PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
June 4, 1919.
"Germany will sign," says an evening contemporary, "because the Allies hold all the trumps." They also hold all the Manchurian beef, and are prepared, should the occasion arise, to export it mercilessly.
A Carmarthen man has been fined 12s. 6d. for shooting an owl in mistake for a pigeon. Defendant pleaded that in omitting to sound its hooter the owl was guilty of contributory negligence.
M. LANDRU, the Parisian Bluebeard (alleged), is said to be very morose and ill. It is felt that something or other must be worrying him.
Latest information points to the fact that Jazz has spread to the Hebrides, where two suspected cases are under observation.
"Jumpers are to be very fashionable at the seaside this year," says a fashion paper; and yet lodging-house keepers will keep on assuring us that their bed-linen is scrupulously clean.
There are still twenty-three wars in progress, declares a Sunday contemporary. The belief is rapidly gaining ground that several of them are being allowed to continue merely to spite Colonel WEDGWOOD.
Cricket, we are constantly told, must be brightened. Why not allow spectators to assault the umpires, just as if they were football referees?
So many people have expressed their intention to swim the Channel this year that there is talk of abandoning the tunnel scheme as likely to prove unprofitable.
After knocking a man down with an iron bar at Shoreditch, and being asked by the victim why he did it, the assailant again knocked him down. Really this is carrying things too far. After all, politeness costs nothing.
It appears that the Burglars' Trade Union, not to be outdone, are about to put in a demand for shorter sentences.
"Single women," says a scientific journal, "live on an average ten years longer than married women." After reading this statement, an Irishman has issued a warning against the habit of marrying single women.
Grimsby is to have a flag day for the local hospitals. It is not known who first gave them the idea of a flag day.
"The only cure for the caterpillar now destroying young oaks in Devon," says a morning paper, "is to remove the pest at once." The idea of removing the trees does not seem to have occurred to our contemporary.
Coins said to have been deposited on the Dinas Mountain, South Wales, over seven hundred years ago have just been found. This speaks well for the honesty of local residents.
The EX-KAISER has intimated to a newspaper man that he is prepared to abide by the decisions of the Peace Conference. This confirms recent indications that WILHELM is developing a sense of humour.
"Last week," says The Evening News, "Venus was only 100,000,000 miles away." We are ashamed to confess that we had not noticed this.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away," quotes a weekly paper. We only hope this is true, for it is impossible to afford both.
"It is wonderful that there are not more accidents," remarked a Coroner last week. But surely there are.
The extraordinary report that a domestic servant has been seen at Purley is now explained. It was merely a resident going to a fancy-dress dance.
A medical paper states that if a man was bitten by a rabid cow he would probably go mad and start grazing in the nearest meadow. Hence the name of the "Pasteur" treatment.
A dentist in a suburb that shall be nameless has a case of samples attached to the outside of his front door, with an inscription inviting people to choose a set of teeth before entering. Surely it is bad manners for anyone to pick his teeth in public.
Some distinguished players have declared in favour of larger holes for golf. Our own feeling, however, is that if there is to be any change in the hole it would be better to correct its absurd habit of slipping to one side just as the ball is dropping in.
There is said to be a craze among girls for entering Government offices. The mania, an overworked official informs us, comes on at 10.15 A.M. and lasts about four hours.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"Many of the suburbs and outlying districts of London are experiencing something like a plague of tiny stinging flies similar to, but even more veracious than, the familiar 'midge.' The plague is not confined to low-lying districts."—Daily Paper.
The very last place in which we should expect to find anything "veracious."
* * * * *
From a Paris letter:—
"The Majestic and the Astoria, and the other innumerable hotels which house the Allied delegations, are full of the white faces of tired secretaries, whose principles have departed, or, still worse, returned."—Evening Paper.
We protest against this reflection on the morals of our delegation.
* * * * *
TO PEACE, ON HER CELEBRATIONS.
"Tell me not, Sweet, I am unkind" (As Colonel LOVELACE said) if I From festal scenes for you designed To solitude propose to fly; If, when the strident trumpets blare From Hampstead Heath to Clapham Junction, And bunting fills the ardent air, I don't assist at that brave function.
It does not follow, let me say, That I am loath to give you cheer; No, in my unobtrusive way I hold you very, very dear; I may not join the loud parade Nor share the crowd's ecstatic tooting, Yet in your honour I have paid Twelve guineas for a summer suiting.
Think not I sniff at common joys Or that my loyal heart condemns A nation's soul expressed in noise And pageants barging down the Thames; Only, while others dance and pant To hymns that carry half a mile hence, I never was a Corybant, But do my worship best in silence.
So on your festa I shall be Away in some sequestered nook, Some open shrine beside the sea Where Nature smiles with just your look; And lie and let my thoughts go off To where you come from—which is Heaven, And play a quiet round of golf And go to bed about eleven.
* * * * *
THE RULING PASSION.
"Norman is coming to the dance," said my wife.
"He would prefer to be shot," I answered.
"You are coming too, and I want you to look after him."
"I also would prefer to stop one."
"It will do him all the good in the world. He wants bringing out."
When Norman is alone with me he is natural and even interesting at times, but in company he is shy and self-conscious and a burden to himself and his neighbours. He is a young dentist with a large practice, and is already a well-known authority on Japanese methods of extraction. Using only his thumb and forefinger he can remove long-established teeth with so much ease and grace and such a quantity of sangfroid that it is a pleasure to watch him at his work. But to a social gathering he comes limp and infirm of purpose; he feels constrained to utter futile remarks with undue emphasis trailing into incoherence; he is dreadful to behold.
I did not see him until the end of the second dance. He was in the ante-room and presented a good example of protective colouring. He was standing with his back to a dark screen, and his pale face and light hair were indistinguishable against a background of flowers worked in gold thread. His attitude as he tightly grasped his programme behind him was that of a wounded dove at bay.
I signalled to him, but, although I was only a few feet away, he could not see me. He had apparently also lost all power of movement. I took him by the arm and led him to the buffet, and, although he never takes alcohol, I felt justified in forcing some brandy between his lips. This revived him a little, and he said in a well-modulated voice: "The surface of the floor is excellent. It is rather warm and oppressive (or cold and chilly). I adore dancing; it both exercises the body and refreshes the mind; but unfortunately I have not had many opportunities of indulging in the art."
I gave him some more brandy.
A little later he recognised me and smiled. I examined his programme and found that he was engaged for the next dance to a girl who could talk to anyone on any subject; I could see my wife's hand in the arrangement. I explained the situation, piloted him to his partner and stayed with them a while. She made several openings for him in the conversation, which he immediately sealed up with monosyllables, and when she allowed her fan to slip to the floor he stepped on it. She suggested that they should take the air on the balcony, and as I left them he pulled himself together and began to tell her, in a well-modulated voice, that the surface of the floor was excellent.
Later I saw him with the same partner still on the balcony. They were both pale and silent and had apparently never moved. They seemed to be exercising an unconscious fascination on one another. My courage failed me and I went elsewhere.
Some time after I happened to be at the buffet when Norman staggered in and ordered a large brandy-and-soda. There were beads of perspiration on his forehead and he was as white as death.
"What has happened?" I asked as soon as, I could attract his attention.
"It is horrible—horrible!" he gasped.
"Tell me what has happened," I commanded, grasping his shoulder.
"What has happened!" he repeated, with a hollow laugh. "I am undone. My career is at an end. I am a broken man."
"What have you done?"
"I couldn't help it," he sobbed. "We sat there for an age, an eternity, unable to speak, unable to move, unable to act. At length my nerve gave way and I—I've pulled all her teeth out."
* * * * *
THE UNEMPLOYMENT SCANDAL.
[The evening papers have lately published some striking incidents regarding the struggle for existence that is undergone by certain gentlemen who are in receipt of the Unemployment Allowance.]
"We are longing for work," said a young man who, after suffering the horrors of war for nearly four years in the Ministry of Superfluous Hotels and Hutments, has just been evacuated. "We have prepared a list of billets that we are ready to take up at a moment's notice."
