Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 158, May 19, 1920
Author: Various
Home - Random Browse


VOL. 158.

May 19th, 1920.


A Swedish scientist has invented a new building material called sylvenselosit. It is said to cost one-fifth the price of the building material in use in this country, which is known to the trade as wishyumagetit.


A folding motor-car is said to have been invented which has a greater speed than any other car. The next thing that requires inventing is a folding pedestrian to cope with it.


Berlin manufacturers are experimenting in making clothing from nettles. This is a chance that the nettle has long been waiting for.


A business magazine suggests that a series of afternoon chats with business men should be arranged. Our war experience of morning back chats at the grocer's is not encouraging.


The capture of General CARRANZA, says a Vera Cruz message, was a mistake on the part of General SANCHEZ. We trust this does not mean that they will have to start the thing all over again.


Those who understand the Mexican trouble say it is doubtful whether America can deal with this war until the Presidential election is over. One war at a time is the American motto.


We gather from a contemporary that people who have been ordering large stocks of coal in the hope of escaping the new prices will be disappointed. Still, they may get in ahead of the next advance.


The inventor of the silent typewriter is now in London. We seem to know the telephone which gave him the idea.


A man at Bow Street Court complained that the Black Maria which conveyed him there was very stuffy. Some prisoners say that this vehicle is so unhealthy as to drive custom away from the Court.


Fruit blight threatens to be serious this year, says a daily paper, and drastic action should be taken against the apple weevil. A very good plan is to make an imitation apple of iron and then watch the weevil snap at it and break off its teeth.


One North of England workman is said to be in a bit of a hole. It seems that he has mislaid his strike-fixture card.


Immediately after a football match at Londonderry, one of the players was shot in the leg by an opponent. The latter claims that he never heard the whistle blow.


Dr. EUGENE FISK, President of the Life Extension Institute, promises by scientific means to prolong human life for nineteen hundred years. If this is the doctor's idea of a promise we would rather not know what he would call a threat.


Wood for making pianos, says a weekly journal, is often kept for forty years. "And even this," writes "Jaded Parent," "is not half long enough."


With reference to the man who was seen laughing at Newport last week, it is only fair to point out that he was not a ratepayer, but was only visiting the place.


LARRY LEMON, says The Sunday Express, is considered to be better than CHARLIE CHAPLIN. As he is quite a young man, however, it is possible that he may yet grow out of it.


The Clerk of the oldest City Company writes to The Times to say that his Livery has resolved to drink no champagne at its feasts. Meanwhile other predictions as to the end of the world should be treated with reserve.


After the statement in court by Mr. Justice DARLING people contemplating marriage should book early for divorce if they want to avoid the rush.


"Why Marry?" says the title of a new play. While no valid reason appears to exist many declare that it is a small price to pay for the satisfaction of being divorced.


Three-fourths of the public only buy newspapers to read the advertisements, says a contemporary. It would be interesting to know what the others buy them for.


"Few people seem to realise," says a cinema gossip, "that Miss S. Eaden, the American film actress, is fond of tulips." We are ashamed to confess that we had not fully grasped this fact.


It appears that one newspaper has decided that May 24th shall be the opening date for ceasing to notice the cuckoo. Will correspondents please note?


"Things are unsettled in Ireland," says a gossip writer. We think people should be more careful what they say. Scandal like this might get about.


A certain golf club has petitioned the local Council for permission to play golf "in a modified form." Members who recently heard the Club Colonel playing out of the bunker at the seventh declare that no substantial modification is possible.


A new invention for motorists makes a buzzing sound when the petrol tank is getting low. This is nothing compared with the motor-taxes invented by the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, which make the motorist himself whistle.


In the opinion of a weekly paper no dog can stand the sound of bagpipes without setting up a howl. This only goes to prove, what we have always contended, that dogs are almost human.

* * * * *

* * * * *


(As viewed dispassionately by a looker-on.)

WHEN dog with dog elects to fight I take no hand in such disputes, Knowing how hard they both would bite Should I attempt to part the brutes.

So in the case of man and wife My rooted habit it has been, When they engage in privy strife, Never to go and barge between.

Nor do I join the fighting front When Liberal sections disagree, One on the Coalition stunt And one on that of Freedom (Wee).

Though tempted, when I see them tear Each other's eyes, to say, "Be good!" As an outsider I forbear, Fearing to be misunderstood.

Fain would I use my gift of tact And take a mediatorial line, But shrewdly recognise the fact That this is no affair of mine.

Yet may I venture to deplore A great tradition cheaply prized, And yonder, on the Elysian shore, The ghost of GLADSTONE scandalised.

But most for him I mourn in vain Whom Fate has dealt so poor a fist (Recalling SHAKSPEARE'S gloomy Dane, That solid-fleshed soliloquist)—

O cursed spite that he was born (ASQUITH, I mean) to close the breach And save a party all forlorn By mere rotundity of speech.

O. S.

* * * * *


My friend Arthur's hobby is the stupendous. He conceives himself to be the direct successor of the mediaeval travel-story merchants. War-tales, of course, are barred to him, for nothing is too improbable to have happened during the War, and all the best lies were used by professionals while Arthur was still serving. Once, however, in his career he has realised his ambition to be taken for a perfect liar, and that time he happened to be speaking the simple truth. I was his referee and he did it in this wise.

When ALLENBY was making his last great drive against the Turk, he was no doubt happy in the knowledge that Arthur and I were pushing East through Bulgaria to take his adversary in the rear. We pushed with speed and address, but just when it looked as if we should exchange the tactical for the practical we stopped and rusticated at the hamlet of Skeetablista, on the Turco-Bulgarian frontier.

Skeetablista was under the control of Marko and Stefan and an assorted following of Bulgar cut-throats. Although the mutual hatchet had been interred a bare three weeks we found ourselves among friends. Thomas Atkins was soon talking Bulgarian with ease and fluency, while his "so-called superiors," as the company Bolshevik put it, celebrated the occasion by an international dinner in Marko's quarters. The dinner consisted chiefly of rum (provided by us) and red pepper (provided by Marco and Stefan).

These latter were bright and eager youths from Sofia military academy, and while the rum and red pepper passed gaily round they talked the shop of their Bulgarian Sandhurst in a queer mixture of English and French. They made living figures for us of the KAISER, who had inspected them not long before, of FERDIE and of BORIS his son, and told moving tales of British gunfire from the wrong end. We countered with KITCHENER, LLOYD GEORGE and the British Navy, while outside in the night the Thracian wolves howled derisively at both alike.

"I should like plenty to travel away and see the other countries," said Marko, rolling us cigarettes after dinner. "This is a good country, but ennuyant. 'Ow the wolfs make plenty brouhaha to-night, hein? Stefan, did you command the guard to conduct our frien's 'ome?"

Stefan waggled his head from side to side in assent.

"Yes," continued Marko, "to see Italie, Paris, Londres. Particulierly Londres."

"I live in London," Arthur remarked.

"You live?" said Marko with interest. "Tell me, 'ow great is Londres?"

"How great?" repeated Arthur, doubtful what kind of greatness was indicated, moral or material.

"Oui, 'ow great? From one side to the other side?"

