PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
February 4th, 1920.
A rumour is going about that martial law may be declared in Ireland at any moment. By which of the armies of occupation does not seem clear.
* * *
To make money, says a London magistrate, one must work hard. This is a great improvement on the present method of entering a post-office and helping yourself.
* * *
Cat skins are advertised for in Essex. A suburban resident writes to say he has a few brace on his garden wall each night, if the advertiser is prepared to entice the cats from inside them.
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Much alarm has been caused in foreign countries by the report that British scientists are experimenting with a machine that makes a noise like Lord FISHER.
* * *
According to a witness at a police court in London nearly two hundred people stood and watched a fight between dockers in City Road last week. The way some people take advantage of Mr. COCHRAN'S absence in America seems most unsportsmanlike.
* * *
Horse-radish from Germany is being sold in Manchester at six shillings a bundle. Even during the War, thanks to the efforts of the local Press, the Mancunian has never wanted for his little bit of German hot stuff.
* * *
Asked how old he was by the magistrate a railway-worker is said to have replied, "Thirty-nine last strike."
* * *
The House of Representatives at Washington have offered one hundred thousand pounds to fight the influenza germ. It is said that, if they will make it two hundred thousand, DEMPSEY'S manager will consider it.
* * *
An American millionaire, says a gossip, has decided to stay at one London hotel for three months. There was no need to tell us he was a millionaire.
* * *
A way is said to have been found for washing linen by electricity. In future patrons will have to tear the button-holes themselves.
* * *
It is all very well asking Germany to hand over her war criminals, but the trouble is to find enough innocent men to round them up.
* * *
The rumour current in France, to the effect that our PREMIER has been seen in London, is believed by Parisians to have been spread by political rivals.
* * *
The Bolshevists recently deported from America were welcomed on the Finnish frontier by the Red Army and eleven brass bands playing "The International." That ought to teach them to get deported again.
* * *
A Thames bargee has summoned a colleague for throwing a huge piece of coal at him. Quite right too. The coal might have fallen into the river.
* * *
One Scottish M.P., says a weekly paper, has not made a speech in the House of Commons for twenty years. This is probably due to the fact that a Scotsman rarely butts in when a fellow-countryman is speaking.
* * *
The so-called "pneumonia" blouse is conducive to health, declares the Medical Research Committee. On the other hand the sunstroke cravat continues to prove fatal in a great number of cases.
* * *
A Swansea man who went to his allotment to dig up some parsnips and ended by taking three cabbages from a neighbour's plot has been fined ten pounds. We approve of the sentence. A man who deliberately associates with parsnips should be shown no mercy.
* * *
A news message states that passports enabling Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD to proceed to Russia have been refused. As a result we understand that the well-known Socialist has threatened to remain in this country.
* * *
Greenwich Council has refused a war trophy, consisting of a hundred bayonets. It appears that in those parts they still adhere to the fantastic theory that the chronometer won the War.
* * *
A novel idea is reported from a small town in Norfolk. It appears that at the annual fancy-dress ball all the inhabitants clubbed together and went as a Brontosaurus.
* * *
The Hotel Metropole has now been vacated by the Government, and it is thought that, as soon as the extra sleeping accommodation has been cleared away, it will be used as an hotel once again.
* * *
We understand there is no truth in the rumour that Mr. ALBERT DE COURVILLE has offered the ex-Kaiser a leading part in his revue, Come Over Here.
* * *
A correspondent points out in The Daily Express that there are five Sundays in the present month. We understand however that Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL is not to blame this time.
* * * * *
"It is stated that the management of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co. intend to change the name of the newly-acquired steamer Onward to something more in keeping with the traditions of the Company."—Ramsey Courier.
* * * * *
"Serious complaint is being made at another recurrence of the failure of the electric light in ——. It is no light matter."—Local Paper.
It wouldn't be.
* * * * *
* * * * *
OF CERTAIN BRUTUSES WHO MISSED THEIR MARK.
["COALITION DOOMED."—Poster of "Evening News."
"COALITION DEATH SENTENCE."—"Times'" Headline on Mr. ASQUITH at Paisley.
"BLOW TO THE COALITION."—"Times'" Headline on Mr. BARNES'S resignation.]
Have you heard of the coming of Nemesis, How she glides through the ambient gloom That envelops the Downing-Street premises Where GEORGE is awaiting his doom? For the hour of his utter discredit Has struck and the blighter must go If the Carmelite organs have said it It's bound to be so.
The Cabinet's daily imbroglio Amounts to a permanent brawl; Mr. BARNES has resigned a portfolio Which never existed at all; It is true he was, anyhow, going, Yet it serves (in The Times) for a sign Of the symptoms, perceptibly growing, Of GEORGE'S decline.
Mr. ASQUITH (of Paisley) endorses The sentence of violent death, Though he leaves him alternative courses For yielding his ultimate breath; He allows him an optional charter— To swing by his neck from a tree, Or to perish a piteous martyr To felo-de-se.
And what of poor Damocles under This horror that hangs by a thread? Does he wilt in a palsy and wonder How soon it will sever his head? Are his lips and his cheeks of a blank hue? Does he toy with his victuals and drink? Not at all; on the contrary, thankyou, His health's in the pink.
He'll be bashed to the semblance of suet, So say the familiars of Fate; But they don't tell us who is to do it Or mention the actual date; Though the lords of the Circus assure us His voice will be presently mute, Yet the victim, pronounced moriturus, Declines to salute.
All colours, from purple to yellow, The oracles kill him in print, But he turns not a hair, for the fellow Is hopeless at taking a hint; Apparently free from suspicion And mindless of what it all means, He careers on the road to perdition, Ebullient with beans.
* * * * *
"OUR INVINCIBLE NAVY."
In the article which appeared under the above title in the issue of Punch for January 14th, the setting of the nautical episode, in which the subject of the story conducted himself with so much aplomb and resourcefulness, was derived from a personal experience related to the author; but Mr. Punch has his assurance that Reginald McTaggart was not intended even remotely to represent any actual individual.
* * * * *
PART I.—THE PROPOSAL, 1920.
"About this boy of ours, my dear," said Gerald.
"Well, what about it?" said Margaret. "He weighed fourteen pounds and an eighth this morning, and he's only four months and ten days old, you know."
"Is he? I mean, does he? Splendid. But what I was going to say was this: in view of the present social and economic disturbances and the price of coal and butter—"
"He doesn't need either of those yet, dear."
"—and the price of coal and butter, it behoves us, don't you think, to very seriously consider (yes, I meant to split it)—to very seriously consider Nat's future?"
"Oh, I've been doing that for ever so long, Gerald. Probably in a year or two we shan't be able to get even a general or a char, so I'm going to teach him all sorts of household jobs—as a great treat, of course. Washing up the plates and dishes and laying fires—oh, and darning as well. He must certainly mend his own socks, and yours too."
