PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
July 29th, 1914.
A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Signor ULVI, the inventor of "F" rays. He is said to have eloped from Florence with an Admiral's daughter. This was not discovered until Signor ULVI had got well away, and his claim to be able to cause explosions at a distance would now seem to be established.
General HUERTA is said to have taken with him on his flight securities to the amount of L1,200,000. Even so it is typical of the grasping nature of the man that he complained of having to leave Mexico City behind.
A storm of indignation has been raised in Berlin by an order (instigated, it is said, in a very high quarter) that all cafes must close at 2 A.M. A petition is being circulated which points out that this order will kill Berlin's tourist traffic, "as the night life of the city is the only attraction for visitors." This implication that a certain exalted personage is not among the local attractions seems to us to amount almost to lese-majeste.
When Lieutenant PORTE's water-plane, "The America," refused to rise, he should have tried changing its name to "The South America."
The Buckinghamshire Territorials, under their new commandant, Colonel WETHERED, are going in for chorus-singing practice. This is a good idea. Sung badly enough, these choruses should prove a valuable weapon against a musical foe, such as the Germans.
Owing to an outbreak of mumps at Harrow School the summer term has had to close some days earlier than usual. It is characteristic of the generous nature of the Harrow boys that, in spite of this annoying interruption of their studies, there has been very little open expression of resentment against those who introduced the ailment.
Coventry's annual Lady Godiva procession took place last week, and was a success. It is feared, however, that with the advance of fashion the principal character—who on this occasion was attired in pink fleshings draped with white chiffon—will be voted overdressed and so fail to attract.
"To be well booted," says The Times, "is to feel well dressed, at the top of one's power and joy." A small boy, however, who was well booted by a larger boy the other day admits that he received a good dressing, but holds that, apart from this, The Times was misinformed.
The announcement that in the course of excavations on the site of the old General Post Office in St. Martin's-le-Grand, some old Roman tile stamps have been discovered, has caused, we hear, a profound sensation in philatelic circles.
Exceptionally rough weather is reported from the Bay of Biscay, and it is said that on a certain passenger vessel even the valet of a well-known nobleman was ill, although he was an old retainer.
"Fishing with rod and line from a boat in the Downs at Deal," says The Daily Mail, "Lord HERSCHELL and a friend caught 600 fish on Sunday. The fish, mostly pouting, were hauled in three and four at a time." We suspect they were pouting to show their annoyance at having their Sabbath rest disturbed.
It is proposed in an L.C.C. report that barges should be used as open-air schools on the river. Schools of language, presumably.
We are asked to deny that the fire which broke out at the bookstall at the Hampstead station of the North London Railway last week was produced spontaneously by a copy of one of MISS VICTORIA CROSS's novels.
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THE USES OF OCEAN.
(Lines written in an irresponsible holiday mood.)
To people who allege that we Incline to overrate the Sea, I answer, "We do not; Apart from being coloured blue, It has its uses not a few— I cannot think what we should do If ever 'the deep did rot.'"
Take ships, for instance. You will note That, lacking stuff on which to float, They could not get about; Dreadnought and liner, smack and yawl, And other types that you'll recall— They simply could not sail at all If Ocean once gave out.
And see the trouble which it saves To islands; but for all those waves That made us what we are— But for their help so kindly lent, Teutons could march right through to Kent And never need to circumvent A single British tar.
Take fish, again. I have in mind No better field that they could find For exercise and sport; How would the whale, I want to know, The blubbery whale contrive to blow; Where would your playful kipper go If the supply ran short?
And hence we rank the Ocean high; But there are privy reasons why Its praise is on my lip: I deem it, when my heart is set On walking into something wet, The nicest medium I have met In which to take a dip.
Ah, speed the hour already fixed When, mid the bathers (freely mixed), In a polite costume I mean to plunge beneath the spray And, washing from a soul at play The City's stain—three times a day— Restore its vernal bloom.
Rocked like a babe upon the brine It is my dream to float supine And to the vast inane Banish awhile from off my chest The cares that hold it now obsessed, And even take a clean-cut rest From Ulster-on-the-brain.
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The Best Holiday Insurance.
Mr. Punch ventures to hint to the gentlest among his readers that, while there are excellent methods of insuring against the disturbance of their holidays by accident or bad weather, the best way for them to insure happiness is to offer a share of it to those who cannot afford a holiday of their own. The very easy sum of TEN SHILLINGS means a Fortnight among green fields or by the sea for one poor child, if the gift is sent—and now is the moment—to the Earl of ARRAN, Hon. Treasurer of the Children's Country Holiday Fund, 18, Buckingham Street, Strand, W.C.
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["Lord Macaulay's prose seems to be finding favour again." Oshkosh Sentinel.]
The place, too, was well fitted for such a gathering. Memories of departed monarchs spoke from the rich hangings of the room in tones that were not less eloquent for being silent. Here the FIRST GENTLEMAN OF EUROPE had displayed the rounded symmetry of those calves which had defied the serried legions of the French and, in their lighter moments, had captured the wayward fancies of the fair or mitigated the harshness of a statesman. This was the chamber where the SAILOR KING, bluff but not undignified, had jested with his intimates, had smoothed a frown from the rugged brow of WELLINGTON or held his own against the eagle glance of GREY; the chamber where the great QUEEN, conscious of her august destiny, had consecrated to grief such moments as could be spared from the needs of Empire; the chamber where her son had laboured for peace and extended the bounds of friendship; the chamber where a DISRAELI, repaying scorn with scorn, may have spread his snares, and a GLADSTONE, overwhelmed by the torrent of his own eloquence, may have fallen into them.
Nothing was wanting to complete the solemnity of the spectacle. Outside, the scarlet-coated sentries paced rigidly on their accustomed rounds, and the populace, hemmed in by the strong arms and the panting forms of the constabulary, cheered to the echo its favourites or exchanged with one another the harmless sallies that give pleasure to a crowd. Within, the KING himself, his face now clouded with anxious thought, now lit with hope, gave a cordial welcome to the more unwonted of the guests he had summoned to his presence, while busy courtiers filled the corridors with an importance which lost nothing in weight from being unwarranted by knowledge or experience. Lackeys in the gorgeous liveries of the most brilliant Court in Europe were in attendance, ready to minister to those whose failing strength might need refreshment, or to execute with intelligence and despatch the humbler duties pertaining to their office.
Nor were the chiefs unworthy of the scene to which they had been called. There was the Speaker, LOWTHER, his brow beaming with the good-humour which enabled him to abate pomposity without injuring the feelings even of the pompous, and to calm with a happy phrase the agitated waters of debate. There were ASQUITH, strong in the affection of his friends, and LLOYD GEORGE, braced to action by the invectives of his foes. There were LAW and LANSDOWNE, staunch defenders of the citadel in which the last of the Tories, stern and unbending as ever, had sought refuge. Waterford had sent JOHN REDMOND, the pride and champion of a nation, the unwearied vindicator of Ireland's right to govern herself. Through years of contumely and depression he had borne aloft her standard, and now, when her triumph was all but achieved, he was here to watch over a settlement which all desired, though none hitherto had been able to bring it about. With him had come JOHN DILLON, tall, dignified and stately, whose grey hair and admirable bearing had won the respect and conciliated the temper of the most fastidious assembly in the world. Arrayed against these two, sons of Ireland no less than they, were CARSON and CRAIG; CARSON with his saturnine face and his swift and piercing intelligence, CRAIG of the burly form and uncompliant humour. Vowed to the Orange cause, and dwelling fondly on memories of the Boyne, they denounced with equal severity the religion of Rome and the political aspirations of the majority of their fellow-countrymen. Such were the men who were now met to decide the most momentous issue of our time.
