PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
February 11th, 1920.
"If a burglar broke into my house," says Lady BEECHAM, "I should use the telephone to summon help." Lady BEECHAM seems to have a sanguine temperament.
* * *
Asked how she would act in case a burglar broke into her house, Miss IRIS HOEY said she would stand before him and recite SHAKSPEARE. If anybody else had said this we should have suspected a cruel nature.
* * *
A libel action arising, out of the representation by a German artist of the ex-CROWN PRINCE as a baboon is to be heard shortly. It is not yet known who is to prosecute on behalf of the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
* * *
Nine thousand officials have been appointed to control the food supplies in Petrograd. English Government officials regard this arrangement as the work of an amateur.
* * *
It is said that the exchange crisis is regarded by Mr. C.B. COCHRAN as a deliberate attempt to divert attention from the DEMPSEY contest.
* * *
The rumour that CARPENTIER and DEMPSEY, in order to avoid further fuss and publicity, have decided to fight it out privately, appears to have no foundation.
* * *
Wrexham Education Committee is reconsidering its decision against teaching Welsh in the elementary schools. The pathetic case of a local man who was recently convicted of stealing a leg of beef owing to his being unable to give his evidence in Welsh is thought to have something to do with it.
* * *
A domestic servants' union has been formed and an advertisement for a good plain shop stewardess (two in family; policeman kept) will, we understand, shortly appear in The Morning Post.
* * *
During the recent gales on the West Coast of Ireland the anemometer registered the unprecedented velocity of one hundred-and-ten miles per hour. A number of cases of anemonia are reported from the Phoenix Park district.
* * *
According to Men's Wear, silk hats are to be increased in price by at least thirty per cent. Is it by this process, we wonder, that they hope to drive Mr. CHURCHILL out of business?
* * *
A pig and sty constituted first prize at a recent whist drive at Bishop's Waltham. We understand that a difference of opinion between the winner and the pig as regards the user of the sty has ended fatally for the latter.
* * *
It is reported that the Victory badge now being worn extensively in New York is to be replaced by another bearing the inscription, "We did them."
* * *
"I intend to tour England," says a Prohibition lecturer, "and I will not be hurried." We recommend the railway.
* * *
A Tralee man charged with shooting a neighbour said he had no desire to break the law. It seems that he mistook the man for a policeman.
* * *
A French physician declares that a gift for yawning is one of the most valuable health-assets. This should be good news for revue-producers.
* * *
"Honesty," says Dr. INGRAM, "is the best policy after all." All the same some of our profiteers seem to get along pretty well, thank you.
* * *
The egg-laying competition promoted by The Daily Mail has proved a great success. It is most gratifying to learn that the hens have done their best for "the paper that got us the shells."
* * *
"The influenza microbe," announces a medical journal, "has made its appearance in many parts of the country and is slowly but surely making its way towards London." With any other Government than ours a simple suggestion that the sign-posts en route should be reversed would have been at once adopted.
* * *
During the last four weeks exactly four hundred and ninety-nine rats have been destroyed in a small town in South Bedfordshire. It is hoped that as soon as these figures are published a sporting rodent will give itself up in order to complete the fifth century.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"A champagne support was provided in the lower hall."—Local Paper.
Very sustaining, we feel sure.
* * * * *
"The paper supports the proposed formation of a first army of 'shock troops,' which would be capable of preventing the mobilisation of a great Germy army."—Evening Paper.
Anything to keep the influenza at bay.
* * * * *
"The times for the incubation of the eggs of various birds are as under:—
Ostrich 41 days. Gnu 49 days."—Poultry-Keeping.
"Gnus, indeed!" said the Emu.
* * * * *
(deferentially hinting how others see her and what they think of her threatened repudiation of her PRESIDENT'S pledges).
When you refuse to sign the Peace Except with various "reservations," And prophesy a swift decease Impinging on the League of Nations; When you whose arms (we've understood) Settled the War and wiped the Bosch out Regard the whole world's brotherhood As just a wash-out;
You say, in terms a little blunt, "This scheme that you are advertising Was all along a private stunt Of WILSON'S singular devising; His game we weren't allowed to know; Under a misty smile he masked it; We never gave him leave to go (He never asked it).
"And you, poor credulous Allies, Found in this fellow, self-appointed, The worth he had in his own eyes And let him pose as God's anointed; Taking no sort of pains to see Whether or not he had a mandate, Like puppy-dogs the other Three Out of his hand ate."
But how if we had queered his claim Or questioned his credentials, saying, "Who is this WOODROW What's-his-name? And what's the role he thinks he's playing? Is he a Methodist divine? Or does he boom Chicago bacon?"— I think that I can guess the line You would have taken.
"Behold a Man," I hear you say, "Of peerless wit and ripe instruction, Elect of Heaven and U.S.A.— Surely an ample introduction; He comes to put Creation right; He brings no chits—he doesn't need 'em; Who doubts his faith will have to fight The Bird of Freedom!"
* * * * *
"Where do you get servants from?" I asked.
"From small ads.," said Phyllis promptly.
I picked up the paper from the floor where I had thrown it in the morning. My wife is one of those rare women who always leave things where you put them. It is this trait that endears her to me. I ran my trained eye over an ad. column.
"Got it at once," I said with pardonable pride. "How's this?—'General (genuine), stand any test trd. L70 possess. s. hands yrs. s.a.v.'"
"I like genuine people," said Phyllis thoughtfully. "And under the circumstances"—(here she looked hard at me, as if I were a circumstance)— "under the circumstances I think we ought to have one that will stand any test. Seventy pounds is out of the question, of course, but she might come for less when she sees how small we are. What does 's. hands yrs.' stand for?"
"I don't know," I said; "I can only think of 'soft hands for years.'"
"I should like her," said Phyllis. "Their hands are the one thing against Generals. She must be a nice girl to take such care of them. Think how careful she'd be with the china. What's 'trd.'?"
"I'm afraid it must mean tired," I said.
"Oh, she'd soon get rested here," said Phyllis; "I don't think that need be against her. She's probably been in a hard place lately. Are there any more?"
"Plenty," I said. "How does this one strike you?—'General. no bacon. possess. 2 rms. L45 wky. s.a.v.'"
"I like that one," said Phyllis. "She must be an awfully unselfish girl to go without bacon. I don't see how we are going to spare two rooms, though, unless she's willing to count the kitchen as one. Forty-five pounds a week must be a printer's error. But we can easily afford forty-five pounds a year."
"It may mean that she's 'weakly,'" I suggested.
"That wouldn't matter much," said Phyllis; "and I like her the better for being honest about it."
"'Wky.' might stand for 'whisky,'" I hinted darkly.
Phyllis blanched. "Then she's no good," she said; "I simply couldn't stand one that drinks. What's the next one like?"
I read on: "Domestic oil no risk. 6 dys. trd. s. hands 10 yrs. s.a.v."
"I wonder whether that means that she can cook on an oil-stove or that she can't cook on any other kind? And does the 'no risk' refer to her or the stove? It's not very clear. I don't think we'll take up this one's references. Besides I shouldn't like one that was tired for six days."
"Out of every seven," I added, "and the seventh day would be the Sabbath, and her day off."
