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Punch, or the London Charivari
Volume 158, Jan-Jul 1920
June 2, 1920
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Some idea of the heat experienced in this country last week can be deduced from the fact that several bricklayers were distinctly seen to wipe their brows in their own time.
It is all very well for LENIN to talk about Great Britain recognising Russia, while his followers are doing their best to render the place almost unrecognisable.
Normally, says Dr. GEOFFREY KEYNES, a person has fifteen thousand millions of blood corpuscles circulating in his body. People suffering with insomnia might try counting them in bed.
According to a scientific journal, tests recently made show that microbes cannot live long on coins. "Middle Class" writes to say this is nothing new to him, as no germ could live on his salary.
The promoters of the Milk and Dairies Bill hope to ensure clean milk for the public. They seem to have thought out an improvement on the present system by which certain dairymen are in the habit of washing their milk.
It took nature several million years, says The New York World, to make a ton of coal. It looks as if she has arranged to charge us retrospectively by the hour for the stuff.
A gold wedding-ring has been found inside a large doe rabbit which was shot recently in a wheat-field near Wilbury. The question arises, "Do modern rabbits go through the marriage ceremony?"
The latest fad of the American golfer is to have a small painting made of himself in the act of driving. We feel, however, that it will be some time before English golfers will place orders for plaster casts of their language.
Nearly all the extra firemen required for the London Fire Brigade have been engaged. Clients are assured that arrears of fires will now be worked off with all speed.
According to a daily paper a severe thunderstorm which recently visited Luton was not heard by the audience in a local concert hall. It is rumoured that a performer was at the time reciting a chapter of Lord FISHER'S autobiography.
A strike of incubator-makers is threatened and many grocers who stock breakfast-eggs fear that a lot of chicks may come out in sympathy.
According to an evening paper a young lady who was chased by a bull in a provincial meadow ran a quarter of a mile and jumped a stream sixteen feet wide before gaining safety. Not much of a jump, surely, considering the long run she took.
"Whilst motoring between Baldock and Grantham one is struck by the greenness of the growing wheat and barley," states a writer in a motor journal. The regularity with which these cereal grasses adopt this colour is certainly worthy of attention.
Our heart goes out to the American travellers who set foot on our shores at Southampton one day last week just five minutes after closing-time.
In their recent match against Sussex the first four Middlesex batsmen each scored a century. We understand that in order to obviate a recurrence of this sort of thing a movement is on foot to increase the number of runs in a century to a hundred and fifty.
We are informed that "a man arrested by Dutch fishermen in the belief that it was the CROWN PRINCE making his escape turned out to be a notorious jewel thief." The error seems to have been excusable.
The case of the dock labourer who appeared at a County Court in a tail coat and white waistcoat is now explained. The man's valet, who usually looks after these things for him, had gone on strike for more wages.
Charged with taking one hundred and forty-five pounds of his employers' money a Newcastle office-boy was stated to have been reading trashy novels. It was thought to be only fair to the financial papers that the public should know where he got the idea from.
"I reckon I can drink fifty pints a day, easy," a witness told the Portsmouth magistrates. He may do it for a while, but sooner or later his arm is bound to go back on him.
"Under British guidance," says a contemporary, "Persia's future is bright with promise." We know nothing of its future, but its present seems to be scintillating with performance under Bolshevik direction.
"Cave exploration," declares a writer in The Daily Mail, "is a most fascinating sport." There is always the thrilling possibility that you may find another Liberal principle hidden away somewhere.
Owing to the increased cost of living it is said that burglars will now only book jewel robberies of two thousand pounds and over.
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"NEW POLICY IN IRELAND.
NO TRIALS WITHOUT ARRESTS."
A good idea, but it was anticipated in the matter of jugged hare.
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"Register as a regular reader of The Daily ——, and you at once disqualify for L3 a week during disablement."—Daily Paper.
We shall be careful not to register.
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ODYSSEUS AT THE DERBY.
[Racing men will not need to be reminded that Polumetis (many-counselled) is named after a common epithet of the hero of the Odyssey.]
At times the pulse of memory is stirred Out of a chronic state of coma By just a poignant tune, a rhythmic word, A whiff of some refined aroma, And lo! the brain is made aware Of records which it didn't know were there.
So in a sudden moment I was shot Back to my boyhood and the highly Instructive works of HOMER, long forgot, And with the late Odysseus (wily) Ploughed once again the wine-red deep On drawing Polumetis in a sweep.
Oh, "many-counselled" hero! if a horse Your attributes may also borrow, Lend him your cunning round the Derby course, Teach him a thing or two to-morrow, That at the end it may be said: "He did a great performance with his head."
As you contrived by tricks of crafty skill Ever to down your foes and flatten 'em, So may he lie low going up the hill, Secure the inside berth at Tattenham, And do a finish up the straight Swift as your shafts that sealed the suitors' fate!
Fortune attend his name, though some deplore Its pedantry, and I assume it is Likely, from what I know of bookies' lore, That on the rails he'll be "Poloometis"; For me, I do not care two pins How they pronounce him, if he only wins.
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THE SERENE BATSMAN.
It is a common fallacy among cricketing coaches and their pupils that when the young batsman has mastered all the strokes that can be imparted to him at the nets his education is complete. So far from that being the case, it has barely begun. Under the prevailing system, the psychological factor, the most important of all, is entirely neglected. The most trying moment of a cricketer's life is when he first steps forth alone from the pavilion of a public ground. In that moment all that the old pro has taught him of cuts and drives, forward play and back play, will not prevent his knees from weakening as he totters to the wicket, whereas the following hints may enable him to face the occasion with confidence if not contempt.
Remember that for a public performer a good entrance is more than half the battle; the first impression on the spectators is the most lasting.
Nothing looks worse than a batsman hurrying out at a furtive trot, as if he were going to pawn his bat. When your turn comes to go in, take care to be just within the regulation two minutes, but school yourself to emerge from the pavilion at a leisurely stride with more than a suspicion of swagger in it. The bat should not be carried as a shy curate carries a shabby umbrella, but either boldly across the shoulder, like a rifle, or tucked under the armpit, so that you may do up your batting-gloves in your progress across the greensward. An excellent effect will be produced if you pause half-way and execute a few fancy strokes at an imaginary ball. Besides, you may not have another opportunity of displaying your accomplishment.
Having, as it were, reported yourself at the wicket, it is a good plan to discover that you need a new batting-glove. This will afford you an excuse for a return journey to the pavilion, during which your gait will lose nothing in stateliness if you can manage to adopt the goose-step. On your return to the wicket you will probably find, if the weather is mild and the grass dry, that the fieldsmen are reclining on the ground; it will enhance your reputation for nonchalance and good-fellowship if you can contrive to give one of them a playful pat with your bat in passing, especially if he is a total stranger to you and much your senior.
On your second arrival at the wicket, you might get the wicket-keeper to take his gloves off and adjust the straps of your pads. This is one of many subtle ways of demoralising the fielding side and whetting the interest of the onlookers.
After taking middle with such scrupulous exactitude as to imply that you suspect the umpire's eyesight, take one of the bails and scratch a block deep enough to plant something in. Then beckon to the square-leg umpire to come and replace the bail. In this you will be strictly within the law, and nobody can suspect you of the surreptitious use of a little cobbler's wax.
Your next move should be to summon the other batsman to a whispered conference in the middle of the pitch. It doesn't much matter what you say to him; a new funny story or the plot of a play you saw last week will serve to make him assume an air of thoughtful attention.
