PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
November 17th, 1920.
It is rumoured that a gentleman who purchased a miniature two-seater car at the Motor Show last week arrived home one night to find the cat playing with it on the mat.
* * *
It appears that nothing definite has yet been decided as to whether The Daily Mail will publish a Continental edition of the Sandringham Hat.
* * *
The matter having passed out of the hands of D.O.R.A., the Westminster City Council recommend the abolition of the practice of whistling for cabs at night. Nothing is said about the custom of making a noise like a five-shilling tip.
* * *
We shall not be surprised if Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN becomes the Viceroy of India, says a gossip-writer. We warn our contemporary against being elated, for it is almost certain that another Chancellor of the Exchequer would be appointed in his place.
* * *
During the Lord Mayor's Show last week we understand that the LORD MAYOR'S coachman was accompanied by the LORD MAYOR.
* * *
The licensee of a West Ham public-house has just purchased a parrot which is trained to imitate the bagpipes. The bird's life will of course be insured.
* * *
Ireland will have to be careful or she will be made safe for democracy, like the other countries.
* * *
Upon hearing that Mr. WILLIAM BRACE had accepted a Government appointment several members of the Labour Party said that this only confirmed their contention that his moustache would get him into trouble one day.
* * *
Mrs. STACKPOOL O'DELL warns girls against marrying a man whose head is flat at the back. The best course is to get one with a round head; after marriage it can be flattened to taste.
* * *
A man who persistently refused to give any information about himself was remanded at the Guildhall last week. He is thought to be a British taxpayer going about incognito.
* * *
The cackle of a hen when she lays an egg, says a scientist, is akin to laughter. And with some of the eggs we have met we can easily guess what the hen was laughing at.
* * *
The National Collection of Microbes at the Lister Institute now contains eight hundred different specimens. Visitors are requested not to tease the germs or go too near their cages.
* * *
A large spot on the sun has been seen by the meteorological experts at Greenwich Observatory. We understand that it will be allowed to remain.
* * *
Mr. RAYMOND FORSDIK, of Chicago, states that twelve times more murders are committed in Chicago than in London. But, under Prohibition, Satan is bound to find mischief for idle hands.
* * *
Canon F. J. Meyrick, of Norwich, is reported to have caught a pike weighing twenty-five pounds. In view of the angler's profession we suppose we must believe this one.
* * *
A curate of Bedford Park has had his bicycle stolen from the church, and as there were a number of people in the congregation it is difficult to know whom to blame.
* * *
"Shall Onkie Live?" asks a Daily Mail headline. We don't know who he is, but he certainly has our permission. We cannot, however, answer for Mr. BOB WILLIAMS.
* * *
With reference to the complaint that a City man made about his telephone, we are pleased to say that a great improvement is reported. The instrument was taken away the other day.
* * *
Discussing the remuneration of Cabinet Ministers a contemporary doubts whether they get what they deserve. This only goes to prove that we are a humane race.
* * *
Hatters say that the price of rabbit skins is likely to ruin the trade. Meanwhile the mere act of getting the skins is apt to ruin the rabbit.
* * *
"Mine," says General TOWNSHEND, "was a mission which NAPOLEON would have refused." We doubt, however, if Lord NORTHCLIFFE is to be drawn like that.
* * *
Dr. E. HALFORD ROSS, of Piccadilly, is of the opinion that coal contains remarkable healing powers. Quite a number of people contemplate buying some of the stuff.
* * *
"What does milk usually contain?" asks a weekly paper. We can only say it wouldn't be fair for us to reply, as we know the answer.
* * * * *
* * * * *
An Indomitable Spirit.
"Mr. ——'s tank held only —— Spirit during the whole climb and not satisfied with climbing up Snowdon Mr. —— then drove down again." Motoring Paper.
* * * * *
"WHY I DIDN'T GO TO THE BAR. By Horatio Bottomley." "John Bull" Poster.
Perhaps it was after hours.
* * * * *
"This upset Mr. Chesterton, a patriotic, beer-eating Englishman."—Sunday Paper.
We deplore the modern tendency to pry into the details of an author's dietary.
* * * * *
"What the word 'Democracy' was intended to mean was that every man should have to betrTcOshrdluesthafaodfabadofgarfaf." Local Paper.
We have long suspected this.
* * * * *
"MILWAUKEE.—Fourteen cases of whiskey, a large quantity of brandies, gin and wines were found stored in a bathhouse. It will be presented to the federal grand jury for action." Canadian Paper.
Not the obvious form of "direct action," we trust.
* * * * *
HOW TO VITALISE THE DRAMA.
A hint of what might be done by following the example of the Press.
["More than one actor-manager during the past few months has been searching round frantically in his efforts to find a new play." The Times.]
Oh, have you marked upon the breeze The wail of hunger which occurs When starved theatrical lessees Commune with hollow managers? "Where is Dramatic Art?" they say; "Can no one, no one, write a play?"
I cannot think why this should be, This bitter plaint of sudden dearth; To write a play would seem to me Almost the easiest thing on earth. Sometimes I feel that even I Could do it if I chose to try.
What! can this Art be in its grave Whose form was lately so rotund, Whose strength was as a bull's and gave No sign of being moribund? I'm sure my facts are right, or how Do you account for Chu Chin Chow?
As for the gods, their judgment shows No loss of flair for grace or wit; We see the comic's ruby nose Reduce to pulp the nightly pit, Whose patrons, sound in head and heart, Still love the loftiest type of Art.
Nor should the playwright fail for lack Of matter, if with curious eyes He follows in our Pressmen's track, Who find the source of their supplies In Life, that ever-flowing font, And "give the public what they want."
If authors, moving with the times, Would only feed us, like the Press, On squalid "mysteries," ugly crimes, Scandals and all that carrion mess, I see no solid reason why Dramatic Art should ever die.
* * * * *
II.—MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL.
If it be urged that a few trifling inaccuracies have crept into the sketch which is here given of a great statesman's personality I can only say, "Humanum est errare," and "Homo sum: humani nihil alienum a me puto." These two Latin sentences, I find, invariably soothe all angry passions; you have only to try their effect the next time you stamp on the foot of a stout man when alighting from an Underground train.
Of all the present-day politicians, and indeed there are not a few, upon whose mantelpieces the bust of NAPOLEON BONAPARTE is displayed, Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL is probably the most assiduous worshipper at the great Corsican's shrine. How often has he not entered his sanctum at the War Office, peering forward with that purposeful dominating look on his face, and discovered a few specks of dust upon his favourite effigy. With a quick characteristic motion of the thumb resembling a stab he rings the bell. A flunkey instantly appears. "Bust that dust," says the WAR MINISTER. And then, correcting himself instantly, with a genial smile, "I should say, Dust that bust."
But NAPOLEON'S is not the only head that adorns Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL'S room. On a bookshelf opposite is a model of his own head, such as one may sometimes see in the shop windows of hatters, and close beside is a small private hat-making plant, together with an adequate supply of the hair of the rabbit, the beaver, the vicuna and similar rodents, and a quantity of shellac. Few days pass in which the WAR MINISTER does not spend an hour or two at his charming hobby, for, contrary to the general opinion, he is far from satisfied with the headgear by which he is so well known, or even with the Sandringham hat of The Daily Mail, and lives always in hopes of modelling the ideal hat which is destined to immortalise him and be worn by others for centuries to come. The work of a great statesman lives frequently in the mindful brain of posterity, less frequently upon it.
Other mementos which adorn this remarkable room at the War Office are a porcelain pot containing a preserve of Blenheim oranges, a framed photograph of the Free Trade Hall at Manchester, a map of Mesopotamia with the outpost lines and sentry groups of the original Garden of Eden, marked by paper flags, and a number of lion-skin rugs of which the original occupants were stalked and killed by their owner on his famous African tour. In his more playful moments the WAR MINISTER has been known to clothe himself completely in one of these skins and growl ferociously from behind a palm at an unwelcome intruder.