"Go on to the next," said Phyllis firmly.
The next one merely said; "General. Kilburn tkg. L40 1 rm. s.a.v."
"It would be nice to have a taking sort of girl," I thought (unfortunately aloud).
"We won't think of her, the hussy!" said Phyllis. "Pass me the paper, please."
"They all seem to want 's.a.v.,'" she said. "What do you suppose it means? I wish they wouldn't use so many abbreviations. 'S.a.' stands for Sunday afternoon, of course, but I can't think what the 'v.' is for. Of course we'll give them Sunday afternoons free, if that's what it means. I only wonder they don't want an evening off in the week as well. I call them most reasonable. And there are so many to choose from. I always understood from mother that they're so hard to get."
Then she turned the paper over.
"Oh, you are stupid!" she said. "You've been looking at the 'Shops and Businesses for Sale' column."
"So've you," I snapped.
And then I regret to say we had our first quarrel.
I told Phyllis firmly that she is not at all tkg., nor would she stand any test; that no one could engage her, much less marry her, without taking risks; that she hadn't had s. hands for yrs., that she wouldn't go without her bacon for anyone, and that I should be jolly thankful if she would take every blessed s.a.v.
I admit that Phyllis was more dignified. She merely sailed out of the room, remarking that I made her trd.
* * * * *
"OUR INVINCIBLE NAVY."
In continuation of a paragraph in his last issue, Mr. Punch expresses his regret if the article which appeared under the above title in these pages on January 14th has unwittingly given offence to any one of his readers through others having connected him with the character of Reginald McTaggart.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
RINGS FROM SATURN.
(Extracted from various issues of "The Daily Mandate.")
To the Editor of "The Daily Mandate."
SIR,—For a number of years I have been experimenting in wireless telephony with my installation on the heights of Lavender Hill. On several occasions recently I have been puzzled by mysterious ringings of the bell attached to the instrument, which have obviously been set up by long-distance waves. On taking up the receiver, however, I have been unable to make out any coherent message, but only a succession of irregular squeaks, although once I distinctly, heard a word which I can only transcribe as "Gurroo." I have no doubt in my own mind that one of the more advanced planets is trying to get in touch with us by means of wireless telephony, and that once we have deciphered the code we shall be able to converse freely with its inhabitants. I myself incline to the belief that these rings emanate from Saturn, which, in spite of its great distance from the earth, is just as likely to wish to communicate with us as any other planet.
DIOGENES DOTTLE, F.R.S.
Mr. Dottle's remarkable letter, published in our issue of yesterday, suggesting that inhabitants of Saturn have been endeavouring to communicate with the earth by means of wireless telephony, has created profound excitement in scientific and other circles. To a representative of The Daily Mandate a number of well-known men expressed their views on the matter, which will undoubtedly stimulate further investigation into the momentous possibilities of this epoch-making revelation. The opinions advanced, which are, on the whole, highly favourable to Mr. Dottle's theory, are as follows:—
Sir Potiphar Shucks, the famous astronomer: "The possibility that Saturn is inhabited is one that, in the absence of incontrovertible evidence either way, should not lightly be set aside. Assuming that it is inhabited, that its people are skilled in the use of wireless telephony and that it is possible to set up waves of sufficient intensity to travel all the way from Saturn to us, I see no reason why communications of the nature suggested by Mr. Dottle should not at some future date become an accomplished fact."
Mr. Artesian Pitts, the well-known imaginative historian: "I have long held the belief that Saturn is inhabited by a type of being possessing a cylinder-like body composed of an unresisting pulp, a high dome-shaped head filled with gas, and long tentacles, bristling with electricity, through which all sensations are emitted and received. These tentacles would act as an ideal telephonic apparatus, so that there is every likelihood of Mr. Dottle's having actually received a message from Saturn. I take 'Gurroo' to be Saturnian for 'Hello.'"
Signor Tromboni, the pioneer of wireless telephony: "We are making arrangements to test Mr. Dottle's interesting theory, and for this purpose are erecting a special installation on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, which is several thousand feet higher than Lavender Hill. At our own stations we have frequently noticed mysterious ringings, which we have hitherto ascribed to carelessness on the part of operators; but Mr. Dottle's letter opens up a new world of possibilities. The Daily Mandate is to be congratulated on the prominence it has given to the subject, which has already had the effect of sending Tromboni shares up several points."
Mr. G. Shawburn: "It is an insult to Creation to assume that ours is the only populated planet. Of course Saturn is inhabited, but, unlike our own world, by people of intelligence. In the matter of mental advancement Saturn can make rings round the earth. All the same I don't for one moment suppose that Mr. Dottle knows what he's talking about."
The POSTMASTER-GENERAL: "Nothing is known in the Department under my control of telephone calls having been received from Saturn or the neighbourhood. I do not propose for the present to take any steps in the matter."
The LORD MAYOR: "Saturn is a long way off."
(Extract from leading article.)
"... Again we ask, 'What is the Government doing?' For several days now our columns have been ringing with the world-wide acclamation of this stupendous discovery, beside the potentialities of which the wildest efforts of imaginative literature are reduced to pallid and uninspired commonplaces. Even so cautious a scientist as Sir Potiphar Shucks has declared that the idea of Saturn being inhabited is one that 'should not lightly be set aside,' and has announced his conviction that under favourable conditions communication with that planet should in the near future become 'an accomplished fact.' Other eminent leaders of thought and action, including Signor Tromboni, are even more enthusiastic in their reception of the great theory first given to the world by Mr. Diogenes Dottle in a letter to The Daily Mandate. But the POSTMASTER-GENERAL is content to treat the question with the airy scepticism and obstructive complacency that have rendered the London Telephone service a byword of inefficiency, and refuses even to make a grant in aid of the work of investigation.
"In these circumstances the proprietors of The Daily Mandate have much pleasure in announcing that they will pay the sum of ten thousand pounds to the first man, woman or child in the British Empire who can produce evidence of having received an intelligible telephonic message from Saturn, and a further sum of one hundred thousand pounds to the first person to send a message to that planet and receive a clear reply. The services of a Board of distinguished experts are being engaged for the purpose of testing and adjudicating all claims.
"Meanwhile the POSTMASTER-GENERAL must go."
* * * * *
* * * * *
"It may safely be said that there are more millionaires to the square yard in Bradford than in any other city in the country, not even excepting London or New York."—Daily Paper.
The news that Britain has annexed the United States will comfort those who thought it was the other way about.
* * * * *
"The incessant singing of a cricket in a London church compelled the preacher to shorten his sermon."—The Children's Newspaper.
We may now expect increased enthusiasm for the "Sunday Cricket" movement.
* * * * *
A VERMIN OFFENSIVE.
There was a faint scuffling sound behind the wainscot.
"There it is again," said Araminta.
"Not a doubt of it," I replied, turning pale.
Thrusting on my hat I rushed up the hill to the Town Hall and asked to see the Clerk of the Borough Council immediately.
"I have reason to suspect," I said in a hoarse low whisper, as soon as I was shown into the man's presence, "that our premises are in imminent danger of being infested. Counsel me as to what I should do."
"It is your duty as a good citizen to take such steps as may from time to time be necessary and reasonably practicable to destroy the vermin," he said in a rather weary and mechanical tone.
