PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI
VOLUME 158, Jan-Jul 1920
JUNE 9, 1920.
Owing to heavy storms the other day one thousand London telephones were thrown out of order. Very few subscribers noticed the difference.
* * *
A camera capable of photographing the most rapid moving objects in the world is the latest invention of an American. There is some talk of his trying to photograph a bricklayer whizzing along at his work.
* * *
"Perjury is now rampant in all our Courts and there seems to be no way of preventing it," declares a well-known judge. Surely if they did away with the oath this grievance would soon disappear.
* * *
"With goodwill on both sides," said Lord ROTHSCHILD recently, "the Jews will make a success of colonising their own country." There will have to be assets as well as goodwill, it is thought, if they are to be made to feel thoroughly at home.
* * *
Mr. GEORGE BEER, the man who built the first glass houses in this country, has died at Worthing. The man who threw the first stone from inside has not yet been identified, but suspicion points to Sir FREDERICK BANBURY.
* * *
When the police order you to move on, said the Thames magistrate, it is better to go in the long run. Others declare that it is quite sufficient to melt from view at a businesslike waddle.
* * *
"The only way to get houses," says the Marylebone magistrate, "is to build them." The idea of knitting a few seems to have been overlooked.
* * *
We understand that the Scotsman who was injured in the rush outside the post-office on the last night of the three-halfpenny postage, is now able to get about with the help of a stick.
* * *
New motor vehicles to take the place of the "Black Marias" are now being used between Brixton Gaol and Bow Street. Customers who contemplate arrest should book early to avoid the congestion.
* * *
Signor MARCONI has failed to get into touch with Mars. At the same time we are asked to deny the rumour that communication has been established between Lord NORTHCLIFFE and the PREMIER.
* * *
"Comedians," says a stage paper, "are born, not made." This disposes of the impression that too many of them do it on purpose.
* * *
* * *
It has been established in the Court of Appeal that the farther north you go the larger are people's feet. Surprise has been expressed at the comparatively small number of Metropolitan policemen who hail from Spitzbergen.
* * *
SYDNEY RICHARDSON, the London messenger-boy who went to America for Mr. DAREWSKI, has just returned. It is said that one American wanted to keep him as a souvenir and offered him a job as a paper-weight for his desk.
* * *
The Trafalgar Hotel, Greenwich, famous of old for its whitebait dinners, has been turned into a Trades Union Club. The report that the Parliamentary Labour Party has decided to preserve the traditions of the place by holding an annual red herring supper there is not confirmed.
* * *
A certain brass band in Hertfordshire now practises in the evening on the flat roof of a large factory. We understand that the Union of Cat Musicians are taking a serious view of the matter.
* * *
A vagrant was before the magistrate last week, charged with tearing his clothes and destroying all the buttons on them whilst in a workhouse ward. It is not known at what laundry he served his apprenticeship.
* * *
After announcing that the fox which had been causing severe losses to poultry had at last been killed a local paper admits that the wanton destruction of fowls is still going on. It is thought that another fox of the same name was killed in error.
* * *
"The Irish will take nothing that we can offer them," says a Government official. Outside of that they seem to take pretty much what they want.
* * *
We think that the attention of the N.S.P.C.C. should be drawn to the fact that several stall-holders on the beach of a popular seaside town are offering ices at twopence each, or twelve for one-and-six.
* * *
A man was charged at the South Western Police Court with throwing a sandwich at a waiter. Very thoughtless. He might have broken it.
* * *
A new instrument for measuring whiskey is announced. The last whiskey we ordered seemed to have been squirted into the glass with a hypodermic syringe.
* * * * *
The Bull-dog Breed.
"H. Prew, b Staples, c L. Mitchell, c Ryland, b Rajendrasinhji, 17."—Daily Paper.
The gallant fellow doesn't seem to have known when he was beaten.
* * * * *
"Wanted, thoroughly capable Woman, to take management of canteen; one with knowledge of ambulance work preferred."
A "wet" canteen, presumably.
* * * * *
["A Skilled Labourer," writing to The Times, speaks of "the extremists" among the working classes as "cherishing a belief that the intelligence of educated persons is declining."]
Doubtless, my Masters, you are right As to the lore which they delight To teach at Cambridge College; Contented with a classic tone, Those useful arts we left alone By which we might have held our own Against the Newer Knowledge.
Even if I could still retain The ethics which my early brain Imbibed from ARISTOTLE, It would not serve me much to speak His views on virtue (in the Greek) When buying table claret (weak) At ten-and-six the bottle.
Or when my tailor claims his loot Of twenty guineas for a suit Of rude continuations, I must remain his hopeless thrall, Nor would it move his heart at all Could I from JUVENAL recall Some apposite quotations.
If I engaged a working-man To mend a leaky pot or pan Or else a pipe that's porous, He would not modify his fees For hours and hours of vacant ease Though out of ARISTOPHANES I said a funny chorus.
I am a failure, it appears; I cannot cope with profiteers Nor with enlightened Labour; Too late I see, on looking back, Where lies the blame for what I lack; Why was I never taught the knack Of beggaring my neighbour?
* * * * *
A CONNOISSEUR'S APPRECIATION.
SHARP RISE OF GREAT BRITAIN IN THE ESTIMATION OF U.S.A.
The first-class carriage was empty. I threw my coat into a corner and settled myself in the seat opposite. Just as the train started to move, the door was flung open and a tall lean body hurled itself into the compartment and dropped on my coat. He was followed instantaneously by a leather bag which crashed on to the floor.
"Say, these cars pull out pretty slick."
My intelligence at once conjectured that this was an American, one of the thousands who have lately taken advantage of the exchange to spy out the nakedness of our land.
I must admit that I understand American only with great difficulty. I try to guess the meaning of each sentence from the unimportant words which I can interpret. I surmised somehow that his speech referred to the bag on the floor.
So I answered, civilly enough, "I hope your bag is undamaged. Excuse me, I will relieve you of my coat." So saying, I pulled it from beneath him and with a single movement flung it on the rack over my own head.
The stranger spoke again after some moments. He appeared to have spent the interval in repeating my words to himself, as though to grasp their meaning. Yet, heaven knows, I speak plainly enough.
This time he said, "Guess my grip's O.K. But I ain't plunkin' my bucks on the guy that says the old country's in the sweet and peaceful."
After this most extraordinary and unintelligible communication he began to feel his pockets and his person all over, as though searching for something. I felt myself at liberty to resume my study of The Spectator.
However, I was not to be left alone. Again he addressed me. "Guess I gotta hand it to you."
"I beg your pardon," I observed, lowering my paper.
"You've got 'em all whipped blocks," he went on, his absurd smile still persisting. "You're a cracker jack, you're a smart aleck. You've done to me what the fire did to the furnishing shack. You've dealt me one in the spaghetti joint. Oh, I gotta hand it to you."
I could understand little of the words, but I gathered from his manner that he was congratulating me on something in the extravagant but interesting fashion of the North-American tribes.
