OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
April 5, 1916
A SEVERE blizzard hit London last week, and Mr. PEMBERTON-BILLING has since been heard to admit, however reluctantly, that there are other powers of the air.
After more than five weeks the bubble blown by Sir JAMES DEWAR at the Royal Institution on February 17th has burst. A still larger bubble, blown by some eminent German scientists as long ago as August, 1914, is said to be on the point of dissolution.
At one of the North London Tribunals a maker of meat pies applied for exemption on the ground that he had a conscientious objection to taking life. His application was refused, the tribunal apparently being of the opinion that a man who knew all about meat pies could decimate the German forces without striking a blow.
Colonel ROOSEVELT says he has found a bird that lives in a cave, eats nuts, barks like a dog and has whiskers; and the political wiseacres in Washington are asking who it can be.
An exciting hockey match was played on Saturday between a team of policemen and another composed of special constables. The policemen won—by a few feet.
For gallantry at the ovens a German master-baker has just been awarded the Iron Cross. This is probably intended as a sop to the Army bakers, who are understood to have regarded it as a slight upon their calling that hitherto this distinction has been largely reserved for people who have shown themselves to be efficient butchers.
At a meeting of barbers held in the City a few days ago it was unanimously decided to raise the price of a shave to 3d. The reason, it was explained, was the high cost of living, which tempted the customers to eat far more soap than formerly.
In the Lambeth Police Court a man was convicted of stealing three galvanized iron roofs. His explanation that he had had the good fortune to win them at an auction bridge party was rejected by the Court.
A Mr. R. H. PEARCE, writing to The Times, says: "I once lived in a house where my neighbour (a lady) kept twelve cats." Mr. PEARCE is probably unique in his experience. Our own neighbours only go so far as to arrange for the entertainment of their cats in our garden.
* * * * *
FIRST CASUALTY OF THE NON-COMBATANT CORPS.
* * * * *
An Appropriate Locale.
"Bohemian Picture Theatre, Phibsboro' To-day for Three Days Only, Justus Miles Forman's Exciting Story, The Garden of Lies."
* * * * *
"A word that is always spelled swrong.—W-r-o-n-g."—Wellington Journal.
We don't believe this is true.
* * * * *
"WOMEN ARE ASKED TO WEAR NO MORE CLOTHES than are absolutely necessary."
Several cases of shock are reported among ladies who got no further than the large type lines.
* * * * *
ART IN WAR-TIME.
[A fragmentary essay in up-to-date criticism of any modern Exhibition—the R. A. excluded.]
In the Central Hall the Reduplicated Praeteritists, the Tangentialists and the Paraphrasts are all well represented. Mr. Orguly Bolp's large painting, entitled "Embrocation," is an interesting experiment in the handling of aplanatic surfaces, in which the toxic determinants are harmonized by a sort of plastic meiosis with syncopated rhythms. His other large picture, "Interior of a Dumbbell by Night," has the same basic idea without the appearance of it, and gives a very vital sense of the elimination of noumenal perceptivity. M. Paparrigopoulo, the Greek Paraphrast, calls one of his pictures "The Antecedent," another "The Relative," and a third "The Correlative," but though they are thus united syntactically each follows its own reticulation to a logical conclusion, and carries with it a spiritual sanction, not always coherent perhaps, but none the less satisfying. Miss Felicity Quackenboss's portrait of Saint Vitus is perhaps the most arresting contribution to the exhibition, and portrays the Saint intoxicated with the exuberance of his own agility. It is a very carnival of contortion. Mr. Widgery Pimble transcribes very searchingly the post-prandial lethargy of a boa-constrictor, the process of deglutition being indicated with great dignity and delicacy, as might be expected from so austere a realist. From one angle the figure might be taken for a Bengal tiger, and from another for a zebra—a good proof of the suggestiveness of the artist's method. But, whether it be reptile or quadruped, the spirit of repletion broods over the canvas with irresistible force. Mr. Thaddeus Tumulty sends some admirable drawings in pise de terre, one of which, called "The Pragmatist at Play," is a masterpiece of osteological bravura....
* * * * *
"Dr. Solff, the German Minister for the Conolies, has left for Constantinople."
Another injustice to Ireland.
* * * * *
"You're not looking well," said the staff of The Muddleton Weekly Gazette sympathetically.
"No, Sir. Can't sleep, Sir. Haven't done for days till last night. I went off beautiful quite early, and then the new nurse come and woke me to give me my sleeping draught. That finished it for the night. Strange thing, sleep. There's no sense about it. Take Bill Hawkins now, a pal of mine in B Company. He was hit and took to hospital. Not serious at all. 'Me for a rest cure,' he says. But he was in that hospital for weeks and weeks, getting worse and worse; he couldn't sleep a wink. The more they drugged him, and the more sheep he counted, the more wide-awake he was. The doctors got angry and called him an obstinate case. He said it wasn't poisons but noise he needed, so they fetched an orderly and set him banging one of them frying-pan baths with a ram-rod. In five minutes Bill falls asleep as peaceful as a lamb, and the orderly, being tired, stops. Up leaps Bill, wide awake as ever, asking what's wrong. Naturally they couldn't bang a bath for him all night every night, and the house surgeon was just thinking about getting ready a slab in the mortuary, when Bill's brother, an engine-driver, comes along. He took Bill to his box just outside Charing Cross station and made up a bed for him there. Bill slept for three days solid and was about again in a week."
"Very fortunate," murmured the Gazette.
"So that time, you see, the doctors was done. But that don't often happen. There was a doctor I knew out there, name of Gordon. Young fellow he was, too, and very keen; seemed to think the War was started specially to give him surgical practice, and he loved his lancets more than his mother. He used to welcome cases with open arms, so to speak, do his very best to heal 'em quick, and weep when he succeeded. Well, he happened to be in our trench one day, showing our Sub a new case of knives, when Charlie Black was carried in on a stretcher in an awful mess.
"'I must operate at once to save your life,' he says.
"Charlie smiled as best he could and said he was agreeable.
"'But there's no anaesthetic here,' he says, 'and I can't do it without. Couldn't you do a faint for me?'
"Charlie says he's sorry, but he's never practised fetching a faint at will, like a woman can.
"'Well, then,' he says, 'you'll have to be stunned.' And he fetches a small sandbag and gives it to the stretcher-bearer.
"'Chap here,' he explains to Charlie, 'will count up slowly, and when he gets to fifty he'll hit you on the head with the sandbag and knock you out.'
"Charlie grins, and the stretcher-bearer begins to count. When he gets to ten he rolls up his sleeves; when he gets to twenty he takes a good grip of the sandbag; at thirty he rolls his eyes and sticks out his jaw; at forty, he lifts the bag over his shoulder and draws one foot back, Charlie watching him all the time. 'For-ty-six,' he says slowly, 'for-ty seven, for-ty-eight, for-ty-nine,' and then——"
"You're not going to tell me that he really——"
"No, he didn't," said Truthful James. "Charlie fainted."
