The Idler Magazine, Volume III, April 1893 - An Illustrated Monthly
Author: Various
1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Transcribers Notes: Title and Table of Contents added.

* * * * *


April 1893.

* * * * *












* * * * *






The February wind blows keenly, as we lean from the window of our railway carriage, and watch dismantled house-boats, drawn up on the river bank just outside Windsor, being prepared for the forthcoming season. Some Eton boys—it is evidently a holiday—stand looking on with lively interest. Several people get out of the train, walk into the quaint old-fashioned street, and disappear. We follow them, charter a hansom, and are driven along a picturesque road in the direction of the late Prince Consort's Shaw Farm. This road is almost deserted, save for half-a-dozen cavalrymen who come riding down it, their brilliant red uniforms lighting up the dull air through which the sunlight vainly endeavours to struggle. Their horses are bespattered with mud; there is mud everywhere—a thick, glutinous mud; but when we enter the precincts of the Shaw Farm everything gives place to an ordered and dainty neatness which is thoroughly characteristic of the Royal domains.

We are received by Mr. W. Tait, the Queen's Land Steward at Windsor, whose handsome stalwart figure is so well known to all leading agriculturists, and conducted to a natty little office decorated with water-colour drawings of prize cattle, and various other reminiscences of past triumphs. Mr. Tait's drawing-room, in common with those of his confreres at Windsor, is embellished by various signed portraits of Her Majesty and the Royal family.

From here, we cross the road and enter a stable where two beautiful old grey carriage horses are being prepared by one of the farm hands for our inspection, to a continuous accompaniment of sibilant ostler language. They have evidently been running wild in the park for some time; each white coat is stained with mud, and burrs stick tenaciously to their long tails. An attendant at the farm is rubbing them down, talking to them, and making them generally presentable. He is evidently on good terms with his charges, for one playfully nibbles his broad back, whilst the other tries to steal his red pocket-handkerchief. "Flora" and "Alma" were presented to Her Majesty by the late King Victor Emanuel of Italy. They are about fourteen hands high, tremendously powerful, and beautifully shaped. One of them has also been used to draw the Queen's chair about the grounds; but they are both now regarded as honoured pensioners, and do no work at all.

The kindliness and affection with which Her Majesty speaks of favourite animals in her various writings may well assure us that in the midst of state and family cares, manifold though they be, her old pets, even after death, are not forgotten. Of this we have evidence later on.

The next shed to that of the old greys is occupied by a magnificent chestnut charger over seventeen hands high, once the property of the late Emperor Frederic of Germany. In appearance, this charger is as fresh and vigorous as a horse of five. It was given by the Emperor to Prince Christian, who rode it for four years. The charger has a sprightly, though somewhat incongruous, companion in the shape of "Ninette," a little white donkey which was purchased at Grasse by Her Majesty, and presented to the Princess Victoria of Connaught, for whose use it is now being broken in. Directly the donkey is taken out of the stable for educational purposes, the charger becomes restless and unhappy, races round the paddock attached to his loose box in evident distress, and refuses to be comforted until his beautiful little companion returns. Then he playfully nibbles her back, joyfully flings up his heels, and careers wildly round the paddock, neighing shrilly as he goes, his long tail floating in the breeze. What will happen when "Ninette" leaves her companion it is difficult to say. At present she takes little notice of this exuberant display of affection, beyond running beneath the charger's belly, and playfully trying to plant her tiny heels in his lofty side. When they have been twice round the paddock, "Ninette" plodding gamely on, a long way in the rear, the couple halt at the shed entrance, and look at us with exuberant curiosity, the donkey's long ears shooting backwards and forwards with great rapidity.

After inspecting this somewhat incongruous couple, we are taken to another stable to see "Jenny," a white donkey, twenty-five years old. "Jenny" belongs to the Queen, and was bred at Virginia Water. Her Majesty saw "Jenny" when she was a foal, had her brought to Windsor and trained, and there the docile old animal has remained ever since. She is pure white in colour, with large, light, expressive grey eyes. One peculiarity about her is an enormous flat back, soft and almost as wide as a moderate-sized feather bed. A handsome chestnut foal is temporarily quartered with her. This foal was bred from a mare belonging to the late Mr. John Brown, and promises to grow into a very beautiful animal.

"Jenny," although rather reserved, affably condescends to partake of a biscuit, pensively twitching her long ears after us as we depart along the road leading to the Royal dairy. As we leave the trimly built and picturesque outbuildings there is a brave burst of sunshine; chaffinches "chink-chink" in the trees around, producing a sharp, clear sound as if two pebbles were struck against each other; rooks sail majestically overhead, their sentinels, posted in the trees around, giving notice of our approach; and the pale petals of a rathe primrose gleam shyly out from a sheltering hedge. The park is filled with Scotch cattle with beautiful heads and matted, shaggy hides. In the next paddock a handsome Jersey cow thrusts her head over the intervening rails and licks the shaggy frontlet of a small dun bull, who gives a gentle low of satisfaction, and endeavours to follow us as we pass through the gate in the direction of the Queen's dairy. At this section of the farm, in the buildings, we find "Tewfik," a very fine white Egyptian donkey, with large black eyes and tremendous ears. He is one of those enormous asses which are so greatly esteemed in the East for their powers of endurance. It is a curious fact that a donkey of this kind will do as much work as a horse, last twice the time on a long march, and never break down. "Tewfik" was purchased by Lord Wolseley in Cairo, and sent to England, gay with magnificent Oriental trappings, and clipped all over in most extraordinary patterns, resembling Greek architectural ornaments. These patterns are a source of great trouble to the unsophisticated traveller in the East. He learns one side of his donkey by heart, and never thinks of looking at the other; consequently, when he sees the hitherto unknown side of the animal, he is inclined to think that some wight has been playing a practical joke, and substituted a different beast for the one he has bestridden. "Tewfik" was much admired at the Jubilee Agricultural Show in Windsor Great Park, and seems really a very amiable, well-mannered, aristocratic animal. He is delighted to see us, and prefers sweet biscuits to plain. Indeed, it is with regret that he watches us depart. His long mobile ears shoot out from the stable door as he endeavours to follow us into the box of his neighbour, a dainty Shetland pony, some three feet six inches high, which is usually known as "The Skewbald." This diminutive little lady welcomes us in the most charming manner, and is as frolicsome as a kitten, romping about and playing all sorts of tricks. Her mission in life, besides being everyone's pet, is to draw a small two-wheeled cart for Her Majesty's grandchildren. The dainty, trim, little brown-and-white beauty possesses enormous strength, and takes existence very philosophically. The first time she was put into harness she acted as if she had been accustomed to it all her life, and never required the slightest breaking in. There is another Shetland pony in one of the neighbouring paddocks, but she is dark brown in colour, and, with her long-flowing mane and tail, looks like a miniature carthorse. Like most of Her Majesty's animals, she is fond of society, and objects to be separated from a large handsome grey donkey which was bought on one of the Continental journeys, and now occupies the same paddock as the Shetland. In order to take the pony's portrait comfortably, it was found necessary to invite the donkey to be present as a spectator.

The next pet to be inspected is an animal which most people would prefer to cultivate at a distance, being none other than the enormous bison named "Jack," a magnificent specimen of his race, who was obtained in exchange from the Zoological Society. The Canadian grew savage, and had to be sent away. "Jack," in spite of his immense strength, is of a very peaceful, almost timorous, disposition. Strictly speaking, he can hardly be called a pet, as the artist prudently takes his likeness from behind a high wall. All friendly overtures to this last of his race are vain. He remains pensively gazing at the opposite wall, a tear trickling down his broad nose. Even the joyful bellow of his next-door neighbour, a half-grown Jersey bull, fails to attract his attention, although the animal, as it recognises its keeper's step, climbs half over the wall to be fondled.

Here we must not pass without examination some most beautiful little Jersey calves with silky coats and great wondering eyes, which look as if the world was a charming mystery to them.

In the next stall to the Jersey bull stands an eccentric-looking little animal called "Sanger," a pony presented to Her Majesty by the well-known circus proprietor of that name. "Sanger" is now nine months old. This strange little animal's breed is practically unknown, and his appearance most eccentric; indeed, his legs show a tendency to stride to all points of the compass. In colour he is cream; his eyes are grey, with pink lids; and he has white eyelashes like an albino. His manners are not demonstrative, but coldly courteous.

Outside, in the park, is another pet, which was presented to Her Majesty by Lord Wolseley, a peculiarly tall, deerlike-looking animal, a Zulu cow, bred from a bull which was originally the property of Dabulamanzi, Cetewayo's brother. Cetewayo, curiously enough, when paying a visit to the Shaw Farm, saw his brother's cattle, but did not appear to admire them much when compared with the English. A well-bred English cow has four times the substance and breeding of her Zulu sister.