"I hope I am not one to take my civic duties lightly," I replied with some hauteur, "but observe that I merely said I had reason to suspect the imminence of the peril. I should like to know the legal definition of infestment, if you please. I cannot definitely say that house-breaking has taken place as yet. I do not know that there has even been petty larceny. There may have been merely loitering with felonious intent."
"What is the size of your premises?" he inquired.
"It is more a messuage than a premises," I explained. "About twelve feet by ten, I should say—speaking without the lease."
"And how many vermin do you expect it to be about to harbour?"
"None have actually hove in sight at present," I said reassuringly, "but there is a sound of one in the offing—in the wainscoting, I mean."
"In a residence of your size I should say that a single mouse would constitute infestation within the meaning of the Act, so soon as it forces an ingress. It will then be your bounden duty to demolish it. How about purchasing a trap?"
"You are sure that is better than hiding behind the arras and hitting it over the head with a pole-axe?" I inquired anxiously, "or proffering it a bowl of poisoned wine?"
"Poison is no longer supplied free," he answered coldly, and I went out.
Very luckily, as I hastened up the hill, I had observed a building with the words, "Job Masters. Traps for Hire," written upon a wooden board. I went inside and found an elderly man sitting at a desk in a small office. He looked extremely patient. "Are you Job?" I asked breathlessly. "I have come to buy a mouse-trap."
Appearances, of course, are quite often deceptive. They were in this case. The elderly man was very much annoyed. When he had explained matters forcibly to me I went on down the hill and entered an ironmonger's.
"I wish to buy a trap to catch a mouse," I said to the assistant behind the counter.
"Certainly, Sir. What size?" said the lad politely.
"Small to medium," I replied, rather baffled. "It has only a medium-sized scratch."
He showed me a peculiar apparatus made of wire and wood containing apparently a vestibule, two reception rooms, staircase and first-floor lobby, with an open window and a diving-board. Underneath the window was a small swimming tank.
"I don't want a hydropathic exactly," I explained. "I propose to exterminate this rodent, not to foster longevity in it. How does it work?"
He pointed out that, after examining the various apartments, the animal would be allured by the fragrance of a small portion of cheese placed above the diving-board; overbalancing, it would then be projected into the water, where it would infallibly drown. "It is a thoroughly humane instrument," he assured me, "and used in the best 'omes."
I bought it and went on to a cheese foundry. Araminta was rather scornful of the sanatorium when I came home with it and set it, loaded and trained, on the dining-room floor; but the children were delighted. It ranked only a little lower than the pantomime, and if only we could have secured an outside visitor to it I believe that it would have defeated the Zoo. To visit it with a sort of wistful hope became the principal treat of the day. But, alas, the mansion remained untenanted. Sometimes during a lull in conversation we would hear the faint scuffling again, but after about six days I became convinced, by kneeling down and placing my ear to the carpet like an Indian, that the noise was even fainter than it had been at first. A terrible suspicion seized me. I dashed out and rang the bell of the flat next door.
"It is just as I feared," I said to Araminta on returning a few moments later. "We are not going to be infested after all. The vermin has been sighted in No. 140B."
"We must make the best of it," she said, trying to speak cheerfully, "though it is hard on the children, poor dears."
"I wasn't thinking of the children," I replied bitterly; "I was thinking of the expense. If we had been living in a house instead of a flat we could at least have deducted it from the rates."
I sat down and made out a bill as follows to the Clerk of the Borough Council, heading it:—
On Account of Spurious Infestment. s. d. To one Mouse Institute and Aquarium 5 6 " Cheese 0 6 " Labour at 2/6 per hour 0 7-1/2 ————- Total 6 7-1/2
The man replied coldly that the householder was responsible for all expenditure incurred in precautionary measures and that the Council was in no way liable for the costs resulting from an offensive that failed to materialize. He ended with the rather rude postscript, "What kind of cheese did you use?"
This was a bit sickening. However, by threatening to lay information against him, I have at last succeeded in inducing the occupier of 140B to take over the abattoir at a very satisfactory valuation. It was between that and buying his mouse.
* * * * *
[Dreamed after reading in a daily paper that "any style of dress that lessens one's self-confidence should be tabooed" (sic).]
I travelled from the Sussex hills With confidence divine, Full of the conscious power that thrills My heart when life is mine, And strode to Lady Fancy Frills With whom I was to dine.
Her guests had come from Clubs and Courts And Halls of wealthy Jews; As they surveyed my running shorts I felt my courage ooze, While conscious power, grown out of sorts, Leaked through my canvas shoes.
* * * * *
Then I re-travelled South by West Inflated with a joy Which in the suit I called my best No buffet could destroy; I may remark I'd come full-dressed From lunch at the Savoy.
But when the hills began to shout I coloured to the roots, And when the valleys cried, "Get out!" To the last word in suits, My joy, displaced by sudden doubt, Leaked through my spatted boots.
* * * * *
Of the mysterious Marconigrams:—
"They may be the effort of sentiment beings in some neighbouring planet to communicate with us."—Evening Paper.
Can we have broken in on a conversation between Venus and Mars?
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
A CONFLICT OF EMOTIONS.
(With the British Army in France.)
"I've seen rivetters at New York pie-foundries and stew-specialists on North Sea trawlers," said Percival severely, "but I never realised how monotonous feeding could be till I got into a Mess controlled by Binnie."
Binnie puffed his pipe severely, being of the tough fibre which enables Mess Presidents to endure. Frederick, who had been silent, rose from his seat, heaved a distressing sigh and left the room.
"There's the moral that adorns the tale, you—you public danger!" continued Percival, indicating Frederick's retreating figure. "Look to what a condition that once bright youth has been brought by your endless stews and curries."
"Not a bit of it," answered Binnie lightly. "Frederico could eat patent breakfast food and toasted doormats without taxing his digestion. His complaint is the tender passion. I recognise the symptoms."
"It looks like an acute attack, anyhow," said Percival, rising, "and prompt counter-irritants are indicated. But I'll confirm your diagnosis first."
Inside Frederick's quarters the sound of regular and sustained sighing suggested that the sufferer was in the throes of a spasm of melancholy. Percival entered and narrowly escaped being drawn into the vortex of a particularly powerful inspiration.
"Freddy, old pard," he said kindly, "why so triste? If the trouble's financial, my cheque-book is unreservedly at your service. Havin' no balance at the bank I've no use for it myself."
"It's not that—at least not worse than usual," groaned Frederick.
"Then tell me all about it."
"It's a long story," commenced Frederick.
"Let me off with a synopsis," interrupted Percival.
"Once upon a time," continued Frederick, "there was a big war, which made quite a stir in the daily papers and was a common subject of discussion in the clubs. There were many casualties, amongst them being a blithe young laddy who came down to the Base with a fractured maxilla caused by nibbling an M. and V. ration without previously removing the outside tin—or something of the sort. He was sent to hospital and devotedly tended by a Sister of exquisite beauty—such a figure and such hair! It wasn't exactly auburn and not exactly burnished bronze—"
"And it wasn't pale puce and it wasn't ultramarine," broke in Percival impatiently. "Tell me what it was, not what it wasn't."
