, late of the King's Royal Rifle Corps, nearly had his breath taken away at Question time. Close student of methods of WORTHINGTON EVANS, Mrs. Gummidge of Parliamentary life, not yet recovered from depression as he sits below Gangway "thinking of the old 'un" (MASTERMAN). The Major has of late displayed much industry in devising abstruse conundrums designed to bring to light dark places in working of Insurance Act. In MASTERMAN'S enforced and regretted absence, duty of replying to this class of Question on behalf of Minister undertaken by WEDGWOOD BENN, whose sprightly though always courteous replies greatly amuse both sides.
To-day the Major fired off, as it wore from a mitrailleuse, volley of minute questions involving prolonged research on part of Minister to whom they were addressed. Before the smoke had quite cleared away BENN rose, remarked, "I assure the honourable and gallant gentleman he is totally incorrect," and resumed his seat.
The Major gasped. After devotion of precious time to looking up material for his conundrums, after skill and labour bestowed in shaping them, was this the result? Every hair on his head bristled with indignation. His voice choked with anger. His eye, accustomed to survey other battlefields, gleamed on the laughing faces that confronted him. Unseemly merriment increased as he attempted to put Supplementary Questions, which got unaccountably mixed up between Section 72 of the National Insurance Act, 1911, and the provision of Insurance Regulations (No. 2) (Scotland).
If the Major survives shock more will be heard of this.
Business done.—In Committee on Army Estimates.
* * * * *
A BOOK OF THE DAY.
The Life-Story of a Turnip. By Ato Mato, F.R.V.S. Illustrated in colour. Messrs. Tuber, Root and Co. Price 3s. net.
(Reviewed by A. D. Ryan, M.A.)
There have been autobiographical studies of the animal world; why not of the vegetable? This is a delightful monograph, executed with consummate skill and verisimilitude throughout. The author, who holds the Professorship of Cereal Metaphysics at the University of Tokio, has devoted the greater part of his life to the study of the vegetable kingdom; and we need hardly remind our readers of the exceedingly interesting treatise, entitled "The Psychology of the Cabbage," which appeared in a recent issue of the Carnifugal Quarterly.
It is indeed time for a more scientific treatment of vegeto-animal phenomenon; and Mr. Mato is the pioneer of a science which, we hope, will soon receive the attention which it undoubtedly deserves. The present volume is in its way a masterpiece. The author has successfully avoided treating his subject from a too human point of view, and we are paying him a very high compliment when we say that the more we study the work the more we are impressed with what we may best describe as the "vegetability" of the writer's mind. The book is racy of the soil; it is written in a charming and convincing style, and bears the stamp of imaginative originality. An acquaintance to whom we lent the book admirably expresses the impression we had formed of it by saying that it might have been written by EUSTACE or HALLIE MILES. It is characterised throughout by the lofty and detached spirit in which a cultured turnip would view the troubled course of mundane events. The sentiments expressed on such questions as Woman Suffrage, Home Rule, LLOYD GEORGE'S land policy, though inevitably Radical in tendency, are admirably sane and unbiassed. We cannot do better, if we would convey to our readers some conception of the general tone of the work, than quote the opening paragraph:—
"I was born of humble but worthy parents, but the first years" [weeks?] "of my existence were embittered by the loss of both father and mother. My father, who was then in the prime of life, was torn one day from the bosom of his family, tied up in a sack, and taken with some two hundred fellow-sufferers to a slaughter-house, where he was cruelly butchered. Still more tragic was the end of my dear mother. Like my father she was dragged away from her native soil. She was then hurled into an empty shed, where for many days she languished, deprived of both food and light. At last she was thrown into a tumbril with some five hundred unfortunates, carted to a neighbouring farm, thence deported in strict captivity to COVENT GARDEN, and finally conveyed to the sumptuous household of Mr. BERNARD SHAW, who devoured her in three gulps."
From this poignant passage the reader may see for himself the profound understanding which Mr. Mato has brought to bear on his theme. We commend this book to all lovers of nature.
* * * * *
THE CINEMA HABIT.