Attention may also be called to some magnificent red Spanish cattle, whose noble heads and gigantic horns are in themselves a study for the artist.

It should be mentioned here that when Her Majesty drives through the private road which leads from the Castle past the kennels and dairy to the Shaw Farm, she likes to see the animals as they come up to the railings, and is thus able to observe how former favourites bear the burden of their years. The Queen names most of them herself, and never forgets an old friend.

Before going on to the kennels, by permission of the courteous manageress, we enter the beautiful Royal dairy, which was built under the direction of His Royal Highness the late Prince Consort in the twenty-first year of Her Majesty's reign. It is more like an apartment in fairyland than a dairy. The walls and ceiling are composed of exquisitely shaded Minton tiles, the dairy itself being about forty-five feet long and thirty wide. Long marble tables run right round the sides and up the centre. On these tables are some 90 white earthenware pans, each of which contains about seven quarts of milk. The butter is sent to Osborne every day, and averages about twenty pounds weight in winter and forty in summer. A small supply for the Queen's own breakfast table is also made in a special churn every morning.

Around the walls of the dairy are medallions of the Royal family, with the monogram V.R. between. At each end of the dairy stands a beautiful fountain; there is also one at the side. All these fountains came from the Exhibition of 1851; the design is a stork supporting a lily leaf into which the water falls. The roof is supported by three pairs of arched pillars, and the windows are double, the inner set being stained with designs of Tudor roses, hawthorn, primroses, white marguerites, the rose, shamrock, thistle, and Scotch harebell. The outer windows are plain glass. Beyond the glass is another window of wire gauze, so minute that in hot weather both windows can be thrown open to admit the air, and yet all intrusive insects kept at a distance. The Royal herd generally consists of about fifty cows when they are all in milk, principally shorthorns and Jerseys, twenty-five of each. Last year there were fifty-four cows in milk, but the number usually averages about fifty.

The recesses in the dairy walls are filled with lovely old Crown Derby and Worcester, together with a few Oriental china plates and dishes. There is also a dish bearing the inscription, "Chamberlain, Worcester, Manufacturer to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent." Close to the dairy, stands an apartment devoted to churns and huge milk-cans. Each milk-can bears the following inscription on the top:—

After exhausting the wonders of the Royal dairy, we pass out into the sunshine once more, but, before leaving the shrubbery, notice two little monuments to the memory of long-deceased favourites, the inscriptions on which are as follows:—

- BOY, Died February 20, 1862, Aged five years. The favourite and faithful dog of the Queen and Prince Consort. -

- BOZ, The favourite Scottish terrier of the Duchess of Kent, to whom he had been given in 1857 by the Queen and Prince Consort. On March 16, 1861, he was taken back, and from that time till he died, Oct. 26, 1864, remained the faithful dog of the Queen. -

Surely, two touching and blameless little records!

Leaving these pets to their well-earned rest, we walk along the trimly-kept private road leading to the Royal kennels. Here, when Her Majesty drives along, she can see the Spanish oxen and other pets as they come up to the railings and peer curiously over, the long horns of the oxen especially making a formidable show which is entirely belied by their peaceful disposition.

At the Royal kennels we are received by Mr. Hugh Brown, the manager, and his able assistant, Mr. Hill, and shown into the apartment which is sometimes occupied by Her Majesty when visiting the kennels. It is a quaint, medium-sized room, with old oak rafters and oak furniture, comfortable chairs and foot-rests predominating. The curtains are a warm, deep red, the carpet to match, and a couple of little oak tables occupy the centre of the room. But the unique feature about this apartment is the number of dog portraits on the walls. There are dogs of every race, shape and colour; dogs large and small; dogs lying down or standing up; dogs in oils; dogs in watercolours; all of them labelled with the animal's name and the artist who painted it. One or two special favourites have a lock of their hair let into the woodwork of the frame.

Outside, the tiled walk called the "Queen's Verandah" is covered over as a protection against the weather. Her Majesty is accustomed to walk up and down here, and inspect the various occupants. There are several dogs in every compartment. Each front yard measures ten feet by twelve; the sleeping compartment is ten feet by ten. The wall in front stands nearly three feet high, and has a rail on the top. Each yard is paved with red and blue tiles. In the sleeping compartments, which are warmed by hot-water pipes, are benches raised about a foot from the ground. Facing the "Collie Court," as it is called, is a large paddock which contains the bath—a curious aperture in the ground, with sloping sides, so that a dog can run down, swim through the middle, and walk up again on the other side. The sides of this bath are lined with little round stones. There is also an umbrella-shaped structure of wood, under which the dogs can lie and sun themselves after the bath. Near the road is a curious looking seat called "The Apron Piece," with a railing in front. The Queen sometimes sits here and watches the gambols of the dogs when they are let loose in the paddock.

There does not appear to be any hard and fast rule as to the housing of the dogs. It all depends how they agree with each other. For instance, in one compartment will be found a collie, Spitz, and dachshund; in the next, three Spitzes and a pug; then two Skye terriers, three pugs, one dachshund; then two lovely white collies; then one solitary collie whose coat is out of order, and who comes up with big, beseeching eyes, as if imploring us to put an end to her solitude. The most attractive sight is, of course, the twelve or thirteen beautiful collies in one big compartment. In all there are about fifty-five dogs, fifty-four of whom are in robust health, the hospital containing one whippet. A beautiful little black Pomeranian "Zeela" inhabits a huge cage in solitary state, and barks herself all over it at once. In the paddock outside her cage are four beautiful black and tan collie pups, all eager for a romp.

Every dog in the Queen's kennels is exercised twice a day, morning and afternoon. The little dogs generally go out first, and then give place to the big ones. Feeding time for the whole establishment is four o'clock in the afternoon, but during very cold weather each animal is given some dry biscuit every morning. The food is prepared in a kitchen reserved expressly for this purpose, and consists of soaked biscuits, vegetables, meat, bullock's head, pluck, and sometimes a little beef. Oatmeal is also added to this la podrida. The dogs are all in hard condition, and look the picture of health. It is difficult to tear oneself away from the collies, especially the two lovely white ones and the little buff-coated Pomeranians, with tightly curling tails and small, sharp ears.

Her Majesty's love for dogs is so well known that it would be superfluous to dwell upon such a topic. Wherever the Queen goes, she is accompanied by "Spot" (a fox-terrier), "Roy" (a black and tan collie), and a lovely little brown Spitz called "Marco." Her favourite dogs are collies, and she possesses a magnificent specimen in "Darnley," who is now being exhibited at the Agricultural Hall dog show. "Darnley" is a beautiful black and tan in colour, with heavy white ruff. He has a most curious habit, inherited from his father, of wrinkling up the skin of his nose and showing all his teeth when pleased. Another animal away at the show is the little eight-months old Skye terrier, "Rona." "Rona" is iron-grey in colour, has a very long body, and is extremely intelligent and good natured.

On one of the artist's visits, "Beppo," a white Pomeranian, was brought out to have his portrait taken. Dog-like, he at once pretended, when required to sit still, that it was an excessively difficult operation causing great physical discomfort. Talking did not interest him, shaking of keys and rolling of coppers had lost their charm; in fact, tail between legs, he voted existence a mistake. Just then, up strolled dear little "Rona," and with bright intelligent eyes seemingly enquired into the matter. In a few seconds everything was put right again. The sun once more shone, and the portrait was taken. Surely, these little Skyes are the most lovable and intelligent of all dogs. To any one who has read "Rab and his Friends," however, such a remark is unnecessary.

In appearance, little tiny "Gena" bears the palm from all the Pomeranians. She is one mass of white, silky wool, and has the most charming manners. With one tiny paw uplifted she immediately decides that artists are not as photographers, and may be trusted to take portraits without the intervention of any snappy and nerve-shaking apparatus. "Gena" and "Glen," an old black and tan collie, live in the house, the inseparable companions of genial Mrs. Hugh Brown.

The late Prince Consort's favourite dogs were dachshunds, a specimen of which invariably accompanied him on his walks. The Prince of Wales favours the odd-looking bassets, of which he has many fine specimens.

But the kennels, with all their joyousness, have sad little tragedies at times. For instance, after the death of the late well-loved Emperor Frederick, two of his favourite Italian dogs, charming creatures, something like Italian greyhounds, were sent to Her Majesty, but, unfortunately, did not long survive their illustrious master. Many old pets have tombs in various parts of the Royal domain. Among others which may be seen on the Slopes is that of "Sharp," a handsome collie, who lies, as in life, guarding the Queen's glove.