"Oh, I see," replied Arthur, and took thought. "About twenty-five kilometres, I suppose."

"Twenty-five!" Marko's eyes rounded with astonishment. "Ecoute, Stefan; vingt-cinq kilometres."

"But—but," demanded Stefan, "'ow many people is there?"

"About six millions," replied Arthur, swelling with pleasure. At last he had found his incredulous audience.

"But that is a nation! I do not know if there are so many in all Bulgarie," cried Marko. "'Ow do they travel? No droski could go so far—it is a day's march. But perhaps you 'ave tramway? In Sofia we 'ave tramway," he added, not without pride.

"There are trams, but most of the people travel in buses——"

"Bussesse?" interjected Stefan. "Qu' est-ce que c'est, bussesse?"

"Lorries—camions. Big automobiles containing many people. And there are also underground railways, railways under the ground in a tunnel. You know tunnels?"

"Oui, galleria. But a railway under a town—mon Dieu!" said Marko, appalled. "'Ow do the people descend to it?"

"In lifts—ascenseurs. From the street."

Stefan nodded assent. "I 'ave seen ascenseurs at Sofia," he said.

"In these tunnels," continued Arthur, visibly warming to his work, "trains go to all parts of the town every three minutes, and the cost is only twenty statinki. The streets above are paved with wood."

"With wood! Kolossal!" said Marko, forgetting our prejudice against Bosch idiom in his wonder at this crowning marvel.

To what lengths of veracity Arthur would have gone I never knew, for at that moment a trampling of feet and a hoarse command outside announced the arrival of our escort, and Marko, still in a sort of walking swoon of amazement, went out to give them their orders.

Stefan regarded us with twinkling eyes.

"Ah, farceur!" he remarked, shaking his finger waggishly at Arthur. "I know all the time you make the joke, but poor Marko, you 'ave deceived 'im absolument. Railway under the ground, streets of wood, 'e swallow it all. Oh, naughty Baroutchik!"

The wolves did not come near us and our escort on our way home, but they could have had Arthur for the taking. At the moment he had nothing left to live for.

* * * * *

"Johannesburg tramway men started a lightning strike on Thursday owing to the suspension of a conductor."—Daily Paper.

It seems a logical reason.


"Do not waste any time in entering for our 'Hidden' Geography Competition."

Daily Paper.

Thanks for the advice; we won't.


"LINACRE LECTURE.—Dr. Henry Head, F.R.L., 'Aspasia and Kindred Disorders of the Speech.'"—Cambridge Calendar.

Yet this is the lady who is supposed to have inspired the most famous of PERICLES' orations.


"Furnished Railway Carriage in Surrey garden to Let; 3 beds; company's water, gas-cooker, and light: 2gs. weekly."

Daily Paper.

Miss DAISY ASHFORD seems to have foreseen this development when she wrote of Mr. Salteena's "compartments."

* * * * *

* * * * *

* * * * *


(By our tireless Political Penetrator.)

For some time past, I understand, the Government has been considering steps to bring the personalities of Cabinet Ministers more prominently into the public eye. "We are not sufficiently known," said Sir WILLIAM SUTHERLAND, who has the matter in hand, "as living palpitating figures to the man in the street. We do not grip the nation's heart. We lack pep."

I told him that it was a pity about pep. I felt that the Government ought to have pep. and plenty of it. If possible they ought to have vineg. and must. too.

"You are right," he said. "Occasional paragraphs in the Press, snapshots which take us very likely with one leg stuck out in front as if we were doing the goose-step, rare provincial excursions and bouquets from admiring mill-girls are all very well in their way, but they are nothing to constant personal appearances at stated times and in stated places before an admiring mob. The heroes of sport are overshadowing us," he continued with a sigh, pushing me over a box of cigars.

"What are you going to do about it?" I asked, lighting one and putting another carefully behind my ear.

"You must remember first," he replied, "that this is quite a modern difficulty. Statesmen of the past used to make their leisurely progress through the town surrounded by retainers on horseback, or in sedan-chairs, beautifully dressed and scattering largesse as they went. THOMAS A BECKET, the great Primate and Chancellor, used to have poor men to dine with him and crowds thronging round to bless him. To-day, I suppose, JOE BECKETT in his flowered dressing-gown would be a more popular figure than Lord BIRKENHEAD and the Archbishop of CANTERBURY, if you can imagine them rolled into one. In CHARLES II.'s reign, when politicians used to play pele-mele where the great Clubs are now, anyone could rub shoulders with my lord of BUCKINGHAM and, if he was lucky, get a swipe across the shins with the ducal mallet itself. That is the kind of thing we want now.

"I had thoughts of running popular excursions down to Walton Heath, but I am not sure that the people would care to go so far even to see Sir ERIC GEDDES carrying the home green and Lord RIDDELL—the Riddell of the sands, as we call him affectionately down there—getting out of a difficult bunker. So I am trying to arrange for a few putting greens in railed-off spaces in St. James's Park near the pelicans, and we also propose to hold there on fine summer days the breakfast parties for which the PRIME MINISTER is so famous. We shall make a point of throwing not only crumbs to the birds, but slices of bread and marmalade to the more indigent spectators. We shall also try to get two or three open squash racket courts in Whitehall, so that on hot summer days the most carping critic who watches a rally between Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN and the SECRETARY OF STATE for WAR will have to admit that we are doing our utmost to eliminate waste-products."

"But what about the clothes and the stately progress and the largesse?" I asked; the largesse idea had struck me with particular force.

"We are thinking of goat carriages and overalls for economy," he said, "and the largesse cannot, I am afraid, be allowed for in the Treasury Estimates. But we shall certainly scatter a handful or two of O.B.E.'s as we go."

"And how will you deal with the country and the outer suburbs?" I asked when my admiration had partially subsided.

"Ah, there you have the Cinema," replied Sir WILLIAM enthusiastically. "We are going to make great strides with the Cinema. Our first film, which is now in preparation, deals with the Leamington episode and has been very carefully staged. It has been necessary, of course, in the interests of art to elaborate the actual incidents to a certain extent. Coalition Liberals, for instance, were obliged to board the train in the traditional manner of the screen, leaping on to it whilst in motion and climbing, some by way of the brakes and buffers, some along the roofs of the carriages, into their reserved compartment. Then again we could not reassemble the actual gathering of Wee Frees to represent the enemy, but we secured the services of actors well trained in Wild West and "crook" parts, capably led by those two prominent comedians, Mr. Mutt and Mr. Jeff. The film ends, of course, with the second meeting at the Central Hall, Westminster, when Messrs. Mutt and Jeff again appear as comic and objectionable interrupters, and are ignominiously hurled into the street.

"Very soon we hope to have all important Parliamentary debates filmed. It will be essential, of course, to provide some comic relief, and we are relying confidently on certain Members to practise the wearing of mobile moustaches and to take lessons in the stagger, the butter slide, the business with the cane and the quick reversal of the hat."

"In short you think politics should be more spectacular?"

"That's it," he said. "HOBBS the mammoth hitter and a little less of the Leviathan."

Greatly impressed I bit off the end of his second cigar and went back to the office to look up Leviathan.