From this list I select a few of the more likely situations:—
1. Hot-cross-bun maker to the Jewish colony at White-chapel.
2. "Double-blank" man at a factory for putting spots on dominoes.
3. Muzzle-maker to the Master of the King's Buckhounds.
4. King of Albania.
5. Judge of the Bigamy Court at Salt Lake City.
6. Military Attache to the Colonial Secretary to the German Government.
7. Deputy-Assistant Torpedo-Lieutenant to the Swiss Navy.
8. Press Censor to distinguished Field-Marshals, Admirals, etc.
9. Manufacturer of flannel petticoats to the Hippodrome Beauty Chorus.
10. Billiard-marker on a submarine.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
When Adolf Hans Pumpenheim, farmer, was brought up for trial as a civil offender it is not too much to say that a shudder passed through the members of the Summary Court, which consisted of Major Blenkin and myself. This emotion was due not so much to the unprepossessing appearance of the prisoner as to the enormity of his offence.
He was charged upon two different counts: firstly, with being in illegal possession of two tins of corned beef and one cake of soap, the property of the British Government; secondly, with having offered a bribe of fifty marks to Second-Lieutenant Robinson in order to escape arrest.
The charge was translated to the prisoner by an interpreter, who in his turn appeared to feel the gravity of the occasion. He alluded with bated breath to the topic of corned beef; he slid, so to speak, over the soap; only in the mention of the fifty marks did his voice ring out confidently, as though righteous indignation had overcome the baser sentiment of pity. Pumpenheim listened in silence. When invited to plead Guilty or Not Guilty he made no reply.
Judges are only human. I cannot state that his innocence was presumed.
The evidence was brief. A corporal of foot police, after examining the articles produced in court, pronounced them to be indubitably two tins of corned beef and a cake of soap, and further declared that he had found them in the prisoner's house, no troops being at that time billeted upon him. Second-Lieutenant Robinson deposed that upon his arrival the prisoner had thrust a fifty-mark note into his hand, accompanying the action with gestures and grimaces suggestive of bribery.
Here we all looked at Pumpenheim. His features afforded no sign of intelligence or even of interest. For his particular benefit the evidence was translated. He was further invited to question the witnesses or to call testimony on his own behalf. To these offers he responded with a shrug indicating that he waived all rights.
The court was therefore cleared, and Major Blenkin and I proceeded to consider our verdict, with no other company than the dozen empty stools which had faced us during the trial, and which represented the inalienable right of the civil population to attend the court if they pleased. Custom forbids me to divulge the finding or the sentence. It will suffice to say that justice was tempered with mercy. We were about to readmit the prisoner, his escort and the imaginary public when my partner in the suppression of crime was struck by an idea.
"Look here," asked Major Blenkin, "what about the moral aspect?"
I hesitate to argue with Blenkin about moral questions, on which he speaks with authority. I therefore awaited his next remark.
"The moral aspect," Blenkin went on, "is most important. I intend to impress this fellow. I shall tell him that if he had been a French peasant and had offered a bribe to a German officer he would have been put against a wall and shot. Do you agree?"
I considered the proposition.
"No," I said, "I don't."
Blenkin threw me a suspicious glance. "Why not?" he asked.
"Too many assumptions," I said.
Blenkin bridled indignantly. It was on the tip of his tongue to charge me with being a pro-German. He controlled himself and rang a bell. "I shall hold to my own opinion," he remarked with some asperity.
The prisoner, his escort and the interpreter were marched in. Adolf Hans Pumpenheim created the customary diversion by turning to the right on the command, "Left turn," and the sergeant-major made the customary comments, undeterred by the prisoner's ignorance of English. The imaginary public filed in and occupied the vacant stools.
When this bustle had subsided, the finding and the sentence were read by Blenkin and duly translated by the interpreter. Pumpenheim was quite impassive, and maintained his composure throughout the small financial transaction which followed. He counted out his notes with an air of fatalism. Having obtained a receipt for the fine he made us a little bow and turned to leave the court.
"One moment," said Major Blenkin.
"Einen Augenblick," echoed the interpreter. Pumpenheim faced about and stood to attention.
Blenkin cleared his throat. "I will not dwell upon the moral aspect of your case," he said. The prisoner's features expressed neither relief nor surprise, but polite inquiry. Blenkin, slightly ruffled, enlarged upon the heinous nature of the crime and the leniency of the sentence. Finally he produced his masterpiece of comparison—the French peasant, the German officer, the attempted bribe, the execution. When the last grim lines of the imaginary history had been translated for him, Pumpenheim felt some observation on his part to be called for.
"So-o?" he said, "so-o?"
But I heard incredulity in his voice. Blenkin read it in his face. The prisoner did not believe a word of the tale. He was indifferent to the homily.
Blenkin, defeated, leaned back in his chair. "I give it up," he said. "You have a try at him."
I looked at Pumpenheim. His narrow eyes turned to me.
"If you had offered the money to a German officer," I said, and the interpreter repeated the words—"if you had offered the money to a German officer he—might—have—taken—it."
Slowly a look of comprehension crossed the face of Adolf Hans Pumpenheim. It was like sunrise upon his grey and stubbly countenance, where three days' growth of beard had thriven in the soil of the guard-room. He was not altogether happy, for he had been found guilty and had paid a fine. But in the course of this ceremony, which appeared to him mystical and obscure, he had encountered one familiar idea, one thought within his power of understanding. Rectitude was a stranger to him, but corruption an old friend: He was not abashed; rather, on the contrary, he was cheered and encouraged. I could see that his heart warmed to me in particular, and I believe that but for his respect for the Court he would have paid me the compliment of a wink.
"Let him go," said Blenkin; and the Court adjourned for lunch.
* * * * *
"At Newcastle, this afternoon, the airmen, had a great reception. The Lord Mayor handed each a book of views of Newcastle and a box of cigarettes."—Pall Mall Gazette.
Who says England is not a land for heroes to live in?
* * * * *
THE EDITOR REGRETS.
A few weeks ago there appeared in Punch, under the title "A Germless Eden," some verses sent in by an unknown contributor. The Editor is now informed that the original version of these lines was the work of Mr. ARTHUR GUITERMAN, of New York, who published them in 1915 with Messrs. HARPER AND BROTHERS in The Laughing Muse, a collection of his humorous verse. The Editor begs both author and publishers to accept his sincere regrets.
* * * * *
From a summing-up:—
"If the plaintiff was telling the truth, he had only himself to blame."—Provincial Paper.
If judges say this sort of thing, no wonder perjury is on the increase.
* * * * *
* * * * *
MELISANDE'S POINT OF VIEW.
"About rabies," said Angela.
"Well?" said I patiently.
"Well, about Melisande," said Angela.
"What about Melisande?" I replied.
"Oh, you know quite well what about Melisande," said Angela; "about her and Peggy playing so much together. Is it quite wise, do you think? I've been bothering about it for some days now; cats are such queer things and a cat with rabies would be so dreadfully dangerous."
"There I quite agree with you," I answered meditatively. "Though I have rather excepted Melisande from the general rule I have always considered a cat an exceedingly dangerous animal, and a cat with rabies is, of course, ten times worse; it simply oughtn't to be allowed."
"I felt sure you would agree with me," said Angela.
Melisande is a staid creature of placid demeanour and generous proportions. It had never occurred to me hitherto to associate her with rabies, and I still felt that she herself would scoff at the idea.
We were gathered round the fire, my wife, my daughter and I; Angela seated on what is known, I believe, in upholstering circles as a humpty, while Peggy lay on her tummy on the floor, pencil in hand and a sheet of paper before her; she was chewing the pencil with the ruminating air of one who awaits inspiration. I myself occupied the armchair.
"You know," said Angela presently, "I think Melisande has seemed worried about something the last few days. I do hope the poor dear isn't bothering about rabies. One so often hears of people actually producing a disease merely by thinking a lot about it. By the way, I'm told that one of the earliest manifestations of rabies is a desire to bite inanimate objects; if we see her doing that we shall know that the time has come to act."