It is related of "Sharp" that he was greatly attached to the late Mr. John Brown, whose room he jealously guarded. If, by chance, strangers entered during Mr. Brown's absence they were not allowed to leave until his return, and under no circumstances must anything be taken from the room while "Sharp" was on guard. A housemaid, indeed, once picked up some little article with the intention of putting it on the table, and the dog, although he knew her well, refused to allow her to leave the room.

In noticing the display of prize certificates won by the dogs, we hear of another instance of Her Majesty's thoughtfulness for her pets. Although frequently exhibited for the pleasure of her subjects, they are never allowed to pass the night from home, being taken to and from the place of exhibition each day by their careful guardians, Messrs. Brown and Hill.

After an inspection of the well-kept stud-book, we at last turn to leave the happy scene, a process viewed, evidently, with much relief by a funny little, black-faced pug, to whom our presence and proceedings throughout have seemingly caused the greatest astonishment.

But we have still Her Majesty's pets at the stables to look at before returning to town, so we walk blithely down Herne's Walk toward the Castle, putting up a huge hare, who leisurely retreats as if feeling secure within the Royal precincts. As we go down the walk, we notice a comparatively juvenile-looking tree in marked contrast to the giants around. At its foot is the following inscription:—

This tree was planted by Her Majesty Queen Victoria To mark the spot where Herne's Oak stood. The old tree was blown down August 31st, 1863.

There is an old tale goes that Herne the Hunter, Some time a keeper here in Windsor Forest, Doth all the winter time at still midnight Walk round about an oak.


After lunch at the nearest hostelry, we walk up to the Castle, and enquire for Mr. John Manning, the superintendent of the Royal mews. Mr. Manning first takes us to the harness-room, a well-lighted, pleasant building with sanded floor, a stove burning brightly in the centre of the room, and all round the walls harness and saddles symmetrically arranged. The first set of double harness which he shows us is seldom used, and is made out of black leather, richly embroidered in designs of the Royal Arms, &c., with split porcupine quills, the work of some Tyrolese artists who visited this country many years ago. Next to the porcupine harness hangs a set of Russian leather sledge harness, beautifully mounted with silver, and as soft as a kid glove. High over the saddles (the saddles are hung up with what is known as a crutch) are the collars of the Queen's carriage horses. In order to prevent confusion, the name of each horse is printed above the collar, i.e., "True," "Ronald," "Sheridan," "Beau," "Force," "Belfast," "Middy," "Bashful," and so on.

Next door to the harness-room is a huge coach-house containing the Queen's carriages, among them being a landau, sociable, driving landau, waggonette, and a driving phaeton with curtains, which was much used by the late Prince Consort. In one corner is a covered perambulator belonging to Her Majesty's grandchildren, and close to it stands the vehicle which is generally known as "the Queen's Chair," although it is in reality a little four-wheeled carriage, with rubber tyres, and a low step, the interior lining and cushions being a plain dark blue in colour.

This vehicle is much used by Her Majesty when driving about the grounds, and is drawn by an exceedingly strong, handsome donkey called "Jacquot," in colour a very dark brown, with white nose and curiously knotted tail. "Jacquot," who is a very intelligent animal, with a rather strong objection to work, and a great love of good living, accompanies Her Majesty whenever she goes abroad, his next destination being Florence.

In an adjoining paddock stands a nice, pleasant-looking grey donkey, who munches an apple philosophically while having his portrait drawn. He is a great favourite, the son of Egyptian "Tewfik," and takes his share of garden work and in carrying the Queen's grandchildren.

The adjoining stable contains eighteen harness horses, most of them grey. The stables themselves are beautifully kept, one groom being generally allowed to every two horses. At the edge of each stall is an artistically plaited border of straw. Close by is the riding school, a handsome building sixty-three yards in length and eighteen yards wide. The roof is supported on handsome oak brackets; at one end is a balcony where it is said Her Majesty and the late Prince Consort were accustomed to sit and watch the horses being exercised. In this gallery are medallions of favourite horses, the frames containing locks of their hair. The riding school is lit with gas, and the lower part of the walls lined with kamptulicon, which never wears out, and prevents a horse being much injured should he by any chance kick or fall against it. The centre of the tan-covered floor is occupied by a mounting block.

This school is occasionally used for circus performances, and, splendidly decorated, was the scene of the grand entertainment given to the Belgian volunteers some years since.

In a solitary loose box, warmly wrapped in rugs, her own natural coat being like very thick, soft, black plush, placidly stands "Jessie," the Queen's favourite old riding-mare. With her splendid coat, silky mane and tail, lofty crest, and soft mild eyes, she looks indeed worthy of her Royal mistress. "Jessie's" pedigree is unknown to us, but she was bred near Balmoral. She is about fifteen hands three inches in height, black as a coal, and with peculiar white markings on forehead and back. She is now twenty-six or twenty-seven years old, and, until within the last twelve months, has carried Her Majesty for many years. The Queen is very fond of "Jessie," who, although now, from old age, past work, is invariably sent to the Castle for inspection when Her Majesty is at Windsor.

A very different-looking animal is the grey Arab in the next stable. This magnificent horse was presented to Her Majesty by the Thakore of Morvi, and does not bear the best of stable reputations, but when mounted he is docility itself, and a very faithful worker. The grey's wardrobe, when he came to England, consisted of the following gorgeous trappings:—Saddle of red and green cloth, under felt, pad for saddle, embroidered saddle-cloth, embroidered bridle, plume, hood in cloth of gold, leg-ring and pad, embroidered neckpiece, embroidered quarter-piece, four bunches of woollen tassels, and a silk scarf. Arrayed in all this splendour and ridden by a native attendant, he was brought into the Grand Quadrangle at Windsor to be presented to Her Majesty with due and appropriate ceremonies. He is tall for an Arab, with whitish body, dark grey legs, pink muzzle, and silky black mane, which hangs over the near or left side of his neck. In the next stable stand twelve beautiful brougham horses, ranging from dark brown to light chestnut in colour. Next to the brougham horses are four brown ponies, about fourteen hands high. These animals were all bred from a pony called "Beatrice," which the Princess Beatrice was accustomed to ride.

In the next carriage-house stands a gorgeous char-a-banc, presented to Her Majesty by Louis Philippe. Then come the carriages of the household, weighing about fifteen hundredweight each. The most curious-looking vehicles, however, are the long-shafted Russian droschkies, meant to be drawn by three horses abreast.

In another carriage-house is a vehicle replete with historical and pathetic interest. This is none other than the post-chaise in which Her Majesty and the late Prince Consort travelled all through Germany about seven years after their marriage. It is fitted up with a writing-case, and all sorts of conveniences, and hung on C springs.

The cheerful tap-tap of a hammer, and a keen, pungent scent as of something burning, warn us that we are in the vicinity of the Royal smithy. A handsome grey carriage-horse is being shod, one hoof doubled up between the farrier's legs, as that worthy, with quick taps, drives in a long nail, and makes the shoe fast.

The Royal mews, which were built in 1841, cover a space of no less than four acres of ground, and, together with those at Buckingham Palace, are under the able supervision of Colonel Sir George Maude, K.C.B., R.A., &c., who also purchases most of Her Majesty's horses. It is no light testimonial to the care of their management when we hear that, although sometimes as many as one hundred horses are accommodated at Windsor, the veterinary surgeon's account only amounts for the year to a most insignificant sum.

We cannot take our leave, for the present, of the Royal pets without again returning our hearty thanks to all with whom we have been brought in contact, for their kindness, courtesy, and desire to assist us in our mission. To all loyal subjects who wish to see a model of a good Queen's home we can give no better advice than to go to Royal Windsor.

(The Editors of The Idler return their most sincere thanks to General Sir Henry Ponsonby, G.C.B., &c., &c., for his kind correction and revision of the above article.)




"We are all of us ghosts.... It is not only what we have inherited from our father and mother that 'walks' in us. It is all sorts of dead ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have no vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and we can't get rid of them. Whenever I take up a newspaper I seem to see ghosts gliding between the lines. There must be ghosts all the country over, as thick as the sands of the sea."—IBSEN.





