Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 156, April 30, 1919
PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
APRIL 30, 1919.
An alarming rumour is going the rounds to the effect that Printing House
Square refuses to accept any responsibility for the findings of the
"Mystery," says a news item, "surrounds the purchase of fifty retail
fish shops in and about London." The Athenaeum Club is full of the
The statement of the Allied Food Commission, that there are more sheep
in Germany to-day than in 1914, has come as a surprise to those who
imagined that the loud bleating noise was chiefly Herr SCHEIDEMANN.
"Get your muzzle now!" says _The Daily Mail_. It is felt, however, that
the PRIME MINISTER scored a distinct hit by saying it first.
"There is absolutely no reason," says a Health Culture writer, "why
Members of Parliament should not live to be one hundred." We think we
could find a reason if we were pressed.
To-morrow a man in the North of England is to celebrate his hundredth
birthday. He will be the youngest centenarian in the country.
At Ealing it appears that a rabid dog dashed into a pork butcher's shop
and snapped at a sausage. The sausage was immediately shot.
The War Office, says a contemporary, is to have another storey built.
In order that the work shall not cause any sleepless days it is to be
undertaken by night.
It is reported that a burglar who has been drawing unemployment pay has
decided to return to work.
The New Zealand Government has decided to check the introduction of
influenza, and every passenger arriving there is to be examined. All
germs not declared are liable to be confiscated by the Customs.
Nearly all the Bank Holiday visitors to Hampstead Heath, it is stated,
chose a silver-mounted bridge-marker in preference to nuts.
Two days before his wedding a man at Uxbridge was summoned to Wales by
his wife for desertion. It is said that his second wedding went off
It is understood that the Home Office does not propose to re-arrest DE
VALERA. The official view is that in future the Irish must provide their
We hear that all imprisoned Sinn Feiners have been instructed to give a
day's notice in future before escaping, so that nobody shall do it out
of his proper turn.
Citizens of Clarkson, Washington, U.S.A., have appealed to the
Government to protect them against a plague of frogs. The Federal
authorities have informed the Press that these insidious attempts to
distract the Government from its Prohibition programme must not be taken
From an American newspaper we gather that a New York plutocrat has by
his will cut his wife off with twelve million dollars.
"Is the Kaiser Highly Strung?" asks a weekly paper headline. We shall be
able to answer this question a little later.
The report that an early bather was seen executing the Jazz-dance on
the beach at Ventnor on Easter Monday seems to have some foundation. It
appears that his partner was a large crab with well-developed claws.
We hear that visitors at a well-known London hotel, who have patiently
borne the extension of the gratuity nuisance for a considerable time,
now take exception to the notice, "Please tip the basin," which has been
prominently placed in the lavatory.
On many golf-links nowadays the caddies are expected to keep count of
the number of strokes taken for each hole. One beginner whom we know is
seriously thinking of employing a chartered accountant for this purpose.
What cricket needs, says a sporting contemporary, is bright breezy
batting. The game should no longer depend for its sparkle on impromptu
badinage between the umpire and the wicket-keeper.
People who think they have heard the cuckoo before the first of May,
declares a well-known ornithologist, are usually the victims of young
practical jokers. The conspicuous barring of the bird's plumage should,
however, make any real confusion impossible.
* * * * *
[Illustration: ABSENT-MINDED PHYSICIAN SENT BY HIS WIFE TO BUY "TWO GOOD
* * * * *
"Striking testimony as to the popularity of the Cataract Cliff
Grounds--when it is remembered that the period embraces the complete
term of the war--is the fact that during the past five years an
aggregate of 428,390 persons was bitten by a snake."
The snake may be fairly said to have done his bit.
* * * * *
PEACE AT THE SEASIDE.
[The public are being passionately warned against the threatened
crush at watering-places in August of this year of Peace.]
Stoutly we bore with April's icy blizzards;
"The worst of Spring," we said, "will soon be through;
Summer is bound to come and warm our gizzards
And we shall gambol by the briny blue."
But even as we put the annual question,
"Where shall we water? on what golden strand?"
Warnings appear of terrible congestion,
Of lodgers countless as the local sand.
Lucky the man, the hardened strap-suspender,
Who with a first-class ticket, there and back,
Finds a precarious seat upon the tender,
A rocky berth upon the baggage-rack.
Should he arrive, the breath of life still in him,
His face will be repulsed from door to door;
He'll get no lodging, not the very minim,
Save under heaven on the pebbly shore.
In vain he pleads for stall-room in the stable;
The cellars are engaged; 'tis idle talk
To ask for bedding on the billiard-table--
Two families are there, each side of baulk.
Next morn he fain would wash in ocean's spray (there's
Balm in the waves that helps you to forget),
And lo! the deep is simply stiff with bathers;
He has no chance of even getting wet.
He starves as never in the age of rations;
The fishy produce of the boundless sea
Fails to appease the hungry trippers' passions
Who barely pouch one shrimp apiece for tea.
"I came," he says, "to swallow priceless ozone
Under Britannia's elemental spell;
She rules the waves, as all her conquered foes own;
I wish she ruled her seasides half as well.
"I don't know what the beaten Bosch may suffer
Compared with us who won the late dispute,
But if it equals this (it can't be tougher),
Why, then I feel some pity for the brute."
So by the London train upon the morrow
From holiday delights he gets release,
Conspuing, more in anger than in sorrow,
The pestilent amenities of Peace.
* * * * *
GREAT BEARD MYSTERY.
Where do men go when, they want to grow beards? This is a question
as yet unanswered, and the whole subject is shrouded in impenetrable
One sees thousands of men with beards, but one never sees anyone growing
a beard. I cannot recall, in a life of varied travel, having ever
encountered a man actually engaged in the process of beard-cultivation.
The secret is well kept, doubtless by a kind of freemasonry amongst
bearded men, but there can be little doubt that somewhere there are
nurseries where a _bona-fide_ beard-grower who is in the secret can
retire until he is presentable.
I have frequently been annoyed by the way in which these men flaunt
their beards at one; their whole manner seems to convey an air of
superiority; they seem to say, "Look at my beard. You can't grow a beard
because you haven't the moral courage to appear in public while it's
growing. Wouldn't you like to know the secret? Well, I won't tell you."
Determined to suffer these contemptuous glances no longer, I set out
on a voyage of discovery to unravel the mystery of England's
I asked bearded men if they knew of anywhere in the country where one
could slip away in order to grow a beard, but they always gave me
evasive replies, such as: "Why not have an illness and stay in bed for
three months?" But when I went on to ask where they had grown theirs,
they either made an excuse to leave me or said evasively, "Oh, I've
always had mine."
I once went to the enormous expense of making a bearded Scotch
acquaintance intoxicated in order to drag the secret from him, but
the question as to where he grew his beard instantly sobered him, and
nothing would induce him to touch another drop.
I have bribed barbers without success. I have vainly shadowed men for
a month who looked as if they intended growing beards. I even took
advantage of Armageddon to join the Navy, where beards are permitted;
but when I tried to start growing one I was instantly reprimanded for
not shaving by a bearded Commander, who had the same triumphant gleam of
superiority which I had noticed ashore.
In the Old Testament there was no secrecy on the subject. Somebody said,
"Tarry in Jericho until your beards be grown." But I am quite satisfied
in my own mind that modern beard-growers do not go to Jericho; I have
established this fact. No, there are in England properly organised
beard-nurseries, and the secret of their whereabouts is jealously
guarded; but I have by no means relaxed my determination to discover
them, and to give to the world the results of my research.
* * * * *
At the private reception the night before Miss CARNEGIE'S wedding, "the
ironmaster," so we read in our _Daily Mail_, "entertained his guests
with numerous reminiscences of his life, and it was observed that
he interrupted a story concerning King EDWARD and Skibo to whisper
something in his daughter's ear concerning her dowry. He was telling the
guests how the King offered to make him a Duke if he would bring about a
coalition between England and the United States. 'I told King EDWARD,'
said Mr. CARNEGIE, 'that in these United States every man is King. Why
should I be a Duke?'"
It is pleasant to read of the heroic refusal of the staunch Republican
to compromise the principles which he so eloquently vindicated in his
_Triumphant Democracy_; but it is only right to add that this is not an
Thus it is a literally open secret that when a famous ventriloquist was
offered the O.B.E. for his services in popularising the Navy, he refused
the coveted distinction on the ground that it would be derogatory to a
Prince to accept it.
When Sir HENRY DUKE retired from the Chief Secretaryship of Ireland he
was offered a Viscounty, but declined the proffered distinction, wittily
observing that as he was born a Duke he did not see why he should
descend to a lower grade of the peerage.