* * * * *

* * * * *


"The pastor of the —— Congregational Church has been ordered by his medical adviser to take a rest. The rev. gentleman is therefore spending a fortnight's holiday in Ireland."—Provincial Paper.


"During the period of waiting before the bridal party appeared, the organist played Wagner's 'Bridal Chorus,' and 'Cradle Song' (Guilmant)."—West Country Paper.

The organist seems to have been rather a forward fellow.


With the Polo-season imminent we feel that we must not withhold from intending players the admirable and disinterested advice given in an Indian Trade circular:—

"The skill of a polo player lies in his well management of horse in the turmoil of Play. Ill-weighed Polo sticks make the situation worse if the horse is not so kept.

We try our best to construct Polo sticks in such a way as may help the player in the blur of game and put him in a more progressing mood.

Make a real pleasure of your game and not labour as other sticks than ours would tend to make it. A fond player would like to give anything for a good stick."

* * * * *


(After "The Lake Isle of Innisfree," with sincere apologies to Mr. W. B. YEATS.)

I will arise and go now to Galway or Tralee And burgle someone's house there and plan a moonlight raid; Ten live rounds will I have there to shoot at the R.I.C. And wear a mask in the bomb-loud glade.

And I shall have great fun there, for fun comes fairly fast, Bonfires in the purple heather and the barracks burning fine, There midnight is a shindy and the noon is overcast And evening full of the feet of kine.

I will arise and go now, for always in my sleep There comes the sound of rifles and low moans on the shore; I see the sudden ambush and hear the widows weep, And I like that kind of war.


* * * * *


The only other occupant of the carriage was a well dressed man of middle age, clad in English clothes, but from many slight signs palpably a foreigner of some sort.

Soon after the train started I noticed that his mouth and throat were twitching and I surmised that he was about to speak. But speech is no term in which to describe the queer animal, vegetable and mineral sounds which issued from him. First his mouth opened slightly and he seemed about to sneeze. Next I was conscious of a scraping noise in his throat, accompanied by a slight ticking. It appeared that he was going to have a fit and I regretted that we were alone. The noise grew louder, took on speed and rose in a crescendo almost to a screech. Then a few more scrapes, as of a pencil on a slate, and I began to detect that he was speaking. His lips did not move, so that his voice had a curiously distant sound. Nevertheless the words were clearly audible.

The following is what he said in a low, metallic monotone: "Good morning, Sir. I am very pleased to meet you. Can you tell me what o'clock it is? I am much obliged. I wish to descend at Manchester. At what hour do we arrive there? There are few passengers to-day. The weather is fine. I beg your pardon if I do not make myself clear. I do not speak English perfectly as yet. No doubt I have need of much practice. Can I send a telegram from the next station? Is there a good hotel at Manchester? Will you do me the favour——"

"Stop," I cried, after having several times opened my mouth to answer one or other of his questions.

As soon as I spoke the words ended with a sudden click; the voice descended and became a scrape; at last silence.

"My dear Sir," said I, "I shall be happy to give you any information I can if you will ask one question at a time. You evidently speak English very well indeed."

His face lighted with approval of the compliment and then the whole performance began over again. Once more the wheeze, the scrape, the screech, the tick and all the rest of it. I became terrified at these painful impediments in his speech.

I remembered that somebody had once told me what to do on such occasions. It was either to throw the patient upon his back and move his arms up and down in a travesty of rowing or to slap him violently on the back. Seeing that the stranger was several times larger than myself I chose with diffidence the latter course. Rising to my feet I turned him round and thumped his back vigorously. He received the treatment with amiable smiles. Next he produced from his pocket a booklet, which he handed to me with a polite bow, desisting entirely from his menagerie noises.

I am of a nervous temperament and needed some minutes' rest in which to collect myself. Then I began to examine the stranger's gift.

It was a well-printed pamphlet, obviously an advertisement:—

"HOW TO LEARN FOREIGN LANGUAGES. The One Truly Scientific Method.

The only way to acquire the real accent of the native is to listen repeatedly to the language spoken by a native. With our phonograph No. 0034 and a selection of suitable records the student may listen for as many hours daily as he chooses to the voice of a native speaking his own language."

Lower down I saw: "Contents of Records. No. 1, At the Hotel; No. 2, At the Railway Station; No. 3, In the Train." Ah! there it was—the whole monologue:—

"Good morning, Sir. I am very pleased to meet you. Can you tell me——?"

The explanation relieved me; I turned to my fellow-traveller.

"My dear Sir," said I, "I congratulate you on being the perfect pupil. Your teacher, could it feel such emotions, would be proud of you. Only to an exceptional student can it be given so faithfully to reproduce 'His Master's Voice.'"

* * * * *


"You never see a decent figure-'ead, Not now," Bill said; "A fiddlin' bit o' scrollwork at the bow, That's the most now; But Lord! I've seen some beauties, more 'n a few, An' some rare rum uns too.

"Folks in all sorts o' queer old-fashioned rigs, Fellers in wigs, Chaps in cocked 'ats an' 'elmets, lords an' dukes. Folks out o' books, Niggers in turbans, mandarins an' Moors, And 'eathen gods by scores;

"An' women in all kinds o' fancy dresses— Queens an' princesses, Witches on broomsticks too, an' spankin' girls With streamin' curls, An' dragons an' sea serpents—Lord knows what I've seen an' what I've not!

"An' some's in breakers' yards now, thick with grime And weathered white wi' time; An' some stuck up in gardens 'ere an' there With plants for 'air; An' no one left as knows but chaps like me How fine wi' paint an' gold they used to be In them old days at sea."

C. F. S.

* * * * *


"According to present arrangements the Turkish Peace Treaty will be presented to the Turkish delegation on May 11 at 4 p.m. in the Cloak Room of the French Foreign Office."—Times.

These ceremonies are usually conducted in the Salon de l'Horloge, but the new venue was doubtless thought more appropriate for disposing of the Turkish impedimenta.

* * * * *


* * * * *


[We are privileged to-day to publish an unwritten chapter from Mr. H. G. WELLS' History of the World. It is entitled "The Slime Age," and has a topical interest since it outlines the methods of production of the Crisis, the only article of which the supply to-day exceeds the demand.]

Out of all this muddle and confusion and slipshod thinking there arose one man with a purpose, one man who fixed his eyes on a single inevitable goal and walked straight at it, not minding what or whom he trod upon on the way. His purpose was the mass-production of crises, and he created crises as rabbits create their young, nine at a time. In those fuddled incompetent days before the Great War the crisis was a little-known phenomenon. Here and there in the drab routine of peaceful corpulent years there flashed in the prosperous firmament the baleful light of a great anxiety. Agadir was one; CARSON and his gun-runners was another. But they were few; they came like rare comets and were forgotten.

Then in the Great War a new habit was born in the minds of the people, the habit of crises. Even then at first they came decently, in ordered succession—Mons, Ypres, the Coalition, Gallipoli. But the people's craving was insatiable; the people cried for more crises.

Then this man stood up and said to the people, "I will give you crises."