"I can't. It baffled description. Well, they drifted apart; but often afterwards, when that young laddy was studying his Manual of Military Law in his lonely dug-out, the image of Sister Carruthers glowed on the printed page. But I never met her again until the other day, when I was having a gentle toddle round Quelquepart and saw her gliding along the quay. Something gripped me by the heart; I took my courage in both hands and spoke to her.
"'Don't you remember me, Sister?' I said. 'It was you who nursed me in No. 99 General.'
"She looked at me coldly.
"'As you are the third young officer who has adopted a similar method of introduction this afternoon,' she said, 'you must forgive me if I ask for some confirmation.'
"'Surely you haven't forgotten?' I cried. 'You drew me a sweet little design in dots and dashes to hang over my bed. When I was evacuated to England I wanted to thank you, to ask if we might meet again, but you thrust a clinical thermometer between my teeth and told me not to speak till you gave me permission. Then you left me, and I was whisked away to the boat clinging grimly to the thermometer, inarticulate and heartbroken.'
"'And I presume your object in speaking to me to-day is to return the thermometer?' she said primly.
"That's where I took the full count," continued Frederick, sadly. "If I could have produced any old thing in the thermometer line my bona fides would have been established an' I could have gone ahead like cotton-mill shares. Instead of which, she'd said Good-day and gone while I was thinkin' out explanations. Since that time I've been parading Quelquepart simply bristling with thermometers, but I've never met her again."
"The old Army fault of unpreparedness," remarked Percival. "You ought to go to hospital."
"Don't be juvenile! What have hospitals to do with heartache?"
"Everything, if you go to the right one—the one where your ministering angel ministrates, for instance."
"Percival, old ace," said Frederick, with admiration, "you'll rank among the world's great thinkers yet. Turn on the current again and tell me what is my complaint."
"Digestive trouble," said Percival promptly. "There's already been rumours about, and you'll be doing a public service by going to dock with dyspepsia. Binnie will be so stricken by remorse that he'll at once start providing the Mess with decent food."
"Then for your sakes I'll rehearse the symptoms. But my curse will be on your head if I get to the wrong hospital."
It was unfortunate that the M.O. was in an unsympathetic mood next morning. He thumped Frederick on the lower chest and pooh-poohed the idea of hospital. "All you want is a few of these tablets," he said, "and you'll be fit as nails in a day or two."
Frederick crawled away dispiritedly to confide in Percival. That sapient youth counselled perseverance.
"You must go right off your feed," he said. "Let the doc. see you feebly pecking and he'll soon get alarmed. In the meantime I'm off to give Binnie critical accounts of your appetite and send him to market right away."
Only a burning passion and stealthy bars of chocolate could have sustained Frederick through the next few days. To sit down to breakfast with a healthy appetite and refuse his egg and rasher put the biggest possible strain on his constancy. His task was made doubly difficult by the scheming of Percival, who was constantly inciting Binnie to procure fresh delicacies.
"You've crocked poor Freddy," he said; "and there will be others going the same way if you don't improve the messing. Now I saw some nice plump chickens to-day in the...."
Thus harried, that evening Binnie provided a dinner that almost reduced Frederick to breaking-point. Only the fact that the M.O. was sitting opposite gave him strength to refuse the soup and fish, to trifle with the chicken and turn wearily from the sweet. As the savoury was being served he caught a scrap of conversation across the table.
"... to the boat to see her off for demob.," the M.O. was saying to the Padre. "Jolly nice girl—Jim Carruthers' daughter, you know."
Frederick pricked up his ears.
"I remember," said the Padre. "She used to be at 99 General."
There was no doubt who was the girl referred to. Frederick sat back in his chair with a heavy sense of disappointment and loss. He felt acutely sorry for himself. But presently above the pain in his heart there arose a stronger and more compelling feeling.
"Corporal," he said, "I think after all I'll try one of those crab patties. Or you might tell the waiter to bring in two."
* * * * *
* * * * *
"Some likes picturs o' women" (said Bill) "an' some likes 'orses best," As he fitted a pair of fancy shackles on to his old sea-chest; "But I likes picturs o' ships" (said he), "an' you can keep the rest.
"An' if I was a ruddy millionaire with dollars to burn that way, Instead of a dead-broke sailorman as never saves his pay, I'd go to some big paintin' guy, an' this is what I'd say:—
"'Paint me The Cutty Sark' (I'd say) 'or the old Thermopylae, Or The Star of Peace as I sailed in once in my young days at sea, Shipshape an' Blackwall fashion too, as a clipper ought to be.
"'An' you might do 'er outward bound, with a sky full o' clouds, An' the tug just droppin' astern an' gulls flyin' in crowds, An' the decks shiny-wet with rain an' the wind shakin' the shrouds.
"'Or else racin' up-Channel with a sou'-wester blowin', Stuns'ls set aloft and alow an' a hoist o' flags showin', An' a white bone between her teeth, so's you can see she's goin'.
"'Or you might do 'er off Cape Stiff in the 'igh latitudes yonder, With her main-deck a smother of white an' her lee-rail dipping under, And the big greybeards drivin' by an' breakin' aboard like thunder.
"'Or I'd like old Tuskar somewhere around—or Sydney 'eads, maybe, Or Bar Light, or the Tail o' the Bank, or a glimp o' Circular Quay, Or a junk or two, if she's tradin' East, to show it's the China Sea.
"'Nor I don't want no dabs o' paint as you can't tell what they are, Whether they're shadders or fellers' faces or blocks or blobs o' tar, But I want gear as looks like gear an' a spar that's like a spar.
"'An' I don't care if it's North or South, the Trades or the China Sea, Shortened down or everythin' set, close-hauled or runnin' free; You paint me a ship as is like a ship an' that'll do for me.'"
* * * * *
* * * * *
"Several letters have appeared in the native Press in some of which they ask Minindirect way, as they have done, but in a indirect way they have done but in a clear clear manner which cannot be interpreted two ways."—Egyptian Gazette.
Or, so far as we are concerned, even one way.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE BIG-GAME CURE.
[In common with everything else, wild animals have risen considerably in price.]
In other times I might have made For those wild lands where growls the grisly, Have tracked him (with some native aid) And held a broken-hearted Bisley; Now that my Maud has murmured, "Nay," Shrinking from matrimony's tight knot, I might have acted thus, I say (Contrariwise, I might not).
In any case to-day I shrink From thus evading Sorrow's trammels; A sense of duty bids me think How costly are the larger mammals; To kill them just to soothe my mind Would seem to savour of the wasteful, A thing all patriot poets find Exceedingly distasteful.
Not mine the immemorial cure; The voice of conscience warns me off it; I'll leave the following of the spoor To those who follow it for profit; I feel they would not thank me for Turning the jungle to a shambles, Who speculate in lions or Have elephantine gambles.
And so this poet will not roam; Remaining on his native heath, he Will seek an anodyne at home, Nor look beyond the Thames for Lethe; And if he fades away, denied The usual balm in cardiac crises, Say only this of him, "He died A prey to soaring prices."
* * * * *
* * * * *
HOW TO ACT IN EMERGENCIES.