"You sure put the monkey-wrench on me," he continued. "You make me feel like I couldn't operate a pea-nut stand. I'm the rube from the back-blocks, sure thing. I ain't going to holler any—not me. I'm real pleased to get acquainted. Shake."
I took his hand with as little self-consciousness as possible, not yet having been able to understand what praiseworthy act I had accomplished. I must admit none the less that I felt vaguely pleased at his encomiums.
"There was a guy way back in Nevada used to have a style like yours. They called him Happy Cloud Sim, and he had a hand like a ham. See that grip? Well, Sir, Sim 'ud come right in here, lay his hand somewheres about, and that grip 'ud vanish into the sweet eternal. You could search the hull of the cars from caboose to fire-box and nary a grip. He was an artist. Poor Sim, he overreached himself in Albany, trying to attach a cash-register. The blame thing started ringing a bell and shedding tickets all along the sidewalk. The sleuths just paper-chased him through the burg. He was easy meat for the calaboose that Fall."
I was at a loss to understand the relevance of this extremely improbable narrative. It did not appear, on the face of it, complimentary to connect me with a declared thief and gaol-bird. Still it was my duty to be courteous to one who was for the time a national guest.
"A most interesting story," I remarked, "and one which has the further advantage of conveying a moral lesson."
"But you got Sim beat ten blocks," he resumed. "The way you threw your top-coat up made Sim look like a last year's made-over. I never set eyes on a dry-goods clerk as could fix a package slicker. I'll have a lil something to tell the home town."
He looked out of the window. "Guess this is Harrow," he remarked, "and we're pulling into the deepo. I may as well have my wad back."
So saying he put his hand into the folds of the coat over my head and withdrew a roll of notes fastened with a rubber band. This roll he then stuffed into his hip-pocket. I began to see the meaning of his insinuations.
"If you think," said I indignantly, "that I saw you drop your notes and deliberately rolled them up in the coat——"
"Nix on that stuff," he retorted jovially. "I know them dollar-bills; they kinder skin theirselves off the wad and when you come to pay the bartender they've hit the trail and you stand lonesome with a bitter taste in your mouth, like LOT's wife."
The train stopped; the man stepped out with the unnecessary haste of his kind.
"Well, I'm pleased to have met you," he concluded, still smiling amiably through the window; "if ever you strike Rapid City, Wis., you'll find me rustling wood somewheres near the saloon. I'd like to have got better acquainted, but I promised the folks I'd stop off here and get wise as to how boys is raised in your country. They sure grow up fine men. I reckon we 're way behind the times in Rapid City——"
The train passed out leaving me speechless with indignation.
It took me some moments to recover my normal balance. Then I confess I was delighted to notice that the fellow, in his enthusiasm over the alleged lightness of my fingers, had left his precious "grip" behind him.
It travelled with me to my destination. I hope it is still travelling.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
John looked up from his paper.
"Ah!" he sighed loudly, "how the world progresses."
There was silence. John sighed again.
"How the world progresses," he said a shade louder.
Cecilia and I continued reading.
"Can't anyone ask a question?" asked John peevishly.
"Where do the flies go in the winter-time?" murmured Cecilia without looking up.
I was weak enough to laugh. For some reason it annoyed John.
"Go on, go on, laugh!" he spluttered; "you're a good pair, you and your sister. Say something else funny, Cecilia, and make little brother laugh. What a crowd to have married into! Shrieks of laughter at every feeble joke, but as for intelligent conversation——"
"Well, we're reading," said Cecilia; "we don't want intelligent conversation."
"There's no need to tell me that. I know it only too well. I haven't been married to you for all these years without seeing that."
"'All these years,'" repeated Cecilia, aghast. "The vindictive brute."
"And," continued John bitterly, "I say again what I said just now: How the world progresses."
"Well, there's no need to keep on saying it, dear old cauliflower," I said; "we know it progresses. What are we expected to say?"
"I know," said Cecilia brightly. "Why?"
John pulled himself up.
"Because," he said, "they are proposing in the paper here to start a system of temporary marriages which can be dissolved if either party is dissatisfied after a fair trial. I only wish somebody had thought of it—how many?—eight years ago."
Cecilia's jaw dropped. I chuckled.
"You certainly bought that one all right, Cecilia old dear," I said. "Can't you manage a witty retort? Try, sister, for the honour of the family."
Cecilia pulled herself together.
"Retort?" she said in surprise. "Why on earth a retort, my dear Alan? When my husband makes his first really sensible remark for years I don't retort, I applaud. If only I had known the sort of man he is before I tied myself to him for life! What an actor he would have made! Why, before we married——"
"'Nothing was too good for you,'" I encouraged. "Go on, Cecilia."
"Don't interrupt, Alan—nothing was too good for me. Afterwards——"
"Last year's blouses and a yearly trip to the Zoo. Shame!" I said.
"And what about me?" said John. "Haven't I been deceived? Didn't you all conspire to make me think she was sweet and good? I remember somebody telling me I was a lucky man. I realise now you were all only too glad to get rid of her."
"Alan! How can you let him?" said Cecilia with a small scream of rage.
"Come, come," I said, "this family wrangling has gone far enough. You are married and you can't get out of it. Make the best of it, my children, and be friends."
"Yes," said John sadly, "it is too late now. I must try to bear up; but it is hard. If only this scheme had been started a few years earlier. If only I could have taken her on approval."
He paused a moment and smiled softly.
"Imagine the scene," he resumed. "'Cecilia,' I should say, 'I have given you every chance, but I am afraid you don't suit. For eight long years I have suffered from your rotten cooking, your ... extravagance ... and so on ... et caetera ... and I regret that I must give you a month's notice, to take effect as from four o'clock this afternoon. You have good qualities. You are honest and temperate and, to some extent, not bad looking—in the evening, anyway. Your idea of keeping household accounts is atrocious, but, on the other hand, you look rather nice in a hammock on a hot summer day. But that is all I can say for you. You have not given me the wifely devotion I expected. Only last week, when I came home feeling miserable, you sat at the piano playing extracts from some beastly revue, when a true wife would have been singing "Parted" or even "Roses of Picardy." Again, you invariably put our child in front of me in all things, such as the last piece of cake or having an egg for tea. I am not jealous of the boy, mind you, but I hate favouritism, and I won't play second fiddle to Christopher or anyone else.
"'In fact, my dear Cecilia (I use the phrase in its formal sense only), not being satisfied that you do all that was promised in the advertisement, I have decided to return you without further liability and ask for a refund of the cost of carriage. That will be all, thank you. You may go.'"
There was a few moments' ominous quiet, and then Cecilia went over the top with a roar of artillery and the rattle of machine guns. John put up a defensive barrage. Cecilia raked him with bombs and Lewis guns. He replied with heavy stuff. The air grew thicker and thicker.
"Shush!" I shouted through the din of battle. "Man and wife to wrangle like this! Think of your good name. Think of the servants. Think of the child."
Cecilia caught the last phrase and the noise subsided.