Of the man himself perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic is dynamic energy. Whether other people's energy is ever dynamic I do not know, but undoubtedly Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL'S is; he dominates, he quells. He is like one of those people in the papers with zig-zags sticking out all over them because they have been careful to wear an electric belt. He exudes force. Sometimes one can almost hear him crackle.
As a politician it is true he has not yet tried every office; he has not, for instance, been Chancellor of the Exchequer, though his unbounded success in the Duchy of Lancaster amply shows what his capabilities as a Chancellor are. But as a soldier, a pig-sticker and a polo-player he is rapidly gaining pre-eminence, and as an author and journalist his voice is already like a swan's amongst screech-owls. (I admit that that last bit ought to have been in Latin, but I cannot remember what the Latin for a screech-owl is. I have an idea that it increases in the genitive, but quite possibly I may be thinking of dormice.)
Anyhow, to return to Mr. CHURCHILL'S room: whilst the floor is littered with volumes that have been sent to him for review, his desk is equally littered with proofs of essays, sermons, leaders and leaderettes for the secular and Sunday Press. As a novelist he has scarcely fulfilled his early promise, but it is on record that he was once introduced to a stranger from the backwoods, who asked ignorantly, "Am I speaking to the statesman or the author?"
"Not or, but and," replied the SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR, with a simple dignity like that of ST. AUGUSTINE.
To poetry he is not greatly attached, preferring to leave this field of letters to his staff. When asked for his favourite passage of English verse he has indeed been known to cite a single line from Mr. HILAIRE BELLOC'S Modern Traveller—
"That marsh, that admirable marsh!"
which is far from being Mr. BELLOC'S most mellifluous effort.
We feel bound to ask what is most likely to be the next outlet for Mr. CHURCHILL'S ebullient activity. Remembering that bust upon his mantelpiece it is hard to say. There are some who consider that, prevented by the sluggishness of our times from the chance of commanding an army in the field, he may turn his strategic mind at last to the position of Postmaster-General. If he does there can be no man better fitted than he to make our telephones hum.
* * * * *
"A.—Comme vous voudrai.—P."
Agony Column in Daily Paper.
Taking advantage of "P.'s" kindness we may say that we prefer "voudrez."
* * * * *
"A TRUE FISHING STORY.
Lady —— is surprising everyone with her skill as an angler and a shot. Last Friday, I am told, she caught two trout weighing 2-3/4 lb. and 3-1/4 lb. And on the same afternoon she got a right and a left hit at a roebuck with a small four-bore gun!"—Daily Paper.
Not caring to believe that she mistook a roebuck for an elephant, we are glad to note that the epithet "true" is only applied to the "fishing" part of the story.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
"THE GRAVE OF THE BOORZH-WAW-ZE."
[The following folk-song is believed to be a local (and adult) version of the ballad which, according to The Times, is now being sung by Communist children in the Glasgow Proletarian Schools, with the refrain:—
"Class-conscious we are singing, Class-conscious all are we, For Labour now is digging The grave of the Boorzh-waw-ze."
The metre is a bit jumpy, and so are the ideas, but you know what folk-songs are.]
Look, we are digging a large round hole, With a Hey and a Ho and a Hee-haw-hee! To put the abominable tyrant in— The Minister, the Master, the Mandarin; And never a bloom above shall blow But scarlet-runners in a row to show That this is the grave of the Boorzh-waw-ze, With a Hi-ti-tiddle-i! ... Honk, honk!
Who do we put in the large round hole, With a Hey and a Ho and a Hee-haw-hee? The blackcoat, the parasite, the keeper of the laws, Who works with his head instead of with his paws; The doctor, the parson, the pressman, the mayor, The poet and the barrister, they'll all be there, Snug in the grave of the Boorzh-waw-ze, With a Hi-ti-tiddle-i! ... Honk, honk!
Dig, dig, dig, it will have to be big, With a Hey and a Ho and a Hee-haw-hee! One great cavity, and then one more For the bones of the SECRET'RY OF STATE FOR WAR; The editor, the clerk and, of course, old THOMAS, We wring their necks and we fling them from us Into the grave of the Boorzh-waw-ze, With a Hi-ti-tiddle-i! ... Honk, honk!
Peace and Brotherhood, that's our line, With a Hey and a Ho and a Hee-haw-hee! But nobody, of course, can co-exist In the same small planet with a Communist; Man is a brotherhood, that we know, And the whole damn family has got to go Plomp in the grave of the Boorzh-waw-ze, With a Hi-ti-tiddle-i! ... Honk, honk!
Too many people are alive to-day, With a Hey and a Ho and a Hee-haw-hee! Red already is the Red, Red Sea With the blood of the brutal Boorzh-waw-ze, And that's what the rest of the globe will be— Believe me! We'll stand at last with the Red Flag furled* In a perfectly void vermilion world With the citizens (if any) who have not been hurled Into the grave of the Boorzh-waw-ze, With a Hi-ti-tiddle-i ... Honk, honk!
A. P. H.
[* NOTE.—In the Somerset version the word is "unfurled," which makes better sense but scans even worse than the rest of the song. I have therefore followed the Gloucestershire tradition.]
* * * * *
SOURCES OF LAUGHTER.
"It will have to be a great deal funnier than that before it's funny," said George.
This represented the general opinion, though Edna, who has a good heart, professed to find it diverting already. Unfortunately she has no sense of humour.
Jerry, the writer, claimed exemption on the ground of being the writer, though he did not see why his article should not remove gravity (as they say in The Wallet of Kai Lung) from other people quite as effectually as the silly tosh of A. and B. and C., naming some brilliant and successful humorists.
The company then resolved itself into a Voluntary Aid Detachment.
When they met again at tea Edna made the suggestion of a sprinkling of puns.
"We've got rather beyond that, I think," said the victim with dignity.
"I'm not so sure," said George cruelly, "that you can afford to neglect any means. Some people laugh at them even now, in this twentieth century, in this beautiful England of ours."
"And I can tell you why," broke in Raymond eagerly. He took from his pocket a well-known Manual of Psychology and whirled over the pages.
"Meanwhile," said George learnedly, "BERGSON may be of some assistance to you. He knows all about laughter. He analysed it."
"Why couldn't he leave it alone?" said Allegra uneasily.
"He defines laughter," said George, "as 'a kind of social gesture.'"
"It isn't," said Allegra rashly. "At least," she added, "that sort of thing isn't going to help Jerry. Do give it up."
"Well, then, here's something more practical," said George. "Listen. 'A situation is always comical when it belongs at one and the same time to two series of absolutely independent events, and can at the same time be interpreted in two different ways.'"
"I should think," said Edna brightly, "that might be very amusing."
She remarked later that it made it all seem very clear, but even she showed signs of relief when Raymond interrupted, having found his place.
"Here we are!" he exclaimed. "The book says that the reason a pun amuses you——"
"It doesn't amuse me," said most of the company.
"But it does—it must amuse you. It's all down here in black and white. Listen. The reason a pun amuses you is as follows: 'It impels the mind to identify objects quite disconnected. This obstructs the flow of thought; but this is too transient to give rise to pain, and the relief which comes with insight into the true state of the case may be a source of keen pleasure. Mental activity suddenly obstructed and so heightened is at once set free, and is so much greater than the occasion demands that——'"
"And is that why we laugh at things?" said Allegra sadly.
The heavy silence which followed was broken by the voice of Mrs. Purkis, the charlady, who "comes in to oblige," and was now taking a short cut to the front gate, under Cook's escort, by way of the parsley bed. This brought her within earshot of the party, who were taking tea on the lawn.