"That was their intention, I presume?"
"Your presumption is correct, Sir. The doctor finished the job before Charlie come to again. Smart, wasn't it?"
"Very smart indeed."
"But that's nothing. Nothing at all to what he could do. He once cut a fellow open, took out his liver, extracted twenty-three shrapnel bullets from it, bounced it on the floor to see it was all right, and put it back, all inside of three minutes. And the fellow what owns the liver hasn't had a to-morrow morning head-ache once since."
"He must be a very clever doctor," suggested the other, to fill in a pause.
"Talking of doctors," James went on, "reminds me of a man I saw out there who wasn't a doctor, leastways not one of ours. We was in the fire-trenches one night when a voice hails us from the other side of the entanglements. After the usual questions we brings him over the parapet, and he explains to our Sub that he's been in front attending to some wounded men in a listening post what was blown up. All perfectly correct and proper; gives his name and rank, too, and is wearing an R.A.M.C. uniform—rank, Captain. As he passes me on his way to the Sub's dug-out I happens to catch sight of his face, and it give me quite a shock. I was took ill immediate. I manages to stagger to the dug-out, and I mutters hoarsely, 'Sir, I'm sick. I think I'm going to die.'
"'Sick?' says the Sub. 'You don't look sick.'
"'I'm sorry, Sir,' I says.
"'Well,' says he, turning to the other man, 'the Captain here will soon put you right.'
"'Certainly,' says the Doc very sharp. 'Where do you feel pain—stomach, heart, head?'
"'No, Sir,' says I, 'I got a nawful pain in me inn'erds.'
"'What did you say?' he asks.
"'In me inn'erds, Sir,' I says, 'spreading from me gizzard to me probossis,' them being the only out-of-the-way words I could think of off-hand.
"'H'm,' says he, pretending to understand perfectly, 'it is probably nothing serious. You must diet yourself; take nothing but light food and——'
"Here the Sub interrupts him, thinking there's something mighty queer about a doctor what is so ready to prescribe diet for a probossis, and asks him a lot more questions. Of course the beer was in the sawdust then, and very soon a guard was called up to take our German Captain Doctor Spy away to a safe place.
"It was lucky I knew his face. Before perfidjus Albion forced this war on the poor KAYSER I'd seen him often in London. He was boss of a firm above the place where I worked, and he used to order his Huns about in their own language, and chuck his empty lager bottles out of his window into our yard. I'm glad I got my own back for that."
"Jim," cried an orderly, "you're wanted for your dressing."
James rose languidly. "That means na-poo, then, Sir," he said.
"Na-poo?" echoed the Gazette.
"Where's your learning, Sir?" asked James. "That's French for 'no more.'"
"I hope your dressing will not be painful," ventured the other.
"How would you like to have a probe rammed through your hand twice a day?" demanded James with a smile. "But it's all part of the game. Comforts for Tommy. Everyone has their own way of making us happy, not forgetting the dear lady what sent us three hundred little lavender bags, with pretty little bows on them, all sewn by herself, to keep our linen sweetly perfumed. It's nice to think that they all mean well, and I always follow the advice of the auctioneer what was trying to pass off a plated teapot as solid silver."
"What did he say?"
"Look at the bright side," answered James over his shoulder as he hurried away. "O reevwaw, Sir."
* * * * *
"On the night of February 29th ten thousand women marched through Unter Den London crying 'bread' and 'peace.'"
Daily Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica.)
We missed them in the Tube.
* * * * *
"WAIT AND SEE."
* * * * *
THE PULLING OF PERCY'S LEG.
It was one of those calm quarters of an hour which sometimes happen even in a Y.M.C.A. canteen. Private Penny, leaning over the counter, consumed coffee and buns and bestowed spasmodic confidences upon me as I cut up cake into the regulation slices.
"Oxo and biscuits, please," broke in a languid voice suddenly, and a pale young man with an armlet approached the counter. I turned away for the cup, and Private Penny, laying down his mug, addressed the newcomer.
"Who are you?" he inquired genially.
The young man surveyed him with cold superiority; then he turned to me.
"I'm a DERBY man, you see," he began complacently. "A lot of pals'll be here presently, and we're all going to join this afternoon. They're late."
"And what," I asked with resentment, for Private Penny was a friend of mine, "are you going to join?"
It appeared that this superior person, after unprejudiced consideration of the matter, had decided to join the A.S.C. He said he considered he would be of most use in the A.S.C.; he said he was specially designed and constructed by Providence for the A.S.C.; he said....
And then suddenly we became aware that Private Penny was mourning gently to himself over a dough-nut.
"Pore chap!" he was muttering, "pore young feller—'e don't know. None of 'em knows till it's too late, and then they finds their mistake. No good to tell 'em—pore chap, pore chap—so pleased over it, too!"
"What's that you're saying?" the youth cut in anxiously.
"Young man," said Private Penny very solemnly, "if you'd take my advice—the advice of one that's served his country twelve months at the Front—you'd let the Army Service Corps alone. Not that I'm doubting you're a plucky young feller enough, but you ain't up to that. It's nerve you want for it. Well, I wouldn't take it on myself, and I'm pretty well seasoned. Why, you 'ave to go calmly into the mouth of 'ell with supplies, over the open ground, when the Infantry's safe and snug in the trenches. You ain't strong enough for it—reely you ain't."
"Er—" hesitated the young man.
"Well, I had thought of the R.A.M.C. Mother's idea was——"
Private Penny groaned. "You know," he said with emotion, "I've took a kind of fancy to you, Percy. And if it's me dying breath I says—don't! That kind of work ain't right nor proper for the likes of you. Why, you 'ave to go out in the field there (and you ain't even armed, nor protected, mind you!) and you 'ave to see the most orrerble sights! Can't I tell by yer face, can't I see with me understanding eyes that you're the sort that would go mad in no time if you 'ad some o' them things to do? If it's me last word——" Emotion choked him.
Percy looked wildly around. "There's the Artillery," he gasped, "if that's your advice."
Private Penny burst into a sob of uncontrollable anguish. "Percy," he moaned, "if you want to break me heart, that's the way to do it! Say I've advised you to that, if you like, but it ain't true. With all me soul I says—don't do it. Think, dear boy, think. Kinsider the guns!—the noise—the smoke—the smell—the bursting shells all round—the mad horses and mules everywhere. If you 'ave any affection for me in your 'eart, Percival, leave the guns alone! If you can't control your courage for my sake—your fool'ardiness, Percy!—think of all your dear ones at 'ome and turn back before it is too late!"
Percy shuddered. "I might try the Engineers," he said hopelessly, "but I don't——"
"If," said Private Penny in the still tones of despair, "I have druv you to this, I shall cut me throat. I can't live with that on me conscience. 'Ave you thought of the danger of mining and sapping? 'Ave you kinsidered field telegrafts? 'Ave you—'ot-'eaded and impulsive as you are—'ave you kinsidered anything? Percy, if you're set on this job, tell me quick, and put me out of me agony!"