The public-houses of Burwell Road—and there were many of them for the length of the street—were rather proud of Joe Hollends. He was a perfected specimen of the work a pub produces. He was probably the most persistent drunkard the Road possessed, and the periodical gathering in of Joe by the police was one of the stock sights of the street. Many of the inhabitants could be taken to the station by one policeman; some required two; but Joe's average was four. He had been heard to boast that on one occasion he had been accompanied to the station by seven bobbies, but that was before the force had studied Joe and got him down to his correct mathematical equivalent. Now they tripped him up, a policeman taking one kicking leg and another the other, while the remaining two attended to the upper part of his body. Thus they carried him, followed by an admiring crowd, and watched by other envious drunkards who had to content themselves with a single officer when they went on a similar spree. Sometimes Joe managed to place a kick where it would do the most good against the stomach of a policeman, and when the officer rolled over there was for a few moments a renewal of the fight, silent on the part of the men and vociferous on the part of the drunkard, who had a fine flow of abusive language. Then the procession went on again. It was perfectly useless to put Joe on the police ambulance, for it required two men to sit on him while in transit, and the barrow is not made to stand such a load.

Of course, when Joe staggered out of the pub and fell in the gutter, the ambulance did its duty, and trundled Joe to his abiding place, but the real fun occurred when Joe was gathered in during the third stage of his debauch. He passed through the oratorical stage, then the maudlin or sentimental stage, from which he emerged into the fighting stage, when he was usually ejected into the street, where he forthwith began to make Rome howl, and paint the town red. At this point the policeman's whistle sounded, and the force knew Joe was on the warpath, and that duty called them to the fray.

It was believed in the neighbourhood that Joe had been a college man, and this gave him additional standing with his admirers. His eloquence was undoubted, after several glasses varying in number according to the strength of their contents, and a man who had heard the great political speakers of the day admitted that none of them could hold a candle to Joe when he got on the subject of the wrongs of the working man and the tyranny of the capitalist. It was generally understood that Joe might have been anything he liked, and that he was no man's enemy but his own. It was also hinted that he could tell the bigwigs a thing or two if he had been consulted in affairs of State.

One evening, when Joe was slowly progressing as usual, with his feet in the air, towards the station, supported by the requisite number of policemen, and declaiming to the delight of the accompanying crowd, a woman stood with her back to the brick wall, horror-stricken at the sight. She had a pale, refined face, and was dressed in black. Her self-imposed mission was among these people, but she had never seen Joe taken to the station before, and the sight, which was so amusing to the neighbourhood, was shocking to her. She enquired about Joe, and heard the usual story that he was no man's enemy but his own, although they might in justice have added the police. Still, a policeman was hardly looked upon as a human being in that neighbourhood. Miss Johnson reported the case to the committee of the Social League, and took counsel. Then it was that the reclamation of Joe Hollends was determined on.

Joe received Miss Johnson with subdued dignity, and a demeanour that delicately indicated a knowledge on his part of her superiority and his own degradation. He knew how a lady should be treated even if he was a drunkard, as he told his cronies afterwards. Joe was perfectly willing to be reclaimed. Heretofore in his life, no one had ever extended the hand of fellowship to him. Human sympathy was what Joe needed, and precious little he had had of it. There were more kicks than halfpence in this world for a poor man. The rich did not care what became of the poor; not they—a proposition which Miss Johnson earnestly denied.

It was one of the tenets of the committee that where possible the poor should help the poor. It was resolved to get Joe a decent suit of clothes and endeavour to find him a place where work would enable him to help himself. Miss Johnson went around the neighbourhood and collected pence for the reclamation. Most people were willing to help Joe, although it was generally felt that the Road would be less gay when he took on sober habits. In one room, however, Miss Johnson was refused the penny she pleaded for.

"We cannot spare even a penny," said the woman, whose sickly little boy clung to her skirts. "My husband is just out of work again. He has had only four weeks' work this time."

Miss Johnson looked around the room and saw why there was no money. It was quite evident where the earnings of the husband had gone.

The room was much better furnished than the average apartment of the neighbourhood. There were two sets of dishes where one would have been quite sufficient. On the mantelshelf and around the walls were various unnecessary articles which cost money.

Miss Johnson noted all this but said nothing, although she resolved to report it to the committee. In union is strength and in multitude of counsel there is wisdom. Miss Johnson had great faith in the wisdom of the committee.

"How long has your husband been out of work?" she asked.

"Only a few days, but times are very bad and he is afraid he will not get another situation soon."

"What is his trade?"

"He is a carpenter and a good workman—sober and steady."

"If you give me his name I will put it down in our books. Perhaps we may be able to help him."

"John Morris is his name."

Miss Johnson wrote it down on her tablets, and when she left the wife felt vaguely grateful for benefits to come.

The facts of the case were reported to the committee, and Miss Johnson was deputed to expostulate with Mrs. Morris upon her extravagance. John Morris's name was put upon the books among the names of many other unemployed persons. The case of Joe Hollends then came up, and elicited much enthusiasm. A decent suit of clothing had been purchased with part of the money collected for him, and it was determined to keep the rest in trust, to be doled out to him as occasion warranted.

Two persuasive ladies undertook to find a place for him in one of the factories, if such a thing were possible.

Joe felt rather uncomfortable in his new suit of clothes, and seemed to regard the expenditure as, all in all, a waste of good money. He was also disappointed to find that the funds collected were not to be handed over to him in a lump. It was not the money he cared about, he said, but the evident lack of trust. If people had trusted him more, he might have been a better man. Trust and human sympathy were what Joe Hollends needed.

The two persuasive ladies appealed to Mr. Stillwell, the proprietor of a small factory for the making of boxes. They said that if Hollends got a chance they were sure he would reform. Stillwell replied that he had no place for anyone. He had enough to do to keep the men already in his employ. Times were dull in the box business, and he was turning away applicants every day who were good workmen and who didn't need to be reformed. However, the ladies were very persuasive, and it is not given to every man to be able to refuse the appeal of a pretty woman, not to mention two of them. Stillwell promised to give Hollends a chance, said he would consult with his foreman, and let the ladies know what could be done.

Joe Hollends did not receive the news of his luck with the enthusiasm that might have been expected. Many a man was tramping London in search of employment and finding none, therefore even the ladies who were so solicitous about Joe's welfare thought he should be thankful that work came unsought. He said he would do his best, which is, when you come to think of it, all that we have a right to expect from any man.

Some days afterwards Jack Morris applied to Mr. Stillwell for a job, but he had no sub-committee of persuasive ladies to plead for him. He would be willing to work half-time or quarter-time for that matter. He had a wife and boy dependent on him. He could show that he was a good workman and he did not drink. Thus did Morris recite his qualifications to the unwilling ears of Stillwell the box maker. As he left the place disheartened with another refusal, he was overtaken by Joe Hollends. Joe was a lover of his fellow-man, and disliked seeing anyone downhearted. He had one infallible cure for dejection. Having just been discharged, he was in high spirits, because his prediction of his own failure as a reformed character, if work were a condition of the reclamation, had just been fulfilled.

"Cheer up, old man," he cried, slapping Morris on the shoulder, "what's the matter? Come and have a drink with me. I've got the money."

"No," said Morris, who knew the professional drunkard but slightly, and did not care for further acquaintance with him, "I want work, not beer."

"Every man to his taste. Why don't you ask at the box factory? You can have my job and welcome. The foreman's just discharged me. Said I wouldn't work myself, and kept the men off theirs. Thought I talked too much about capital and labour."

"Do you think I could get your job?"

"Very likely. No harm in trying. If they don't take you on, come into the Red Lion—I'll be there—and have a drop. It'll cheer you up a bit."

Morris appealed in vain to the foreman. They had more men now in the factory than they needed, he said. So Morris went to the Red Lion, where he found Hollends ready to welcome him. They had several glasses together, and Hollends told him of the efforts of the Social League in the reclamation line, and his doubts of their ultimate success. Hollends seemed to think the ladies of the League were deeply indebted to him for furnishing them with such a good subject for reformation. That night Joe's career reached a triumphant climax, for the four policemen had to appeal to the bystanders for help in the name of the law.

Jack Morris went home unaided. He had not taken many glasses, but he knew he should have avoided drink altogether, for he had some experience of its power in his younger days. He was, therefore, in a quarrelsome mood, ready to blame everyone but himself.

He found his wife in tears, and saw Miss Johnson sitting there, evidently very miserable.

"What's all this?" asked Morris.

His wife dried her eyes, and said it was nothing. Miss Johnson had been giving her some advice, which she was thankful for. Morris glared at the visitor.

"What have you got to do with us?" he demanded rudely. His wife caught him by the arm, but he angrily tossed aside her hand. Miss Johnson arose, fearing.

"You've no business here. We want none of your advice. You get out of this." Then, impatiently to his wife, who strove to calm him, "Shut up, will you?"

Miss Johnson was afraid he would strike her as she passed him going to the door, but he merely stood there, following her exit with lowering brow.