The writer of "The Ideal Film Plot," which appeared in a recent issue of Punch, has quoted an "authority" (anonymous) for the approval of his scenario. It is quite evident that this "authority" (so-styled) must belong to the plebeian ranks of the film-world. It cannot reside in our suburb.
Our cinema theatre is, I venture to state, of a far superior order, both as to drama and as to morality. It is not a mere lantern-hall, close and stuffy, with twopenny and fourpenny seats (half-price to children, and tea provided free at matinee performances), but a white-and-gold Picturedrome, catering to an exclusive class of patrons at sixpence and a shilling, with neat attendants in dove-grey who atomise scent about the aisles, two palms, one at each side of the proscenium (real palms), and, in addition to a piano, a mustel organ to accompany the pathetic passages in the films. Moreover, the commissionaire outside, whose medals prove that he has seen service in the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Black Hole of Calcutta, and the Great Raid on the House of Commons in 1910, is not one of those blatant-voiced showmen who clamour for patronage; he is a quiet and dignified receptionnaire, content to rely on the fame and good repute of his theatre. Sometimes evening dress (from "The Laburnums," Meadowsweet Avenue, who are on the Stock Exchange) is to be seen in the more expensive seats.
It is unquestionably a high-class Picturedrome. True that the local dentist, who is a stickler for correct English, protests against the designation. I have pointed out to him that if a "Hippodrome" is a place where one sees performing hippos, then surely a place where one sees performing pictures is correctly styled a "Picturedrome."
I am acquiring the cinema habit.
It is very restful. Each film is preceded on the screen by a certificate showing that its morality has been guaranteed by Mr. REDFORD. I have complete confidence in Mr. REDFORD'S sense of propriety. If, for instance, a bedroom scene is shown and a lady is about to change her gown, one's advance blushes are needless. That film will be arrested at the loosing of the first hook or button. Virtue will always be plainly triumphant and vice as plainly vanquished. Even the minor imperfections of character will be suitably punished. When on the screen we see Daisy, the flighty college girl, borrowing without permission her friend's hat, gown, shoes, necklace and curls in order to make a fascinating display before her young college man, it is certain that she will be publicly shamed by her friends and discredited in the eyes of her lover whose affections she seeks to win in this unmoral fashion.
On the screen we shall be sure to meet many old friends. The young American society nuts, in square-rigged coats, spacious trousers, and knobbly shoes, will buzz around the pretty girl like flies around a honey-pot, clamouring for the privilege of presenting her with a twenty-dollar bouquet of American Beauty roses. The bouquet she accepts will be the hero's; and the other nuts will then group themselves in the background while she registers a glad but demure smile full in the eye of the camera.
The hero, however, loses his paternal expectations in the maelstrom of Wall Street. Throwing off his coat—literally, because at the cinema we are left in no doubt as to intentions—he resolves to go "out West" and retrieve the family fortunes.
Our old friends the cow-boys meet him at the wooden shack which represents the railway station at Waybackville, registering great glee at the prospect of hazing a tenderfoot. We know full well that he will eventually win their respect and high regard—probably by foiling a dastardly plot on the part of a Mexican half-breed—and we are therefore in no anxiety of mind when they raise the dust around his feet with their six-shooters, toss him in a blanket or entice him on to a meek-looking, but in reality record-busting, broncho.
In the middle of the drama we look forward to the "chases," and we are never disappointed. Our pursued hero, attired in the picturesque bandarilleros of shaggy mohair and the open-throated shirterino of the West, will race through the tangled thickets of the picadoro-trees; thunder down the crumbling banks of amontillados so steep that the camera probably gets a crick in the neck looking up at him; ride the foaming torrent with one hand clasping the mane of his now tamed broncho, and the other hand triggering his shooting-iron; and eventually fall exhausted from the horse at the very doorstep of the ranch, one arm, pinged by a dastardly rifle-bullet, dangling helplessly by his side. (It is, by the way, always the arm or shoulder; the cinema never allows him to get it distressingly in the leg or in the neck.)
In the ultimate, with the wounded arm in a sling, he will tenderly embrace the heroine through a hundred feet of film, she meanwhile registering great joy and trustfulness, until the scene slowly darkens into blackness, and the screen suddenly announces that the next item on the programme will be No. 7, Exclusive to the Picturedrome.