When Mrs. Purkis could contain her mirth so as to make herself understood, her words were these: "I dunno why, but when I see 'im stand like that, staring like a stuck pig, I thought I'd died a-larf'n. I dunno why, but it made me larf——"
She passed, like Pippa.
"Listen to her," said Allegra in bitter envy. "She doesn't know why."
And Allegra burst into tears.
* * * * *
* * * * *
What's in a Name?
"'A Recital' will be given by Miss H. E. Stutter (the well-known Elocutionist)."
* * * * *
AT THE BLOATER SHOW.
The last time I was at Olympia—as everybody says at the door—it was a Horse Show. But this time it is much the same. There they stand in their stalls, the dear, magnificent, patient creatures, with their glossy coats and their beautiful curves, their sensitive radiators sniffing for something over the velvet ropes. Panting, I know they are, to be out in the open again; and yet I fancy they enjoy it all in a way. It would be ungrateful if they did not; for, after all, the whole thing has been arranged for them. The whole idea of the Show is to let the motors inspect the bloaters—and not what you think. (You don't know what bloaters are? Well, I can't explain without being rude.)
All the year round they can study ad nauseam their own individual bloaters; but this is the only occasion on which they have the whole world of bloaters paraded in front of them for inspection. Now only can they compare notes and exchange grievances.
And how closely they study the parade! Here is a pretty limousine, a blonde; see how she watches the two huge exhibits in front of her. They are very new bloaters, and one of them—oh, horror!—one of them is going to buy. He has never bought before; she knows his sort. He will drive her to death; he may even drive her himself; he will stroke her lovely coat in a familiar, proprietary fashion; he will show her off unceasingly to other bloaters till she is hot all over and the water boils in her radiator. He will hold forth with a horrible intimacy and a yet more horrible ignorance on the most private secrets of her inner life. Not one throb of her young cylinders will be sacred, yet never will he understand her as she would like to be understood. He will mess her with his muddy boots; he will scratch her paint; he will drop tobacco-ash all over her cushions—not from pipes; cigars only....
There—he has bought her. It is a tragedy. Let us move on.
Here is a little coupe—a smart young creature with a nice blue coat, fond of town, I should say, but quite at home in the country. She also is inspecting two bloaters. But these two are very shy. In fact they are not really bloaters at all; they are rather a pair of nice-mannered fresh herrings, not long mated. The male had something to do with that war, I should think; the coupe would help him a good deal. The lady likes her because she is dark-blue. The other one likes her because of something to do with her works; but he is very reverent and tactful about it. He seems to know that he is being scrutinised, for he is nervous, and scarcely dares to speak about her to the groom in the top-hat. He will drive her himself; he will look after her himself; he will know all about her, all about her moods and fancies and secret failings; he will humour and coax her, and she will serve him very nobly.
Already, you see, they have given her a name—"Jane," I think they said; they will creep off into the country with her when the summer comes, all by themselves; they will plunge into the middle of thick forests and sit down happily in the shade at midday and look at her; and she will love them.
But the question is——Ah, they are shaking their heads; they are edging away. She is too much. They look back sadly as they go. Another tragedy....
Now I am going to be a bloater myself. Here is a jolly one, though her stable-name is much too long. She is a Saloon-de-Luxe, and she only costs L2,125 (why 5, I wonder—why not 6?) I can run to that, surely. At any rate I can climb up and sit down on her cushions; none of the grooms is looking. Dark-blue, I see, like Jane. That is the sort of car I love. I am like the lady herring; I don't approve of all this talk about the insides of things; it seems to me to be rather indecent—unless, of course, you do it very nicely, like that young herring. When you go and look at a horse you don't ask how its sweetbread is arranged, or what is the principle of its liver. Then why should you...?
Well, here we are, and very comfortable too. But why does none of these cars have any means of communication between the owner and the man next to the chauffeur? There is always a telephone to the chauffeur, but none to the overflow guest on the box. So that when the host sees an old manor-house which he thinks the guest hasn't noticed he has to hammer on the glass and do semaphore; and the guest thinks he is being asked if he is warm enough.
Otherwise, though, this is a nice car. It is very cosy in here. Dark and quiet and warm. I could go to sleep in here.
* * * * *
What? What's that? No, I don't really want to buy it, thank you. I just wanted to see if it was a good sleeping-car. As a matter of fact I think it is. But I don't like the colour. And what I really want is a cabriolet. Good afternoon. Thank you....
A pleasant gentleman, that. I wish I could have bought the Saloon. She would have liked me. So would he, I expect.
Well, we had better go home. I shan't buy any more cars to-day. And we won't go up to the gallery; there is nothing but oleo-plugs and graphite-grease up there. That sort of thing spoils the romance.
Ah, here is dear Jane again! What a pity it was—— Hallo, they have come back—the two nice herrings. They are bargaining—they are beating him down. No, he is beating them up. Go on—go on. Yes, you can run to that—of course you can. Sell those oil shares. Look at her—look at her! You can't leave her here for one of the bloaters. He wavers; he consults. "Such a lovely colour." Ah, that's done it! He has decided. He has bought. She has bought. They have bought. Hurrah!
A. P. H.
* * * * *
THE PREMIER'S METAPHORS.
Some time ago the PREMIER beheld the sunrise upon the mountains, and now he has plunged his thermometer into the lava to discover that the stream is cooling—indicating comfort, let us hope, to any who may be buried beneath it. Only by an oversight, we understand, did he omit to mention in his speech at the Guildhall that the chamois is once more browsing happily among the blooming edelweiss.
But in continuing his lofty metaphors Mr. LLOYD GEORGE will find himself confronted by no small difficulty when dealing with the glacier. What can he say that the glacier is doing? It must do something. A glacier is of no rhetorical value if it merely stays where it is. One may take in hand the ice-axe of resolution and the alpenstock of enterprise and pull over one's boots the socks of Coalition, but the glacier remains practically unchanged by these preparations. It would be of little use to declare that its uneven surface is being levelled by the steam-roller of progress and its crevasses filled in by the cement of human kindness, because the Opposition Press would soon get scientists, engineers and statisticians to establish the absurdity of such a claim. And to announce that the glacier is getting warmer would create no end of a panic among the homesteads in the valley. Unless he is very, very careful Mr. LLOYD GEORGE may make a grave slip in negotiating the glacier.
Then the "awful avalanche" has not yet been dealt with. A few helpful words on the direction this is likely to take and the safest rock to make for when it begins to move might be welcomed by the PREMIER'S followers. He may argue that it is folly to meet trouble half-way, but on the other hand, if he does not speak on this subject soon, the opportunity may disappear. Let him avoid the glacier if he chooses; he cannot (so we are informed) escape the avalanche.
* * * * *
"WHAT'S YOURS?" "THINK I'LL HAVE A COLLAR."
"TWO COLLARS, PLEASE—SEVENTEENS." "CHEERIO!"
"NOW YOU MUST HAVE ONE WITH ME. WHAT ABOUT AN EVENING SHIRT?" "NO, NO, IT'S TOO EARLY." "THE SAME AGAIN, THEN?" "WELL, PERHAPS A SOFT ONE THIS TIME."
"SAME AGAIN, PLEASE—ONLY SOFT."
"BYE-BYE! SEE YOU AGAIN SOON."]
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE SAYINGS OF BARBARA.
The man who sets out to expose popular fallacies or to confound time-honoured legends is bound to make enemies.
The latest legend I have been privileged to explore is not the product of superstition and slow time, but a deliberately manufactured growth of comparatively recent origin. It is concerned with Barbara, not the impersonal lady who figures in the old logic-book doggerel, but an extremely live and highly illogical person to whom for half a decade I have had the honour to be father. It is also concerned with Barbara's Aunt Julia and, in a lesser degree, with Barbara's mother.