"Yes," she said, breathless but calm, "there's the hitch in your plans, Master John—the child. If I go I take Christopher with me."
"That you don't. Christopher belongs to me. He is part of my estate—in law. You can't take him."
"Can't I?" said Cecilia. "Am I his mother or am I not?"
"Who pays his school-fees?" said John. "What's his name? Whose house does he live in?"
Cecilia was gathering herself for another offensive when the door opened and Christopher came in.
We looked at him and he paused in embarrassment.
"What are you all looking at me for?" he asked, smiling uneasily; "I haven't done anything."
"He belongs to me," said Cecilia suddenly.
"He belongs to me," said John with decision.
Christopher knows his parents fairly well. "Whatever are you doing?" he asked with a chuckle.
"Come here," said John.
Christopher advanced and stood between his mother and his father.
"I don't know what I'm inspected to do," he said.
"Christopher," said John, "to whom do you belong—to your mother or to me? Think well, my child."
Christopher wrinkled his nose obediently and thought for a moment.
"Why," he said, his face clearing, "we all b'long to each other."
* * * * *
"'The Heart of a Child,'" I said; "the beautifullest love-story ever told. Featuring Little Randolph, the Boy Wonder."
They took no notice. They were all three busy rehearsing the final reconciliation scene.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Our Erudite Contemporaries.
From a special golf correspondent:—
"I cannot remember the Latin for a daisy, but most emphatically 'Delanda est.'"
"'Pol-u-me-tis.' The Greek brings back the thundrous verse of Virgil. Echoes from the twilight of the gods."—Daily Paper.
Poor old Goetterdaemmerung.
* * * * *
"White Milking Shorthorn Bull for Sale, L50."—Farmers' Gazette.
* * * * *
"A Good Canvasser wanted for Credit Gentlemen's wear; ready to wear and made to measure clothing."—Daily Paper.
"One," in fact, "that was made a shape for his clothes, and, if ADAM had not fallen, had lived to no purpose."
* * * * *
"To-morrow afternoon, the Dansant, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets inclusive 3s. 6d. Dansant (only) 2s. 6d."—Provincial Paper.
The "the" seems cheap at a shilling.
* * * * *
THE ART OF POETRY.
In this lecture I propose to explain how comic poetry is written.
Comic poetry, as I think I pointed out in my last lecture, is much more difficult than serious poetry, because there are all sorts of rules. In serious poetry there are practically no rules, and what rules there are may be shattered with impunity as soon as they become at all inconvenient. Rhyme, for instance. A well-known Irish poet once wrote a poem which ran like this:
"Hands, do as you're bid, Draw the balloon of the mind That bellies and sags in the wind Into its narrow shed."
This was printed in a serious paper; but if the poet had sent it up to a humorous paper (as he might well have done) the Editor would have said, "Do you pronounce it shid?", and the poet would have had no answer. You see, he started out, as serious poets do, with every intention of organising a good rhyme for bid—or perhaps for shed—but he found this was more difficult than he expected. And then, no doubt, somebody drove all his cattle on to his croquet-lawn, or somebody else's croquet-lawn, and he abandoned the struggle. I shouldn't complain of that; what I do complain of is the deceitfulness of the whole thing. If a man can't find a better rhyme than shed for a simple word like bid, let him give up the idea of having a rhyme at all; let him write—
Hands, do as you're TOLD,
Into its narrow HUT (or even HANGAR).
That at least would be an honest confession of failure. But to write bid and shed is simply a sinister attempt to gain credit for writing a rhymed poem without doing it at all.
Well, that kind of thing is not allowed in comic poetry. When I opened my well-known military epic, "Riddles of the King," with the couplet,
Full dress (with decorations) will be worn When General Officers are shot at dawn,
the Editor wrote cuttingly in the margin, "Do you say dorn?"
The correct answer would have been, of course, "Well, as a matter of fact I do;" but you cannot make answers of that kind to Editors; they don't understand it. And that brings you to the real drawback of comic poetry; it means constant truck with Editors. But I must not be drawn into a discussion about them. In a special lecture—two special lectures—— Quite.
The lowest form of comic poetry is, of course, the Limerick; but it is a mistake to suppose that it is the easiest. It is more difficult to finish a Limerick than to finish anything in the world. You see, in a Limerick you cannot begin:—
There was an old man of West Ham
and go on
Who formed an original plan,
finishing the last line with limb or hen or bun. A serious writer could do that with impunity, and indeed with praise, but the more exacting traditions of Limerical composition insist that, having fixed on Ham as the end of the first line, you must find two other rhymes to Ham, and good rhymes too. This is why there is so large a body of uncompleted Limericks. For many years I have been trying to finish the following unfinished masterpiece:—
There was a young man who said "Hell! I don't think I feel very well——"
That was composed on the Gallipoli Peninsula; in fact it was composed under fire; indeed I remember now that we were going over the top at the time. But in the quiet days of Peace I can get no further with it. It only shows how much easier it is to begin a Limerick than to end it.
Apart from the subtle phrasing of the second line this poem is noteworthy because it is cast in the classic form. All the best Limericks are about a young man, or else an old one, who said some short sharp monosyllable in the first line. For example:—
There was a young man who said "If——
Now what are the rhymes to if? Looking up my Rhyming Dictionary I see they are:—
cliff hieroglyph hippogriff skiff sniff stiff tiff whiff
Of these one may reject hippogriff at once, as it is in the wrong metre. Hieroglyph is attractive, and we might do worse than:—
There was a young man who said "If One murdered a hieroglyph——"
Having, however, no very clear idea of the nature of a hieroglyph I am afraid that this will also join the long list of unfinished masterpieces. Personally I should incline to something of this kind:—
There was a young man who said "If I threw myself over a cliff I do not believe One person would grieve——"
Now the last line is going to be very difficult. The tragic loneliness, the utter disillusion of this young man is so vividly outlined in the first part of the poem that to avoid an anticlimax a really powerful last line is required. But there are no powerful rhymes. A serious poet, of course, could finish up with death or faith, or some powerful word like that. But we are limited to skiff, sniff, tiff and whiff. And what can you do with those? Students, I hope, will see what they can do. My own tentative solution is printed, by arrangement with the Editor, on another page (458). I do not pretend that it is perfect; in fact it seems to me to strike rather a vulgar note. At the same time it is copyright, and must not be set to music in the U.S.A.
I have left little time for comic poetry other than Limericks, but most of the above profound observations are equally applicable to both, except that in the case of the former it is usual to think of the last line first. Having done that you think of some good rhymes to the last line and hang them up in mid-air, so to speak. Then you think of something to say which will fit on to those rhymes. It is just like Limericks, only you start at the other end; indeed it is much easier than Limericks, though, I am glad to say, nobody believes this. If they did it would be even harder to get money out of Editors than it is already.
We will now write a comic poem about Spring Cleaning. We will have verses of six lines, five ten-syllable lines and one six-syllable. As a last line for the first verse I suggest
Where have they put my hat?