Then there is the notorious case of Mr. KING who, on being offered a
peerage if he would desist from his criticisms of Mr. LLOYD GEORGE and
his Ministry, pointed out that other monarchs might abdicate, but that
those who thought _he_ would do so clearly knew not JOSEPH.
As for the titles, decorations and distinctions offered by the EX-KAISER
to Mr. HAROLD BEGBIE if he would bring about a _rapprochement_ between
England and Germany, and patriotically declined by the eminent
publicist, their name is legion.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE MENACE OF MAY.
AUSTEN CHAMBERMAID _(to John Bull)._ "YOUR TEA AND THE MORNING PAPER,
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Charlady (on the subject of appearance)._ "OF COURSE I
DON'T BOTHER NOW--BUT I USED TO BE ABLE TO TREAD ON MY 'AIR."]
* * * * *
CIVILIAN FLYING, 1930.
"You're late," said Millie, as John entered the hall and shook himself
free of his flying coat.
"Yes, dear; missed the 5.40 D.H. from the Battersea Park Take-off by a
minute to-night. Jones brought me home on that neat little knock-about
spad he's just bought. Small two-seater arrangement, you know. Then I
walked from the 'drome just to stretch myself. They don't give you too
much move space in those planettes."
"Oh, I'd just love to have an aeroplanette like that!" exclaimed Millie.
"Mrs. Smith says she simply couldn't do without hers now; it makes her
so independent. She can pop up to town, do her shopping and get back in
a short afternoon."
"Um--yes," calculated John. "Less than seventy miles the double
journey--she'd manage that all right."
"And that pilot of theirs," went on Millie, "seems just as safe with the
'pup' as he is with that great twin-engined bus her husband is so keen
"Yes," said John; "must be quite an undertaking getting Smith's
tri-plane on the sky-way. It's useful for a family party, though. I
hear he packed twenty or thirty on to it for the picnic they had
at John-o'-Groat's last week. By the way," added John, as he moved
upstairs, "aren't the Robinsons coming to dinner?"
"Yes, you'd better hurry up and change," advised Millie.
The Robinsons were very up-to-date people, John decided as they sat
down to the meal a little later. He hadn't met them before. They were
"Very glad to know such near neighbours," he said cordially. "Why, it's
under forty miles to your place, I should think."
"Forty-seven kilos, to be exact," Robinson volunteered, "and I should
say we did it under twenty minutes."
"Quite good flying," said John.
"We came by the valley route, too," put in Mrs. Robinson. "John was
good enough to consider my wretched air-pocket nerves rather than his
"It's a couple of miles further," explained Robinson, "but my wife isn't
such a stout flier as her mother, though the old lady is over seventy.
My pilot was bringing her from Town one afternoon last week--took the
Dorking-Leith Hill air-way, you know, always bumpy over there--and I
suppose from all accounts he must have dropped her a hundred feet plumb,
side-slipped and got into a spinning dive and only pulled the old bus
out again when the furrows in a ploughed field below them had grown
"Yes, it makes me shivery to think of," ejaculated Mrs. Robinson; "but
mother really has extraordinary nerve. She wasn't in the least upset."
"No, not a little bit, by Jove!" added Robinson. "The old sport just
leaned forward in her seat and, when James had adjusted his head-piece,
she coolly reprimanded him for stunting without orders. Of course she
doesn't know anything about the theory of the thing, you see."
With the dessert came letters by the late air post.
"Oh, please excuse me," said Millie, as she took them from the maid,
"I see there's a reply from Auntie--the Edinburgh aunt, you know,"
she explained. "I wrote her this morning, imploring her to come over
to-morrow for the bazaar. She's so splendid at that sort of thing."
"What my wife's aunt doesn't know about flying isn't worth knowing,"
remarked John with finality. "Why, she qualified for her ticket last
year, and she'll never see forty again. How's that for an up-to-date
"I doubt if she'll fly solo that distance, though," said Millie; "I
don't think she ought to, either."
"Of course," said Robinson, "it's a bit of a strain for a woman of
middle age to negotiate three hundred odd miles, even with a couple of
landings for a cup of tea _en route_."
Millie rose. "Now, don't you men sit here for an hour discussing 'flying
speeds,' 'gliding angles,' and all that sort of thing. I object to
aero-maniacs on principle. I--" At that moment a peculiar noise,
evidently in the near vicinity of the house, arrested the attention of
"Sounded like something breaking," said Millie, going to the window,
which overlooked the garden and a good-sized paddock beyond. John had
already gone out to investigate.
In a minute or two he reappeared ushering in a very jolly-looking old
gentleman in a flying suit.
"A thousand pardons, Mrs. Smith," said the new arrival; "John collected
me in the paddock. Ha! ha! You know my theory about the paddock."
The guests having been introduced, explanations followed.
"You know my theory," began old Mr, Brown.
"Yes, rather; I should think we do," interrupted Millie, leading him
to the most comfortable armchair "But," she quoted, "you are old, Mr.
Brown; do you think at your age it is right?"
"Well, the theory's smashed, anyhow," said John decisively, "and so's my
"No! no! I won't hear of it," laughed Brown; "I admit the fence, but not
the theory. You see," he went on, turning to Mrs. Robinson, "I've always
insisted, as Smith knows, that there's plenty of landing space in his
paddock, provided you do it up wind. The fact is I glided in to-night
from east to west. Thought I should be dead head on; but I believe I was
a couple of points out in my reckoning and so failed to bring the old
'bus to a stand short of the fence. You know, Smith," he added, with an
injured air, "you ought to have a wind-pointer rigged up so's there'd be
no doubt about it."
"Just to encourage reckless old gentlemen to smash up my premises, I
suppose," retorted John. "But I admit I found some consolation for my
smashed fence when I observed the pathetic appearance of your under
carriage, after your famous landing."
"And now," said Millie to Mr. Brown, "all will be forgotten and forgiven
if you'll come into the drawing-room and let Mr. and Mrs. Robinson hear
you sing that jolly song about
"'Come and have a flip
In a big H Pip,' etc.
* * * * *
"The egg shortage notwithstand, the Easter egg rolling carnival at
Preston, which dates back to mediaeval times, was, after a lapse of
four years, celebrated with great musto."
Pre-war eggs, apparently.
* * * * *
ANOTHER CANDID CANDIDATE.
"---- BOARD OF GUARDIANS.
"Mrs. ---- desires to thank all who voted so splendidly, placing her at
the top of the pole."
* * * * *
"The queue at one part of the morning extended from the booking
office, past the Midland Station entrance, into City Square,
along the front of the Queen's Hotel, to the top of
Better than the middle of next week, anyhow.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Voice_. "IS THAT THE GREAT SOUTHERN RAILWAY?"
_Voice_. "ARE YOU THE PASSENGER DEPARTMENT?"
_Flapper_. "NO, I'M THE GOODS."]
* * * * *
[Illustration: _The Village Oracle._ "YOU MARK MY WORDS--THESE 'ERE
GERMANS 'LL DO US DOWN AT THIS FINISH. THEY'LL PAY THE BLOOMIN' SIX
THOUSAND MILLIONS, OR WOTEVER IT IS, IN THREEPENNY BITS; AND THEN 'OO
THE 'ELL'S GOING TO COUNT IT?"]
* * * * *
"AS YOU WERE."
A MEMORY OF MI-CAREME.
Chippo Munks is a regular time-serving soldier, as distinguished from
the amateurs who only joined the Army for the sake of a war. His company
conduct-sheet runs into volumes, and in peace-time they fix a special
peg outside the orderly-room for him to hang his cap on. At present he
systematically neglects the functions of billet-orderly at a Base town
A month or two ago he came across Chris Jones.
"Fined fourteen days' pay," said Chippo; "an' cheap it was at the price.
But the financial embarrassment thereby followin' puts me under the
necessity of borrowing the loan of a five-spotter."
"How did it happen?" said Chris, playing for time.
"'Twas this way," said Chippo. "The other night I was walking down the
Roo Roobray, thinking out ways of making you chaps more comfortable in
the billet, as is my custom. Suddenly out of the gloom there looms a Red
Indian in full war-paint.
"'Strange,' thinks I. 'Chinks an' Portugoose we expects here, likewise
Annamites and Senegalese an' doughboys; but I never heard that the
BUFFALO BILL aggregation had taken the war-path.'