"Well, perhaps, if he has time. But I have a much better proposal to make than that. My idea is that we should bring him up to be a miner."
"I thought children under twenty-one always were."
"Not minor, silly—miner."
"Well, what's the difference? Saying it twice doesn't help. And neither does shouting," she added.
Gerald wrote it down.
"Oh, I see. But why?"
"Because then he can earn enough money to keep us all comfortably—us in idle dependence at Chelsea, him in idle independence at Merthyr-Tydfil or wherever one mines."
"He might send us diamonds now and then too. Or perhaps it isn't allowed."
"No, no. He'll be a coal-miner, naturally."
Margaret pondered this for some minutes.
"No, I don't think much of your idea," she said finally. "Very likely coal will have gone out of fashion by then and we shall all be warming ourselves with Cape gooseberries or pine-kernels or something. I think he ought to be taught all kinds of mining—diamond-mining, salt-mining, gold-mining and undermining at Lloyd's. Then be could take up whatever was most profitable at the moment."
"He has a busy youth ahead of him, I see. Have you thought of anything else?"
"Not at present. Don't you think, though, that this little talk of ours has been rather instructive, Gerald? Shall we open a correspondence in The Literary Supplement on 'The Boy: What Will He Become'?"
"Not quite the sort of thing for their readers, I should say."
"But surely some of them must be quite human. It isn't as if I'd said Notes and Queries. One can't imagine the readers of that ever—"
"Listen!" said Gerald. "I think I hear—"
But Margaret had vanished. Nat's already pessimistic views on his future were being published for the benefit of the Man in the Street.
PART II.—THE DISPOSAL, 1945.
The President and Committee of the British Lepidopterists' Association request the pleasure of your company on January the 15th, at 5 P.M., when Mr. Nathaniel Prendergast will give an illustrated address on The Haunts and Habits of the minor Copperwing, together with a few Notes on Gnats.
* * * * *
"Linen collars at 3s. 6d. each sounds incredible."—Daily News.
A bit stiff, no doubt.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
(With the British Army in France.)
"I noticed the old sapper instinct asserting itself in Mac when he tried to tunnel out of that bunker at the seventh," said Denny after tea in the golf club-house. "He'd have found some opportunities on a really sporting course like ours at Villers-Vereux. Remember Villers, Ponting?"
"It wasn't a golf links as I remember it," said Ponting grimly.
"Bless you, I'm not speaking of those far-away days. I'm talking of a month or two back, when I was there with a Chinese Salvage Company trying to clear up the mess you made. Beastly quiet it was, too. The only excitement was a playful habit the Chink had contracted of picking up a rusty rifle and a salvaged clip of cartridges, pointing the gun anywhere and pulling the trigger to make it say Bang! I often found myself doin' the old B.E.F. tummy-wriggle when the Chinois was really happy.
"One Sunday—a non-working day—when all was drab and dreary and existence seemed a double-blank, my orderly mentioned that he had discovered some old 'golfing bats' in one of the hutments. Evidently they were the remains of the spoils of a lightning foray on the Base. A further search revealed a couple of elliptical balls, quite good in places. So I tipped my cub, Laxey, out of his bunk and we proceeded to resurrect our pre-war form. By-and-by we got adventurous, and Laxey challenged me to play him a match after lunch for ten francs a side. The details required some arranging, as there were no greens or holes, but eventually we decided on a cross-country stroke competition, starting from the hut-door and finishing at a crump hole, map ref.: B 26c, 08,35.
"We tossed for clubs, and as I won I picked a driver and a hockey stick, leaving Laxey a brassie and a putter head tied to a whangee cane that gave it plenty of whip. Laxey was spot, and broke with a ten-yard drive. Then I teed up and drove with a good follow-through action that carried me round several circles before I could stop.
"I did better the next time, and made my ball rather sorry that it had been making fun of me. Laxey had a bad lie and, though he lofted his ball with the putter (as I said, the whangee did give it 'whip'), he didn't clear the hutments. After he had cannoned off the roof of a 'Nissen' into the cook-house I took my turn, and to my disgust pulled into a trench that formed part of our old support line.
"'Our ways lie apart now, old melon,' I said, 'and I should advise you to follow my example and get your batman to keep the count. Otherwise your play will be affected by arithmetical troubles.'
"Accompanied by my faithful Wilkins I found my ball and reviewed the situation. The driver and hockey stick were hopeless for mashie shots, but Wilkins reported a practicable C.T. a few yards to the right, leading to the front line, and some gently sloping revetting from thence to the level. Luckily the C.T. had plenty of length to each traverse, and when I emerged in the open with my sixty-seventh Laxey was only just getting clear of the huts, having been badly bunkered in the coal dump. He made good progress from there, but I got into the rough—a regular Gruyere of shell-holes. While I was attempting to hack my way through I heard a delighted gurgle of laughter and turned round to see half-a-dozen of the Chinks sitting on their hams and watching me with undisguised jubilation.
"'Send them away, Wilkins,' I said irritably. 'Can't you see they're putting me off my game?'
"Wilkins shoved them off, and I took the old German line with a rush. While I was so to speak consolidating, a runner arrived from Laxey asking for the loan of a pair of wire-cutters.
"''E's 'ung up on the wire, Sir,' said the runner, 'an' cursing the artillery somethink awful from force of 'abit.'
"I sent a pair of nail-scissors with my compliments, and would Mr. Laxey kindly inform me what was his score to date? Laxey returned the scissors, saying that he found he could manage better with a tie-clip, and his score at 15.30 hours was 346, please. Cheered by the knowledge that I was a matter of twenty to the good, I executed a brilliant dribble along a ditch, neatly tricked a couple of saplings and finished with a long spinning-jenny into a camouflaged strong point. By this time Wilkins was in such a maze of mathematics that he hadn't time to scare off the coolies, who were tumbling up in large numbers and giving a generous meed of applause.
"Towards the 400 Laxey, who also had a good gallery of Chinks, was losing touch, and I advised him by runner to change direction. He thanked me, but said that, in view of the difficult nature of the terrain, he had decided to work round from a flank. Feeling that I was nearing the objective I organised a series of approach-shots with the driver, and sent to ask Laxey if he would care to accept fifty start. However, having foozled into a ruined pillbox, I reduced the offer by half, and later on, confident—not to say insulting—reports from Laxey induced me to withdraw the concession altogether.
"At 16.30 hours precisely, amid intense excitement on the part of the Celestial audience, we arrived at the deciding crump-hole simultaneously. When I say we arrived, I mean that Laxey had an eight-yard putt from a good lie—an easy proposition with the whangee putter—and I was ten yards away in as wicked a little crevice as you could wish to find.
"'If it doesn't shake your nerve, skipper,' said Laxey, 'I might mention that my score is 543.'
"'You'd better give me the game, then,' I answered. 'I'm but a modest 520.'
"'Not jolly likely. You'll take at least twenty to get out of that burrow. Besides, I know Wilkins is rotten at figures, and I claim a recount.'