We now require two rhymes to hat. In the present context flat will obviously be one, and cat or drat will be another. Our resources at present are therefore as follows:—
Line 1— —— " 2— ... flat. " 3— —— " 4— ... cat or drat. " 5— —— " 6—Where have they put my hat?
As for the blank lines, wife is certain to come in sooner or later, and we had better put that down, supported by life ("What a life!"), and knife or strife. There are no other rhymes, except rife, which is a useless word.
We now hold another parade:—
Terumti—umti—umti—umti—wife, Terumti—umti—umti—umti—flat; Teroodle—oodle—oodle—What a life! Terumti—oodle—umti—oodle—cat (or drat); Teroodle—umti—oodle—umti—knife (or strife); Where have they put my hat?
All that remains now is to fill in the umti-oodles, and I can't be bothered to do that. There is nothing in it.
A. P. H.
* * * * *
"Will any gentleman requiring a House-keeper accept two decently brought up boys, age 12 and 8 years? Excellent cook and housekeeper; capable of full control."
Someone really ought to give these young sportsmen a trial.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE LOQUACIOUS INSTINCT.
Don't you ever know the impulse, when you are idly turning the pages of a telephone directory, to ring up some total stranger and engage him in light conversation?
I do, quite intensely. In moments of ennui, when there is really nothing to do in the office, the fear of discovery alone restrains me. I'm not sure that I can rely on the professional secrecy of the girl at the exchange. Has she strength of mind to refuse a righteously indignant subscriber who demands to know (with imprecations) what number has been talking to him?
I could take her into my confidence, I suppose. Only the thing oughtn't to be elaborately premeditated; it should be sudden and spontaneous, the matter of a happy moment. You get your number and say:—
"Hullo! Is that Barefoot and Humpage, the architects? Can I speak to Mr. Barefoot—or Mr. Humpage?"
"Mr. Humpage speaking. Who is that, please?"
"Well, I want you to design me a cathedral. By to-morrow afternoon, if poss—"
"To design you a what?"
"A cathedral. C-A-T-H—— but I expect you heard me that time. A massive structure, you know, chiefly built of stone. As at Salisbury, and Ely, and—well, probably you'll know what I mean. Now, as to details——"
"Who are you?"
"I? Oh, I'm a collector of these buildings in a small way. But about this one we're discussing. Something in the pre-Raphaelite manner, do you think—with arpeggios dotted about here and there?"
Of course I don't know what Mr. Humpage would say at this point. Therein would lie the fascination of these experiments—to discover just what different people would say at that kind of point.
Take Mr. Absalom, for instance, who is described in the Directory as a commission agent. How would he express himself, I wonder, if I were to ring him up and request him to dispose, on the most advantageous terms, of my commission in the Army?
Messrs. Wheable Brothers too. Just the people I've been looking for.
"You're the sand and gravel contractors, aren't you?" I should begin, "Well, I know of some sand that badly wants contracting."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Perhaps I had better explain. You see, I always spend my holidays at Pipton-on-Sea. This year, in fact, I'm going there in two or three weeks' time. Earlier holidays—a splendid movement, what? See railway posters. In June the average snowfall is only—— But the point is that at Pipton there's a belt of about two miles of sand, even at high-tide—several hundred yards, anyhow—and it does spoil the bathing so. Now if you could arrange to have this sand contracted to half or a third of its present width? Perhaps you'll quote me terms. Thank you so much."
Then there's the Steam Packet Company at a neighbouring port. One might ask them to supply half-a-dozen small packets of steam for the ungumming of envelope-flaps.
I find also in the Directory two or three gentlemen with the surname of "George." I could profess to be an earnest Liberal opponent of the PRIME MINISTER, accustomed to refer to him by that disrespectful abbreviation:—
"Oh, is that Mr. George? Well, Sir, I wanted to have a word with you on your handling of the European situation. Now, it's surely obvious that the Jugo-Slavs—"
It seems possible that your victim now and then might enter into the spirit of the thing and do his best to make the dialogue a success. Contrariwise, if you were seeking violent excitements, you would ask a retired admiral, let us say, his opinion on the question "Do flappers put their hair up too soon?" or some such urgent problem of the day. How jolly these promiscuous exercises in conversation might be!
* * * * *
* * * * *
TO THE NEW POLICEMAN.
["Increased remuneration is attracting to the force a more intellectual and better class of recruit.... Police administration here is now organised in a more humanitarian spirit than formerly, and a policeman is as much encouraged to prevent the necessity of an arrest as to effect an arrest."—Sir WILLIAM GENTLE (retiring chief of the Brighton Police Force, unofficially known as "Sir William Gentle's Gentlemen"), interviewed by "The Daily Sketch."]
O Robert, in our hours of crime Certain to nab us every time, Or, failing, fill a dungeon cell With someone who does just as well;
Now you're a gentleman in blue Provided with a princely screw, More is expected of you still; You must prevent us doing ill.
No longer is it deemed enough To slip the hand within the "cuff," To trap road-hogs and motor-bikes, Or merely to arrest Bill Sikes.
Thus, when you take position at The window of an empty flat, And Bill arrives to burgle it, Urge him his evil ways to quit;
Or, posted in a public bar, Where men drink too much beer by far, Before them you might firmly put The arguments of PUSSYFOOT;
Or, summoned to a scene of strife, Persuade the fellow with the knife By means of tactful reasoning That murder is not quite the thing.
The world would profit if you took A leaf from out the Parson's book, Becoming a judicious blend Of "guide, philosopher and friend."
Discard your truncheon for a tract; Strive to admonish ere you act; In Virtue's force enrol recruits And stamp out Belial with your boots.
* * * * *
ITEMS FROM ANYWHERE.
(After the model of most of the dailies, by our specially unreliable news service.)
It is reported that, owing to the present high price of labour, a German Zeppelin is to be loaned to the Government to carry out the demolition of the nineteen unnecessary City churches.
* * * * *
Arrested on a charge of loitering with felonious intent, Thomas Wrott, aged forty, of Featherleigh, Beds, stated that he was building a house.
* * * * *
Though the titles of all the pictures in a recent Vorticist exhibition were placed by a printer's error opposite to the wrong numbers in the catalogue, none of the visitors discovered the mistake.
* * * * *
Strike action is threatened in Manchester by the Amalgamated Society of Tyldesleys, several Lancashire wickets having been taken by non-union labour.
* * * * *
It is reported that Lord FISHER was recently traversing The Times with a belt of Biblical sentences when a cross-feed occurred, causing the action to jam.
* * * * *
A silver salver is to be presented to the Royal Automobile Club in token of gratitude by octogenarian villagers of Sussex.
* * * * *
"Experienced Cook-General Wanted; comfortable home; liberal outings; wages L40; policeman handy."—Welsh Paper.
Would it not have been more tactful to say, "Copper in kitchen"?
* * * * *
* * * * *
In stone perdurable and bronze austere We have bequeathed the memory of the dead Unto the yet unborn; "'their name,'" we said, "'Liveth for evermore'; each happier year Shall see, we trust, before the unmossed stone Love and Remembrance wed."