From the time (just over three years ago) when Barbara first attempted articulate speech I have been bombarded with reports of the wonderful things my daughter has said. In the earlier years these diverting stories, for which Julia was nearly always cited as authority, reached me through the medium of the Field Post-Office, and, being still fairly new to fatherhood, I used proudly to retail them in Mess, until an addition was made to the rule relating to offences punishable by a round of drinks.
On my brief visits home I would wait expectantly for the brilliant flashes of humour or of uncanny intelligence to issue from Barbara's lips, and her failure during these periods to sustain her reputation I was content to explain on the assumption that I came within the category of casual visitors. But I have now lived in my own home for over a year, and Barbara and I have become very well acquainted. She talks to me without restraint, and at times most engagingly, but seldom, if ever, does she give utterance in my hearing to a jeu d'esprit that I feel called upon to repeat to others. Nevertheless until a few days ago I was still constantly being informed—chiefly by Barbara's aunt and less frequently by her mother—of the "killing" things that child had been saying. I grew privately sceptical, but had no proof, and it was only by accident that I was at last enabled to prick the bubble.
Julia (who besides being Barbara's aunt is Suzanne's sister) had come to tea and was chatting in the drawing-room with Suzanne (who besides being Julia's sister is Barbara's mother and my wife) and Barbara (whose relationship all round has been sufficiently indicated). The drawing-room door was open, and so was that of my study on the opposite side of the passage, where I was coquetting with a trifle of work. The conversation, which I could not help overhearing, was confined for the most part to Julia and Barbara, and ran more or less on the following lines:—
Julia. Where's Father, Babs?
Barbara. In the libery.
Julia. Working hard, I suppose?
Julia. Or do you think he's sleeping? (No answer.) Don't you think father's probably asleep half the time he's supposed to be working?
Barbara. Probly. What you got in that bag?
Julia. I expect that big armchair he sits in is just a weeny bit too comfy for real work.
Barbara. I've eated up all those choc'lates you did bring me.
Julia. Perhaps we'll find some more presently. Do you think Father writes in his sleep?
Barbara. Yes, I fink he does.
Julia. Listen to her, Suzie. I expect really he only dreams he's working. Don't you, Babs?
At this point I thought it advisable, for the sake of preserving the remnants of my parental authority, to come in to tea. Julia was handing Barbara a packet of chocolate, and greeted me with an arch inquiry as to whether I had been busy writing. I replied with a hearty affirmative.
"You ought to hear what your daughter has been saying about you," said Julia.
"Oh, and what does Barbara say?" I asked.
"She says that when Father sits in that stuffy little room of his he usually writes in his sleep. She really does take the most amazing notice of things, and the way she expresses herself is quite weird."
"So Barbara says I write in my sleep?"
"Yes, you heard her, didn't you, Suzie? Oh, and did I tell you that the other day, during that heavy thunderstorm, she said that the angels and the devils must be having a big battle and that she supposed the angels would soon be going over the top?"
"Come here, Barbara," I said.
Barbara, who at her too fond aunt's request had been granted the privilege of taking tea in the drawing-room, stuffed the better half of a jam sandwich into her mouth and came.
"Do you see those rich-looking pink cakes?" I asked her. "You shall have one as soon as we've had a little talk."
"The biggest and pinkiest one?" demanded Barbara.
"Yes. Now tell me—don't you think that people ought always to speak the truth, and to be especially careful not to distort the remarks of others?"
"Yes. Can I have the one with the greeny thing on it?"
"Certainly, in a minute. And don't you think that women are much more careless of the truth than men?"
"Yes. Can I——"
"Do you love your Aunt Julia?"
"Cos she always has got choc'lates in her bag."
"But don't you think it's much more important to have the truth in your heart than chocolates in your bag?"
"Yes. Now can I have my pink cake?"
I released and rewarded her, and Julia prepared to speak her mind. Fortunately, however, just at that moment my brother Tom, who is Barbara's godfather, came in.
"Why, what a big girl we're getting!" he observed to Barbara in his best godfatherly manner. "I suppose we shall soon be going to school?"
"Oh, no, not yet awhile," I interposed. "The fact is she's already far too forward, and we think it a good thing to keep her back a bit. You'd never believe the amazing remarks she makes. Just now, for instance, we happened to be discussing the comparative love of truth inherent in men and women, and Barbara chipped in and told me she thought women were far more careless of the truth than men."
"Good heavens!" said Tom, who is a bachelor by conviction. "She certainly hit the nail on the head there."
"Yes, and she added that she herself prized truth above chocolates."
"It sounds almost incredible," gasped Tom.
"Doesn't it? But ask Julia; she heard it all. And Julia will also tell you what Barbara remarked about my work."
But Julia, who was already gathering her furs about her, followed up an unusual silence by a sudden departure.
From what Suzanne has since refrained from saying I am confident that I've broken the back of one more legend, and saved Barbara from the fate of having to pass the rest of her childhood living up (or down) to a spurious halo of precocity.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Another Impending Apology.
"DEPARTURE OF THE LIEUT.-GOVERNOR. ENTHUSIASTIC SCENES."
Channel Islands Paper.
* * * * *
"Indeed, it is simple to understand why the Canadian portion of the audience almost rise from their seats when Fergus Wimbus, the 'Man,' says, 'Canada is the land of big things, big thoughts, bing hopes."—Provincial Paper.
Not forgetting the "Byng Boys" either.
* * * * *
["A LADY is willing to give a thoroughly-good HOME to a GRAND PIANO (German make preferred), also a COTTAGE, for anyone going abroad."—Morning Paper.]
A GRAMOPHONE of small to medium age can be received as p.g. in select RESIDENTIAL HOTEL. Young, bright, musical society. Separate tables.
* * * * *
WILL any LADY or GENTLEMAN offer hospitality on the Cornish Riviera for the winter months to an EX-SERVICE CORNET suffering from chronic asthma (slight)?
* * * * *
BAG-PIPES (sisters) in reduced circumstances owing to the War, seek sit. as COMPANIONS or MOTHER'S HELPS, town or country.
* * * * *
From a list of forthcoming productions:—
"THEATRE ROYAL, ——. Boo Early."
* * * * *
* * * * *
When the docks are all deserted and the derricks all are still, And the wind across the anchorage comes singing sad and shrill, And the lighted lanthorns gleaming where the ships at anchor ride Cast their quivering long reflections down the ripple of the tide,
Then the ships they start a-yarning, just the same as sailors do In a hundred docks and harbours from Port Talbot to Chefoo, Just the same as deep-sea sailormen a-meeting up and down In the bars and boarding-houses and the streets of Sailor-town.
Just the same old sort of ship-talk sailors always like to hear— Just the same old harbour gossip gathered in from far and near, In the same salt-water lingo sailors use the wide world round, From the shores of London river to the wharves of Puget Sound,
With a gruff and knowing chuckle at a spicy yarn or so, And a sigh for some old shipmate gone the way that all men go, And there's little need to wonder at a grumble now and then, For the ships must have their growl out, just the same as sailormen.
And they yarn along together just as jolly as you please, Lordly liner, dingy freighter rusty-red from all the seas, Of their cargoes and their charters and their harbours East and West, And the coal-hulk at her moorings, she is yarning with the best,
Telling all the same tales over many and many a time she's told, In a voice that's something creaky now because she's got so old, Like some old broken sailorman when drink has loosed his tongue And his ancient heart keeps turning to the days when he was young.
Is it but the chuckling mutter of the tide along the buoys, But the creak of straining cables, but the night wind's mournful noise, Sighing with a rising murmur in among the ropes and spars, Setting every shroud and backstay singing shanties to the stars?
No, the ships they all are yarning, just the same as sailors do, Just the same as deep-sea sailors from Port Talbot to Chefoo, Yarning through the hours of darkness till the daylight comes again, But oh! the things they speak of no one knows but sailormen.