After a chat of about five minutes, you will return slowly to your crease, there to scrutinise the slip fieldsmen, and then to gaze all round the ground as if to make sure that the other side is not playing more than eleven men.
When taking your stance you will do well to give full effect to some such mannerism as Mr. WARNER'S trick of hitching up the left side of the trousers and tapping the ground seven times. And just as the bowler is about to start his run you can disconcert him by suddenly whipping round to see if they have moved another man over to the leg side while your back was turned.
As soon as the bowler has covered half his course to the wicket you should raise your hand to arrest his career. Then you must stroll about a third of the way up the pitch and give the ground a good slapping with the face of your bat.
If you feel so inclined, there is no reason why you should not repeat this man[oe]uvre. Nothing is more calculated to upset a highly-strung bowler. And when the ball does come down the chances are that it will be a wide, in which case you will have earned one run for your side. If, on the other hand, it should happen to knock your middle stump out of the ground, there is nothing more to be done, but you will have the satisfactory feeling that your little turn in the limelight has not been utterly inglorious.
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[Gothic: In Memoriam.]
Athlete and wit, whose genial tongue Cheered and refreshed but never stung; Maker of mirth and wholesome jokes; Fit mate of dear ROSINA VOKES; Creator, to our endless joy, Of priceless Arthur Pomeroy— Light lie the earth above his head Who lightened many a heart of lead; Courteous and chivalrous and gay, In very truth no common Clay.
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We learn with regret of the death of Mr. A. CHANTREY CORBOULD, whose work as a sporting artist was familiar to an earlier generation of Punch's readers.
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THE RISE AND FALL OF AN AMATEUR EXAMINER.
The Nabobs is, I suppose, one of the best girls' schools in England. Anyhow it is perhaps the most exclusive unless you have money enough. But, as the prospectus says, "it commands an extensive view of the English Channel," and I suppose these things have to be paid for. At all events there is no doubt that the principal, Miss Penn-Cushing, has her heart in her work and is a splendid disciplinarian, and so I sent my niece Mollie there to be finished (her mother being in India).
I have an idea at times that it is Mollie who will finish Miss Penn-Cushing, but I try to preserve a benevolent neutrality combined with a regular supply of food parcels to my niece.
Miss Penn-Cushing is LL.A. of one University and LL.B. of another, and, I think, LL.C. of a third, so that she ought to be more than a match for six Mollies.
I have always had the impression that Miss Penn-Cushing regarded me as a humble entomological specimen until the other day when she paid me a staggering compliment. She herself teaches all the English literature in her academy, and each class in turn goes up to her room to receive its daily dose. Mollie says that when she grows up she is going to give up English literature for ever and read something interesting.
I am glad that the revered Principal is never present to hear Mollie's blasphemies, at which I as an uncle have to shudder. Since the publication of The Cambridge History of English Literature Miss Penn-Cushing has been steadily absorbing it, to help her in her daily task, and has apparently reached the chapter in which is suitably acknowledged the debt of English literature to Punch.
So at least I judge, for she gave the girls a long serious talk on humour in literature, how to detect it and what should be done about it. One rather sensitive child began to cry, but Mollie, who has never kept a secret in her life and in fact loves to drag her uncle's skeletons out of cupboards, blurted out, "Uncle writes for Punch!"
I was somewhat alarmed when I heard of this, for I did not know how Miss Penn-Cushing, who keeps all the girls' uncles in order, might take it. My fears were groundless, perhaps stupid, for the immediate result was an invitation to examine Mollie's form in literature at the forthcoming Christmas examination. I felt uplifted in spirit; I felt that people were beginning to understand me. I even entertained an hallucination that perhaps Mollie might now treat my intellect with respect and stop calling me "Old dear." Three inches taller I sat down to my desk and, thanking Miss Penn-Cushing for the honour paid me, I promised I would do my best, although it would be my first appearance in the role.
I determined, however, not to allow this distinction to make me overbearing to my inferiors at our next speech-day. I would be affable to ordinary uncles, common parents and guardians of the other girls, but I would lead the conversation artfully on to other literary critics and examiners of the past. As a preparation I read up MATTHEW ARNOLD.
It is not easy to be an examiner, I found. I would rather write ten leading articles than one examination-paper. It appeared that I had to set themes for essays as well as questions in literature. We never learnt literature when I was young and I didn't know you could, but I borrowed a text-book from Mollie and did my best.
The result was a crushing letter from the lady principal. She said that "The Ten Points of a good Doll" seemed a preposterous subject for senior students of literature to write about, and "My Favourite Elopement in Fiction" would be outside the purview of any of her girls. She would substitute instead (with my permission), "The Debt of Literature (as well as Science) to DARWIN" and "My Favourite Piece of Epic Poetry." In fine, if I did not really mind, she would herself set all the questions and I should examine the answers. She thought that the more fructiferous course.
How to mark was my chief difficulty. How many marks should one give a darling with brown eyes and a musical laugh (Mollie has brought her to tea often) who signs herself "Norah O'Brien," and winds up delightful irrelevances about DARWIN and her abhorrence of reptiles with a personal appeal to the examiner. I do not know what other examiners do in such cases. It was a beautifully worded and most respectful appeal. I decided to give her forty for Norah and forty for O'Brien. Both names have always appealed to me.
This made it necessary for me to give eighty marks to her sister Kathleen, who wrote really an excellent essay on a subject we had stupidly forgotten to set. It was an excellent subject, and she has even browner eyes than Norah, but as an examiner one must be rigid and impartial.
Eunice came next. This name recalled dear memories of the past and of what might have been. But as an examiner I could not let old dreams weigh down my impartial scales, so I refused to give her more than eighty. Finally, for they are really charming girls and know far more about literature than I do, I gave eighty to everybody except Mollie, and for being Mollie I gave her eighty-two.
I forgot. There was one perfectly horrid little girl called Katie de Pinnock. She never shared her chocolates with anyone; the fact was notorious. She wrote in a copperplate hand sentiments like these: "MILTON awes me; SHELLEY thrills me; BLAKE, the prophet of self-sacrifice, is ever my consolation and my guide. I ask for nothing beyond." I gave her nineteen.
And now comes the tragedy. Miss Penn-Cushing's letter of thanks was icy. She feared I had been "a thought nepotic," and (with my permission) she would revise my marks.
She dealt me the final blow at our Speech-Day. "I have decided," she gave out, "to award the first prize in Literature to Miss Katie de Pinnock. I am sure, though, that you will not be surprised to hear that Mr. Marcus O'Reilly, our examiner, was so impressed with the literary excellence of all your papers that he has presented the whole class with consolation prizes. We tender him our heartiest thanks."
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Extract from a Canadian business-circular:—
"What intelligent car owners have been looking for is a tire that will give them a minimum amount of service for a maximum amount of expenditure. You can get that tire from us."
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"THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS.
BY THE RT. HON. C. F. G. MASTERMAN.
'Die, thou children of stormy dawn,' cries the Prime Minister to-day, as he stamps out the life of his little land taxes."—Daily News.
According to his critic Mr. LLOYD GEORGE seems to have done great violence to his syntax as well as to his little land taxes.
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"The bride, a tall brunette, looked a vision of golden beauty as she advanced up the aisle on the arm of her father."—Evening Paper.
We do not think that this was the right occasion for an exposure of feminine camouflage.
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THE ART OF POETRY.