The Weekly Dispatch symposium, in which various celebrities discuss the way to act in the event of a burglar being found in the house, shows the need for a little advice in case of emergencies. We append the following very helpful hints:—
The old plan of offering a burglar a cigarette and asking him to take a chair while you telephone to the police is not now so successful as in the past. The best plan is to tackle the fellow right away. For this purpose you should step behind him, take hold of his coat and force it over his face. Then tie his left arm to his right leg across the back. Properly carried out, this method rarely fails.
* * * * *
To attract the attention of the young lady behind a post-office counter, fire a revolver three times in succession, using blank cartridges. After first aid has been rendered to the attendants step up to the counter and purchase your stamp.
* * * * *
If you should be knocked down by a taxi, don't be alarmed and try to creep out from under the thing. And don't blame the driver. Apologise to him, and, as you are being carried away, shake hands and tell him that while it was his cab it was your fault. Treated in this manner, drivers are not nearly so offensive when they knock you down the next time.
* * * * *
Should the telephone-bell ring in your house, don't get excited. Keep calm. Remember General GRANT. Remove the women and children to a place of safety, lift off the receiver and say, "Good Heavens! Whoever can it be?"
* * * * *
Let us suppose that you are being attacked by a man with a chopper. Wait until the weapon is well poised over your head. Just as he begins the down stroke step aside smartly. The hatchet will then be found buried in the ground. This means that bygones are bygones.
* * * * *
* * * * *
PETER AND JUDY.
Except for the fact that they had different sets of parents and were born some hundred miles apart, Peter and Judy are practically twins. Consequently, after an interval of three months, strenuous efforts were made by the two young mothers to bring about a proper introduction between the two wonders.
The occasion was to be one of great importance, for it was Judy's very first tea-party, marking, as it were, the dawn of her social career. For days the post-office wrestled with the correspondence necessary to bring about the meeting. The mothers, both in person and by proxy, had scoured the precincts of Kensington and Oxford Street respectively for the necessary adornments to do their offspring justice, changing their minds so often that the assistants came to take as much interest in the party as if they were going to it themselves.
And yet, when the great moment arrived and the strong silent man was borne into the room, round-eyed and expectant, he found his hostess already tired out with her first tea-party and fast asleep. He could scarcely believe his eyes; nor could Judy's scandalised father.
Peter was very good about it. He bore this chilly reception stoically, deprecating any desire to wake the sleeping beauty—deprecating, in fact, any interest in her or her cot whatsoever. Ignoring the efforts of the Big People to fix his attention by pointing him directly at the main object of the tea-party (they should have known that babies like looking the other way always) he remained passively interested in a fascinating brass knob, the while getting his gloves into a satisfactory state of succulence before the Big People should take it on themselves to remove them.
At last his patience is rewarded. The hostess, sighing sleepily, is beginning to show signs of realising her responsibilities. Two immense arms, two enormous fistfuls of fingers gather her up and she is borne through the air triumphantly.... Peter and Judy are introduced.
I doubt whether any two people in this world ever displayed greater indifference. Solemnly they turn their eyes upon every other object in the room except each other. It is not until the number of permutations in which two people can look at everything is exhausted mathematically that their eyes meet at last.
Then they cut each other dead.
* * * * *
Side by side they recline on the couch. Judy, pouting with sleep, is buffeting her face with her little white boxing-gloves, while Peter stares fascinated at the fire, quite sure that social functions are not in his line. "O-o!"
With only three months' experience, Judy has not yet attained complete mastery of the art of manipulating difficult things like limbs. Inadvertently, and in excess of zeal to kick higher than any other baby, she has landed out a beautiful backhander and caught Peter hard in the tummy. Peter's eyes open wide. Creases appear on his face and widen. A cavern opens and a roar follows:—
"Hullo!" (Judy looks up in amazement, for there is only one noise in the house like that, and she has the sole rights of it). "Hullo, is that me? I didn't know I was doing it"—(the roars from Peter continue)—"but I suppose I am. I must be. Let's have a lot more of this very good noise I am making—Ya—o-o!"
The duet produces a crescendo astounding to them both, for there has never been a noise so wonderful as this in all their experience. Then to Judy a very strange thing happens. She pauses for breath, but the noise goes on. "This is amazing—how do I do it?..."
She joins in again—and then Peter stops. He too is puzzled vaguely. However, bother introspection, the concert proceeds, both artists doing their level best. Now one of them pauses, now the other, and at length serious doubts begin to creep in. There is something queer afoot— something....
The matter resolves itself. Turning suddenly they behold each other, both yelling splendidly. Amazement! Cavern confronts cavern! Face to face they roar their hardest, demanding the reason for this strange phenomenon, "this other me who does when I don't."
They pause—their mouths remain agape. Slowly they close and smiles succeed. Joy! A reasonable-sized face at last. What a relief after the enormous faces, the great mouths, the Cyranese noses of the Big People who are wont to come and peer. Here at last is a true face, a face that—no, they both agree not to dwell unduly on the discovery.
Indifferent to each other once again they regard the special objects of their attention, their hands waving gently in the air, seeking the fairies that babies' hands are always trying to catch.
Ha! their hands have met.
"Hoo! It's a reasonable hand. It's got proper fingers, not stumps of bananas."
"Moreover," says Peter politely, "if you care to take advantage of my offer you will find that it is properly moistened, succulent and suitable to a baby's taste. You needn't mind; I prepared it myself."
"Goo! Gool-gur!" All is peace and chuckles. Hand-in-hand they survey their mothers. "Our mothers, yours—mine. Ha, ha—he, he—goo!"
The inner thoughts of the two babies may be hidden from me (I accept the punishment), but I know—I know what the two mothers are thinking of. Twenty years hence, a paragraph in The Times: "Peter—Judy—" Oh, you fatuous mothers!
* * * * *
"Public interest remains unabated in the remarkable occurrences at the poultry-house farm at Brickendon, where spirit rappings in the morse code have been heard for weeks past.... One question put to the spirit last night was 'How many people are outside?' And the reply was 'Rorty,' which proved to be correct."—Liverpool Paper.
And possibly furnishes some clue to the identity of the spirit concerned.
* * * * *
* * * * *
MORE INTENSIVE PRODUCTION.
When first I learned to play the fool In various (unaccepted) verses There was, I found, one golden rule For poets who would line their purses. "If ye," it ran, "to wealth would mount, For silk attire would change your tatters, Mere quantity will never count; Quality is the thing that matters."
Broadly this precept, too, was laid On grosser forms of human labour; E.g., on Jones's antique trade, Or Brown, the sausage-man, his neighbour; Until of late, throughout a land Reeling from strikes and "reconstruction," A cry was heard on every hand, A clamour for "Increased Production."
While "makers," then, gird on their might And merchants buzz like bees in clover; When Jones is sawing day and night And Brown shows twice his last turnover; Shall I not follow where they've led And, at the PREMIER'S invitation, Double my output, Mr. Ed.?— I look for your co-operation.
* * * * *
"'Oh, to be in England now that Noel's near.'
So, one might adapt one of Kipling's lines."—Indian Paper.
What do they know of BROWNING who only KIPLING know?
* * * * *
"LADY wishes to travel in exquisite lingerie."—Daily Paper.
By all means; but why should she be content to wear an inferior quality when she is stationary?