The terrified lady told her experience to the sympathising members of the committee. She had spoken to Mrs. Morris of her extravagance in buying so many things that were not necessary when her husband had work. She advised the saving of the money. Mrs. Morris had defended her apparent lavish expenditure by saying that there was no possibility of saving money. She bought useful things, and when her husband was out of work she could always get a large percentage of their cost from the pawnbroker. The pawnshop, she had tearfully explained to Miss Johnson, was the only bank of the poor. The idea of the pawnshop as a bank, and not as a place of disgrace, was new to Miss Johnson, but before anything further could be said the husband had come in. One of the committee, who knew more about the district than Miss Johnson, affirmed that there was something to say for the pawnbroker as the banker of the poor. The committee were unanimous in condemning the conduct of Morris, and it says much for the members that, in spite of the provocation one of them had received, they did not take the name of so undeserving a man from their list of the unemployed.

The sad relapse of Joe Hollends next occupied the attention of the League. His fine had been paid, and he had expressed himself as deeply grieved at his own frailty. If the foreman had been less harsh with him and had given him a chance, things might have been different. It was resolved to send Joe to the seaside so that he might have an opportunity of toning up his system to resist temptation. Joe enjoyed his trip to the sea. He always liked to encounter a new body of police unaccustomed to his methods. He toned up his system so successfully the first day on the sands that he spent the night in the cells.

Little by little, the portable property in the rooms of the Morrises disappeared into the pawnshop. Misfortune, as usual, did not come singly. The small boy was ill, and Morris himself seemed to be unable to resist the temptation of the Red Lion. The unhappy woman took her boy to the parish doctor, who was very busy, but he gave what attention he could to the case. He said all the boy needed was nourishing food and country air. Mrs. Morris sighed, and decided to take the little boy oftener to the park, but the way was long, and he grew weaker day by day.

At last, she succeeded in interesting her husband in the little fellow's condition. He consented to take the boy to the doctor with her.

"The doctor doesn't seem to mind what I say," she complained. "Perhaps he will pay attention to a man."

Morris was not naturally a morose person, but continued disappointment was rapidly making him so. He said nothing, but took the boy in his arms, and, followed by his wife, went to the doctor.

"This boy was here before," said the physician, which tended to show that he had paid more attention to the case than Mrs. Morris thought. "He is very much worse. You will have to take him to the country or he will die."

"How can I send him to the country?" asked Morris, sullenly. "I've been out of work for months."

"Have you friends in the country?"


"Hasn't your wife any friends in the country who would take her and the lad for a month or so?"


"Have you anything to pawn?"

"Very little."

"Then I would advise you to pawn everything you own, or sell it if you can, and take the boy on your back and tramp to the country. You will get work there probably more easily than in the city. Here are ten shillings to help you."

"I don't want your money," said Morris, in a surly tone. "I want work."

"I have no work to give you, so I offer you what I have. I haven't as much of that as I could wish. You are a fool not to take what the gods send."

Morris, without replying, gathered up his son in his arms and departed.

"Here is a bottle of tonic for him," said the doctor to Mrs. Morris.

He placed the half-sovereign on the bottle as he passed it to her. She silently thanked him with her wet eyes, hoping that a time would come when she could repay the money. The doctor had experience enough to know that they were not to be classed among his usual visitors. He was not in the habit of indiscriminately bestowing gold coins.

It was a dreary journey, and they were a long time shaking off the octopus-like tentacles of the great city, that reached further and further into the country each year, as if it lived on consuming the green fields. Morris walked ahead with the boy on his back, and his wife followed. Neither spoke, and the sick lad did not complain. As they were nearing a village, the boy's head sunk on his father's shoulder. The mother quickened her pace, and came up to them, stroking the head of her sleeping son. Suddenly, she uttered a smothered cry and took the boy in her arms.

"What's the matter?" asked Morris, turning round.

She did not answer, but sat by the roadside with the boy on her lap, swaying her body to and fro over him, moaning as she did so. Morris needed no answer. He stood on the road with hardening face, and looked down on his wife and child without speaking.

The kindly villagers arranged the little funeral, and when it was over Jack Morris and his wife stood again on the road.

"Jack, dear," she pleaded, "don't go back to that horrible place. We belong to the country, and the city is so hard and cruel."

"I'm going back. You can do as you like." Then, relenting a little, he added, "I haven't brought much luck to you, my girl."

She knew her husband was a stubborn man, and set in his way, so, unprotesting, she followed him in, as she had followed him out, stumbling many times, for often her eyes did not see the road. And so they returned to their empty rooms.

Jack Morris went to look for work at the Red Lion. There he met that genial comrade, Joe Hollends, who had been reformed, and who had backslid twice since Jack had foregathered with him before. It is but fair to Joe to admit that he had never been optimistic about his own reclamation, but, being an obliging man, even when he was sober, he was willing to give the Social League every chance. Jack was deeply grieved at the death of his son, although he had said no word to his wife that would show it. It therefore took more liquor than usual to bring him up to the point of good comradeship that reigned at the Red Lion. When he and Joe left the tavern that night it would have taken an expert to tell which was the more inebriated. They were both in good fighting trim, and both were in the humour for a row. The police, who had reckoned on Joe alone, suddenly found a new element in the fight that not only upset their calculations but themselves as well. It was a glorious victory, and, as both fled down a side street, Morris urged Hollends to come along, for the representatives of law and order have the habit of getting reinforcements which often turn a victory into a most ignominious defeat.

"I can't," panted Hollends. "The beggars have hurt me."

"Come along. I know a place where we are safe."

Drunk as he was, Jack succeeded in finding the hole in the wall that allowed him to enter a vacant spot behind the box factory. There Hollends lay down with a groan, and there Morris sank beside him in a drunken sleep. The police were at last revenged, and finally.

When the grey daylight brought Morris to a dazed sense of where he was, he found his companion dead beside him. He had a vague fear that he would be tried for murder, but it was not so. From the moment that Hollends, in his fall, struck his head on the kerb, the Providence which looks after the drunken deserted him.

But the inquest accomplished one good object. It attracted the attention of the Social League to Jack Morris, and they are now endeavouring to reclaim him.

Whether they succeed or not, he was a man that was certainly once worth saving.






I think that it was in an article by a fellow-scribe, where, doubtless more in sorrow than in anger, that gentleman exposed the worthlessness of the productions of sundry of his brother authors, in which I read that whatever success I had met with as a writer of fiction was due to my literary friends and "nepotic criticism." This is scarcely the case, since when I began to write I do not think that I knew a single creature who had published books—blue books alone excepted. Nobody was ever more outside the ring, or less acquainted with the art of "rolling logs," than the humble individual who pens these lines. But the reader shall judge for himself.

To begin at the beginning: My very first attempt at imaginative writing was made while I was a boy at school. One of the masters promised a prize to that youth who should best describe on paper any incident, real or imaginary. I entered the lists, and selected the scene at an operation in a hospital as my subject. The fact that I had never seen an operation, nor crossed the doors of a hospital, did not deter me from this bold endeavour, which, however, was justified by its success. I was declared to have won in the competition, though, probably through the forgetfulness of the master, I remember that I never received the promised prize. My next literary effort, written in 1876, was an account of a Zulu war dance, which I witnessed when I was on the staff of the Governor of Natal. It was published in the Gentleman's Magazine, and very kindly noticed in various papers. A year later I wrote another article, entitled "A Visit to the Chief Secocoeni," which appeared in Macmillan, and very nearly got me into trouble. I was then serving on the staff of Sir Theophilus Shepstone, and the article, signed with my initials, reached South Africa in its printed form shortly after the annexation of the Transvaal. Young men with a pen in their hands are proverbially indiscreet, and in this instance I was no exception. In the course of my article I had described the Transvaal Boer at home with a fidelity that should be avoided by members of a diplomatic mission, and had even gone the length of saying that most of the Dutch women were "fat." Needless to say, my remarks were translated into the Africander papers, and somewhat extensively read, especially by the ladies in question and their male relatives; nor did the editors of those papers forbear to comment on them in leading articles. Shortly afterwards, there was a great and stormy meeting of Boers at Pretoria. As matters began to look serious, somebody ventured among them to ascertain the exciting cause, and returned with the pleasing intelligence that they were all talking of what the Englishman had written about the physical proportions of their womenkind and domestic habits, and threatening to take up arms to avenge it. Of my feelings on learning this news I will not discourse, but they were uncomfortable, to say the least of it. Happily, in the end, the gathering broke up without bloodshed, but when the late Sir Bartle Frere came to Pretoria, some months afterwards, he administered to me a sound and well-deserved lecture on my indiscretion. I excused myself by saying that I had set down nothing which was not strictly true, and he replied to the effect that therein lay my fault. I quite agree with him; indeed, there is little doubt but that these bald statements of fact as to the stoutness of the Transvaal "fraus," and the lack of cleanliness in their homes, went near to precipitating a result that, as it chanced, was postponed for several years. Well, it is all done with now, and I take this opportunity of apologising to such of the ladies in question as may still be in the land of life.