Many people have said to me, "I wish I could write poems. I often try, but——" They mean, I gather, that the impulse, the creative itch, is in them, but they don't know how to satisfy it. My own position is that I know how to write poetry, but I can't be bothered. I have not got the itch. The least I can do, however, is to try to help those who have.
A mistake commonly committed by novices is to make up their minds what it is they are going to say before they begin. This is superfluous effort, tending to cramp the style. It is permissible, if not essential, to select a subject—say, MUD—but any detailed argument or plan which may restrict the free development of metre and rhyme (if any) is to be discouraged.
With that understanding, let us now write a poem about MUD.
I should begin in this sort of way:—
Mud, mud, Nothing but mud, O my God!
It will be seen at once that we are not going to have much rhyme in this poem; or if we do we shall very soon be compelled to strike a sinister note, because almost the only rhymes to mud are blood and flood; while, as the authors of our hymns have discovered, there are very few satisfactory rhymes to God. They shamefully evaded the difficulty by using words like road, but in first-class poetry one cannot do that. On the whole, therefore, this poem had better be vers libre. That will take much less time and be more dramatic, without plunging us into a flood of blood or anything drastic like that. We now go on with a little descriptive business:—
Into the sunset, swallowing up the sun, Crawling, creeping, The naked flats——
Now there ought to be a verb. That is the worst of vers libre; one gets carried away by beautiful phrases and is brought up suddenly by a complete absence of verbs. However at a pinch one can do without a verb; that is the best of vers libre:—
Amber and gold, Deep-stained in mystery And the colours of mystery, Inapprehensible, Golden like wet-gold, Amber like a woman of Arabia That has in her breast The forsaken treasures of old Time, Love and Destruction, Oblivion and Decay, And bully-beef tins, Tin upon tin, Old boots, and bottles that hold no more Their richness in them. And I——
We might do a good deal more of this descriptive business, bringing in something about dead bodies, mud of course being full of dead bodies. But we had better get on. We strike now the personal note:—
And I, I too am no more than a bottle, An empty bottle, Heaving helpless on the mud of life, Without a label and without a cork, Empty I am, yet no man troubles To return me. And why? Because there is not sixpence on me. Bah! The sun goes down in the West (Or is it the East?) But I remain here, Drifting empty under the night, Drifting——
When one is well away with this part of the poem it is almost impossible to stop. When you are writing in metre you come eventually to the eighth line of the last verse and you have to stop; but in vers libre you have no assistance of that kind. This particular poem is being written for instructional purposes in a journal of limited capacity, so it will probably have to stop fairly soon; but in practice it would go on for a long time yet. In any case, however, it would end in the same way, like this:—
Mud, mud, Nothing but mud, O, my God!
That reasserts, you see, in a striking manner, the original motif, and somehow expresses in a few words the poignant melancholy of the whole poem. Another advantage in finishing a long poem, such as this would be, in the same way as you began it is that it makes it clear to the reader that he is still reading the same poem. Sometimes, and especially in vers libre of an emotional and digressive character, the reader has a hideous fear that he has turned over two pages and got into another poem altogether. This little trick reassures him; and if you are writing vers libre you must not lose any legitimate opportunity of reassuring the reader.
To treat the same theme in metre and rhyme will be a much more difficult matter. The great thing will be to avoid getting mud at the end of a line, for the reasons already given. We had better have long ten-syllable lines, and we had better have four of them in each verse. GRAY wrote an elegy in that metre which has given general satisfaction. We will begin:—
As I came down through Chintonbury Hole The tide rolled out from Wurzel to the sea.
In a serious poem of this kind it is essential to establish a locality atmosphere at once; therefore one mentions a few places by name to show that one has been there. If the reader has been there too he will like the poem, and if he hasn't no harm is done. The only thing is that locally Chintonbury is probably pronounced Chun'bury, in which case it will not scan. One cannot be too careful about that sort of thing. However, as an illustration Chintonbury will serve.
It is now necessary to show somehow in this verse that the poem is about mud; it is also necessary to organise a rhyme for 'Hole' and a rhyme for 'sea,' and of the two this is the more important. I shall do it like this:—
And like the unclothed levels of my soul The yellow mud lay mourning nakedly.
There is a good deal to be said against these two lines. For one thing I am not sure that the mud ought to be yellow; it will remind people of Covent Garden Tube Station, and no one wants to be reminded of that. However, it does suggest the inexpressible biliousness of the theme.
I think "levels" is a little weak. It is a good poetical word and doesn't mean anything in particular; but we have too many words of that kind in this verse. "Deserts" would do, except that deserts and mud don't go very well together. However, that sort of point must be left to the individual writer.
At first sight the student may think that "nakedly" is not a good rhyme for "sea." Nor is it. If you do that kind of thing in comic poetry no editor will give you money. But in serious poetry it is quite legitimate; in fact it is rather encouraged. That is why serious poetry is so much easier than comic poetry. In my next lecture I shall deal with comic poetry.
I don't think I shall finish this poem now. The fact is, I am not feeling so inspired as I was. It is very hot. Besides, I have got hay-fever and keep on sneezing. Constant sneezing knocks all the inspiration out of a man. At the same time a tendency to hay-fever is a sign of intellect and culture, and all the great poets were martyrs to it. That is why none of them grew very lyrical about hay. Corn excited them a good deal, and even straw, but hay hardly ever.
So the student must finish this poem as best he can, and I shall be glad to consider and criticise what he does, though I may say at once that there will be no prize. It ought to go on for another eight verses or so, though that is not essential in these days, for if it simply won't go on it can just stop in the middle. Only then it must be headed "MUD: A Fragment."
And in any case, in the bottom left-hand corner, the student must write: Chintonbury, May 28th, 1920.
A. P. H.
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ELIZABETH'S TIP FOR THE DERBY.
"Talkin' o' the Derby," began Elizabeth.
As a matter of fact I was not talking of the Derby or even thinking of it at the moment. I had just been telling Elizabeth that the omelette which she had served us at dinner was leathery, and her remark struck me as irrelevant.
"Master thinks the omelettes would be lighter if you fried them in more butter," I continued. Of course Master had thought nothing of the kind. But nowadays complaints must be conveyed to domestics in this indirect way.
Elizabeth ignored the omelette. "I'm goin' to win fifty pounds at least," she exclaimed, and in her excitement broke the cup she held—I mean to say the cup came in two in her hand as she spoke. "I've got a bit on an 'orse for the Derby."
I felt slightly shocked. It is always surprising to discover a latent sporting instinct in one's domestics, unless they are highly placed and dignified domestics like butlers or head-footmen; but in a cook-general it seems peculiarly low.
"I shouldn't bet if I were you," I advised; "I think—er—Master thinks," I added involuntarily—"that you might lose money at it."
"But I'm goin' to win money this time," announced Elizabeth triumphantly; "my young man ses so, and 'e knows."
"Which young man?" I inquired.
Elizabeth, I ought perhaps to explain, is uncertain about her young men. She never has any lack of them; but they are like ships that pass in the night (her night out as a rule) and one by one they drift off, never stopping to cast anchor in her vicinity. You know what I mean. Elizabeth can't keep a young man. Perhaps she lacks the charm which BARRIE describes as "a sort of a bloom on a woman." Or if she has any of that bloom it must be swamped in the moist oleaginous atmosphere of washing-up which seems to cling permanently about her.
"It's a new young man," said Elizabeth in answer to my question, "an' 'e's got work in a racin' stable, so that's 'ow 'e knows wot's goin' to win. It'll be an outsider, 'e ses, which makes it all the better for me."