C. F. S.
* * * * *
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
Monday, November 8th.—To allay the apprehensions of Sir JOHN REES the PRIME MINISTER informed him that the League of Nations can do nothing except by a unanimous decision of the Council. As the League already includes thirty-seven nations, it is not expected that its decisions will be hastily reached. Now, perhaps, the United States may think better of its refusal to join a body which has secured the allegiance of Liberia and of all the American Republics save Mexico.
The daily demand for an impartial inquiry into Irish "reprisals" met with its daily refusal. The PRIME MINISTER referred to "unfortunate incidents that always happen in war"—the first time that he has used this word to describe the situation in Ireland—and was confident that the sufferers were, with few exceptions (Mr. DEVLIN, who complained that his office had been raided, being one of them), "men engaged in a murderous conspiracy." He declined to hamper the authorities who were putting it down. Taking his cue from his chief, Sir HAMAR GREENWOOD excused his lack of information about recent occurrences with the remark that "an officer cannot draw up reports while he is chasing assassins." Tragedy gave way to comedy when Lieutenant-Commander KENWORTHY observed that the proceedings were "just like the German Reichstag during the War." "Were you there?" smartly interjected General CROFT.
The Government of Ireland Bill having been recommitted, Sir WORTHINGTON EVANS explained the Government's expedient for providing the new Irish Parliaments with Second Chambers. Frankly admitting that the Cabinet had been unable to evolve a workable scheme—an elected Senate would fail to protect the minority and a nominated Senate would be "undemocratic"—he proposed that the Council of Ireland should be entrusted with the task.
Having regard to the probable composition of the Council—half Sinn Feiners and half Orangemen—Colonel GUINNESS feared there was no chance of its agreeing unless most of them were laid up with broken heads or some other malady. Sir EDWARD CARSON, however, in an unusually optimistic vein, expressed the hope that once the North was assured of not being put under the South and the South was relieved of British dictation they would "shake hands for the good of Ireland." The clause was carried by 175 to 31.
On another new clause, providing for the administration of Southern Ireland in the event of a Parliament not being set up, Mr. ASQUITH declared that "this musty remainder biscuit" had reduced him to "rhetorical poverty." Perhaps that was why he could get no more than ten Members to follow him into the Lobby against it.
Tuesday, November 9th.—In supporting Lord PARMOOR'S protest against the arrest, at Holyhead, of an English lady by order of the Irish Executive, Lord BUCKMASTER regretted that there was no one in the House of Lords responsible for the Irish Office, and consequently "they were always compelled to accept official answers." A strictly official answer was all he got from Lord CRAWFORD, who declared that the arrest had been made under the authority of D.O.R.A., and gave their Lordships the surely otiose reminder that "conditions were not quite simple or normal in Ireland just now."
Mr. SHORTT has formed his style on the model of one of his predecessors in office, who used to be described as the Quite-at-Home Secretary, and he declined to share Colonel BURN'S alarm at the prevalence of revolutionary speeches. Hyde Park, he reminded him, had always been regarded as a safety-valve for discontented people. Even Mr. L'ESTRANGE MALONE'S recent reference to Ministers and lamp-posts did not at that moment disturb him.
The new Ministry of Health Bill had a rather rough passage, and, if the voting had been in accordance with the speeches, it would hardly have secured a second reading. Particular objection was raised to the proposal to put the hospitals on the rates. Mr. MYERS, however, was sarcastic at the expense of people who thought that "rates and taxes must be saved though the people perished," and declared that there was plenty of war wealth to be drawn upon.
Lieut.-Colonel HURST objected to the term "working-class" in the Bill. It would encourage the Socialistic fallacy that the people of England were divided into two classes—the leisured class and the working class; whereas everybody knew that most of the "leisured class" had no leisure and many of the "working-class" did no work.
Wednesday, November 10th.—The Peers welcomed Lord BUXTON on his advancement to an earldom, and then proceeded to discuss the rights of the inhabitants of Heligoland. Having been handed over to Germany against their will in 1890, they hoped that the Treaty of Versailles would restore them to British nationality. On the contrary the Treaty has resulted in the island being swamped by German workmen employed in destroying the fortifications. Lord CRAWFORD considered that the new electoral law requiring three years' residence would safeguard the islanders from being politically submerged, and wisely did not enter into the question of how long the island itself would remain after the fortifications had disappeared.
In the Commons the INDIAN SECRETARY underwent his usual Wednesday cross-examination. He did not display quite his customary urbanity. When an hon. Member, whose long and distinguished Indian service began in the year in which Mr. MONTAGU was born, ventured to suggest that he should check Mr. GANDHI'S appeals to ignorance and fanaticism, he tartly replied that ignorance and fanaticism were very dangerous things, "whether in India or on the benches of this House."
Mr. STEWART expressed anxiety lest under the new arrangements with Egypt the Sudan water-supply should be subjected to Egyptian interference. Mr. HARMSWORTH was of opinion that for geographical reasons the Sudan would always be able to look after its own water-supply; vide the leading case of Wolf v. Lamb.
Thursday, November 11th.—The PRIME MINISTER was in a more aggressive mood than usual. Mr. DEVLIN, who was noisily incredulous as to the existence of a Sinn Fein conspiracy with Germany in 1918, was advised to wait for the documents about to be published. To make things even, an ultra-Conservative Member, who urged the suspension of Mr. FISHER'S new Act, was informed that the PRIME MINISTER could conceive nothing more serious than that the nation should decide that it could not afford to give children a good education.
Any doubts as to the suitability of Armistice Day for the Third Reading of the Government of Ireland Bill were removed by the tone of the debate. The possibility that the "Unknown Warrior" might have been an Irishman softened the feeling on both sides, and though Mr. ADAMSON feared that the Bill would bring Ireland not peace but a sword, and Mr. ASQUITH appealed to the Government to substitute a measure more generous to Irish aspirations, there was no sting in either of their speeches. The PRIME MINISTER, while defending his scheme as the best that could be granted in the present temper of Southern Ireland, did not bang the door against further negotiations; and Sir EDWARD CARSON said that Ulstermen were beginning to realize that the Parliament thrust upon them might be a blessing in disguise, and expressed the hope that in working it they would set an example of tolerance and justice to all classes. Barely a third of the House took part in the division, and no Irish Member voted for the Third Reading, which was carried by 183 votes to 52; but, having regard to the influence of the unexpected in Irish affairs, this apparent apathy may be a good sign. After thirty-five years of acute strife, Home Rule for Ireland is, at any rate, no longer a party question.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Jones minor wants to know if the letter "T," used to designate the new super-bus, stands for "TARQUINIUS."
* * * * *
THE GREAT IDEA.
Perkins has got hold of a brilliant idea. He explained it to me in the Tube yesterday.
"Our little world," he said, "is turned topsy-turvy."
"Knocked absolutely sideways," I replied.
"Those who were rich in the old days," said Perkins, "haven't two sixpences to rub together, and the world's workers are rolling in Royces and having iced meringues with every meal. What follows?"
"Indigestion," I said promptly.
"Everybody," he said, ignoring my jeu d'esprit, "feels like a fish out of water, and discontent is rife. The newly-poor man wishes he had in him the stuff of which millionaires are made, and the profiteer sighs for a few pints of the true ultramarine Norman blood, as it would be so helpful when dealing with valets, gamekeepers and the other haughty vassals of his new entourage. And that is where my scheme comes in. There are oceans of blue blood surging about in the veins and arteries of dukes and other persons who have absolutely no further use for such a commodity, and I'm sure lots of it could be had at almost less than the present price of milk. So what is to prevent the successful hosier from having the real stuff coursing through the auricles and ventricles of his palpitating heart, since transfusion is such a simple stunt nowadays?"
"And I suppose," I said, "that you would bleed him first so as to make room for the new blood?"