At this juncture Melisande entered the room through the open window.
Her manner exhibited a curious blend of dignity and caution; I could more readily have suspected my own mother of having rabies. She advanced slowly towards us till suddenly her eye lighted on Peggy, who still chewed her pencil awaiting inspiration.
Melisande stopped as though she had been shot; I could only surmise that the sight of Peggy thus occupied had confirmed her darkest suspicions. With one wild shriek of terror she fled from the room.
* * * * *
THE NEGLECTED PROBLEM.
O dear and delectable journal that daily Appeasest my hungering mind With items recounted or gravely or gaily Of doings at Margate, Mayfair or Old Bailey, Or paragraphs rare and refined On "Who will the forthcoming cinema star be?" "What horse to support with your shirt for the Derby;" "How much will the next price of beer at the bar be?" "Are halibuts blind?"
A question arises I prithee examine And ponder the pull that it has Over headings like "Foch and Parisian Gamine," "Are Bolshevists really believers in Famine?" Or "Vocalist Lynched at La Paz." I look for it oft and in vain and say, "Blow it! There must be an answer and England should know it." Here, then, is the problem that's haunting the poet: Does Germany Jazz?
* * * * *
"William Henry ——, aged 110, fell off a tree whilst out playing with other boys and broke his right leg."—Provincial Paper.
We hope it will be a lesson to him for the rest of his life.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Nature Study has recently been recommended by a well-known Daily Paper as a means of gradual relaxation from war-worry. Mr. Punch would therefore like to contribute for so noble an end a few ornithological notes, having for a long time been addicted to the observation of bird-life.
CUCKOO.—This bird, which obtained its name on account of the similarity of its note to that of the Cuckoo-clock, was one of the earliest sufferers of the housing problem, which it successfully solved by depositing its eggs in the nests of other birds.
SEAGULL.—When the eggs of this bird are hatched the mother-parent feeds its young on the glutinous substance that oozes from sea-weed—hence "Mother Seagull's Syrup."
PIGEON.—This bird was used as a message-carrier with great success during the War. An attempt to cross it with the Parrot, to enable it to deliver verbal messages, was unfortunately a failure.
SPARROW.—Bird-fanciers experience great difficulty with this bird when kept in captivity, as it frequently develops jaundice, in which case it can only be sold under the name of "Canary," at a big difference in price.
GUILLEMOT.—The name "Guillemot" is derived from the French word "Guillemot," which means a Guillemot.
LARK.—The protective instinct in this bird is very marked. Although nesting on the ground it soars high into the sky for the purpose of leading aviators and balloonists away from its young.
GOLDFINCH.—A favourite cage-bird. The best method of catching the goldfinch is to wait until it settles on the lowest branch of a tree, then approach it from behind and gently tap its right wing with your right hand. This causes it immediately to turn its head to see who has touched it; you can then bring up your left hand unnoticed, into which it falls an easy victim.
BULLFINCH.—Another popular cage-bird. The best method of capturing it, which differs widely from that in use with the Goldfinch, is as follows:—Hang head downwards from the fork of an old tree in order to resemble a dead branch, having previously covered yourself with some adhesive matter. In this position you should wait until as many Bullfinches as you want have settled on your clothes and stuck there; then climb down from the tree and have them scraped off into a large cage.
BARN OWL.—This bird invariably builds its nest in empty houses. There will be no nests this year.
STARLING.—Threepence was placed on the head of this destructive bird last year in many parts of England. The old way was to put salt on its tail.
BLUE TITMOUSE.—The nest of this active little bird is often situated in most extraordinary places. It is frequently found inside village pumps, and in consequence is much persecuted by local milkmen. It is feared that unless The Daily Mail can be persuaded to take up the cause of this unfortunate bird it will soon be faced with extermination.
ROOK.—The chief difference between this bird and the Crow is found in the way in which its name is spelt.
* * * * *
SONGS OF SIMLA.
I have heard the breezes rustle O'er a precipice of pines, And the half of a Mofussil Shiver at a jackal's whines.
I have heard the monkeys strafing Ere the dawn begins to glow, And the long-tailed langur laughing As he lopes across the snow.
I have heard the rickshaw varlets Clear the road with raucous cries, Coolies clad in greens or scarlets, As a mistress may devise.
Well I know the tittle-tattle Of the caustic muleteer, And the Simla seismic rattle Is familiar to my ear.
Though to-day my feet are climbing Bleaker heights and harder roads, Still the Christ-church bells are chiming, Still the mid-day gun explodes.
But the sound which echoes loudest Is the sound I never knew Till I lunched (the very proudest) With the Staff at A.H.Q.
'Twas a scene of peace and plenty, Plates a-steam and-spoons a-swoop; 'Twas a sound of five-and-twenty Hungry Generals drinking soup.
* * * * *
WAITING FOR THE SPARK.
(With thanks to the London Telephone Directory.)
I doubt if you have ever taken the book seriously, dear reader (if any). You dip into it for a moment, choose a suitable quotation and scribble it down with a blunt pencil on your blotting-pad; then you wind the lanyard of the listening-box round your neck and start talking to the germ-collector in that quiet self-assured voice which you believe spells business success. Then you find you have got on to the Institute of Umbrella-Fanciers instead of the Incorporated Association of Fly-Swatters, which you wanted, and have to begin all over again. But that is not the way to treat literature.
In calm hours of reflection, rather, when the mellow sunlight streams into the room and, instead of the dull gray buildings opposite, you catch a mental glimpse of green tree-tops waving in the wind, and hear, above the rumbling of the busy 'buses, the buzzes ... the bumbling ... what I mean to say is you ought to sit down calmly and read the book from cover to cover, as I am doing now.
For it isn't like a mere Street Directory, which puts all the plot into watertight compartments, and where possibly all the people in Azalea Terrace know each other by sight, even across the gap where it says:—
Here begins Aspidistra Avenue, like the lessons in church.
Nor, again, is it like Who's What, where your imagination is hampered and interfered with by other people butting in to tell you that their recreations are dodging O.B.E.'s and the Income Tax Commission. Publications: Hanwell Men as I knew Them. Club: The Philanderers, and so forth. This cramps your style.
But the book before us now is pregnant with half-hidden romances, which you can weave into any shape that you will, and, what is more, it is written in a noble beautiful English which you have probably never had time to master. I want you to do that now. Suppose, for instance, that in private life your hostess introduced you to Museum 88901 Wilkinson Arthur Jas.—let us say at a Jazz tea. And suppose you were to ask him what his business was, and he told you that he was an Actnr and Srvyr or a Pprhngr. Probably you would be surprised; possibly even you wouldn't believe him. But it's all there in the book.
The type too is diversified by sudden changes which intrigue me greatly. All over London I like to fancy little conversations of this sort are going on:—
Hop 1900 Tomkinson Edward C.— "Hello, is that TOMKINSON EDWARD C.?"
GERRARD 22001 TOMKINSON EDWARD C.—"SPEAKING."
Hop 1900 Tomkinson Edward C.— The Whlsl Slvrsmths?"
GERRARD, ETC.—"DON'T SPLUTTER LIKE THAT. WHO ARE YOU?"
Hop, etc.—"I'm Tomkinson Edward C. too. Little Edward C. of Hop. The Tbcnst. I only wanted to have a talk with you, big brother."
Or sometimes it takes the shape of a novel, starting something like this:—
Kensington 100110 Williams Miss, Tpst., a beautiful but penniless girl, in love with—
Regent 8000 Air Ministry, Ext. 1009, a young aviator who has won the Mlty. Crss. (2 Brs). Their path is crossed by—
City 66666 (12 lines), BLENKINSOP JEHORAM AND CO., Fnncrs. Blenkinsop wishes to marry Miss Williams, on account of a large legacy which he has reason to believe will come to her from
Mayfair 5000 Dashwood-Jones H. See Jones H. Dashwood, and so on.