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
"MR. TODD'S EXPERIMENT."
A new terror—or else a new attraction—has been added to the British Drama. Mr. WALTER HACKETT has brought the scent of the cinema across the footlights. When he wants to inform you of certain episodes in the hero's past career, or let you know what he is doing when he is out of sight, he throws the main stage into darkness and lights up a smaller one on which he gives you as many as six little tabloid plays within the play.
Such a scheme has its obvious conveniences for the playwright, and should greatly simplify the difficulties of stage-craft. Those introductory statements which are required to explain the opening conditions and need such adroit handling will no longer be necessary. You just put everybody wise by a series of tableaux parlants. No longer need the author worry about the best way of conveying to his audience the details of any action that takes place off the stage; he just turns on a playlet and there it is. Altogether, with a couple of the unities disposed of, he ought to have a much easier time.
On the other hand he is going to have trouble with his principal stage and put his actors to the inconvenience of playing in a painfully congested area. Thus, in Mr. Todd's Experiment, the permanent scene was the hall of a house, with a large tapestry occupying more than half of the wall. Lurking behind this tapestry was the stage for the tabloids, and the general company had to crowd themselves into the remainder or wander forlornly about in the space in front of the tapestry. The playlets again are almost bound to be just concentrated episodes, probably elemental in theme and certainly elementary in treatment.
The excuses for their interpolation in Mr. Todd's Experiment were not marked by a very great subtlety. There was really none for the first three, which simply relieved Mr. Todd of the tedious recital of the hero's disillusionments in love. The next two were introduced by way of illustrating his alleged gift of clairvoyance; and the last served frankly to fill in the interval while the rest of the company was away at dinner. The general effect of all these desultory little Guignols was perhaps rather cheap, and not very complimentary to the intelligence of those of us who had outgrown a childish penchant for peep-shows.
Mr. Todd's Experiment (for I have spoken only of Mr. HACKETT'S) was to restore a blase and valetudinarian young man of thirty to a proper state of energy by recalling the memories of his past loves and so reviving in him a desire to stand well in the eyes of the sex. For this purpose he produces (1) a bunch of wood-violets to suggest (through the nose) the environment of his first passion; (2) a specially-tipped brand of cigarettes to revive (through the mouth) the sentiment of his second; and a gramophone record to recover (through the ear) the associations of his third.
So well does he succeed that the hero pulls himself together, shaves off his beard, becomes our OWEN NARES again, and sallies forth, habited for conquest, to pay calls on all the three. From all the three he retires disillusioned, having found them as egoistic as himself, and in the end finds solace rather shamelessly, in the love of a devoted slave who might have been his for the taking any time in the last several years.
The matter was pleasant enough, but its interest must, I think, have left us indifferent if it had not been for the diversion afforded by the playlets. While the idea was original, the presentation of it seemed to have a touch of amateurishness, though I would not go so far as to agree with the old fogey, played by Mr. FRED KERR, who pronounced the scheme to be "all Tommy rot." With the exception of one character—the devoted slave—the lightness of the dialogue, mildly cynical, was due not so much to its wit as to the absence of ponderable stuff. The easy trick, so popular with the modern playwright, of letting the audience down in the middle of a serious situation was illustrated by the hero when, being in deadly earnest, he tells every woman in turn that she is the only woman he has ever loved.
As Mr. Todd, Mr. HOLMAN CLARK was as fresh as he always is; but Mr. OWEN NARES could hardly hope to satisfy the exigent demands of adoration in the part of young Carrington. Who, indeed, could sustain his reputation as a figure of romance when addressed as "Arthur-John"? Mr. FRED KERR, who played Martin Carrington, the cantankerous uncle, cannot help being workmanlike; but he was asked to repeat himself too much. The best performance was that of Miss MARION LORNE, in the part of the hero's one devout lover, Fancy Phipps; her quiet sense of humour, salted with a slight American tang, kept the whole play together.
"TEA FOR THREE."
Playwright Mr. ROI COOPER-MEGRUE, and principal players Miss FAY COMPTON, the wife; Mr. STANLEY LOGAN, the friend, and Mr. A.E. MATTHEWS, the husband, made a first-rate thing of two-thirds of Tea for Three.
The wife is without blemish physically or morally. The husband is faithful with a single-minded fidelity in thought, word and deed that looks (and, I am assured by equally innocent victims, is) positively deadly. The friend "frits and flutters" about in a distinctly casual, not to say polygamous, mood, but has one sacred place in his untidy heart in which the wife is enshrined. He can manage to sustain life so long as he may come to triangular tea on Thursdays. But the faithful husband puts his foot on that.
Hence the stolen lunch for two with which the play opens. Philosophy there is, and very good philosophy too, from the flutterer and fritter, and such love-making as every virtuous woman (at heart a minx) allows. She is sorry, doubtless, for the suffering she causes, but (this is my gloss, not, I think, the author's) is really enjoying it like anything and taking jolly good care to look her best. Then follow little lies and as little and as needless and quite innocent indiscretions; and the jealous husband on the rampage.
All this excellently put together, seasoned with wisdom and wit and most capably played; Miss FAY COMPTON, admirable example of a pretty actress who won't let herself be captured by stage tricks, making everything explicable except her continued love for her intolerable bore (and Turk) of a husband; Mr. A.E. MATTHEWS handling a desperately unsympathetic part, which was already beginning to look impossible, with great adroitness; and Mr. STANLEY LOGAN, though badly hampered by a shocking cold and fighting a coughing audience, carrying the bulk of the good talk and lifting it gently over the few difficult places with a brilliant and well-concealed art.
Thus till towards the end of the Second Act. Then a bad, a very bad, fairy stuffed into Mr. MEGRUE'S head the idea of the suicide lottery. The infuriated husband, finding his wife in her friend's room at 7 P.M. (frightfully improper hour), sternly offers his bowler (or Derby) hat, in which are two cards. The one marked with a cross is drawn by the flutterer and means that he is for it. He is to kill himself within twenty-four hours.... And all this with perfect seriousness.
You will see how the Third Act of a comedy which had tied itself in this kind of a knot simply could not be played. The author had completely sacrificed plausibility, and it was not uninteresting to see him twisting and turning, hedging and bluffing to save it; and a little uncomfortable to note the conviction oozing away out of the performers.... Queer also that it isn't more generally recognised that to come to the theatre with a loud persistent cough is a form of premeditated robbery with violence.
* * * * *
A NEW LEAGUE OF NATIONS.
The latest development in connection with the International Brotherhood movement is the establishment of a College of Correct Cosmopolitan Pronunciation. The need of such an institution has long been clamant, and the visit of the Ukrainian choir has brought matters to a crisis. At their concert last week several strong women wept like men at their inability to pronounce the title of one of the most beautiful items on the programme— "Shtchedryk." Again, as Mr. SMILLIE must have bitterly reflected, how can we possibly render justice to the cause of Bolshevism so long as we are unable to pronounce the names of its leaders correctly? The same remark applies to the Russian Ballet; the Yugo-Slav handbell-ringers; the vegetarian Indian-club swingers from the Karakoram Himalayas; the polyphonic gong-players from North Borneo; the synthetic quarter-tone quartette from San Domingo; the anthropophagous back-chat comedians from the Solomon Islands; not to mention a host of other interesting companies, troupes, corroborees and pow-wows which are now in our midst for the purpose of cementing the confraternity of nations.