"No," said Percy abruptly. "But"—with sudden misgiving—"w-what can I do? I'm on my way to join and I must join something."
Private Penny pushed his mug over to be re-filled. "I'm an infantryman myself," he said carelessly, "and I speaks as one that knows. And wot I says is—if you wants a cheerful protected kinder life, with a quiet 'ole to 'ide yer 'ead in—if you wants rest and comfort, kimbined with plenty o' fresh air—if you wants to serve yer King and country without any danger to yer 'ealth, then the infantry's the life for you, and the trenches is the place to spend it in. Ain't I been out there one solid year, and no 'arm 'appened to me yet? It's child's play, that it is, sitting there in a 'ole, with big guns booming over you protective-like from be'ind and killing all the enemy in front for you. And yer food and yer love-letters brought to you regular, and doctors and parsons to see you whenever you feels queer. Take my advice, Percy my son—join the Infantry at once and make sure of a gentleman's life. I've took a fancy to you, and I tells you straight." And he eclipsed himself behind his replenished mug.
"Thank you very much," said Percy gratefully, "I can see that the Infantry is the place for me. I shall insist upon joining it. Thank you very much for all your advice——"
At this moment a great wave of khaki burst into the room and swept to the counter, clamouring for attention. On the crest of it came Percy's friends in mufti, and once, across the tumult, his voice reached my ears. "... quite decided...." he was saying loftily, "some infantry regiment or other just seems...." and he was jostled away in the centre of an admiring group.
Involuntarily I looked across at Private Penny.
One eye met mine from behind an upturned mug, and the lid fell and rose again, once, rapidly; he too had heard.
* * * * *
"A Council of War in the Desert.
"British Officers are here seen holding a 'bow-wow.'"—Western Weekly News.
Very natural. In the desert most days are "dog-days."
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE NEUTRAL NEWSMONGER.
Who cheers us when we're in the blues With reassuring German news Of starving Berliners in queues? The Neutral.
And then, soon after, tells us they Are feeding nicely all the day Just in the old familiar way? The Neutral.
Who sees the KAISER in Berlin Dejected, haggard, old as sin, And shaking in his hoary skin? The Neutral.
Then says he's quite a Sunny Jim, That buoyant health and youthful vim Are sticking out all over him? The Neutral.
Who tells us tales of KRUPP'S new guns Much larger than the other ones, And endless trains chockful of Huns? The Neutral.
And then, when our last hope has fled, Declares the Huns are either dead Or hopelessly dispirited? The Neutral.
In short, who seems to be a blend Of Balaam's Ass, the bore's godsend And Mrs. Gamp's elusive friend? The Neutral.
* * * * *
* * * * *
HINTS TO MANAGERS.
A new and very popular addition to the comic opera, Tina, at the Adelphi, is a stage representation of "Eve," the writer of "The Letters of Eve" in The Tatler, together with her retinue and her dog.
Here we see Journalism and the Drama more than ever mutually dependent, and the developments of the idea might be numberless. Lord Times, in A Kiss for Cinderella, already illustrates one of them; but why not a complete play, with favourite newspaper contributors as the dramatis personae? or a revue, to be called, say, The Tenth Muse, or Hullo, Inky!
Or, if not a whole play or revue, a scene could be arranged in which the great scribes processed past. One group might consist of Carmelite Friars, with "Quex" and "The Rambler," each with a luncheon host on one arm and a musical-comedy actress on the other; "An Englishman," with his scourge of knotted cords, on his eternal but honourable quest for a malefactor; and "Robin Goodfellow," still, in spite of war and official requests for economy, pointing to the glories of the race-course and pathetically endeavouring to find winners. These would make an impressive company—with a good song and dance to finish up with.
The Referee's contribution would obviously be too easy; it would simply be like a revival of King Arthur. The audience, however, would be in luck when "Dagonet" got really warmed up to tell yet once more the thrilling story of how he met HENRY PETTITT in the brave days of old.
A whiff of The Three Musketeers would exhilarate the house at the entry of "Chicot," the Jester of The Sketch; while finally we might look for an excellent effect from "Claudius Clear" and "A Man of Kent," of The British Weekly, masquerading as the Heavenly Twins.
These notes merely, of course, touch the fringe of a vast subject. Many other holders of famous noms de guerre remain, such as "Mr. Gossip" and "Mrs. Gossip," and "Captain Coe" and "A Playful Stallite," and "Historicus" and "Atlas" and "Scrutator" and "Alpha of the Plough"; but only "Eve" has had the wit to include pictures of herself in every article; therefore only "Eve" can be instantly recognised. These others, if they wish to be equally successful on the stage (and it is certain they would like to be), must have always a portrait too. The Heavenly Twins might like to use one, by Mr. WELLS, which already exists.
* * * * *
I was at first inclined to look upon this dove as being largely symbolical. So far as I could gather it had never been here before—at any rate no one could be found who had seen it here or in the neighbourhood, and it seemed obvious that its sudden emergence, as it were, out of nothing must have some high and dove-like signification.
Probably before the end of the week the KAISER would sue for peace and swallow Mr. ASQUITH'S formula. Since then, however, Verdun has happened and VON TIRPITZ has gone, and nobody seems in the least disposed to stop the crash of arms. That being so, and the dove being still with us, I am forced, in spite of myself, to look upon it as an entirely real bird and to keep on wondering what strange freak brought it to us and made it an honoured member of this household.
It arrived about ten weeks ago quite unexpectedly and suddenly. One morning there was no dove; on the following morning, having fluttered hither from I know not what remote and solitary region, it had perched on the branch of a poplar set close to the house. There it remained while we breakfasted, and from that point of vantage it broke out into a long series of loud and melodious cooings that sounded like nothing so much as a gurgling stream of benedictions poured out over the house and those who dwelt in it by one who plainly proposed to be a grateful though not a paying guest. It was wonderful to hear it.
From the branch this persistent and pleasing bird shortly removed itself to the window-sill of one of the bedrooms, and into this room, when breakfast was over, the children trooped. The dove was pecking eagerly at the window-pane. "Let's open the window for it," said one of the girls, "and see what happens." Very gently, then, the window was opened, and what immediately happened was that, without the least sign of alarm, nay rather with the air of one repeating a customary action, the dove walked in, took a short flight, and settled on the toilet-table. There it caught sight of its soft grey reflection in the looking-glass and at once began to parade up and down before it, swelling itself out and bobbing its head in evident admiration of the beautiful being so fortunately offered to its view. Soon it attempted to approach this vision, but was surprised to find itself foiled by the cold impermeable surface of the glass. Puzzled, but not, I think, definitely hopeless—it performs the same antics in one or other of the bedrooms every day—it left the toilet-table, circled round the room and perched confidingly on the shoulder of one of the little girls who were admiring it, and began once more to coo in a very ecstasy of enjoyment.