Sometimes, again, as I plunge still deeper into the fascinating volume, a poem seems to fashion itself and leap from the burning page. Listen.
She hears not Park appealing Nor Gerrard's wail of woe, Her heart is on to Ealing 89200;
For there her true love (smartest Of lcl plmbrs) speaks; For him our switch-board artist Puts powder on her cheeks.
For him, the brave, the witty, When evening's shadows drop She flies from Rank and City To tread some Western hop.
For him her spirit ranges Through realms of blissful thrall, And that is why Exchange is Not getting Lndn Wll.
Little her mthr——
I'm sorry, reader; I really and truly am. There's my trunk call ... "Hello. No, I can't hear ..."
We must finish it some other time, and you must try READING THE BOOK for yourself srsly please.
"Hello! Hello! Hel-lo!"...
* * * * *
THE VISIONARY TRIUMPH.
"This," he said, "is my favourite dream."
We were discussing our favourite dreams and prepared to listen.
"It is always," he went on, "the same—a cricket match: and the older I get and less able to play cricket, the oftener I have it. It is a real match, you must understand—first-class cricket, with thousands of spectators and excitement; and it is played a very long way from my home. That is an important point, as I will explain.
"I am merely one of the spectators. How long I have been watching I cannot say, but the match is nearing the end and our side—the side which has my sympathies—is nearly all out, but still needs a few runs to win.
"What the side is I cannot clearly tell; all I know is that it is my own county, I mean the county from which I come—say Kent—and the match is at Old Trafford or Bramall Lane, against either Lancashire or Yorkshire. But the important thing is that my side is a man short. This man either has been taken ill or has had to go away because of a bereavement. I am not clear as to that, but he is not there, anyway, and unless a substitute can be found Kent will be at a disadvantage and may lose."
We all got ready to say something.
"Oh, yes," he interpolated hurriedly, "I know, of course, that a substitute may not bat for another at the end of a match, but this is a dream, remember. That, perhaps, is what dreams are for—to provide the limited and frustrated life of the daytime with the compensations of limitless adventure and success."
"Order!" we cried.
"I beg pardon," he said, and returned to the vernacular.
"Very well; that is the scenario. Meanwhile the last two batsmen are in—the Kent captain and another: that is to say, the last two, unless another is forthcoming. And still there are six runs needed—five to tie and six to win. The excitement is appalling. Everyone in the vast concourse is tense. It is at this moment that the captain is bowled."
He stopped to wipe his forehead.
"What happens then?" he continued. "You would think the match was over. So it would be on any ordinary ground and under ordinary conditions, and particularly so if that umpire in the Sussex and Somerset match the other day were officiating. But he is not, and this is a dream. What happens is that the Kent captain, instead of returning to the Pavilion, stops and talks to the other captain and then he leaves the pitch and begins to walk towards the ring. When he reaches the ring, some way from me, he begins to ask loudly, 'Is there a Kent man here who can play at all and would help us out?' I can hear him at first only faintly; then, as he gets closer, I hear more clearly, 'Is there a Kent man here who can play at all and would help us out?' My heart beats faster and faster and I am nearly suffocated with suspense as he approaches, because I am a Kent man who can bat a bit, and to play for my county has always been my desire, and I am afraid that someone else will volunteer before the captain reaches me.
"You see now why the match has to be played so far away from home. If it were Kent v. Middlesex at Lord's, for example, there would be loads of Kentish men on the ground. But not so many up in the North.
"I always wonder why the captain does not begin in the Pavilion, but he does not. He comes straight to the ring. Every moment he is drawing nearer and no one has offered himself; and then at last he gets to me and I stand up and say that Kent is my county and I can play a bit and would like to help. He hastens to accept my offer, and I take his bat and pads and gloves and go to the pitch, amid the cheers of the crowd.
"At the wicket I am received with hearty greetings by the rival captain (this is a dream, remember), and I take middle. Then I look round the field with perfect composure, as I have always seen the best batsmen do, and have always wanted to do myself. I am the coolest thing there.
"The situation is electrical. Six runs are needed and I am the last man. The bowler against me is a demon and I am dead out of practice and by no means fond of being hit on the body. He begins his run towards the wicket, and the ball leaves his terrible long swinging arm and comes towards me like a shell. I raise my bat, get it on the half-volley right in the middle, hit it clean over the Pavilion for six, and the match is won.
"That is my favourite dream."
"No wonder," we said.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
BUSINESS AS USUAL.
Rolling stones like Edward Ross Never gather any moss. He was one of those who think it's Easier to gather trinkets— Silver watch or golden chain, Purse or bag or chatelaine; So that at the age of thirty, Though his clothes were old and dirty, Yet there were no flies upon Edward, as you'll see anon.
Just before the Mons Retreat He emerged upon the street From His Majesty's Hotel, Where they'd kept him safe and well, Gratis. But, in spite of this, Ted Caught the fever and enlisted.
'Twas our gallant pocket-sniper's Fate to find himself at Wipers, And because he showed no fear He was made a pioneer.
For the very sight of wire Always set his soul afire (We are bound by early habits— It reminded him of rabbits); If the Huns but showed an inch of it Teddy took what he could pinch of it, Which was all, for, as I've said, Flies were not at home on Ted.
Once our friend, by sad mishap, Fell into a German sap, And, on rising to depart, Found a pistol at his heart. Feeling almost at a loss, "Kamerad!" said Edward Ross.
Through some miles of trench they went Till they reached a swagger tent Where a German General sat In a highly polished hat (Clearly an important man), Studying a priceless plan. Ted; who felt he simply hated him, While the man interrogated him, Quite adroitly picked the plan off That astonished Hun and ran off.
Teddy's captor, who to stop him Simply had to shoot and drop him, Fired his pistol twice, but clicked it All in vain, for Ted had picked it— Picked the tool that looked so grim After they had collared him, While his escort dodged a dud Outside in the Flanders mud. For on Ross, remember, please, Flies were always ill at ease.
But the crowning insult he Added to the injury Still remains to tell. As Teddy Snatched the priceless plan and fled, he Also pinched the polished hat, Saying, as he vanished, that, When in England far from here, He would like a souvenir Of the pleasant time he'd spent In a German General's tent, As a proof for English eyes That he wasn't telling lies.
Though pursued by two or more Furious German Army Corps 'Twere superfluous to say That our hero got away, For on coves of Edward's mettle Flies are ill-advised to settle.
* * * * *
"House Parlourmaid wanted; most comfortable home; small family; good outings; last one 7 years."—Times.
Quite a nice little holiday.
* * * * *
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
Monday, May 26th.—On the whole I do not think that Sir AUCKLAND GEDDES, who has now definitely succeeded Sir ALBERT STANLEY as President of the Board of Trade, is to be congratulated on exchanging the academic serenity of McGill University for the turmoil of Whitehall (Bear) Gardens. The modified system of Protection introduced under the stress of war seems to please nobody. While Colonel WEDGWOOD complained that the price of gas-mantles (of which I should judge him to be a large consumer) has gone up owing to the prohibition of foreign imports, others objected that licences were issued so lavishly as to cause British producers to be undersold in the home-market by their American, Japanese and Italian rivals.
To avoid treading upon any of these varied susceptibilities the great AUCKLAND had to execute a sort of diplomatic egg-dance; but he did it with consummate skill and temporarily satisfied everybody with the promise of a full statement upon trade policy so soon as Peace has been signed. I hope this won't make the Germans more dilatory than ever.
At the Press Gallery dinner the other night the SPEAKER, who was the guest of the evening, recalled the three golden rules for Parliamentary orators—"Stand up; speak up; shut up"; and added that while some Members paid very little attention to the second of them there were a few whose stentorian tones he would like to borrow in case of a disturbance. But really I don't think he need worry. To dam a rising tide of "Supplementaries" this afternoon he called the next name on the Order-Paper; and his crescendo effect—"Mr. Grattan Doyle!—Mr. Grattan Doyle!!—Mr. GRATTAN DOYLE!!!—Mr. GRATTAN DOYLE!!!!"—could not have been bettered by Mr. JACK JONES.