And he did. Instead of a casual crisis here and there, to every year a crisis or two, he gave them a crisis every month, every week, every day, and still they were not satisfied. And so, at last, out of all the muddle and waste and pettifogging stupidity this man created crises as men create matches, by the gross. And this was how he created them:—

Extract from "The Slime," April 3rd, a paragraph in the Foreign Intelligence:—

"BOBADIG, April 1st.

"A party of French mules, passing to their quarters in the vilayet of Arimabug, were to-day attacked by an Australian sheep on the staff of the British Military Mission. It is feared that many of the mules were injured. Feeling runs high among the peasantry, incensed already by the failure of the British Government to provide mosquito-nets for the sacred goats."

Extract from a leading article in "The Slime," April 6th, on Land Tenure in Wales:—

" ... Parliament to-day will be occupied with the preposterous Budget proposals, but we hope our legislators will find time to press the PRIME MINISTER for an explanation of the outrageous incident at Bobadig reported in our columns last week. There is only too good reason to fear that the policy of alternate violence and inertia, against which we have so often protested, has at last inflamed the law-abiding animals of Bobadig ..."

From "The Slime" Special Correspondent:—

BOBADIG, April 8th.

"Since my last message (much mutilated by the Censor) events have moved rapidly. Two of the mules have died of their injuries in hospital; three others lie in a dangerous condition at Umwidi, four miles away, where they fled for refuge from the wanton onslaught of the Australian sheep. This sheep, it now transpires, was the personal attendant of General Riddlecombe, Head of the Military Mission, a circumstance which is not calculated to allay the local animosity which the incident has aroused. The situation will require all the tact that the British Government can command."

Extract from the Special Crisis Column of "The Slime," April 11th:—


"In a telegram which we print in another column our Special Correspondent in Armenia confirms to-day the serious fears to which we gave expression in our issue of April 6th concerning the possibility of a crisis in Anglo-Armenian relations. The incident of the Bobadig mules is already bearing fruit, and we can no longer doubt that popular feeling in the vilayet of Arimabug has been dangerously inflamed by the obtuse procrastination of the British Government. These unfortunate mules...."

"SCRATCHIPOL, April 10th.

"Communications with Bobadig have broken down, but it is reported that a mule was buried there on Sunday in circumstances of great popular excitement. A large crowd followed the body to the cemetery and made a demonstration after the ceremony outside the house of the local veterinary surgeon, who is alleged to have treated the animal for mumps instead of sheep-shock, with fatal results."

From "The Slime," April 14th.—


"As we feared, a serious crisis has arisen in Anglo-Armenian relations. At Bobadig a third mule has perished and his interment was made the occasion of a great popular demonstration against the policy of Great Britain. In diplomatic circles no one is attempting to conceal that the situation is extremely grave. The PRIME MINISTER has returned to Downing Street from Le Touquet. Shortly after his arrival the Armenian Minister drove up in a motor-cab and was closeted with the PREMIER for a full ten minutes. After lunch, Lord Wurzel arrived in his brougham. At tea-time the Minister of Mutton-Control dashed up in a 24 'bus, followed rapidly by the Secretary of State for War on his scooter. Mr. Burble wore an anxious look...."

Extract from a leading article in "The Slime," April 16th:—


"We trust it is not already too late to appeal to the Government to extricate the Empire from the perilous position in which their wilful stupidity has placed it. The news from Bobadig is exceedingly serious. Another of the affronted mules has perished in circumstances of the foulest indignity; it only remains for the other two to die for the triumph of British statesmanship to be complete. These wretched creatures are being slowly sacrificed for the foolish whim of a British Prime Minister. No doubt remains that they have been subjected to sheep-shock by the savage bites of the Australian animal. The Government, blinded by its own infatuate folly and deaf to the storms of popular indignation in this country, continues to treat them for mumps.... By this test the Government will be judged at the forthcoming election. They must realise that the time for trifling is past. If the resources of the British Empire are unable at this date to combat the menace of sheep-shock among the loyal mules of Bobadig, then indeed.... At least we are entitled to ask for an explanation of the presence of an infuriated sheep on the staff of a British General. The PRIME MINISTER...."

From "The Slime," April 17th.—


The situation in Bobadig is easing rapidly. The Government has at last carried out the instructions of The Slime, and we understand that a Ministerial expert in sheep-shock has been sent to the assistance of the surviving mules. But while we may congratulate ourselves on the lifting of the clouds in that direction matters in West Ham give ground for the gravest anxiety. The wood-lice of West Ham are proverbially of an irritable nature, and the attitude of the Government has been calculated for some time to inflame...."

From "The Slime," April 19th.—



We are glad to report ..."

From "The Slime," April 20th.—




Once again we must warn the Government...."

And so on.

A. P. H.

* * * * *

* * * * *

"Three swift fierce rounds between Beckett and Wells and the 18,000 spectators at Olympia last night witnessed the close of yet another great ring drama."—Daily Chronicle.

"Beckett ... bowed more by instinct than of set purpose to the shouting, over-wrought people who from the floor of Olympia shot up to the ceiling."—Daily Telegraph.

We had no idea until we read these paragraphs that the spectators took such an active part in the proceedings.

* * * * *

* * * * *


"I am asked to the ball to-night, to-night; What shall I wear, for I must look right?" "Search in the fields for a lady's-smock; Where could you find you a prettier frock?"

"I am asked to the ball to-night, to-night; What shall I do for my jewels bright?" "Trouble you not for a brooch or a ring, A daisy-chain is the properest thing."

"I am asked to the ball to night, to-night; What shall I do if I shake with fright?" "When you are there you will understand That no one is frightened in Fairyland."

R. F.

* * * * *


Ashton and District Undertakers' Association have advanced the prices of hearse and carriages for funerals."—Yorkshire Paper.

If this is the kind of humour that appeals to our contemporary it should alter the heading to "Grave and Gay."

* * * * *

* * * * *


[Bolshevism and Communism claim many adherents among the young intellectuals at our ancient Universities.—Vide Press.]

I am a Socialist, a Syndicalist, an Anarchist, a Bolshevist—whatever you like to call me; if you wish to be precise, an International Communist.

Anyhow, as such I am opposed tooth-and-nail to the iniquity of the existing Competitive System. It is my intention to devote my life to its eradication, in whatever form it may be disguised, and to inaugurate an era of loving-kindness, peace, leisure and plenty, similar to that now enjoyed by the people of Russia.

But my duties do not lie only in the distant future; they are here, in the present, facing me in the University. For never, I think, was the unclean thing, Competition, so prevalent and unabashed as at Cambridge to-day.

Both in work and in sport is the evil rampant. Take as an example the reactionary custom of dividing the Tripos Honours List into three classes. Can you imagine anything more inducive to competition? Worse, it is a direct invitation to the worker—often, I am proud to say, unheeded—to exceed the one-hour-day for which we Communists are striving.