"An audit and scrutiny showed that we were both 537, and although Laxey held a distinct advantage in position I decided on a strenuous effort to halve the game. I took a firm stance and the hockey stick and let drive for the hole with a tremendous pickaxe stroke. Instantly there was a blinding flash and an explosion, and, when we had finished picking sand out of our ears and eyes and allayed the excitement of the Chinks, we discovered my ball comfortably nestling in the crump-hole.
"'If assistance with derelict Mills bombs is allowed,' said Laxey, 'we've halved.'
"'On the contrary,' I replied, 'as your ball is apparently missing I've won.'
"And, if you believe me, we couldn't find Laxey's ball anywhere, though we had seen it but a minute or two before. So I claimed the ten francs; but I didn't mention to Laxey that the following morning I was passing a group of the coolies and saw them with an object that looked suspiciously like Laxey's ball, hammering it with a stick and trying to make it say Bang!"
* * * * *
* * * * *
"Wanted, Second Housemaid of three, Scotchwoman preferred; willing to wait on table if required; comfortable situation."—Daily Paper.
Possibly; but we always prefer our servants to do their waiting on the floor.
* * * * *
HOME THOUGHTS FROM HIND.
Back in the years of youth, a thoughtless thruster, I did adventure to the East and spurn My native land, and foolishly entrust her To other guardians pending my return; And now time bears me to the second lustre, And I am old and weary and I burn To freshen memories waxing somewhat vague; But men say, "Shun old England like the plague."
Lord knoweth Hind is not a place of pleasure Nor such a land as men forsake with tears; Lord knoweth how we venerate and treasure The English memory down the Indian years; Yet now the mail pours forth in flowing measure England's un-Englishness, and in our ears Echo the words of men returned from leave, Describing Englands one can scarce believe.
Englands abandoned to the fleeting passions, Feckless as Fez, hysterical as Gaul, All nigger-music and fantastic fashions (And not a house from Leith to London Wall); Where food and coal are dealt you out in rations And you can hardly raise a drink at all, And tailors charge you twenty pounds a touch. Is that a place for Nabobs? No, not much.
Better were Hind where troubles more or less stick To one set style and do not drive you mad With changes; where a roof and a domestic, Petrol and usquebagh can still be had; And one can trust the Taj and the Majestic (Bombay hotels be these and none too bad) To stand for culture in the hour of need And stop one running utterly to seed.
Hind be it; as for Home—festina lente; Hind be it and a station in the sun, Wherein if peace abideth not nor plenty At least you are not ruined and undone. I am not coming home in 1920, And maybe not in 1921; If all the English England's dead and gone, One can remember; one can carry on.
* * * * *
LITTLE TALES FOR YOUNG PLUMBERS.
THE CONVERSION OF GEORGE.
George was a plumber by trade and a striker by occupation. He did his plumbing in his holidays, when he was not busy. He liked plumbing, as it gave his throat a rest. He was really the Champion Long Distance Plumber of the World and had gained the R.S.V.P.'s gold medal for doing the back-in-a- minute-to-get-your-tools in more than two hours. And his heart was as tender as his feet. If he heard a clock strike he longed to strike in sympathy, so that hard-hearted employers who knew George's weakness always kept their time-pieces muffled.
The bursting of our water-pipe was the means of bringing me into touch with George. He joined our bathing-party in the front hall, and said simply, "I am the plumber." Just like that. He then said that he would swim home for his tools, as he had forgotten the can-opener. When he got back Auntie was drowned.
He did not stay long, as he had to go on sympathetic strike with the graziers. He was not really a grazier as well as a plumber, but his heart was so tender that he couldn't keep on plumbing so as to give satisfaction, he said, as long as the graziers were not grazing, so to speak. It didn't really matter. Nothing matters nowadays. I just went out and sold the house as it stood for an enormous sum and emigrated on the proceeds to Tooting Bec.
But this tract deals with George and his conversion, and has been written specially to be put into the hands of young plumbers. Let us see then how George gave up his sinful ways and how his heart was changed.
It began with his tooth—an old, old tooth. It had done some work in its time, but it decided to strike. And strike it did. George gave it beer—Government beer—and it hit George back, good and hard. George then began to talk to it. He asked if it knew what it was doing of. He threatened it with more Government beer if it didn't get on with its work more quiet-like. The tooth sat up then and bit George.
"All right, young fellow my lad," said George; "you come out along o' me, and come quiet. You're going to the dentist's, you are, and he'll Bolshevise you proper, he will."
The tooth stopped aching at once; it was a wisdom tooth. But George knew it was only just lying low, to break out into sympathetic strike on Monday morning. So out he rushed with it and took it to the dentist. I was the dentist.
I led George gently by the hand to my nice little chair and told him what beautiful weather we were having for the time of the year. I said, "Open, please," and George opened. I then took my nice little steel whangee, beautifully polished, and tickled the delinquent. A gentle tickle and no more. I didn't really go far—not farther than his back collar-stud—but George said things as if I were a capitalist.
I then said coldly, "It doesn't hurt!" I am what is known in the profession as a painless dentist and rarely feel much pain.
I capped his repartee by remarking, "Keep open, please." That always shuts 'em up. George kept open. I then spilt some cotton-wool in his tooth and put up some scaffolding in the entrance of his mouth, and said nonchalantly (I always charge extra for this), "I have forgotten my niblick; keep open. I shall be back anon." I then went out and had lunch.
When I came back George was still keeping open, but he looked at me very wicked with his blue eyes and asked me from under the cotton-wool if I ever intended to finish my ruddy little job.
I said, "Dear brother and oppressed fellow-striker, I regret that I cannot. I see by The Dentists' Daily that our Union has declared a sympathetic strike with the Amalgamated Excavators and Theological Students. You have my sympathy. I can no more."
George tried to persuade me as we went downstairs together, bumping our heads on each step in turn, but it was of no avail.
I do not however regret my pious invention, as I hear that George is a changed man. Being intelligent, he thought things over for himself, instead of letting a man in a red tie do it for him, and after six weeks came to the conclusion that a strike is a game that more than one can play at. He strikes now only in his holidays. He never now forgets his tools or leaves taps running. He does a good day's plumb for a good day's pay. And he sings while he works. Strange to say that little tooth of his has given up striking too.
But yet it is not strange, for, as I told you, it was a wisdom tooth.
* * * * *
"L3 10s. HUSBANDS.
WIFE WHO HOUSEKEEPS FOR THREE ON L2 A WEEK."—Daily Paper.
But isn't this rather trigamous?
* * * * *
* * * * *
BEHIND THE SCENES IN CINEMA-LAND.
* * * * *
FIXES THE HARE.
I found Andy Devenish, of Castle Devenish, Co. Cork, in Piccadilly. He was wearing an old frieze overcoat, the bottom of which had suffered from a puppy's teeth, and a bowler hat with a guard-ring dangling from its flat brim. His freckled nose was squashed against Fore's window as he gazed wistfully at the sporting prints within. I led him gently westwards, pushed him into the club's best arm-chair, placed the wine of our mutual country at his elbow and spoke to him severely.