I hope the fighting Services are not going to revive their pre-war jealousy of one another. The tone in which Dr. MACNAMARA, when somebody asked a question about the Portsmouth "butchery department," jerked out "War Office!" was calculated to give rise to misapprehension.
The Ministry of Health Bill found Mr. DEVLIN in a dilemma. He makes it a rule never to support anything that emanates either from the House of Lords or from the Government. But on this occasion his two betes noirs were in opposition, for the Lords had decided that the new Minister should have but one Parliamentary Secretary, and the Government was determined to give him two. Whichever way he voted the Nationalist Leader was bound to do violence to his principles. And so, with that quick-wittedness for which his countrymen are justly renowned, he walked out without voting at all.
Tuesday, May 27th.—It is odd that the House of Lords, which has done so much for the emancipation of women still refuses to allow peeresses in their own right to take part in its debates. They would have been very useful this afternoon, when two Bills affecting their sex were under discussion. An extraordinary amount of heat was developed by the Nurses Registration Bill, introduced by Lord GOSCHEN, and I am sure some of the charming ladies in the Strangers' Gallery must have been longing to produce their clinical thermometers and descend to the floor to take the temperatures of the disputants.
So far as one could gather, the Bill is the outcome of a quarrel between the College of Nurses and the rest of the profession. Who shall decide when nurses disagree?
In Committee on the Bill for enabling women to become Justices of the Peace Lord STRACHIE moved to restrict the privilege to those who have "attained the age of thirty years." The LORD CHANCELLOR strongly resisted the limitation on the ground that the Government are pledged to establish "equality between the sexes." He was supported by Lord BEAUCHAMP, who, however, thought it unlikely that any ladies under that age would in fact be appointed. I am not so sure. Who knows but that some day the Woolsack may be tenanted by a really susceptible Chancellor?
There are limits to the credulity of the House of Commons. Mr. BOTTOMLEY'S assertion that many clergymen did not know whether they might marry a woman to her deceased husband's brother, and had written to him for an authoritative opinion, only excited ribald laughter.
His inquiry whether the Recess could start three days earlier, in order that Members might take advantage of the Epsom carnival to study the social habits of the people and form an opinion as to the possibility of raising revenue from taxes on racing and betting, was in better vein, and reminded old Members of the days when Lord ELCHO (now Lord WEMYSS) used annually to delight the House with his views on the Derby adjournment. Entering into the spirit of the jest, Mr. BONAR LAW replied that he regretted that his honourable friend should be put to inconvenience, but he must do what we all have to do at times, and decide whether his duty lay at Epsom or Westminster. From Mr. BOTTOMLEY'S rejoinder one gathered that he had already made up his mind, and that Epsom had it.
Wednesday, May 28th.—Colonel WEDGWOOD'S complaint that aeroplanes were used to disperse rioters in India was ostensibly based on the fact that, like the gentle rain from heaven, bombs fell alike on the just and the unjust, but really, I fancy, on what I gather to be his rapidly-growing belief that any anarchist is preferable to any Government. Mr. MONTAGU, however, declined to interfere with the use of a weapon which for the moment has greatly strengthened the hands of the Indian Administration in dealing with disorder, whether on the frontiers or in the cities.
The Ministry of Labour has lately introduced a course of domestic training for "wives and fiancees." The indefiniteness of the latter term offended Captain LOSEBY, who wanted to know at what exact period of "walking-out" a lady became a fiancee. Mr. WARDLE, although the author of a work on "Problems of the Age," confessed that this one baffled him, and asked for notice.
The recent disturbance in the neighbourhood of the House by indiscreet friends of the unemployed soldier led to a rambling debate, chiefly remarkable for the hard things said by and about Mr. HOGGE, whose aim, according to ex-Private HOPKINSON, was to make soldiers uncomfortable; and for a hopeful speech by Sir ROBERT HORNE, who said that, despite the "dole," unemployment was beginning to diminish, and that four-fifths of the "demobbed" had already been reabsorbed by industry.
Then followed a lively but inconclusive discussion upon that hardy annual, the alleged sale of honours. General PAGE CROFT attributed it to the secrecy of party funds and proudly declared that the. National Party published all the subscriptions it received, and heartily wished there were more of them. The weakness of his case and that of his supporters was that no specific instances of corruption were brought forward, if we may except Mr. BOTTOMLEY'S assertion that some years ago he might have had a peerage if he had paid for it.
Thursday, May 29th—A constitutional crisis is impending on the question whether the MINISTER OF HEALTH should have one Parliamentary Secretary or two; the Commons demand two; the Lords will not allow more than one, even though tempted by Lord CURZON with the bribe that the second shall sit in the Upper House. Having heavily defeated the Government on this point, the Peers then decided that Miss VIOLET DOUGLAS-PENNANT was entitled to a judicial inquiry into the. circumstances that led to her retirement from the Air Force. The LORD CHANCELLOR opposed the proposal in a speech described by Lord SALISBURY as that "of an advocate rather than a judge;" but in spite or because of this the Government were beaten by 69 to 20.
Somebody ought to move for a return of the amount expended by the Government on the hire of furniture vans since the Armistice. Sir A. MOND stated that in order to release certain hotels their official occupants had been transferred to the Alexandra Palace, while the interned aliens recently housed in the Palace had been sent to certain country camps, whose late occupants (we may infer) have now gone to the hotels. It is suggested that the Office of Works should now be known as the "General Post" Office.
One can easily imagine what use a fiery demagogue would have made of the secret circular sent out some months ago by the War Office, instructing commanding officers to ascertain the attitude of their men to the trade unions in the event of a general strike. Fortunately Mr. ADAMSON is not that type of man, and he couched his criticisms in a vein rather of sorrow than of anger. There was more sting in the speech of Mr. DAVISON, and one Churchillian phrase: "They could not maintain constitutional government on the theoretical inexactitudes of kaleidoscopic politicians," which evidently pleased the originator.
* * * * *
Mr. CHURCHILL himself was more concerned with facts than phrases. The impugned circular, though he took no responsibility for its wording, was essential at the time it was sent out, for the State was bound to defend itself not against ordinary strikes, but against those which would entail universal paralysis. Turning to Russia, he described Bolshevism as a disease rather than a policy; it spread rapidly, but died out quickly and left its victims—as Colonel WEDGWOOD might be glad to know—immune for the future.
* * * * *
HOW FACT PLAGIARIZES FROM FICTION.
From the report of a Landlord v. Tenant case:—
"Mrs. Barkiss said she was quite willing to leave some day."—Local Paper.
* * * * *
Never has this popular rendezvous looked more beautiful, thanks to the wealth of owers on the members' lawn."—Provincial Paper.
We gather that it had been a bad day for backers.
* * * * *
RECOGNITION A LA MODE.
(A Romance of False Perspective.)
The Press, ever anxious, as the guardians of public sentiment, to correct the reaction that is apt to follow upon any great outburst of popular enthusiasm, did well to describe the impending arrival of Prince Ongtong, of the Solomon Islands, with his famous mixed choir, as the second best news since the signing of the Armistice. We are glad to think that the reception of this illustrious potentate in our midst was worthy of the occasion.
There was a time when our relations with the Solomon Islanders were strained. Their pagan and, we regret to say, anthropophagous habits laid them open to a certain amount of criticism. Not many years ago Mr. Bamberger, the famous violinist, in the course of a triumphal tour in the Southern Pacific, was captured by the inhabitants of Kulambranga, detained for several weeks in captivity in a mangrove swamp, where he suffered great inconvenience from the gigantic frogs (Rana Guppyi) which infest this region, and was only rescued with great difficulty by a punitive expedition—conducted by Sir Pompey Boldero—when on the eve of being sacrificed to the gastronomic exigencies of his captors.