"He passes, and a little Geisha comes tripping by. I rubs my eyes an'
says, 'British Constitootian' correctly; but she was followed by a Gipsy
King and a Welsh Witch. Then I sees a masked Toreador coming along, and
I decides to arsk him all about it. The language question didn't worry
me any. I can pitch the cuffer in any bat from Tamil to Arabic, an' the
only chap I couldn't compree was a deaf-an'-dumb man who suffered from
St. Vitus' Dance, which made 'im stutter with his fingers.
"'Hi, caballero,' says I, 'where's the bull-fight?'
"'It isn't a bull-fight, M'sieur,' he replies. 'It's Mi-Careme.'
"'If he's an Irishman,' I says, 'I never met him; but if it's a kind of
pastry I'll try some.'
"Then he shows me a doorway through which they was all entering, and
beside it was a big yellow poster which said, '_Mi-Careme. Grand Bal
Costume. Cavaliers, 2 francs. Dames, 1 franc 50 centimes.'_
"'I'd love to be a cavalier at two francs a time,' I remarks. 'Besides,
I want to make the farther acquaintance of little Perfume of Pineapple
Essence who passed by just now.'
"'It will be necessary to 'ave a costume, M'sieur,' says Don Rodrigo.
"'Trust me,' I answers with dignity; 'I've won diplomas as a fancy-dress
"I goes to my billet and investigates the personal effects of my
colleagues. My choice fell on a Cameron kilt, a football jersey and a
shrapnel helmet. These I puts into a bundle an' hikes back to the Hall
"'May I ask what M'sieur represents?' said the doorkeeper as I paid my
"'I haven't started yet,' I answers asperiously. 'I assumes my costume
as APPIUS CLAUDIUS in the dressing-room.'
"Well, when I'd finished my toilette--regrettin' the while that I
hadn't brought a pair of spurs to complete the costume--I entered the
ball-room. It was a scene of East-end--I mean Eastern--splendour.
Carmens an' Father Timeses, Pierrots an' Pierrettes, Pompadours an'
Apaches was gyrating to the soft strains of the orchestra, who perspired
at the piano in his shirt-sleeves.
"All of a sudden I saw my little Geisha, my Stick of Scented
Brilliantine, waltzing with the Toreador, an' my heart started beating
holes in my football jersey. When the orchestra stopped playing to light
a cigarette I sought her out.
"'O Choicest of the Fifty-seven Varieties,' I says, 'deign to give me
your honourable hand for the next gladiatorial jazz.'
"The Bull-fighter looked black, but she put her little hand in mine an'
we trod a stately measure. Every now an' then a shadow passed o'er the
ballroom, an' I knew it was the Toreador scowling. But I took no notice
of him, an' we danced nearly everything on the menu, Don Rodrigo only
getting an odd item now an' then to prevent him dying of grief.
"By-an'-by the Geisha said she must be going, so I offered to escort her
home. Don Roddy tried to butt in, and when he got the frozen face he
used langwidge more like a cow-puncher than a bull-fighter. I didn't
trouble to change my clothes, because it seemed to be the custom to walk
about like freaks at Mi-Careme, and we had a lovely promenade in the
"When I returned the revelry was nearly over an' the orchestra was
getting limp. I went into the cloak-room to change my clothes, but I
couldn't find 'em anywhere. What annoyed me most about it was that there
was five francs in my trouser pockets which I was saving to pay you back
the loan I borrered last week."
"I wondered when you were going to say something about that," said Chris
"It fair upset me," continued Chippo. "And then all at once I saw my old
pal the Toreador sneaking out of the door with a bundle an' the leg of
a pair of khaki trousers hanging out of it. I gave a wild whoop an' was
after him like the wind.
"Don Roddy was some runner. He doubled down the Roo Roubray, dodged
round a corner an' made for the Grand Pont. I was gaining on him fast
when I plunked into the arms of two Military Police.
"'What particular specie of night-bird do you call yourself?' said one
of 'em, holding my arm in a grip of iron.
"'I'm a Sergeant-drummer in the Roman-Legion,' says I, trying to get
away. 'An' I'm in a hurry.'
"'Well, where's your pass?'
"'We don't wear 'em in our battalion,' I says. 'For heving's sake let me
go. There's a chap over there trying to pinch my wardrobe.'
"It was no use. They held me tight, notwithstandin' me struggles, till
the Toreador disappeared from view over the bridge.
"'That's done it. I'll go quietly,' I groans to the M.P.'s in
despair. 'That's Chris Jones's five francs gone west, and nuthen else
"Well," said Chris Jones, "what then?"
"The rest you knows," said Chippo plaintively, "exceptin' that later my
clothes was mysteriously dumped at th' billet with the pockets empty.
But I think the distressing circumstances are such as warrants me in
arsking fer the loan of another five francs."
"They would be," said Chris Jones, fumbling with his wallet, "only I
happened to be the Toreador myself. But you can have the same old five
francs back, an' be 'as you were'!"
* * * * *
[Illustration: "CAN I 'AVE THE AFTERNOON OFF TO SEE A BLOKE ABAHT A JOB
FER MY MISSIS?"
"YOU'LL BE BACK IN THE MORNING, I SUPPOSE?"
"YUS--IF SHE DON'T GET IT."]
* * * * *
HOW TO PLAY GOLF WITH YOUR HEAD.
"He cocked his head up when playing his approach and hit it all
along the carpet."
* * * * *
AS YOU LIKE IT OR DON'T.
SCENE.--_Bois do Boulogne_.
_Orlando (reading from sheet of paper)._
I should be extremely gloomy
If they pinched from me my Fiume.
[_Pins composition on tree._
Hang there, my verse, in witness of my love. [_Exit_.
* * * * *
ANOTHER IMPENDING APOLOGY.
"If this pianist is not heard again in Shanghai, he will carry away
with him the grateful thanks of our music-lovers."
* * * * *
"This debate will immediately precede the introduction of the
Budget, and will, let us hope, inaugurate a campaign for national
Ah! if only, as taxpayers, we could dig ourselves in!
* * * * *
THE HOUSING QUESTION.
Someone estimated the other day that England is short just now of five
hundred thousand houses. This is a miscalculation. She is really short
of five hundred thousand and one, the odd one being the house that we
are looking for and cannot find.
We have discovered many houses in our tour of London, but none that
gives complete satisfaction. Either the locality or the shape or the
price is all wrong; or, as more often happens, the fixtures. By the
fixtures I mean, of course, the people who are already in the place and
refuse to come out of it; London is full of houses with the wrong people
"I wonder," says Celia, standing outside some particularly desirable
residence, "if we dare go in and ask them if they wouldn't like to
"We can't live there unless they do," I agreed. "It would be so
"After all, I suppose they took it from somebody else some time or
other. I don't see why we shouldn't take it from _them_."
"As soon as they put a 'TO LET' board outside we will."
Celia hangs about hopefully for some days after this, waiting for a man
to come along with a "TO LET" board over his shoulder. As soon as he
plants it in the front garden she means to rush forward, strike out the
"TO," and present herself to the occupier with her cheque-book in her
hand. It is thus, she assures me, that the best houses are snapped up;
but it is weary waiting, and I cannot take my turn on guard, for I must
stay at home and earn the money which the landlord (sordid fellow) will
Sometimes we search the advertisement columns in the papers in the hope
of finding something that may do.
"Here's one," I announced one morning; "'For American millionaires and
others. Fifteen bathrooms--' Oh, no, that's too big."
"Isn't there anything for English hundredaires?" said Celia.
"Here's one that says 'reasonable offer taken.'"
"Yes, but I don't suppose we reason the same way as he does."
"Well, here's one for four thousand pounds. That's not so bad. I mean as
a price, not as a house."
"Have you got four thousand pounds?"
"No; I was hoping _you_ had."
"Couldn't you mortgage something--up to the hilt?"
"We'll have a look," I said.
We spent the rest of that day looking for something to mortgage, but
found nothing with a hilt at all high up.
"Anyhow," I said, "it was a rotten house."
"Wouldn't it be simpler," said Celia, "to put in an advertisement
ourselves, describing exactly the sort of house we want? That's the way
I always get servants."
"A house is so much more difficult to describe than a cook."
"Oh, but I'm sure _you_ could do it. You describe things so well."
Feeling highly flattered, I retired to the library and composed.
For the first hour or so I tried to do it in the _staccato_ language of
house-agents. They say all they want to say in five lines; I tried to
say all we wanted to say in ten. The result was hopeless. We both agreed
that we should hate to live in that sort of house. Celia indeed seemed
to feel that if I couldn't write better than that we couldn't afford to
live in a house at all.
"You don't seem to realise," I said, "that in the ordinary way people
pay _me_ for writing. This time, so far from receiving any money, I have
actually got to hand it out in order to get into print at all. You can
hardly expect me to give my best to an editor of that kind."