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"And now," I said, while the waiter was bringing the bill, "where would you like to go?"
"I don't mind," he said. "What about a music-hall? I haven't seen one for twenty years. There's a cinema about five miles from my place, but it's too dear. Only the millionaires can use it."
"Very well, then," I said, "we'll go to a music-hall; but you'll find that they've changed a bit."
"I don't mind," he said, "so long as there's something good. There's so much variety in a music-hall, one turn after another, don't you know, that you can't go far wrong."
My spirits sank. East Africa had kept his youth in camphor, and he had no knowledge of the wonderful advances that we have been making. Turns indeed!
"I'll do the best I can for you," I said, "but I'm afraid you'll be disappointed."
"Oh, no," he assured me stoutly, "not in a music-hall. I've been wanting to see one again for years. I suppose Jimmy Fawn isn't still going?"
My spirits fell lower.
We went to one of the regular places, and, as I had feared, found a revue in full blast. Topical talk, scenery and American songs interminably. Every time a new person came on the stage my friend eagerly perked up and lost his depression, hoping that at last it might be one of his old delights—a juggler or knockabout or something like that—but always he was disappointed.
"I say, where are we?" he asked. "This isn't a music-hall, is it?"
"One of the best," I replied.
He looked round in dismay.
"But where are the waiters?" he asked.
"Not allowed among the audience any more," I told him; "in fact, some music-halls don't even have licences."
He stared at me in astonishment and sank into apathy. Coming up again he said, "Do you remember those two fellows with enormous stomachs and hooked sticks? They were funny, if you like. Don't you have that sort of thing any more?"
"No," I said.
"Do you remember that act," he said—"I believe it was called the Risley act—where a man lay on his back, with his legs up in the air, and flung his family about with his feet? That was jolly clever. Don't you have that any more?"
"No," I said.
"And the Sisters something or other," he said, "dashed pretty girls, who did everything at the same time—are they gone for ever?"
"For ever," I said.
"And no comic songs either?" he asked.
"You've heard a lot of comic songs this evening," I replied.
"Oh, those," he said. "I don't call those comic. They're not comic songs, they're comic-opera songs. Don't you have the others any more?"
"Not at this kind of hall," I said. "I daresay there may be a singer or so left somewhere, with too big a coat and too small a hat, but not here."
"Then what are all the old performers doing?" he asked.
"I believe they're starving," I said.
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"A NOVEL HOSPITAL AT SHEFFIELD."—Yorkshire Post.
Some of them certainly want a bit of doctoring.
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THE PROGRESS OF MAN.
(By our Anthropological Expert.)
PROFESSOR KEITH, of the Royal College of Surgeons, reporting on the skeleton of a prehistoric twelve-year-old boy recently discovered near Ipswich, pronounces his stature to be much the same as the average height of a modern boy of the same age, but the size of the head is remarkably large. The professor states that he and his colleagues are trying to get hold of people of every period, going as far back as they can. They will then be able to differentiate the types that lived in any period, and check the changes that came over them. So far, however, there has been very little change.
Perhaps the most striking result of Professor KEITH's appeal so far has come from the Isle of Man, where a magnificent three-legged skeleton has been discovered in the Caves of Bradda. The remains have been pronounced by Professor Quellin, the famous Manx anthropologist, to be those of a man not less than 175 years of age, whose facial angle bears so marked a resemblance to that of Mr. HALL CAINE as to warrant the hypothesis that he was one of the royal ancestors of the eminent novelist. Close to the skeleton was a long bronze trumpet, from which Professor Quellin, after several ineffectual efforts, ultimately succeeded in eliciting a deep booming note. Mr. HALL CAINE, who has taken the liveliest interest in the discovery, is at present studying the instrument, and will, it is hoped, give a recital shortly in the House of Keys.
The recent excavations at the famous Culbin Sands, undertaken by the Forres Antiquarian Institute, have also resulted in some remarkable finds. Prominent among these is a complete set of golf clubs belonging to the Bronze period. In regard to length the clubs are very much the same as the average implements used at the present day, but the large size of the heads is remarkable, the niblick weighing nearly half a hundredweight. It is plausibly inferred that clubs of this pattern may also have been used as weapons, as the dwellers in this district in the Bronze period are known to have been of a warlike and tumultuous disposition. The game is believed to have been introduced by some Maccabaean settlers, the ancestors of the clan of Macbeth, who flourished in the vicinity.
In that fine spirit of enterprise which has always characterised The Daily Lyre, the proprietors of that periodical have offered a prize of L5,000 for the most characteristic relic of ancient and modern British civilization, to be sent in by October 1. Already several notable exhibits have been forwarded for the competition. Mr. Ronald McLurkin, of Tain, has submitted portions of the boiler of an ancient locomotive, apparently used on the Highland Railway in the time of the Boer War. Dr. Edgar Hollam, of Brancaster, has sent a fine specimen of a fossilised Norfolk biffin, and Miss Sheila Muldooney, of Skibbereen, a copy of The Skibbereen Eagle containing the historic announcement that it had its eye on the Tsar of RUSSIA. Sir GEORGE ALEXANDER sends a daguerreotype of himself in knickerbockers with side whiskers and moustache, and Mr. BERNARD SHAW the first interview with himself that he ever wrote. It appeared in The Freeman's Journal in the "seventies" and is illustrated with six portraits, in one of which Mr. SHAW appears in an Eton suit and a tall hat, "the only one I ever possessed."
Sir HENRY HOWARTH has forwarded a copy of The Times containing his first contribution to that journal, a letter occupying a column-and-a-half of small print, on the mammoth as a domestic pet in the Court of the early Moghul Emperors. Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL competes with an essay which he wrote, while a schoolboy at Harrow, on the dangers of Democracy; and Master ANTHONY ASQUITH has sent the rough notes of a Lecture on "The Balliol Manner" which he delivered many years ago before a select audience at Claridge's. The contrast in form and thought between this crude essay and his recent lectures on the mysticism of RABINDRANATH TAGORE is quite amazing. We may also briefly note the MS. version of an early sonnet by Mr. EDMUND GOSSE, addressed to Sir SIDNEY LEE; several safety-pins and a sponge-bag which once belonged to CHARLOTTE BRONTE and are now entered for the competition by Mr. CLEMENT SHORTER; and a hot-water bottle used by S. T. COLERIDGE when he was writing "The Ancient Mariner," now in the possession of Sir HERBERT BEERBOHM TREE.
The interesting point that emerges so far is that while little change is observable in the physique, habits and manners of the British, as illustrated by these relics, up to the last ten years or so, the development in every direction, since the foundation of The Daily Lyre, has been quite extraordinarily rapid and pronounced. For instance, a cast of the head of a modern "nut" shows a compactness which compares most favourably with the overgrown cranium of the prehistoric boy reported on by Professor KEITH.
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"To-day there are 2,000,000 muskrats in Bohemia, and, like rabbits in Australia, they are spreading all over the fruitful regions of the province and destroying fish in the breeding ponds."—Daily Mail.
You should see our rabbit destroying our trout.
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"She was a flesh and blood woman, fit to be the mother of husky sons."—"Daily Sketch" feuilleton.
They would constantly rise up and call her blessed, and this would account for their hoarseness. (Jones's jujubes are the best.)
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"The sturgeon ... consists of fish, flesh, and fowl, the latter part commanding a good saleable price."—Carlisle Journal.
The wings are particularly tender.
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Fashions for Men.
"Lord Salisbury came with Lady Beatrice Ormsby-Gore, wearing blue charmeuse."—Daily Mail.