"All the better for you?"
"Yes, 'm. You see, the more you puts on the more you wins."
Elizabeth may not have charm but she certainly has simplicity. "You don't mean to say," I cried, a light breaking on me, "that you got your next month's wages in advance just to put it all on a horse?"
"That I did," she replied complacently. "You see, my young man ses that, if you put it on some time before'and, you get a better price, so I thort I'd give it to 'im to put on at once. 'E promised 'e wouldn't waste a minnit over it."
"But this is most foolish of you—to trust your money to an entire stranger," I expostulated.
"'E isn't a stranger—'e's my young man," corrected Elizabeth, tossing her head.
For the following few days she was radiant—but then anybody would be who was certain of the winner of the Derby a week before the race. In addition to this she had got a young man. Those brief periods when Elizabeth's young men are in the incipient stages of paying her attention are agreeable to everybody. Elizabeth, feeling no doubt in her rough untutored way that God's in His heaven and all's right with the world, sings at her work; she shows extraordinary activity when going about her duties. She does unusual things like remembering to polish the brasses every week—indeed you have only to step into the hall and glance at the stair-rods to discover the exact stage of her latest "affair." I remember that, when one ardent swain "in the flying corpse" went to the length of offering her marriage before he flew away, she cleaned the entire house down in her enthusiasm, and had actually got to the cellars before he vanished out of her life.
The follower from the racing stable might aptly be described as "The Man Who Never Came Back." He romped out of Elizabeth's existence on the Sunday preceding the Derby.
"I waited for 'im four-an'-an-'arf 'ours, an' 'e didn't turn up," she informed me next day.
"Perhaps he was prevented from keeping the appointment," I suggested to comfort her, though I felt the outlook was gloomy.
She shook her head. "I'll never see 'im no more. I know 'em," she said, drawing on the depth of her experience of young men who do the vanishing trick. "An' my money gone too. It's 'eartbreakin'. But I might 'ave known that that there 'orse was a bad sign."
"What horse?" I asked, bewildered.
"The one 'e told me to put my money on. The name alone ought to have set me agen it; it was too true to life."
"And what was the name of the horse?" I inquired as she drifted dismally to the door.
"'E Goes," said Elizabeth mournfully.
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THINGS NOT GENERALLY KNOWN.
(By our Lunatic Contributor.)
That the notorious KING BELSHAZZAR Was noted as the earliest Jazzer; That, on the contrary, ZERUBBABEL Was most exclusive and unclubbable; That ROMULUS and brother REMUS Were not so tall as Polyphemus; That the one weakness of Calypso Was what is briefly known as "dipso;" That CLODIUS, very long ago, First bore the nickname of "Old Clo;" That the illustrious PALESTRINA Did not invent the concertina; That WAGNER'S methods in Tannhaeuser Never appealed to Mrs. Poyser; That the Albanian PRENK BIB DODA Prefers his whisky minus soda; That good Professor FLINDERS PETRIE Did not discover SACHA GUITRY.
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Our Journalistic Sleuths.
"The circumstances under which the deceased came by his death are shrouded in mystery. From the gun shot wounds it is surmised that he either shot himself or somebody had shot him."—Indian Paper.
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"Would Persons present in Restaurant in Shiprow on Saturday Night, when dispute arose with regard to sixpence, please communicate with No. 798 Express Office?"
Who heard the bang?
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Wife. "I'M ASKING DOLLY DITCHWATER THIS WEEK-END. BIT DULL, BUT SHE DOESN'T DROP THE CHINA."
Husband. "DON'T FORGET BERTIE BUNT. BIT OF A BOUNDER, BUT HE'S AN ACE AT CLEANING BOOTS."]
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A situation of extreme international delicacy has recently arisen. We understand, with regard to the impending strike of Italian organ-grinders and ice-cream merchants in the Metropolis, that Signori Rimbombo Furioso and Fagiuolo Antico, representing the Amalgamated Society of Itinerant Instrumentalists and the National Union of Refrigerated Tuck Sellers, have lately been invited to a conference with Dr. MACNAMARA, and their economic grievances are now under the consideration of the MINISTER OF LABOUR. These, briefly, are as follows:
(1) The high price of sugar.
(2) Restricted hours and insufficient emoluments.
(3) Undue interference by the police.
(4) Inadequate supplies of monkey nuts.
It now appears that in order to make a bid for the large Italian vote in the forthcoming Presidential elections in the U.S.A. a violent anti-British propaganda campaign is raging on the other side of the Atlantic, and that an enormous amount of spurious sympathy is being manufactured on behalf of the purveyors of rotary music and frozen confectionery in Soho. Beautiful Italian girls are daily besieging the British Embassy at Washington with placards bearing such inscriptions as—
SHOULD HOKEY POKEY SUFFER?
ENGLAND COERCES HER TRAVELLING ORGANISTS.
AMERICANS! HELP THE DUMB APE!
The agitation is the more uncalled for since, as a matter of fact, both Signor Furioso and Signor Antico, like most of their compatriots in this country, are pronounced Irredentists and filled with aspirations for a larger Italy, so that they have little or nothing in common with anti-Imperialistic America. Nevertheless, so bitter is the feeling which has been aroused that large subsidies are being sent overseas and Black Hand gangs organised to resist the London police. All over the outer suburbs organ-grinders are refusing to move on, and insist on playing well into the early hours of the morning. Deleterious substances of an explosive nature are being mingled with the ice cream, or else it is being supplied in such a watery condition that it is impossible for customers to lick it out of the receptacle without ruining their shirt fronts and waistcoats. Monkeys are being trained to give violent manifestations of ferocity, and, should the present heat-wave continue, rabies is anticipated.
The latest development is a rumoured suggestion from the U.S.A. Government that a representative should be sent over to take part in the Conference, and the names of Mr. JOE DEMPSEY and Mr. CHARLES CHAPLIN have been put forward as possible mediators.
* * * * *
"All is not plane sailing yet for the German in search of foreign markets."—Evening Paper.
But wait till their flying bagmen get to work.
* * * * *
* * * * *
There is nothing which distinguishes your true Briton so much as the systematic study of the ways of wild animals, and there is no kind of instruction which an English child so eagerly accepts.
"The addax or Nubian antelope," how frequently one may hear a father say to his small son in the schoolroom, "has horns very similar to those of the Indian antelope, but is a larger animal." "Yes, father," responds the boy brightly, "it has a tuft of long hair on the forehead and large broad hoofs, adapted for treading on fine and loose sands."
But it is easier perhaps to make these nice points in natural history in the comparative calm of the home than in the more frenzied atmosphere that reigns in the Zoological Gardens themselves. It is for that reason that I have put together the few notes which follow, hoping that they may assist the reader to adopt a definite system in dealing with this great national institution and educate the young mind on a reasoned and scientific plan.