"I thought that the artist in you would insist on putting your best into
_everything_ that you wrote, quite apart from the money."
Of course after that the artist in me had to pull himself together. An
hour later it had delivered itself as follows:--
"WANTED, an unusual house. When I say unusual I mean that it mustn't
look like anybody's old house. Actually it should contain three
living-rooms and five bedrooms. One of the bedrooms may be a
dressing-room, if it is quite understood that a dressing-room does not
mean a cupboard in which the last tenant's housemaid kept her brushes.
The other four bedrooms must be a decent size and should get plenty of
sun. The exigencies of the solar system may make it impossible for the
sun to be always there, but it should be around when wanted. With regard
to the living-rooms, it is essential that they should not be square
but squiggly. The drawing-room should be particularly squiggly; the
dining-room should have at least an air of squiggliness; and the third
room, in which I propose to work, may be the least squiggly of the
three, but it _must_ be inspiring, otherwise the landlord may not obtain
his rent. The kitchen arrangements do not interest me greatly, but they
will interest the cook, and for this reason should be as delightful as
possible; after which warning anybody with a really bad basement on his
hands will see the wisdom of retiring from the _queue_ and letting the
next man move up one. The bathroom should have plenty of space, not only
for the porcelain bath which it will be expected to contain, but also
(as is sometimes forgotten) for the bather after he or she has stepped
out of the bath. The fireplaces should not be, as they generally are,
utterly beastly. Owners of utterly beastly fireplaces may also move out
of the queue, but they should take their places up at the end again in
case they are wanted; for, if things were satisfactory otherwise, their
claims might be considered, since even the beastliest fireplace can be
dug out at the owner's expense and replaced with something tolerable.
"A little garden would be liked. At any rate there must be a view of
trees, whether one's own or somebody else's.
"As regards position, the house must be in London. I mean really in
London. I mean really in central London. The outlying portions of
Kensington, such as Ealing, Hanwell and Uxbridge, are no good.
Cricklewood, Highgate, New Barnet and similar places near Portman Square
are useless. It must be in London--in the middle of London.
"Now we come to rather an important matter. Rent. It is up to you to say
how much you want; but let me give you one word of warning. Don't be
absurd. You aren't dealing now with one of those profiteers who remained
(with honour) in his own country. And you can have our flat in exchange,
if you like--well, it isn't ours really, it's the landlord's, but we
will introduce you to him without commission. Anyway, don't be afraid of
saying what you want; if it is absurd (and I expect it will be) we will
tell you so. And if you _must_ have a lump sum instead of an annual one,
well, perhaps we could manage to borrow it (from you or somebody); but
smaller annual lumps would be preferred."
When I had written it out I handed it to Celia.
"There you are," I said, "and, speaking as an artist, I don't see how I
can make it a word shorter."
She read it carefully through.
"It does sound a jolly house," she said wistfully. "Would it cost a lot
as an advertisement?"
"About the first year's rent. And even then nobody would take it
"Oh, well, perhaps I'd better go and see another agent." She fingered
the advertisement regretfully. "It seems a pity to waste this," she
added with a smile.
But the artist in me was already quite resolved that it should not be
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Lady_. "POOR DEAR! AND SO THEY REJECTED IT? IT'S A
SHAME--THEY OUGHT TO SET YOU SIMPLER SUBJECTS."]
* * * * *
A THREATENED SOURCE OF REVENUE.
The POSTMASTER-GENERAL and the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER are at this
moment the most melancholy of men. For the last few months they had been
quietly chuckling to themselves over one of the most brilliant ideas
that ever adorned the annals of Government. But the best laid schemes
gang aft agley.
While publicists and economic experts were shaking their grey hairs over
the prospect of national bankruptcy, the P.M.G. and the C. of E. were
weeping jazz tears of joy as the national debt lifted before their
eyes "like mist unrolled on the morning wind." And then certain
unsophisticated Members of a new, a very new, House of Commons began
their deadly work. As a result the main scheme of national solvency is
There are those who still think that the franchise was extended to women
merely as an objective piece of political justice. I hate cynicism, and
I should be the last to throw cold water on an ideal, but, as I said,
the real fruits of that political master-stroke are in danger.
While millions of enfranchised women were quietly engaged in writing
twice a week to their particular Member, at three half-pence a time (or
more), they were unconsciously assisting the considered policy of His
Majesty's Government, which was that such letters should be written and
remain unanswered; that more letters and still more should be written,
stamped and posted to demand an answer, and that still more should be
written to friends and relations exposing the grave lack of courtesy at
But, alas! certain Members, with monumental naivete, have thought fit
to take their correspondence seriously. They have put questions to
Ministers. They have in so many crude words openly on the floor of the
House referred to "the increase in the number of letters which Members
now receive from their constituents on parliamentary matters, owing to
the recent additions to the franchise and its extension to women."
They have pleaded for the privilege of "franking" their answers. Could
perversity go further? What woman will continue to write to a Member who
satisfies her curiosity? And what of the unwritten, unstamped, unposted
letters of just indignation to friends and relations?
The P.M.G.'s laconic answer to this monstrous request, "I do not think
it would be expedient," was highly commendable as a feat of Ministerial
restraint. But the gloom that has settled on him is only too solidly
grounded. These afflicted Members are out to raise a sentimental
public opinion in support of their silly demand. Then, of course, the
Government will capitulate, and the country will go Bolshevik from
Will not all patriotic women constituents write at once to their Members
and point out the folly of this agitation?
* * * * *
[Illustration: "I SHALL NEVER FIND ANYONE ELSE LIKE YOU. YOU SEE, YOU'RE
SO DIFFERENT FROM OTHER GIRLS."
"OH, BUT YOU'LL FIND LOTS OF OTHER GIRLS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER GIRLS."]
* * * * *
They dug us down and earthed us in, their hasty shovels plying,
Us the poor dead of Oudenarde, Ramillies, Waterloo;
We heard their drum-taps fading and their trumpet fanfares dying
As they marched away and left us, in the dark and silence lying,
Home-bound for happy England and the green fields that we knew.
We slept. The seasons went their round. We did not hear the rover
Winds in our coverlets of grass, the plough-shares tear the mould;
We did not feel the bridal earth thrill to her April lover
Nor hear the song of bees among the poppies and the clover;
Snow-fall or sun to us were one and time went by untold.
We woke. The soil about us shook to the long boom of thunder--
War loose and making music on his crashing brazen gongs--
The sharp hoof-beat, the thresh of feet stirred our old bones down under;
Wheels upon wheels ground overhead; then with a glow of wonder
We heard the chant of Englishmen singing their marching songs.
Blood of our blood! We heard them swing a-down the teeming highways,
As we swung once. We heard them shout; we heard the jests they cast.
And we dead men remembered then blue Junes in Devon by-ways,
Star-dusted skies and women's eyes, women with sweet and shy ways.
These were their race! We strove to rise, but the strong clay held us fast.
Year in, year out, along the roads the ceaseless wagons clattered;
Listened we for an English voice ever, ever in vain;
Far in the west, year out, year in, terrible thunders battered,
Drumming the doom of whom--of whom? Hope in our hearts lay shattered....
Then we heard the lilt of Highland pipes and English songs again.
On, ever on, we heard them press; their jaunty bugles blended
Proudly and clear that we might hear, we dead men of old wars,
How the red agony was passed and the long vigil ended.
Now may we sleep in peace again lapped in a vision splendid
Of England's banners marching onwards, upwards to the stars.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE MILITARY MUZZLE.
FRITZ. "AFTER ALL, IT'S NOT MUCH GOOD BARKING WHEN THEY'VE STOPPED MY
* * * * *
[Illustration: OUR SENSITIVE YOUTH.
_Cadet_. "'SCUSE ME, SIR--ARE YOU A DOCTOR? THERE'S A BOY FAINTED."
_Doctor_. "AH--FATIGUE, I SUPPOSE?"
_Cadet_. "No, SIR. THE SERGEANT SPLIT AN INFINITIVE."]
* * * * *
BRAINS AND BALDNESS.
BY OUR MEDICAL EXPERT.
(_With acknowledgments to "The Times"_).
Baldness among men is undoubtedly on the increase, and various reasons
have been assigned for its appearance in an exacerbated form. In
particular the stress and strain of the War have been mooted, and the
argument is reinforced by such words as Chauvinism, which, Mr. LLOYD
GEORGE is probably not aware, is derived from _chauve_. War is a solvent
of equanimity; in the cant but expressive phrase it becomes harder to
keep one's hair on. Again, _inter arma silent Musae_. Fewer people have
been playing the pianoforte, an exercise which has always exerted a
stimulating effect on the follicles. Our political correspondent at
Paris writes that M. PADEREWSKI'S once luxuriant _chevelure_ has
suffered sadly since he has taken to politics, but that after playing
for a couple of hours to Mr. BALFOUR a distinct improvement was
But no very clear exposition of the subject has yet been forthcoming,
and this is all the more extraordinary when it is considered that
baldness is really a very unsightly and distressing condition.