"There you touch the real beauty of my idea," said Perkins. "The plebeian sighs for aristocratic blood to enable him to hold his own in his novel surroundings; the aristocrat could do with a little bright red fluid to help him to turn an honest penny. So it is merely a case of cross-transfusion; no waste, no suffering, no weakness from loss of blood on either side."
I gasped at the magnitude of the idea.
"I'm drawing up plans," Perkins continued, "for a journal devoted to the matter, in which the interested parties can advertise their blood-stock for disposal, a sort of 'Blood Exchange and Mart.' The advertisements alone would pay, I expect, for the cost of production. See," he said, handing me a slip of paper, "these are the sort of ads. we should get."
This is what I read:—
"Peer, ruined by the War, would sell one-third of arterial contents for cash, or would exchange blood-outfits with successful woollen manufacturer.—5016 Kensington Gore, W.
"To War Profiteers. Several quarts of the real cerulean for disposal. Been in same family for generations. Pedigree can be inspected at office of advertiser's solicitor. Cross-transfusion not objected to. Address in first instance, BART., 204, Bleeding Heart Yard, E.C.
"Public School and University Man of Plantagenet extraction would like to correspond with healthy Coal Miner with view to cross-transfusion. Would sell soul for two shillings.—A. VANE-BLUDYER, 135, Down (and Out) Street, West Kensington, W."
"Makes your blood run cold," I said, handing back the paper.
"Not it," he said, detaching himself from the strap as the train drew into King's Cross; "not if the operation's properly performed."
* * * * *
A TRAGEDY IN BIRDLAND.
Percy is a partridge bold Who in Autumn, so I'm told, Dwells among the turnip roots And assists at frequent shoots, Really I have seldom heard Of a more precocious bird; Possibly his landlord's not What you'd call a first-rate shot, And his pals, though jolly chaps, Are not quite so good perhaps; Still, he thinks their aim so trashy That, I fear, he's getting rash. He Even perches on the end Of the gun my poor old friend Bill employs for killing game. True he's very blind and lame, And he's well beyond the span Meted out to mortal man, And his gout is getting worse (Meaning Bill, of course, not Perce); Still, if he won't mend his ways, One of these fine Autumn days I'm afraid there's bound to be Quite an awful tragedy. He'll be shot—I'm sure he will (Meaning Percy now, not Bill).
Weep, ye lowering rain-swept skies! In the dust our hero lies. Weeping-willow, bow thy head! Our precocious fowl is dead. Sigh, thou bitter North Wind, for Perce the Partridge is no more!
Now, as long as he was ready Just to sit, sedate and steady, On the barrel of the gun Little mischief could be done; But on that sad morn a whim Suddenly seized hold of him; 'Twas the lunatic desire To observe how shot-guns fire; So he boldly took his stand Where the barrel ended, and, All agog to solve the puzzle, Poked his napper up the muzzle.
Well, the weapon at the minute Chanced to have a cartridge in it, And it happened that my friend Bill was at the other end, Who with calm unflurried aim Failed (at last) to miss the game.
With the tragic tale of Percy's Death I meant to close these verses, But we see quite clearly there, too, Other ills that Bird is heir to. He has also lost, you see, Individuality; Perce the Partridge, named and known, With an ego all his own, Disappears; and in his place There remains but "half-a-brace."
* * * * *
* * * * *
Situations to Suit all Ages.
"Lady-Typist (aged 1920) required for invoicing department of West End wholesale firm."—Daily Paper.
"Wanted, capable Person, about 3 years of age, to undertake all household duties, country residence."—Scottish Paper.
* * * * *
"DICK WHITTINGTON, 1920.
And, last of all, here is Dick WPhittington, otherwise known as Alderman Roll, Lord Mayor of London."—Evening Paper.
But for the headline we should never have recognised him.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"Well, Uncle Tom," I said, leaning over the gate, "and what did you think of London?"
On Monday morning Uncle Tom Brimacombe had driven off in his trap with his wife to the nearest station, five miles away, and had gone up to London for the first time in his life, "to see about a legacy."
"Lunnon! mai laife. It's a vaine plaace. Ai used 'think Awkeyampton was a big town, but ai'm barmed if Lunnon dawn't beat un.
"As you knaw, Zur, us 'ad to get up and gaw off 'bout three in th' morn'n, and us got upalong Lunnon 'bout tain. Well, the waife knew 'er waay 'bout, laike; 'er 's bin to Plymouth 'fore now. Zo when us gets out of the traain us gaws inzaide a sort er caage what taakes us down a 'awl in the ground. Ai was fraightened out 'me laife. 'Yer,' ai sez, 'wur be us gwaine then?'
"'Dawn'ee axno questions, me dyur,' sez the waife, 'or ai'll vorget ahl what the guard in the traain tawld us.'
"Well, baimbai the caage stops gwaine down and us gets out, and ai'm blawed if us wadn't in a staation ahl below the ground! Then a traain comes out of anither 'awl, and befwer us 'ad zat down proper inzaide un, 'er was off agaain, 'thout waitin' vur watter nor noth'n'. Well, we zat us down and thur was tu little maids a-vaacin' us what 'adn' mwer'n lef' school a yer'tu, and naw zinner do they zet eyes on me than one of 'n whispers zimmat to tither and they bawth starts gazin' at my 'at and laaf'n'.
"Well, ai stid it vur some taime and at laast ai cuden' a-bear it naw longer, so ai says to the waife, 'Fur whai they'm laaf'n' then? What's wrong wi' my 'at?'
"'Dawn'ee taake naw nawtice of they,' 'er says. 'The little 'uzzies ought to be at 'awm look'n' aafter the chicken, 'staid of gallivantin' about ahl bai thursalves. Yure 'at's all raight.'
"Ai was wear'n' me awld squeer brown bawlerat what ai wears to Laanson market on Zat'dys.
"Well, zune us gets out, though ai caan't tall'ee whur tu 'twas, and ai caan't tall'ee what us did nither, vur me 'aid was gwaine round an' round and aachin' vit to burst. But us vound the plaace us was aafter and saigned ahl the paapers wur the man tawld us tu. Then, when us gets outsaide, the waife, 'er says, 'Look'ee, me dyur, thur's a bit of graass and some trees; us'll gawn zit down awver there and eat our paasties.'
"Maighty pwer graass 'twas tu, but thur was seats, so us ait our paasties thur, and us bawth started crai'in when us bit into un. They zort 'er taasted of 'awm, laike.
"Then ahl't once the waife, 'er says, 'Pon mai word, thur's a man taak'n our vottygraff.' And thur 'e was, tu, with a black tarpaulin awver 'is 'aid! 'Come away, me dyur,' says she; 'ai'm not gwaine to paay vur naw vottygraffs. Ai 'ad one done at Laanson 'oss shaw when ai was a gal, and it faaded clean away insaide a twelve-month.' Zo us gaws back along the staation agaan and comes 'awm just in taime to get the cows in.
"Well, next evenin' ai went down along 'The Duke' to tall 'em ahl 'bout Lunnon, but when ai gets insaide they ahl starts shout'n' and bangin' thur mugs and waav'n the paaper at me. 'What's come awver yu?' ai axes un; 'yume ahl gone silly then?'
"'Theym bin and put yure vottygraff in the paaper, Uncle,' says John Tonkin, and 'awlds un out vur me to look. And thur, sure 'nuff, 'twas, with the waife in tu! So ai gets un to let me cut'n out and keep'n. Yur 'tis if 'eed laike to see un."
Uncle Tom fumbled in his pocket, drew out a cutting and handed it to me. There surely enough was a photo of him and "the waife," sitting on a public garden-seat eating pasties and underneath the legend—
"SUITS YOUNG AND OLD ALIKE.
An old couple snapped in Hyde Park. The gentleman, smart though elderly, is seen wearing a brown model of The Daily Mail hat."