Later on, food was provided for it, which it pecked up without the least shyness. Since then it has established itself on a very firm clawing, if I may use the term, as a necessary inmate of the house. Fluttering through the passages it follows the maids from room to room in the morning and shows the most lively interest in their work while beds are being made or tables dusted. It has the most perfect trustfulness, not merely allowing itself to be handled, but coming to perch on a wrist or shoulder as if it had belonged there from, time immemorial. It really is a pretty thing to have about the house, an embodiment of gentleness and kindness, and, so far as a mere human being can judge, of an almost dog-like gratitude and affection. I have seen a bullfinch swell up in a passionate agitation of love when from its cage it beheld its dear mistress enter the room, but it had never occurred to me before this to attribute such a feeling to a dove. I ought, I suppose, to have known better, as I now do. At this very moment it is cooing away like mad at its declaration of undying love from its favourite haunt on the mantelpiece of one of the bedrooms.
But it has another utterance which it employs at rare intervals. This is a sort of high-pitched laugh thoroughly unsuited to its softness, a most cynical and derisive sound which in so kind a beak seems to have neither meaning nor purpose. But I overlook its rare laugh in consideration of the cooing with which it blesses us and the general friendship which it has vowed to this house.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE BOBBERY PACK.
Andy Hartigan's dead and gone Over the hills and further yet, But he drank good port and his red face shone Like a cider apple of Somerset.
Ten strange couples o' hounds he had (Gaunt old brutes that had hunted fox Back in the days when NOAH was a lad), Touched in the bellows and gone at the hocks—
Hounds he'd stole from a Harrier pack, Hounds he'd borrowed an' begged an' found, Grey an' yellow an' tan an' black, Every conceivable kind o' hound.
He called them "harriers," and a few Were harriers—back when the world began— But they weren't particular where they drew An' they weren't particular what they ran.
I mind him once of a bygone morn Ruddy an' round on his flea-bit horse, Twangin' a note on his battered horn An' cappin' them into the Frenchman gorse.
They pushed a brown hare out of her form An' swung on her line with a crash of tongues; But a vixen crossed an' her scent was warm, So they ran her, screechin' to burst their lungs.
They ran her into my lord's demesne, Where my lady's fallows were grazing free; They picked a stag and followed again, Singing like souls in ecstasy.
They chased the stag up over the ridge With lolling tongues an' with heaving flanks; They lost him down by the Cluddlah bridge, But killed an otter on Cluddlah's banks.
They had no shape an' they had no style; Their manners were bad an' their morals slack; They were noisy, but wonderful versatile, Andy Hartigan's bobbery pack.
* * * * *
High (Explosive) Finance.
"The issuing of premium bombs, whilst not, strictly speaking, a lottery or gamble, would give such people what they ask for, and that is a chance to get something unusual and tempting."
Unusual, certainly; but tempting?
* * * * *
"GIRLS experienced Wanted to feed on Wharfdale machines."
Nottingham Evening Post.
* * * * *
"BROADWOODWIDGER.—A new pipe organ has been installed at the parish church. A recital was given by the Rev. C. B. Walters, of Stokeclimsland, while a sermon was preached by the Rev. Canon Lewis, of Launceston."—Provincial Paper.
The Broadwoodwidger example deserves imitation. Some sermons would be much more tolerable if they had a musical accompaniment.
* * * * *
"A mere automatic raising of the Income Tax strikes indiscriminately at the just and the unjust; it is just as likely to cripple the man who is supporting and educating a large family sybarite."
And a very good thing too. For ourselves, we have always discouraged the growth of these bulky profligates in the domestic circle.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"Rather a funny thing happened the other day," she remarked.
"Yes?" I replied languidly.
"Oh!" I said with animation. "Do tell me."
"It was at lunch," she explained, "at Duke's. The people at the next table were talking about you. I couldn't help hearing a little. A man there said he had met you in Shanghai."
"Not really!" I exclaimed.
"Yes. He met you in Shanghai."
"That's frightfully interesting," I said. "What did he say about me?"
"That's what I couldn't hear," she replied. "You see I had to pay some attention to my own crowd. I only caught the word 'delightful.'"
Ever since she told me this. I have been turning it over in my mind; and it is particularly vexing not to know more. "Delightful" can be such jargon and mean nothing—or, at any rate, nothing more than amiability. Still, that is something, for one is not always amiable, even when meeting strangers. On the other hand it might be, from this man, the highest praise.
The whole thing naturally leads to thought, because I have never been farther east than Athens in my life.
Yet here is a man who met me in Shanghai. What does it mean? Can we possibly visit other cities in our sleep? Has each of us an alter ego, who can really behave, elsewhere?
Whether we have or not, I know that this information about my Shanghai double is going to be a great nuisance to me. It is going to change my character. In fact it has already begun to do so. Let me give you an example.
Only yesterday I was about to be very angry with a telegraph boy who brought back a telegram I had despatched about two hours earlier, saying that it could not be delivered because it was insufficiently addressed. Obviously it was not the boy's fault, for he belonged to our country post-office and the telegram had been sent to London and was returned from there; and yet I started to abuse that boy as though he were not only the POSTMASTER-GENERAL himself but the inventor of red-tape into the bargain. And all for a piece of carelessness of my own.
And then suddenly I remembered Shanghai and how delightful I was there. And I shut up instantly and apologised and rewrote the message and gave the boy a shilling for himself. If one could be delightful in Shanghai one must be delightful at home too.
And so it is going to be. There is very little fun for me in the future, and all because of that nice-mannered man in Shanghai whom I must not disgrace. For it would be horrible if one day a lady told him that she had overheard someone who had met him in London and found him to be a bear.
* * * * *
HERRICK TO JULIA.
When as in silks my Julia goes Then, then (methinks) how wanton shows That efflorescence of her clothes.
But when I cast mine eyes and see Her drest for decent industry, Oh, how that plainness taketh me!
* * * * *
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
Tuesday, March 28th.—Sir EDWARD CARSON was back on the Front Opposition Bench to-day, so much the better for his recent rest-cure that he is credited with the desire to prescribe similar treatment for other jaded politicians. Three of the potential patients—the PRIME MINISTER, the FOREIGN SECRETARY and the MINISTER OF MUNITIONS—have anticipated his kindly suggestion by going for a little trip on the Seine, and are making arrangements with their Continental friends for another on the Spree at a later date.
Before his departure Mr. LLOYD GEORGE, ever thoughtful for the welfare of others, arranged with the Military authorities to give a change of scene to six members of the Clyde Workers' Committee, who have been recently over-straining their vocal chords. This was the impression I got from Dr. ADDISON, who, like his great namesake, is a master of the bland style; but Sir EDWARD CARSON thrust aside official euphemism and bluntly inquired whether these men were not in fact assisting the KING'S enemies, and ought not to be indicted for high treason.