"Tell me," said I, "how is it I find you thus, got up in the height of fashion, loitering with intent to lady-kill in this colossal rabbit-warren which knows no hound but the sleuth, no horse but the towel? How is it, man, when there's a Peace on and the month is February and there's no frost south of the Liffey? Why aren't you dressed in a coat that is pink in spots and a cap that is velvet in places, flipping over your stone-faced banks on a rampageous four-year-old that you bought for ten pounds down, ten pounds some time, a sack of seed oats and an old saddle, and will eventually palm off on an Englishman at Ballsbridge for two hundred cash? What about the hounds? The Ballinknock Versatiles? What are they doing without their master? Going for improving country walks with Patsey Mike, two and two like young ladies from a seminary, or sitting up on their benches, a tear in every eye, wailing, 'Oh, where is our wandering boy tonight?'
"And what about the Ballinknock foxes, eh? Aren't they entitled to some consideration? Didn't they carry on patiently for four dull years while you were in France, learning to walk in the cavalry, on the understanding that you'd make up for it when you got back by hunting them every day of the week? Have you no love or sympathy for dumb animals? Why are you here? What are you flying from? Tell me your dread secret. Is it debt, arson, murder—or is some woman threatening to marry you?"
Andy growled into his whiskey-and-soda, then suddenly pointed out of the window. "See the advertisement on that bus?"
"'MIND THE WIDOW'," I read, "'shrieking comedy by Cosmo—'"
"No, not that one," Andy grumbled; "t'other."
It was a picture of a smiling gentleman with a head that gleamed like patent leather. The gentleman attributed his happiness to the fact that he mixed "Florazora" cream with his scalp. "Florazora Cream," I read, "fixes the hair. Subtly perfumed with honey and flowers. Imparts a lustre and—" The bus resumed its journey.
I studied Andy's head. Normally it looks as though he had been mopping out a rusty drain with it. It was quite normal, every hair on end and pointing in a different direction.
"Well, what of Florazora?" I asked. "It's evident she has never entered into your life, at any rate."
"That's all you know about it," said Andy. "They're sitting up for me with blunderbusses and brickbats at home, and 'Florazora' is the cause."
"But how?" I asked.
"Ye'll discover if ye'll let me speak for a half a minute. I may admit to you I was very sweet on a little girl that was staying with the MacManuses a while back, so I bought a bottle of that stuff to keep my hair down while I was pitching her the yarn. I cornered the lass alone in the MacManus' drawing-room, went down on my knees and threw off a dandy proposal I had learnt by heart out of a book. The girl curled about all over the sofa with emotion, and for a bit I thought my eloquence was doing it. Then I perceived she was near shaken to pieces with laughter. Couldn't think why till I happened to catch sight of myself in a mirror and saw that my darned old hair had come unstuck again and was bobbing up all over my head, not singly as it is now, but a cockatoo tuft at a time, thanks to 'Florazora.' I rose up off the MacManus carpet and ran all the way home."
"Still I don't see—" I began.
"Ye never will if ye don't give me a chance to tell ye," said Andy.
"Do ye remember that greasy divil Peter Flynn that owns a draper's shop in Ballinknock main street? A fat man he is with the flowing locks of a stump orator, given to fancy waistcoats and a frock-coat—very dressy. Ye'd see him standing at the shop-door on fair-days, bobbing to the women and how-dy-doin' the country boys the way he'd tout a vote or two, he being the leading Sinn Fein organiser down our way now. Anyhow he and his raparees got after me and the hunt, on account of me evicting a tenant that hadn't paid a penny of rent for seven years and didn't ever intend to. They hinted to the decent poor farmers round about that there'd be ricks fired and cows ripped if they allowed me to hunt their lands, so I got stopped everywhere. I had land enough of my own to carry on with, so I hunted there till the foxes and hares gave out, which they precious soon did, seeing that half the neighbourhood was out shooting, trapping, poisoning and lurching them.
"I bought a stag from a feller in Limerick and chased that for a bit; then on a 'tween day, when I was away and the deer out grazing in the demesne, somebody slipped a brace of Mauser bullets into it, and that form of diversion was likewise at an end. As far as I could see an animal wouldn't stand a ten minutes' chance in my country unless it were an armadillo.
"I wrote to the War Office, asking them could they kindly oblige me with the loan of a lively little tank for pursuing purposes, but got no answer. I guess WINSTON had a liver on him that morning. So there was nothing for it but to give up the hounds. I went and broke the sad news to Patsey Mike, who was mixing stirabout at the time. 'Oh, God save us, don't be doing that, Sor,' says he. 'Hoult hard a day or so and I'll be afther findin' some little object to hunt, that them dirthy blagyards won't shoot at all.'
"Two mornings later he turned up, dragging something in an oat-sack.
"I have it here that'll course out before the houn's like a shootin'-star,' says he.
"'What is it?' says I.
"The rogue put his hand in the sack and drew out a yellow mongrel dog.
"'Where did ye get that?' says I.
"'Shure didn't I borry it?' says he.
"'And who did ye borrow it from?' says I.
"'From Misther Flynn, no less,' says he. ''Tis his little foxey pet dog.'
"'Does Mr. Flynn know you borrowed it from him?' says I.
"'Begob that he does not,' says he. 'Mr. Flynn is beyond in Youghal and I borryed it in the dark dead of night over the yard wall. Faith, he'll run home like a flick of lightning, he's that scared, the same dog.'
"'Ye did well,' said I; 'but will the hounds chase him?'
"'That they will, Sor. What with foxes one day, stags the next and hares the next, there's sorra a born thing they wouldn't hunt given there's smell enough in it,' says the lad. 'Have ye the laste little trace of aniseed in the house that you could drench the crature with the way the houn's would folly him?'
"Divil a drop of aniseed or anything else had I on the place, and I stood there scratching my ear with my crop wondering what to do, when suddenly I remembered that relic of my courting days, 'Florazora.' 'I have it,' I said; 'I've got something that'll fix that hare all right.'
"I fetched the bottle and rubbed a handful or so of the stuff well into Mr. Flynn's pet dog and let him go with a flip of my whip lash to help him on his way. He lit out for home as though the devil had kicked him, yelling blue murder and laying a trail of flowers and honey across the country so thick you could pretty nigh eat it. I gave him a fair start, then laid the hounds on and we had a five-mile point, going like a steeplechase all the way. Flynn lives in a lonely house about half a mile out of Ballinknock, and the 'bag-man' got home to it and through the wee dog-hole into the yard with just six inches to spare.