We are greatly favoured with "exclusives." It may be possible that other suburbs have these films, but it must be second-hand, after we have finished with them. The names of the artistes who create the roles are announced on the screen: "Captain Jack Reckless—Mr. Courcy van Highball," or it maybe "Juliet, Miss Mamie Euffles." Or it is a film taken at the local regatta or athletic sports, and the actors in it include all the notabilities of the district. We flock to see how we (or our neighbours) look on the screen, and enjoy a hearty laugh when the scullers of "The Laburnums" register a crab full in the eye of the camera, or "The Oleanders" canoe receives a plenteous backwash from a river-steamer.
But the staple fare is drama—red-blooded drama, where one is never in doubt as to who is in love with whom, and how much. Sometimes, to be frank, there is a passing flirtation, due to pique, between a wife and a third party, leading to misunderstandings, complications and blank despair on the part of the husband; but as there is always a "little one" somewhere in the background, we are never anxious as to the final outcome. It will end with the husband embracing the repentant (but stainless) wife, and at the same time extending a manly hand of reconciliation to the third party.
We also like the dying fiddler (with visions) and the motor-car splurges—especially the latter. In our daily life we are plagued with motor-cars, cycle-cars and motor-cycle side-cars, being on a highroad from London town to the country; but on the screen we adore them.
The cinema is very restful. There are no problems to vex the moral judgment; no psychological doubts; no anxieties. It will be "the mixture as before," ending in the loving, lingering kiss.
Say what you will of Mr. REDFORD, he never deprives us of the kiss.
* * * * *
* * * * *
WATER ON THE BRAIN.
Some interesting revelations have been published in The Daily Mail on the tonic effect of the bath on our greatest workers, notably stockbrokers, novelists and actors.
Mr. ARTHUR BOURCHIER declared that he read plays in the bath and that the best results were obtained by those selected either in the bath or on a long railway journey. "A man," he added, "is always at his best in his bath." Again, Mr. CHARLES GARVICE, the famous novelist, said that he always felt intensely musical while having his bath, though the ideas for his stories came chiefly while he was shaving.
We are glad to be able to supplement these revelations with some further testimony from the elite of the world of letters.
Mr. CLEMENT SHORTER, in the course of an interesting interview, spoke eloquently on the daily renewal of the bath. From the day when he first became a Wet Bob at Eton he had never wavered in his devotion to matutinal and vespertinal ablutions. In fact, his philosophy on this point might be summed up in the quatrain:—
A bath in the morning Is the bookman's adorning; A bath at night Is the bookman's delight.
His ideal form of exercise was a ride in a bath-chair, just as his favourite diet was bath-chaps and bath-buns. For the rest he found that the ideas of his best pars came to him while he was using a scrubbing-brush which had belonged to Posh, EDWARD FITZGERALD'S boatman.
Mr. LAURENCE BINYON, the poet and art critic, confessed that some of his choicest lyrics had been composed when he was using a loofah. But it must be applied rhythmically, to the accompaniment of a soft hissing sound such as was affected by stable-hands when grooming high-mettled steeds. Mr. BINYON added that it was a curious thing that while frequent references abounded in the classics to drinking from the Pierian spring, no mention occurred of bathing in it. But the divine afflatus no doubt worked differently in different ages. DIOGENES lived in a tub, but there was no evidence that he ever took one.
Mr. PERCY FITZGERALD, in reply to a request for his views on the subject, said that he considered soap and water to be an invaluable intellectual stimulant. DICKENS was a great believer in it; so, too, was Lady Macbeth and the famous Bishop WILBERFORCE, known as "Soapy Sam" from his excessive addiction to detergents. CHARLES LEVER, again, whom he knew intimately, had a passion for washing and, so he believed, started a soap factory, which was still in existence.
The Baroness ORCZY pointed out to our representative that there was a natural harmony between different sorts of baths and different styles of composition. For heroic romance, cold baths were indispensable. For the novel of sensation she recommended champagne with a dash of ammoniated quinine. Similarly with regard to the use of soaps. Thus in any of her stories in which royalty, played a prominent part she found it impossible to dispense with Old Brown Windsor.