The suppression of a number of Sinn Fein papers in Ireland stimulated Mr. GINNELL to the concoction of a Question about as long as a leading article. To ensure a reply he addressed it simultaneously to the UNDER SECRETARY FOR WAR and the CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND. In spite of this precaution he was disappointed, for, owing to the storm, Mr. BIRRELL had not received the necessary information from Ireland, while Mr. TENNANT, no doubt for the same reason, had not even received the Question. Mr. GINNELL is now convinced that the official conspiracy against him has been joined by the Clerk of the Weather.
I shall hardly be surprised if the next time I walk down Whitehall I find sandwichmen out with their boards inscribed—
Westminster Aerodrome. Flying every Tuesday. Billing Breaks all Records.
The new Member for East Herts has displayed unprecedented dexterity in catching the SPEAKER'S eye. In three weeks he has already spoken more columns of Hansard than many Members fill during a long Parliamentary career. His speech to-day consisted almost entirely of a catalogue of fatal accidents to aviators, due, he declared, to the faulty engines and machines supplied to them by the Government—"though within twenty miles of here we have a far better machine than the Fokker."
Previous to this we had listened to a bright and diverting dialogue between Mr. DUDLEY WARD, representing the Anti-Aircraft Service, and Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS, briefed by the Municipal authorities, on the question of what happened at Ramsgate during the last raid. As they differed in toto on every detail the House was not much the wiser for the discussion, but it was consoled by Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS' remark that "if the MAYOR and TOWN CLERK have lied to me no one will be more pleased than myself."
Members were much more impressed by the obvious sincerity and occasional eloquence of the appeal on behalf of the East Coast towns made by Sir A. GELDER. His indignation at the trick played on one place by the Military authorities, who tried to allay public anxiety by mounting a dummy gun, was shared by the House.
Mr. TENNANT did not attempt to deny or palliate this imposture, but he made a fairly adequate reply to other counts of the indictment, and promised a judicial inquiry into the casualties enumerated by Mr. BILLING. The revelation that he himself has a son in the Flying Corps was perhaps the most effective point in a speech which did not wholly remove the impression that the Government has its head in the air rather than its heart.
Wednesday, March 29th.—There are more ways than one of getting into the House of Commons. Mr. PERCY HARRIS, the new Member for the Market Harborough division, who took his seat to-day, arrived by the old-fashioned route of a contested election. He was just about to shake hands with the SPEAKER when a khaki-clad stranger took a short cut from the Gallery and reached the floor per saltum. Not only so, but before he could be arrested this Messenger from Mars succeeded in delivering his maiden speech, to the effect that British soldiers' heads should be protected against shrapnel-fire. The SERJEANT-AT-ARMS, who had had a narrow escape, goes further, holding the view that his own head should be protected from acrobatic British soldiers.
To-day Mr. LONG had the difficult task of convincing the House that the married men had no grievance, and that the Government were doing their best to remove it. Only a man who has fought with bulls in Ireland could hope to tackle such a paradox. Mr. LONG, having enjoyed that experience, was fairly successful.
Sir EDWARD CARSON, who had been expected by some people to initiate a raging "Down-the-Government" agitation, was comparatively mild, and, admitting that his late colleagues had done something, chiefly blamed them for not having done it earlier. Still he made it plain that in his view compulsion all round was inevitable if Prussianism was to be crushed. Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH agreed with him. The Government ought not to bargain with the public; it ought to give them a clear and definite command. Such sentiments, proceeding from one who still claimed to belong to the Liberal Party, shocked Sir WILLIAM BYLES. Maintaining that those who had voted against the Military Service Bill were the truest friends of the PRIME MINISTER, he promised again to give him his invaluable support "if he would only lead us to our accustomed pasture." There is no justification, however, for the theory that the worthy knight is a candidate for the Order of the Thistle.
Thursday, March 30th.—In the Lords to-day Viscount TEMPLETOWN moved that London should be declared a prohibited area, with a view to removing the eight or nine thousand Germans still carrying on business there. His argument was a little difficult to follow, for it included a complaint that in Eastbourne, which is a prohibited area, a number of aliens are residing in comfort and affluence. The Marquis of LANSDOWNE, usually so logical, on this occasion answered inconsequence by inconsequence. In one breath he asserted that to declare the whole of the Metropolis a prohibited area would throw too much work on the police; and in the next that it would have the effect of driving away large numbers of aliens to places not so well policed as London is. Lord BERESFORD caught the infection. In the course of a long question designed to clear General TOWNSHEND of the responsibility for the advance upon Bagdad, he remarked with startling irrelevance that if his (Lord BERESFORD's) advice had been taken by the PRIME MINISTER the Lusitania would still be afloat and we should have lost no battleships in the Dardanelles. He did not appear to attach undue importance to this claim, and Lord ISLINGTON, who replied for the Government, did not think it necessary to make any reference to it, but contented himself with stating that the Bagdad advance was authorised on the advice of General NIXON and the Indian Government, and professing official ignorance of any representations on the part of General TOWNSHEND.
In the Commons the trouble on the Clyde was the piece de resistance. At Question time Mr. LLOYD GEORGE, fresh from the Paris Conference, had to deal with a number of inquiries put by the little group of Scottish malcontents whose notion of patriotism is to embarrass the Government on each and every occasion. Mr. HOGGE wanted to know when the MINISTER OF MUNITIONS was going to give the other side of the case—"the German side," as an interrupter pertinently put it; and Mr. PRINGLE intimated that a settlement could have been reached but for the unreasonableness of the Government.
This gave Dr. ADDISON, usually the mildest-mannered man that ever lanced a gumboil, an opportunity of administering to big accuser a much-needed lesson in deportment. The hon. Member had first forced himself, without invitation, into a private conversation in the Minister's room, and had then given a totally misleading account of what took place. He had made himself the spokesman of a body which had displayed "a treacherous disregard of the highest national interests."
Mr. PRINGLE was as much surprised as if he had been bitten by a rabbit, and wound up an unconvincing defence of himself with the remark that he would rather keep silence than say anything to exacerbate feeling. It is a pity that his friend Mr. HOGGE did not imitate this wise if rather tardy reticence. He gave Mr. LLOYD GEORGE the lie when he was describing how the disputes had interfered with the supply of guns urgently needed by the Army, and provoked the retort that, instead of encouraging the strikers by unfounded suggestions, he would be better employed if "with what credit is left to him" he went down to the Clyde and tried to get them to work.
* * * * *
* * * * *
A LETTER TO THE FRONT.
"Kin yer write a letter?"
"More or less," I said. I did not rate myself with Madame DE STAEL nor with EDWARD FITZGERALD, but I forebore to mention these names because I thought that they would not be familiar to my questioner. If you happen to know Paradise Rents, Fulham, you will realise that neither Madame DE STAEL, nor FITZGERALD is much read there. Moreover, the type that addressed me had not the aspect of a literary man.