Suitable premises for the College have been secured in the heart of Mayfair and a competent staff of instructors has already been appointed, who, with the aid of gramophones, will be able to train the students to perfection in the requisite command of the most explosive gutturals, labials and sibilants. Doctor Prtnkeivitchsvtnshchitzky will be the director of the College; Dr. SETON WATSON and Mr. WICKHAM STEED have kindly undertaken to supervise the Yugo-Slav section, and the list of patrons and patronesses includes the names of the Prince of Prinkipo; Madame KARSAVINA, so long a victim of the mispronunciation of her melodious surname; Dr. DOUGLAS HYDE, the famous Irish scholar; Prenk-Bib-Doda, the Albanian chieftain; Sir RABINDRANATH TAGORE; Lord PARMOOR; Sir THOMAS BEECHAM and the Dowager Begum of BHOPAL.
* * * * *
* * * * *
PEGASUS AT POLO.
"The following teams have entered for the Lahore Polo Tournament:—4th Cavalry, 17th Cavalry, 21st Lancers, 33rd Cavalry, 39th Central India Horse, Lahore, the Fox-hunters from Meerut, and the Royal Air Horse from Delhi."—Civil and Military Gazette.
* * * * *
AN UP-TO-DATE COSTUME.
"For your evening dress I advise you simply to buy a piece of broad silver ribbon, pass it twice round the waist and knot it at the side, with a little bunch of berries and leaves caught into the knot."— Ladies' Paper.
* * * * *
REVOLT OF THE SUPER-GEORGIANS.
WILD SCENES AT A MEETING OF PROTEST.
An Indignation Meeting, to protest against the outrageous attacks levelled against Georgian writers and critics by Professor NOYES in his recent lecture at the Royal Institution and by Mr. A.D. GODLEY in an article in the current Nineteenth Century, was held last Saturday evening at the Klaxon Hall. The chair was taken by Mr. EDWARD MARSH, C.M.G., who was supported on the platform by a compact bevy of Georgian bards; but at an early stage of the meeting it became apparent that a majority of those present in the body of the hall were extremists of violent type, and eventually, as will be seen, the proceedings ended in something approximating to a free fight.
Mr. MARSH began by a frank confession. He had taken a First Class in the Cambridge Classical Tripos. But the days in which he had been steeped to the lips in Latin and Greek were long past, never to return. For many years he had not composed hexameters, elegiacs or iambics. He had thrown in his lot with insurgent youth, not as a competitor or rival, but as an advocate, an admirer and an adviser. Indeed, if he might venture to say so, he sometimes acted as a brake on the wheels of the triumphal Chariot of Free Verse. He was not an adherent of the fantastic movement known as "Dada." He had no desire to abolish the family, morality, logic, memory, archaeology, the law and the prophets. A little madness was a splendid thing, but it must be methodic. Still, for the rest he was a Georgian, heart and soul, and it pained him when men who ought to know better raised the standard of reaction and sought to discredit the achievements of his proteges. These attacks could not be passed over in silence, and the meeting had been convened to consider how they should be met, whether by a reasoned protest or by retaliation.
Miss Messalina Stoot, who punctuated her remarks with the clashing of a pair of cymbals, observed that as a thorough-going Dadaist she had no sympathy with the half-hearted attitude of the Chairman. It was a battle between Dada and Gaga, and emphatically Dada must win.
Mr. Mimram Stoot, who accompanied himself on the sarrusophone, endorsed the iconoclastic views of his sister. The only poetry that counted was that which caused spinal chills and issued from husky haughty lips. The moanings of mediaeval molluscs were of no avail, though they might excite the crustacean fossils of Oxford, the home of lost causes.
Mr. Seumas O'Gambhaoil wished to protest against Mr. NOYES' statement that there were ten thousand Bolshevist poets in our midst. This was a shameless underestimate of the total, which was at least twice that figure. Mr. GODLEY'S offence, however, was much worse, as he was an Irishman, though of the self-expatriated type to which GOLDSMITH and MOORE belonged. The rest of Mr. O'Gambhaoil's speech was delivered in Irish, but he was understood to advocate a repatriation of all Irish renegades to be tried and dealt with by the Sinn Fein Republic.
Mr. Caradoc Cramp applauded the sentiments of the last speaker, but considered that he avoided the real issue. The Chairman had declared himself a Georgian, but that was not enough. The worst enemies of Free Verse were to be found in that camp. In technique and even in thought there was little to choose between many so-called Georgians and the most effete and reactionary Victorians. He alluded to the War poets, or rather the "Duration" poets, most of whom were already back-numbers. Between these and the Post-war poets, the true super-Georgians or paulo-post-Georgians, it was necessary to make a clean cut. To protest against Messrs. GODLEY and NOYES was a mere waste of time and energy. They might just as well protest against the existence of an extinct volcano or the skeleton of the brontosaurus. The real danger to be faced was the intrinsic subjectivity of the early and mid-Georgian poets, of whom the Chairman had been so powerful and consistent a supporter. He accordingly called for volunteers to storm the platform, and, a large number having responded to his appeal, Mr. MARSH was dislodged from the Chair after a gallant fight. A resolution of adherence to the principles of "Dada" having been passed by a large majority, the meeting broke up to the strains of the famous song—
a e ou o youyouyou i e ou o youyouyou drrrrdrrrrdrrrrgrrrrgrrrrrgrrrrrrrr beng bong beng bang boumboum boumboum boumboum.
* * * * *
"Gentleman, Interested in Tattooing and largely covered, would like to hear from other enthusiasts to compare notes."—Times.
We trust the "bare-back" mode is not going to spread to the more modest sex.
* * * * *
From a "stores" circular:—
"THIS WEEK'S ECONOMY OFFERS.
Honey in Sections, each 3/9, three for 14/0."
The economy consists, of course, in buying them one at a time.
* * * * *
In a limbo of desolate waters, In the void of a flood-stricken plain, You will find them—the sons and the daughters Of tropical rain.
For when rivers are one with the ocean, When the ricefields and roads are no more, There's a feeling of magic, a notion Of fairyland lore;
And the babies of Burma can revel In a nursery of whirlpool and slime, Where it thunders and rains like the devil For weeks at a time.
They paddle their rafts through the jungle; They swim through a network of leaves; They clamber with never a bungle To dive from the eaves.
'Tis an orgy of goblins, an image Of nudity flouting the flood, Of shorn-headed brownies who scrimmage And splash in the mud.
As we row neath a tamarind, one'll Roll off with a gesture of fright, Bobbing up like a cork at our gunwale And gurgling delight.
But never a stanza shall measure The joy of that desperate crew Of four-year-olds scouring for treasure Astride a bamboo.
Their fathers smoke, huddled in sorrow, Their mothers chew betel and fret, And the pariahs howl for a morrow Which shall not be wet;
The plovers wheel o'er them complaining, And it's only the babies who pray That the skies may be raining and raining For ever and aye.
* * * * *
ANOTHER MESOPOTAMIAN SCANDAL.
