PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
August 11th, 1920.
"We doubt," says a contemporary, "if the Government has effected much by refusing to let Dr. MANNIX land on Irish shores." We agree. What is most wanted at the moment is that the Government should land on Ireland.
* * *
We feel that the time is now ripe for somebody to pop up with the suggestion that the wet summer has been caused by the shooting in Belfast.
* * *
Manchester City Council has decided to purchase the famous Free Trade Hall for the sum of ninety thousand pounds. A thorough search for the Sacred Principles of Liberalism, which are said to be concealed somewhere in the basement, will be undertaken as soon as the property changes hands.
* * *
There is no truth in the report that Mr. LLOYD GEORGE, after listening to the grand howl of the Wolf Cubs at Olympia, declared that it was a very tame affair for anyone used to listening to Mr. DEVLIN.
* * *
"Kangaroos and wallabies," says a Colonial journalist, "are about the only things that the Australian sportsman can chase." Members of the M.C.C. team declare that they expect to change all that.
* * *
Reports that the gold had been removed from the Bank of Ireland to this country for the sake of safety have caused consternation in Dublin. There was always a possibility, the Irish say, that the Sinn Feiners might not lay hands on the stuff, but there isn't one chance in a hundred of it getting past Sir ERIC GEDDES.
* * *
A propos of the growing reluctance on the part of railway servants to take tips from holiday-makers, it appears that they are merely following the example set by the higher officials. We have positive information that only a week or so since Sir ERIC GEDDES flatly refused to take a tip from The Daily Mail.
* * *
While approving in principle of the proposal that the finger-prints of all children should be registered, Government officials point out that the expense would certainly be out of all proportion to the advantage obtained, in view of the prevailing high prices of jam.
* * *
There is just this one consolation about the weather of late. So far the Government have not placed a tax on rain.
* * *
"Soldiers are very dissatisfied with the way in which ex-service men are now being treated," states a Sunday paper. We understand that, if this dissatisfaction should spread, Mr. CHURCHILL may call upon the Army to resign.
* * *
After exhaustive experiments Signor MARCONI has failed to obtain any wireless message from Mars. Much anxiety is being felt by those persons having friends or mining shares there.
* * *
The youngest son of Sir ERIC GEDDES is learning to play golf. It is hoped by this plan to keep his mind off thoughts of a political career.
* * *
A reader living in Aberdeen informs us that the last batch of Scotch refugees arrived from England last Thursday in an exhausted condition.
* * *
"Cats are very poor swimmers," states a writer in a weekly journal. This no doubt accounts for the exceptionally high infantile mortality among these domestic pets.
* * *
Last week a wedding at Ibstock, Leicestershire, had to be postponed after the ceremony had already begun, owing to the failure of the Registrar to appear. It was not until the best man, who denied having mislaid the Registrar, had been thoroughly searched that the ceremony was abandoned.
* * *
A burglar accused of stealing sixteen volumes of classical poetry was sentenced to a month's imprisonment. The defence that he was insane was evidently ignored.
* * *
The Westminster magistrate, the other day, described a prisoner as "a very clever thief." It is said that the fellow intends printing this testimonial on his letter-paper.
* * *
A man knocked down by a racing motorist in New York is reported to have had both legs and an arm fractured, several ribs broken, and other injuries. Motorists in this country incline to the theory that it was the work of an amateur.
* * *
A Swiss guide recently discovered a chamois within sixty feet of the summit of the Jungfrau. Only on receiving the most explicit assurance that the Fourth Internationale would not be held at Grindelwald would the creature consent to resume its proper place in the landscape.
* * *
According to the conductor of the Southern Syncopated Orchestra the modern fox-trot has been evolved from a primitive negro dance called "The Blues." The theory that the Blues are the logical outcome of a primitive negro dance called the fox-trot is thus exploded.
* * *
A gentleman advertises for an island for men who are fed up with taxation. We can only say that Great Britain is just the very place.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"In some ways the American woman, it must be confessed, can give we English points on good dressing."—Evening Paper.
She might now extend her beneficence and include some points on syntax.
* * * * *
"The clergy had to work far more than forty-eight hours per day, but their pay was quite inadequate."—Local Paper.
We don't see how it would be possible to give adequate remuneration for such a feat.
* * * * *
IN DEFENCE OF DOROTHY.
I was greatly pained to read, the other day, in one of our leading dailies a most violent and uncalled-for attack on a popular favourite. Perhaps I should say one who was popular, for, alas, favourites have their day, and no doubt this attack was but to demolish the reputation of the setting star and enhance that of a rising one. Still it was unnecessarily churlish; it criticised not only the colour of her complexion, the exuberance of her presence, but her very name was held up to ridicule, the fault surely of her god-parents.
There has been, not unnaturally, quite a sensation in her circle over this attack; Papa Gontier and Maman Cochet clasped each other's hands in sympathy and said, "What will people say next of us, a respectable and time-honoured old couple, if they flout pretty popular little Dorothy Perkins?" "Of course, if people who live in a brand-new red-brick villa choose to invite Dorothy into their garden, one can't expect her to look her best; but, after all, there's only that languishing Stella Gray who can stand such a trial as that, and perhaps the stout Frau Druschki." "She, poor thing, is quite out of favour just now—hardly mentioned in polite society. Quite under a cloud; in fact a greeting from Teplitz is the only one she gets." "Now William Allen Richardson (there's a ridiculous long name, if you like!) was saying only yesterday how grateful we should all feel to dear Dorothy, who never seems to mind the weather and cheers us up when all else fails." "I must say I don't feel quite sure of William's sincerity, he is so very changeable, you know, and does not really care to be seen in Dorothy's company."
Pretty little Mme. Laurette Messime was quite hanging her head about it all. "I live in harmony with all my neighbours," she simpered. "Ah, yes," flaunted Lady Gay, in that unblushing manner of hers, "that's very easy to do for colourless people." At this Caroline Testout turned quite pale and stuttered, "Well, Dorothy does scream so." "Hush, hush, my children," said the deep voice of the venerable Marshal Niel. Though yellow with extreme old age the old gentleman bore himself proudly and his dress was glossy and clean. "We all have our place in the world. Let carping critics say what they please, whether it is Dorothy in her gay gown or Liberty in her revolutionary wear, our showy American cousins, our well-beloved Scotch relations, or our Persian guests—they are all welcome, all beautiful." "Hear, hear!" murmured the other roses.
* * * * *
PROPOSALS—CARLYLE—BISMARCK—DISRAELI—A NEW BROWNING POEM—NAPOLEON ON LIVING BRITISH STATESMEN.
[Readers of the vivacious but too reticent serial now appearing in The Sunday Times may have noticed that the narrative is now and then interrupted by a row of what Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL, during one of his conversations with Mrs. ASQUITH and JOWETT, called (to the immense delight of the MASTER OF BALLIOL) "those damned dots." Mr. Punch has, at fabulous expense, acquired the right to publish certain of the omitted passages, a selection of which is appended.]
No sooner was I in my earliest teens and had made up my mind as to the best cigarettes, than proposals began to be a matter of daily occurrence, so that whenever I saw the fifth footman or the third butler stealthily approaching me I knew that he was concealing a billet doux. Sometimes they were very flattering. Here is one, written in the big boyish hand of a Prince of the Blood:—
My beautiful, there is no one like you. They want me to marry the daughter of a royal house, but if you will say "Yes" I will defy them. We will be married by the Archbishop, who marries and buries so beautifully; but I shall never need burying, because those who marry you never die.
Poor boy, I had to send him a negative by the fifteenth groom in the third phaeton, drawn by a pair of dashing chestnuts which another of my unsuccessful adorers had given me. I noticed that when they got back to Grosvenor Square the chestnuts had turned to greys.
The Sage of Chelsea.
THOMAS CARLYLE loved to have me trotting in and out of his house in Cheyne Row, and we had endless talks on the desirability of silence. "Yon wee Meg," he used to say, for he refused to call me "Margot," declaring it was a Frenchified name—"yon wee Meg is the cleverest girl in Scotland—and the wittiest."