He was a man of some seven years, maybe, in company with a younger man, perhaps of five. He was hatless, coatless, waistcoatless, but he had a pair of trousers, short in the leg, precariously held by one brace. That is the fashion in Paradise Rents. I had come upon these two young men about Fulham as they were staring with absorbed interest into the undertaker's shop advantageously situated for custom at the corner of the Rents and the main street. Certainly it was a pleasant window. Besides the legends and texts, the artificial wreaths and the pictures of tombs and tombstones, there was a number of model coffins in miniature. It was these that had fascinated the attention of the two young men.
"I should like one o' them to ply with," said the elder covetously.
"What would yer do with it, Bill?" the younger asked.
"I'd put the old KAYSER in it, along wi' Farver."
It is rude to laugh at other people's conversation, particularly if you have not been introduced to them, but I caught myself in an audible chuckle over this fine blend of patriotic and filial sentiment. Then I pulled myself but not in time; I had been detected.
If you wish to know what it is to be stared at, you should interrupt, as I had, a conversation between two young men of about this age in Fulham or elsewhere. They stared in unison and in silence until the tension became unbearable, and one of them, the elder, whose name was Bill, relieved it with the above quest on, "Kin yer write a letter?"
Perhaps my answer was a little modest. He regarded me doubtfully, then asked—
"'Ow soon kin yer write a letter?"
"You mean, how long does it take me to write a letter?"
He nodded his head vehemently.
"Well," I began, "it rather depends, you know, on what there is to say." I saw dissatisfaction cloud his face, and hastened to add, "Oh, well, about ten minutes."
At that his expression cleared to astonishment. Passing that emotion, it went to incredulity. It was a beautifully legible face, though everything but clean. He made up his mind.
"Will yer come," he asked, "and write a letter for my granmother?"
We were on the heels of adventure now; no one could say what new country this might lead to.
"Where does she live?" I asked.
"Just round the corner, two doors from my Great-aunt Maria's," he said, astonished that I should not know,
"Lead on," I said, concealing my ignorance of the residence of great-aunt Maria.
He took me by the hand, which I could not in courtesy decline, and led me down Paradise Rents.
As a rule, in Paradise Rents, front doors stand open to the street, but the door of Number 5, the abode of Bill's grandmother, was shut. On tip-toe and with a strenuous effort Bill reached the latch. The door opened and Bill shouted through it, by way of introduction:—
"She says she kin write a letter in ten minutes."
The person addressed, whom I understood to be the grandmother, was engaged in scrubbing with a duster a deal table already clean enough to make Bill's face much ashamed of itself. She was a large heavy old woman, with a round colourless visage that suggested the full moon by daylight, and wispy grey locks like a nimbus about it.
"Lor bless the child, Mum!" she exclaimed. "Bill, whatever d'yer mean by it?"
"Says she kin write a letter in ten minutes," Bill repeated, with the emphasis of grave doubt on the "says."
"Bless the child, Mum! I don't know whatever 'e's been saying. It's truth as I did say as I wished I 'ad someone as could write a letter for me to my son Frank, it being 'is birthday Tuesday and 'im out at the Front. But there, it's not to say, as I can't write a letter myself if I'm so minded, but I'm no great scholard and it do take me a long time to finish—each day a word or two. About a week it take me to write a letter, such a letter as I'd wish to write to Frank out at the Front, for 'is birthday, to cheer 'im up."
"Frank's Bill's father, I suppose?" I said, by way of filling an asthmatic pause.
"Lor bless yer, no, Mum. Bill's father wouldn't never go into no more danger than what 'e'd find at the Red Lion. Married my pore daughter 'e did, as died—a mercy for 'er, pore thing! That's 'ow it is Bill's living along o' me."
"I see," I said. "Well, now—about the letter?"
A space more liberal than the operation strictly needed was cleared for me on the polished deal table; a penny ink-bottle and a pen with a rusty but still useful nib set upon it, and from a special drawer, with a solemnity that of the character of sacred ritual, Mrs. Watt, as Bill's grandmother informed me she was called, drew forth a single sheet of notepaper. Its dimensions had been heavily curtailed by the deepest border of mourning black that I ever had seen on English writing-paper. Other nations surpass us in this evidence of respect, but Mrs. Watt's paper was calculated to raise the national standard.
"Isn't this," I said, "rather—I mean is it quite suited for a birthday letter, to cheer up Frank in the trenches?"
Mrs. Watt took the suggestion in quite good part, but gave it a decided negative.
"'E would wish respect showed to 'is Aunt Maria, as died Wednesday was a fortnight. You might tell 'im that, if you please, Mum."
I started off, as bidden, with this mournful communication, under the eye, at first severely critical, then frankly admiring, of Bill's grandmother.
"Lor," she exclaimed, "you be one to write the words quick!"
"What shall we say now?" I asked brightly.
"Wednesday was a fortnight as she died, sister Maria did, that's Frank's aunt, and was buried a Saturday—what's too soon, as you'd say, but no disrespect meant, the undertaker arranging first for the Monday—only 'aving a bigger job, with 'orses and plumes, give'im for the Monday, and so putting my pore sister forward to the Saturday. 'Ave you got that down, Mum?"
"Oh," I said, scribbling briskly, "am I to write all that?" It occupied, even with much compression, space far into the second side of the restricted paper.
"An' my only relative surviving," she resumed, "being brother George, as is eighty-two, and crotchety at that, lives out 'Oxton way, so I wrote to him about the funeral for a Monday, and when the undertaker puts it forward to the Saturday I didn't have no one to send all that way, so brother George—'e's eighty-two, and crotchety at that—'e didn't get no notice for the funeral on Saturday at all, so o' course 'e didn't come. You'll make all that clear to Frank, won't you, Mum?"
I scribbled hard again, and said I was doing my best.
"So brother George being crotchety, as I said, Mum, 'e sent me word as 'e wouldn't never speak to me again in this world, and 'e didn't know as ever 'e would in the world to come—I'd like you to put that all in, please, Mum, so's to let Frank know 'ow it all is. Now, do you suppose, Mum, if I was to die, as brother George'd come to my funeral?"
I hardly knew what answer to make after the "cut everlasting" with which George had threatened his sister, but I had an idea that I was beginning to understand Mrs. Watt's tastes. "Well," I said weakly, "I don't know—funerals are very pleasant things."
It was the right note and Mrs. Watt took it up keenly. "That's what I always says, Mum," she said eagerly. "I'd sooner go to a good funeral than I would a wedding any day of the week. You've got that down about brother George? Yes, and please say as it was beautiful polished wood, the coffin—and real brass 'andles."
"But, Mrs. Watt," I said despairingly, "that'll bring us quite to the end of the paper, and we've never even wished him many happy returns yet. Have you another sheet?"
"I haven't got no more than the one sheet, but I dessay as there's room to say as I'm his loving mother, and 'ope it finds 'im well, as it leaves me."
I managed to pinch in the traditional salutation; the sheet was enclosed in an envelope as sepulchral of aspect as itself, and with much misgiving I put Frank's birthday letter into the first pillar-box that I found.