"The commodious and fast ss. 40 will leave Basrah for Baghdad and all intermediate ports on Saturday morning at 9 A.M. Passengers will embark at 10 A.M."—Basrah Times.
* * * * *
"END OF COTTON SUIT.
DRAMATIC COLLAPSE."—Daily Paper.
We are more than ever convinced of the superior wearing qualities of woollen.
* * * * *
"The Government of the Commonwealth of Australia agrees to the admission on passport of Indian merchants, students, tourests, with there irrespective wives."—Indian Paper.
But ought any Government to encourage this sort of thing?
* * * * *
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
Following the iconoclastic spirit of the age, Mr. BARRY PAIN has essayed in The Death of Maurice (SKEFFINGTON) the revolutionary experiment of a murder mystery tale that does not contain (a) a love interest, (b) a wrongly suspected hero, (c) a baffled inspector, (d) an amateur, but inspired, detective. It would be a grateful task to add that the result proves the superfluity of these time-worn accessories. But the cold fact is that, to me at least, the proof went the other way. From the first I was painfully aware of a lack of snap about the whole business, and I am more than suspicious that the author himself may have shared my unwilling indifference. Maurice was an artistic bachelor, a landowner, a manufacturer of jam, a twin (with a bogie gift of knowing at any moment the relative position of his other half, which might have been worked for far more effect than is actually obtained from it), and a reputation of making enemies. He had also an unusual neighbour, in the person of a young woman whose unconventionality led her to perambulate the common at midnight, playing the first bars of Solveig's Song upon the flute. One night, at the close of the first chapter, a gun was heard. But you are wrong to suppose (however naturally) that the flute-player was the victim. It was Maurice. And of course the problem was, who did it. I have told you my own experience of the working out; nothing written by Mr. BARRY PAIN can ever be really dull, just as no story starting with a mysterious murder can lack a certain intrigue; but the fact remains that my wish, heroically resisted, to look on to the last chapter was prompted more often by impatience than by any compelling curiosity. Others may be happier.
* * * * *
The author of A Journal of Small Things has done much to make us understand the sufferings of stricken France and the more intimate sorrows of war. Chill Hours (MELROSE) deals with that dark period before the end, when, to some, it seemed all but certain that the will to victory must fail. Of the three parts of this gracious little book the first consists of six sketches of life behind the lines, life both gentle and simple, as affected by war. "Odette in Pink Taffeta," an episode of bereavement, is in particular exquisitely visualised. "Their Places" and "The Second Hay" treat, with a quiet intensity of conviction, of the absolutely deadening absorption, by overwork and anxiety, of peasant wives and children left to carry on in the absence of their men. The third part is a series of hospital vignettes. They do not attempt to be too cheery, but they have the stamp of realised truth. "Nostalgia," the second part, is in another mood—recalled memories of the beauties of a loved land and of dear common things affectionately seen. To those who dare look at war with open eyes and who take pleasure in sincere and beautifully-phrased writing I commend Mrs. HELEN MACKAY'S book without reserve.
* * * * *
Somewhere in Christendom (ALLEN AND UNWIN) is somewhat embarrassing to a reviewer, for it has the theme of a great book with the manner of a trivial one. It is the history of a very much smaller nation, Ethuria, left despoiled and starving at the end of a nine-years' war, in which its great neighbours have used it as a battle-ground. Revolution begins, but a woman prophet steps in and switches it off in an unusual direction. The Ethurians perfect among themselves that fellowship which is the nice ideal behind many nasty manifestations in the real world, and, when next they are invaded by neighbouring nations anxious to use them as an excuse for belligerency, they resolutely stick to their guns (only the metaphor is most unsuitable), refuse to find any cause of quarrel with their "foreign brothers," and finally persuade them to abandon the ideals of war, so that peace on earth becomes a reality at last. Here is the book's theme; its working out allows for a boxing match between the President of Hygeia and the Foreign Secretary of Tritonia as the minimum of hostilities; a wicked newspaper lord, who pulls strings in both countries, and a faithful butler to the Royal Family, who becomes assistant state nursemaid and cleans silver as a hobby. Though I quite agree with Miss EVELYN SHARP and the Ethurians that it is love that makes the world go round, I am not so sure that either hers or theirs is the best way of advocating their common cause.
* * * * *
You may remember an original and striking book of papers about the theatre under the title of Buzz-Buzz. Its author, JAMES E. AGATE, has now followed it with another, called, rather grimly, Responsibility (RICHARDS). You will be absolutely correct in guessing that this is not a treatise on revue, being indeed an autobiographical novel of (I feel bound to add) precisely the same calibre as, in the sister realm of drama, made the name of Manchester at one period a word of awe. Why do these young Mancunians recollect to such stupendous purpose? Here is Mr. AGATE, with an introduction of forty-four pages, all about time and infinity, before he can get his protagonist so much as started anywhere at all. It is a little like one of those demon-scenes out of the pantomimes he describes so lovingly—"Do so! May safety and success attend on Crusoe." But of course the subsequent action is more responsible. I imagine Mr. AGATE'S picture of young-man life in the Manchester of the nineties to be very much like the real thing. Relaxation was not wholly remote from it. Cotton and commandments were broken with equal facility. Also you may be impressed by the number of Germans in it. Finally, after telling us, sometimes engagingly, sometimes verbosely, all he can remember about Lancashire, Mr. AGATE brings his hero to Town, levers him along, year after year, and gets (almost on his last page) to his big situation. I won't spoil it. Responsibility, which might better have been called "Garrulity," is a novel containing boredom and charm in about equal proportions; not to mention promise for the days when its author has learned to discipline his too-ready pen.
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From the early part of 1915 until the end of 1917 Admiral Sir REGINALD BACON commanded at Dover, and from the preface to The Dover Patrol (HUTCHINSON) we can gather that he is smarting under a considerable sense of injustice and injury. Of the merits of his case—he frankly describes his dismissal as brutal—I do not pretend to judge, but can safely assume that the other side have something to say for themselves, if they care to. However, you are not to suppose that this is a bitter book. Most generous are the praises which the Admiral bestows upon his subordinates; his venom he reserves for just the chosen few who, no doubt, can bear it. Apart from personal recriminations, of which some of us must be more than tired, these two portly volumes are of real historical value. You will find in them not only a record of actual achievements, often carried out under desperately difficult conditions, but also of projects which for one reason or another were never fulfilled. "Why don't we try to land on the Belgian coast?" was a question our amateur strategists were never weary of asking. Well, here is their answer. Here, too, are countless photographs, charts, plans and diagrams—a really wonderful collection. Even if you are not in the least interested in Sir REGINALD'S grievances you will find him a writer who has a lot of useful things to say and knows how to say them.
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AN EFFECT OF THE CRIME WAVE.
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"The normal average amount of clothing required in a temperate climate such as ours is: One pound weight of clothing to every one stone weight of the body.... Thus the clothes of a child weighing 3 stones should be 3lb., and for a man or woman weighing 10 stones the clothes should weigh 10lb. This is a definite statement; at any rate, disprove it who can."—Sir JAMES CANTLIE in "The Daily Mail."
We gave instructions to our Mathematical specialist to work out the figures, and his report is that he finds them substantially correct.