Mr. MAX BEERBOHM contented himself by cordially endorsing Mr. ARTHUR BOURCHIER'S statement that he was (if ever) at his best in his bath.
* * * * *
There is cloud and a splash of blue sky overhead, And the road by the common's the brave road to tread; You miss all your neighbours, And hear the wind play His pipes and his tabors Along the king's way.
From the elms at the corner the rooks tumble out To dance you Sir Roger in clamorous rout; For all honest people There's gold on the whin, And bells in the steeple, And ale at the inn.
The brewer's brown horses, they shine in the sun, And each of the team must weigh nearly a ton. They stamp and they sidle, Their great necks they arch, And snatch at the bridle This morning of March.
For Winter is over, you see the fine sights— The geese on the common, the boys flying kites, The daffydowndillies That stoop on the stem, And my pretty Phyllis Who's gathering them.
* * * * *
SIGNERS OF THE TIMES.
Ralston came into the railway carriage with a fountain-pen and a huge sheet of official-looking paper.
"Pardon my intrusion," he said. "This is a non-party business. I am just getting a few signatures——"
"Don't apologise, Sir," interrupted Baffin. "I am delighted to see a young man like you working in such a cause. Every loyal Englishman, unless blindly ignorant or filled with Radical spite, will be delighted to sign it."
Grabbing the fountain-pen he scribbled the imposing signature, "James Baffin, Hughenden, Tulse Hill."
"It doesn't involve any financial responsibility?" enquired Macdougal with a touch of national caution.
"Not in the least. You just sign," replied Ralston.
Down went the name of Luke Macdougal.
Wilcox had to have his attention drawn to the petition because he pretended to be absorbed in The Times—reading it with the attachment of an old subscriber, though we all knew he had only taken it for two days.
"Of course," said Wilcox, "at the present moment I could not think of taking any active part in military operations myself, but I am sure my son-in-law——"
"You are not supposed to do anything but sign," said Ralston.
"Certainly, certainly, I'll be very pleased to sign. My son-in-law is a most determined young fellow and feels most strongly on this point."
And Mr. Wilcox amiably offered up his son-in-law as a vicarious sacrifice.
Dodham was a little dubious. "You see I'm not a politician," he began.
"Politics have nothing to do with it," said Ralston.
"No one, Sir, but an abject coward," broke in Baffin, "would shrink from saving his country at such a critical moment."
"Well," said Dodham, "one can't be far wrong when non-party men like KIPLING and GEORGE ALEXANDER are signing. I think I shall be justified."
The name of J. Percival Dodham was added to the list.
Ralston turned to me. "You will sign, old man?"
"No, thanks," I said. "Signed a teetotal-pledge when I was six, and my aunts have brought it up against me ever since. Besides I haven't a father-in-law to take my place."
We stopped at a station.
"I'm off," said Ralston; "got to rake up more signatures."
Four men glared contemptuously at me for the rest of the journey. I don't know whether they regarded me as a miserable Little Englander or a wicked Big Irelander.
When we reached Ludgate Hill I saw Ralston standing triumphantly on the platform.
"Done well to-day?" I queried.
"Oceans of signatures."
I glanced over his shoulder and saw that the printing on the outer sheet began, "To the Manager, S. E. and L. C. D. Railway Companies."
"What's he got to do with this thing?" I demanded.
"Everything," explained Ralston amiably. "It's a petition to run the 8.42 ten minutes earlier. I can't get to the office by 9.15 as it is."
"What," I cried, "have all your miserable dupes been signing away ten minutes of their breakfast time?"
Ralston winked at me. "I've just got to go into a carriage and say it's non-political and they jump to sign it. Signing's a sort of habit nowadays. Not my fault if they don't listen to explanations."
My heart thrilled as I thought of what the brave men would say who, under the impression they were merely promising their own or their relations' blood, had tragically shortened their breakfast hour. Talk of revolutions! Look out for a revolution in the Tulse Hill district when the 8.42 becomes the 8.32!
* * * * *
* * * * *
MR. BALFOUR: MIXED DOUBLE LIFE.
(From our Special Correspondent.)