Just a week later I had occasion to go down Paradise Rents again. I had no intention of calling on Mrs. Watt, being more than a little afraid of the reception that her son Frank might have accorded to the letter that was to bring bright cheer to his birthday. But she ran from her door as I passed to meet and greet me. "Do step in, Mum," she entreated. "I must 'ave you see a letter as come this morning from my son Frank, as is at the Front. Read that, if you please, Mum."
"She must be a real lady that wot comes visiting you," it said. "That was a letter as she wrote. I don't know as ever I read such a beautiful letter. All the trench 'as read it, and they says so too."
I sighed heavily with relief. Mrs. Watt was a judge of her son's literary taste.
* * * * *
EASIER SAID THAN DONE.
* * * * *
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
"Stand and Deliver."
The Merry Monarch's world is too much with us. I can't imagine what it is in that period that our actor-managers find so peculiarly appropriate to present conditions, when we need all the inspiration we can get out of our country's annals. It seems only the other day that in the same theatre, His Majesty's—the play was Mavourneen—I was assisting at a rout (is that the word?) of Restoration society. And here we have it all over again with the same scheme of a pretty debutante near to being compromised by the Royal favour; with the old galaxy of Court ladies inexplicably gay; the same old Duke of BUCKINGHAM; the old dull sport of improvisations; the old pathetic lack of wit; a rechauffe only tempered by slight variations, such as the substitution of LELY for PEPYS, and the failure of the Monarch himself to put in an appearance.
For the rest, a generous allowance of swashbuckling, of kidnapping, of standing and delivering, of interludes for dancing and gallantry—in a word all the approved features of the High Toby. Nothing, you will guess, that threatened to overstrain our intelligence, but enough for the moderate excitation of those sympathies which we always concede to heroic villainy.
The clou of the evening was the scene of the waylaying of his lover's coach by Claude Duval on the Newmarket road. Animals on the stage (as distinct from the circus-ring) always make me nervous. Mr. BOURCHIER seemed to have anticipated my apprehension. On the approach of the travellers, having hitherto, with his horse's consent, sat motionless at the cross-roads, he retired with it into the wings and there dismounted and continued the scene on foot. But the memory of those few moments of superb equitation remained with the audience, and when, at the fall of the curtain, he led his steed forward by the bridle (a just tribute to its connivance) the pair of them brought down the house—and not the scenery, as I had feared.
I am no pedant that I should cavil at Mr. JUSTIN HUNTLY MCCARTHY'S re-adjustment of history. It was all for our delight that Claude Duval, instead of perishing on the scaffold, should escape from prison, have his freedom confirmed by the KING'S pardon, confound everybody else's knavish tricks and marry the lady of his heart. Nor do I complain that the historic highwayman (as I am credibly informed—for I got the facts from another critic) was only twenty-nine when they hanged him, and that Mr. BOURCHIER is—well, let me say, past the military age, or he wouldn't have been there at all. At the same time he will not mind my saying that, though he brought a very gallant spirit to his work, he lacked something of that resilience which is so desirable a quality in a Chevalier of the Road. Perhaps I liked best in him the quiet restraint with which he met the assaults of Orange Moll upon his loyalty to his lady. He was not given very many good things to say, but he made up for this defect by dropping his aspirates and talking in what I took to be a Serbian accent.
Not much subtlety was asked of Miss KYRLE BELLEW as Duval's lover, Berinthia; but she seemed to have learned a little more sincerity and to depend less upon the prettiness of her face and her frocks. Of Miss MIRIAM LEWES as Orange Moll something more was demanded, and I should have enjoyed without reservation her very picturesque performance but for a certain stage-quality in her voice which was out of all consonance with the part she had to play. Mr. JERROLD ROBERTSHAW as Justice Hogben was a most attractive old reprobate; Mr. CHARLES ROCK as a strolling mummer played like the sound actor he is; and indeed the whole cast—and not least in the smallest parts, such as Mr. HARTFORD'S drunken Gaoler and Mr. PEASE'S Dognose, with his delightfully unemotional "Ay! ay!"—did very well indeed.
If the play opens rather deliberately there is no lack of action when once it gets moving; but it was an exercise of bodies rather than of minds. Swords flashed; barkers were flourished (though they never went off); feet twinkled in the dance, and Mr. MURRAY CARRINGTON took several astounding falls; but wits remained stationary. I do not wish to appear exigent, but as one who likes to be amused as well as entertained I could easily have done with a little more scintillation.
* * * * *
(To the Author of "The Grand Tour," "Punch," January 26th, 1916.)
I read your lines the other day; You got it down in black an' white; You seen them places wot you say; Well, I seen Injer—and you're right.
You never know. I took the bob The days o' Mons an' Charley Roy; Flanders, I thought, 'ud do my job, An' me no better than a boy.
But some'ow Flanders got a miss, An' I came East, the same as you, Right East, an' finished up wi' this; I seen them towns and islands too.
But Injer! Lor, it's like a book Or like a bloomin' fancy ball; There's somethin' every way you look, An' me—young me—I seen it all.
I know about them "dark bazaars"— An' dark they is—I know them skies, An' suns an' moons an' silver stars An' 'ummin'-birds an' fiery-flies.
I seen the palms an' parrokeets, I've 'eard the jackals in the night, I've ate them beas'ly Injian sweets An' smelt the Injian fires alight.
But I'm with you, old P. an' O.; The goin' 'ome'll be the best; An' not the 'ome we useter know, But better, 'cos we've known the rest.
* * * * *
"Sworn Evidence of Torpedo."
Liverpool Daily Post.
We hope it confessed its crime.
* * * * *
"The village is in utter darkness these nights, and many of the lamp-posts are getting severe knocks, not speaking of the foot pedestrians."—Ardrossan Herald.
Some of the foot pedestrians are said to have been less reticent about the lamp-posts.
* * * * *
"Would patriotic owner LEND INCUBATOR or Foster increase British production, or buy cheap? Every care; experienced; eggs waiting; ineligible; clergy ref."—The Times.
It is a little cryptic; but we gather that, at any rate, the partial soundness of these eggs will be guaranteed by the curate.
* * * * *
* * * * *
MIVINS'S NEW BOOKS.
Mr. Mivins begs to present
FOUR WONDERFUL WORKS
Four astounding Authors.
By Egbert Gunn
(Third large edition already exhausted).
"An incomparable achievement. The uniquest thing yet done by Mr. GUNN. He has eclipsed Balzac, wiped the floor with George Sand, while panting Tolstoi 'toils after him in vain.'"—Daily Exhaust.
POTLAND FOR EVER!
By Roland Sennett.
"The greatest literary portent of all time. Here the Black Country is painted in all its inspissated gloom by a master-hand—sardonic, salubrious, superb.... We approach this work on all-fours. Any other attitude on the part of a reviewer would be sheer blasphemy."
The Monthly Margarine.
THE UNPLUMBED ABYSS.
By Drax Homer.