Even more deplorable is the competitive spirit in sport; more deplorable because more insidious. Even those whom we are wont to regard as our comrades and leaders are not always proof against the canker in this guise. I remember paying a visit to Fenner's, that fair field corrupted by competition, to raise my protest against inter-collegiate sports. To my indescribable grief and amazement I beheld one whom I had always followed and reverenced—a man of mighty voice oft lifted in debate—preparing to compete (mark the word) in a Three-Mile Race. "Stay, comrade," I cried. He heeded me not; moreover, it certainly appeared to me that he attempted—thank God, unsuccessfully—to win the race. Maybe I go too far in ascribing to him this desire to come in first, with a resultant triumph over his fellows; but was not his very entrance a countenancing of evil? Had he considered the feelings of bitter enmity inspired in the many who toiled behind him? And the encouragement to College rivalry!—a rivalry in no way differing from that between nations, save that College distinctions are, of course, less artificial.

It becomes obvious, I think, to every unprejudiced observer that most of the games now unfortunately so popular at the University—rowing, cricket, football and the like—must go. But let it not be assumed that the Communist is averse from recreation properly conducted; far from it. There is no possible objection to diabolo or top-spinning, for instance, and, though competitive marbles must not be played (whether on the Senate House steps or elsewhere), solitaire may be permitted as in no way provoking the deplorable spirit of rivalry.

Of other games the Communist will discard bridge, billiards and "general post"; and even "hunt-the-slipper" and "hide-and-seek" are not altogether free from the competitive taint. But an excellent game is open to him in "patience," while there is no pastime more indicative of the true Communistic spirit than "ring-a-ring o' roses," so long as proper care be taken that at the last "tishu" all the players collapse simultaneously.

* * * * *

* * * * *


Monday, May 10th.—But for the presence of a handful of Irish Peers and of Sir EDWARD CLARKE (looking little older than when he pulverised GLADSTONE'S second Home Rule scheme in 1893) you would never have thought that this was the first day in Committee of the Bill "for the better government of Ireland." The Ulstermen were on duty in full force, but the bench on which the Nationalists are wont to sit was, like their beloved country, "swarming with absentees."

Lord HUGH CECIL, like Harlequin, smote everyone impartially, one of his most telling strokes being the remark that the PRIME MINISTER could not distinguish between the art of winning an election and the art of governing a country; but otherwise his performance was about on a par with that of Mr. JACK JONES, who spoke against the Amendment and voted for it. Mr. BONAR LAW'S declaration that the Bill, however unacceptable to Ireland at the moment, furnished the only hope of ultimate settlement, coupled with the Ulster leader's promise that, much as he loathed the idea of a separate Parliament, he would work it for all he was worth, carried the day. Mr. ASQUITH'S Amendment was knocked out by 259 to 55.

In subsequent Amendments other Members attempted to emphasise the idea of ultimate union by calling the statutory bodies "Councils" instead of "Parliaments," and by setting up a single Senate to control them both. But they did not meet with acceptance. Captain ELLIOTT thought the first as absurd as the idea that you could make two dogs agree by chaining them together, and Mr. LONG dismissed the second with the remark (which shows how rapidly his political education has advanced since the Parliament Act) that he was in great doubt as to whether a Second Chamber was in itself a protection for minorities.

Tuesday, May 11th.—Lord LONDONDERRY moved the second reading of the Air Navigation Bill. An important part of the Bill relates to trespass or nuisance by aeroplanes. The rights of the property-owner usque ad coelum will obviously have to be considerably modified if commercial aviation is to be possible; but Lord MONTAGU entered a caveat against accepting the provisions of the Bill in this regard without close examination. Constant flying over a man's house or property might, as he said, constitute a serious nuisance. Imagine an "air-drummer," if one may so call him, hovering over a Royal garden-party and showering down leaflets on the distinguished guests.

The little coterie that is so nervously anxious lest this country should do anything to assist the Poles in their attacks on the Bolshevists was particularly active this afternoon. Even the SPEAKER'S large tolerance is beginning to give out. One of the gang announced his intention of repeating a question already answered. "And I give notice," said Mr. LOWTHER, "that if the hon. and gallant Member does repeat it I shall not allow it to appear on the Notice-paper."

Another hon. Member wanted to know why, if we were not helping the Poles, we kept a British mission at Warsaw. "Among other things," replied Mr. CHURCHILL, "to enable me to answer questions put to me here." A third sought information regarding the expenditure of the Secret Service money, and was duly snubbed by Mr. CHAMBERLAIN with the reply that if he answered the question the Service would cease to be secret.

The rejection of the Finance Bill was moved by Mr. BOTTOMLEY. In his view the CHANCELLOR was making a great mistake in trying to pay off debt, especially if it meant the taxation of such harmless luxuries as champagne and cigars. "Let posterity pay," was his motto. Still, if Mr. CHAMBERLAIN was determined to persist in his foolish course, let him give him (Mr. BOTTOMLEY) a free hand and he would guarantee to raise a thousand millions in a month. The best comment on this oration was furnished by Mr. BARNES, who strongly advocated a tax upon advertisements.

Wednesday, May 12th.—The prevalent notion that the only road a Scotsman cares about is that which leads to England cannot be maintained in face of Lord BALFOUR'S vigorous indictment of the Ministry of Transport for its neglect of the highways in his native Clackmannan. The Duke of SUTHERLAND was equally eloquent about the deplorable state of the Highlands, where the people were not even allowed telephones to make up for their lack of transport facilities. "Evil communications corrupt good manners," and there was real danger that the Highlanders would vote "Wee Free" at the next General Election. Appalled by this prospect, no doubt, Lord LYTTON hastened to return a soft answer, from which we learned that three-quarters of a million had already been allocated to Scottish roads, and gathered that the dearest ambition of Sir ERIC GEDDES was to share the fame of the hero immortalised in the famous lines:—

"Had you seen but these roads before they were made You would hold up your hands and bless General WADE."

Only Mr. KIPLING could do full justice to the story of the abduction, pursuit and recapture—all within thirty-six hours—of an English lady at Peshawar. Even as officially narrated by Mr. MONTAGU it was sufficiently exciting. The most curious and reassuring fact was that all the actors in the drama, abductors and rescuers alike, were Afridis. It is to be hoped that this versatile community includes a cinematograph operator, and that a film will, like the lady, shortly be "released."

The miners' representatives made an unselfish protest against the increase in the price of coal. Although it would justify them in demanding a further increase in their present inadequate wage they did not believe it was necessary or, at any rate, urgent. Sir ROBERT HORNE assured them that it was, and that the present moment—the season in happier days of "Lowest Summer Prices"—had been selected as the least inconvenient to the public.

Thursday, May 13th.—Ireland maintains its pre-eminence as the land of paradox. Among the hunger-strikers recently released from Mountjoy prison were (by an accident) several men who had actually been convicted. The House learned to its surprise that these men cannot be re-arrested, but are out for good (their own, though possibly not the community's); whereas the untried (and possibly innocent) suspects may be re-arrested at any moment.

The new Profiteering Bill, which, to judge by the criticisms levelled against its exceptions and safeguards, will be about as effective as its predecessor, was read a third time. So was the Health Insurance Bill, but not until a few Independent Liberals, led by Captain WEDGWOOD BENN, had been rebuked for their obstructive tactics by Mr. MYERS and Mr. NEIL MACLEAN of the Labour Party. As the small hours grew larger this split in the Progressive ranks developed into a yawning chasm, and the Government got a third Bill passed before the weary House adjourned at six o'clock.