Though from dim hosts that narrow and recede Dear unforgotten eyes salute us still, Look back a moment, make our pulses thrill With the old music, though the festal weed Of Spring be cypress-girt, oblivion Will come, as Winter will.
Ah, not oblivion drowsing love and pain Into dull slumber; still we can retell How young blithe valour broke the powers of hell; We grope for hands that will not stir again In ours, hear still in every carillon The cadence of Farewell.
Not these things and not thus do we forget; But the informing spirit, the dream within And the high ardour that was half-akin To ancient faiths and half to hopes not yet Coherent, unperceived are surely gone, Like stars that dawnward set.
Though "their name liveth," the dream they died to bring Unto fruition eludes our fumbling hold; The Othman riders gallop to their old Red revels, and the seas are darkening Round all the Asian shores, while one by one Depart the sweets of Spring.
O you whom yet we mourn, for whom the song Of victory and sorrow dies not away, Well is it with you if beyond the grey Islands of sleep that you are met among No world-born memories win. May there be none! We have not remembered long.
Yet if beyond the sunset's golden choir, Instead of one august enduring sleep, There waits a life where memory shall keep Her ancient force and hope her old desire, Now, even now, on altars cleft and prone Rekindle the pure fire!
D. M. S.
* * * * *
"SCOUNDREL AND MAN OF LETTERS.
One of the Prizewinners in Our Article Competition."—Weekly Paper.
But ought an editor to give away his contributors like this?
* * * * *
"M. Deves, the leading French amateur [tennis] of the day, who was beaten in 1914 after 'une tutte a charne,' as the French say, will be competing."—Daily Paper.
The French have a lot to learn about their own language.
* * * * *
"Dr. —— will extract a tooth free from the person who will be kind enough to secure him an office in the Central district."
North China Daily News.
This is presumably meant as an inducement, but it sounds like a threat.
* * * * *
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
Tuesday, June 1st.—Tempted by the fine weather a good many Members had evidently determined that the country was good enough for them and that Westminster could wait. But Viscount CURZON was not of their number. Was it not on the glorious First of June, a hundred and twenty-six years ago, that his great-great-great-grandfather won victory for his country and immortal fame for himself? On such an anniversary he was obviously bound, no matter at what personal inconvenience, to show a like public spirit. Accordingly, with a full sense of responsibility, he addressed to the appropriate Minister this momentous question: "Whether any fried fish shops are now the property or under the control of the Ministry of Munitions; and if so how many?" The House paused in awed anticipation of the reply, but breathed again when Mr. HOPE announced that "No fried fish shops are now nor, so far as is known, were ever conducted by the Ministry of Munitions."
No other episode of Question-time rose to this high level. Next in importance to it were Mr. BALDWIN'S revelations on the subject of "conscience-money." It seems that in one particular instance it cost the Treasury eleven shillings to acknowledge the receipt of half-a-sovereign; but that was because the dilatory tax-payer insisted that the depth of his remorse could only be adequately exhibited by a notice in the "agony-column." In ordinary cases no charge is incurred.
Any conscientious Sinn Feiner who may have been fearing lest the recent destruction of Inland Revenue offices in Ireland should prevent the authorities from sending out the usual demand-notes, may now forward his contribution direct to the Treasury without hesitation. Mr. BALDWIN is doubtless relying upon the wide adoption of this practice, for he stated that, although the damage might cause delay in the collection, it was not expected that the ultimate yield of the tax would be seriously affected.
The discussion on the Navy Estimates was chiefly conducted by Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY, who made half-a-dozen set speeches, besides any number of informal interjections. To place them in order of merit would be impossible, but of single passages that which perhaps carried most conviction with his audience was the description of the pre-war Navy as "a sort of pleasant service into which the fools of the family could be put."
In the discussion on the Navy Estimates Rear-Admiral Sir REGINALD HALL, resisting a proposal to hand over the coastguards to the Board of Trade, surprised the House with the apparently reactionary statement that "we do not want to run the Navy in water-tight compartments."
Commander BELLAIRS, enforcing the point that administration must depend upon policy, recalled the fact that in his time "the Mediterranean outlook" had given way to "the North Sea outlook," and expressed the confident belief that we should next have "the Pacific outlook." Well, let us hope we may. At any rate the House agreed with the FIRST LORD that the best way to ensure it was to keep the Navy strong and efficient, for by half-past eight it had passed all the Votes submitted to it.
Wednesday, June 2nd.—Derby Day and an adjournment of the House of Commons! Mr. BALFOUR might well rub his eyes and wonder if there had been a revival of the Saturnian days when Lord ELCHO used annually to mount his favourite hobby and witch the House with noble horsemanship. But on this occasion the adjournment lasted only half-an-hour, and had nothing to do with Epsom. Chivalry, not sport, was its motive. The House merely wished to do honour to its Leader by assisting at the presentation of its wedding gift to Miss BONAR LAW (now Lady SYKES).
At Question-time Lord CURZON sought information regarding the British Naval Mission recently captured at Baku, and inquired whether the Government intended to continue negotiating with people who were keeping our men in prison. Sir JAMES CRAIG could not say anything on the question of policy, but to some extent relieved the anxiety of the House by stating that the last news of the prisoners was that they were seen playing football.
The complications of the Peace Settlement continue to increase. Thus President WILSON has consented to delimit the boundaries of Armenia, although the United States shows no desire to undertake the mandate for its administration. No doubt it is with the kindly intention of helping those dilatory Americans to make up their minds that Turkey has asked for an extension of time before signing the Treaty.
The placid progress of the Government of Ireland Bill through Committee was broken this afternoon when Captain COLIN COOTE proposed to hand over the control of the armed forces of the Crown in Ireland to the new Parliaments. His argument was in brief that these bodies must be given serious responsibilities which would compel them to unite. He wanted, as he said, to "infuse blood into their veins" at whatever risk—COOTE que coute.
The idea of providing a probably Sinn Fein Parliament in Dublin with submarines and aeroplanes did not appeal to the FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY, who was hotly rebuked for his lack of imagination by Captain ELLIOT. The fact that two young Coalitionists should have advocated such revolutionary ideas inspired another of Sir EDWARD CARSON'S gloomy variations on the theme that any form of Home Rule must lead ultimately to separation.
Thursday, June 3rd.—Sir HAMAR GREENWOOD, who took his seat on Tuesday, answered Irish questions for the first time. His manner was as direct and forceful as ever, but his matter, unhappily, consisted chiefly in the admission of unpleasant facts regarding recent attacks upon the police, with the invariable addition that "no arrests have been made."
The hon. baronet who sits for Nottingham is so much impressed with the necessity for economy that he ought to be known as Rees angustae. But he has no luck. Mr. FISHER offered the "frozen face" to his complaints that the State is giving free education at the Ministries to ex-Service men; and Mr. SHORTT was no more sympathetic to his plea that the new policewomen should be abolished.