* * * * *
* * * * *
Among the passengers on the boat was a tall dark man with a black moustache and well-cut clothes who spent most of his time walking the deck or reading alone in his chair. Every ship has such recluses, who often, however, are on the fringe of several sets, although members of none. But this man remained apart and, being so determined and solitary, he was naturally the subject of comment and inquiry, even more of conjecture. His name was easy to discover from the plan of the table, but we knew no more until little Mrs. King, who is the best scout in the world, brought the tidings.
"I can't tell you much," she began breathlessly; "but there's something frightfully interesting. Colonel Swift knows all about him. He met him once in Poona and they have mutual friends. And how do you think he described him? He says he's the worst liver in India."
There is no need to describe the sensation created by this piece of information. If the man had set us guessing before, he now excited a frenzy of curiosity. The glad news traversed the ship like wind, brightening every eye; at any rate every female eye. For, though the good may have their reward elsewhere, it is beyond doubt that, if public interest is any guerdon, the bad get it on earth.
Show me a really bad man—dark-complexioned, with well-cut clothes and a black moustache—and I will show you a hero; a hero a little distorted, it is true, but not much the less heroic for that. Show me a notorious breaker of male hearts and laws and—so long as she is still in business—I will show you a heroine; again a little distorted, but with more than the magnetism of the virtuous variety.
For the rest of the voyage the lonely passenger was lonely only because he preferred to be, or was unaware of the agitation which he caused. People walked for hours longer than they liked or even intended in order to have a chance of passing him in his chair and scrutinising again the features that masked such depravity. For that they masked it cannot be denied. A physiognomist looking at him would have conceded a certain gloom, a trend towards introspection, possibly a hypertrophied love of self, but no more. Physiognomists, however, can retire from the case, for they are as often wrong as hand-writing experts. And if any Lavater had been on board and had advanced such a theory he would have been as unpopular as JONAH, for the man's wickedness was not only a joy to us but a support. Without it the voyage would have been interminable.
What, we all wondered, had he done? Had he murdered as well as destroyed so many happy homes? Was he crooked at cards? Our minds became acutely active, but we could discover no more because the old Colonel, the source of knowledge, had fallen ill and was invisible.
Meanwhile the screw revolved, sweepstakes were lost and won, deck sports flourished, fancy-dress dances were held, concerts were endured, a Colonial Bishop addressed us on Sunday mornings and the tall dark man with the black moustache and different suits of well-cut clothes sat in his chair and passed serenely from one OPPENHEIM to another as though no living person were within leagues.
It was not until we were actually in port that the Colonel recovered and I came into touch with him. Standing by the rail we took advantage of the liberty to speak together, which on a ship such propinquity sanctions. After we had exchanged a few remarks about the clumsiness of the disembarking arrangements I referred to the man of mystery and turpitude, and asked for particulars of some of his milder offences.
"Why do you suppose him such a blackguard?" he asked.
"But surely——" I began, a little disconcerted.
"He's a man," the Colonel continued, "that everyone should be sorry for. He's a wreck, and he's going home now probably to receive his death sentence."
This was a promising phrase and I cheered up a little, but only for a moment.
"That poor devil," said the Colonel, "as I told Mrs. King earlier in the voyage, has the worst liver in India."
E. V. L.
A VACILLATING POLICY.
(A Warning against dealing with Disreputable Companies.)
When the Man of Insurance made his rounds I "covered" my house for a thousand pounds; Then someone started a fire in the grounds At the end of a wild carouse. The building was burnt; I made my claim And the Man of Insurance duly came. Said he, "Always Our Company pays Without any fuss or grouse; But your home was rotted from drains to flues; I therefore offer you as your dues Seven hundred pounds or, if you choose, A better and brighter house."
I took the money; I need not say What abuse I hurled at his head that day; But, when he began in his artful way To talk of Insurance (Life), And asked me to take out a policy for My conjugal partner, my cordium cor, "No, no," said I, "If my spouse should die We should enter again into strife; You would come and say at the funeral, 'Sir, Your wife was peevish and plain; for her I offer six hundred or, if you prefer, A better and brighter wife.'"
* * * * *
THE HAPPY GARDENER.
(Extracts from a Synthetic Diary a la mode.)
November 11th.—Now is the time to plant salsify, or the vegetable oyster, as it has been aptly named from its crustacean flavour so dear to herbaceous boarders. This may be still further accentuated by planting it in soil containing lime, chalk or other calcareous or sebaceous deposits.
Hedgehogs are now in prime condition for baking, but it is desirable to remove the quills before entrusting the animal to the oven. But the hedgehog cannot be cooked until he is caught, and his capture should not be attempted without strong gloves. Those recently invented by Lord THANET are far the best for the purpose. It is a moot point among culinary artists whether the hedgehog should be served en casserole or in coquilles; but these are negligible details when you are steeped in the glamour of pale gold from a warm November sun, and mild air currents lag over the level leagues where the water is but slightly crimped and the alighting heron is lost among the neutral tints that envelop him....
Though the sun's rays are not now so fervent as they were in the dog-days, gardening without any headgear is dangerous, especially in view of the constant stooping. For the protection of the medulla nothing is better than the admirable hat recently placed on the market by the benevolent enterprise of a great newspaper. But an effective substitute can be improvised out of a square yard of linoleum lined with cabbage-leaves and fastened with a couple of safety-pins.
As the late Sir ANDREW CLARK remarked in a luminous phrase, Nature forgives but she never forgets. The complete gardener should always aim (unlike the successful journalist) at keeping his head cool and his feet warm; and here again the noble enterprise of a newspaper has provided the exact desideratum in its happily-named Corkolio detachable soles, which are absolutely invaluable when roads are dark and ways are foul, when the reeds are sere, when all the flowers have gone and the carrion-crow from the vantage of a pollard utters harsh notes of warning to all the corvine company round about....
Shod with Corkolio the happy gardener can defy these sinister visitants and ply the task of "heeling over" broccoli towards the north with perfect impunity.
The ravages of stag-beetles, a notable feature of late seasons, and probably one of the indirect but none the less disastrous results of the Land Valuation policy of the PRIME MINISTER, can be kept down by leaving bowls of caviare mixed with molasses in the places which they most frequent. This compound reduces them speedily to a comatose condition, in which they can be safely exterminated with the aid of the patent hot-air pistolette (price five guineas) recently invented by a director of one of the journals already alluded to.
But tout lasse, tout casse, tout passe; and while the kingfisher turns his sapphire back in the sun against the lemon-yellow of the willow leaves, and the smouldering russet of the oak-crowns succeeds to the crimson of the beeches and the gold of the elms, we shall do well to emulate the serene magnanimity of Nature and console ourselves with the reflection that the rural philosopher, if only assured of a sympathetic hearing in an enlightened Press and provided with a suitable equipment by the ingenuity of its directors, may contemplate the vagaries of tyrannical misgovernment with fortitude and even felicity.
* * * * *
A SARTORIAL TRAGEDY.
["To be fashionable one must have the waist so narrow that there is a strain upon the second button when the jacket is fastened."
Note on Men's Dress.]
Garbed in the very height and pink of fashion, To-day I sallied forth to greet my fair, Nursing within my ardent heart a passion I long had had a craving to declare; Being convinced that never would there fall so Goodly a chance again, I mused how she Was good and kind and beautiful, and also Expecting me to tea.
And after tea I stood before her, feeling Now was the moment when the maid would melt, My buttoned jacket helpfully revealing The graces of a figure trimly svelte, But, all unworthy to adorn a poet Who'd bought it for a fabulous amount, Just as I knelt to put the question, lo, it Popped on its own account.
The button, dodging my attempts to hide it, Rolled to her very feet and rested there, And when I laid my loving heart beside it She only smiled at that incongruous pair— Smiled, then in contrite pity for the gloomy Air that I wore of one whose chance is gone, Promised that she would be a sister to me And sew the button on.
* * * * *
A Test of Endurance.