But this happily is all ancient history now. The Solomon Islanders for several years have been confirmed vegetarians, and the pronounced modification in their mesocephalic skulls and the improvement of their facial angle afford the surest guarantee against any relapse. Furthermore the instruction in music which they received from Mr. Bamberger has exerted a profoundly mollifying effect on their manners. Mr. Clutton Brock has pronounced them to be the most artistic of all the Papuans. Their paintings show a remarkable affinity to the style of Picasso and Matisse. Their choral singing is the glory of the South Pacific.
Prince Ongtong and his party, who made the journey by long sea in a flotilla of catamarans and sampans, arrived at Southampton on Saturday, where they were met by perhaps the most representative and influential gathering of public men ever seen in our times. The procession to the Town Hall was headed by Lord READING, Lord SYDENHAM, Mr. BOTTOMLEY, Mr. HOGGE, Sir LEO CHIOZZA MONEY, Mr. SMILLIE and Mr. EUSTACE MILES. Then followed Prince Ongtong and his choir, superbly gowned in their flowing sarongs, wearing their long Papuan pampooties and followed in turn by a group of instrumentalists playing on conchs, nose-flutes and a species of mouth-organ closely resembling the jew's-harp, but much larger and more penetrating in its quality. The crowds in the street were enormous; hundreds of strong women fainted, and the casualties are estimated at upwards of five thousand.
The proceedings in the Town Hall were brief but most impressive. After the freedom of Southampton had been conferred on the Prince by the Mayor, in a gold casket, Lord READING in a touching speech announced, amid tempestuous cheers, that the Government had resolved to signalise Prince Ongtong's services by conferring on him a dukedom and a grant of two million pounds.
Continuing, Lord READING said that the Solomon Islands had always appealed to him with peculiar magic. He believed that they were the authentic seat of King SOLOMON'S Mines, in spite of the rival claims of Africa put forward by Sir RIDER HAGGARD.
The Prince, who acknowledged the honour in fluent Melanesian, was understood to say that he had only done his duty, that he was speechless with gratitude and that he would always regard Lord READING as a brother. A recherche vegetarian luncheon was then served, after which Lord ROTHERMERE presented each member of the choir with a cheque for ten thousand pounds, and Mr. SMILLIE invited them to give evidence before the Coal Commission.
The Prince and party were anxious to proceed by special train to London, where rooms had been engaged for them at the Grand Palestine Hotel, but, on leaving the Town Hall, were surrounded by the crowd, which had now swelled to nearly a million and fought for the privilege of escorting the visitors to the station with such desperate enthusiasm that at a late hour on Saturday night no traces of Prince Ongtong or any of his choir could be discovered. This is all the more to be regretted as arrangements had been made for a competition between the Solomon Islanders and the Czecho-Slovakian singers, at which Lord ASKWITH had undertaken to adjudicate. All hope however of tracing the missing party has not yet been given up, and a wireless message received at Marconi House on Sunday night states that the Ringwood police had arrested a partially-clad foreigner in the neighbourhood of the Rufus-stone.
* * * * *
* * * * *
CHANCE FOR THE HOMELESS.
"For Sale, Hupmobile Car (1916 model), saloon body, self starter, electric light, lory on ground floor, 3 bedrooms, bathroom seater, with 2 extra chairs."—Provincial Paper.
* * * * *
"Mr. —— is forty-six and a man of business. He is chairman of the City Lands Committee, and a member of the Corporation. These things are not good training for championship lawn-tennis."—Evening Paper.
This applies more especially, of course, to the Corporation.
* * * * *
"The Duchess still looks quite a girl, and so does the Duke, particularly now that he has shaved off his tiny moustache."—Weekly Paper.
The Duke's motto: "Put me among the girls."
* * * * *
N. Y. D.
Trench-foot, shell-shock and the other well-known by-products of war on the Western Front always got the bulk of medical notice, while our rarer Macedonian efforts remained neglected. My friend McTurtle has nervous prostration, with violent paroxysms at the mention of leave or demobilization, and the medical profession can only classify him as "N. Y. D., or Not Yet Diagnosed (malignant)."
McTurtle is a Staff-officer. A famous Atlantic liner dumped him at Salonica in 1915, and when the first infantrymen panted through the town in search of non-existent billets McTurtle was to be seen in the window of a villa giving bird-seed to his canary. At Salonica it is not considered good form to ask openly what a Staff-officer's job is, but he allowed friends to gather that he had an indirect connection with that fine old regiment, the Macedonian Labour Corps.
After some time (about three decorations and a mention in despatches, as McTurtle measured time) the overland leave route was opened, and the far-reaching shadow of war plunged suddenly across McTurtle's unlikely threshold. He was called upon, like many another harmless Staff-officer, to give up his simple comforts and to face hardship and suffering for a scrap of paper (authorising him to travel to Manchester). At first McTurtle was content to let the younger men of the Base make a stand against the aggression of the front line. Being the only support of an aged Colonel and no mere youth, he left it to the reckless A.P.M.'s, the dashing Camp Commandants and the carefree dare-devil Field-Cashiers to repel the infantry and gunners. But his conscience was uneasy, and indeed his apparent lack of proper feeling was commented upon by others. Once an A.D.C. handed him a white feather in the Rue Venizelos.
At length it became obvious that the Base was losing ground. The infantry and gunners, outnumbering the Staff by at least two to one, were gaining positions on each leave-party. The issue was trembling in the balance, and McTurtle answered the call. With set lips he sought the nearest orderly-room sergeant.
Before a week was out the night saw a train creeping through the gloom towards Athens and McTurtle sitting wakeful amongst four snoring infantrymen. He thought piously of the time when the Staff should reach such a pitch of organization that it would be needless—nay, impossible—for infantry to continue to exist. Towards dawn he fell into a doze, and when he waked it was light. He lowered what had been the window and looked out.
McTurtle hates heights, and in his cloistered Salonica life he had never realised that the trains of Greece ran about like mice upon a cornice. Four hundred precipitous feet yawned beneath his horrified eyes, and at his first involuntary gasp the teeth he owed to art and not to nature left him and swooped like a hawk upon a distant flock of sheep. The shepherd, a simple rustic unfamiliar with modern dentistry, endeavoured to sell them subsequently to a Y.M.C.A. archaeologist as genuine antiques.
At that moment the train stopped. McTurtle thought that his loss had been noticed, but as he made his way to the kit-truck for some more teeth he discovered that a landslide barred the way. The train backed cautiously for ten minutes and stopped again. Another landslide. The leave-party remained stationary for thirty hours, eating the rations thoughtfully provided for such a contingency.
In due course McTurtle found himself on the front seat of a motor lorry breasting the spurs of Mt. Parnassus. The dizziness of his path was invisible to him, for in a Grecian summer you can see nothing out of motor vehicles but dust.
But when the lorry reached the summit of the pass the sea-breeze from the Gulf of Corinth cleared the air and he saw for the first time the peaks on one side and the gulfs on the other, with the road writhing down canyons and gorges like a demoniac corkscrew.
"Fine view, Sir," remarked the driver.
McTurtle gulped assent. "Bit dangerous, 'o course," continued the driver chattily. "There was a steam roller went over the edge just 'ere three days ago. Nice young fellow as drove it. Beg pardon, Sir? Oh, I thought you spoke.
"Yes, 'e went too near the edge and it gave like. No nearer than we 'as to go, o' course: you watch while we pass this French-man.... There was a lad took a lorry over three weeks ago. 'Ad an attack of fever while 'e was driving and went unconscious. 'Ave you 'ad malaria, Sir? I get it something cruel meself. Comes on sudden like.
"Blimey, you 've got a touch coming on now, 'aven't you?"
At Itea, on the Gulf of Corinth, the party was ordered to return owing to a German offensive in France. McTurtle went back under chloroform. A week later it made another attempt, but was stopped by the Austrian offensive in Italy. McTurtle went back under morphia. At the third attempt it got through, but without McTurtle.
His nerve is gone, and he is marooned at Salonica. He cannot face the overland route, and he cannot get home all the way by sea just yet. In spite of all his endeavours he cannot become a naturalised Greek and stay there, because of linguistic difficulties.