"Patsey went over the wall and borrowed the dog three times after that. It was no trouble at all. Flynn was still away in Youghal, and his housekeeper was that deaf Gabriel would have to announce the Crack of Doom to her on his fingers. But it was too good to last. On the fourth day we were nearing Flynn's house, the dog leading the pack by not fifty yards, when I saw him cut across a field to the left, while the hounds tumbled into a little boreen that runs up from the railway-station and went streaking down it singing out as if they were on a breast-high scent and in view.
"'Begob,' says I to Patsey, 'they've changed; they're running a hare, I believe.'
"'Tis a hare in a frock-coat then, Sor,' says he, pointing with his whip.
"Sure enough it was a man they were after. I saw him then galloping down the boreen for dear life, coat-tails flying, hair streaming, terror in his big white face. Flynn! I did my damdest, but I had no hope of stopping them, not in that little lane. When I came out on the high-road I found what was left of the politician half-way up a telegraph post, like a treed cat, screeching and scrambling and calling on the Saints, with old Actress swinging by her teeth to the tails of his shirt, Cruiskeen ripping the trousers off him a leg at a time, and the rest of the pack leaping under him like the surf of the sea.
"I nearly rolled off my mare with laughter, though well I knew the screeching scarecrow up the pole would have me drawn and quartered for that day's work. I whipped the hounds off in the end, took 'em by road to Fermoy that same evening and boxed 'em to my brother-in-law in Carlow. 'Twas fortunate I did, for my kennels were burnt to the ground that night."
Andy sighed, drained his glass and gazed regretfully at the bottom.
"H-m, ye-es, but there's still a point I would like cleared up," said I. "What made the pack change and chase Flynn?"
"Appears he was strongly addicted to 'Florazora' too," said Andy.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
ANOTHER IMPENDING APOLOGY.
From the account of a farewell meeting in honour of a retiring Minister:—
"It was altogether a notable gathering, and perhaps the congregational repetition of the General Thanksgiving at the opening of the meeting gave the keynote to the whole proceedings."—Christian World.
* * * * *
"An immediate advance of 10s. a week for adult workers and 5s. for juniors is being made to employers by the National Transport Workers' Federation."—Evening Paper.
We have always contended that the motto "For others" is the guiding principle of Labour.
* * * * *
"There are Germans still in the Baltic Provinces—which is full of uuuuuuuuuuuuuu eaoi aoa."—Daily Paper.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
LABOUR AND ART;
OR, THE CONVERSION OF BINKS.
You have stood at some time, I suppose, with a sense of disaster And gazed at a picture resembling an egg on a mat, Or a sideslip of squares in the mode of a Pimlico master?— Well, Binks's "Rebellion" and "Afternoon Tea in my Flat" Were extremely like that.
He was nuts upon Beauty was Binks, and from boyhood acquainted With Art, and so bound to her side with such delicate links That I doubt if the soul of her, much as we've written and painted, Had ever been fathomed (for is she not strange as the Sphinx?) Till she got to know Binks.
He had hundreds of phases, and all of them highly sensational, A Cubist unbending, a Vorticist equally stout; Scorned one thing, he said, and one only, the Representational, Meaning, I take it, a school where there isn't much doubt What the whole thing's about.
And at times he would say, as I stared at his riotous scrimmages And asked what on earth was the meaning, "You must have regard To the mind of the artist, for Art is a matter of images," And it seemed that he thought all these things when he gazed very hard At a tub in a yard.
But at times he would tell me that Art was a mere interweaving Of hues and designs; he had done what he could to expel All thoughts and all visual objects, for these were deceiving, And I told him, so far as an ignorant layman could tell, He had done that quite well.
But I think that of all of his phases the last was most funny; He was vestured in white when I met him by chance in the town; He had shaved off his beard, his beard, like Apollo's, of honey; His hair was quite short, he had lost his habitual frown, He was looking quite brown.
He told me he never exhibited now in a gallery; Commissions were filling his time and engaging his heart; What was more, he observed, he was making a regular salary, So I asked him to tell me the worst and explain from the start What had happened to Art.
"I have banished Design," he informed me, "and thoughts are all duller Than Beauty, and Beauty is Art; but no critic can grouse At the notion of Absolute Pure Indivisible Colour As calm as Eternity, smooth as omnipotent nous— I am painting a house."
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE BEST OF THINGS.
"The New Poor?" said Holder, like myself, one of them. "Nonsense. There are none. There are people who will not use their imaginations, of course. They are poor, but not newly so. This so-called new poverty doesn't touch me. True, the money I make will not go so far as it used to, but my imagination goes very much farther. I have trained it, encouraged it, my wife's and boy's too. We have cast off the absurd restraints imposed by the law of probability. In the old days, when I used to think, say, of motors, I was invariably badgered by the spectre of improbability. I used to think of a four-hundred-pound car, or perhaps, in a daring moment, my thoughts would creep timidly, like mice out into a still kitchen, on to the six-hundred- pound plane, only to scurry back to the lower plane almost instantly. Now I've thrown all that overboard. Rubbish! When I think of motors I think in terms of Rolls-Royces. Why think cheaply? It's a poor imagination that won't run to a six-cylinder car at least. Strictly, I shall never own a real motor scooter. What of it? In my mind I use Rolls-Royces. We've rather worked the thing up at home. Come and dine with us and see for yourself."
We had sausages and mashed potatoes, with water. And I may say that never have I enjoyed a meal more. You see, Holder kept on telling us all the time about the famous dinner which now, owing to the War, we should never really eat, but which we were at perfect liberty to imagine we were eating. I am sorry you were not there. The hors d'oeuvres! Holder describes hors d'oeuvres better than any man I know. Oh, masterly, the colour ... RUSKIN, perhaps. Anyhow, he carried us quite away.
His wife chose oysters. His description of oysters, instantly furnished, was a little gem—a pearl, silver-grey, so much so that I too chose oysters. His little boy, Dickie, chose caviare; but he really did not care for it. He bit on a piece of button in his sausage, poor child. That was why he did not appreciate the caviare. But Holder distracted his mind with some very remarkable mushroom soup—potage de champignons—a brilliant word-sketch. We all chose it.
For fish there was saus—pardon me, sole. The little lad, Dickie, chose salmon; but Holder reminded him that he had had salmon the previous evening; it was out of season in any case, and he described how the sole tasted that probably Dickie will never touch. The boy appeared to enjoy it immensely.
I think it was the game, simple roast partridges, exquisitely cooked, which Mrs. Holder enjoyed most. Her eyes were frankly shining as she pensively chewed the third quarter of her sausage, and she thrilled to the juices of the partridge of the dinner she could no longer hope really to eat, but which Holder, thank God, would often describe, at any rate until a tax is put on conversation. Even then something might be done—deaf and dumb language, possibly—an evasion, I admit, but even the New Poor must eat occasionally.
We all enjoyed the game course most, with the exception of Dickie. The lad had finished his sausage, and mashed potato alone is not inspiring. But that great man, Holder, noticed it in time, and he satisfied the child with a word-painting of the brown crisp skin of cooked goose. Then we drank some magnificent wine. Holder ransacked the English language for it. A vivifying champagne.