"I must confess that I felt somewhat nervous," said Mr. BALFOUR after the match, as he sipped a split sal-volatile and cinnamon, "but not so nervous as I was in the singles. But it was the first time that I ever stood up to the twin-screw service which Baron von Stosch uses so cleverly, and once or twice I was beaten by the swerve." But his partner, the famous Basque amateur, Mme. Jaureguiberry, was loud in his praises. "He played like a statesman and a diplomatist," she said. The Grand Duke MICHAEL was also greatly impressed and made a neat mot. "His fore-hand drives," he said, "were worthy of a driver of a four-in-hand." Mr. BALFOUR, it should be noted, wore brown tennis shoes with rubber soles, unlike Sir OLIVER LODGE, who always golfs in white buckskin boots. His shirt was of some soft material and was marked with his name on a tape, "A. J. BALFOUR. 6. 1913."
Details of the Game.
Mr. BALFOUR started serving, and the first two games fell to him and his partner owing to a certain wildness in the returns of Princess Pongo, a Nigerian lady of remarkable agility who has only been playing tennis for the last three months, as, owing to the laws of the Hausa tribe, mixed tennis is strictly forbidden in Nigeria. The Princess was, however, well backed up by her partner, the Baron von Stosch, an athletic Prussian with a powerful smash, and after five games all had been called the set fell to the ex-PREMIER and his partner. In the second set a regrettable incident occurred, a ball skidding off Mr. BALFOUR's racquet into the eye of the Grand Duke Uriel, who was acting as umpire. Mr. BALFOUR was much upset by the contretemps, and repeatedly sliced his drive into the net, remarking, "Dear, dear," on two occasions.
The activity of the Princess Pongo, who wore a tasteful toque surmounted by a stuffed baby gorilla, was much admired, and when the score was called "one set all," the enthusiasm of the bystanders knew no bounds. A slight delay was caused by the arrival of a telegram for Mr. BALFOUR, announcing that, in view of the grave importance of the present political situation, The Times had been reduced to a penny. This he perused with deep emotion. On the resumption of the game, however, the ex-PREMIER at once showed himself to be in his best form. He sclaffed several beauties past the Baron, nonplussed the Nigerian princess by his luscious lobs, and finished off the set and match by a wonderful scoop-stroke which died down like a poached egg.
Early in the set he gave a remarkable proof of his detachment. Just as the Princess was preparing to serve one of her juiciest undercut strokes, the tones of a soprano practising her scales rang out from a neighbouring flat. "Rather sharp, I think," said Mr. BALFOUR, and the Princess, overcome by the ready wit of the ex-PREMIER, served four faults in quick succession. At the conclusion of the game Mr. BALFOUR wiped his face twice with his handkerchief and signed his name in the birthday books of several American heiresses.
We understand that there is no truth in the rumour that Mr. BALFOUR will box five rounds with CARPENTIER at a Charity Bazaar and Gymkhana next Saturday, but hopes are entertained that he will dance the Ta-tao with the Princess Pongo, and enter for the three-legged race with the Grand Duke Uriel.
* * * * *
"TO MAKE THE PUNISHMENT FIT THE CRIME."
* * * * *
AN IDOL OF THE MARKET PLACE.
Decorum and the butcher's cat Are seldom far apart— From dawn when clouds surmount the air, Piled like a beauty's powdered hair, Till dusk, when down the misty square Rumbles the latest cart
He sits in coat of white and grey Where the rude cleaver's shock Horrid from time to time descends, And his imposing presence lends Grace to a platform that extends Beneath the chopping-block.
How tranquil are his close-piled cheeks His paws, sequestered warm! An oak-grained panel backs his head And all the stock-in-trade is spread, A symphony in white and red, Round his harmonious form.
The butcher's brave cerulean garb Flutters before his face, The cleaver dints his little roof Of furrowed wood; remote, aloof He sits superb and panic-proof In his accustomed place.
Threading the columned county hall, Mid-most before his eyes, Alerter dog and loitering maid Cross from the sunlight to the shade, And small amenities of trade Under the gables rise;
Cats of the town, a shameless crew, Over the way he sees Propitiate with lavish purr An unresponsive customer, Or, meek with sycophantic fur, Caress the children's knees.