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE, looking delightfully cool in a new grey suit, made a welcome reappearance after some weeks' absence. He gave a version of the KRASSIN negotiations—which, according to his account, had followed exactly the course marked out by the Supreme Council in Paris and San Remo—very different from that presented in a section of the Press, and he implied that the alleged perturbation of French public opinion only existed in the imagination of "certain newspapers which are trying to foment ill-feeling between two countries whose friendliness is essential to the welfare of the world." His most satisfactory pronouncement was that British prisoners must be released before trade with Russia would be resumed.
In spite of the absence of the regular Opposition the FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY is finding the Government of Ireland Bill a rather unhandy vessel to steer. He dares not concede too many powers to the new Parliaments lest he should be putting weapons into the hands of our Sinn Fein enemies; on the other hand, he cannot reduce them overmuch lest the Bill should cease to have any chance of conciliating Irish sentiment.
The dilemma arose acutely over the clause relating to the Irish police. When, if ever, should they be handed over to the new Government? The Bill said not later than three years after the appointed day. An amendment suggested "not earlier." Sir EDWARD CARSON thought the only fair thing would be to allow the police to retire on full pay directly the Bill came into force, instead of leaving them with a divided allegiance and control. Eventually, on the Government undertaking to modify their proposals, the clause was passed; but with so many matters to be adjusted on Report it looks as if it will be a LONG, LONG way to Tipperary.
* * * * *
PERCE MURGATROYD, MASTER BRICKLAYER.
BY ONE WHO KNEW HIM.
By the untimely death of the late Mr. Percival Murgatroyd we suffer the irreplaceable loss of our youngest and perhaps most talented master bricklayer. The story of his life is yet another example of genius triumphing over adversity. Perce Murgatroyd was born in a mean street. His father was a poor hardworking physician. Lacking the influence necessary for the introduction of his boy to some lucrative commercial calling he contrived at great self-sacrifice to educate him for the Civil Service.
The long hours of grinding toil and the complete lack of sympathy at home could not extinguish the divine fire of genius in the youthful Murgatroyd. Exhausted and hungry as he often was at the end of the day's work, he devoted his leisure to the study of bricks and mortar, and out of his scanty pocket-money he bought for himself first a trowel and later a plummet.
When I first made his acquaintance he was already, at the age of twenty-five, assisting a bricklayer's helper, and was fairly launched on a career of unbroken success which was to culminate in a master bricklayership at the record age of thirty-eight.
Some of the finest things Murgatroyd did are to be found in and around Tooting, a quarter which is becoming known as Murgatroyd's London; but there is scarcely a district which does not cherish some gem from his trowel. At Wanstead Flats, during some reparations to "Edelweiss Cottage," there was discovered under the plaster a party-wall which proved to be a genuine Murgatroyd. It is one of his early works, executed with his studied reserve of power, and is marred only by suggestions of the conventional haste of the early Georgian School, from which Murgatroyd had not in those days completely broken away. It is also worth while to make a pilgrimage to Walham Green, where all that is best and most typical of the Master—that effect he obtained of deliberate treatment of each individual brick—may be seen in a perfect little poem—an outhouse (unfinished).
The fame of Perce Murgatroyd is founded on the quality rather than the quantity of his output. To our eternal loss he suffered from a temperament. He worked only by fits and starts. He never overcame a superstition that "Monday was a bad day for good work." And he was too conscientious an artist to attempt anything on days when the sky was overcast and the light bad. Often too, when he had actually made a start, he would stand, smoking furiously, in front of his work waiting for an inspiration.
This habit of his was the primary cause of his premature end. Emerging from some such fit of abstraction he became aware that it was after twelve. Convivial spirit that he was, he hurried to join his colleagues at their dinner, displaying remarkable agility as he descended the scaffold. But the effort caused him to perspire, and he took a chill, from which he never recovered.
The keynote of Murgatroyd's character was simplicity. Unaided he rose to be pre-eminent as a bricklayer, but in private life he never became accustomed to the exclusive society to which by his genius he had won admittance. He never quite lost the mincing speech of the class from which he sprang, nor could he acquire facility in the vigorous mode of expression proper to his new and exalted station. "Not 'arf" and "'Strewf" ever came haltingly to his tongue, and to the last he struggled painfully with the double negative.
But the same indomitable courage which brought him to the top of his profession eventually served him in his adopted social sphere, and in the end he won through.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE BRAIN WAVE.
I hope William likes it, for he brought it on himself. As soon as the sad event was announced to me I discussed the matter most seriously with Araminta. "A situation of unparalleled gravity has arisen," I said, "with regard to the wedding of William. It is going to be carried out at Whittlehampton in top-hats. Picture to yourself the scene. Waterloo Station full of lithe young athletes of either sex arrayed for sports on flood and field, carrying their golf-clubs, their diabolo spools and their butterfly nets, and there, in the midst of them, me with my miserable coat-tails, the June sun glaring on my burnished topper, and in my hands the silver asparagus-server or whatever it is that I am going to buy for William. I tell you it isn't done. They will come round and mock me. They will titter at me through their tennis-racquets."
"Couldn't you wear a common or Homburg hat and carry your other in a hat-box?" she suggested in that bright helpful way they have.
"Amongst the severe economic consequences of the recent great war," I replied coldly, "was, if you will take the trouble to remember, the total loss of my top-hat box."
"Well, why not a white cardboard box, then?"
"No power on earth shall induce me to stand on Waterloo Station platform dandling a white cardboard box," I cried. "Waterloo indeed! It would be my Austerlitz, my Jena. I should never dare to read the works of 'Man about Town' again. Besides, what about my morning-coat?"
"Well, I could pin the tails of it up inside if you like. Or what about wearing an overcoat?"
"Your first suggestion makes me despair of women's future position in the economic sphere. The second I would consider if I could settle the hat problem."
And still thinking hard I rang up William.
"I suppose you couldn't possibly cancel this wedding of yours?" I asked when I had explained the impasse. Self-centred as usual, he flatly declined.
"Honestly, I don't see the difficulty at all," he went on. "I expect you'll look a bit of a mug anyhow, and probably there'll be lots of people on the platform dressed in morning-coats and top-hats."
"Nobody leaves London on a Saturday morning wearing top-hats," I assured him, "nobody. If I were coming in to London it would be quite a different matter. I might be an officer in the Guards, or M. KRASSIN proceeding to a deputation in Downing Street; but going out—no. Look here, why not make it a simple country wedding—sports coats and hayseed in the hair, and all that sort of thing?"
"Spats and white vest-slips will be worn by all the more prominent guests," he replied firmly.
"Well, hang it, have the thing in London, then," I implored, "and I'll promise to add the price of the return-fare to the cost of your wedding present."
"The bride's parents reside at Whittlehampton, and the wedding will take place from the home of the bride," he answered.