* * * * *

* * * * *

"It has been arranged that the Speaker shall make the presentation of plate [to Miss BONAR LAW], and Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Asquith will take part."—Daily Chronicle.

It is hoped that they will leave a substantial portion for the bride.

* * * * *


To all of you who have begun to gaze pensively at railway posters, to furrow your brows over maps and guide-books, or hover sheepishly about the inquiry offices of Holiday Touring Agencies, I would whisper: "Go to a small farm and bask."

You will note that I say a small farm. A large farm has much that is pleasant and pungent about it, but to my mind you cannot bask properly on a large farm. You are too much in the way. The medley of barns, byres, styes, rods, poles and perches is a hive of restless energy. Unless you are walking about with a bucket or prodding something with a stick you feel you have no right to be there. On a large farm you are expected to accompany your host across a couple of ten-acre fields to look at his young wheat. Some people can tell what is the matter with a field of young wheat by merely leaning on a gate and glancing at it. Unless I can feel its pulse or take its temperature I cannot tell whether young wheat is suffering from whooping-cough or nasal catarrh. All I can do is to nod my head sagely and say that, considering the sort of Government we have got, it looks pretty flourishing. Then my host remarks that he has got a young bull in Bodger's Paddock (about three miles across country) that it will do my heart good to see. That is the worst of a large farm; anything you want is sure to be several fields away from you.

Now at the small farm which I recommend, but the address of which I am not going to give away, you may lie and bask by the duck pond and be quite in the picture. Further, if a sudden irresistible desire for something—a hoe or a cow, for example—should come over you, you have only to put out your hand and grab it. There is a compactness about the place. They do not put the cattle in odd fields five miles apart, but leave them to lounge round the duck pond or sit in the front garden, where they can be collected without effort. There are no energetic squads of farm-labourers; no bustling battalions of land-girls with motor-plough attachments. The outdoor staff is generally to be found sitting on a bucket by the duck pond rubbing at a bit of harness and looking decently rural. When he has rubbed the harness he stands up and looks at the young wheat. Then he turns round and glances at the mangel-wurzel field. If the appearance of it displeases him he reaches out for a rake and puts it right. Then he sits on the bucket again and has lunch.

When you go to bed at this farm you knock your head against the lintel of the sitting-room with a force corresponding to your height and vitality. Then you hit your head a second time when ascending the stairs and again on entering the bedroom. If you are a heavy breather you sweep the ceiling clear of flies and cobwebs while you sleep. At dawn, or possibly an hour or so before (for he is a nervously conscientious bird), the farm cock steps off the roof of the cow-shed on to your window-sill and bursts into enthusiastic admiration of himself and things in general. Some people of an egoistic and unimaginative temperament get up at once, in order that they may spend the rest of the day telling you how much they enjoyed the sunrise and what a fool you were to miss it. The true basker, on the other hand, declines to be a party to a procedure which destroys the whole poetry of dawn and reduces the proud chanticleer to the sordid status of an alarum-clock. He simply pushes the bird off the window-sill with his foot, turns over and goes to sleep. And later on, when the sound of other people knocking their heads against various portions of the building arouses him, he goes to sleep again.

* * * * *

* * * * *


Advt. in Provincial Paper.

To work on the Channel Tunnel?

* * * * *


(Famous Publisher's Great Scheme of Reconciliation.)

Hearing on good authority that Mr. Blinkingham, the well-known publisher, was about to launch an enterprise of a magnitude only comparable with that of the Ency. Brit. or the D.N.B., Mr. Punch hastened to headquarters for confirmation of the report, was graciously admitted to his presence and furnished with the following interesting details. Mr. Blinkingham, it may be mentioned, is at all points a finely equipped representative of his class, handsome, well-groomed and wearing his monocle with distinction. His sanctum is furnished with delightfully catholic taste—Louis Quinze furniture, a Japanese embossed wall-paper, pictures by BOTTICELLI and Mr. WYNDHAM LEWIS and statuettes of PLATO, VOLTAIRE and Mr. WELLS (the Historian, not the Bombardier).

After some preliminary observations on the deplorable condition of the pulp industry, Mr. Blinkingham unfolded his colossal scheme. "By way of preface," remarked the great literary impresario, "let me call your attention to the momentous statement made by the Editor of The Athenaeum in the issue of May 7th: 'We doubt whether there has ever been a generation of men of letters so startlingly uneducated as this, so little interested in the study of the great writers before them.' The Editor of The Athenaeum takes a most gloomy view of the situation, which is fraught with an atmosphere of hostility and suspicion inimical to a revival of criticism. Yet he sees in such a revival the only way of salvation, the only means of healing the internecine feud which is now convulsing the young literary world.

"For my own part I am convinced that a better way is to lure back the modernists to a study of great writers by presenting them in a more palatable form, not by compressing or abridging them—for that has been tried before—but by having them re-written in conformity with present-day standards by eminent contemporary writers. This notion had been germinating in my head for some time past, but I did not see my way clear until I read the luminous and epoch-making remark of Mr. C. K. SHORTER, that he would sooner have written Tom Jones than any book published these two hundred years. In a moment, in a flash, my scheme took shape. 'He shall write it, or rather re-write it,' I said to myself, and I have already submitted to this eminent man of letters my rough scenario of the lines on which FIELDING'S novel should be brought home to the Georgian mind. In reply he has made a counter-suggestion that the characters should be rearranged on a Victorian basis, CHARLOTTE BRONTE replacing Sophia, THACKERAY Mr. Allworthy, while the title-role should be assigned to an enterprising publisher. But I am not without hope that he will adopt my plan.

"The revival of interest in the works of RICHARDSON, the other great eighteenth-century novelist, is, I think I may safely say, a foregone conclusion. Miss DOROTHY RICHARDSON has enthusiastically welcomed the proposition that she should reconstruct the romances of her illustrious namesake, and confidently expects, on the basis of the method employed by her in The Tunnel, that she will be able to excavate at least a hundred volumes from the materials supplied in Sir Charles Grandison and Clarissa Harlowe.

"Nor shall we overlook the earlier masters. Professor CHAMBERLIN, whose thrilling lectures on QUEEN ELIZABETH and Lord LEICESTER have been the talk of the town for the last fortnight, has kindly undertaken to organise a new variorum version of the Plays of SHAKSPEARE, with the assistance of Mr. LOONEY, the writer of the recently-published and final work on the authorship of the plays. MILTON will be presented in both verse and prose, Mr. MASEFIELD having promised to re-write his epic in six-lined rhymed stanzas, shorn of Latinisms; while a famous novelist, who does not wish her name to appear at present, has consented to recast it in the form of a romance under the title of The Miseries of Mephistopheles.

"Returning to the eighteenth century, I am glad to be able to say that a brilliant reconstruction of POPE'S Dunciad is promised by the SITWELL family, in which the milk-and-water school is held up to ridicule, with TENNYSON in the place of dishonour formerly occupied by THEOBALD. With a magnanimity that cannot be too highly commended, the staff of The Times has undertaken to adapt another forgotten work under the title of Grey's Eulogy, with special reference to the work of the League of Nations.