This unfortunate experience cooled my literary ardour, yet, as it chanced, when some five years later I again took up my pen, it was in connection with African affairs. These pages are no place for politics, but I must allude to them in explanation. It will be remembered that the Transvaal was annexed by Great Britain in 1877. In 1881 the Boers rose in rebellion and administered several thrashings to our troops, whereon the Government of this country came suddenly to the conclusion that a wrong had been done to the victors, and subject to some paper restrictions, gave them back their independence. As it chanced, at the time I was living on some African property belonging to me in the centre of the operations, and so disgusted was I, in common with thousands of others, at the turn which matters had taken, that I shook the dust of South Africa off my feet and returned to England. Now, the first impulse of an aggrieved Englishman is to write to the Times, and if I remember right I took this course, but my letter not being inserted, I enlarged upon the idea and composed a book called "Cetewayo and his White Neighbours." This semi-political work, or rather history, was very carefully constructed from the records of some six years' experience, and by the help of a shelf full of blue books that stare me in the face as I write these words; and the fact that it still goes on selling seems to show that it has some value in the eyes of students of South African politics. But when I had written my book I was confronted by a difficulty which I had not anticipated, being utterly without experience in such affairs—that of finding somebody willing to publish it. I remember that I purchased a copy of the Athenaeum, and selecting the names of various firms at hazard, wrote to them offering to submit my manuscript, but, strange to say, none of them seemed anxious to peruse it. At last—how I do not recollect—it came into the hands of Messrs. Truebner, who, after consideration, wrote to say that they were willing to bring it out on the half profit system, provided that I paid down fifty pounds towards the cost of production. I did not at all like the idea of parting with the fifty pounds, but I believed in my book, and was anxious to put my views on the Transvaal rebellion and other African questions before the world. So I consented to the terms, and in due course Cetewayo was published in a neat green binding. Somewhat to my astonishment, it proved a success from a literary point of view. It was not largely purchased—indeed, that fifty pounds took several years on its return journey to my pocket, but it was favourably, and in some instances almost enthusiastically, reviewed, especially in the colonial papers.

About this time the face of a girl whom I saw in a church at Norwood gave me the idea of writing a novel. The face was so perfectly beautiful, and at the same time so refined, that I felt I could fit a story to it which should be worthy of a heroine similarly endowed. When next I saw Mr. Truebner I consulted him on the subject.

"You can write—it is certain that you can write. Yes, do it, and I will get the book published for you," he answered.

Thus encouraged I set to work. How to compose a novel I knew not, so I wrote straight on, trusting to the light of nature to guide me. My main object was to produce the picture of a woman perfect in mind and body, and to show her character ripening and growing spiritual, under the pressure of various afflictions. Of course, there is a vast gulf between a novice's aspiration and his attainment, and I do not contend that Angela as she appears in "Dawn" fulfils this ideal; also, such a person in real life might, and probably would, be a bore—

"Something too bright and good For human nature's daily food."

Still, this was the end I aimed at. Indeed, before I had done with her, I became so deeply attached to my heroine that, in a literary sense, I have never quite got over it. I worked very hard at this novel during the next six months or so, but at length it was finished and despatched to Mr. Truebner, who, as his firm did not deal in this class of book, submitted it to five or six of the best publishers of fiction. One and all they declined it, so that by degrees it became clear to me that I might as well have saved my labour. Mr. Truebner, however, had confidence in my work, and submitted the manuscript to Mr. John Cordy Jeaffreson for report; and here I may pause to say that I think there is more kindness in the hearts of literary men than is common in the world. It is not a pleasant task, in the face of repeated failure, again and again to attempt the adventure of persuading brother publishers to undertake the maiden effort of an unknown man. Still less pleasant is it, as I can vouch from experience, to wade through a lengthy and not particularly legible manuscript, and write an elaborate opinion thereon for the benefit of a stranger. Yet Mr. Truebner and Mr. Jeaffreson did these things for me without fee or reward. Mr. Jeaffreson's report I have lost or mislaid, but I remember its purport well. It was to the effect that there was a great deal of power in the novel, but that it required to be entirely re-written. The first part he thought so good that he advised me to expand it, and the unhappy ending he could not agree with. If I killed the heroine, it would kill the book, he said. He may have been right, but I still hold to my first conception, according to which Angela was doomed to an early and pathetic end, as the fittest crown to her career. That the story needed re-writing there is no doubt, but I believe that it would have been better as a work of art if I had dealt with it on the old lines, especially as the expansion of the beginning, in accordance with the advice of my kindly critic, took the tale back through the history of another generation—always a most dangerous experiment. Still, I did as I was told, not presuming to set up a judgment of my own in the matter. If I had worked hard at the first draft of the novel, I worked much harder at the second, especially as I could not give all my leisure to it, being engaged at the time in reading for the Bar. So hard did I work that at length my eyesight gave out, and I was obliged to complete the last hundred sheets in a darkened room. But let my eyes ache as they might, I would not give up till it was finished, within about three months from the date of its commencement. Recently, I went through this book to prepare it for a new edition, chiefly in order to cut out some of the mysticism and tall writing, for which it is too remarkable, and was pleased to find that it still interested me. But if a writer may be allowed to criticise his own work, it is two books, not one. Also, the hero is a very poor creature. Evidently I was too much occupied with my heroines to give much thought to him; moreover, women are so much easier and more interesting to write about, for whereas no two of them are alike, in modern men, or rather, in young men of the middle and upper classes, there is a paralysing sameness. As a candid friend once said to me, "There is nothing manly about that chap, Arthur"—he is the hero—"except his bull-dog!" With Angela herself I am still in love; only she ought to have died, which, on the whole, would have been a better fate than being married to Arthur, more especially if he was anything like the illustrator's conception of him.

In its new shape "Dawn" was submitted to Messrs. Hurst and Blackett, and at once accepted by that firm. Why it was called "Dawn" I am not now quite clear, but I think it was because I could find no other title acceptable to the publishers. The discovery of suitable titles is a more difficult matter than people who do not write romances would suppose, most of the good ones having been used already and copyrighted. In due course the novel was published in three fat volumes, and a pretty green cover, and I sat down to await events. At the best I did not expect to win a fortune out of it, as if every one of the five hundred copies printed were sold, I could only make fifty pounds under my agreement—not an extravagant reward for a great deal of labour. As a matter of fact, but four hundred and fifty sold, so the net proceeds of the venture amounted to ten pounds only, and forty surplus copies of the book, which I bored my friends by presenting to them. But as the copyright of the work reverted to me at the expiration of a year, I cannot grumble at this result. The reader may think that it was mercenary of me to consider my first book from this financial point of view, but to be frank, though the story interested me much in its writing, and I had a sneaking belief in its merits, it never occurred to me that I, an utterly inexperienced beginner, could hope to make any mark in competition with the many brilliant writers of fiction who were already before the public. Therefore, so far as I was concerned, any reward in the way of literary reputation seemed to be beyond my reach.

It was on the occasion of the publication of this novel that I made my first and last attempt to "roll a log," with somewhat amusing results. Almost the only person of influence whom I knew in the world of letters was the editor of a certain society paper. I had not seen him for ten years, but at this crisis I ventured to recall myself to his memory, and to ask him, not for a favourable notice, but that the book should be reviewed in his journal. He acceded to my prayer; it was reviewed, but after a fashion for which I did not bargain. This little incident taught me a lesson, and the moral of it is: never trouble an editor about your immortal works; he can so easily be even with you. I commend it to all literary tyros. Even if you are in a position to command "puffs," the public will find you out in the second edition, and revenge itself upon your next book. Here is a story that illustrates the accuracy of this statement; it came to me on good authority, and I believe it to be true. A good many years ago, the relation of an editor of a great paper published a novel. It was a bad novel, but a desperate effort was made to force it upon the public, and in many of the leading journals appeared notices so laudatory that readers fell into the trap, and the book went through several editions. Encouraged by success, the writer published a second book, but the public had found her out, and it fell flat. Being a person of resource, she brought out a third work under a nom de plume, which, as at first, was accorded an enthusiastic reception by previous arrangement, and forced into circulation. A fourth followed under the same name, but again the public had found her out, and her career as a novelist came to an end.