But he, betrothed to etiquette, Betrays nor head nor heart; Lone as the Ark on Ararat, A monument of fur and fat, Decorum and the butcher's cat Are seldom far apart.
* * * * *
"It was Horace that put in print the old truth that no man in this world is satisfied with the lot which either fortune or others have put him to."—"T. P." in his "Weekly."
HORACE, of course, was always rushing into print.
* * * * *
"Her hands dropped to her side. She toyed with the little locket on the gold chain at her throat. 'I am capable of anything!' she said."—"Daily Mirror" Serial.
* * * * *
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
MR. HENRY HOLIDAY'S Reminiscences of my Life (HEINEMANN) will show you a kindly simple soul who had an extraordinarily nice time, met all kinds of interesting folk, and had a generous devotion to any number of unpopular causes, such as Women's Suffrage, the futuristic socialism of BELLAMY'S Looking Backward, Home Rule in Ireland, healthy and artistic dress, good music, the abolition of war. Whatever capacity of expression his successful and not undistinguished career as a painter (amongst other things, of BEATRICE cutting DANTE on the bridge), stained-glass worker and mural decorator proves him to have had in his proper medium, the gift of pointed literary expression and appropriate selection seems to have been withheld from him. But he has little reason to complain. Some, at least, of his causes are appreciably nearer victory than when he espoused them; we are even a little nearer looking backwards. One small point in these discursive memoirs will especially delight the mildly cynical—that this worthy pre-Raphaelite, who with his friends had suffered so much from the limitations of view of a mid-Victorian Royal Academy, should be so maliciously ready to have all modern rebels in paint, their milestones hung about their necks, sunk in the nethermost deeps with all their works! One can find diversion, too, in the decorous story of Mr. HOLIDAY'S nude statue of Sleep, rejected (according to a message from G. F. WATTS) on account of its nudity in 1879 by that same Academy, and accepted in 1880 when the artist with laborious modesty had modelled for it a plaster-of-paris nightgown. The author claims some share, through the Healthy and Artistic Dress Union, in the changes towards rational beauty which women's dress has lately shown. And that surely, is by no means to have lived in vain!
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There are few Memsahibs who know India and can write about it as well as Mrs. ALICE PERRIN, so that when she calls her new book The Happy Hunting Ground (METHUEN) she sets you thinking. And when you begin to think, you see that that really is the meaning of those tearful farewells at Victoria and Charing Cross, that heavy-hearted cheering and waving of handkerchiefs as the liner puts off from the docks, which are for us who stay at home the symbol of our share in the burden of empire. When our sisters and our daughters (and our cousins and aunts) sail away to Marseilles and the East they go to find husbands, largely because for many of them there is in this country little prospect of marriage with men of their own class. But that is only half the story. They go in search of mates. They stay to play, as helpmeets, the woman's part in carrying on the high tradition of the British Raj. With this fundamental truth as her background, Mrs. PERRIN has drawn, simply but with practised skill, the picture of a young girl who leaves the dull security of Earl's Court to go a-hunting in the plains and the hills, obedient to the call of India, which is in her bones. There, like many another before her, she loves and suffers, and makes sacrifices and mistakes, and (I am glad to say) finds happiness at the last. The strength of Mrs. PERRIN'S book, apart from the value of its background, lies in the reality of its characters. If you have a drop of Anglo-Indian blood in your veins you will know what it means. You will greet them as blood relations, and take a kinsman's interest not only in their joys and sorrows, but in their whole attitude towards life, and even their little tricks of thought and speech.