I remember once that RUSKIN was there too, and we had a little breeze.
RUSKIN (patronisingly). What do you think of the paintings of TURNER?
MARGOT. He bores me.
RUSKIN (drawing in a long breath). Bores you?
MARGOT (with a slow smile). He probably bores you too, only you daren't admit it.
What would have happened I cannot imagine had not dear old CARLYLE offered me a draw of his pipe, while remarking laughingly, "She's a wonder, is Meg; she'll lead the world yet."
One day he asked me what I thought of his writing.
MARGOT. Too jerky and overcharged.
CARLYLE (wincing). I must try to improve. What is your theory of authorship?
MARGOT. I think one should assume that everything that happens to oneself must be interesting to others.
CARLYLE (as though staggered by a new idea). Why?
MARGOT (simply). Because oneself is so precious, so unique.
I asked him once what he really thought of Mrs. CARLYLE, but he changed the subject.
It was in Berlin, when I was seventeen, that I met BISMARCK. It was at the Opera, where, being a young English girl, I was in the habit of going alone. The great Chancellor, who was all unconscious that I had penetrated his identity, watched me for a long while between the Acts and then overtook me on my way home and in French asked me to supper.
MARGOT (also in French). But I am not hungry.
BISMARCK. In Germany you should do as the Germans do and eat always; (with emphasis) I do.
MARGOT (scathingly). I wonder if you are aware that I am English?
BISMARCK (muttering something I could not catch about England lying crushed at his feet). But you are beautiful too! Some day you will be a countrywoman of mine.
BISMARCK. Because we shall make war on England and conquer it, and it will then be our own and all of you will be our people and our slaves. At least we should conquer it if——
MARGOT. If what?
BISMARCK. If it were not for a young man who will then be Prime Minister. It is of him we are afraid.
MARGOT. What is his name?
Could prescience further go? BISMARCK then left me with another ungainly effort at French: "Au revoir, Mademoiselle." But we never met again.
Disraeli's Last Days.
I was with DISRAELI (who was one of the few men who did not propose to me) not long before the end, and he gave me many confidences, although he knew all about my friendship with GLADSTONE. But then I have always chosen my friends impartially from all the camps. My exact memory enables me to repeat my last conversation with DIZZY word for word:—
MARGOT. You look tired. Shall I dance for you?
(Continued on page 104).
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
DIZZY. No, no.
MARGOT (brightly). Let us be sensible and talk frankly about your approaching death. Have you any views as to your biography?
DIZZY. Need there be one?
MARGOT. Of course.
DIZZY (earnestly). Would you write it? You would be so discreet.
I had to refuse, but I am sure I could have made a more amusing job of it than MR. BUCKLE has done, in spite of the love-letters. What a pity they didn't entrust it to my dear EDMUND GOSSE!
A Browning Poem.
Here is a little poem that BROWNING wrote for me on hearing me say that when we were girls "we did not know the meaning of the word 'fast'":—
We all of us worship our Margot, She's such a determined escargot.
Talks with the Dead.
The great NAPOLEON had died many years before I was born; and how unjust it is that the lives of really interesting people should not coincide! But with the assistance of my beloved OLIVER LODGE I have had many conversations with him. Our first opened in this manner:—
MARGOT. Do you take any interest in current English politics?
NAPOLEON. Oui (Yes).
MARGOT. What do you think of LLOYD GEORGE?
NAPOLEON. An opportunist on horseback.
MARGOT. I love riding too. I met most of my friends in the hunting-field. You should have seen me cantering into the hall of our town mansion. Who do you think our greatest statesman?
NAPOLEON. ASQUITH beyond a doubt.
Both PLATO and JULIUS CAESAR, whom my beloved OLIVER has also introduced to me, said the same thing.
E. V. L.
* * * * *
Oh, lordly was KING SOLOMON A-stepping down so proud, With his negro slaves and dancing girls And all his royal crowd; His peacocks and his viziers, His eunuchs old and grey, His gallants and his chamberlains And glistening array.
Oh, blithesome was KING SOLOMON That burning summer day When lo! a humble shepherdess Stood silent in his way; Then stepped down kingly SOLOMON, And proud and great stepped he, And there he kissed the shepherdess— Kissed one and two and three.
Then proudly turned the peasant-maid— Pale as a ghost was she— "For all ye are KING SOLOMON, What make ye here so free?" Oh, lordly laughed KING SOLOMON, "Shalt be my queen," quoth he; "These kisses pledged KING SOLOMON And sealed him to thee."
Then on went splendid SOLOMON And all his glittering band, And the wondering white peasant-girl He led her by the hand; But in that place sprang flower-stems All green, for kingly pride, With the small white kisses hanging down With which he sealed his bride.
* * * * *
Ursula came into the study, carrying something that had once been a photograph, but which the ravages of time had long since reduced to a faded and almost indecipherable problem.
"Dear," she said, "you know this portrait of Clara's boy, the one in the sailor suit, from my writing-table? I was looking at it just now——"
I interrupted her (it really was one of my rushed mornings). "I've been looking at it any time these fifteen years," I observed bitterly, "watching it become every day more and more fly-blown and like nothing on earth. What entitles it to special notice at this moment?"
"Nothing—much," said Ursula; but from the tone of her voice experience taught me that sentiment was only just out of sight. "I was wondering whether to burn it——"
"And then I thought that, as he was married the other day and is quite likely to have a boy of his own, it would be interesting to compare this early portrait."
"It would," I assented grimly. Perhaps disappointment had made me brutal. "There's almost nothing, from the Alps at midnight to Royalty down a coalmine, with which it would not be equally safe and appropriate to compare it. Only, as I gather that this involves its continued existence for a further indefinite period, my one request is that in the meantime you remove it. Shut it in the safe. Bury it. But don't leave it about."
"Aren't you being rather excited about nothing?"
"No. This is a matter of principle, and I am speaking for your own good. Fifteen years ago that photograph, unframed and in the first flush of youth, was casually deposited on your writing-table. Perhaps you only meant to put it out of your hand for a moment while you attended to something else. But you know what the result has been. It has remained there, gradually establishing a prescriptive right. No doubt it has been dusted, with the rest of the room, seven times a week...."
"Six times," said Ursula, smiling, but blushing a little too—I was glad to observe that.
"... and as often been replaced. Its charm for the observant visitor has, to put the thing mildly, long since vanished. I doubt if either of us would so much as see it had it not attained for me the fascination of an eye-sore. Yet it stays on, simply because no one has the initiative to take action. To put it concisely, it is a squatter."
"Don't be ridiculous."
"I was never more serious in my life. This speckled travesty, this photographic mummy, is but one example out of many. I do not know whether other homes resemble ours in the same tendency towards the mausoleum. But I strongly suspect it."
"What things are there besides this?" broke out Ursula, suddenly defensive. "Tell me a list of them."
"You forget, sweetheart, that as a professional literary man my time, especially in the morning, has a certain commercial value, but I will endeavour to do as you ask. You would of course justly repudiate any comparison between your own artistic setting and those Victorian houses wherein the 'drawing-room book' reposed always in the same sacred corner. Yet in the matter of derelict articles we are millionaires, we are beset by squatters."
I could see that Ursula was impressed, though she tried to conceal the fact. "Professional literary men seem to be strangely under the dominion of one word," she began coldly.
At that moment a bell tinkled.
"Eliza!" cried Ursula; "and I'm not dressed." As she fluttered from the room I had a distinct impression that she was not sorry for an excuse to break off the interview.
I re-settled myself at my desk, smiling a little cynically. How long would the lesson last? Then I happened to glance towards the mantelpiece, beside which Ursula had been standing. There, hastily propped against the clock, was that detestable photograph. It still quivered in the movement of release, as though shaking its shoulders, settling down palpably for another decade. With an uncontrollable impulse I leapt up, seized the abomination and, flinging it on the floor, ground it to powder with my heel.