The sensitiveness of JULIUS CAESAR on this score is notorious. CIMABUE,
of whom Mr. LLOYD GEORGE has probably never heard, was a martyr to
_alopecia seborrhoica_, and the case of the Highland chieftain MacAssar
is too well known to call for detailed survey. Yet the strange fact
remains that hitherto sustained scientific investigation has been
lacking, though there is assuredly a great, if not perhaps a vital, need
for it. No one can afford to say that, if this apparently, simple
malady were studied, facts of the utmost value to hatters would not
be forthcoming. One can only express regret that those fortunate
interviewers who have been allowed to describe the cranial developments
of eminent men should have failed to profit by their opportunities for
examining the "area of baldness," which corresponds to the distribution
of the Vth nerve, the branches of which come out from the brain by the
eye-sockets. Such investigations will never be properly carried out and
co-ordinated without the establishment of a Hair Ministry, which is one
of the clamant needs of reconstruction. It is an open secret that the
question was discussed a year ago and set aside for the curious reason
that of the three persons whose candidature was most powerfully
supported two were bald, and the third was the Member for Wigan.
Meanwhile a start has been made by the unofficial activities of a small
committee of experts in trichology, and their conclusions, published in
an interim report, are worth recording. They are as follows: "That the
'area of baldness,' should an illness supervene, will certainly suffer
to a greater extent than the more vigorous ones. Illness, as is well
known, tends to interfere with the nourishment of the skin and to
establish an atrophic diathesis of the follicular ganglia. The patient's
hair may all come out, or, and this often happens, it may come out only
in one area--the area of baldness."
In a minority report, signed by only one of the committee, the strange
theory was expounded that genius developed in a direct ratio with the
loss of hair between the temporal regions and the crown of the head.
It was also pointed out that in a great number of TURNER'S pictures a
special feature was the prominence given to bald-headed fishermen in
high lights. This observation does not seem to represent a scientific
attempt to handle the problem; but it should not be rashly dismissed on
In a further article we hope to deal with the effect of hard hats on
the conductivity of the branches of the Vth nerve, the mentality of the
Hairy Ainus and other cognate questions.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Mr. 'Iggins (describing his first experience in
lawsuit)._ "'IS LORDSHIP SEZ, 'YOU CAN GO. THE CASE IS ADJOURNED
_SINE DIE_. WELL, I WASN'T GOING TO LET 'IM THINK I DIDN'T RUMBLE 'IS
LAW-TALK, SO I JUS' GIVES 'IM A WINK AN' SEZ, 'RIGHT-O! GOOD BYE-EE!'"]
* * * * *
_Valparaiso, April 18th_. (By special cable to _The Daily
Thrill_.)--Three men, named Fedor Popemoff, Leon Strunski and Igor
Wunderbaum, were arrested here this morning on suspicion of being
Bolshevist agents. Their lodging was searched and a quantity of
seditious literature, a portmanteau full of Browning pistols and some
hanks of dried caviare removed. At a preliminary examination they
claimed that they had been sent to Chile by the Siberian Red Cross to
establish a co-operative guinea-pig ranch for indigent Grand Dukes. The
police believe that Wunderbaum is no other than the notorious McDuff,
the Peebles anarchist, who, when not actively engaged in preaching
revolution, used to earn a precarious livelihood contributing to the
Scottish comic papers.
_Moscow, April 17th_ (delayed). (By the Special Correspondent of _The
Morning Roast_.)--By intervening in Russia at once the Allies can
destroy Bolshevism at a blow. Three days hence the Red hordes may be
sweeping across Western Europe in an irresistible flood. At the present
moment Trotsky has less than one thousand one hundred and thirty-five
trustworthy troops all told, mostly Chinese, with a smattering of Army
Service Corps. In a month's time he will have a million and a half of
well-trained soldiers at his beck. Don't ask me how he does it. He
has plenty of money and his Army is well paid. Only yesterday I saw a
private of the Red Guards pay five roubles for a hair-cut. Will it be
another case of "Too late"?
_New York, April 18th._ (By special cable to _The Daily Thrill_.)--While
truffle-tracking in the Saratoga forest a corporal and three men of the
United States Marines came upon what is believed to be a _cache_ of
Bolshevist arms. The _cache_ contained six 9-inch howitzers, two hundred
thousand rifles and a million rounds of ammunition, and was skilfully
concealed under the bole of a tree. Secret service men claim that this
is part of a gigantic plot for the disorganization of traffic, the
nationalization of cocktails and the wresting of Ireland from the
strangulating grip of the Anglo-Saxon party. Two men have been arrested
in Seattle in connection with the affair. On one of them was found
Bolshevist literature and two hundred million francs in notes of the
Deutsche Bank. He admitted that his name was not Devlin and said that
the money had been given to him to hold by an Australian soldier who had
not returned for it.
_Moscow, April 19th._ (From the Special Correspondent of _The Daily
Blues_.)--I have just had a chat with Hackoff, the confidant of Trotsky.
He indignantly denied that Russia was in a state of anarchy and pointed
out that one hundred and twenty-three thousand one hundred and nine
persons had already been executed for conduct likely to cause a breach
of the peace. There can be no question that the man is sincere. He was
very despondent, and stated that, owing to false reports spread by the
Allies, the Bolshevist paper money had become worthless, except in
Paris, where they would take anything you had on you. He urged that
unless an arrangement could be made with the United States for a loan
or Colonel Wedgwood would consent to take command of the Red Army the
counter-revolution could no longer be resisted. Hackoff is a shrewd
fellow, but neither he nor Trotsky can cope with the situation much
longer. Only last week I telegraphed Mr. Lloyd George that England must
act at once if we are to save Bolshevism from being nothing better than
a Utopian dream.
_Wilna, April 20th._ (By special cable to _The Morning Roast_.)--Five
hundred thousand Red Guards, well supplied with heavy artillery and
German engineers (_Wurmtruppen_), are advancing on the town. The Church
Lads Brigade are parading the streets day and night to prevent looting.
Outwardly the Burgomaster remains calm, but this morning he told me,
with tears in his eyes, that unless three carloads of potatoes reached
the doomed city before next Friday nothing could save it. "Ah," he
cried, "if only rich England would send us some of her tinned milk!"
_Stockholm, April 21st._ (From the Special Correspondent of _The Daily
Thrill_.)--An extraordinary incident has come to light here. While the
baggage of Mlle. Orloff, the famous _danseuse_, was being unloaded at
the pier a heavy trunk dropped from the sling and crashed on to the
wharf. Rendered suspicious by the lady's unaccountable agitation,
Customs officers searched the trunk and found at the bottom of it six
hundred million pounds in bank-notes and a Russian named Oilivitch, who
at first claimed to be a scenic artist, but finally admitted that he had
been appointed by Lenin ambassador to the Netherlands. Communication
with Scotland Yard has now established the astounding fact that he is
the Abram Oilivitch who in 1914 kept a fish-and-chips shop in Lower
Tittlebat Street, Houndsditch. Oilivitch first came under suspicion when
it was discovered that Litvinoff had been seen to purchase a haddock at
his shop. He was also known to have contributed eighteen-pence to the
funds of the Union of Democratic Control, but afterwards recovered the
sum, claiming that he had paid it under the erroneous belief that
the Union of Democratic Control was an institution for extending
philanthropy to decaying fishmongers. After disappearing from sight for
a while Oilivitch was next heard of in the Censor's Department, from
which he was removed for suppressing a number of postal orders, but
afterwards reinstated and transferred to the Foreign Office. He left the
Foreign Office in June, 1918, as the result of ill-health, and was given
a passport to Russia, where his medical adviser resided.
_Later_.--It now transpires that Oilivitch was also employed at the
Admiralty, the War Office and the National Liberal Club. It has also
been established that he was born in Duesseldorf and that his real name
is Gustaf Schnapps. He is being detained on suspicion.