"The dancing will commence at 9 p.m. and conclude at 2 p.m. Anyone still wanting tickets may procure same at the Victoria."
East African Paper.
For ourselves, after seventeen hours' continuous dancing, we shall not want any more tickets.
* * * * *
From a parish magazine:—
"A nation will not remain virulent which destroys the barriers which protect the Sunday."
We are all for protecting the Sunday, but we don't want to remain virulent. It is a terrible dilemma.
* * * * *
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(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
In looking at the title-page of John Seneschal's Margaret (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) no lover of good stories but will be saddened by the reflection that the superscription, "by AGNES and EGERTON CASTLE," is there seen for the last time. The double signature, herald of how much pleasure in the past, is here attached to a cheerfully improbable but well-told tale of the after-war about a returned soldier who was mistaken for his dead fellow-prisoner and hailed as son, heir and fiance by the different members of the welcoming group in the home that wasn't his. The descriptions of this home, by the way—a house whose identification will be easy enough for those who know the beautiful North-Dorset country—are as good as any part of the book. If you protest that the resulting situation is not only wildly improbable but becoming a stock-in-trade of our novelists, I must admit the first charge, but point out that the authors here secure originality by making the deception an unintended one. John Tempest, who in the hardships of his escape has lost memory of his own identity, never ceases to protest that he is at least not the other John for whom the members of the Seneschal family persist in taking him—a twist that makes for piquancy if hardly for added probability. However, the inevitable solution of the problem provides a story entertaining enough, though not, I think, one that will obliterate your memory of others, incomparable, from hands to which we all owe a debt of long enjoyment.
I read Inisheeny (METHUEN), as I believe I have read every story by the same hand, at one sitting. Whose was the hand I will ask you to guess. Characters: one Church of Ireland parson, drily humorous, as narrator; one lively heroine with archaeological father, hunting for relics; one schoolboy; one young and over-zealous R.I.C. officer on the look-out for concealed arms; poachers, innkeepers, peasants, etc. Action, mostly amphibious, passes between the mainland of Western Ireland and a small islet off the coast. Will the gentleman who said "GEORGE A. BIRMINGHAM" kindly consider himself entitled to ten nuts? I suppose it was the mention of an islet that finally gave away my simple secret. Mr. "BIRMINGHAM" is one of the too few authors who understand what emotion an island of the proper size and right distance from the coast can raise in the human breast. Inisheeny delightfully fulfilled every condition in this respect; not to mention sheltering an illicit still and being the home of Keltic treasure. Precisely in fact the right kind of place, and the sort of story that hardly anyone can put down unfinished. I am bound to add that, perhaps a hundred pages from the actual end, the humour of the affair seems to lose spontaneity and become forced. But till the real climax of the tale, the triumphant return of the various hunters from Inisheeny, I can promise that you will find never a dull page.
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There were moments in The Headland (HEINEMANN) when, with Roma Lennox, the "companion" and heroine, I "shivered, feeling that London, compared with the old house on the Headland and the family inhabiting it, was a clean place with a clear atmosphere and inhabited by robust, sane, straightforward persons. You felt homesick." Cornwall is notoriously inhabited by queer people, and the Pendragon family was not merely queer but hereditarily rotten and decadent: the old father, who burns a valuable old book of his own to appease his violent temper; the granddaughter a kleptomaniac; the son of forty addicted to hideous cruelties. Unpleasant but well drawn, all of them. Mrs. C. A. DAWSON SCOTT has powerfully suggested the atmosphere of the strange and tragic household, mourning its dead mistress; and she understands the peculiar quality of the Cornish people and the Cornish seas. I have not read her other novels, but, if she will promise to wrestle with one or two rather irritating mannerisms, I will promise to look out for her next one. I have no prejudice against the Wellsian triplet of dots, but really Mrs. Scott does overdo it. And a good deal of her quite penetrating psycho-thingummy was spoiled for me by her trick of conveying nearly every impression and reflection of her characters through an impersonal "you" or "one." This means an economy of words and for a short time a certain vividness, but it soon becomes tedious. One knows what a tangle you get into if one starts using "one's" and "you's" in your letters; and you find that the author has been caught once or twice. However, the story is good enough to survive that.
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The title of The Lady of The Lawn (JENKINS) has "the ornament of alliteration," but beyond that there doesn't seem to be any particular reason why Mr. W. RILEY should have chosen it. Certainly in his story there is an old lady who spends more of the winter on a lawn than any old lady of my acquaintance could be induced to, even with rugs and a summer-house to make up for the comforts of the fireside; but Miss Barbara and her site really have not so much to do with the tale as its title seems to imply. The love affairs of a young officer who, while blind from wounds, fell in love with his nurse to the extent of becoming engaged to her and didn't recognise her when they met again, are Mr. RILEY'S real concern. Eric, who is quite as priggish as his name suggests, falls in love with his sweetheart, as a lady of leisure, all over again, and goes through agonies of remorse on account of his own faithlessness to her as a nurse. Marion or Constance, for she uses two names to help the confusion, lets him suffer a while for the good of his soul, but the happy ending, the promise of which is breathed from every line of the book, is duly brought about. His publisher asserts that "there is no living author who writes about Yorkshire as does Mr. RILEY." I daresay he is quite right, but at least as far as the present book is concerned I don't think that I should have bothered to mention it.
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Those—and I suspect they are many—whose first real enthusiasm for ABRAHAM LINCOLN was kindled by Mr. JOHN DRINKWATER'S romantic morality play can profitably take up Mr. IRVING BACHELLER'S A Man for the Ages (CONSTABLE) for an engaging account of the early days of the great Democrat. They will forgive a certain flamboyance about the author's preliminaries. Hero-worship, if the hero be worthy, is a very pardonable weakness, and they should certainly admire the skill and humour with which he has patched together, or invented where seemly, the story of lanky ABE, with his axeman's skill, his immense physical strength, his poor head for shopkeeping, his passion for books, his lean purse and "shrinking pants," his wit, courage and resource. A romance of reasonable interest and plausibility is woven round young Lincoln's story. Perhaps Mr. BACHELLER makes his hero speak a little too sententiously at times, and certainly some of his other folk say queer things, such as, "What so vile as a cheap aristocracy, growing up in idleness, too noble to be restrained, with every brutal passion broad-blown as flush as May?" What indeed! The picture of pioneering America in the thirties is a fresh and interesting one.
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To few of those who visit Switzerland, with its incomparable mountains, can it have occurred that, once a man is kept there against his will, it can be a prison as damnable as any other; possibly even more damnable by reason of those same inevitable mountains. British prisoners of war interned there knew that. Mr. R. O. PROWSE, in A Gift of the Dusk (COLLINS), speaks with subtle penetration for those other prisoners, interned victims of the dreadful malady. Of necessity he writes sadly; but yet he writes as a very genial philosopher, permitting himself candidly "just that little cynicism which helps to keep one tolerant." He is of the old and entertaining school of sentimental travellers, but he is far from being old-fashioned. The story running through his observations and modern instances is so frail and delicate a thing that I hesitate to touch it and to risk disturbing its bloom. All readers, save the very young and the very old, will do well to travel with him, from Charing Cross ("I have a childlike fondness for trains. I like to be in them, I like to see them go by") to the peaceful, almost happy end, at the mountain refuge by the valley of the Rhone. They will not regret an inch of the way; and they will derive some very positive enjoyment from the picture of that most melancholy hotel where the story is set.
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A New Safety Model.
"Lady's strong cycle, 23-in. frame, 28 wheels."—Cycling.
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From an account of the M.C.C. team's match at Colombo:
"When the unlucky thirteen was reached, Hobbs, who was sleeping finely, fell to a great catch at mid-on by Gunasekera."—Ceylon Paper.
Happily HOBBS appears to have waked up when he got to Australia.
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