In one word, the anti-squatting campaign had definitely begun.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"Some five or six million years hence, therefore, it is prophesied, the earth will fall into the grip of an ice age. There will descend on all living things the blight of eternal cod."
Although the danger is not immediate it deserves the serious consideration of the FOOD CONTROLLER.
* * * * *
(Being some notes on a bye-path in politics.)
The Board of Agriculture has been biding its time. In the fierce light of publicity which has been beating of late upon Mr. LLOYD GEORGE, Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL and Sir ERIC GEDDES the attempt of this rustic Ministry to assert itself has passed almost unnoticed. Our gaze has been fixed upon the London railway termini, upon Warsaw and upon Belfast; we have been neglecting Campden (Glos.). Yet in that town, I read, "the Ministry of Agriculture has completed arrangements for a commercial course in the State Fruit and Vegetable College to instruct students in the manufacture of preserved fruit products."
I have considered the last part of the sentence quoted above very carefully in the light of the Rules and Regulations governing procedure in State Departments, Magna Carta, the Habeas Corpus Act and the Constitutions of Clarendon, and have come to the conclusion that it means "making jam." I am very sure, as the PRIME MINISTER would say, that things are about to happen in preserved fruit products; things will become very much worse and very much sterner in jam. And if in jam why then also in jelly and in marmalade. Even at this moment in the offices of the Board of Agriculture there are a number of clerks, I suppose, sitting with schedules in front of them, something like this:—
- No. of No. of No. of No. of No. of candidates candidates candidates candidates candidates in awaiting fully trained full, but Total training training trained but not not in in full trained - 1. Jam - 2. Jelly - 3. Marmalade - Total -
The perfect beauty of schedules framed upon this model is only to be apprehended by those who realise that when they are filled in and added up correctly the figure at the base of the vertical "Total" column on the right is identical with the figure on the right of the horizontal "Total" column at the base. It is the haunting magic of this fact that gives to Government clerks the wistful far-away look which they habitually wear.
It is not a good schedule this, of course—not a complete, not an exhaustive one. After a month or so it will be discovered with a cry of astonishment that no record has been kept of the number of candidates who are being trained in jam or jelly (combined) but not in marmalade, in jelly and marmalade (combined) but not in jam, and in jam and marmalade (combined) but not in jelly. And so a new and a greater schedule will have to be compiled. But even after that for a long time no one will notice that nothing has been said about the number of candidates who are being trained in jam and jelly and marmalade all combined and mashed up together, as they are at a picnic on the sands.
Of the many debatable issues raised by this new Government project, in so far as it affects the spheres of jelly and jam, I do not propose to speak now; I prefer to confine my attention for the moment to the fruit product which touches most nearly the home breakfast-table—namely, marmalade.
There are three schools of thought in marmalade. There are those who like the dark and very runny kind with large segments or wedges of peel. There are those who prefer a clear and jellified substance with tiny fragments of peel enshrined in it as the fly is enshrined in amber. And there are some, I suppose, who favour a kind of glutinous yellow composition, neither reactionary nor progressive, but something betwixt and between. There can be very little doubt which kind of marmalade the State Marmalade School will produce.
And then, mark you, one fine day the President of the Board of Agriculture will turn round and issue a communique to the Press like this:—
"Preferential treatment in the supply of sugar for the purpose of conducting the processes of manufacture of fruit products will henceforward be given to those who possess the Campden diploma for proficiency in the conduct of the above-named processes."
And where is your freedom then? Cooks and housewives will be condemned either to make State marmalade or to make no marmalade at all. Personally I am inclined to think that the President of the Board of Agriculture will go further than this. I think that encouragement will be given to those who take the State Marmalade course to follow it up with a subsidiary or finishing course of wasp treatment.
And in wasp treatment also there are three schools. There is what is called the CHURCHILL school, which hits out right and left with an infuriated spoon. Then there is the MONTAGU school, which takes no provocative action, but sits still and says, "They won't sting you if you don't irritate them;" it says this especially when they are flying round somebody else's head. And lastly there is the Medium school, which, choosing the moment when the wasp is busily engaged, presses it down gently and firmly into the marmalade, so that the last spoonfuls of the dish are not so much a fruit product as a kind of entomological preserve. The last way, I think, will be the State way of dealing with wasps, and a reward will probably be offered for the stings of all wasps embalmed on Coalition lines.
The electorate has stuck to the Government through the Peace Treaty, through Mesopotamia, through Ireland and through coal. Can it stick to them, is what I ask, through marmalade?
* * * * *
MENS CONSCIA MALI.
The lightning flashed and flickered, roared the thunder, Down came the rain, and in the usual way Pavilionward we sped to sit and wonder Was this the end of play.
In scattered groups my comrades talked together, Their disappointment faded bit by bit, So soothing can it be to tell the weather Just what you think of it.
But I—I sat aloof as one distressed by A painful tendency to droop and wilt; Though none suspected it, I was oppressed by A conscience charged with guilt.
I watched the pitch become a sodden pulp, a Morass, a sponge, a lake, a running stream, What time a sad repentant Mea culpa Was all my musing's theme.
Mine was the cricket sin too hard to pardon In one whose age should carry greater sense; On Friday night I'd watered all the garden, Thus tempting Providence.
* * * * *
"Mr. —— asserted that the Russian people would be permitted 'untrammelled to pork out their own salvation.'"—Canadian Paper. And why not the Irish people too?
* * * * *
* * * * *
Most men have a hobby. Timbrell-Timson's is to bear on his narrow shoulders the burden of Middle Europe. He calls it Mittel-Europa. Lately he has been sharing his burden with me.
"You know," he said, frowning—he always frowns, because of the burden—"I am rather uneasy about the Czecho-Slovaks."
"I'm not too comfortable about them myself," I said truthfully.
"There seems to be a certain lack of stability about their new constitution," said T.-T., "a—a—a—what shall I say?"
"A—er—um—a," I put in.
"Exactly; just so," said T.-T. He then got into his stride and gave me twenty minutes' Czecho-Slovakism when I was dying to discover whether HOBBS had scored his two-millionth run.
As T.-T. talked my mind wandered away into regions of its own—Aunt Jane's rheumatic gout, my broken niblick, the necessity for getting my hair cut. But sub-consciously I reserved a courteous minimum of attention for T.-T., and said, "H'm" and "Ha" with decent frequency. He went on and on, shedding several ounces of the burden. I decided that Aunt Jane ought to have a shot at Christian Science.
"... very much the same plight as the Poles," said T.-T., emerging from a cloud of Czecho-Slovakism and pausing to clear his meagre throat.
I felt it was up to me. "Of course," I said, "the Poles don't strike one as being—er—very—that is—"
"Precisely. They are not," said T.-T., as I knew he would. "But I am very relieved to see that M. Grabski...."
This was something new and sounded amusing. "Grabski?" I said. "What's happened to dear old—I mean, I thought M. Paderewski was—"
"I am referring to the recent Spa Conference," said T.-T. severely.
"Of course, how silly of me," I murmured.
T.-T. gave me another twenty minutes of Poland. Then he released me, with a final word of warning against putting too much faith in M. Daschovitch. I promised I wouldn't.
T.-T. shook me cordially by the hand and said, "It has been a pleasure to talk to such a sympathetic listener."
What led me to revolt was T.-T.'s hat-trick. Three evenings in succession he unloaded on me chunks of the burden. Probably he thought the third time made it my own property.
I asked advice from Brown, a man of commonsense.
"During the Great War," said Brown, "I went down with pneumonia. They painted my chest yellow, and, when I asked the Sister why, she said it was a counter-irritant. That's what you want to use now, my lad. Stand up to your little friend and beat him at his own game."
"But how?" I said. "I can't. What he doesn't know about the gentle Czech isn't worth a cussovitch."
"Cultivate a counter-burden," said Brown, "and make him eat it as he has made you eat his."