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OUR COLOSSAL ARRANGEMENTS.
One of the most appalling scandals of modern times is the disgraceful suppression by the Ginger-beer Press of news relating to the state of affairs in the Isle of Wight. For some weeks we have not flinched from filling our columns with picturesque accounts of the epoch-making events taking place there; and yet the Ginger-beer Press has cruelly put off its readers with the scantiest details, or else refrained from any sort of reference. We make our protest all the more vigorously because many of those readers have been driven to read our own journal in preference to the erroneous and misleading sheets to which we have referred.
This distressing state of things has forced us to make the fullest arrangements for a constant stream of news to be supplied from our branch offices at Ventnor, Totland Bay, the Needles, and other points of the Island. We have despatched a huge staff of world-famous war correspondents, descriptive writers, poets, photographers, Royal Academy artists, gallopers, commissariat officers, and trained bloodhounds. Field kitchens, field wireless equipment, and field glasses are included among their impedimenta, and no single message will be printed in our pages that has not been sent in some other way than through the ordinary channels of the post, telephone and telegraph. Each member of this army of artists, litterateurs and tacticians possesses a hip pocket, fully loaded, two pairs of puttees, a compass and a wrist watch.
Every day scores of women and children are leaving the Isle of Wight for the mainland. Gunboats and cruisers are passing and repassing before its shores, by order of the Admiralty; strong, silent men are doggedly pursuing the business they have in hand. In the very heart of the island some of the flower of the youth of our country is being trained in the art of naval warfare, while the thunders of gun-practice are heard every hour around the coast. Yet, search where you will in the Ginger-beer Press during the last few weeks, you will find practically no reference to these things.
We implore our readers, on the highest patriotic grounds, to inform the few remaining adherents of the Ginger-beer Press that if they desire the Truth it can be found only in our pages.
We have the pleasure of printing below the first of the astonishing articles which have been sent already from our Expeditionary Staff:—
THE PRELIMINARY CALM.
By Blinton X. Krapt.
The streets of Cowes are bathed in sunlight. Smart yachtsmen, accompanied by daintily dressed ladies, walk hither and thither. The shopkeepers chat pleasantly. The burly policeman drowsily pursues his way. Children shout happily. Surely here is peace, says the unsuspecting visitor.
A brown-faced man with a light beard and a heavy tread approached us. "It is all right," said my companion to him; "this gentleman is a friend." Then, lowering his voice, he added: "He came over last night." "Beautiful place, Cowes, isn't it?" said the bronzed man. I noticed that his hip pocket bulged. Yet none would have suspected that his conversation was not of a perfectly ordinary character.
Entering the most sumptuous hotel in Cowes we had lunch. There was nothing sinister about the place except that the waiters were German. But I noted signs of understanding between them and my friend. "I have been here before," he explained, with a quick glance about him.
So life goes on from day to day. We are waiting, waiting. The little boot-maker in his shop is waiting. The tailor is waiting. The hotel staffs are waiting. The passengers on the railway platforms are waiting. On the surface life is gay and free from care; but what I may have to tell you when it comes round to my turn to write again, who can say?
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THE TOP SLICE.
Letter from Mrs. Gregory-Browne to Mrs. Ribbanson-Smythe. Upper Tooting, 21st July, 1914.
MY DEAREST AGATHA,—I must tell you about an extraordinary occurrence. They were all quite respectable people, indeed most respectable. Perhaps I ought not to include Mr. Jones. He is, you know (I mention this in the strictest confidence, dearest), he is not—well, you know, he hardly belongs to our set. I cannot understand why James is so absurdly fond of him.
It was my At Home day last week and quite a lot of people, really nice people too, came in spite of the heat. The heat may have had something to do with it, but I really cannot think what it was.
I handed a plate of bread-and-butter to Miss Niccole. To my surprise she hesitated a moment and then took the plate and handed it to me. When I declined she offered it to Mrs. Fitzroy-Williams-Adamson. You know, dear, she is fourth cousin to a baronet. Then the extraordinary thing occurred. Mrs. Fitzroy-Williams-Adamson took the plate and offered it to Miss Niccole. When Miss Niccole declined it she offered it to Mr. Wildegoose (pronounced Wildergos, you know, dear). Then it was his turn. And so it went on. Really, it was most extraordinary. Nothing like it has ever been known in our family. I really cannot understand it.
Everybody passed the plate, and at last it came to Mr. Jones. He pointed at the top piece of bread-and-butter. Yes, he actually pointed. He then made the following extraordinary remark: "I say, hasn't this broken loose from the bread-pudding, what, what?" Thereupon he pushed it on one side and took the next slice. I was ashamed and mortified for such a thing to happen in my house. Really, it was most extraordinary.
Mr. Allen, the new curate, came in just then. He took the top slice, but I caught him absent-mindedly putting it in a flower-pot. When he saw me looking at him he blushed and started—started eating it, I mean. However, he left most of it, and when everyone was gone I examined it. It was perhaps a little hardened by the sun, but otherwise it was quite a nice piece of bread-and-butter. I cannot understand it at all. The whole thing was really most extraordinary ... most extraordinary.
Your ever loving SARAH.
Letter from Mrs. Ribbanson-Smythe to Mrs. Gregory-Browne. Chiswick, 22nd July, 1914.
MY DEAREST SARAH,—I have just read your most interesting letter, and I quite agree that the whole occurrence was, as you say, most extraordinary. I mentioned it to George. He says he has no doubt at all that it was really a sound piece of bread-and-butter. I don't know whether the enclosed cutting will help you to understand, but I am sending it. It is from last Saturday's Tooting Argus. Somebody sent it to George.
Your loving AGATHA.
Extract from The Tooting Argus:—
GREAT NEW FEATURE.
PROBLEMS OF CONDUCT.
(CONDUCTED BY REGINALD AUGUSTUS PLANTAGENET-HARRIS.)
Problem 3.—A. is paying a call. His hostess offers him bread-and-butter. He notices that the top piece has suffered from the heat. What should A. do?
Answer adjudged correct.—A. should politely take the plate from his hostess, murmuring, "May I offer it to you?" If she refuses he should offer it to his nearest neighbour. When the offending slice has been got rid of in this way he can help himself to the next slice and then return the plate to its owner.
Highly commended.—A. should explain to his hostess that he has a peculiar hobby, to wit, collecting slices of bread-and-butter from the houses of the great. His collection of Royal Family slices is unrivalled. Might he have the pleasure and honour of adding to his collection this dainty specimen? He should then reverently fold the slice in two and place it in his breast-pocket.
[Our only objection to this is that it seems a rather greasy thing to do.]
Incorrect answers:—(1) A. should make a facetious remark, such as, "Hasn't this escaped from the bread pudding?" He should then playfully but firmly push the slice aside and trust to luck on the next.
(2) A. must out of courtesy to his hostess accept thankfully whatever she places before him. Any other course of conduct would be an affront. It now however becomes his personal property and he can adopt whichever of the following courses is most convenient—
(a) Secrete it in a fancy flower-pot or in the gramophone.
(b) If the dog is a silent eater hold it behind his back so that the dog may get it.
NOTE.—If the dog refuses to touch it, say loudly, "I cannot understand how any animal can decline such delightful bread-and-butter." He can then openly dispose of it in the grate or the waste-paper-basket on the ground that the dog's nose has vitiated its freshness.
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LOVE'S LABOUR WELL LOST.
[Lines inspired by a dark lady, who remarked, a propos of a recent disaster, that all fair girls were untrustworthy.]