Take the order of visiting the cages first. I do not complain of your natural wish to begin with the giraffe, because it has such an absurdly long neck and may possibly mistake Pamela's straw-hat for a bunch of hay and try to eat it, and because you will be able to see the hippopotamus on the way. As a matter of fact you will find that the giraffe is not standing near the bars at all, but close to its stable, where it is mincing and bridling exactly like a lady in a Victorian novel, and as for the hippopotamus you cannot see the pretty pink part of him because he is giving his famous imitation of a submarine. But never mind that. Your difficulty now will be, "What shall we do next?" and in order to assist you I have constructed a logical order for visiting the various cages. Here it is:—
1. The lions, because you can hear them already roaring most horribly fiercely.
2. The sea-lions, because they are saying "Ock, ock."
3. The lions, because the tiger may be roaring too this time.
4. The Elephant House. No, Pamela, I don't know why he is swaying about like that.
5. The lions, because Tony did not really see the black panther, which was asleep in one corner of its cage.
6. The Monkey House. I suppose we must.
7. The lions, to wait there till they are fed.
The only trouble about this order is that you may not have much time to visit the Mappin Terraces, and it is of course very important that you should go there because of the bears. The bears by rights should be fed on umbrellas, because they suck the stick and the ribs of the frame for all the world as if they were pieces of asparagus, and tear the silk part very carefully into tiny little shreds. But umbrellas are very expensive just now and the keeper does not think they are very good for the bears either. It is better to give them oranges, but oranges are expensive too, so you must make quite certain that you do not waste them on the grizzlies which are not on the Mappin Terraces at all. It is no use giving an orange to a grizzly bear, because it goes down with one quick motion, like the red into the right-hand top pocket. But if you give it to one of the Himalayan bears he opens it and scoops out all the inside and guzzles it up and then sits down and licks his paws exactly like a Christian, and while he is doing that the other Himalayan bear comes up and is so annoyed at not having an orange too that he lies down and groans with rage and flaps himself with his paws. So you have to get another orange.
Another thing that you have missed all this time and ought to see if possible is the Antelope House, where the telephone is. I don't know why the antelopes want a telephone more than all the other animals, but they do. Of course if they knew how bad the telephone is they would realise that with their long legs they could get there and back again in much quicker time than it takes to get a call through.
And then there are the Small Birds. It is not known to everybody, least of all, I think, to poets, that the nightingale sings best of all in a cage in broad daylight and amongst a lot of other birds, all twittering away like anything. We should like to take Mr. ROBERT BRIDGES to the Small Birds' House. We should like to take Mr. ROBERT SMILLIE there too, and introduce him to the bird just underneath the nightingale, which is called the Talking Mynah.
But you are not very much interested in coal or poetry, and will probably like the Sugar Birds best, for, if there is anything more delightful than being a bird, especially a tiny little bird, blue or green underneath, it must be living on sugar and having grapes stuck in the bars of your cage.
The snakes of course are slimy sort of creatures and their house is a long way off, and, though we fully agree with you that the monkeys were just like real persons, we think we really ought to be starting home now.
No, there is no time to see the lions again....
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE CAP THAT FITS.
"Gerald, dear," said my wife the other evening, "I wish you'd write and order some more notepaper; we've hardly any left."
"All right, Margaret. What sort do you want? The last lot was beastly—too thick to make into spills and not large enough for drawing up the fire."
"Well, here's a list of the different kinds they have in stock at Jones and Robinson's."
I took it from her and glanced through it. "What do you say to 'Cream Laid,' Margaret? I like the sound of that. It will make me feel so nice and cool in the hot weather to think of the rows of fresh-faced country girls, in their spotless white overalls, pouring the cream delicately over the paper. I wonder how they get it to stop exactly at the edge?"
"It wants a very cool head and steady hand, I expect," said Margaret; "they'd all be picked cream-layers, of course. But how would you like 'thick hand-made paper with deckle edges'? What are deckle edges, I wonder; and how is paper hand-made?"
"Rather like treading grapes, I fancy, only that's done by foot. I mean they smash up the pulp with a very heavy pestle in a huge——"
"Mortar!" cried Margaret triumphantly.
"Yes; but am I telling this story or are you? Well, and then they put it through a mangle——"
"Wurzel," said Margaret.
"Wrong—just a mangle, and roll it out flat, after which they deckle the edges."
"But how do they do that, Gerald?"
"Oh, they just call in the edge-deckler and say, 'See to 't that yon edges be deckled ere set o' sun,' and he sees to 't. His is a most important post, I believe."
Margaret came and sat on a tuffet by my chair.
"Sorry about wurzel," she said. "Now tell me all about machine-made paper, there's a dear. It will be so nice to be able to explain all this to Nat when he's older."
"Paper-making by machinery, my dear," I said graciously, "is a most complicated process. I won't puzzle you with all the details, but roughly the idea is to pulp up the—er—rags and so on in a huge sort of—er—bowl, and then to roll it out thin in the rolling-out machine."
Margaret thought this over. "It sounds just the same as the hand-made," she said.
"Oh, no," I said quickly; "it's all done by machinery, you see. Pistons and rollers and—er—mechanical edge-decklers and so on."
"And what does 'Linen Wove' mean?"
"They employ people to thread the paper with linen threads, my dear. A very delicate performance; that's why Linen Wove is so expensive. Azure Wove is, of course, done with blue flaxen threads. Silurian Bond is made by a fellowship of geologists, and for Chelsea Bank they have a factory on the bank of the Thames at Cheyne Walk. That's all I need tell you, though I know a lot more."
"I never realised before how awfully interesting paper-making could be," said Margaret gratefully. "Write and order me a good supply of Chelsea Cream Wove, will you, dear? Oh, and some other kind for yourself, to write your stories on. Don't forget."
"Very well; Chelsea Cream Wove for you. And what shall I have?"
Margaret's mouth twitched a little.
"Foolscap, I think, dear," she said.
* * * * *
* * * * *
(With Mr. Punch's best wishes for the speedy recovery of the French PRESIDENT.)
["President Deschanel ... was compelled to take several analgesia cachets. (Analgesia is a condition in which there is incapacity of feeling pain)."]—Evening Paper.
When, haply through excess of cake, In childhood's days of fun and frolic, I suffered from that local ache Known to the Faculty as colic;
Or if across the foam I fared And was (invariably) sea-sick, How much distress had I been spared Just by a simple analgesic.
In the Headmaster's awesome den, His cane poised o'er me palely bending, A lozenge deftly swallowed then Had eased the smart of its descending.
Thus might I have indulged in "rags," Immune from every sore corrective, Nor need I then have stuffed my bags With notebooks, often ineffective.
Henceforth, in any sort of fuss— Life's little incidental dramas, As when one boards a motor-bus Or leaps from trains in one's pyjamas—
I'll take a tabloid. DESCHANEL! So much to me your agile feat meant; L'exemple presidentiel Lends quite a cachet to the treatment.
* * * * *
"59 ACCIDENTS IN 5 YEARS.
PROPOSED ROAD WIDENING TO INCLUDE CEMETERY CORNER."
The only alternative would appear to be to enlarge the cemetery.
* * * * *
* * * * *
AN ERROR OF JUDGMENT AT EPSOM.
I am not attending the Derby this year. Nor was it my original intention to go last year, but since my beneficent employers, unasked, offered me a day off, Selina insisted we ought to go. It was a national institution, a sight everyone should see once in a lifetime, and so forth. I protested it was an extravagance; that to be married was really more than we could afford, let alone race-meetings. But Selina was firm. She would pay, if necessary, out of the house-keeping money. Besides it need cost nothing. We might win enough money to cover our expenses.
Thus the idea of betting was introduced. Gambling in all forms is against my principles; and how I came to give in on the point I scarcely know. From the way Selina argued one might have supposed that a bet on the Derby was a prudent investment, something in the nature of a life-insurance which no careful husband would neglect to make. So I yielded, merely stipulating that our stake was not to exceed one pound: and this amount fortunately satisfied Selina's conception of recklessness.