When I left Brown it was decided that I was henceforth to be an authority on Mittel-Afrika. The next evening I was purposely unoccupied in a corner of the smoking-room when T.-T. came in, frowning and bowed down by his burden, to which apparently I had brought no relief.
"Well, to-day's news from Mittel-Europa is hardly—" he began.
"Scarcely glanced at it," I said. "I was so busy with the news from Mittel-Afrika—Abyssinia, in fact."
T.-T. looked surprised, partly, no doubt, because he knew as well as I did that Abyssinia is nowhere near the middle of Africa. Then he gained balance and reopened with the remark that "The ineradicable weakness of the Czecho-Slovak is—"
"Just what I feel about the Ethiopians," I said.
"Of course there is in the Czecho a fundamental—" began T.-T. once more.
"Not half so fundamental as in the Abyssinians," I said promptly.
T.-T. was puzzled but obstinate. The burden, I think, was rather bad that evening. He tried me with Grabski and got as far as saying that he had little respect for that gentleman's antecedents.
I broke in by comparing Grabski's antecedents with the antecedents of B'lumbu, the Abyssinian Deputy Under-secretary of the Admiralty, much to the detriment of the latter. Then I launched out into a long and startling expose of what I called the Swarthy Peril. I told T.-T. that the Ethiopians ate their young, and warned him that, unless he was careful, they would soon be over here devouring his own spectacled progeny. I told him about the Ethiopic secret plans for the invasion of Mexico as a stepping-stone to the subjugation of Mittel-Amerika. I hinted that Abyssinian spies were everywhere—that even one of the club waiters was not above suspicion.
For thirty-five minutes I held T.-T. in his chair (may the Abyssinian gods forgive me!). After the first three minutes he forgot his burden and never a word spake he.
Then I released him with a final warning against putting any faith at all in Gran'slam, the Abyssinian Assistant Foreign Secretary, and as we parted I said gratefully, "It has been a pleasure to talk to such a sympathetic listener."
I don't think T.-T. really believes even now in the Swarthy Peril, but the counter-irritant has done its work.
* * * * *
ANOTHER GARDEN OF ALLAH.
[The Metropolitan Water Board announces an advance in the Water Rate.]
I cannot fill the bounteous cup Munificently as of yore Because the water's going up (It didn't at Lodore); No longer now can I regale The canine stranger with a pail Drawn from my cistern's store.
Let Samuel the sunflower die, Let Gerald the geranium fade, And all the other plants that I Have hitherto displayed; The virgin grass within my plot May call for water—I will not Preserve a single blade.
Henceforth let Claude the cactus dress My garden beds, who bravely grows Without a frequent S.O.S. To water-can and hose. I've cast these weapons to the void And permanently unemployed Is Hildebrand the hose.
Within the house by words and deeds I've run an Anti-Waste Campaign; On every tap the legend reads: "Teetotalers, abstain!" While on each bath and tub of mine I've drawn freehand a PLIMSOLL line, Impressionist but plain.
When upward mount my chops and cheese I fain must bend beneath the blow; I have to pay the price for these Whether I will or no. But here at least, by dint of thought, I feel that I can bring to naught The rise in H_2O.
You'll find that I shall keep in check The gross expense of water when Domestic nettoyage a sec Rules my ancestral den. I, unlike Nature, don't abhor A "vacuum"—to clean the floor: In fact I've ordered ten.
* * * * *
"At Bremen ... the crowd seized the stalls in the market, and sold the goods at prices between 100 and 200 per cent. lower than the prices demanded."—Provincial Paper.
The correspondent who sends us the above cutting demands similar reductions in English markets in order that he may live within his income of minus two pounds a week.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Six months ago Maurice Gillstone's flat was the home of unrest. Maurice was one of those authors who tire of their creations before completion. He would get an idea, begin to write and then turn to some other theme.
It made the domestic atmosphere difficult. You would go to call on the Gillstones and find them plunged in despair. Maurice would gaze at you with a wild unseeing eye, pass his hand through his dishevelled hair, mutter "The inspiration has left me," and fling himself into a chair and groan. Mrs. Maurice would burst into tears.
The flat was strewn with fragments of manuscripts. Plays, novels, poems (none finished) littered the rooms in profusion; a brilliant but isolated Scene I., stray opening chapters of novels, detached prologues of mighty epics.
"His beginnings are wonderful," Mrs. Maurice would wail between her sobs; "keen critics and men of the most delicate literary taste rave over them; but if he can't finish them, what's the use?"
It was very sad.
Then John Edmund Drall, the inventor of the non-alcoholic beverage which is now a household word and an old friend of the Gillstones, came along and tried to cure Maurice of his literary defect by the sort of ruse one would employ on a jibbing horse. He sent Maurice a bottle of his Lemonbeer and asked him to write an appreciation of that noxious fluid.
"I have asked Maurice," Drall confided to me, "to scribble a testimonial to Lemonbeer. It will kind of break the spell, and it wouldn't be Maurice if he didn't turn out a perfect gem of literary composition. I know my Lemonbeer is really good and I know that Maurice is extremely appreciative. Maurice is under a spell. It must be broken. If he can write a complete testimonial he will easily finish all those beginnings of his." The idea seemed sound.
Well, Maurice drank the Lemonbeer and, in spite of an increasing tendency to swoon, did begin to write a gem of a testimonial. He had, however, written but the first four words of it when he fainted. These words were "Lemonbeer is the best...."
Maurice would do anything for a friend, and, as I say, had actually written "Lemonbeer is the best ..." after drinking a whole bottle of it.
It was Drall's advertisement manager who said that in point of selling power this testimonial was unsurpassed. "The finished completeness of the composition," he said, "shows sheer genius. Just four words. A word added or subtracted would ruin it."
When Maurice came to and learnt how brilliant he had been he simply put on his hat and walked round to a Film Agency to say that he was prepared to write—and complete—any number of masterpieces. Since that day he has never looked back.
* * * * *
Mr. —— invites all interested to inspect his fine stock which he can offer just new at exceptionally low prices."—Daily Paper.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Look up, my child, the sirens whoop Shrill invitations to the Fair, The yellow swing-boats soar and swoop, The Gavioli organs blare; Bull-throated show-men, bracken-brown, Compete to shout each other down.
Behold the booths of gingerbread, Of nougat and of peppermints, The stall of toys where overhead Balloons of gay translucent tints Float on the breeze and drift and sway; Fruit of a fairy vine are they.
Within this green fantastic grot Bright-coloured balls are danced and spun On jets ("'Ere, lovey, 'ave a shot"); A gipsy lady tends a gun, A very rose of gipsy girls, With earrings glinting in her curls.
Will marvels cease? This humble booth Enshrines a dame of royal birth, Princess Badrubidure, forsooth, The fattest princess on the earth; Come, we will stand where kings have stood, And you shall pinch her if you're good.
The brasses gleam, the mirrors flash, How splendid is the Round-About! The organ brays, the cymbals clash, The spotted horses bound about Their whirling platform, full of beans, And country girls ride by like queens.
Professor Battling Bendigo (Ex ten-stone champion of the West) Parades the stage before his show And swells his biceps and his chest; "Is England's manhood dead and gone?" He asks; "Won't no one take me on?"
A big drum booms, revolvers crack; Who is this hero that appears, A velvet tunic on his back, His whiskers curling round his ears? 'Tis he who drew the jungle's sting, Diabolo, the Lion King.
Within are birds beyond belief And creatures colourful and quaint: Lean dingoes weighed with secret grief And monkey humourists who ain't; Bears, camels, pards—Look up, my dear, The wonders of the world are here!
* * * * *
"CELLS BELOW ZERO FOR T.B. PATIENTS.
Ink in Nurses' Pens Froze when Taking Men's Temperature."—Canadian Paper.
Personally, we prefer having ours taken with a thermometer.
* * * * *
"OFFENCES UNDER THE LIGHTING ORDERS.