Phyllis hath a roving eye, Palest blue—a candid feature Which informs the passer-by Phyllis is a flighty creature; Golden locks and fair complexion Also point in that direction.
I, who had arranged to be Joined to Phyllis by the vicar, Now that she has jilted me Scorn to seek relief in liquor. Or the tears that folk are shedding (Having missed a swagger wedding).
He who stole my love away Cannot hope for long survival, And I pity him to-day As I did a former rival Who believed her single-hearted When my own flirtation started.
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The Journalistic Touch.
"The Imperial yacht with the Tsar and Imperial Family on board steamed through the British lines yesterday, afterwards lunching on the British flagship."—Bombay Chronicle.
Of the Rose Walk at Purley:—
"Then the material loveliness becomes the diaphanous veil through which glint realities of which all phenomena are expressions."—Croydon Advertiser & Surrey County Reporter.
"His memory and his noble face, and reverend crown of snow, will be a green spot, and indelibly written in our minds, whilst life lasts."—Methodist Recorder.
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"The work of restoring the church tower at Cheriton Bishop has been completed, and Mr. Leach has been completed, and Mr. W. Leach has entertained the men engaged on the work at tea."—Western Morning News.
And so everyone is satisfied.
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"To-day two Greek documents (one of them dated 88 B.C., and supposed to be the earliest document on parchment known) will be sold."—Daily Graphic.
Scholarly letter-writers before the Christian era were always careful to put B.C. after the year.
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THE YOUNG OF THE SEA-SERPENT.
With the approach of the silly season one's thoughts turn naturally to the prospect of stealing into print and enjoying all the sweets of authorship without the reception of a cheque to vulgarise them. An infinite variety of topics, our representative gathered yesterday, is now on the eve of discussion, and the quill that cannot find something to say on at least one of them had better return to its native goose without delay.
"Mother of Ten," we were informed by the courteous editor of The Halfpenny Bleater, will as usual open that journal's discussion, and this year her thoughts have turned to bathing fatalities. "Should Land Crabs Learn Swimming" is the subject which she (or, to betray an office secret, he) has selected. Due emphasis on the necessity for university costume in the case of an affirmative reply to the question will be laid by "Paterfamilias," who will contribute the second letter of the series.
The Morning Dip will maintain its reputation for intellectuality with a spiritual discussion on "Has Life a Double Meaning?" or "Is Existence a Joke?"—the exact title has not yet been decided. "Constant Reader" has already bought a penny packet of assorted stationery and charged it to the office petty cash, and only a really good murder can prevent the early appearance of his letter. As readers will remember, correct spelling is a feature of this author's work.
In pursuance of its settled policy The Daily Giggle will appeal more especially to the fair sex. There is more than a touch of pathos in the signature "Orphan Boy," which will appear at the foot of his letter on the subject, "Are First Cousins Kissable?"
Perhaps, however, the most vital question of all will be raised in The Daily Jingo, where "Pro Bono Publico" will lay down his views on "Our Softening Sinews." In his well-known style, which is so happy a blend of public spirit and split infinitives, he will plead for less indulgence in our dealings with the young. "We are," he says in his peroration, which we were privileged to see, "raising up a soft breed, and we shall live to bitterly rue it. The future of the race is, of course, on the knees of the gods, but let us determine to also lay it across the knee of parent and schoolmaster. So shall the rising generation learn the merits of the strong right arm that has made England what it is."
In conjunction with The Perfect Little Lady, which will discuss "The Highest Type of Man," the editor of The Brain Pan will throw open his columns to all those with views on "The Most Attractive Girl." For the start he has secured the services of "Virile Englishman," who will put aside her knitting to take up the pen in obedience to his commands. The Perfect Little Lady's first letter will be contributed by "Sweet Seventeen," who has studied her subject by diligent attendance at all the best boxing matches of the current year.
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"'I do not see why, I do not see why,' he repeated, rising up and down."—The Times.
We do not see how.
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A New Way to Deal with the Cold.
"Originally fitted with luxurious saloons and cabins for tourists to Greenland and Spitzbergen, the Endurance is a very different ship to-day. Her cabins are being turned into store-rooms and officers and crew will sleep in odd corners, for two years' provisions have to be curried."—Evening News.
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"The music of Borodin, the composer of 'Prince Igor,' is little known in England, apart from the Polovtsienne Dances which, owing to their wind and barbaric character, have been so popular a feature of the performances of the Russian Ballet."—Musical Opinion.
Why drag in the wind? The strings were just as good as the wind when we were there.
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FACT AND FABLE.
For miles I'd tramped by down and hill; With eve I found the happy ending; All in the sunset, golden chill, The collie met me, grave, befriending. I saw the roof-tree down the vale, Brave fields of harvest spread thereunder; The collie waved a feathery tail And led me to the House of Wonder.
Houses, like people, so I've thought, Bear character upon their faces, Born of their company and wrought Upon by inward gifts and graces: Here, through the harvest's gold array And evening's mellow far niente, Looked kindliness and work-a-day, And happy hours and peace and plenty.
And, lo, it seemed the Downs amid I'd found a folded bit of Britain, Laid by in lavender and hid The year—let's say—Tom Jones was written; An old farm manor-house it is With fantails fluttering on the gables, A place of men and memories And solid facts and homespun fables.
For Fact: a fortnight passed me by Mid ancient oak and secret panel And strawberries of late July And distant glimpses of the Channel; Fair morns to wake on—were they not?— Full of the pigeons' coo and cadence, Each day a page of CALDECOTT, All cream and flowers and pretty maidens.
For Fable: as I smoked a pipe And havered with a black-haired cowman, Grey-eyed, in that fine Celtic type, As much the poet as the ploughman— "Seems kind of lucky here," said I; "The very ducklings look more downy Than others do." He grinned: "An' why? May happen, Sir, we feeds a brownie!
"'There isn't many left,' says you; As hearts grow hard the breed gets rarer; Yet, when he goes, the luck goes too, And prices fall and boards be barer; But if so be you does your part An' feeds him fair and treats folk proper, Keepin' for all the kindly heart— The lucky Lad's a certain stopper!"
Well, should you go by Butser way And hit the god-sent path, and follow, You'll find, at closing of the day, The old house in the valley-hollow, Laid by in lavender, forgot, The home of peace and ancient plenty; A brownie may be there or not— The hearts are kind enough for twenty!
* * * * *
Cause and Effect?
"Of the five catalpa trees in the Embankment-gardens the finest has been blighted. The tree is close to the National Liberal Club."—Leicester Daily Mercury.
* * * * *
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
(EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.)
House of Commons, Monday, July 20.—The T. R. Westminster is at least equal to the old T. R. Drury Lane in capacity for producing dramatic turns. When Members went off on Saturday for week-end holiday the Ulster attitude was pretty generally understood. Ulster demanded "a clean cut," with the alternative, phrased by CARSON, of "Come over and fight us." The Cabinet after prolonged deliberation had resolved to meet demand with firm non possumus: PREMIER was expected on resumption of Sittings this afternoon to announce conclusion of matter, adding such offer of concession on matter of detail as, whilst providing golden bridge for Opposition, would avert revolt in his own camp, where "conversations" with leaders of Opposition are regarded with growing jealousy and suspicion.
New stage in long-drawn-out controversy sufficient to create profoundest interest in to-day's proceedings. It would surely be the beginning of the end. What exactly the PREMIER would say about further concession to Ulster, and how the overtures would be received on Front Opposition Bench, were questions on which might hang the issue of peace or war.