So upon the appointed day we found ourselves at the famous Heath, or is it the Downs? The selection of a horse to bear our fortunes to victory was not made without anxious debate, since Selina's choice was based upon the colour scheme of the jockey's coats, and mine on the romantic associations of the animals' names. In the end we compromised on a horse called Grand Parade.
Next, equally momentous, we selected a bookmaker who was to oblige us by opposing our fancy at the most advantageous rate. I was in favour of picking a man whose abundance of chin and paunch would, should he default, prevent his attaining more than four miles an hour on the flat. I had already discovered one that answered this description. He was soliciting clients in a voice that made one think a vulture might be rending his liver. Selina, who pretends to read character from faces, declared his eyes were too close together for those of an honest man. She had singled out a more suitable individual, and she indicated to me a slender gentlemanly man dressed in a grey frock-coat with a tall hat of the same colour just pathetically beginning to grow shabby. He also invited custom, but in a refined, almost confidential tone which, in comparison with the braying of his rival, resembled the cooing of a dove. His features, which to me denoted weakness of character, Selina asserted to be those of an honourable man struggling with adversity. It was to support an ailing wife, she felt sure, that he toiled at his uncongenial vocation. I should have liked to explain, though I knew it was useless, that our object in dealing with him was not to contribute to the support of his wife; that our success, indeed, might mean that the unhappy lady would be deprived for many a week to come of those little delicacies that are essential to the comfort of an invalid.
Against my better judgment I gave in and our little stake was deposited in his hands. I almost felt inclined to apologize for its smallness, but his courtesy in accepting it rendered excuses unnecessary. Nevertheless I should have preferred, when taking up a position to view the race, to have chosen a spot from which we could at the same time have kept an eye on his gentlemanly tall hat. Selina however poohpoohed the idea. We therefore walked some little distance to a point on the hill whence, some ten minutes later, we had the satisfaction of seeing Grand Parade gallop home a winner.
In the moment of triumph I had almost forgotten my apprehensions as to our bookmaker. Selina however had not, for, as we caught sight of his elegant grey-clad figure on our return, she could not resist exclaiming, "See how wrong your suspicions were."
The crowd, set loose after the tension of the race, impeded our progress, so that by the time we reached him he was alone. Apparently he had paid off all the other winners, and we were the last claimants to arrive.
"Ah, I was waiting for you," he said in his easy well-bred fashion. "You will think it very strange, perhaps, but for the moment I am unable to pay you. Most absurd. My losses have been rather more than I calculated, and I have unfortunately disbursed all my available cash. You need be under no apprehension, however; if you will kindly give me your address you shall have a cheque by the first post to-morrow."
I tried to recall what one did to welshers. I seemed to remember that one raised a hue-and-cry, that one tarred and feathered them, and rode them on a rail to a pond. I am, however, constitutionally timid about making my voice heard in public, and I was as short of tar and feathers as he was of ready cash. I had therefore no alternative but to draw out my pocket-case and present him with a card.
"Ah, thanks," he said, and with a neat little silver pencil he scribbled on the back a hieroglyph of some sort, doubtless to jog his memory. Then he wished me good-day with many apologies and, politely taking off his hat to Selina, sauntered leisurely in the direction of the railway-station.
I confess that this contretemps somewhat dashed my spirits. Nor was my chagrin lessened by observing, during the remainder of the afternoon, my corpulent friend, notwithstanding the closeness of his eyes to each other, paying off regularly, at the end of each race, a host of customers with the greatest good grace, enlivened by coarse jocularities. I followed the rest of the sport with little zest, and my cup of enjoyment was not filled to overflowing when, possessing first-class return tickets, we had to stand, Selina as well as myself, in a crowded third-class smoker.
Selina however preserved both her spirits and her confidence. Bookmakers, she had heard, were, as a class, most honourable. Their losses could not be recovered by law, but they regarded them as debts of honour. There were exceptions, of course, but the gentleman in grey was not one of them. Something told her so. I should see that she was right.
At breakfast next morning we scanned our post for a letter in an unfamiliar handwriting. There was none.
"It was really rather early to expect one," said Selina.
On the following morning, however, amongst others there lay a letter in a strange writing, addressed moreover in precisely the same style as the description of me on my visiting card.
"What did I tell you?" said Selina.
"Well?" she asked, as I tore open the envelope and read the letter.
"This must be some mistake," I said. "It is a demand from the railway for a first-class fare from Epsom to London. They state that I was detected travelling without a ticket. Ridiculous. I shall pay no attention to it."
In the evening, however, as I started home from the City, I thought better. It would save trouble if I looked in at London Bridge.
"You have come to pay?" said the chief clerk, as I showed him the note.
"Indeed I have not," said I. "On the contrary the Company should refund me the difference between first and third-class fare."
"Do you deny, then, that you travelled back from Epsom without a ticket?"
"Indeed I do."
"You will not deny, perhaps, that this is the card you handed the inspector with a promise to pay?"
I took the proffered card. I could not deny it, for the card was mine. I turned it over. There, faintly legible on the back in pencil, was the hieroglyph that the bookie had scrawled on it.
I explained to the clerk. I also explained to Selina when I got home. She, however, sticks to her original contention. She was not deceived. Fundamentally the man was honest. Only the expenses of his wife's long illness had caused him to deviate from the path of probity.
* * * * *
(By our Medical Correspondent.)
The newspapers have recently devoted a certain amount of space to the American millionaire who, while confined in a psychopathic ward of a private lunatic asylum, by his clever financial manipulations added in the course of six weeks five hundred thousand pounds to a fortune "conservatively estimated at three million pounds." In spite of this achievement the misguided millionaire pleaded earnestly for his release. But the verdict of the New York Sheriffs' Court was adverse. The expert "alienists" admitted that he possessed an extraordinary memory and undoubted genius, but held that he was none the less insane. Accordingly he is to remain in the psychopathic ward to which he was consigned "at the request of his aged mother." A simple sum in addition establishes the fact that, if the patient maintains his present average, he will considerably more than double his fortune in a year. Yet none of the newspaper commentators have realised the tremendous possibilities underlying this achievement.
We are threatened with national insolvency, and here is an infallible remedy ready to hand. Lord FISHER'S panacea for our discontents was to "sack the lot"—to dismiss all our rulers and administrators. But he had only a glimmering of the truth. Our cry should rather be, "Lock up the lot." Experience has taught us that if complete latitude is given to eccentrics and incompetents, if, in the words of Professor SODDY, F.R.S., the destinies of the country are entrusted to people of archaic mental outlook, the result is bound to be disastrous and chaotic. But if you treat them as lunatics, there is a strong presumption of their mending their ways and proving valuable factors in the economic reconstruction of the Empire and the world.
Grave evils call for drastic treatment, and in view of the hectic condition of the Stock Exchange and the "vicious circle" round which industrialism is now unhappily revolving I cannot but think that the temporary seclusion of the Ministry in a psychopathic ward might be fraught with economic consequences of the utmost importance. Even if they were only able to reduce our indebtedness at the same rate as that attained by the American millionaire, their combined efforts would represent a magnificent total.
Perhaps it would be wiser to proceed tentatively and not commit ourselves for more than six weeks to start with. It is just conceivable that the treatment might stimulate extravagance instead of economy. Financial thrombosis is not unknown as one of the obscurer forms of megalomania. Still, as I have said, the experiment is worth making.