—At Thursday's petty session Emile —— was paid L1 for having no near side light on his motor car."—Local Paper.
But ought foreign offenders to be favoured in this way?
* * * * *
"Richmond camp is a scene of bustling activity from sunrise to reveille, or 'Taps' as the Americans term it."—Evening Paper.
And after that the boy scouts would appear to have had a nice long day to themselves.
* * * * *
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
Monday, August 2nd.—The rain that drenched the Bank-holiday-makers had its counterpart inside the House of Commons in the shower of Questions arising out of Mr. CHURCHILL'S article on the Polish crisis in an evening newspaper. Members of various parties sought to know whether, when the WAR SECRETARY said that peace with Soviet Russia was only another form of war and apparently invited the co-operation of the German militarists to fight the Bolshevists, he was expressing the views of the Government; and if not, what had become of the doctrine of collective responsibility?
The PRIME MINISTER manfully tried to shield his colleague from the storm, but the effort took all his strength and ingenuity, and more than once it seemed as if an unusually violent blast would blow his umbrella inside out. His principal points were that the article did not mean what it appeared to say; that if it did it was not so much an expression of policy as of a "hankering"—("HANKERING. An uneasy craving to possess or enjoy something"—Dictionary); that he could not control his colleagues' desires or their expression, even in a newspaper hostile to the Government, so long as they were consistent with the policy of the Government; and that he was not aware of anything in this particular article that "cut across any declaration of policy by His Majesty's Government."
This does not sound very convincing perhaps, but it was sufficient to satisfy Members, whose chief anxiety is to get off as soon as possible to the country, and who voted down by 134 to 32 an attempt to move the adjournment.
The CHIEF SECRETARY formally introduced a Bill "to make provision for the restoration and maintenance of order in Ireland." Earlier in the sitting the PRIME MINISTER had declined Mr. DE VALERA'S alleged offer to accept a republic on the Cuban pattern, and had reiterated his intention to pass the Home Rule Bill after the Recess.
Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR is a declared opponent of both these measures, but that did not prevent him from contrasting the lightning speed of the House when passing coercion for Ireland with its snail-like pace when approaching conciliation. In fifty years it had not given justice to Ireland; it was to be asked to give injustice to Ireland in fewer hours.
Tuesday, August 3rd.—That genial optimist Lord PEEL commended the Ministry of Mines Bill as being calculated to restore harmony and goodwill among masters and men. According to Lord GAINFORD the best way to secure this result is to hand back the control of the mines to their owners, between whom and the employes, he declared, cordial relations had existed in the past. Still, the owners would work the Bill for what it was worth, and hoped the miners would do the same. Lord HALDANE said that was just what the miners had announced their intention of not doing unless they were given a great deal more power than the Bill proposed. But this lack of enthusiasm in no way damped Lord PEEL'S ardour. Indeed he observed that he had "never introduced a Bill that was received with any sort of enthusiasm." Mollified by this engaging candour the Peers gave the Bill a Second Reading.
I am glad to record another example of Government economy. To Mr. GILBERT, who desired that more sandpits should be provided in the London parks for the delectation of town-tied children, Sir ALFRED MOND reluctantly but sternly replied that "in view of the considerable expenditure involved" he did not feel justified in adding to the existing number of three.
Dumps suggest dolefulness, but the debate on the action of the Disposals Board in disposing of the accumulations at Slough, St. Omer and elsewhere was decidedly lively. Mr. HOPE led off by attacking the recent report of the Committee on National Expenditure, and declared that its Chairman, though a paragon of truth, was not necessarily a mirror of accuracy. The Chairman himself (Sir F. BANBURY), seated for the nonce upon the Opposition Bench, replied with appropriate vigour in a speech which caused Sir GORDON HEWART to remark that the passion for censoriousness was not a real virtue, but which greatly pleased the Labour Party, in acknowledging whose compliments Sir FREDERICK severely strained the brim of his tall hat.
After these star-turns the "walking gentlemen" had their chance. Sixteen times were they called upon to parade the Division Lobbies by an Opposition which on one occasion registered no fewer than fifty-three votes.
Wednesday, August 4th.—One of the few Irish institutions which all Irishmen unite in praising is the mail service between Kingstown and Holyhead. Even the Sinn Feiners would think twice before cutting this link between England and Ireland. Yet, according to Lord ORANMORE AND BROWNE, the British Post Office has actually given notice to terminate the contract. He was assured, however, by Lord CRAWFORD that tenders for a new contract would shortly be invited and that, whoever secured it, the efficiency of the service would be maintained.
It was nearly eight o'clock before the Ministry of Mines came on. Lord SALISBURY thought it would be improper to consider so important a measure after dinner; Lord CRAWFORD thought it would be still more improper to suggest that the Peers would not be in a condition to transact business after that meal. He carried his point, but at the expense of the Bill, for Lord SALISBURY, returning like a giant refreshed, induced their Lordships to transform the Minister of Mines into a mere Under-Secretary of the Board of Trade, thus defeating, according to Lord PEEL, the principal purpose of the measure.
It was another day of rather small beer in the Commons. There were, however, one or two dicta of note. Thus Sir BERTRAM FALK, who was concerned because Naval officers received no special marriage allowance, was specifically assured by Sir JAMES CRAIG that the Admiralty will not prevent men from marrying. I understood, however, that it will not recognise a wife in every port.
Thursday, August 5th.—With lofty disregard of a hundred-and-twenty years of history the Duke of NORTHUMBERLAND informed the Peers that the present state of Ireland was due to Bolshevism. Having diagnosed the disease so clearly he ought to have been ready with a remedy, but could suggest nothing more practical than the holding of mass meetings to organise British public opinion.
Meanwhile the Commons were engaged in rushing through with the aid of the "guillotine" a Bill for the restoration of order in the distressful country. Mr. BONAR LAW, usually so accurate, fell into an ancient trap, and declared that the Sinn Fein leaders had "raised a Frankenstein that they cannot control."
Sir HAMAR GREENWOOD made as good a defence of the Bill as was possible in the circumstances. But neither he nor anybody else could say how courts-martial, which are "to act on the ordinary rules of evidence," will be successful in bringing criminals to justice if witnesses refuse to come forward.
Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR re-delivered the anti-coercion speech which he has been making off and on for the last forty years. Mr. DEVLIN was a little more up-to-date, for he introduced a reference to the Belfast riots and drew from the CHIEF SECRETARY an assurance that the Bill would be as applicable to Ulster as to the rest of Ireland.
Mr. ASQUITH denounced the Bill with unusual animation, and was sure that it would do more harm than good. Cromwellian treatment needed a CROMWELL, but he did not see one on the Treasury Bench. "CROMWELL yourself!" retorted the PRIME MINISTER. The only unofficial supporter of the Bill, and even he "no great admirer," was Lord HUGH CECIL; but nevertheless the Second Reading was carried by 289 to 71.
The House afterwards gave a Second Reading to the Census (Ireland) Bill, on the principle, as Captain ELLIOTT caustically observed, that if you can't do anything with the people of Ireland you might at least find out how many of them there are.
Friday, August 6th.—The remaining stages of the Coercion Bill were passed under the "guillotine." Mr. DEVLIN declared that this was not "cricket," and refused to play any longer; but it is only fair to say that he had not then seen our artist's picture.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"At this stage the Chairman withdrew complaining of a head-ache without nominating a successor, darkness set in and there were no lights. Along with the Chairman some forty people also left in a body. What happened afterwards is not clear."
We don't wonder the reporter was baffled.
* * * * *
DEAR MR. PUNCH.—Re the authorship of SHAKSPEARE'S plays, may I quote from Twelfth Night, Act I., Scene V.? Thank you.
"'Tis beauty truly blent, whose red and white Nature's own sweet and cunning hand laid on."
This is unquestionably bacon.
* * * * *
* * * * *
ROAD CONDITIONS FOR CHARABANCS.