But enough of food, or you will think we were gourmands. None of us cared for any sweets after such a meal. And that is what I like about the Holders: with them enough is as good as the feast they will never have.
After dinner we smoked a very fine cigar in the imaginary conservatory which Holder has just run up, and I have rarely, if ever, heard a better description of men smoking cigars in a conservatory. Next, Holder played me a fast game of billiards. He allowed me to choose my own table, and I picked the most expensive in the catalogue. Dickie marked for us. Then he went to bed. I heard his father whisper a most convincing description of eiderdowns and real wool blankets when he kissed him. He is only a very little boy—big blue eyes, you know, like a girl's; they watered a little. Excitement....
It was a clear moonlit night with a touch of frost in the air, so Mrs. Holder rang for the visionary footman, a good-looking, most willing, sensible man, according to Holder's quick portrait of him, who piled up some great logs on a bank of coals of a positively fantastic size, and we gathered round to enjoy a run in the brand-new, latest model Rolls-Royce which is one of the special things which Holder will never possess in this world. Ah, but she was a queen of cars, and the best of cars always run better at night. I wonder why. So smoothly silky, so dreamily sweet-running, a pouring of cream! I wish I could convey to you the satin sound of her transmission, the low golden purr of her gears, the fanning of her velvet wings—wheels, that is. I would sooner ride in that verbal car of Holder's than walk round the real backyard that is my own, unless I fall behind with the rent, as I begin to fear I shall....
Down the dreamy moon-drenched highways, across the magic silver-flecked moors, we climbed on the wings of the peregrine to the keen, cold uplands, soared awhile, then dropped to the warm and sheltered valley and so home again. We felt the radiator, Holder and I, and it was quite cool. She will never boil on a stiff hill. Mrs. Holder was glowing from her ride; for an instant she looked pink and pretty; she had lost that wistful pinched look.
I went inside for a phrase or so of Holder's admirable idea of what cherry brandy should be. We chatted for a little about the estate that he will never purchase, and then I left, having promised to go round there to-morrow for a little shooting. It will be hot work among the pheasants if Holder has not lost his voice.
He and his wife came down the drive to the entrance-gates with me.
"Good-night," they said; "we're glad you've enjoyed yourself."
Holder was a little hoarse, for he is a generous host. I think too the motor run had tired them both, for their faces were again a little haggard; and the wind had brought tears to the eyes of Mrs. Holder.
So I said good-bye to them—and to Jack, their elder boy, whom they will never see again. He lies in France. But, you understand, it was as if he had been with us all again for a little while that evening.
* * * * *
* * * * *
HOPE FOR POSTERITY.
Full many a year has waxed and waned And sunk into its shroud Since that first day that I obtained A diary and vowed To keep (as I informed my wife) "The Records of a Simple Life."
Within it I resolved to state, Like Mr. PEPYS of yore, The things that I, for instance, ate And she, my Mary, wore, Facts that would have a curious worth When I was famed and—under earth.
And generations yet unborn Would feel a thrill to note How I upon an April morn Left off my overcoat, Or showed a pardonable spleen At having missed the 9.16.
Nine volumes I've commenced at least To write with eager pen; The first, I note, abruptly ceased On January 10, While yesteryear the break occurred, I think, upon the 23rd.
But this year, I am proud to see, Stands not as others stood; The prospects of posterity Are really rather good, Now that my zeal (not on the ebb) Has borne me safely into Feb.
* * * * *
The connection of occultism with music was recently discussed by Mr. CYRIL SCOTT in his interesting volume on Modernism in Music. It is satisfactory to know that the subject is not to be allowed to drop. Grave discontent is rife in orchestral circles at the monopoly enjoyed at spiritualist seances by the tambourine, and it is reported that Mr. ERNEST NEWMAN, the distinguished and outspoken musical critic, will shortly deliver a public lecture on behalf of the admission of other instruments to these mysteries, and in particular the tuba. The claim of the tuba, Mr. NEWMAN holds, is not only based on the profundity of its tones, but upon long literary tradition. Nothing could be more conclusive than the reference in the old Latin hymn:—
"Tuba mirum spargens sonum Per sepulcra regionum."
It is anticipated that the discussion will be attended by Signor MARCONI, Lord DUNSANY, Mr. YEATS and Lieutenant JONES, the author of The Road to En-Dor.
* * * * *
Meanwhile the conflicting current of musical materialism is running strong. The Daily Mail, always in the van of artistic progress, has espoused the cause of the insurgent Georgians with intrepid zeal. Mr. JULIUS HARRISON is extolled in a leading article for finding a theme for an orchestral work, not in any of the misty or metaphysical abstractions which appealed to the effete Victorian composers, but in plums. And, mind you, not Carlsbad, but honest Worcestershire plums, without any Teutonic taint. Mr. JULIUS HARRISON'S patriotic example is not likely to be lost on his brother composers. Indeed it is asserted on credible authority that Mr. GRANVILLE BANTOCK, who has completely forsworn all Oriental and exotic subjects, is engaged on a gigantic symphony, with choral interludes, entitled "Yorkshire Pudding;" and that Mr. JOSEF HOLBROOKE is collaborating with Lord HOWARD DE WALDEN in a romantic historical opera in fifteen Acts called "From Woad to Broadcloth."
* * * * *
Mr. BERNARD SHAW, who, it may be necessary to remind youthful readers, was a musical critic on The Star and The World before he achieved fame as a dramatist, has been causing his friends and admirers serious misgivings by his article on Sir EDWARD ELGAR in a new musical journal, Music and Letters. Sir EDWARD ELGAR has a great following; he has written oratorios; he is an O.M.; yet Mr. SHAW salutes him as the greatest English composer, the true lineal descendant of BEETHOVEN, one of the Immortals and the only candidate for Westminster Abbey! To find Mr. SHAW taking a majority view is bad enough; it is a case of proving false to the tradition of a lifetime—a moral suicide. But why drag in BEETHOVEN? So left-handed a compliment prompts the suspicion that, after all, what appears to be eulogy is in reality nothing more than an essay in adroitly dissembled obloquy. Mutatis mutandis, Mr. SHAW would not thank Sir EDWARD ELGAR for calling him, for example, the Voltaire de nos jours. What he does enjoy is the frank disparagement of Mr. WILFRID BLUNT, who describes him in the second volume of My Diary, just published, as "an ugly fellow, his face a pasty-white, with a red nose and a rusty red beard, and little slaty-blue eyes."