"I confess to feeling rather doubtful as to the possibility of reviving any interest in the works of SCOTT, DICKENS and THACKERAY. They are at once too near and too far. Still I hope to persuade Miss REBECCA WEST to try her hand at Vanity Fair. Then there is GEORGE ELIOT, another uncertain quantity, though perhaps something might be made of The Mill on the Floss if it were renamed Tulliver's Travels, and given an up-to-date industrial atmosphere by Mr. ARNOLD BENNETT. I have my eye on Mr. LYTTON STRACHEY as the man who could make a fine modern version of Tom Brown's Schooldays. At the moment he is too busy with his Life of Queen VICTORIA, but I feel sure he will not lightly abandon so splendid an opportunity of unmasking the pedantry and pietism of Dr. ARNOLD and throwing the white light of truth on 'Rugby Chapel.'"

* * * * *



The robin helps to brighten Winter days And, if you listen carefully, he says, "Oh please, oh please do leave some crumbs for me;" It's greed, but still he says it cheerily.

The starling rolls his "r's" with unctuous joy And, preening, wonders whom he may annoy, Then imitates a hen, a water-fowl And next the "Be quick" of a white barn-owl.

The heron has a fierce and yellow eye And eats up all our fishes on the sly; There seems to be but one he deigns to like, For all I hear him say is simply "Pike."

Tree-creepers, like some busy brown field-mice, Unwearying chase the furtive fat wood-lice, Then round the oak-tree's bole they slyly peep And tell you what you thought you knew—"We creep."

This is the way the sparrow calls his mate; He says it early and he says it late, He says it softly, but he says it clear: "Come unto me, come unto me, my dear."

* * * * *


"Princess —— wore a black hat, a cloak of tailless ermine, and a black and silver toque."

Daily Telegraph.

"Then came Mrs. —— in a dull golf hat."

Daily Graphic.

As a protest, we suppose, against the other lady's extravagance in wearing a couple of hats.


"John ——, a coloured man, was charged with using obscure language in Maria Street. The magistrates fined him 5s."—Welsh Paper.

Most unfair! Lots of men do the very same thing in Parliament and get paid four hundred pounds a year for it.


Heading from pp. 516, 517 of Punch's official rival, The Telephone Directory:


We should ourselves have placed the asterisks after the word "THE."

* * * * *


* * * * *



This is a protracted discussion of a venerable topic and takes place in a sun-parlour, which I regret to say is the brightest thing about it.

John is a dollar-snob—it is John's parlour—and has two sisters, Jean and Helen. John is easily the heavy-weight champion in stage brothers. Sister Jean, who is entirely dependent on John, loves a poor man, but under John's guidance traps a rich one. Sister Helen (who has a job) also loves a poor man, but thinks marriage not good enough. This was, I imagine, due chiefly to living with John and Mrs. John. She may have got a touch of the sun-parlour. Her man is a terrific young scientist, who once with four colleagues deliberately let a dangerous Cuban mosquito nibble his arm. The colleagues died while Ernest survived, which I regretted. However he became demonstrator at the Institute of Bacteriology, with Helen as his assistant, and in the excitement of the imminent discovery of his new bacillus the two spend the night in the laboratory totally unchaperoned. The discovery saved thousands of American babes, but it ruined Helen's reputation.

Here the narrative becomes confused, but anyhow John, who was a trustee of the Institute, spent the three Acts in alternately sacking and reinstating Helen and Ernest, in thinking of a salary, doubling it, adding thousands of dollars to it and taking away the salary first thought of, together with the additions (and so da capo), according as he wished to prevent the marriage because of Ernest's poverty, or bring it off because of Ernest's disposition to take Helen to Paris (France) and dispense with empty rites, or postpone it to gain time, or, on the contrary, have it celebrated between the dressing and the dinner gongs in order to announce it to important members of the family, who, if I understood the butler aright, had already fallen on their food while host and hostess, two pairs of lovers, Uncle Everett and Cousin John were bickering in the sun-parlour.

Cousin Theodore, a guileless and dollarless clergyman, padded about on the outskirts of the discussion, making obvious remarks about the sanctity of marriage and enunciating the highest principles, which he promptly swallowed. But it was Uncle Everett, the judge (the only human figure in the bunch), who grasped the fact (long after I did, but let that pass) that the two principal young egotists simply loved being talked over at such gross length. To put an end to the business he used a trick whereby, apparently according to the law of the unnamed State in which the parlour was situate, the two were legally married without intending it. They had the tact to accept this solution, and this softened my heart towards them for the first time.

It was amusing to see Mr. AUBREY SMITH wondering how on earth he had got into this play, and Mr. A. E. GEORGE prowling about the stage intent apparently on showing how many ways there are of uttering "Pshaw!" and "Tut-tut!" or noise to that effect. It isn't as easy as it ought to be to do justice to players playing impossible parts; to Miss HENRIETTA WATSON struggling pluckily and skilfully with her Mrs. John; or to Mr. COWLEY WRIGHT or Miss ROSA LYND, so perfectly appalling did Ernest and Helen seem to me and so anxious was I to get them off to Paris respectably or otherwise. They never, by the way, gave me the faintest impression that they could ever have done work of any value in their laboratory.

I have no idea what the moral of this modern mystery play may be, but I did gather that the authoress was seriously perplexed, not perhaps in any startlingly new way, about the difficulties of marriage and the conventional hypocrisies that hedge round that honourable institution, but just forgot that serious argument cannot easily be conveyed through the medium of fantastically impossible and uninteresting people in an extravagantly farcical situation. The play was kindly received.


* * * * *

* * * * *


(From the Gaelic—with apologies to BON GAULTIER.)

Weefrees swore a feud Against the clan McGeorgy; Marched to Leamington To hold a pious orgy; For they did resolve To extirpate the vipers With thirty stout M.P.s And all the Northsquith "pipers."

"Lads," said HOGGE and BENN To their faithful scholars, "We shall need to fight To retain the dollars; Here's MHIC-MAC-NAMARA Coming with his henchmen, HEWART, KELLAWAY And several Front-Bench men."


"Coot-tay to you, Sirs," Said MHIC-MAC-NAMARA In a voice that reached From Leamington to Tara; "So you'd drum us out To enjoy your plunder, Adding to a crime Suicidal blunder."

But the brave Weefrees, Heedless of his bawling, Drowned him with the storm Of their caterwauling; So MHIC-MAC-NAMARA And the valiant KELLAWAY Gave some warlike howls And in haste got well away.

In this sorry style Died ta Liberal Party, Which in days of old Had been strong and hearty; This, good Mr. Punch, Is ta true edition; Here's your fery coot health And—bless ta Coalition!

* * * * *

Another Impending Apology.

"We are glad to be able to state in reference to our Pastor that, though much improved in health, he is still unfit to resume his work amongst us."— —— Congregational Magazine.


"This should bring joy to the heart of every resolutionary Socialist."

The Workers' Dreadnought.

All the Socialists we have met answer to this description.

