Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 156, April 23, 1919
PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI
APRIL 23, 1919
"Hull electors," declared a Radical contemporary, "have dealt the
Coalition a stinging rebuke." But not, as others claim, the _coupon de
_A propos_, a Woking butcher was fined last week for being thirty-two
thousand coupons short. The report that he has since received a letter
of condolence from Mr. LLOYD GEORGE is not confirmed.
A correspondent who has a latchkey would like to hear from a gentleman
who could fit a house to it.
A food inspector at Chatham admitted that he could not tell the
difference between No. 1 grade tinned beef and No. 2 grade. The old
plan of calling one grade Rover and the other Fido seems to have been
abolished since the War.
The EX-CROWN PRINCE, in a recent interview with a Danish newspaper
man, called LUDENDORFF a liar. LUDENDORFF is believed to be preparing
a crushing rejoinder, in which he calls the EX-CROWN PRINCE a
"The new Bolsheviks," says _The Philatelist_, "are fetching eight
shillings a pair." It doesn't say where they are fetching it from, but
it is clear that he loot business has declined since the days of the
The United States Government has purchased four million pounds of
frozen chickens for the American army. They are to be tested by
inspectors before shipment to determine whether they are edible. What
is known in scientific circles as the Soho standard of resilience will
probably be applied.
Burglars have broken into an East End moneylender's office. It is not
known definitely how much they lost.
The five hundred pounds in notes recently lost by a London hotel guest
have now been recovered. It appears that a waiter had mistaken them
for a gratuity.
The Metropolitan police are trying to establish the identity of a man
who can give no account of himself and who knows nothing about the
War. The fact that he was not wearing red tabs only adds to the
"Some men dance the Jazz dance," says a contemporary, "because it is
stimulating." It is not known why the others do it.
A squirrel having been stolen from the Zoo, it is said that the
authorities are taking no further risks, and that in future all lions
and tigers will be securely chained to their cages.
It is reported that a much-advertised motor-car, after having its
engine removed, ran for seven miles on its reputation alone.
With reference to the report that a service man had received a letter
from the Intelligence Department admitting that a certain mistake was
due to a clerical error, it is now reported that this admission was
due to another oversight.
A terrible tragedy was only just averted last week, when a husband,
who had travelled from the City by tube, and his wife, who had been
to the Spring bargain sales, failed to recognise each other on their
The War Office, the Board of Trade and the Zoo have formed a Triple
Alliance for a campaign against rats. As a result of this it is said
that quite a number of the more timid rodents are afraid to go out
alone after dark.
The Society of Public Analysts has been asked by the Food Ministry to
define a sausage. A number of pedigree sausages are to be submitted
The Minister of Foreign Affairs in the late Bavarian Soviet Government
has been placed in a lunatic asylum. The reason for this invidious
distinction is not assigned.
* * * * *
MR. CHURCHILL ON THE HULL ELECTION:
"Nothing in these reactions should be taken by the Government
as in any way deflecting them from their clear and definite
course of reviving the posterity of this country."--_Daily
All very well, but they must get it born first.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Old-fashioned humorous Cow_ (_suddenly_). "Moo!"
_Lady_ (_who all last year was a land-worker_). "Pooh!"]
* * * * *
To such as have a humorous bent
Pleasant indeed it was to cull
From rival organs what was meant
By the enlightened vote of Hull;
What process of the mind (if any) drove her
To execute that ludicrous turn-over.
Some held the Peace was too severe,
And others not severe enough;
The latter cried, "The cause is clear--
LLOYD GEORGE is made of flabby stuff;"
The former took the line that he had blundered
In letting Fritz (their friend) be grossly "plundered."
Then came a still small voice which said,
"The thing that sent the coupon West
Was Woman; something in her head
Told her that second thoughts were best;
To Party laws she hasn't learnt to knuckle
(This was the view advanced by Mr. BUCKLE).
"Men know a 'pledge's' worth by now;
They take it with a touch of salt;
To Woman 'tis a sacred vow,
And for the least alleged default
She gives her Chosen One no minute's grace,
But treats it like a breach-of-promise case."