The following road information is compiled from reports received by the Charabanc Defence Association:—
The Lushborough road is good and free from obstruction as far as Great Boundingley, but from Chatback to Wrothley the conditions are unfavourable. The bridge one mile south of the former place has been occupied by a strong force of unfriendly natives, and several cases of tarring have been reported. There is, however, an alternative route via Boozeley, but great caution is advised in passing through Wrothley, passengers being recommended to provide themselves with a good supply of loose metal before entering the village, where most of the houses are protected with iron shutters. Helmets should not be removed before reaching Cadbridge, where there is no danger of retaliation.
Bottles may be discharged freely all along the Muckley road as far as Ruddiham, but caution is needed at Bashfield Corner, from which a small band of snipers has not yet been dislodged, though their ammunition is running short. Passengers should be prepared to use all the resources of their vocabulary at Bargingham, where the inhabitants enjoy a well-deserved repute for their command of picturesque invective. It would be humiliating to the whole charabanc confraternity if they were to yield their pre-eminence in this branch of education to a small rural community.
Thanks to the vigilance of the well-armed patrols of the Charabanc Defence Association the main roads in East Anglia are almost clear of the enemy. Caution must still be observed in passing through Garningham at night. One of the hardiest "charabankers" was recently prostrated in that village by a well-aimed epithet from the oldest inhabitant. A writer in a Norwich paper recently described the area within ten miles of Whelksham as "a paradise for baboon-faced Yahooligans." But these futile ebullitions of malice are powerless to check the triumphal progress of the charabanc in the Eastern Counties.
But no route at present offers more favourable or exhilarating opportunities to the high-minded excursionist than the main Gath road from Scrapston to Kinlarry. Excellent sport is afforded just outside Stillminster, where Sir John Goodfellow's greenhouses are within easy bottle-throw of the road and furnish a splendid target. On the whole, however, it is thought advisable to abstain from saluting the neighbouring hospital for shell-shock patients with a salvo of megaphones, local opinion being adverse to such manifestations.
* * * * *
RHYMES OF THE UNDERGROUND.
The Ealing trains run frequently, The Ealing trains run fast; I stand at Gloucester Road and see A many hurtling past; They go to Acton, Turnham Green, And stations I have never seen, Simply because my lot has been In other places cast.
The folk on Ealing trains who ride They, pitying, bestow On me a look instinct with pride; But I would have them know That, while on Wimbledonian plains My humble domicile remains, I HAVE NO USE FOR EALING TRAINS, Though still they come and go.
* * * * *
Conversation of the moment in a City restaurant:—
REGULAR CUSTOMER (looking down menu). "Waiter, why is cottage pie never on now?"
WAITER. "Well, Sir, since this 'ere shortage of 'ouses we ain't allowed to make 'em any more."
* * * * *
THE REVIVAL OF THE FITTEST.
(Written after reading Mr. Francis W. GALPIN'S "Old English Instruments of Music.")
I am no skilful vocalist; I can't control my mezza gola; I have but an indifferent fist (Or foot) upon the Pianola.
But there are instruments, I own, That fire me with a fond ambition To master for their names alone Apart from their august tradition.
They are the Fipple-Flute, a word Suggestive of seraphic screeches; The Poliphant comes next, and third The Humstrum—aren't they perfect peaches?
About their tone I cannot say Much that would carry clear conviction, For, till I read of them to-day, I knew them not in fact or fiction.
As yet I am, alas! without Instruction in the art of fippling, Though something may be found about It in the works of LEAR or KIPLING.
And possibly I may unearth In LECKY or in LAURENCE OLIPHANT Some facts to remedy my dearth Of knowledge bearing on the Poliphant.
But, now their pictures I have seen In GALPIN'S learned dissertation, So far as in me lies I mean To bring about their restoration.
Yet since I cannot learn all three And time is ever onward humming, My few remaining years shall be Devoted wholly to humstrumming.
That, when my bones to rest are laid, Upon my tomb it may be written: "He was the very last who played Upon the Humstrum in Great Britain."
* * * * *
Lately we had occasion to consider the place of the grasshopper in modern politics. Now let us consider the place of the spider in our social life.
It seems to me that the spider is the most accomplished and in some ways the most sensible insect we have in these parts. In my opinion a great deal too much fuss has been made about the bee. She is a knowing little thing, but the spider is her superior in many ways. Yet no one seems to write books or educational rhymes about the spider. It is really a striking example of the well-known hypocrisy and materialism of the British race. The bee is held up to the young as a model of industry and domestic virtue—and why? Simply because she manufactures food which we happen to like. The spider is held up to the young as the type of rapacity, malice and cruelty, on the sole ground that he catches flies, though we do not pretend that we are fond of flies, and conveniently ignore the fact that, if the spider did not swat that fly, we should probably swat it ourselves.
The real charge against the spider is that he doesn't make any food for us. As for the virtue and nobility of the bee, I don't see it. The only way in which she is able to accumulate all that honey at all is by massacring the unfortunate males by the thousand as soon as she conveniently can, a piece of Prussianism which may be justified on purely material grounds, but is scarcely consistent with her high reputation for morality and lovingkindness. If it could be shown that the bee consciously collected all that honey with the idea that we should annex it there might be something to be said for her on moral grounds; but nobody pretends that. Now look at the spider. We are told that as a commercial product spider-silk has been found to be equal if not superior to the best silk spun by the Lepidopterous larvae, with whom, of course, you are familiar. "But the cannibalistic propensities of spiders, making it impossible to keep more than one in a single receptacle ... have hitherto prevented the silk being used ... for textile fabrics." So that it comes to this: if spiders are useless because they eat each other, the bees do much the same thing (only wholesale), but it makes them commercially useful. The bee therefore we place upon a pinnacle of respectability, but the spider we despise. Faugh! the hypocrisy of it makes me sick. My children will be taught to venerate the spider and despise the bee.
For, putting aside the question of moral values, look what the spider can do. What is there in the clammy, not to say messy, honey-comb to be compared with the delicate fabric of the spider's web? Indeed, should we ever have given a single thought to the honey-comb if it had had no honey in it? Do we become lyrical about the wasp's comb? We do not. It is a case where greed and materialism have warped our artistic perceptions. The spider can lower itself from the drawing-room ceiling to the floor by a silken thread produced out of itself. Still more marvellous, he can climb up the same thread to the ceiling when he is bored, winding up the thread inside him as he goes, and so making pursuit impossible. What can the bee do to equal that? And how is it done? We don't even know. The Encyclopaedia Britannica doesn't know; or if it does it doesn't let on. But the whole tedious routine of the bee's domestic pottering day is an open book to us. Ask yourself, which would you rather do, be able to collect honey and put it in a suitable receptacle, or be able to let yourself down from the top floor to the basement by a silken rope produced out of your tummy, and then climb up it again when you want to go upstairs, just winding up the rope inside you? I think you will agree that the spider has it. It is hard enough, goodness knows, to wind up an ordinary ball of string so that it will go into the string-box properly. What one would do if one had to put it in one's bread-box I can't think. When my children grow up, instead of learning
"How doth the little busy bee ..."
they will learn—
How doth the jolly little spider Wind up such miles of silk inside her, When it is clear that spiders' tummies Are not so big as mine or Mummy's? The explanation seems to be, They do not eat so much as me.
That will point the moral of moderation in eating, you see. There will be a lot more verses, I expect; I can see cram and diaphragm and possibly jam coming very soon. But we must get on.