First great Notice: "By the side of Mr. Drax Homer, Edgar Allan Poe is a fumbler, and Gaboriau the veriest tiro. In these supremely arresting pages Mr. Drax Homer voices the cosmic mystery with unerring skill, and ranges over the whole gamut of the gruesome. He is the Napoleon of sensation, the Julius Caesar of melodrama."—Daily Idolater.
The Book of the Day.
By Guinevere Jaggers.
"Of all the hundreds of English governesses privileged to enter the penetralia of Potsdam, Miss Jaggers had the longest innings and writes with most authority. Her record teems with astounding happenings, appalling revelations and grotesque episodes.... There is nothing to touch it in the annals of candour. Pepys is not in the same street and Benvenuto Cellini not in the same parish. We recommend it to the perusal of the Premier—if he has the courage to tackle it."
The Oil and Vinegar Witness.
* * * * *
Before the Hyde Election—
"Mr. Davies maintains his optimism. He has reprinted one of his cartoons showing him chattering the party walls of 'Jacobson's Jellicoe,' with the big gun of efficiency."
Manchester Evening Chronicle.
But this attempt to drag the Navy into politics met with deserved failure.
* * * * *
"Dwellers in the trenches are not the only fighters who know what it is to be up to the knees in seven feet of water."
Liverpool Daily Post.
We believe the Anakim were greatly troubled in this way.
* * * * *
"MATLOCK'S VETERAN SOLDIER HONOURED.
154 Years in the Army."
High Peak News.
A veteran indeed.
* * * * *
NURSERY RHYMES OF LONDON TOWN
Up the Lane and down the Lane and all round about The Petticoats on washing-day are all hanging out; Some are made of linsey-woolsey, some are made of silk, Some of them are green as grass and some are white as milk; Frilled and flounced and quilted ones in Petticoat Lane, Some are worked in coloured nosegays, some of them are plain, Some are striped with red and blue as gaudy as can be, And one is sprigged with lavender, and that's the one for me.
* * * * *
"Sir A. MOND said that the married men's grievance was that they might be called up before the tooth-combing process of which the right hon. gentleman had spoken had been carried out."—The Times.
It sounds painful. Personally we intend to stick to the old-fashioned brush.
* * * * *
"Mr. Lloyd George, replying to Mr. Cowan, said the total salary received by Lloyd Kitchener was L6,250."
Portsmouth Evening News.
This is the first we have heard of this highly-remunerated official. We hope it is not a case of nepotism.
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
A literature of Antarcticana is gradually growing up, and the last volume, With Scott: The Silver Lining (SMITH, ELDER), is a notable addition to it. Let me say at once that I opened Mr. GRIFFITH TAYLOR'S book with some trembling because I saw the difficulties in the way of its success. In the first place I recalled the simple dignity with which SCOTT wrote of his exploits, and I felt that to fall away from this high standard would be to fail; secondly, anyone writing now of this expedition must to a certain extent travel over ground already covered. These are the main difficulties which Mr. TAYLOR had to fight against, and he has overcome them. To a writer of his fluency and particular vein of humour it could not have been an easy task to put a right restraint upon his pen. The only criticism I have to pass on his style is that it could quite comfortably have done without the cloud of notes of exclamation in which it is enveloped. Apart from its great scientific value the main interest of the book is found in the light that it casts upon the characters of the author's companions. His observation is always shrewd and always kindly; you are left to guess his dislikes from his omissions. Mr. TAYLOR was himself in command, during SCOTT'S last expedition, of two parties, and of the work done on these journeys he writes with the modesty characteristic of men who speak of dangers and adventures in which they have personally taken part. One opinion of his I cannot refrain from quoting; it is that the tragedy of SCOTT'S expedition was caused by Seaman EVANS'S illness. "I believe that, short of abandonment, the party had no hope with a sick man on their hands." No tale of heroism that the War has given us can obscure the noble loyalty of this sacrifice. And to-day, when some of us have neither the time nor the taste for lighter things, there should be a grateful welcome for a book that deals with men whose courage and endurance remain the imperishable possession of our race.
* * * * *
Somewhere towards the end of The Tragedy of an Indiscretion (LANE), we arrive at the Court of Criminal Appeal, where, in the course of unravelling the plot, one of the judges is moved to exclaim, "This is the most hopelessly complicated story I ever had the pain of listening to!" His lordship certainly has my sympathy. Personally speaking, the first twenty pages of it nearly gave me a nervous breakdown, so wild and whirling were the events into which it plunged. Let me start the thing for you. Ronald Warrington, who was heir to the aged Duke of Glenstaffen, eloped with Mrs. Greville, assuming for no very understandable reason the name of his friend and secretary, Essendine. So, the pair being established at an hotel, the supposed Mr. E. goes to a station to buy an evening paper, is fallen upon by the real one, and thrust into a train to attend the deathbed of his ducal relative. Essendine himself, entering the hotel to explain matters to the lady, finds (1) that she is the wife who divorced him before marrying Greville; (2) that she has just died of heart disease. Next, being of a placidity almost inhuman, he decides to bury the corpse as that of his wife, and not worry anyone with explanations. What he didn't know then, or I either, was that another lady was at the moment gadding about London in one of Mrs. Greville's cast-off frocks, and pretending to be that much-married female. And when in due course she is murdered, and the strangely apathetic widower, Mr. Greville, who never set eyes upon her, is arrested for the crime—well, you may begin to think that the judge's remark was an understatement. What I should like to ask Mr. J. W. BRODIE-INNES is, if this is his notion of an "indiscretion," what would he have to say of a real social error?
* * * * *
AT THE MUSEUM.
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The name of the author of Youth Unconquerable (HEINEMANN) is given on the title-page as Percy Ross. But I would willingly take a small wager on the probability that this name conceals a feminine identity. For one thing, no mere man surely would attempt the task of depicting the sweet girl graduate in her native lair, often as the converse has been done. Certainly it is improbable that he would manage to convey such an impression of actuality. For I am sure the life of an Oxford ladies' college must be, for many, very much what it was for Cherry Hawthorn. But I am afraid this is about all that I can honestly say in praise of the story. Cherry was a young woman with red hair (it is bright vermilion in the ugly picture of her on the cover) and no fortune. Her late father had made her the joint ward of two young men, one an Italian prince, and one a semi-insane Welshman. Cherry accepted this provision with a promising placidity. She, and I, anticipated marriage with one or other of the guardians. But that was before we had seen them. The Italian turned out to be silly, while the Welshman recalled the gloomier imaginings of the BRONTES, and in the event came by an appropriately violent end. However there was a third suitor, a Scotch Duke, so all was well. Perhaps the tale may have more success with others than with me. But I am bound to warn you that the style of it is a wild and wonderful thing. One is, for example, unprepared to find a gentleman's hat and stick referred to as "his extra-mural accoutrements." And this is no rare example. The whole thing, in fact, seems more suitable to a very popular magazine than to the dignity of that exclusive little windmill that forms the HEINEMANN hall-mark.
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"TRICYCLE for Sale cheap, 3 wheels."—Suburban Paper.