To return to the fate of "Dawn." In most quarters it met with the usual reception of a first novel by an unknown man. Some of the reviewers sneered at it, and some "slated" it, and made merry over the misprints—a cheap form of wit that saves those who practise it the trouble of going into the merits of a book. Two very good notices fell to its lot, however, in the Times and in the Morning Post, the first of these speaking about the novel in terms of which any amateur writer might feel proud, though, unfortunately, it appeared too late to be of much service. Also, I discovered that the story had interested a great many readers, and none of them more than the late Mr. Truebner, through whose kind offices it came to be published, who, I was told, paid me the strange compliment of continuing its perusal till within a few hours of his death, a sad event that the enemy might say was hastened thereby. In this connection I remember that the first hint I received that my story was popular with the ordinary reading public, whatever reviewers might say of it, came from the lips of a young lady, a chance visitor at my house, whose name I have forgotten. Seeing the book lying on the table, she took a volume up, saying—

"Oh, have you read 'Dawn'? It is a first-rate novel, I have just finished it." Somebody explained, and the subject dropped, but I was not a little gratified by the unintended compliment.

These facts encouraged me, and I wrote a second novel—"The Witch's Head." This book I endeavoured to publish serially by posting the MS. to the editors of various magazines for their consideration. But in those days there were no literary agents or Authors' Societies to help young writers with their experience and advice, and the bulky manuscript always came back to my hand like a boomerang, till at length I wearied of the attempt. Of course I sent it to the wrong people; afterwards the editor of a leading monthly told me that he would have been delighted to run the book had it fallen into the hands of his firm. In the end, as in the case of "Dawn," I published "The Witch's Head" in three volumes. Its reception astonished me, for I did not think so well of the book as I had done of its predecessor. In that view, by the way, the public has borne out my judgment, for to this day three copies of "Dawn" are absorbed for every two of "The Witch's Head," a proportion that has never varied since the two works appeared in one volume form.

"The Witch's Head" was very well reviewed; indeed, in one or two cases, the notices were almost enthusiastic, most of all when they dealt with the African part of the book, which I had inserted as padding, the fight between Jeremy and the Boer giant being singled out for especial praise. Whatever it may lack, one merit this novel has, however, that was overlooked by all the reviewers. Omitting the fictitious incidents introduced for the purposes of the story, it contains an accurate account of the great disaster inflicted upon our troops by the Zulus at Isandhlwana. I was in the country at the time of the massacre, and heard its story from the lips of survivors, also, in writing of it, I studied the official reports in the blue books and the minutes of the Court Martial.

"The Witch's Head" attained the dignity of being pirated in America, and in England went out of print in a few weeks, but no argument that I could use would induce my publishers to re-issue it in a one-volume edition. The risk was too great, they said. Then it was I came to the conclusion that I would abandon the making of books. The work was very hard, and when put to the test of experience the glamour that surrounds this occupation vanished. I did not care much for the publicity it involved, and, like most young authors, I failed to appreciate being sneered at by anonymous critics who happened not to care for what I wrote, and whom I had no opportunity of answering. It is true that then, as now, I liked the work for its own sake. Indeed, I have always thought that literature would be a charming profession if its conditions allowed of the depositing of manuscripts, when completed, in a drawer, there to languish in obscurity, or of their private publication only. But I could not afford myself these luxuries. I was too modest to hope for any renown worth having, and for the rest the game seemed scarcely worth the candle. I had published a history and two novels. On the history I had lost fifty pounds, on the first novel I had made ten pounds, and on the second fifty; net profit on the three, ten pounds, which in the case of a man with other occupations and duties did not appear to be an adequate return for the labour involved. But I was not destined to escape thus from the toils of romance. One day I chanced to read a clever article in favour of boys' books, and it occurred to me that I might be able to do as well as others in that line. I was working at the Bar at the time, but in my spare evenings, more for amusement than from any other reason, I entered on the literary adventure that ended in the appearance of "King Solomon's Mines." This romance has proved very successful, although three firms, including my own publishers, refused even to consider it. But as it can scarcely be called one of my first books, I shall not speak of it here.

In conclusion, I will tell a moving tale, that it may be a warning to young authors for ever. After my publishers declined to issue "The Witch's Head" in a six-shilling edition, I tried many others without success, and at length in my folly signed an agreement with a firm since deceased. Under this document the firm in question agreed to bring out "Dawn" and "The Witch's Head" in a two-shilling edition, and generously to remunerate me with a third share in the profits realised, if any. In return for this concession, I on my part undertook to allow the said firm to republish any novel that I might write, for a period of five years from the date of the agreement, in a two-shilling form, and on the same third-profit terms. Of course, so soon as the success of "King Solomon's Mines" was established, I received a polite letter from the publishers in question, asking when they might expect to republish that romance at two shillings. Then the matter came under the consideration of lawyers and other skilled persons, with the result that it appeared that, if the Courts took a strict view of the agreement, ruin stared me in the face, so far as my literary affairs were concerned. To begin with, either by accident or design, this artful document was so worded that, prima facie, the contracting publisher had a right to place his cheap edition on the market whenever it might please him to do so, subject only to the payment of a third of the profit, to be assessed by himself, which practically would have meant nothing at all. How could I expect to dispose of work subject to such a legal "servitude." For five long years I was a slave to the framer of the "hanging" clause of the agreement. Things looked black indeed, when, thanks to the diplomacy of my agent, and to a fortunate change in the personnel of the firm to which I was bound, I avoided disaster. The fatal agreement was cancelled, and in consideration of my release I undertook to write two books upon a moderate royalty. Thus, then, did I escape out of bondage. To be just, it was my own fault that I should ever have been sold into it, but authors are proverbially guileless when they are anxious to publish their books, and a piece of printed paper with a few additions written in a neat hand looks innocent enough. Now no such misfortunes need happen, for the Authors' Society is ready and anxious to protect them from themselves and others, but in those days it did not exist.

This is the history of how I drifted into the writing of books. If it saves one beginner so inexperienced and unfriended as I was in those days from putting his hand to a "hanging" agreement under any circumstances whatsoever, it will not have been set out in vain.

The advice that I give to would-be authors, if I may presume to offer it, is to think for a long while before they enter at all upon a career so hard and hazardous, but having entered on it, not to be easily cast down. There are great virtues in perseverance, even though critics sneer and publishers prove unkind.







We had been discussing the Darwinian hypothesis, and the Colonel had maintained a profound silence, which was sufficient evidence that he did not believe in the development of man from the lower animals. Some one, however, asked him plumply his opinion of Darwinianism, and he sententiously replied, "Darned nonsense."

Feeling that this view of the matter possibly merited expansion, the Colonel caused his chair to assume its customary oratorical attitude on its two rear legs, and began to discourse.

"There are some things," he remarked, "which do look as if there might be a grain of truth in this monkey theory. For instance, when I was in France I was pretty nearly convinced that the monkey is the connecting link between man and the Frenchmen, but after all there is no proof of it. That's what's the matter with Darwinianism. When you produce a man who can remember that his grandfather was a monkey, or when you show me a monkey that can produce papers to prove that he is my second cousin, I'll believe all Darwin said on the subject, but as the thing stands I've nothing but Darwin's word to prove that men and monkeys are near relations. So far as I can learn, Darwin didn't know as much about animals as a man ought to know who undertakes to invent a theory about them. He never was intimate with dogs, and he never drove an army mule. He had a sort of bowing acquaintance with monkeys and a few other animals of no particular standing in the community, but he couldn't even understand a single animal language. Now, if he had gone to work, and learned to read and write, and speak the monkey language, as that American professor that you were just speaking of has done, he might have been able to give us some really valuable information.

"Do I believe that animals talk? I don't simply believe it, I know it. When I was a young man I had a good deal to do with animals, and I learned to understand the cat language just as well as I understood English. It's an easy language when once you get the hang of it, and from what I hear of German the two are considerably alike. You look as if you didn't altogether believe me, though why you should doubt that a man can learn cat language when the world is full of men that pretend to have learned German, and nobody calls their word in question, I don't precisely see.

"Of course, I don't pretend to understand all the cat dialects. For example, I don't know a word of the Angora dialect, and can only understand a sentence here and there of the tortoiseshell dialect, but so far as good, pure standard cat language goes, it's as plain as print to me to-day, though I haven't paid any attention to it for forty years. I don't want you to understand that I ever spoke it. I always spoke English when I was talking with cats. They all understand English as well as you do. They pick it up just as a child picks up a language from hearing it spoken.

"Forty years ago I was a young man, and, like most young men, I fancied that I was in love with a young woman of our town. There isn't the least doubt in my mind that I should have married her if I had not known the cat language. She afterwards married a man whom she took away to Africa with her as a missionary. I knew him well, and he didn't want to go to Africa. Said he had no call to be a missionary, and that all he wanted was to live in a Christian country where he could go and talk with the boys in the bar-room evenings. But his wife carried him off, and it's my belief that if I had married her she would have made me turn missionary, or pirate, or anything else that she thought best. I shall never cease to be grateful to Thomas Aquinas for saving me from that woman.