In other spheres of activity the results achieved are most encouraging. For example, an extremely outre Cubist who was recently consigned to a psychopathic ward at the instigation of his grandmother, developed a remarkable talent for painting in the manner of MARCUS STONE; while a neo-Georgian composer under similar treatment has produced a series of etudes indistinguishable from the pianoforte music of STERNDALE BENNETT, though he had previously far outstripped the most unbridled and exacerbated aberrations of SCRIABINE in his latest phase.
* * * * *
"YE OLDE TEA HOUSE
(Opposite the Church).
HOME-MADE CAKES. ANTIQUES."
* * * * *
"TO BE SURE.
'Why do you call that performing poodle Sidius?'
'He's a dog star, ain't he now?'"
Still we don't see it.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE PROVISION MERCHANT.
"CAN WE SUPPLY YOU WITH A CAR, SIR? CERTAINLY.
THIS IS OUR 1920 TOURING MODEL—PROVISIONAL, OF COURSE.
BY THE WAY, THE BODY, YOU SEE, IS ONLY A PROVISIONAL ONE.
THE ENGINE DESIGN IS PURELY PROVISIONAL, YOU'LL UNDERSTAND—
AND THE HORSEPOWER IS PROVISIONALLY FIXED AT 12-78.
DELIVERY IS IN EIGHTEEN MONTHS—QUITE PROVISIONAL, THAT IS—
AND THE PRICE WE PUT PROVISIONALLY AT L1,200.
WE SHALL REQUIRE, OF COURSE, A DEPOSIT OF L600 BEFORE WE CAN PROVISIONALLY ACCEPT THE ORDER.
I MAY ADD THAT A GUARANTEE GOES WITH EACH CAR—PROVISIONAL, NATURALLY—
AND WE WILL PROVISIONALLY UNDERTAKE TO INFORM YOU OF ANY PROVISIONAL ALTERATIONS—
THAT WE MAY MAKE IN OUR PROVISIONAL DESIGNS IF YOU APPLY TO OUR PROVISIONAL WORKS—
—PROVIDED——NO, SIR, I CANNOT TELL YOU WHERE YOU CAN HIRE A PUSH-BIKE!!!"]
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
"THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM."
Gentlemen of the Press having been tactfully requested not to give away this awesome mystery, I am barred by the fastidious sense of honour which distinguishes our profession from spoiling your pleasure in this matter—a course which otherwise I should naturally have preferred.
Not that I have any too clear idea of what it was all about or why an innocent gentleman should be apparently going to be guillotined for it. For there was no question of anyone having been murdered, the only tangible crime before the Court that I could see being the abstraction of some scientific papers. However don't imagine that this vagueness will deprive you of the pleasures of shock. Only don't go thinking about it. Remember Rosamund and her Purple Jar.
I think I am free to tell you that a young journalist possessing (characteristically) "fantastic humour and exuberant gaiety," a famous amateur detective to boot, outwits all the official police, robs the law of its prey and finds a long-lost mother for himself.
If this doesn't excite you sufficiently you can extract fun from subsidiary details. It is always diverting to the unspoilt soul when the principal lady goes to turn up one lamp and the other promptly glows instead; or when, a particularly obvious and commonplace knock assaulting the ear, she exclaims in tragic accents, "There's someone at the door;" or when the detective drags from the bottom of the lake a pair of the driest of dry old boots.
Or, if you are superior to this kind of thing, you can amuse yourself by deducing from the practice before you the famous Rules for Revolvers, which, mutatis mutandis, are as old as the Aristotelian unities and, for all I (or, probably, you) know to the contrary, were laid down at the same time by the same hand.
Rule 1. "All Innocent Characters expecting murderous assault from Particularly Desperate Villains will provide themselves with revolvers. Before retiring for the tragic night they will, grasping the revolver firmly in the right hand, place it carefully (as Professor LEACOCK would direct) on the revolver-stand. The P.D.V. will then know what to do about it. (Note: P.D.V.'s do not carry revolvers. They don't need to.)
Rule 2. "I.C.'s actually attacking P.D.V.'s will on no account fire, but, advancing stealthily, will offer their pistol-wrist to the enemy, who will at once lock it in a deathly grip. After a brief struggle, swaying this way and that, the P.D.V. will, on the word 'Four,' put on another beard and have the I.C. thrown into prison." And so forth.
I have no serious fault to find with these tactics. On the contrary. But I rather think that in the first Act an incident was introduced (no doubt in the spirit of the little girl's explanation a propos of her riddle, "That was just put in to make it more difficult"), which was not quite cricket as it is played by the best people in these stage shockers.
But I am on dangerous grounds. Let me say that Mr. HANNAFORD BENNETT has been distinctly ingenious in his adaptation from M. GASTON LEROUX'S hectic feuilleton; that Miss SYBIL THORNDIKE put in a much finer quality of work than is usually supplied with this kind of heroine; that Miss DAISY MARKHAM as her friend played very gaily and prettily as long as the situation allowed it, and that Messrs. FRANKLIN DYALL, LEWIS CASSON, NICHOLAS HANNEN, ARTHUR PUSEY, MAJOR JONES, COLSTON MANSELL and the Prompter all did notable work.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Our Erudite Contemporaries.
"No doubt the inhabitants of the seaside resorts are duly grateful as they turn their faces to the trippers and the sun. Like Niobe, they are all smiles."—Provincial Paper.
* * * * *
"It certainly was a heavy swell, but the good ship 'Onward' had, so to speak, got its sea legs, and so had the party aboard; and although we rolled, it was a long steady roll which in time became almost most enjoyable."
Isle of Man Weekly Times.
It is on occasions like these that the Manxman finds his third leg so useful.
* * * * *
[In order to check the depredations of mice and rats the Government of India have directed the maintenance of cats in every public office ("Cutchery"). Rations do not err on the side of over-abundance, and the cats in consequence are not always the most favourable specimens.]
What time five notes on the cutchery gong The aged orderly rings, And he who calleth the waiting throng Striketh his work and sings, There cometh a man with broken meats, Cheerily calling, and him there greets With wailing of souls that are tried too long, A bevy of Fearsome Things.
Ribbed as railings and lank as rods, Stark as the toddy trees, Swarming as when from the bursting pods Scatter the ripened peas, Flaming pupil and naked claw, Gaunt and desolate, maimed and raw, Cats by courtesy, but, ye gods! Never were cats like these.
Nay, of a verity these be souls Such as in life were vile, Risen again from the nethermost coals To harry the earth a while; Versed in wickedness, old in sin, Never was hell could hold them in, And back they hasten in droves and shoals To desecrate and defile.
Here where the shadow of Ancient Lies Falleth athwart the room, Where the Angel of Evil Counsel plies His chariot through the gloom, Where the Lost Endeavours and Faded Hopes Cluster like fruit in the mango-topes, Here is the perfectest paradise For the damned to work their doom.
And swear will I by the Cloven Hoof And the name of the Manichees, By the hair that riseth despite reproof And the rebel veins that freeze, That at night, when the graves give up their dead And the thunder belloweth overhead, You would not get me under this roof For a lakh of the best rupees!
* * * * *
The Magistrate's risen and eke the Sub, And bicycles homeward spin; The clerks depart with a shrill hubbub And the snores of the guard begin; Ah, lock ye the strong-room sure and fast, For the night draws down and the day is past; Masters, I will away to the Club, For the hour of the cats is in.