O "Ministering Angels," ye
Who yet are mobile as the breeze,
Have you alone the right to be
"Uncertain, coy and hard to please?"
Our Ministerial Angels (GEORGE and kind)--
Aren't they allowed, poor males, to change their mind?
* * * * *
Mr. Phillybag was demobilised. The Day had come. For months he had
dreamed of the possibility--had imagined the joy and alacrity with
which he would doff his cap, tunic and trousers, service dress, one
each, and resume the decent broadcloth of a successful City solicitor.
Strangely enough, however, once he was actually demobilised he
found himself in no hurry to lose the garb which showed that he, Mr.
Phillybag, had helped, you know, to put the kybosh on the KAISER. He
was proud too of the corporal's stripes which he had gained in a very
short Army career.
That explains why he was in uniform this morning in his office, when
he opened a letter from Ernest Williams, his former junior clerk. He
remembered Williams well--how in the early days of the War that youth
had seen Lord KITCHENER point his finger from the hoardings at him,
and there and then, discovering that the Ordnance Department possessed
a cap, size 6-7/8, which fitted him, had followed instructions and
immediately commenced to wear it. Now he had written to Mr. Phillybag
to inform him that, as he expected to be demobilised shortly, he was
calling at eleven o'clock to discuss the question of re-entering his
Mr. Phillybag rubbed his hands together in satisfaction. He was
looking forward to the interview. Since Armistice Day he had read
every article he could find written on the subject of demobilisation
and its humours; consequently he knew exactly what he was expected
to do. When Williams entered, in all the glory of a Captain's stars,
perhaps even a Major's crown, the ribbon of the D.S.O. or the M.C., or
both, on his breast, he, Corporal Phillybag, would spring smartly to
attention, salute and address his junior clerk as "Sir."
He chuckled with delight as he visualised the piquant scene. Reseating
himself, he would briskly resume his interrupted work for a moment
while be kept his superior officer waiting. Then--
"Mr. Williams to see you, Sir," said one of his clerks.
"Show him in at once."
On his appearance Mr. Phillybag suffered a slight recoil, but
recovered himself quickly and exchanged embarrassed greetings. An
awkward pause followed. At length Mr. Phillybag broke it.
"Williams," he said severely, "I'm surprised at you. Who ever heard
of an employee returning to civil life from the Army with a lower
rank than the one his employer holds? Four years in khaki and only a
lance-corporal! You've spoiled my whole morning. It's men with
careers like yours who make the profession of humorous journalism so
* * * * *
A SOUVENIR OF COLOGNE.
"Am I really awake, or is it all a beautiful dream?" I said, pinching
myself to make sure.
At the other end of the room an unmistakably German band was playing
"Roses of Picardy," while all around me German waiters were running
about deferentially, with trays in their hands. Even as I wondered one
of them approached and laid the bill on my table with a friendly smile
and "Tree mark, bleesir."
Then I remembered that I was at the British Officers' Club in Cologne.
"How interested they will be at home," I thought, "when they know
where I am. And of course I must send them souvenirs of my Watch on
the Rhine;" and thoughtfully I produced from my pocket some local
tram-tickets, kept for the younger members of the family, and patted
a box of two-penny cigars encouragingly. These I was going to send to
Then I rose and, paying the bill, went out to purchase a suitable
memento for a younger sister. Slowly I wandered along the crowded
Hohestrasse in the direction of the Opera House, peering into the
shop-windows for something redolent of the land I was in. Presently
a bright-looking sweetshop attracted me. The window contained a
beautiful selection of chocolate-boxes, with pictures of the Cathedral
or the Rhine Maidens on the lids. In I went and selected a handsome
sample, bound with red plush and bordered with sea-shells. But it was
empty. "Nix sweets," said the girl behind the counter, and offered me
the alternative of a bun. Nothing doing, and I passed on.
Further along the street I stopped before a chemist's shop to regard
a huge pyramid of bottles of eau-de-Cologne displayed in the window.
"The very thing," I said to myself. "What more appropriate souvenir
than a bottle of the local produce?"