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About a year ago Mr. JOSEPH KNOWLES began to think that "the people of the present day were sadly neglecting the details of the great book of nature," and asked himself if he could not do something to remedy matters. His answer to this question was to take off all his clothes, and, on August 4, 1913, to enter the wilderness of Northern Maine, and live like a primitive man for two months. On page 12 of Alone in the Wilderness (LONGMANS) he is to be seen taking off his coat (and posing, I feel bound to add, very becomingly), and eight pages farther on you can see him divested of his clothing and "breaking the last link." As used to enforce a primitive ideal, the modern art of photography seems, if I may say so, a little out of this picture; but, anyhow, into the forest Mr. KNOWLES went with "nodings on," and there he stuck out his time, speaking to no one, scarcely seeing a human being, and proving—well, I don't honestly think that he proved much. But at least he was not what he calls a quitter, and as more than once he had an intense desire to return to civilisation, he deserves much credit for carrying out his resolution. But, difficult as he found it to remain for the two months, he has found even greater difficulty in writing interestingly about his experiment. Apart from his account of a great moose-fight, the fascinating scenes in his book are those in which his former experiences as a trapper and hunter are described. But Mr. KNOWLES has not finished with his adventure; he is going to live stark-naked in the wilderness for another two months, but this time under inspection, so that the unbelievers can be convinced. I am not among the unbelievers—indeed, I am convinced of the absolute truth of every statement he makes—but I doubt if a repetition of his performance is the best way to help on the College of Nature which he hopes to start. Why, in short, pander to the unbelievers?
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OUR CURIO CRANKS.
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A period so bygone as that of His late Majesty KING HENRY II. (of whose exact date you will scarcely need to be reminded) has not an immediate and irresistible attraction for every novel reader, and it may take much to persuade some that they will ever become really concerned with the deeds and destinies of such people as Jehane the woodward's daughter, Edwy the tanner of Clee, and Lord Lambert do Fort-Castel, be their deeds and destinies never so adventurous or romantic. Further, the juvenile manner of the pictorial cover attached to Jehane of the Forest (MELROSE) is not calculated to whet the appetite of the adult public, and the eulogy of a well-known author, appended on a printed slip, lacks the essential glow of the effective advertisement. It misses the point; it is pedantic, and pedantry is the one thing for which wary readers are on the look out in stories of antiquity. It is first important, then, to acquit Mr. L. A. TALBOT of every offence of which, in the blackness of the outward circumstances, he might be suspected—affectations, anachronisms, excess of local and contemporary colour, absence of humour or human touches, any tendency to bore. The book presents a charming picture of the counties on the Welsh Border and unravels a delightful tale in which the characters talk the language peculiar to their time, but are controlled by the everlasting motives of human nature. Though the times were harder than ours the people seem to have been neither better nor worse than we are; and, when approached from such a point of view as Mr. TALBOT has taken, there is nothing to be said against, but very much to be said for, the period of 1154-1189, which, as every schoolboy is punished for not knowing, covers the reign of HENRY II.
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Miss MILLS YOUNG does not, I think, improve as an artist. The Purple Mists (LANE) is her latest book, and it is not so real and satisfactory a piece of work as Grit Lawless or Atonement. The theme of her new novel is the coming of love to two people who married without any other emotion than restrained but unmistakable antipathy. Why people should do these things so often in novels I do not know, but on the present occasion Euretta (Euretta is not an attractive name) and John Shaw (you can tell by his name that he is a strong silent man who is deep in his work and has no time to bother about women) are driven into matrimony by Miss MILLS YOUNG. After a while it appears that Mr. Shaw is beginning to care for Euretta very much, but he shows his affection for her by avoiding her as much as possible and snarling when she speaks to him. It is obvious that a more kindly figure must be somewhere close at hand eager to console Euretta. Miss YOUNG discovers him, finds that he is precisely the deep-drinking, warm-hearted rascal necessary for this kind of occasion, and provides him with the inevitable situations proper to the tertium quid. The defects of The Purple Mists all arise from the fact that Miss MILLS YOUNG has been told by her friends that she tells a good story. If, next time, she thinks first of her characters and then chronicles their logical development, instead of forcing them into a threadbare plot, she will give us the fine book of which I am sure she is capable.
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"According to the Jewish Chronicle, the number of Jews in the world now exceeds 13,000: to be exact, 13,052,840."
Family Herald (B.C.)
Our contemporary should cultivate the large tracts of truth which lie between the extreme vagueness of the first estimate and the pedantic accuracy of the second.
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"Rokeby Venus in Ribbons."—Globe.
Are we becoming prudish?
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"Breezes between North and South."—Cork Examiner.
This is the weather forecast for Ireland, and at first sight seems obvious; but "in view," as our penny contemporary says, "of the grave importance of the present political situation," we suspect a deeper meaning.