* * * * *
An interesting but, we regret to say, decidedly hostile estimate of Mr. LLOYD GEORGE as a musician appears in the columns of a leading anti-Coalition daily. The critic discusses the PREMIER both as vocalist and instrumentalist, and in both capacities finds him sadly wanting. The volume of his voice is small, the timbre is unpleasant, the production faulty and the intonation far from pure. Admitting that Mr. LLOYD GEORGE has a certain flexibility and facility common to all Welsh singers, the critic condemns his habit of resorting to an emotional tremolo which frequently degenerates into a mere "wobble." The PREMIER, he continues, shows agility and spirit in florid passages, but his declamation lacks dignity and his articulation is often indistinct. As a pianist he is equally unsatisfactory; his repertory is extremely limited and he is quite unable to interpret the complex harmonies of the Russian School.
* * * * *
A painful example of Mr. LLOYD GEORGE'S ignorance is forthcoming in the astounding fact that he is, or was, under the impression that Karsavina was the name of a town, and that the only musician of the name of Corelli was the author of The Sorrows of Satan. The critic concludes with a masterly analysis of the results of these short-comings on the vitality of the Coalition Cabinet, already weakened by the withdrawal of Mr. BALFOUR, a very sound and accomplished musician of the old school.
* * * * *
Now I return to my own land and people, Old familiar things so to recover, Hedgerows and little lanes and meadows, The friendliness of my own land and people.
I have seen a world-frieze of glowing orange, Palms painted black on a satin horizon; Palm-trees in the dusk and the silence standing Straight and still against a background of orange;
A gorgeous magical pomp of light and colour, A dream-world, a sparkling gem in the sunlight, The minarets and domes of an Eastern city; And, in the midst of all the pomp of colour,
My heart cried out for my own land and people, My heart cried out for the lush meadows of England, The hedgerows and the little lanes of England, And for the faces of my own people.
* * * * *
"The Viceroy, fishing in the Kabini river yesterday, caught a mahseer weighing 77 pounds. This is the best fish so far caught in one day."— Weekly Rangoon Times.
We gather that the giant would not have allowed any less august angler to land it except by instalments.
* * * * *
* * * * *
It was with ill-concealed trepidation that I approached the Pontifical Personage who presides over Messrs. Barkrod and Tomridge's Zoological Department. The recollection of my previous and only encounter with him still burned in my memory. I had gone thither with a young nephew on whom in a rash moment I had urged the satisfaction to be derived from the study of natural history and he had countered with a birthday and a demand that I should convert precept to practice by providing him with a pet.
The P.P. greeted us with benignant expectancy. His white apron merely accentuated the obvious fact that he had come in a limousine. I have since decided that he mistook me for an eccentric peer. It seems that eccentric peers and struggling journalists are apt to provide the same air of sartorial abandon to the eye of the uninitiated.
It was the young nephew, however, who made the running. The entire menagerie whistled, barked, sat up on its hind legs, performed acrobatic feats and said, "Scratch poor Polly," at his discriminating behest. Finally he reached a point where he simply could not decide between a Goliath cockatoo at L22 10s. and a white-faced Douroucouli at twenty-seven guineas.
At this juncture I insinuated myself into the discussion, and by the exercise of subtle pressure got him to compromise on a pair of white rats at half-a-crown. Never shall I forget the look of majestic contempt with which the Personage withered me as he extracted two torpid rodents from a congeries of their kith and, holding them by their pink tails, dropped them into a paper bag with the air of a Marchese depositing alms in the palm of a lazzarone.
Not lightly indeed did I again enter into the Presence. But on this occasion duty called. The troubadour with lady's glove in helm never showed a bolder front than the journalist in search of copy. And boldness, it seemed, was to be rewarded. As I approached the Pontifical Personage it appeared certain that he did not remember me. And why, I asked myself, should he? Had I been the Duke of BEDFORD or the President of the Ladies' Kennel Club I might have expected a place in his august memory. But an insignificant uncle buying white rats—it was absurd, of course, to fear recognition.
I plunged straightway in medias res. "I have here," I said, "a journal of unimpeachable veracity which declares that the Pasteur Institute in Paris is suffering from a guinea-pig shortage. Please oblige me with your expert opinion on this momentous matter."
The P.P. smiled slightly, cleared his throat and, waving me to the further end of the menagerie, proceeded to answer my question. "The common or Sicilian guinea-pig," he began, "the Porculus Auriferus Excubitor of BUFFON, is still fairly common, though I may say that it is many a day since they could be purchased for a guinea. An allied species, the Chinese or edible guinea-pig, the Sing Fat Soo of the Cantonese restaurateur, is indeed quite plentiful, but for some reason or other has never found favour with the leading English fanciers. The fact is that since the War our customers have become more discerning, and the common guinea-pig, being no longer called for, is not bred and has therefore ceased to be available for scientific purposes. A few of the art shades, notably tete-negre and beige pigs, are still in request by the furriers; but the public demand is for something more select.
"Now here"—and reaching into an adjoining cage the Pontifical Personage extracted between finger and thumb a pinch of twitching fluff—"is the most highly-prized of the race, the blue Himalayan pig. Only five specimens have so far reached this country. The first pair were presented to the Duchess of Snoblands by the Maharajah of Khidmutgar about three years ago, but the sow met with an unfortunate accident in her ladyship's absence, being dipped into a box of face-powder by a thoughtless maidservant. The third specimen, a fine boar, was brought from China as the mascot of H.M.S. Colossus, but just after reaching harbour was accidentally devoured by the ship's cat. The remaining two I have here. They are expensive, of course, a hundred-and-five guineas the pair, but quite unique.
"Of greater zoological interest perhaps is this little fellow, Porculus Auriferus Decaudatus, an arboreal species from the Solomon Islands; or the striated guinea-pig of Central Nicaragua, which I am happily able to show you."
He placed Nicaragua's most valuable product in my hand, and it promptly bit me. That I did not drop it into a cageful of terrier-pups was wholly due to the native vigour with which Striatus hung on.
"The price of that is forty-five guineas," continued the Pontifical Person smoothly, as he restored it to its cage. I shivered.
"Now here," he went on, "is a pig of real historic interest. I have a fair number of them just in from my collectors in the Persian Gulf and can do them at eighteen pounds the pair." He motioned me towards a larger cage wherein a bevy of dun-coloured piglets were holding a soviet. "The Sumerian or Desert Pig," he explained, "of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, erroneously identified by GRENFELL and HUNT with the Southern form of the Tree Hyrax."
It was at this point that my intelligence forsook me. I had been getting on too well. It was the old story of over-confidence.
"Honestly now, old chap," I said, "and strictly between ourselves, do you ever sell any of the little beasts?"
His face lit up in a brilliant smile. "No, Sir," he replied, drawing himself up majestically and looking me squarely in the eye, "we keep these to show to inquisitive customers. We only sell WHITE RATS!"
I fled. As I crossed the interminable length of floor that separated me from the door I could feel that contemptuous smile rowelling my shrinking vertebrae. Halfway across, the Blue Himalyan guinea-pig could have given me three drachms and whipped me by sheer brute strength. As I sped towards the door an attendant opened it. It was unnecessary. I could easily have crept underneath it.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"VACUUM for Sale, good condition. After 6 o'clock."—Provincial Paper.