"You got that little bit out of The Morning Post," I said. "Couldn't you persuade the bride's parents to take a house in London? There's one just opposite us at only about thirty pounds a week. Stands in its own grounds, it does, and there's a stag's head in the hall. There's nothing like a stag's head for hanging top-hats on."
It was no good. You know what these young lovers are. Immersed in their own petty affairs, they can pay no proper attention to the troubles of their friends.
William rang off and left me once more a prey to harrowing despair. There were only three nights before the calamity took place, and I had terrible nightmares on two of them. In one I attended the wedding in a bowler hat and pyjamas, with carpet slippers and spats. In the other my top-hat was on my head and my vest-slip was all right, but I tailed off into khaki breeches and trench boots. On the third day a gleam of light broke and I rang up William again.
"I haven't quite settled that little hat problem I was talking to you about," I told him. "Look here—can you lend me your old top-hat-box?"
"Haven't got one," he replied. "In the chaos consequent upon Armageddon it somehow disappeared."
I breathed a sigh of relief.
Happily the morning of the wedding was cloudy and dull. I wore my oldest squash hat and coat and went to Whittlehampton carrying my present in my hand. As the train arrived the sun broke through the clouds, and I also emerged from my chrysalis and attended the ceremony in all the panoply that William's egotism had demanded. If it had not been too late to get into the list you would have seen this entry amongst the wedding gifts:—
"Mr. Herbert Robinson: Leather hat-box."
Perhaps if it had been a very full list it would have gone on:—
"Containing unique specimen of dappled fawn trilby headwear slightly moth-eaten in the crown."
As I explained to William, it is customary to give useful rather than ornamental gifts nowadays, but I could not refrain from adding a small sentimental tribute.
* * * * *
THE WESTERN LIGHTHOUSES.
Flashed Lizard to Bishop, "They're rounding the fish up Close under my cliffs where the cormorants nest; The lugger lamps glitter In hundreds and litter The sea-floor like spangles. What news from the West?"
Flashed he of the mitre, "The night's growing brighter, There's mist over Annet, but all's clear at sea; Lit up like a city, Her band playing pretty, A big liner's passing. Ay, all's well with me."
Flashed Wolf to Round Island, "Oh, you upon dry land, With wild rabbits cropping the pinks at your base, You lubber, you oughter Stand watch in salt water With tides tearing at you and spray in your face."
The gun of the Longships Boomed out like a gong, "Ships Are bleating around me like sheep gone astray; There's fog in my channel As thick as grey flannel— Boom-rumble!—I'm busy; excuse me, I pray."
They winked at each other As brother to brother, Those red lights and white lights, the summer night through, And steered the stray tramps out Till dawn snuffed their lamps out And stained the sea-meadows all purple and blue.
* * * * *
"Advertiser has Stole Skin, Russian Sables, for Sale."—Daily Paper.
This is what comes of opening up trade relations with the Bolshevists.
* * * * *
A provincial firm announces that it supplies "distinctive clothing for men." And a very necessary thing, too, in these days of sex equality.
* * * * *
"EX-SOLDIER requires Loan of L100. What interest? No lenders."—Daily Paper.
We should have thought "No interest! What lenders?" would have been more to the point.
* * * * *
[Among the Americans who will visit us this summer there may be some not familiar with our countryside types. Mr. Punch hopes the above will be useful.]
* * * * *
* * * * *
HOW TO PACIFY IRELAND.
(By a Student of anti-Coalition Political Psycho-Analysis.)
The announcement that a child of ten years old, recently described by the Willesden magistrate as "a remarkable example of a child kleptomaniac," has been handed over to an eminent specialist in psycho-pathology, has not yet received the attention that it undoubtedly demands. It is true that, in the beautifully alliterative phrase of one of our contemporaries, "with the exception of a penchant for petty peculations" the young offender "has always been a model girl, industrious and truthful," thus justifying the belief of the eminent specialist, that he could "wipe out the original sin" in her. But the child is mother to the woman, and those of us who have been gradually and conscientiously convinced of the total inadequacy of the Government's policy towards Ireland, cannot but recognise in this experiment an example which might be profitably followed in dealing with what—with all due deference to Hibernian susceptibilities—we are reluctantly driven to call the irregular conduct of certain sections of Irish society.
With the exception of a penchant for petty pin-pricks at the expense of the police, Ireland's behaviour has been exemplary in its industry and humanity. So averse were a large number of her sons from the employment of violence in any form that they refused to participate in warlike operations against the enemy that threatened our common Empire. So magnanimous was their charity that they found it impossible to credit the harsh and unchristian allegations levelled at the KAISER and his countrymen. But it could hardly be expected that so high-spirited and energetic a race could indefinitely pursue a course of inaction. The relentless logic which has always been a distinguishing feature of the Celt has impelled them, since the cessation of formal hostilities, to express their disapproval of a war waged in their interests by indulging in demonstrations—if so harsh a term may be permitted—directed against the regime which has secured them immunity from invasion, devastation and conscription, and at the same time afforded them exceptional opportunities for amassing wealth.
It must be reluctantly admitted that some of these ebullitions have bordered closely on what we may be forgiven for describing as indecorum. But the motive was undoubtedly a generous instinct of self-assertion. Ever since the days of CAIN, the first great self-expressionist, there have always been richly-organised natures to whom even fratricide is preferable to the dull routine of agricultural life.
None the less it is at least arguable that an indefinite extension and expansion of the conduct now prevalent in the Sister Isle might be fraught with consequences not altogether conducive to the longevity of the minority. And while sad experience has proved the futility of legislative panaceas there still remain the fruitful possibilities inherent in an application of the principles of psycho-pathological treatment based on the discoveries of FREUD. For our own part we are convinced that herein lies the only solution of Ireland's discontent.
Therefore let the Government at once withdraw all troops and munitions of war from Ireland, disband the R.I.C. and invite the leaders of the Sinn Fein movement and of the I.R.B. to submit to a course of psychiatric treatment conducted by an international board of specialists, from which all representatives of the belligerent Powers should be excluded, with possibly the exception of America. It seems incredible that such an offer should be refused. If it is we can only patiently acquiesce in the optimistic view of the famous Celtic chronicler, GIRALDUS CAMBRENSIS, that Ireland will be ultimately pacified just before the Day of Judgment—vix paulo ante diem judicii.
* * * * *
THE ART OF POETRY.
SOLUTION TO PROBLEM ON PAGE 446.
"It comes of my having a sniff."