* * * * *
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
Although Madeline of the Desert (UNWIN) is published in the First Novel series, it by no means follows that Mr. ARTHUR WEIGALL can be considered a beginner in authorship, his various activities already including some volumes on Egyptology that have made for him a wide circle of appreciative readers. You will therefore be correct in guessing that the Desert of the title is Egyptian; also that the story is one in which the setting and the local colour are treated with expert knowledge and an infectious enthusiasm. Of Madeline herself I should say at once that nothing in her life, as shown here, became her like the beginning of it. Her entrance into the tale, arriving out of the desert to consult the recluse, Father Gregory, whose nephew she afterwards marries, does very strikingly achieve an effect of personality. Madeline was a product of Port Said and, when we first meet her, an adventuress of international reputation, or lack of it. Then Robin rescues, marries and educates her. It was the last process that started the trouble. Madeline took to education more readily than a duck to water; and the worst of it was that she was by no means willing to keep the results and her conclusions therefrom to herself; indeed she developed the lecturing habit to an extent that almost (but not quite) ruined her charm. Mr. WEIGALL is so obviously sincere in all this that, though I cannot exonerate him from a charge of using Madeline as the mouthpiece of his own sociological and religious views, I must acknowledge his good intentions, while deploring what seems to me an artistic error. But, all said, the book is very far from being ordinary; its quality in the portrayal both of place and character is of the richest promise for future stories, in which I hope the author will give us more pictures of the land he understands so well.
* * * * *
I certainly admit that the publishers of The Strangeness of Noel Carton (JENKINS) have every justification for speaking of it as "a new note in a novel." Indeed that clever writer, Mr. WILLIAM CAINE, has here sounded as new, original and (for all its surface humour) horrible a note as any I have heard in fiction for some time. My trouble is that I can hardly indicate it without giving away the whole business. Very briefly the tale is of one Noel Carton, who has married beneath him for not quite enough money to gild a detestable union, and, being an unstable egoist and waster, presently seeks consolation (and pocket money) by writing a novel founded in part on his own position. One may note in passing that Mr. CAINE seems to have but a modest idea of the mental equipment required for such a task. Still I suppose he knows, and anyway that isn't the point. The point is that, once Noel has got himself properly projected into his novel, all sorts of the queerest and most bogie coincidences begin to occur. Again to quote the puff preliminary, "as the book develops the reader has a suspicion which becomes almost a certainty, until the great and astounding climax is reached;" concerning which you may justly remark that no reader with a certainty would regard its verification as "astounding." But this takes nothing from the craft with which, on looking back, you see the climax to have been prepared. I could hardly call the tale altogether pleasant, but it is undeniably new and vastly original.
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The good Sioux glories in his scalps, and Mr. ISAAC F. MARCOSSON, of Louisville, must surely be the Great Chief of interviewers. Interviewing, he tells us, is, after all, only a form of reporting, and so are history, poetry and romance. What, he asks, were MOMMSEN and GIBBON, WORDSWORTH and KEATS but reporters, and I can only answer, What indeed? To have been found worthy of tonsure by Mr. MARCOSSON it is necessary to be very eminent, and to win his highest praise it is essential also to be a good "imparter," though he has a kind of sneaking admiration for the paleface who insists on handing him a written statement and declines to speak. Such a one was Sir EDWARD CARSON. Hanging to Mr. MARCOSSON'S girdle are the chevelures of Mr. LLOYD GEORGE, Lord HAIG, Marshal FOCH, Sir JAMES BARRIE and Mr. ROOSEVELT, to name no more. Naturally Adventures in Interviewing (LANE) is full of side-lights on the recent war. How could it be otherwise when so many celebrated brains are laid bare? One quotation I cannot refrain from giving. Speaking of Lord BEAVERBROOK he says, "He had come to London a decade ago, to live 'the life of a gentleman,' but was drawn irresistibly into politics." I challenge our literature to produce a more beautiful "but."
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Miss EDITH DART has grouped against her Dartmoor setting in Sareel (PHILIP ALLAN) just the characters to act out the well-worn story of the mutual infatuation of a young man of birth and an ignorant country maid. But though Sareel, the little workhouse-reared servant at the farm, falls in love in the accepted fashion with the best-looking of the three young men who lodge there on a reading tour, and though he duly falls in love with her, the innocence of her soul keeps their passion on the highest plane. What is more, when Alan, as such young gentlemen in fiction generally do, changes his mind Miss DART provides a happy ending, without even a suicide to spoil it, and without inconsistency either in her own point of view or in that of her characters. I don't really believe that Devonshire people say that they like things "brave and well" quite as often as Miss DART makes hers, and I wish she had not so great a fondness for the word "such" that she must invent phrases as weird as "though he had not sought such" in order to bring it in; but apart from these trifles Sareel, as something like a feminine version of a book by Mr. EDEN PHILLPOTTS arranged for family reading, will certainly please a great many people.
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If you would like to see a white lady ride on a white horse to Banbury Cross and elsewhere with a body-guard of men in tin hats, carrying The Banner (COLLINS) and proclaiming the League of Youth (against war and other evils) and forcible retirement from all offices of profit or power under the Crown at the age of forty, get Mr. HUGH F. SPENDER'S new and, as it seems to me, rather ingenuous novel. Love is not neglected, for a peer's son, deaf and dumb through shell-shock, so responds to the counter-irritant of seeing this modern JOAN riding through Piccadilly that he recovers both speech and hearing and promptly uses them to put her a leading question and understand her version of "But this is so sudden. However——" There is a people's army; a rose-water revolution with the King accepting it as all in the day's dull work; a fight or rather an arming of a few last-ditchers of the old order, and much else that is not likely to happen outside Ruritania. Also candid expression of the opinions of (I take it) the "Wee Frees" concerning Glamorgan Jones.
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If Mr. ALAN GRAHAM does not unsettle my conviction that it is easier to begin a story of hidden treasure than it is to finish it, I can nevertheless promise you a good day with the sleuth-hounds, should you decide to Follow the Little Pictures (BLACKWOOD). For some not too lucid reason I went to the meet with a fear in my heart that the command in the title referred to the "movies," and my relief was great on discovering that it was taken from a cipher containing the key to the treasure. The scene of this hunt is laid in Scotland, and the most notable figure among its followers is a certain Laird Tanish. The pecuniary fortunes of the Tanish clan were at a low ebb, and in his determination to improve them by winning the prize the Laird broke all the rules of the game and gave way to terrific outbursts of rage in the manner of those explosive gentlemen with whom Miss ETHEL DELL has familiarised us. There is both ingenuity and originality in this story, and I should be doing the author and his readers a great disservice if I disclosed the details of the plot. Anyone with a bent for treasure-hunting will be missing a fine opportunity if he refuses to have a day (or a night) with Mr. GRAHAM'S hounds.
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A Sympathetic Auditor.
"Dr. R. C. Ghostley, of Edmonton, was in the city last week and attended Sir Oliver Lodge's lecture."—Canadian Paper.
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"W. W. ——, the Rugby International forward, won his third success in four days at Chesham Oddfellows' and Foresters' sports yesterday, when he took first prize in the 10 yards open event, with 7-1/2 yards start, in 9-2/5 sec."—Daily Paper.
His strong point, we gather, is not speed but staying-power.
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A propos of the DE KEYSER case:—
"Unfortunately, the Dora regulations against free speech and printing were never taken before the High Court, and our ancestors will wonder at our timidity."—Daily Herald.
We understand that Sir A. CONAN DOYLE has already received several urgent messages on the subject.
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p. 438: Removed extraneous "'s" from "GASTON'S" ... [M. GASTON LEROUX'S]
p. 440: Changed "9 2-5" to "9-2/5" ... [in 9-2/5 sec."—Daily Paper.]