PREMIER had a more startling message to deliver. From point of view of dramatic effect it was a thousand pities his secret had been prematurely disclosed. When he rose amid profound stillness of crowded House everyone knew what he was going to say. In ordinary circumstances his interposition at so critical a juncture would have been hailed by resounding applause from the multiform sections that contribute to making up of Ministerial majority. As matters turned out, a frigid cheer greeted his appearance at the Table. To the announcement that "in view of the grave situation the KING has thought it right to summon representatives of Parties, both British and Irish, to a Conference in Buckingham Palace, with the object of discussing outstanding issues in relation to the problem of Irish government," he had only one new thing to add. It was that the SPEAKER would preside over the Conference.
This was the only passage in the brief formal conversation, to which LEADER OF OPPOSITION and LEADER OF IRISH NATIONALISTS contributed, that elicited general cheer. A high tribute to occupant of the Chair.
GINNELL saw his opportunity and seized it by the hair. He is one of three leaders of the Irish Nationalists. Understood that his Party consists of a single member, so shadowy that there are varied reports as to his identity. Member for N.W. Meath leaped on to pinnacle of enduring fame when the present Parliament met to elect a Speaker. Before Mr. LOWTHER was qualified to take the Chair, and whilst as yet no recognised authority existed, GINNELL, master of the situation, delivered a long harangue. Proposed now to offer a few remarks "as an independent Irish Nationalist."
SPEAKER on point of order restricting him to putting a question, he "begged to ask the PRIME MINISTER what precedent he had and what authority to advise the KING to place himself at the head of a conspiracy to defeat the decision of this House?"
"Members desiring to take their seats will please come to the Table," said the SPEAKER.
The observation did not appear relevant. It met the occasion. It brought up LEVERTON HARRIS, newly elected for East Worcestershire, who found his welcome the warmer by reason of the fact that he had been a passive instrument in avoiding what might under less adroit management have developed into a disorderly scene.
Business done.—PREMIER announces Conference upon Ulster question to meet at Buckingham Palace on the invitation of HIS MAJESTY.
Tuesday.—Dull sitting closed in lively conversation arising on motion for adjournment. RUPERT GWYNNE, jealous for due observance of traditions of House, has noticed with concern the departure for Canada for indefinite period of Member for East St. Pancras. At Question time asked CHANCELLOR OF EXCHEQUER whether Mr. MARTIN had applied for Chiltern Hundreds. Answered in the negative, he put a further question to PREMIER, directing his attention to Act of 6 HENRY VIII. c. 16, ordering that no Member of Parliament shall absent himself from attendance except he have licence of Mr. SPEAKER. This upon pain of having his wages docked. PREMIER brushed him aside with one of his brief answers.
GWYNNE not the man to be shouldered off the path of duty when it lies straight before him. Here was a Member in receipt of L400 a year leaving the place of business where it was assumed to be earned, not even taking the trouble to follow example of the clerk who, left in sole charge of his master's office, wrote in legible hand, "Back D'reckly," affixed notice to front door and went forth to enjoyment of prolonged meal.
Since he could get no satisfaction at Question time he kept Members in, after hour of adjournment, in order to debate subject.
Unfortunately it turned out that he was not exactly the man to have undertaken the job. Amid laughter and hilarious cheering HOME SECRETARY pointed out that here was a case of Satan reproving sin. Reference to the records showed that during the time payment of Members has been in vogue, of 687 divisions GWYNNE was absent from 424. (GWYNNE later corrected these figures.) During that time he had drawn from the Exchequer salary amounting to L1,000.
"On his own principle, that payment should be in proportion to attendance, the hon. Member," said the HOME SECRETARY, "is entitled to only L400. Being so conscientious no doubt he will repay to the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER the balance of L600."
HELMSLEY, gallantly coming to assistance of friend in dire straits, himself fell into the bog. It appeared that of 1056 divisions taken in two Sessions he had been absent from 602. Here was another unexpected little windfall for the Exchequer.
At this stage it was found expedient to drop the subject; adjournment not further resisted.
Business done.—Budget Bill dealt with on Report stage.
Thursday.—With that austerity that since Stuart times has marked relations of House of Commons with royalty Mr. HOGGE is known at Westminster simply as the Member for East Edinburgh, a position he with characteristic modesty accepts. But blood, especially royal blood, like murder, will out. Lineal descendant of one of the oldest dynasties in the world's history, Mr. HOGGE cannot be expected always and altogether to be free from ancestral influence. Something of the hauteur of 'OGGE, King of Bashan (or, as some records have it, OG) is discerned in his attitude and manner when, throned on corner seat below Gangway, he occasionally deigns to direct the PRIME MINISTER in the way he should go.
Such opportunity presented itself in connection with meeting of Conference which through the Parliamentary week has centred upon Buckingham Palace the attention of mankind. With respect to palaces Mr. HOGGE is by family association an expert.
"Why Rookery?" Miss Betsey Trotwood sharply asked David Copperfield when he casually mentioned his mother's postal address.
"Why Buckingham Palace?" asked Mr. HOGGE, bending severe glance on Treasury Bench whence the PREMIER had judiciously fled.
St. Stephen's, which houses the Member for East Edinburgh, is also a royal palace. Why then was not the Conference held within its walls, instead of under the roof of what he loftily alluded to as "the domestic Palace"?
This and much more, with covert references to machinations of the two Front Benches, Mr. HOGGE wanted to know.
The PRIME MINISTER, uneasily conscious of the coming storm, had, as mentioned, discreetly disappeared. As an offering to righteous indignation he left behind him on the Treasury Bench the body of ATTORNEY-GENERAL. That astute statesman avoided difficulty and personal disaster by meekly undertaking to lay before the PRIME MINISTER the views so eloquently and pointedly set forth by the hon. Member.
Mr. HOGGE graciously assented to this course, and what at the outset looked like threatening incident terminated.
Business done.—Budget Bill passed Third Reading without a division.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"Mr. Hogge: Can the Prime Minister say whether any of those taking part in the Conference attached any conditions to their entering the Conference?
'I cannot sty,' replied the Premier."—Evening News.
Was this quite worthy of the PRIME MINISTER? We ourselves do not care for these personal jokes on people's names.
* * * * *
"Mr. Asquith's statement was thus of sensational interest, because it represented the last effort at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour to avert Civil War."—Dublin Evening Mail.
No need to hurry. There are still forty-nine minutes left.
* * * * *
The Finances of Cricket.
"Cumberland batted first and reached the total of L272, C. A. Hardcastle (87), R. B. Brown (41), and R. C. Saint (27) being the chief contributors."—Daily News and Leader.
* * * * *
Suggested mottoes for the L.C.C.:—
"TRAM UP A CHILD."
* * * * *
* * * * *
Where Oriental calm derides Our Occidental stress And Ninety-seven E. collides With Five-and-twenty S.,
You'll find a product of the West, A Bachelor of Arts, Who blends a mind of youthful zest With patriarchal parts.
Each morning mid his rubber trees He rides an ancient hack, A cassock girt above his knees, A topee tilted back.
Now reining in his steed to preach A parable on sap, Now vaulting from his seat to teach The proper way to tap.
His swart disciples knit their brows O'er algebraic signs; They build their byres, they milk their cows On scientific lines.
They use his microscope and gaze On strange bacterial risks; They tuns their daily hymns of praise To gramophonic discs.
And every evening after grace, When converts clear the cloth, He pins an orchid to its place Or camphorates a moth.
Out of the world his path may run, Yet still in worldly wise He'll talk of feats with rod or gun, A twinkle in his eyes,
And tell of tiger-stalking nights, Of mornings with the snipe, With never a pause save when he lights An antiquated pipe.