_Moscow, April 23rd._ (By special cable to _The Daily Blues_.)--The
situation here, thanks to the preposterous conduct of the Allies,
is desperate. Food is unobtainable and Trotsky has only one pair
of trousers. Unless something is done the Soviet Committee will
disintegrate and chaos ensue. Already grave unrest is manifesting itself
in various parts of the country. Hackoff, the able Minister of Justice
and Sociology, tells me that he has already raised the weekly executions
of bourgeoisie from six to ten thousand, in a desperate endeavour to
prevent disorder on the part of the populace. It is not too late for
the Peace Conference to act. Trotsky admitted to me yesterday that,
on receipt of fifty thousand pounds and a new pair of trousers as a
guarantee of good faith, he would allow the Big Four to present their
case to him. He is firm on the subject of an indemnity and the execution
of Mr. Bottomley. Otherwise he is moderation itself. But the Allies must
act at once. To-morrow will be too late.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Pupil_. "WHAT I WANT TO KNOW IS, AM I A BASS OR A
_Teacher_. "NO--YOU'RE NOT."]
* * * * *
"If births can be arranged would not mind taking charge of children
in lieu of passage."
_Advt. in "Statesman." (Calcutta)._
* * * * *
"It is unsafe even to curry favour with the French just to spite
your own Prim Minister."
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE has been called a lot of things in his time, but--prim!
* * * * *
From a concert programme:--
"Recitatif et Grand air D'oedipe a Cologne."
It was after the long march to the Rhine, no doubt, that the hero
acquired the nickname of "Swellfoot."
* * * * *
THE DREAM TELEPHONE.
I go to bed at half-past six
And Nurse says, "No more funny tricks;"
She takes the light and goes away
And all alone up there I stay.
And, as I lie there all alone,
Sometimes I hear the telephone;
I hear them say, "Yes, that's all right,"
Then, "Buzz, buzz, buzz," and then "Good-night."
And sometimes as I lie it seems
That people come into my dreams;
I hear a bell ring far away,
And then I hear the people say:
"Have you a little girl up there,
The room that's by the Nursery stair?
We are the people that she knew
Before she came to live with you.
"Tell her we know she bruised her knee
In falling from the apple-tree;
Tell her that we'll come very soon
And find the missing tea-set spoon.
"She knows we often come and peep
And kiss her when she's fast asleep;
We think you'll suit her soon all right."
Then, "Buzz, buzz, buzz," and then, "Good-night."
* * * * *
ANOTHER KNOCK FOR "THE TIMES."
"_WE_ ARE BACKING NORTHCLIFFE."
_Poster of "John Bull."_
* * * * *
[Illustration: "I SUPPOSE YOUR LANDLORD ASKS A LOT FOR THE RENT OF THIS
"A LOT! HE ASKS ME FOR IT NEARLY EVERY WEEK."]
* * * * *
SCENE.--_Interior of shop devoted to the sale of cutlery, leatherware
and dogs' collars, leads, etc. Customers discovered lining the counter,
others in background leading puzzled and suspicious dogs. The proprietor
is endeavouring to serve ordinary purchasers, answer questions, punch
holes in straps and give change simultaneously. A harried assistant in a
white coat is dealing, as well as he can, with overwhelming demands for
_Proprietor_. Yes, Sir, you'll find that razor-strop quite... Six holes
wanted in that strap? (_To Assistant_) Right--leave it here and--Sorry,
Madam, I can't attend to you just now.... Don't happen to have a
_ten_-shilling note, do you, Sir? No? Well, I may be able to manage it
for you.... If you'll speak to my assistant, Madam; _he_'s attending to
_The Owner of a subdued nondescript (calling Assistant)._ Will you ask
this lady to kindly keep her dog from trying to kill mine, please?
_The Other Lady (whose dog, a powerful and truculent Airedale, seems to
have conceived a sudden and violent dislike for the nondescript)._
Yours must have done _something_ to irritate him--he's generally such a
_Assistant (to the Airedale, which is barking furiously and straining at
his lead)._ 'Ere, sherrup, will you? Allow me, Mum. I'll put 'im where
he can 'ave 'is good temper out to 'imself. _(He hustles the Airedale to
a small office, where he shuts him in--to his and his owner's intense
disapproval. A fox-terrier in another customer's arms becomes hysterical
with sympathy and utters ear-rending barks.)_ Oh, kindly get that dawg
to sherrup, Mum, or we'll 'ave the lot of 'em orf; or could you look in
some day when he's more collected?
_Another Lady_. I say, I want a muzzle for my dog.
_Assistant (sardonically)._ You surprise me, Mum! We're very near sold
out, but if you'll let me 'ave a look at your dawg, p'r'aps--
_The Lady_. Oh, I haven't _brought_ him. Left him at Barnes.
_Assistant. 'Ave_ yer, Mum? Well, yer see, I can't run down to
Barnes--not just now I can't.
_The Lady_. No, but I thought--he's rather a large dog, a Pekinese
_Assistant_. Then I couldn't fit 'im if 'e was 'ere, cos 'e'd want a
short muzzle and we've run out o' them.
_A Customer with a Pekinese_. Then will you find me a muzzle for _this_
_Assistant (with resigned despair)._ You jest 'eard me say we 'ad no
short muzzles, Mum. If you don't mind waiting 'ere an hour or two I'll
send a man to the factory in a taxi to bring back a fresh stock--if
they've got any, which I don't guarantee.
_The Customer with the Pekinese._ But I saw some leather muzzles in the
window; one of those would do beautifully.
_Assistant._ I shall 'ave great pleasure in selling you one, Mum, on'y
Gover'ment says they've got to be wire. 'Owever, it's _your_ risk, not
mine. Well, since you ask me, I think you _'ad_ better wait.
_A Customer (carrying a large brown-and-white dog with lop ears and
soulful eyes)._ I've been kept waiting here two hours, and I think it's
_Assistant._ If you'll bring 'im along to the back shop, Mum, I _may_
have one left his size.
_A Lady with a lovely complexion and an unlovely griffon (to her
companion)._ So fussy and tiresome of the Government bringing in muzzles
again after all these years!
_Her Companion._ Oh, I don't _know_. We've had a mysterious dog running
about snapping in our district for days.
_The Lady with the complexion._ Ah, but _this_ poor darling _never_
snaps, and, besides, he hasn't been used to muzzles in Belgium. You
needn't _mention_ it, but I got a friend of mine to smuggle him over for
me--such a _dear_ boy, he'll do anything I ask him to.
_Assistant (after attempting to fit the soulful-eyed dog with a muzzle
and narrowly escaping being bitten)._ There, that's enough for _me_,
Mum. Jest take that dawg out at once, please.
_Owner of the dog (which, having gained its point, affects an air of
innocent detachment)._ I shall do nothing of the kind. It was the brutal
way you took hold of her. The _gentlest_ creature! Why, I've _had_ her
_Assistant._ I don't care if you've 'ad her a century. They're all
angels as come 'ere; but I ain't going to 'ave _my_ thumb bit by no
angels, so will you kindly walk out?
_Owner._ Without a muzzle? Never!
_Assistant._ Then I shall 'ave to call in a constable to make you. I'm
not bound to sell you nothing.
_Owner (with spirit). Call_ a constable then! _I_ don't care. Here I
stay till I get that muzzle.
_Assistant (giving up his idea of calling a constable)._ Then I should
advise you to take a chair, Mum, as we don't close till seven.
_Owner (retreating with dignity)._ All _I_ can say is that I call it
perfectly disgraceful. I shall certainly report your conduct; and I only
hope you won't sell a single other muzzle to-day!
_Assistant._ If I didn't I could bear up. _(To a lady with an elderly
Blenheim)_ If it's a muzzle, Mum--
_The Owner of the Blenheim_. That's just what I want to know. _Must_ he
have a muzzle? You see, he's got no teeth, so he couldn't possibly bite
anyone--now, _could_ he?
_Assistant. I_ dunno, Mum. You take 'im to see the Board of Agriculture.
_They'll_ give you an opinion on 'im. _(To Staff Officer who
approaches)_ Sorry, Sir, but our stock of muzzles--
_Staff Officer._ All I want is a new leather band for this wrist-watch.
_Assistant (with joy)._ Thank 'eaven I _'ave_! Gaw bless the Army!
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Helen's elder Sister._ "YOU KNOW, ALL THE STARS ARE
WORLDS LIKE OURS."
_Helen._ "WELL, I SHOULDN'T LIKE TO LIVE ON ONE--IT WOULD BE SO HORRID
WHEN IT TWINKLED."]
* * * * *
There is a cupboard underneath the stair
Where moth and rust hold undisputed sway,
And here is hid my old civilian wear,
And my wife sits and plays with it all day,
Since Peace is imminent and, I'm advised,
Even the bard may be demobilised.