"This was the way of it. I was living in a little cottage that belonged to my uncle, and that he let me have rent free on condition that I should take care of it, and keep the grounds in an attractive state until he could sell it. I had an old negro housekeeper and two cats. One of them, Martha Washington by name, was young and handsome, and about as bright a cat as I ever knew. She had a strong sense of humour, too, which is unusual with cats, and when something amused her she would throw back her head and open her mouth wide, and laugh a silent laugh that was as hearty and rollicking as a Methodist parson's laugh when he hears a grey-haired joke at a negro minstrel show. Martha was perhaps the most popular cat in the town, and there was scarcely a minute in the day when there wasn't some one of her admirers in the back yard. As for serenades, she had three or four every night that it didn't rain. There was a quartette club formed by four first-class feline voices, and the club used to give Martha and me two or three hours of music three times a week. I used sometimes to find as many as six or seven old boots in the back yard of a morning that had been contributed by enthusiastic neighbours. As for society, Martha Washington was at the top of the heap. There wasn't a more fashionable cat in the whole State of Ohio—I was living in Ohio at the time—and in spite of it all she was as simple and unaffected in her ways as if she had been born and bred in a Quaker meeting-house.

"One afternoon Martha was giving a four o'clock milk on the verandah next to my room. I always gave her permission to give that sort of entertainment whenever she wanted to, for the gossip of her friends used to be very amusing to me. Among the guests that afternoon was Susan's—that was the young lady I wanted to marry—Maltese cat. Now this cat had always pretended to be very fond of me, and Susan often said that her cat never made a mistake in reading character, and that the cat's approval of me was equivalent to a first-class Sunday-school certificate of moral character. I didn't care anything about the cat myself, for somehow I didn't place any confidence in her professions. There was an expression about her tail which, to my mind, meant that she was insincere and treacherous. The Maltese cat had finished her milk when the conversation drifted around to the various mistresses of the cats, and presently someone spoke of Susan. Then the Maltese began to say things about Susan that made my blood boil. It was not only what she said but what she insinuated, and, according to her, Susan was one of the meanest and most contemptible women in the whole United States. I stood it as long as I could, and then I got up and said to Martha Washington, 'I think your Maltese friend is needed at her home, and the sooner she goes the better if she doesn't want to be helped home with a club.' That was enough. The Maltese, who was doing up her back fur when I spoke, stopped, looked at me as if she could tear me into pieces, and then flounced out of the house without saying a word. I understood that there was an end to her pretence of friendship for me, and that henceforth I should have an enemy in Susan's house who might, perhaps, be able to do me a good deal of harm.

"The next time I called to see Susan the Maltese was in the room, and she instantly put up her back and tail and swore at me as if I was a Chinaman on the look out for material for a stolen dinner. 'What can be the matter with poor pussy?' said Susan. 'She seems to be so terribly afraid of you all of a sudden. I hope it doesn't mean that you have been doing something that she doesn't approve of.' I didn't make any reply to this insinuation, except to say that the cat might perhaps be going mad, but this didn't help me any with Susan, who was really angry at the idea that her cat could be capable of going mad.

"The same sort of thing happened every time I went to the house. The cat was always in the room, and always expressed in the plainest way the opinion that I was a thief and a murderer, and an enemy of the temperance society. When I asked her what she meant to do, she would give me no reply except a fresh oath, or other bad language. Threats had no effect on her, for she knew that I could not touch her in Susan's house, and she didn't intend that I should catch her outside of the house. Nothing was clearer than that the Maltese was bound to make a quarrel between me and Susan in revenge for what I had said at Martha's four o'clock milk.

"Meanwhile Susan began to take the thing very seriously, and hinted that the cat's opposition to me might be a providential warning against me. 'I never knew her to take such a prejudice against anyone before,' she said, 'except against that converted Jew who afterwards turned out to be a burglar, and nearly murdered poor dear Mr. Higby, the Baptist preacher, the night he broke into Mr. Higby's house and stole all his hams.' Once when I did manage to give the Maltese a surreptitious kick, and she yelled as if she was half-killed, Susan said, 'I am really afraid I shall have to ask you to leave us now. Poor pussy's nerves are so thoroughly upset that I must devote all my energies to soothing her. I do hope she is mistaken in her estimate of you.' This was not very encouraging, and I saw clearly that if the Maltese kept up her opposition the chances that Susan would marry me were not worth a rush.

"Did I tell you that I had a large grey cat by the name of Thomas Aquinas? He was in some respects the most remarkable cat I ever met. Most people considered him rather a dull person, but among cats he was conceded to have a colossal mind. Cats would come from miles away to ask his advice about things. I don't mean such trifling matters as his views on mice-catching—which, by the way, is a thing that has very little interest for most cats—or his opinion of the best way in which to get a canary bird through the bars of a cage. They used to consult him on matters of the highest importance, and the opinions that he used to give would have laid over those of Benjamin Franklin himself. Why Martha Washington told me that Thomas Aquinas knew more about bringing up kittens than the oldest and most experienced feline matron that she had ever known. As for common sense, Thomas Aquinas was just a solid chunk of it, as you might say, and I got into the habit of consulting him whenever I wanted a good, safe, cautious opinion. He would see at a glance where the trouble was, and would give me advice that no lawyer could have beaten, no matter how big a fee he might have charged.

"Well! I went home from Susan's house, and I said to Thomas Aquinas, 'Thomas,' for he was one of those cats that you would no more have called 'Tom' than you would call Mr. Gladstone 'Bill'—'Thomas,' I said, 'I want you to come with me to Miss Susan's and tell that Maltese beast that if she doesn't quit her practice of swearing at me whenever I come into the room it will be the worse for her.'

"'That's easy enough,' said Thomas. 'I know one or two little things about that cat that would not do to be told, and she knows that I know them. Never you fear but that I can shut her up in a moment. I heard that she was going about bragging that she would get square with you for something you said to her one day, but I didn't feel called upon to interfere without your express approval.'

"The next day Thomas and I strolled over to Susan's, and, as luck would have it, we were shown into her reception room before she came down stairs. The Maltese cat was in the room, and began her usual game of being filled with horror at the sight of such a hardened wretch as myself. Of course, Thomas Aquinas took it up at once, and the two had a pretty hot argument. Now Thomas, in spite of his colossal mind, was a quick-tempered cat, and he was remarkably free spoken when he was roused. One word led to another, and presently the Maltese flew at Thomas, and for about two minutes that room was so thick with fur that you could hardly see the fight. Of course, there could have been only one end to the affair. My cat weighed twice what the Maltese weighed, and after a few rounds he had her by the neck, and never let go until he had killed her. I was just saying 'Hooray! Thomas!' when Susan came into the room.

"I pass over what she said. Its general sense was that a man who encouraged dumb animals to fight, and who brought a great savage brute into her house to kill her sweet little pussy in her own parlour, wasn't fit to live. She would listen to no explanations, and when I said that Thomas had called at my request to reason with the Maltese about her unkind conduct towards me, Susan said that my attempt to turn an infamous outrage into a stupid joke made the matter all the worse, and that she must insist that I and my prize fighting beast should leave her house at once and never enter it again.

"So you see that if it had not been that I understood what the Maltese cat said at Martha Washington's milk party, I should probably never have quarrelled with either Susan or her cat, and should now have been a missionary in Central Africa, if I hadn't blown my brains out, or taken to drink. I have often thought that the man Susan did marry might have been saved if he had known the cat language in time, and had made the acquaintance of the Maltese."

The Colonel paused, and presently I asked him if he really expected us to believe his story. "Why not?" he replied. "It isn't any stiffer than Darwin's yarn about our being descended from monkeys. You believe that on the word of a man you never saw, and I expect you to believe my story that I understand the cat language on my unsupported word. Perhaps the story is a little tough, but if you are going in for science you shouldn't let your credulity be backed down by any story."





(Photographs by Messrs. Fradelle & Young, and Falk, of Sydney.)

Every one who writes an article upon Mr. Toole begins by telling his readers how entirely lovable a man he is, and I do not know why I should differ from every one else, for, in this case at all events, what every one says is true. There are few actors, either in the past or present, who have so thoroughly succeeded in placing themselves upon a footing of the most friendly and cordial nature with their audience as Mr. John Lawrence Toole. And not only has he succeeded in establishing such relations between himself and his audience, but he has been to the full as successful in endowing the characters he has undertaken with those same lovable qualities which have endeared

1  2  3     Next Part
Home - Random Browse