We others earn our pensioned ease, The furlough of our kind; We book our berths, we cross the seas, But he shall stay behind,
Plodding his round of feast and fast, Dreaming the dreams of yore, Of England as he saw her last In 1884.
J. M. S.
* * * * *
More Impending Apologies.
"GREAT GALA NIGHT WHEN JOSEPHINE DAVIS WILL BID 'AU REVOIR' TO BOMBAY BY SPECIAL REQUEST."
"At the hour of six the Rev. S. F. Collier gave out the only possible hymn—
'And are we yet alive And see each other's face!'"
* * * * *
The supper-room was so full that I quite expected to find that, since I was so late, the harassed head-waiter had taken the liberty of presuming my death and letting someone else have my table; but there it was, empty and ready for me. I sank into a chair with a feeling of relief and, having ordered something to eat, began to examine the room. There was not a spare place; everyone was eating and talking and unusual excitement was in the air. From my remote corner I could not catch any words, but the odd thing was that at every table one at least of the men, who were all in evening-dress, was waving his arms. Now and then a man would stand up to do this better. It was as though they were all deaf and dumb, or cinema actors.
The next day at lunch I had a similar experience. I patronized another restaurant, which seemed to be equally popular, and again every man was gesticulating in a style totally foreign to the staid apathetic Londoner. What could it mean? What was the reason?
I asked the waiter. He laughed. "Ah," he said, "I have notice it too. It is funny, is it not? Zey all show each other how CARPENTIER won on ze foul."
* * * * *
AN ERROR IN ARCADY.
People who know us both have often expressed a doubt as to whether Charles or myself is the more absent-minded and unobservant. I wish to set the matter at rest once and for all.
We were discussing William's wedding, which had just taken place, romantically enough, in the very heart of Herts—one of those quaint little villages where no sound seems to disturb the silence of the long summer day but the gentle bleating of horn to horn and the murmur of innumerable tyres. Both of us had been there, and Charles came round to talk to me about it a few evenings afterwards.
"I do hope the poor dear fellow will be happy," he said, lighting his fifth match and pulling away vigorously at an ugly-looking briar.
"It really goes much better with tobacco in it," I said, passing him my pouch. "Why on earth shouldn't William be happy? It seemed a very pretty wedding. Did you notice how the rays of the sun coming through the window lit up the best man's boots?"
"I daresay, I daresay," he replied. "As a matter of fact I couldn't see the church part of it very well: I came late and was behind a pillar at the back."
"Well, it all went beautifully," I told him. "Everybody stood up and sat down in the wrong places as usual, and the friends of the bride looked with extreme hauteur at the friends of the bridegroom, and vice versa. I suppose you went to the reception afterwards. I never saw you at all except for a moment on the platform going back. You must have shaken hands with the happy pair and examined the presents?"
"I went to the house," said Charles. "I went in a motor-car on a seat that took two men to hold down, and that hit me hard when I tried to stand up. I caught a glimpse of William, but I couldn't find the room where the presents were set out, so I went through almost at once into the garden, where the feasting was going on. Do tell me about the gifts. Was my little pepper-castor hung on the line?"
"I didn't notice that," I said, "but my butter-dish was doing itself proud. It had sneaked up to a magnificent toast-rack with stabling accommodation for about eight pieces, given by somebody with a title. And you ought to have seen the fish-slices. The fish-slices wore gorgeous. I expect William will spend a great part of his married life in slicing fish. It will be a great change from golf-balls. But I think you really ought to have said a few hearty and well-chosen words to the young people."
"That's just it," replied Charles in a mournful voice. "I did. I talked to the bride."
"Hang it, so did I!" I exclaimed rather indignantly. "Directly I got in I went up to William and her and said to her, 'How glad you must be it's all over!' and then quite suddenly it struck me that that wasn't really the best thing to say in the circumstances, so I blushed and trod on William's toe and passed on. What did you do in the garden?"
"Well, I wandered about on the lawn where there were lots and lots of people," said Charles. "I didn't seem to meet anyone I knew, but the flower-beds were most beautifully kept. I have seldom seen such a display of cress sandwiches and champagne. After a bit I strolled down through the shrubberies, went through a little wooden gate and found myself amongst the raspberry canes. About a quarter of an hour later, after a little fruity refreshment, whom should I meet walking along a quiet shady path but the bride herself, all alone."
"Stealing away to get one last raspberry at the dear old home," I said. "How romantic! What did you do? Hide?"
"No," answered Charles bitterly. "I only wish I had. I felt that now or never was the time. I went straight up to her, and, feeling that to talk about the weather or the theatres on such an occasion would be rather footling, in spite of the fact that we'd never been introduced, I plunged straight into it. 'You've never seen me before in your life,' I said earnestly, 'because you haven't got eyes in the back of your head, and I've never seen you because I can't look through stone. What's more, I'm only a little silver pepper-castor, an insignificant item in your cruet. But I must tell you how delighted I am to have a chance of speaking to you.'"
"What did she say to that?" I asked.
"Well, you'd never believe it, but the girl looked quite nervous and frightened, and positively began to walk away from me. I supposed I'd begun on the wrong tack, so I hurried after her and started again. 'Marriage is a state full of the most serious responsibilities,' I said, 'but one glance at you shows me that you are fully competent to shoulder them all.'"
"That sounds as if you thought she looked a trifle statuesque," I said. "Did she seem annoyed?"
"Worse," replied Charles. "She hurried on again without speaking a word. 'Stop,' I cried, 'stop! I am a friend of the fairy prince;' and just then we came out on to a piece of lawn, and she gave a little shriek and actually ran away, leaving me standing where I was. I was so ashamed and exhausted that I slunk back through the little gate and had some more raspberries. When I had partially recovered I returned to the upper part of the garden again, had two cups of tea in the big tent, and made my way back to the station, where I saw you. If you hadn't got into another carriage I should have told you about it at the time."
"Then you never saw them going away at all?" I said.
"No," replied Charles; "did you?"
"Did I not?" said I. "You wouldn't believe the amount of rice I started their married life with. About two milk puddings' worth, I should say. And so you are not quite satisfied with William's choice?"
"Well, she seems to me to be rather an unresponsive and timid sort of person," said Charles. "Not tactful, nor likely to make what the newspapers call a charming hostess. I should have liked dear William to marry someone who would be a social success."
I smoked for some time in silence, and then I had an idea.
"How was the bride dressed when you saw her, Charles?" I asked.
"Do I know how women are dressed? She was in white, of course, and hadn't a hat on."
"But she had a train and a veil, I suppose. She hadn't a short skirt by any chance?"
"Goodness, how do I know?" he replied. "I didn't notice all that. Why do you ask?"
"Well, you only saw her once, you see," I said, "and you went through that little gate at the bottom of the garden, didn't you?"
"I did," said Charles. "What's that got to do with it?"
"Nothing, nothing. Only I know that there were some people playing tennis at the next house, and very likely the two gardens are connected, and I'm wondering whether that girl——"
"Good heavens," said Charles.... "You haven't got such a thing as a hairpin about you, have you? This pipe's stopped up."
* * * * *
"The Nambudiri school is progressing with the French motto of 'Festina lente!'"—The Malabar Herald.
More progress might be made with the old Latin tag, "Trop de zele."
* * * * *
"'As long as I can play as good a game of golf as I did to-day I will never get any cider,' was Mr. Rockefeller's reply to one of the friends who called to congratulate him."—New York Sun.
He may, however, get older, even then.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE FOILING OF "THE BLARE."
(Suggested to a slightly Hibernian brain by the recent ebullition of generosity on the part of the popular press, which insures its readers against holiday accidents whilst boating and bathing.)