She is a woman who was clearly born
To be the monarch of a helpless male;
And when she says, "This overcoat is torn,"
"These flannel trousers are beyond the pale,"
"You can't be seen in any of those shirts,"
I acquiesce, but, goodness, how it hurts.
For they are rich with memories of Peace,
The soiled habiliments my lady loathes.
I do not long for trousers with a crease;
I _do not want_ another crowd of clothes--
Particularly as you have to pay
Seventeen guineas for a suit to-day.
We are but worms, we husbands; yet 'tis said,
When the sad worm lies broken and at bay,
There comes a moment when the thing sees red,
And one such moment has occurred to-day;
"Look at this hat," I said, "this old top-hat;
I will not wear another one like that.
"This is the hat I purchased in the High,
Still crude and young and ignorant of sin;
I wooed you in this hat--I don't know why;
This is the hat that I was married in;
In it I walked on Sunday through the parks,
And even then the people made remarks.
"Now it is dead--the last of all its line--
Nothing like this shall mar the poet's Peace;
What have the nations fought for, wet and fine,
If not that ancient tyrannies should cease?
What use the Crowns of Europe coming croppers
If we are still to be the slaves of 'toppers'?
"It speaks to me of many an ancient sore--
Of calls and cards and Sunday afternoon;
Of hideous wanderings from door to door
And choking necks and patent-leather shoon;
'The War is won,' as Mr. ASQUITH said,
And all these evils are or should be dead.
"It moves me not that other men with wives
Have fall'n already in the old abyss,
Have let their women ruin all their lives
And ordered new atrocities like this.
President WILSON will have missed success
If other men determine how I dress.
"Yonder there hangs the helmet of a Hun,
And I will hang this horror at its side;
Twin symbols of an epoch which is done,
These shall remind our children----" My wife sighed,
"You'll have to get another one, I fear;"
And all I said was, "Very well, my dear."
* * * * *
Notice in a cobbler's window:--
"Will customers please bring their own paper for repairs?"
* * * * *
"Miss Carnegie wore a gown of white satin and point applique lace,
with a lace veil falling from a light brown coiffeur almost to the
end of the train."--_Daily Mirror_.
It doesn't say whether the light-brown coiffeur was a page or the best
* * * * *
From an account of the British sailors' reception in Paris:--
"Sous les clamations de la foule, les marins gagnent par les
Champs-Elysees, la rue Royale et le boulevard Malesherbes, le Lycee
Carnot, ou M. Breakfast les attend."--_French Local Paper_.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
"BUSINESS BEFORE PLEASURE."
The return of _Abe Potash_ and _Mawruss Perlmutter_ to London is not
an event to be regarded indifferently. The light-hearted pair have
evidently been through some anxious times. _Rosie Potash_ can never have
been a very easy woman to live with. She has not improved. And now that
she has infected _Ruth Perlmutter_ with her morbid jealousies the alert
and as yet unbroken _Mawruss_ begins to know something of what his
long-suffering, not to say occasionally abject, partner, _Abe_, has had
to endure these many years.
It was bad enough in the dress business. But now they have gone into
films it is indefinitely worse. Every reasonable person must know that
you can't produce really moving pictures without an immense amount of
late office hours, dining and supping out and that sort of thing, a
fact which the _Rosies_ and _Ruths_ of this world can't be expected
to appreciate. So that it would be as well, think the ingenuous
_entrepreneurs_, if _The Fatal Murder_ were, so far as the ladies' parts
are concerned, cast from members of the two households. Besides, what
an excellent way of keeping the money in the family. However _The Fatal
Murder_ is a dud; _Rosie_ and _Ruth_ are not the right shape; and film
acting, with the necessary pep, is not a thing you can just acquire by
What is wanted, says the voluble young hustler in the firm, who
alone seems to know anything of the business, is real actresses as
distinguished from members of the directors' families, and above all a
good vampire. A vampire is the very immoral and under-dressed type of
woman that wrecks hearts and homes, and without which no film with a
high moral purpose is conceivable. You must have shadows to throw up the
light. And on this principle all the uplift and moral instruction of
that potent instrument of grace, the cinematograph, is based--a fact
which will not have escaped the notice of cinema-goers.
When _Rita Sismondi_ appears in an evil Futurist black-and-white gown by
Viola you can tell at once she is the goods. But naturally _Abe's_ first
thought is, "What will _Rosie_ say?" His second, shared by _Mawruss_:
"Hang _Rosie_! We shall both like this lady." Finances are not
flourishing, but the crooked manager of the very unbusinesslike bank
that is financing the P. and P. Film Co. harbours designs on the virtue
of _Rita_, who has this commodity in a measure unusual with film
vampires (or usual, I forget which), and is just a slightly adventurous
prude out for a good time. He accordingly advances more money for _The
Guilty Dollar_ on condition that _Rita_ be engaged, and yet more money
on condition that she be not fired by any machinations of jealous wives.
_Rosie_, indeed, says a good deal when she turns up at a rehearsal and
finds the vampire clad in the third of a gown hazardously suspended
on her gracious shoulders by bead straps, and _Mawruss_ and _Abe_
demonstrating how in their opinion the kissing scenes should be
conducted so as to make a really notable production. However, the
vampire's film vices make the success of the company, and her private
virtues bring all to a happy ending.
The story need hardly concern us. It is not plausible, which matters
nothing at all. Mr. YORKE and Mr. LEONARD are the essential outfit, and
it seems to me they are better than ever. One simply _has_ to laugh,
louder and oftener than is seemly for a self-respecting Englishman. No
doubt their authors, Messrs. GLASS and GOODMAN, give them plenty of good
things to say, but it is the astonishing finish and precision of their
technique which make their work so pleasant to watch. If it throws into
awkward relief the amateurishness of some of their associates that can't
be helped. Miss VERA GORDON'S _Rosie_ is a good performance, and Miss
JULIA BRUNS, the vampire, seemed to me to make with considerable skill
and subtlety a real character (within the limits allowed by the farcical
nature of the scheme) out of what might easily have been uninvitingly
* * * * *
OUR FRIEND THE FISH.
"What is a sardine?" was a question much before the Courts some few
years ago, not unprofitably for certain gentlemen wearing silk, and
the correct solution I never heard; but I can supply, from personal
observation, one answer to the query, and that is, "An essential
ingredient in London humour." For without this small but sapid
fish--whatever he may really be, whether denizen of the Sardinian sea,
immature Cornish pilchard, or mere plebeian sprat well oiled--numbers of
our fellow-men and fellow-women, with all the will in the world, might
never raise a laugh. As it is, thanks to his habit of lying in excessive
compression within his tin tabernacle, and the prevalence in these
congested days of too many passengers on the Tubes, on the Underground
and in the omnibuses, whoever would publicly remove gravity has but to
set up the sardine comparison and be rewarded.
Why creatures so remote from man as fishes--cold-blooded inhabitants of
an element in which man exists only so long as he keeps on the surface;
mute, incredible and incapable of exchanging any intercourse with
him--why these should provide the Cockney, the dweller in the citiest
City of the world, with so much of the material of jocoseness is an
odd problem. But they do. Herrings, when cured either by smoke or sun,
notoriously contribute to the low comedian's success. The mere word
"kipper" has every girl in the gallery in a tittering ecstasy. But
outside the Halls it is the sardine that conquers.
In one day this week I witnessed the triumph of the sardine on three
different occasions, and it was always hearty and complete.
The first time was in a lift at Chancery Lane. It is not normally a very
busy station, but our attendant having, as is now the rule, talked too
long with the attendant of a neighbouring lift, we were more than full
before the descent began. We were also cross and impatient, the rumble,
from below, of trains that we might just us well be in doing nothing to
steady our nerves.
But help came--and came from that strange quarter the mighty ocean, from
Chancery Lane so distant! "Might as well," said a burly labourer (or,
for all I know, burly receiver of unemployment dole)--"might as well be
sardines in a tin!"
Straightway we all laughed and viewed our lost time with more serenity.
Later I was in a 'bus in Victoria Street, on its way to the Strand.
As many persons were inside, seated or standing on their own and on
others' feet, as it should be permitted to hold, but still another two
were let in by the harassed conductress.
"I say, Miss," said the inevitable wag, who was one of the standing
passengers, "steady on. We're more than full up already, you know. Do
you take us for sardines?"
And again mirth rocked us.
Finally, that night I was among the stream of humanity which pours down
Villiers Street from the theatres for half-an-hour or so between 10.40
and 11.10, all in some mysterious way to be absorbed into the trains or
the trams and conveyed home. After some desperate struggles on Charing
Cross platform I found myself a suffering unit in yet another dense
throng in a compartment going West; and again, amid delighted merriment,
some one likened us to sardines.