But what he wants to know is, why can't the medical authorities recognise "leave-shock" as a disease and send him home by hospital ship?
* * * * *
* * * * *
"The King has awarded a Knight Commandership of the Bath to Lieutenant-Colonel ——, C.B., in charging customers excessive prices for milk by giving short measure."—Provincial Paper.
We should have thought the Pump would been more suitable than the Bath.
* * * * *
* * * * *
A threat was recently made by the representatives of the miners that industrial action would be taken unless the Government at once withdrew all troops from Russia and abandoned conscription. There has been, it appears, an unfortunate misunderstanding as to the exact meaning of the term "industrial action." On Sunday a meeting of protest against the miners' proposal was held under the auspices of The United Brotherhood of Worshipful Lead-Swingers and Affiliated Trades. Violent attacks were made by several speakers upon the Miners' leaders, and serious disruption in the Labour World seemed imminent. But when it was authoritatively explained that "industrial action," instead of meaning work, as was supposed, was a euphemistic term for striking, harmony reigned once more. It was, however, unanimously resolved that in future the expression "industrial inaction" be always used in such connection, as "action" was a word repugnant to all right-thinking Lead-Swingers, and, anyhow, calculated in such a context to give rise to confusion of thought.
* * * * *
A Trades Union has recently been formed to further the interests and raise the status of all who are in receipt of Government unemployment pay. It is hoped eventually to obtain a charter, and thus give professional standing to those employed in receiving such pay. In the meantime, however, the Union is working on orthodox labour lines, and arrangements are practically completed for calling a national strike of unemployed to compel the Authorities to increase the amount of the grant by one hundred per cent. In the event of a strike each member of the Union will formally week by week refuse to accept his or her money, and it is believed that the Government will quickly be brought to its knees. No special steps are to be taken against traitors to the cause who accept work. The social ostracism thereby incurred is felt to be a sufficient deterrent.
* * * * *
A regrettable impasse has been reached in the dispute between The Amalgamated Society of Trades Union Leaders and the Trades Unions. Mr. Blogg, speaking for the Leaders' society, stated, on leaving the Conference last night, that the outlook was black. Unless the rank and file of the Unions were prepared to meet the Leaders' demands a strike was certain. He shrank from imagining what was likely to happen if the Trades Unions were left leaderless. The responsibility, however, did not rest with the Leaders. They had made every possible concession. A four-hours' day and a salary of one thousand pounds per annum was the minimum which would be considered.
* * * * *
Comrade Snooks informed our representative that he was conducting negotiations on behalf of the employers, that is to say the ordinary members of the Trades Unions. He stated with a full sense of responsibility that if the Leaders went on strike all the resources of the Unions would be employed against them. On the whole the Leaders had good berths—easy work and high pay. Their demands were becoming absolutely unreasonable and must be opposed. Their methods of enforcing their demands too were to be deprecated. Only the preceding evening one of the Trades Union Loaders had become abusive and broken one of his (Comrade Snooks') windows. That sort of thing was disgusting, and in the interests of decency and order must be put down. In case of need police protection would be applied for.
* * * * *
A THEME FOR SIR HENRY NEWBOLT.
"When HAWKER came swooping from the West."
* * * * *
Dark jewel from the zone of Erebus! What son of Dis first dragged thee from thy lair To be a twofold benison to us Poor mortals shivering in the upper air When Phoebus nose-dives in his solar bus Beneath the waves and goes to shine elsewhere? Or if some monstrous progeny of Tellus Found thou wast Power and made the high gods jealous I do not know (I've lost my Lempriere), Nor if the fate that thereupon befell us Was for each load of coal two loads of care; Yet oft I wonder if beyond the Styx The price of thee is three pounds ten and six.
Sun worshipper am I, and serve the gods Of stream and meadow and the flowery lea, Of winding woodways where the loosestrife nods In summer and in spring the anemone, And thymy sheep-paths where the ploughboy plods Home to his frugal but sufficient tea. Not for a crown, grim coal, would I pursue thee In subterranean passages and hew thee Mid poisonous fumes and draughts of tepid tea. Yet were I all undone should I eschew thee; Someone, in short, must dig thee up for me; And, if he deems it worth a pound a day, Well, who am I to say the fellow nay?
The sailor heaves on Biscay's restless bay; His breeks are tarry but his heart is kind; The farmer grouses all the livelong day Howe'er with untaxed oof his jeans are lined; The shop-assistant works for paltry pay, Though of all manners his are most refined; But all of them can quaff the undefiled Sweet air of heaven and gaze with thankful eyelid On azure skies and feel the unfettered wind, Or in the park on Sunday, in a high lid, Or through the equinoctials blowing blind, Or at cold milking-time when dawns are red And birds awake and I remain in bed.
Not so the miner! Though his private life Is blameless and his soul is pure and brave; Although he gives his wages to his wife And spanks his children when they don't behave; Though rather than incur industrial strife He takes the cash and lets the Bolshy rave, He is condemned to toil in mines and galleries, Nourished inside with insufficient calories, A sordid mineral's uncomplaining slave, Till the rheumatics get him and his pallor is So marked he hardly dares to wash and shave. And shall I grudge the man sufficient pelf For toil I'd rather die than do myself?
Ah, there's the rub! I fain would see him blest With ample quarters and sufficient food, A spacious close wherein to take his rest, Hats for his wife and bootlets for his brood. But, now the Powers have granted his request, Too well I know what course will be pursued By certain merchants who "enjoy" my custom: They'll put the price of coal up, you can trust 'em, Till I by want am utterly oppressed And my finances, howso I adjust 'em, To my complete insolvency attest. Five pounds a ton they'll charge—I know their game— Saying, "Of course the miner is to blame."
Nay, let me clasp the honest fellow's hand, Saying, "O miner, here is one who shares Your just desire to make this lovely land A fit abode for heroes and their heirs By ousting Plunder's profiteering band, Who take the cash and leave us all the cares. Oh, if we twain together might conspire, Would we not grasp them by the scruff and fire Coal merchants, barons, dukes and millionaires, And run the business to our hearts' desire, Paying no dividends on watered shares; Blessing State ownership and State control, You for high wages, I for cheaper coal."
* * * * *
THE GREAT GOLF CRISIS.
A great budget of correspondence from all parts of the country has reached Mr. Punch concerning the suggestions put forward by famous golfers with the view of modifying the predominant influence exercised by putting in golf. A crisis is rapidly being reached and Government intervention may be invoked any day.
Mr. Ludwig Shyster, of the North Boreland Golf Club, suggests that the tin in the hole should be highly magnetized and the ball coated with a metallic substance so that it might be attracted into the hole. Golf, he contends, is a recreation, and the true aim of golf legislation should be to make the game easier, not more difficult; to attract the largest possible number of players and so to keep up the green-fees and pay a decent salary to secretaries and professionals.
Hanusch Kozelik, the famous Czecho-Slovakian amateur, who has recently done some wonderful rounds at Broadstairs, cordially supports GEORGE DUNCAN'S advocacy of a larger hole. He sees no reason why it should not be three feet in diameter, provided the greens were reduced to eight feet square and surrounded with a barbed-wire entanglement.
Lord HALSBURY, who took to golf when he was over eighty and has only recently given it up, writes: "The bigger the better 'ole."
On the other hand, Dr. Scroggie Park, of Kilspindie, strongly advocates the abolition of the hole altogether and the substitution of a bell, as in the old form of croquet. But, as he wisely adds, variety, not cast-iron uniformity should be our aim. The principle of self-determination should in his opinion be conceded to all properly constituted golf clubs.
Lord BIRKENHEAD is all for maintaining the status quo in regard to holes and greens, but takes up a strong attitude on the improvement of the water-supply. In this respect golf-architecture has hitherto been sadly to seek. There should, he says, be at least one bathroom for every twenty members.