When I bolt from this city of vapour To bite the salubrious breeze, Do you know why I gambol and caper And plunge with a shout in the seas Twice the lad that I was For a lark? It's because I subscribe to that bountiful paper, The Blare, if you please.
For I know that if currents are shifty, If cramp should arrive unaware, I shall die, but my end will be thrifty, And my host (being also my heir) Will be amply consoled By the thought of the gold (Which amounts to two hundred and fifty) He'll get from The Blare.
"Pray take from your forehead those creases," I cry to my friend on the yacht, "I admit that the mainsail's in pieces And most of the sheets in a knot; But remember that if We go ponk on that cliff It's The Blare will be paying your nieces A nice little pot."
But whatever may crash into cruisers Or wherries when I am afloat, When the waves have destroyed me like bruisers, I call on my country to note, If The Blare should pretend, When I've passed to my end, I was one of its constant perusers, It lies in its throat.
To my tenantless rooms in the City The rags have been sent, and it's there That I'll burn them unopened and gritty Or, if (and it's little I care) I am whelmed in the wave, I shall laugh from my grave At the blow that I've dealt the banditti Who publish The Blare.
* * * * *
"With one accord they all say, 'Welcome to Ireland!' 'No more delightful place,' says Mr. Birrell; 'A kindly welcome everywhere,' says Mr. Devlin; 'The most peaceful place in the world,' says Mr. Redmond."—Daily Graphic.
Mr. REDMOND has overlooked the Balkans.
* * * * *
ALL LIARS' DAY.
"So it's ——'s birthday to-day," said Fortescue (naming a very well-known politician) as he looked up from his newspaper. "You'll call and wish him many happy returns, of course, Ferguson?"
We who travel up together each morning by this train are pretty well agreed about ——.
"Don't mention that man to me!" cried Ferguson. "He's absolutely the biggest liar on earth. I can't imagine how he faces the world as he does after having been exposed so many times. You'd think he would want to crawl away into a hole somewhere. He can't have the least sense of shame."
"Pardon me," interrupted the burly stranger seated in the corner. "Pardon me; there is reason why he should. It is not his fault if he is addicted to inexactitude. He was predestined to it. It is the irresistible influence of the day on which he was born. Every man born on this day must inevitably grow up to be a liar; it is his fate, from which there can be no escape."
"Oh, come!" protested Ferguson. "That sounds rather far-fetched, you know, for these days."
"My dear Sir," retorted the other, brushing up his moustache aggressively and glaring at Ferguson, "I happen to be President of the Society for the Investigation of Natal Day Influences upon Character, so I presume I may claim to know what I am talking about."
So truculent was his demeanour that nobody ventured to speak.
"My Society," he continued after a pause, "has conducted its researches over a period of many years. I am going to give you just a few examples out of thousands we have collected. Let us take a significant date, February 29th. A man born on that day is a coward. It is inevitable. Pusillanimity is born in him and can never be eradicated.
"We had before us a month or two ago the case of a gentleman living in a country town—a quiet, shy, studious recluse—born on this fatal day. By some mischance he happened to pick up a journal in which was an article on the Government by Mr. ARNOLD WHITE. He read it. He was so terrified that he expired from heart failure. That sounds to you incredible, but real life is often incredible. That is one of the discoveries of our Society.
"I will give you a more remarkable instance still. A well-to-do gentleman with the same birthday, whose case we have recorded in our journals, is now, though perfectly healthy, bed-ridden under the following amazing circumstances. He accidentally discovered that his tailor, who had clothed him since boyhood, was an anarchist. After this he was afraid to have any further dealings with the man, while, on the other hand, he lacked sufficient courage to face the ordeal of being fitted by a fresh tailor. For some time he used to sit up at night and secretly sew patches into his trousers. Naturally this could not go on for ever, and at last, when his garments were dropping to pieces, he had to take to his bed.... You smile, Sir. Perhaps you think I am exaggerating?"
His eyes flashed and his voice vibrated with such anger that I jumped six inches out of my seat.
"Not at all—not at all," I stammered. "Only it occurred to me—er—that he might have—er—b-bought them ready-made."
"Your knowledge of human nature must be singularly slight," replied the other icily, "if you imagine that a man without sufficient courage to be fitted by a tailor would be brave enough to wear ready-made clothes."
"It seems to me, Sir," said Dean, coming to the rescue, "that your two instances prove little, if anything. They may be mere coincidence."
The stranger leaned forward, frowned heavily and wagged his forefinger at Dean, who wilted visibly.
"The Society for the Investigation of Natal Day Influences upon Character," he said, "does not seek to build up a theory upon isolated and arbitrarily selected examples. We deal with the subject scientifically. To continue with this date, February 29th. After several cases similar to those I have recounted had come to our notice, we made out a list of two hundred and fifty men born on this day. To each of them we sent a representative to ask for a subscription to the Society. Though they had never heard of it before, every one of those two hundred and fifty was easily intimidated into subscribing.
"Now let us consider another date—March 3rd. Several striking instances had led us to suspect that a person born on March 3rd comes into the world with an ineradicable passion for gambling. I will give you just one of these. A gentleman one day imagined he was seriously ill and called in a doctor. The latter laughed at his fears and offered to bet him that he would live to be seventy. The temptation was too great. The gambler closed with the offer, and on the eve of his seventieth birthday drowned himself."
At this point Empson sniggered audibly. The speaker turned his head and fixed his terrifying glance upon the delinquent. Poor Empson grew very red, and endeavoured to cover his lapse by coughing noisily. The other waited patiently till he had finished.
"Perhaps you wish to say something, Sir," he remarked coldly.
"N-no," said Empson. "Most interesting."
The President made a gesture which indicated that Empson was beneath contempt and renewed his discourse.
"Continuing the same method of research," he said, "we compiled a list of nearly four hundred persons born on March 3rd. To each of these we sent particulars of a Derby Sweepstake. Every one of them, gentlemen, applied for a ticket by return of post."
There was an impressive pause. The President looked round the carriage defiantly as if challenging suspicion.
"One of our tests with regard to to-day's date—liars' day," he continued presently, "was rather amusing. We hired a room in the City for a week and sent out over three hundred letters to persons born on that day. Our notepaper was headed, 'Short, Stay and Hoppett, Solicitors,' and the letters were in identical terms. They said that we had been endeavouring for some time to trace the relatives of one Davy Jones, who, after acquiring a large fortune in Australia, had died intestate, and we had that morning been given to understand that the gentleman with whom we wore corresponding was a nephew of the deceased, etc., etc. You guess what happened. Every one of them without exception claimed as his uncle this millionaire who never existed."
The train began to slow down, and the President rose to his feet.
"I get out here," he said. "I'm sorry. I should like to have discussed the subject further. You, Sir"—he pointed threateningly at Ferguson—"will doubtless in future refrain from blaming Mr. —— for a failing for which, as you see, he is in no way responsible."
Ferguson quaked and said nothing.
The President brushed up his moustache still higher and looked round in triumph. All of us were completely cowed—all of us, except little Windsor.
"Just a moment, Sir," said the latter gently. "Before you leave us will you kindly accept this?"
He took out his tie-pin and laid it in the other's hand.
For the first time the burly one's confidence deserted him. He reddened slightly and looked embarrassed.
"It's very kind of you," he said, "but really I—I don't quite understand."
"It's a birthday present for you," said Windsor sweetly.