The spider is like the bee in this respect, that the male seems to have a most rotten time. For one thing he is nearly always about two sizes smaller than the female. Owing to that and to what The Encyclopaedia Britannica humorously describes as "the greater voracity" of the female (there is a lot of quiet fun in The Encyclopaedia Britannica), he is a very brave spider who makes a proposal of marriage. "He makes his advances to his mate at the risk of his life and is not infrequently killed and eaten by her before or after" they are engaged ("before or after" is good). "Fully aware of the danger he pays his addresses with extreme caution, frequently waiting for hours in her vicinity before venturing to come to close quarters. Males of the Argyopidae hang on the outskirts of the webs of the females and signal their presence to her by jerking the radial threads in a peculiar manner." This is, of course, the origin of the quaint modern custom by which the young man rings the bell before attempting to enter the web of his beloved in Grosvenor Square. Contemporary novelists have even placed on record cases in which the male has "waited for hours in her vicinity before venturing to come to close quarters;" but too much attention must not be paid to these imaginative accounts. If I have said enough to secure that in future a little more kindliness and respect will be shown to the spider in the nurseries of this great Empire, and a little less of it wasted on the bee, I have not misspent my time.
But I shall not be content. Can we not go further? Can we not get a little more of the simplicity of spider life into this hectic world of ours? In these latitudes the spider lives only for a single season. "The young emerge from the cocoon in the early spring, grow through the summer and reach maturity in the early autumn. The sexes then pair and perish soon after the female has constructed her cocoon." How delicious! No winter; no bother about coal; no worry about the children's education; just one glorious summer of sport, one wild summer of fly-catching and midge-eating, a romantic, not to say dangerous wooing, a quiet wedding in the autumn, dump the family in some nice unfurnished cocoon—and perish. Is there nothing to be said for that? How different from the miserable bee, which just goes on and on, worrying about posterity, working and working, fussing about....
Yet all our lives are modelled on the bee's.
A. P. H.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Why should not some of the other people, who also enjoy life, have their movements recorded too? Like this:—
During Mr. William Sikes' visit to the Devonshire moors Mrs. Sikes will remain in town.
* * *
Mr. and Mrs. James Harris have arrived in London from Southend.
* * *
Miss Levi, Miss Hirsch and Master Isaacson are among the guests at Victoria Park, where some highly successful children's parties have been given.
* * *
Epping is much in favour just now, and a large number of (public) house-parties have been arranged. Among those entertaining this week are Mr. Henry Higgins, Mr. Robert Atkins and Mr. John Smith.
* * *
Mr. Henry Hawkins, Mrs. Hawkins, Mr. Henry Hawkins, junior, and Miss Hawkins left town on August 2nd for Hampstead Heath, for a day's riding and shooting. A large bag of nuts was obtained. Mr. Hawkins has not yet returned.
* * * * *
"LITTLE PROGRESS MADE. KING STILL DEFIANT." Daily Paper.
Oh, dear! Another complication! Who is the monarch? Which the nation? We breathe again. The Leicester pro. Kept up his end four hours or so.
* * * * * "Another of the big round landlords of London is selling his estate.
Sir Joseph Doughty Tichborne is selling his Doughty Estate of 14 acres."—Evening Paper.
It recalls the famous case. "The Claimant" would certainly have made "a big round landlord."
* * * * *
"Here then is a new development of serious local journalism. Just an unpretentious but exceedingly well-printed village sheet, breathing local atmosphere, emitting nothing that can possibly interest the natives."
But we seem to have seen journals like this before.
* * * * *
From a Dutch bulb-grower's catalogue:—
"Nothing but Inferior quality being sent out from my Nurseries. My terms are Cash with order only."
In matters of commerce this Dutchman appears to be maintaining his country's reputation.
* * * * *
It began as quite an ordinary day. I read my paper at breakfast and Kathleen poured out the coffee. She wore that little frown between her eyebrows that means that she is thinking out the menu for lunch and dinner and hoping that Nurse hasn't burnt Baby's porridge again. This is married life.
Then I started in a hurry for the office, hurling a "Good-bye, dear" through the open window as I passed. The 9.15 leaves little time for affection. That too is married life.
It was the sweetbriar hedge that made me decide to miss the 9.15. It clutched hold of me suddenly and told me that the sky was very blue and the woods very green, and that the office was an absurd thing on such a day.
I went slowly back home round the outside of the garden wall. Someone was singing in the garden. I stopped and whistled a tune. A face appeared over the wall—rather an attractive face.
"Hello!" it said; "someone I knew a long time ago used to whistle that tune outside my garden."
"Hello!" I said; "come out for a walk?"
"I can't come out at the bidding of young men on the highway. It isn't done."
"Never mind. Come out."
"Have I ever been introduced to you?"
"Introductions went out years ago. Come by the side gate."
She came. She held a shady hat in her hand and walked on tip-toe.
"Sh!" she cautioned; "no one must see me. I have a reputation, you know. I don't want the Vicar to denounce me from the pulpit on Sunday in front of Baby."
"I will be quite frank with you," she went on, holding out her left hand with a dramatic flourish; "I am married—I have a husband."
I gave a hollow groan; then, with a manly effort, I mastered my emotion.
"I hope he's nice to you," I said.
"No, he isn't. He grouches off to the office in the morning and grouches back in the evening and reads newspapers. He's just grouched off now."
"The callous brute!" I hissed through my teeth.
"There's worse than that," she said darkly.
"Yes. To-day, to-day is an anniversary, and he forgot it." The manner was that of MADAME BERNHARDT.
"Anniversaries," I said reassuringly, "are difficult to remember. They accumulate so."
"Are you defending him?" she protested.
"Er—no," I said hastily. "The man's an unmitigated scoundrel. He ought to be divorced or something. What anniversary was it?"
"Our wedding-day," she said with a sob in the voice.
"Heavens!" I said. "Oh, the dastardly ruffian!"
"You wouldn't forget your wedding-day, would you?"
"Never!" I said hoarsely.
"You're quite rather nice," she sighed.
"You're adorable," I said readily.
"How lovely! My husband never says things like that." And she leant against my shoulder.
We got on rather well after that. We had lunch in an inn garden, where you could smell lavender and sweet peas and roses and where there were box hedges turned under magical spells into giant birds. We discovered a stream in a wood with hart's-tongue fern growing along its banks. I picked her armfuls of wild roses.
"It's to make up," I said, "because your brute of a husband forgot your wedding-day."
"I'd love to be married to you," she said brazenly.
I turned aside to brush away a bitter tear.
It was almost dusk when we got back to the side gate.
"Good-bye," she whispered. "Go away quickly; I believe that's the Vicar coming down the road."
Then she shut the gate with gentle swiftness in my face. I walked round to the front door. She was in the hall.
"Hello!" she said; "I hope you had a good day at the office?"
"Thanks," I said; "pretty rotten."
"I've had a lovely day," she said; "I picked up such a nice young man in the high road. He's taking me out to-night. He's just going to ring up for seats."
Without a word I went to the telephone.
* * * * *
The Right Order of Things at Last.
"A Gentleman would be pleased to Recommend his Butler in whose service he has been three years."—Daily Paper.
* * * * *
"TO AMERICANS IN LONDON.—The ——, Cornwall, offers you comfortable home while on this side; far away from the madding crown."—Daily Paper.
Republican prejudices respected.
* * * * *
There was a hard-swearing old sailor Whose speech might have startled a jailer; But he frankly avowed That the charabanc crowd Would not be allowed on a whaler.
* * * * *
THE PATIENTS' LIBRARY.
Though a West-End physician of repute, he must, I think, have had a course of American training, if rapidity of action be any indication thereof.
Scarcely had the maid ushered me into his study and I had taken a seat than he came forward brusquely, looked at me with the glowering eye of the Second Murderer, grasped a large piece of me in the region of the fourth rib and barked, "You're too fat."
Having been carefully bred I refrained from retaliation. I did not tell him that his legs were out of drawing and that he had a frightfully vicious nose. But before I had time to explain my business he had started on a series of explosive directions: "Eat proper food. Plenty of open air. Exercise morning, noon and night and in between. Use the Muldow system. You need a tonic."
He turned to his table and was, I suppose, about to draw a cheque for me on the local chemist's when I decided to say my little piece.
"Excuse me, Sir," said I mildly, "I am not a patient."
The combination fountain-pen and thermometer almost fell from his hand.
"I am," said I, "the sole proprietor and sole representative of the Physicians' Supply Association. I gave your maid my card. I have called with a thrilling offer of magazines for your waiting-room."