Our own is generally at its best about an hour and a-half later.
* * * * *
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
"A tough hide and some facility of expression"—to quote the author's modest estimate of his qualifications—have enabled Rear-Admiral Sir DOUGLAS BROWNRIGG to make his Indiscretions of the Naval Censor (CASSELL) the liveliest book of the War that has come my way. Thanks to the first element in his make-up he managed to retain his difficult and delicate post throughout the War, and only once came into serious collision with any of his official superiors. As these included First Lords of such diverse temperament as Mr. CHURCHILL and Lord FISHER, and First Sea Lords with such diametrically opposite views regarding publicity as Lord FISHER and Sir HENRY JACKSON, this was no small achievement. Thanks to the second element he has written a book which scarcely contains a dull page. Whether he is giving us a pen-picture of Mr. CHURCHILL conducting Admiralty business from a sick-bed, with his head swathed in flannel and an immense cigar protruding from the bandage; or explaining how the legend of Lord KITCHENER'S survival arose from a trivial error that caused the news of the Hampshire disaster to reach Berlin a few minutes before it was published in London, he always writes with directness and verve. Admiral BROWNRIGG tells a good deal about the censorship, and illustrates his theme with some excellent reproductions of naval photographs before and after the Censor had "re-touched" them. He tells us even more about his work in a less familiar role, that of Publicity Agent to the Silent Service. It was he who arranged visits to the Fleet by more or less distinguished personages— "BROWNRIGG'S circus parties," as they were dubbed in the gun-room—and who engaged authors like Mr. KIPLING and artists like Sir JOHN LAVERY to describe and portray the doings of the Fleet and its auxiliaries. It pains me to learn, however, that "Passed by Censor" was only a guarantee for the harmlessness and not for the veracity of the stories narrated; and in particular that the famous "Q"-boat ruse of the demented female with the explosive baby was a pure work of imagination.
* * * * *
Without any special heralding, Mr. ERIC LEADBITTER seems to have stepped into the front rank, perhaps even to the leadership, of those active novelists whose theme is English rural life. I emphasize the word "active," with of course a thought for the master of them all, the wizard of Dorchester, at whose feet it would probably be fair to suppose Mr. LEADBITTER to have learnt some at least of his craft. His new story, Shepherd's Warning (ALLEN AND UNWIN), is a quiet tale of life in a not specially attractive village—a tale that conquers by its direct humanity and by an art so delicate and so deftly concealed that the book has a deceptive appearance of having written itself without effort on the part of its author. It concerns a group of peasants, agricultural labourers, inhabitants of Fidding, a village gradually yielding to the encroachments by tram and villa of the neighbouring town. The simple annals of these folk, and especially of one family, old Bob Garrett and his grandsons, provide the matter of a tale gentle as the passage of time itself, never dull, instinct with quality in every line of it. Mr. LEADBITTER has a method of concentration so pronounced that, once let his characters, even his heroine, step outside the beam that he has focussed upon Fidding, and they vanish utterly, till the working (apparently) of fate brings them back again. Even the murder in his early chapters is so lightly touched upon as to produce hardly any effect of violence. His sympathy with the life of the soil, and the human lives that are so near to it, is clearly absorbing; the result is that, to all save the confirmed sensationalist (piqued possibly by the waste of good homicide), Shepherd's Warning will also, I think, prove Reader's Delight.
* * * * *
Mr. H. COLLINSON OWEN, formerly Editor of the soldiers' paper, The Balkan News, would just love to trap you into an argument on the value of our Macedonian campaign as compared with certain other war efforts. His book, Salonika and After (HODDER AND STOUGHTON), shows him thirsting to accept battle for the cause he champions; and in the sub-title, The Side-Show that Ended the War, he fairly throws down the gauntlet. But take my advice and don't be drawn. He has a foreword from General MILNE to support him, and an extract from LUDENDORFF'S Memoirs, and a quotation from The Times. He has a very lively and convincing way of putting things too, and once he gets his enthusiasm fairly in hand becomes an uncommonly powerful advocate. Not that this volume is by any means just a piece of special pleading; only the author is honourably concerned to show both the importance and the severity of the war against the Bulgars, which he thinks people at home were a little inclined to disparage. I certainly cannot remember doing so, but, putting controversy aside, this book remains an adequate first-hand account of an adventure so great as to demand an heroic literature all its own, where it can be seen in true perspective. Mr. OWEN deals delightfully with nights in Salonika clubland or the vagaries of King "TINO", or with the more warlike matters culminating in the terrific actions that held the enemy's left wing tight while our allies smashed his centre. An excellent book, with illustrations above the average and a good map handily placed.
* * * * *
Mrs. HENRY DUDENEY'S Spade Work (HURST AND BLACKETT) is a queer story queerly told. A musician and an art-and-crafty girl, both poor and both dull, are engaged. The musician, visiting his fiancee, now well off and installed in a comfortable village farm-house, lets the strong air of the place get into his head and falls deep in love with a yeoman's daughter, who in turn, stimulated by this experience, straightway succumbs (at her first dance in real society, into which the great lady of the village, her patron, has introduced her) to the suggestion that she shall spend an unchaperoned night on a young blood's yacht, with results usual in distressful fiction. However, after many tribulations she and her musician, now duller than ever, are united, while the jilted craftswoman is left "full of ideas, sumptious (sic), a little feverish" for village industries which from my impression of her mentality I should judge would be of a devastating order. Lovers of that charming little West-country village in which the author sets her scene will not easily forgive her for naming it and baldly cataloguing its houses and sundry points of its environment, leaving out most that is the essential of its charm. It's simply not done by authentic writers of fiction—barring house-agents.
* * * * *
Those who experienced the rapture of discovery in an exhibition last May of caricatures by EDMUND X. KAPP may now rejoice (supposing them to command the needful guinea) that they can recapture this pleasure through a volume of twenty-four representative drawings collected under the apt title of Personalities (SECKER). Not for me to attempt detailed consideration, even if it were not the duty of every amateur to fall a victim at first hand to Mr. KAPP'S amazing art. But one can hardly pass without tribute such things as the head of the Japanese poet on page 1 ("Seer of Visions"), a really wonderful example of much meaning in few lines, or the WYNDHAM LEWIS, the only drawing in the book in which a suggestion of cruelty tinges the satire. Perhaps the most directly laughter-moving pages are those devoted to the brilliant series of musical conductors; is this because we have all stared our two hours into expert familiarity with these variously-tailored backs? But indeed here is a volume of twenty-four joys, or rather twenty-five, the last being anticipation of Mr. KAPP'S further activities, which I for one shall await with very genuine interest.
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"Miss ——, the well-known lady golfer, was married yesterday. Several well-known golfers formed a guard of honour, and made an arch of golf clubs for the bridal couple to pass under. The bride and bridegroom were pelted with wooden golf balls."—Provincial Paper.
Rubber-cores might have been less painful, but were perhaps too expensive.