* * * * *
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
From what is known of the tastes of Sir IAN HAMILTON it might have been supposed that he wrote his Gallipoli Diary (ARNOLD) lest his pen-hand should lose its cunning while wielding the sword. Indeed he tells us of a rumour among his officers "that I spend my time composing poetry, especially during our battles." But that he did not write for the sake of writing must be clear to anyone who reads the book, even if the author had not declared his motive in the preface. Here he admits that, though "soldiers think of nothing so little as failure," it was in fact the thought of possible failure that determined him, at the very start, to prepare from day to day his defence. Perhaps this is not quite the attitude of one who stakes all upon the great chance. In another significant passage of self-revelation he tells us how, on a tour of inspection in Egypt, he met RUPERT BROOKE, "the most distinguished of the Georgians." "He looked extraordinarily handsome ... stretched out there on the sand, with the only world that counts at his feet." Whether in ordinary times the world of art is or is not the "only world that counts," I cannot say, but I am certain that to a soldier entrusted with an enterprise of so great moment the only world that should have "counted" at that hour was the world of war. If the chapter which describes the failure that followed the landing in Suvla Bay exposes the incapacity of some of his officers to inspire their men with that little more energy which would have ensured a great victory, it seems also to expose a certain want of compelling personality in the High Command. But of the military questions here raised I make no pretence to judge, and in any case judgment has been passed on them already. The interest of the diary lies in its appeal as a human document. It is the apologia of a man who, for all his criticism, often apparently justified, of the authorities at home (there are passages which he must surely have suppressed if Lord KITCHNER had still been living), sets down scarce a word in malice and but few in bitterness of spirit; who appreciates at its high worth the devotion and gallantry of his officers and men; who, whatever qualities he may have lacked for his difficult task, reveals himself as loyal at heart and generous by nature.
* * * * *
Miss RUTH HOLT BOUCICAULT (a name with a double theatrical association) has written, in The Rose of Jericho (PUTNAM), a novel of American stage life which I should suppose comes as near to being a true picture as such stories can. She derives her title from the convenient habit of the desert rose of detaching itself from uncongenial or exhausted soil, subsiding into a compact mass and travelling before the wind to more profitable surroundings. It will be admitted that the author has at least hit upon a picturesque metaphor for a touring company, which on this analogy becomes a very garden of (Jericho) roses. Actually, however, she no doubt intended it to apply more to the disposition of her heroine, and in particular to her power of transferring her young affections, flower, leaf and root, from one object to another, with undiminished enthusiasm. Sheelah's capacity for being off with the old and on with the new is almost preternatural; her progress from stage-child to leading lady is accompanied by such various essays in unconventional domesticity that the reader may well experience a sense of confusion, or at least feel some difficulty in sustaining the first freshness of his sympathy. The story is at times almost startlingly American, as when the original betrayer of the heroine is excused on the ground that, being English, his morality would naturally not rise to native level (I swear I'm not laughing—see page 168); and so full of the idiom of the Transatlantic stage as to be a perfect vade mecum for visiting mimes from this side. For the rest, vivacious, wildly sentimental and obviously written from first-hand experience.
* * * * *
By calling her Potterism (COLLINS) "a tragi-farcical tract" Miss ROSE MACAULAY disarms our criticism that she conducts too heavy a discussion from too light a platform. I don't think the author of What Not is likely to write anything dull, anything I shan't be pleased to read. She has a keen eye, a candid soul, a sharp-pointed pen. She is deliciously modern. And she dislikes Potterism, which is sentimental lack of precision in thought. It is much more (or much less) than this, but I get the definition by inverting a phrase of her dedication. Potter, by the way, or Lord Pinkerton, as he is now, owns a series of newspapers "not so good as The Times nor so bad as The Weekly Dispatch" (guileless piece of camouflage this!), and Mrs. Potter ("Leila Yorke") is a novelist who might have written The Rosary. Two of the young Potters, Jane and Johnny, though they both when up at Oxford joined the Anti-Potter League, do not thereby escape being Potterites. They cling to materialistic Potter values. Whereas an aristocratic clergyman, a woman scientist, a Jew journalist (this last an admirable study) do in varying degrees contrive to avoid the deadly infection. This tract needed writing. I have a feeling that it could be better done and by ROSE MACAULAY. But it makes excellent reading as it is.... The pachyderm will wince, shake himself and be left grinning.
* * * * *
Mr. ARNOLD PALMER derives the title of My Profitable Friends (SELWYN AND BLOUNT) from a verse, new to me, in which the poet, apparently when launching her wares, concludes,
"But who has pain has songs to sell; My Profitable Friends, farewell!"
which I take to be the pleasantest way in the world of calling them pot-boilers. But whether they were so intended or not, there can be no question of the very agreeable dexterity that Mr. PALMER brings to the composition of his tales. Save for a few experiments (which I should call the least successful in the collection) his formula is not the episodical "slice of life," with crumbly edges. His choice is for the well-made, with usually some ingenious little twist at the finish, and (so to speak) a neatly tied bow to end all. As an instance of this kind I commend to your notice the admirably shaped little yarn called "Two-penn'orth." Mr. PALMER has a pretty wit (perhaps here and there a trifle thin), shown nowhere to better advantage than in "A Picked Eleven," one of the most entertaining, and at the same time human, short stories that I have ever read. Further, his tales are essentially of the friendly order, and the public will be in fault if they do not also prove profitable, since we have none too many writers capable of getting such deft results with the same economy of means.
* * * * *
In most stories constructed on the Enoch Arden principle one of the husbands or wives (whichever it may be of whom there are too many) is usually a very nasty person. Miss SOPHIE COLE, in The Cypress Tree (MILLS AND BOON), makes all three of her entangled characters quite attractive; in fact, though I fear she would not wish me to say so, I really liked the unsuccessful competitor better than the winner. Books made up of the little homely things which might happen to anybody and distinguished by their pleasant atmosphere have been Miss COLE's speciality in the past; this time she has, without abating a jot of her pleasantness, added a touch of the occult in the shape of an old black-letter volume which infects everyone who gets possession of it with a mildly insane determination to keep it. An honourable man steals it and a nice woman smacks her baby for holding it, so you can see how really baleful its influence must have been when you consider that they were both Miss COLE'S characters. A very little of the occult will excuse a good deal of improbability, and the small amount that has crept into The Cypress Tree does not spoil the effect of a truly "nice" tale.
* * * * *
As an admirer of the Spud Tamson books it irks me to have to say that Winnie McLeod (HUTCHINSON) contains too much solid sermon to appeal to me. I gather that R. W. CAMPBELL wants to show how dangerous life may be for a poor and beautiful girl, and as a warning Winnie can be confidently recommended. But sound and wholesome as the preaching is it seems to me more suitable for a tract than for a novel. Moreover it is not easy to feel full sympathy with a hero who is frankly called an Adonis, who "played a good bat at cricket," and also in a strenuous rugger match "dropped a beauty through the Edinburgh sticks." Altogether the picture suffers from the prodigious amount of paint that has been spent on it; yet I am confident it will afford edification to many people whose tastes I respect but cannot share.
* * * * *
"Ninety-six per cent. of men employed in the gas undertakings voted in favour of a strike. Four per cent. were against such action and the neutrals formed an infinitesimal number,"—Daily Paper.
A mere cipher, in fact.
* * * * *
"Required, immediately, man with intimate knowledge of colours to call on consumers with ochres from the French Alps."
Personally, we always prefer to consume raw umbers from the Apennines.
* * * * *
* * * * *
p. 1.: 'say' corrected to 'says' ... 'says a Government official.'