* * * * *
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
Three numbers of The South Polar Times were brought out at Cape Evans, the winter quarters of Captain SCOTT, during 1911. Mr. APSLEY CHERRY-GARRARD, the editor, has now presented them to a wider circle under the auspices of SMITH, ELDER, hoping that they will prove "a source of interest and pleasure to the friends of the expedition." He need have no fears. Of course a paper produced under such conditions is in its nature esoteric, and many of its jokes are lost if you "don't know Jimson." But if you have previously read Scott's Last Expedition then you will "know Jimson"; you will feel that every man at Cape Evans in 1911 was a personal friend of yours, and you will be delighted with this facsimile reproduction of the paper which delighted them. Personally I cannot read or see too much of the men who are my heroes; and in a world where an ordinary school-girl is allowed twenty-seven photographs of Mr. LEWIS WALLER I shall not consider myself surfeited with two caricatures and a humorous character-sketch of Lieutenant BOWERS. But there are contributions to The South Polar Times which have an interest other than the merely personal. Mr. GRIFFITH TAYLOR, a tower of strength on the literary side, is really funny in The Bipes—a paper (on the wingless bipeds of Cape Evans) supposed to have been read by OATES' escaped rabbit to the Royal Society of Rabbits. Mr. TAYLOR, as a recorder of history in Scott's Last Expedition, was, I thought, a little too familiar; in these and other articles he is much more at home. But it is upon Dr. WILSON's pictures (both serious and comic) that The South Polar Times can most justly pride itself. I envy Mr. CHERRY-GARRARD so prolific and brilliant a contributor. Still more I envy him (and all his colleagues at Cape Evans) the knowledge of such a man. The more I get to know of "BILL" WILSON, the more I understand that he was of the very salt of the earth—a man to love whom was indeed a liberal education, and to be loved by whom was a passport to the little company of the elect.
When John Barleycorn (MILLS AND BOON) came my way, I noticed that the publishers had shown a reticence, unusual in these days, on the outside paper cover; they didn't say a word as to the quality or character of the contents. They had three good reasons: first, given the name of JACK LONDON, there was no need of further advertisement or lure; second, if they had started describing the book they would have been unable to say with strict truth that it was or was not a novel, for it isn't and it is; third, and best, they couldn't, as honest men, have avoided mentioning that it is in a way a sermon on alcoholism, and that, being said, might have acted as a deterrent, unless they had explained (as they wouldn't have had room to do) how and why, when they said "sermon," they didn't really mean "sermon." So they lay low and said nothing, and I almost wish I had done the same, for no one who has the lightest interest, practical or theoretical, in John Barleycorn ought to be put off these alcoholic memoirs. The diarist purports to have been first drunk at the age of five, again at the age of seven, almost perpetually for a spell of years from the age of fifteen, and yet to have taken over a quarter of a century to acquire a liking for alcohol. That sounds odd, but is not unique. Not only in California and not only in the lower grades of society, is Youth, vigorous and unspoilt, bound to acquire the taste if it would foregather on lively and intimate terms with its fellows; and not only in the saloons of the Oakland water-front are fine youngsters drinking themselves permanently silly because it is their only way of being men among men, jolly good fellows among jolly good fellows. A sound enough text for any sermon; and, I may honestly add, a sound enough sermon for any text, with a strong smell of the sea and of adventure about it. But I ask myself for what purpose the photograph of Mr. and Mrs. JACK LONDON is inserted as a frontispiece? As well, I think, have had a portrait of Mr. MILLS, with Mr. BOON inset.
Isn't The Youngest World (BELL) an engaging title for a book? It caught my interest at once. I am not altogether sure that the story itself is as good as its name, but that still leaves a margin of quality, and I for one have enjoyed it greatly—in patches. Let Mr. ROBERT DUNN not too hastily condemn me if I say that he has written a fatiguing tale. Partly I mean this as a high compliment. The descriptions of hardships borne and physical difficulties overcome by his hero are so vivid that they convey a sensation of actual bodily strain in a manner that only one other living writer can equal. There are chapters in the book that leave one aching all over. So long, in fact, as Mr. DUNN's characters are content to do things, to climb mountains, to ford rivers, to endure hunger and cold and weariness, I am in close bodily sympathy with them; it is when they begin to talk and to explain their mental states that my keenness is threatened by another and less pleasing fatigue. It is not that the scope of the story—a man's regeneration by love and hardship—isn't a good one: quite the contrary. It is that I simply do not believe that human beings, especially those that figure in this book, would ever talk about themselves in this particular way. "In the name of our own blood," she uttered softly, "of Love, the Future, and Victory...." That is a random sentence from the last page, and very typical of Mr. DUNN's dialogue. It is full of gracious qualities, thoughtful, and throughout on a high literary level, but as a realistic transcription of frontier talk it leaves me incredulous. Still the setting, I repeat, is quite wonderful. You shall read the chapters that tell of Gail's ascent of Mount Lincoln, and see if they don't stir your blood, especially where he reaches the top, alone (and therefore unable to talk), and sees the world at his feet. You will exult in this.
Mr. VICTOR BRIDGES has a very versatile pen and in most of the twenty-one pieces of Jetsam (MILLS AND BOON) which he has recovered from the waves of monthly magazines and elsewhere there is a certain amount of material for mirth. I do not however find him a startlingly original humorist, whether on the river Thames, where he seems to follow in the wake of Mr. JEROME K. JEROME, or in a Chelsea "pub," where his manners are reminiscent of the characters of Messrs. W. W. JACOBS and MORTON HOWARD. Again, in the story called "The First Marathon" (where, by the way, he states that "It is true that the word 'Marathon' was first used in connection with the old Olympian games," which seems a little unfair to MILTIADES), the fun mainly depends on the use of such phrases as "Spoo-fer," "King Kod," and the "Can't-stik-you-shun-all Club." Other stories are of the adventurous or romantic type sacred to serial fiction, no fewer than three dealing with escaped convicts on Dartmoor, and one (the first in the book) describing the chance meeting of a man and a pretty girl on an uninhabited island off the West Coast of Scotland. Here, for some reason or other, the man insisted on calling his charming and unknown companion Astarte, a name which, if I had been in her place, I should have been inclined to resent. But Mr. BRIDGES' dialogue is nearly always bright, and his knowledge of the machinery of yarn-spinning excellent. There is just one other point however which I should like to mention. The book includes a brand-new Russian wolf-story, in which the heroes protect themselves from the bites of these ferocious quadrupeds by putting on armour, which they find in a deserted house. I don't object to that; but, when they leave the railway line along which they have been travelling and plunge into a forest-path they come to a place where the route forks and cannot make out which of the two roads will be more likely to lead them back to the railway. I do not feel that these men were the sort of people to be trusted to wander by themselves in a desolate Siberian anecdote.
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Our New Masters.
The KING can do no wrong. Of late So ran the law; but, when to-day Kinglike he seeks to serve the State, Our super-monarchs frown and say: The KING can do no right—unless By leave of half the Liberal Press.
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The Light-weight Angler.
"Weighing 6 lbs. 7 oz., Mr. T. Snelgrove caught a golden carp whilst fishing in the mill pond at Addlestone, Surrey."—People.
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"He has slept ... nearly 365 days on board the Admiralty yacht."
This, from a Daily Mail article in praise of WINSTON, is no doubt meant kindly.
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"C. E. Cox begs to announce that he is now prepared to drill wells, for water, gas, oil, cash or old clothes."Red Deer Advocate.
For cash is our choice.
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In "The Young of the Sea-Serpent" (page 109), the original text read, "So shall the rising generation learn the merits of the strong right arm that has make England what it is."
In "An Error in Arcady" (page 116), the circumflex in "vice versa" has been retained from the original, but "shrubberries" has been replaced with "shrubberies".
In "The Light-weight Angler" (page 120), "Addlestont" has been changed to "Addlestone".