We are obliged to hold over for the present the views expressed on this burning question by Dame MELBA, Madame KARSAVINA and Madame DESTINNOVA.
* * * * *
"A departure from the bridal custom frequently noted since the war, of having man bridesmaids, is being made by Lady Diano Manners."—Provincial Paper.
We had not previously noted this custom, but are glad that Lady DIANO—whose name also is new to us—is dispensing with it.
* * * * *
An ex-Waac domestic named Mary Ann Took a place with a strict vegetarian; He cautioned her, too, That beer was taboo, But she simply replied, "Ca ne fait rien. "
* * * * *
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
Mr. Standfast (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) is the third book of the super-spy trilogy that Colonel JOHN BUCHAN has given us, as a kind of supplement to his more official record of the War. We have the same hero, Hannay, as in Greenmantle and The Thirty-Nine Steps, the same group of associates, reinforced for purposes of love-interest by a young and attractive female, and the same arch-Hun, now identified as the Graf von Schwabing. Also the affair pursues much the same hide-and-seek course that gave the former adventures their deserved popularity. I entirely decline even to sketch the manifold vicissitudes of Hannay (now a General), tracking and being tracked, captive and captor, ranging the habitable and non-habitable globe, always (with a fine disregard for the requirements of book-making) convinced that the next chapter will be the last. Three criticisms I cannot avoid. To begin with, Colonel BUCHAN is really becoming too lavish with his coincidences. Secondly, I found it odd that the spy-hunters, after employing so many ruses and so much camouflage that one might say they almost refused to recognise their own reflections in a mirror, should proceed to the opposite extreme and arrange all their plans, with engaging frankness, over the telephone. Finally, the tale, though full of admirable disconnected moments, does not carry one along sufficiently quickly. General Hannay was, I thought, too apt to interpolate lengthy reminiscences of active service, just when I wanted to get on with the matter in hand. Pace in such affairs is everything, and my complaint is that, though the hunt had yielded some capital sport, its end found me with my pulse rather disappointingly calm.
* * * * *
As was to be expected, one of the signs of the times in literature, not of one country but of all, is a grim change in its attitude towards war. The era of pomp and circumstance, as of genial make-believe, is gone by; more and more are our writers beginning to give us militarism stripped of romance, a grisly but (I suppose) useful picture. I have nowhere found it more horrible than in a story called The Secret Battle (METHUEN), written by Mr. A.P. HERBERT, whose initials are familiar to Punch readers under work of a lighter texture. This is an intimate study, inspired throughout by a cold fury of purpose that can be felt on every page, of the destruction of a young man's spirit in the insensate machinery of modern war. There is no other plot, no side issues, no relief. From the introduction of Harry Penrose, fresh from Oxford, embarking like a gallant gentleman upon the adventure of arms, to the tragedy that blotted him out of a scheme that had misused and ruined him, the record moves with a dreadful singleness of intent. Sometimes, one at least hopes, the shadows may have been artificially darkened. It seems even to-day hardly credible that events should conspire to such futility of error. But as a story with a purpose, not, in spite of the publisher's description, a novel, The Secret Battle certainly deserves the epithet "striking." It is a blow from the shoulder.
* * * * *
The worst of quotations is that either their staleness is tedious or their unfamiliarity irritates. Mr. S.G. TALLENTYRE has at least one, generally of the latter sort, and oftener half-a-dozen, on every page of Love Laughs Last (BLACKWOOD), or, at any rate, that is one's first impression of the book; while the second is that the number of characters is not much less. It follows that in trying to identify all the persons to whom he may or may not have been introduced in the previous pages, and all the phrases in inverted commas he has certainly seen somewhere else sometime, the truly diligent reader will be kept faithfully at his task—a pleasant one possibly, but just a thought too much like hard work to be quite entertaining in a novel. Apart from all this and an occasional obscure sentence there is nothing much to grumble at in a story that tells how David, the sailor, unlearned in the ways of ladies, became engaged for insufficient reasons to one Theo, only to fall promptly in love with another, certainly much nicer, called Nancy; and how still a third, Sally, with various other people, intent on rescuing him from his dilemma, made a most unscrupulous and indeed most improbable conspiracy against number one, who was unpopular. One can't help feeling that they were all, including the author, a bit hard on Theo, whose philanthropic notions were really too good for the amount of sense allotted her to work them out with. Most of the rest of them would have nothing to do with raising the masses, but, after the comfortable fashion of early nineteenth-century days, were content to let well alone at eight shillings a week. Perhaps it was this restful attitude that decided the publishers to claim for this volume the distinctive quality of "charm."
* * * * *
After a considerable interval, Mr. ARNOLD LUNN has followed The Harrovians with another school story, Loose Ends (HUTCHINSON). This, however, is a tale not so much about boys as about masters, the real hero being not Maurice Leigh (with whose adventures school-novelists of an earlier day would solely have concerned themselves), the pleasantly undistinguished lad who enters Hornborough in the first chapter and leaves it in the last, but Quirk, the young and energetic master, whose efforts to vitalize the very dry bones of Hornborough education hardly meet the success that they deserve. Concerning this I am bound to add that I found some difficulty in accepting Mr. LUNN'S picture as quite fair to an average public school in the early twentieth century. That its authorities should have been so violently perturbed by a proposal to teach SHAKSPEARE histrionically, or by the spectacle of boys enjoying modern poetry, surely supposes conditions almost incredibly archaic. This, however, does nothing to detract from the admirably-drawn figure of Quirk himself, bursting with energy, enthusiasm and intolerance, overcoming passive resistance on the part of the boys, only to be shipwrecked upon the cast-iron prejudice of the staff. That his apotheosis should have been translation to Rugby, where he finds "the beaks much easier to get on with," perhaps shows that Mr. LUNN does not intend those of Hornborough as wholly typical of the most abused race in fiction. For the rest, the boy characters of the book are presented with a quiet realism very refreshing after some recent "sensational revelations." Mr. LUNN'S boys, alike in their speech and outlook, are admirably observed; indeed the persons of the tale struck me throughout as being better than its rather out-of-date happenings.
* * * * *
My landlady assures me that His Daughter (COLLINS) is a "lovely story," and I think it only right that Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS should have the benefit of her criticism, since my own is distinctly less favourable. Mr. MORRIS showed signs at one time of being able to write a first-class novel of adventure, but he abandoned this field for a more lucrative appeal to the Great American Bosom, whose taste, if I may say so without endangering the League of Nations, is more in harmony with my landlady's than with mine. His latest hero is one of those magnificent fellows whom no woman can resist—or so they tell him. Anyway he is irresistible enough to have two daughters, one born in lawful wedlock, the other—of whose existence he is unaware for a long time—in Paris. Which of the daughters is the one referred to in the title is not clear, nor does it really seem to matter, since one of them dies, and he undertakes, while in the throes of remorse, not to make himself known to the other. Meanwhile the War has happened along and given everyone who needed it an opportunity of redeeming his Past, and, as the hero is getting old and has had a nasty crash in an aeroplane, it seems possible that an era of comparative continence has really set in. At this juncture we part with him—I without a pang; my landlady, I well know, with a sigh for his lost irresistibility.
* * * * *
Barry Dunbar, the heroic padre of Mr. RALPH CONNOR'S story, The Sky Pilot of No Man's Land (HODDER AND STOUGHTON), hailed from Canada and went to France with the Canadians. Endowed with superb physical beauty and considerable musical gifts he started, you might think, with fortune in his favour. But at the outset he was a tactless young man and had a good deal to learn before he was in any way competent to teach. Mr. RALPH CONNOR has described with skill and great sincerity the horrors of the War in the earlier days; but for me he has spoilt both his story and the effect of it by his extreme sentimentality. He is persistently concerned to raise a lump in my throat. I readily believe that he was actuated by the highest motive in trying to show us how responsive the Canadians were when their spiritual needs were attended to by a man of courage and understanding. But I dislike an excess of emotional spasms, and in these Mr. CONNOR has indulged so freely that his book can only be for other tastes than mine.
* * * * *