* * * * *

* * * * *


(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)

I should certainly call Mr. COMPTON MACKENZIE our first living expositor of London in fiction. Indeed the precision with which, from his Italian home, he can recapture the aspect and atmosphere of London neighbourhoods is itself an astonishing feat. In The Vanity Girl (CASSELL) he has happily abandoned the rather breathless manner induced by the migratious Sylvia Scarlett, and returns to the West Kensington of Sinister Street, blended subsequently with that theatrical Bohemia in which Jenny Pearl danced her little tragedy. There is something (though by no means all) of the interest of Carnival in the new stage story; that the adventures of Dorothy lack the compelling charm of her predecessor is inevitable from the difference in temperament of the two heroines and the fact that Mr. MACKENZIE with all his art has been unable to rouse more than dispassionate interest in what is really a study of successful egotism. From the moment when, in the first chapter, we encounter Dorothy (whose real name was Norah) washing her hair at a window in Lonsdale Road, an eligible cul-de-sac ending in a railway line, beyond which a high rampart marked the reverse of the Earl's Court Exhibition panorama, to that final page on which we take leave of her as a widowed countess, sacrificing her future for the sake of an Earl's Court of a different genre, her career, sentimental, financial and matrimonial, is told with amazing vivacity but a rather conspicuous lack of emotional appeal. It is perhaps an unequal book; in parts as good as the author's best, in others hurried and perfunctory. One of our more superior Reviews was lately debating Mr. MACKENZIE'S command of the "memorable phrase." There are a score here that I should delight to quote, even if the setting is not always entirely worthy of them.


So long as "BERTA RUCK" will write for us such pretty books as Sweethearts Unmet (HODDER AND STOUGHTON), we need never feel ourselves dependent on America for our supply of sugary novels. This home-grown variety is just as sweet, and really, I think, may be guaranteed not only harmless but positively beneficial. The authoress has evidently a tender pity for the young men and women whom our social conditions doom either to have no companions among their contemporaries or only the wrong ones. Her heroine represents the too-much-sheltered girl alone in an elderly circle, her hero the lonely young man who has no means of getting to know people of his own sort (I can't say class, because the authoress seems rather uncertain about that herself). Her story is written in alternate instalments by "the boy" and "the girl," a method which encourages intimacy in the telling as well as a sort of gushing attention to the reader not so pleasant. Miss NORA SCHLEGEL has drawn a pretty picture of Julia and Jack to adorn the wrapper, and I can assure everyone who cares to know it that they are just as nice as they look; Jack's passion for abbreviation ("rhodos" for rhododendrons) being the only ground of quarrel I have with them or their creator.


In Passion (DUCKWORTH) Mr. SHAW DESMOND desperately wants to say something terrific about love, money and power. His violence makes one feel that one is reading under a shower of brickbats, and it is the effort of dodging these which perhaps distracts the mind from his message. (Is he a Marinettist, I wonder?) There are not enough words in the language for him, so he invents fresh ones at will; while as for grammar and syntax he passionately throttled them in Chapter I.; nor did they recover. I will own that notwithstanding all this the author has a way of making you read on to find out what it is all about. You don't find out; but there, life's like that, isn't it? The author's ideas of the operations of high finance are ingenuous. The Mandrill (do I rightly guess this to be a portrait distorted from the life?), who is out to corner copper and "do down" the Squid (head of the opposing copper group), is, if you are to judge by his passionate exuberance at board meetings, about as likely to corner the green cheese in the moon. I imagine the author saying, "Mandrills mayn't be like that, but that's how I see 'em. It's my vision and mood that matter. Take it or leave it." Well, on the whole I should advise you to take it, first putting on a sort of mental tin hat. You'll at least have gathered that Mr. DESMOND is a lively writer.


Of a war-story reviewed in these pages some months ago I remember taking occasion to say that the author had damaged his effect by a too obvious wish to injure the reputation of a certain cavalry brigade (or words to that effect). Well, a book that I have just been reading, The Squadroon (LANE), might in some sense be regarded as a counterblast to the former volume, since its writer, Major ARDERN BEAMAN, D.S.O., has admittedly intended it as a vindication of the work of the cavalry in the Great War. I can say at once that the defence could scarcely have found a better advocate. Major BEAMAN (who, I think superfluously, figures in his own pages in the fictional character of Padre) has written one of the most interesting records that I have read of personal experience on the Western Front. Partly this is explained by his fortunate possession of a style at once sincere, sanely balanced and always engaging. Also his story, apart from the matter of it, reveals in the men of whom he writes (and incidentally in the writer himself) a combination of just those qualities that we like to call essentially British. Cavalrymen of course will read it with a special fervour; but I am mistaken if its genial temper does not disarm even so difficult a critic as the ex-infantry Lieutenant—than which I could hardly say more. In short, The Squadroon is a belated war book in which the most weary of such matters may well recapture their interest.


Written in the last great ebb and flow of the War, when the censorship still prevented anything like carping criticism of matters near the battle-front, The Glory of the Coming (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) naturally resolves itself into a paean of praise of the French and British armies in general and the American troops in particular, both white and black. Mr. IRVIN S. COBB brings good credentials to his task, for he saw the advance of the German army through Belgium in 1914, and in this book he describes the combined resistance to their last great effort before defeat. The accident, if we may so call it, to the Fifth Army has had nowhere a more eloquent apologist. "They were like ants; they were like flies," he says of the Germans; "they left their dead lying so thickly behind that finally the ground seemed as though it were covered with a grey carpet." There are interesting strictures in the later chapters on some of the quaint semi-official delegations and personages who persuaded the United States Government to let them come over and visit the War; and there are a number of quite good yarns of the Yankee private, related in the Yankee style. But better than all the American stories I think I like that of the Bedfordshire soldier who, when asked by the writer to direct him to Blerincourt during the chaos of the great retreat, replied, "I am rather a stranger in these parts myself." Perhaps by the way I ought to make it quite clear that the title refers to the coming of the American troops, and that, although the line, "He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored," is also quoted in the prefatory stanza, there is nothing in the book about Mr. "PUSSYFOOT" JOHNSON.


I suppose the War did throw up a great number of worthy pomposities genuinely eager to serve their country in some conspicuous and applauded way, and old Mr. Thompson, the principal figure in Young Hearts (HODDER AND STOUGHTON), may be taken, on the authority of J. E. BUCKROSE, as an East Riding variant of the type. He had always some patent scheme for winning the War or improving the Peace, and no doubt deserved all the ragging he got, though I lost my zest in the matter before the author did. Mr. Thompson had two daughters: a minx (almost too minx-like for belief) and a never-told-her-love maiden of sterling worth. The latter marries the good-young-man-under-a-cloud (the cloud was, of course, a misapprehension or, alternatively, had a silver lining), though the minx shamelessly tried to "bag him," as she did every eligible male, the good sister tamely submitting under the impression apparently that the other was a perfect darling. I indeed seemed to be the only person who really understood what a little beast she was—and possibly the author, who finally allotted to her the beautiful unsatisfactory young man with the emotional tenor. Commended for easy seaside reading.

* * * * *


* * * * *

Waiter (with anticipative tact) to holiday customer. "ANY HORSE DOOVERS, SIR?"]

* * * * *


Home - Random Browse