"What dates?" said he, a gleam of interest in his dark eye.
"All pre-war," said I proudly; "none of them are later than 1900 and some go back to 1880."
"Not B.C.?" said he, with a look in which hope and disbelief were mingled.
"No," said I. "All are A.D.; but they include two Reports of Missions to Deep Sea Fishermen in 1885—very rare. I'm sure they would match splendidly the Proceedings of the Royal Commission on Aniline Dyes which you have in the waiting-room."
"No," said he firmly. "I have one of the most important practices in Harley Street. I likewise possess one of the finest collections of old magazines in the profession. That blue-book on Aniline Dyes is barely fifty years old. It was left me by my father, and I retain it simply through affection for him in spite of its modernity. But the rest go back to the Crimean vintage and earlier. When you have something really old, come to me. But"—and he threw in a winning smile in his best bedside manner—"not till then."
I am now in search of a young practitioner who is merely starting a collection.
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(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
If sorrow's crown of sorrow is as the poet says, it should be equally true that there is enough satisfaction in remembering unhappier things to ensure success for The Crisis of the Naval War (CASSELL), the large and dignified volume in which Admiral of the Fleet Viscount JELLICOE OF SCAPA, G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O., reminds us how near the German submarines came to triumph in 1917, and details the various ways by which their menace was overcome. It is a solid book, written with authority, and addressed rather to the expert than to the casual reader; but even the latter individual (the middle-aged home-worker, for instance, remembering the rationed plate of beans and rice that constituted his lunch in the Spring of 1917) can thrill now to read of the precautions this represented, and the multiform activities that kept that distasteful dish just sufficiently replenished. I have observed that Viscount JELLICOE avoids any approach to sensationalism. His book however contains a number of exceedingly interesting photographs of convoys at sea, smoke-screens, depth-charges exploding, and the like, which the most uninformed can appreciate. And in at least one feature of "counter-measures," the history of the decoy or mystery ships, the record is of such exalted and amazing heroism that not the strictest language of officialdom can lessen its power to stir the heart. Who, for example, could read the story of The Prize, and the involuntary tribute from the captured German commander that rounds it off, without a glow of gratitude and pride? Do you recall how we would attempt to stifle curiosity with the unsatisfactory formula, "We shall know some day"? Here in this authoritative volume is another corner of the curtain lifted.
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Although he is still comparatively a newcomer, a book with the signature of Mr. JOSEPH HERGESHEIMER is already something of a landmark in the publishing season. To this repute Linda Condon (HEINEMANN) will certainly add. In many ways I incline to think it, or parts of it, the best work that this unusual artist has yet done. The development of Linda, in the hateful surroundings of an American "hotel-child," through her detached and observant youth to a womanhood austere, remote, inspired only by the worship of essential beauty, is told with an exquisite rightness of touch that is a continual delight. Mr. HERGESHEIMER has above all else the gift of suggesting atmosphere and colour (ought I not in mere gratitude to bring myself to say "color"?); his picture of Linda's amazing mother and the rest of the luxurious brainless company of her hotel existence has the exotic brilliance of the orchid-house, at once dazzling and repulsive. Later, in the course of her married life, inspiring and inspired by the sculptor Pleydon (in whose fate the curious may perhaps trace some echo of recent controversy), the story of Linda becomes inevitably less vivid, though its grasp of the reader's sympathy is never relaxed. In fine, a tale short as such go nowadays, but throughout of an arresting and memorable beauty. The state of modern American fiction has, if I may say so without offence, been for some time a cause of regret to the judicious; let Mr. HERGESHEIMER be resolute in refusing to lower his standard by over-production, and I look to see him leading a return towards the best traditions of an honourable past.
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It is not an impossible conception that Sniping in France (HUTCHINSON) will still be available in libraries in the year 2020 A.D., and I can imagine the title then catching the eye of some enthusiastic sportsman, whose bent for game is stronger than his knowledge of history. Feeling that here is a new class of shooting for him to try his hand at, he will hasten to acquaint himself with the details and will discover that the first of the essentials is a European war in full blast. Whether or not he will see his way to arrange that for himself, I don't know and, since I shall not be present, I don't care. But in any case he will be absorbed in an eminently scientific and indeed romantic study of perhaps the most thrilling and deadly-earnest big game hunting there has ever been, and he will be left not a little impressed with the work of the author, Major H. HESKETH PRICHARD, D.S.O., M.C., his skill, energy and personality. As to this last he will find a brief summing-up in the foreword of General Lord HORNE, and he will be able to visualise the whole "blunderbuss" very clearly by the help of the illustrations of Mr. ERNEST BLAIKLEY, of the late Lieut. B. HEAD, and of the camera. There is undoubtedly much controversial matter in the book, which must necessarily give rise to the most remarkable gun-room discussions. I can well imagine some stout-hearted Colonel, prompted by his love for the plain soldier-man and his rooted dislike of all "specialists," becoming very heated in the small hours of the morning about the paragraph on page 97, in which a division untrained in the Sniping Schools is in passing compared to a band of "careless and ignorant tourists."
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Senor IBANEZ' new novel, Mare Nostrum (CONSTABLE), is ostensibly a yarn about spies and submarines, its hero a gallant Spanish captain, Ulysses Ferragut, scion of a long line of sailormen. And there can be no doubt of the proper anti-German sentiments of this stout fellow, even though his impetuous passion for Freya Talberg, a Delilah in the service of the enemy, did make him store a tiny island with what the translator will persist in calling combustibles, meaning, one supposes, fuel. But more fundamentally it is an affectionate song of praise of the Mediterranean and the dwellers on its littoral, especially the fiery and hardy sailors of Spain, and of Spaniards, in particular the Valencians and Catalonians. Signor IBANEZ' method is distinctly discursive; he gives, for instance, six-and-twenty consecutive pages to the description of the inmates of the Naples Aquarium and is always ready to suspend his story for a lengthy disquisition on any subject, person or place that interests him. This puts him peculiarly at the mercy of his transliterator, who has a positive genius for choosing the wrong word and depriving any comment of its subtlety, any well-made phrase of its distinction. Even plain narrative such as the following is none too attractive:—"The voluminous documents would become covered with dust on his table and Don Esteban would have to saddle himself with the dates in order that the end of the legal procedures should not slip by." What ingenuous person authorises this sort of "authorised translation"?
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If I may say so without offence, Mr. EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS reminds me a little of those billiard experts who, having evolved a particular stroke, will continue it indefinitely, to the joy of the faithful and the exasperated boredom of the others. To explain my metaphor, I gather that Mr. BURROUGHS, having "got set," to an incredible number of thousands, with an invention called Tarzan, is now by way of beating his own record over the adventures of John Carter in the red planet Mars. Concerning these amazing volumes there is just this to say, that either you can read them with avidity or you can't read them at all. From certain casual observations I conceive the test to be primarily one of youth, for honesty compels my middle-age to admit a personal failure. I saw the idea; for one thing no egg was ever a quarter so full of meat as the Martian existence of incomprehensible thrills, to heighten the effect of which Mr. BURROUGHS has invented what amounts to a new language, with a glossary of its own, thus appealing to a well-known instinct of boyhood, but rendering the whole business of a more than Meredithian obscurity to the uninitiate. I have hitherto forgotten to say that the particular volume before me is called The War Lord of Mars (METHUEN). I may add that it closes with the heroic Carter hailed as Jeddak of Jeddaks, which sounds eminently satisfactory, though without conveying any definite promise of finality.
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Do Poultry Pay?
"Six Hens for sale, some laying 7s. each."—Local Paper.
You will find three of them as good as a guinea-fowl.
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"But the germ of Socialism or BZolshevism—however you like to call it—has hardly entered the Polish working-class blood."
We fear, however, that it has got into our contemporary's composing-room.
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Page 116 corrected Typo: changed "Encylopaedia" to "Encyclopaedia".