It is not much of a joke, but you will notice that it so seldom fails
that one wonders why any effort is ever made to invent a better.
* * * * *
[Illustration: "I DIDN'T KNOW YOU KNEW THE FUNNY MAN, SIS."
"I DIDN'T. BUT BY THE TIME I DISCOVERED THAT I DIDN'T--WELL, I DID."]
* * * * *
_(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)_
_Madam Constantia_ (LONGMANS) is a war story, but of an earlier and
more picturesque war. A simple tale, I am bound to call it, revolving
entirely round a situation not altogether unknown to fiction, in which
the hero and heroine, being of opposite sides, love and fight one
another simultaneously. Actually the scene is set during the American
struggle for independence, thus providing a sufficiency of pomp and
circumstance in the way of fine uniforms and pretty frocks; and
the protagonists are _Captain Carter_, of the British service, and
_Constantia Wilmer_, daughter of the American who had captured him.
Perhaps you may recall that the identical campaign has already provided
a very similar position (reversed) in _Miss Elizabeth's Prisoner_. It is
only a deserved tribute to the skill with which Mr. JEFFERSON CARTER
has told this adventure of his namesake to admit that I am left with an
uncertainty, not usual to the reviewing experience, whether it is in
fact a true or an imagined affair. In any event its development follows
a well-trodden path. We have the captive, jealous in honour, susceptible
and exasperatingly Quixotic, doubly enchained by his word and the charms
of his fair wardress; the lady's conspicuous ill-treatment of him at
the first, a slight mystery, some escapes and counterplots, and on the
appointed page the matrimonial finish that hardly the most pessimistic
reader can ever have felt as other than assured. Fact or fiction, you
may spend an agreeable hour in watching the course of _Captain Carter's_
courtship overcoming its rather obvious obstacles.
* * * * *
Because I have so great an admiration for their beneficent activities, I
have always wanted to meet a novel with a lot about dentists in it,
and now Miss DOROTHY M. RICHARDSON, in _The Tunnel_ (DUCKWORTH), has
satisfied my desire. Dentists--a houseful of them--spittoons, revolving
basins; patients going upstairs with sinking feelings; wondering at the
pattern on the wallpaper; going down triumphant. Teeth. Appointment
books. Dentists everywhere. This is not a quotation, but very like
one, for Miss RICHARDSON affects the modern manner. Though one of the
dentists is quite the most agreeable person in the book, he isn't the
hero, because the author is much too clever to have anything of the
sort. Her method, exploited some time ago in that remarkable book,
_Pointed Roofs_, is to get right inside one _Miriam Henderson_ and
keep on writing out her thoughts with as little explanation of her
circumstances as possible, so that _The Tunnel_, to anyone who has
missed the earlier books, must be very nearly unintelligible. Even the
sincere admirer of Miss RICHARDSON'S talent will begin to wonder how
many more books at the present rate of progress must be required to
bring _Miriam_ to, say, threescore years and ten. My own belief is that
if her creator is ever so ill-advised as to put her beneath a 'bus or
drop her down a lift-well, she herself will be gone too; and for that I
should be sorry, since I agree with almost all the nice things Miss MAY
SINCLAIR says of the earlier books in an appreciation here reprinted
from _The Egoist_. Miss RICHARDSON has evolved a way of writing a novel
which somehow suggests the Futurist way of painting a picture; but _The
Tunnel_ has left me wondering whether she has not carried her method a
little too far. It seems to me that some of her heroine's thoughts were
not worth recording; but perhaps when another four or five books have
been added to _Miriam's_ life-history I may discover what the scheme may
be that lies behind them all, and change my mind.
* * * * *
More than once before this I have enjoyed the dexterity of Miss VIOLET
HUNT in a certain type of social satire; but I regret to say that the
expectation with which I opened _The Last Ditch_ (STANLEY PAUL) was
doomed to some disappointment. The idea was promising enough--a study of
our British best people confronting the ordeal of world-war; but somehow
it failed to capture me. For one reason it is told in a series of
letters--a dangerous method at any time. As usual, these are far too
long and literary to be genuine; though they keep up a rather irritating
pretence of reality by repetitions of the same events in correspondence
from different writers. Moreover, letters whose concern is the progress
of recruiting or the novelty of war can hardly at this time avoid an
effect of having been delayed in the post. But all this would have
mattered little if Miss HUNT had chosen her aristocrats from persons in
whom it was possible to take more interest. But the plain fact is that
you never met so tedious a set. They are not witty; they are not even
wicked to any significant extent. They simply produce (at least in my
case) no effect whatever. Perhaps this may all be of intention; the
author may have meant to harrow us with the spectacle of our old
nobility expiring as nonentities. But in that case the picture
is manifestly unfair. And it is certainly dull--dull as the last
* * * * *
In _America in France_ (MURRAY) Lieut. Col. FREDERICK PALMER, a member
of the Staff Corps of the United States Army, sets out to tell the story
of the making of an army. This is the first book by Colonel PALMER that
has come my way, but I find that he has written four others, all of
which I judge by their titles to be concerned with the War. Be that as
it may, I welcome _America in France_ both because it gives a narrative
of America's tremendous effort, and because the book is written with a
modesty which is very pleasing. America came to the job of fighting as a
learner. Her soldiers did not boast of what they were going to do, but
sat down solidly to learn, in order that she might be useful in the
fighting-line. How she achieved her purpose the world now knows. If any
fault is to be found with the author's style, it is that the limpidity
and evenness of its flow make great events less easy of distinction than
perhaps they might be; but most people will hail this as a merit rather
than a fault, and I agree with them. Colonel PALMER records the names of
the first three Americans who died fighting. The French General to whose
unit they were attached ordered a ceremonial parade and made a speech
in which he asked that the mortal remains of these young men be left in
France. "We will," he continued, "inscribe on their tombs, 'Here lie the
first soldiers of the United States to fall on the soil of France for
Justice and Liberty' ... Corporal Gresham, Private Enright, Private Hay,
in the name of France I thank you." As another matter of historical
interest it may be stated that the first shot of the War on the American
side was fired by Battery C of the 6th Field Artillery, "without waiting
on going into position at the time set. The men dragged a gun forward in
the early morning of October 23rd, and sent a shell at the enemy. There
was no particular target. The aim was in the general direction of
Berlin. The gun has been sent to West Point as a relic."
* * * * *
I must assume that _Such Stuff as Dreams_ (MURRAY) was written by C.E.W.
LAWRENCE with a purpose, but it remains obscure to me. A smart young
married clerk in the oil business falls off the top of a bus on to his
head and, from a confirmed materialist, becomes something not unlike a
confirmed lunatic, with a faculty for seeing flaming emanations which
enable him to place the owners of them in the true scale of human and
spiritual values. He discovers that his wife's uncle, a whimsical but
essentially tedious drunkard, is a better man than the egregious New
Religionist pastor--a discovery I made for myself without falling off
a bus. I was forced to the conclusion that these and equally dull, or
duller, folk must exist or have existed, and that it could not possibly
have been necessary to invent them. And if I am right then it obviously
needs a greater sympathy than I can command to do justice to this type
of narrative, with its presuppositions and inferences. Sir A. CONAN
DOYLE has much to answer for.
* * * * *
I do not remember the precise number of murders which occur in _Droonin'
Watter_ (ALLEN AND UNWIN), but readers of this sensational story can
accept my assurance that Mr. J.S. FLETCHER has a quick and decisive way
of meting out justice (or injustice) to his characters. In fact, from
the very start, when a man with a black patch over his eye walks into
Berwick-upon-Tweed and takes lodgings with _Mrs. Moneylaws_ (the mother
of the man who tells the tale), the pace is red-hot. It is easy enough
to discover improbabilities in such a yarn as this, but the only
important question is whether one wants to discover what happens in the
end, and I confess without a blush that I did want to follow Mr. J.S.
FLETCHER to the last page. Let me however beg him in his next book to
give the word "yon" a rest; four "yons" in eleven lines is a clear case
of overcrowding; and I invite the attention of the Limited Labour Party
to this scandal.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Young Sub (a very earnest pilgrim)._ "PLEASE SEND A
LARGE BUNCH OF ROSES TO THE ADDRESS ON THAT CARD AND CHARGE IT TO ME."
_Florist._ "YES, SIR--AND YOUR NAME?"
_Sub._ "OH, NEVER MIND MY NAME--SHE'LL UNDERSTAND."]
* * * * *
"Any owner whose dog shows signs of illness should be chained up
securely."--_Bradford Daily Argus_.
And every other _Argus_ will say the same.
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