That was ten days ago, and this morning I received the following
"Thank you _so_ much for the scent; it was sweet of you, and
arrived safely, only I don't think it _quite_ so nice as the _real_
eau-de-Cologne which I buy at Brown's shop [Brown is the village
grocer] for three-and-nine a bottle. And he says they must have taken
you in properly with a German imitation called eau-de-_Koeln_, and
expects you had to pay a pretty penny for it, though I hope you
didn't, poor boy."
Reader, I ask you.
* * * * *
"INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC--PUBLIC MEETING.
"In order to comply with the regulations of the Board of
Health, each person attending the meeting must occupy 25
sq. feet space."--_Australian Paper_.
"Let me have men about me that are fat."--_Julius Caesar_.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE CHEERFUL PACHYDERM.
ELEPHANT (_faintly intrigued_). "WHO'S THAT TICKLING ME?"]
* * * * *
[Illustration: PEACE PREPARATIONS.
_Music-hall Artist_ (_to partner_). "I RECKON WE OUGHT TO INTRODUCE
SOME NEW FEATURE INTO THE TURN, WITH PEACE COMIN'."
_Partner_. "AH, I'VE BEEN THINKING OF IT TOO. WHAT ABAHT PINK FACINGS
FOR OUR EVENING DRESS?"]
* * * * *
THE BLUE HAT.
Nancy came softly into my study and stood at the side of the desk,
where I was busy with some work on account of which I had stayed away
from the office that morning.
"Do you like it?" she said.
I felt a momentary anxiety as I looked up. I had made a bad mistake
only a little time before, having waxed enthusiastic over what I took
to be a new blouse when it was a question of hair-dressing, the blouse
having been worn by my wife, so she solemnly averred, "every evening
for the last two months."
But this time no mistake was possible. You don't go about the house at
eleven o'clock on a cold Spring morning fancifully arrayed in a pale
blue hat with white feathery things sticking out all round it, unless
there is a particular reason for so doing.
"I think it's a delightful hat," I said, "and suits you splendidly.
But I thought you never wore blue?"
"I don't," said Nancy; "that's what makes me rather doubtful. I didn't
really mean to buy it at all. I went in to Marguerite's--you know,
that heavenly shop at the corner of the square"--I nodded; of course
I knew Marguerite's--"to ask the price of a jade-green jumper they
had in the window--oh, my dear, a perfect angel of a jumper!--and they
showed me this. That red-haired assistant almost _made_ me buy it;
said she had never seen me in a hat that suited me so well; and really
it wasn't so very dear. But I _was_ a little doubtful. However--"
"She was quite right," I said very decidedly. "Did you get the
what-you-may-call-it--the other thing?"
Nancy's face expressed poignant anguish.
"Twelve guineas," she said. "I simply couldn't run to it. Of course I
was heart-broken. Still, it wasn't as if I really needed anything just
now. It would have been ridiculous extravagance. But it really was an
She turned to go, stopping a moment on the way out to have another
look at herself in the little round mirror over the mantel-piece.
"I'm not quite happy about it," I heard her murmur as she went out.
The next morning I found a letter waiting for me at the office which
brought me news of a totally unexpected windfall of some fifty odd
pounds. It was a sunny morning, too, with a distinct feeling of Spring
in the air.
I felt like being extravagant, and my mind flew at once to Nancy and
her jade-green--what was the name of the thing?--that she had wanted
I left the office early, and on my way home managed to summon up
sufficient courage to carry me through the discreetly curtained doors
of Madame Marguerite's _recherche_ establishment, devoutly hoping that
the nervous sinking which I felt about my heart was not reflected in
my outer demeanour.
The red-haired girl, in spite of a curiously detached and supercilious
air, as who should say, "Take it or leave it; it concerns me not in
the least," which at first rather alarmed me, was really quite kind
"Something in jade-green that Moddom admired? A hat perhaps?"
No, I knew it was not a hat. I murmured something about twelve
guineas. This seemed to be enlightening.
Ah, yes, a jumper probably. They had had a jade-green jumper at that
price, she believed. If I would sit down for a moment she would send
someone to see if it were still unsold.
I felt very anxious while I waited, but the emissary presently
returned with the garment over her arm.
Yes, that was undoubtedly the one. She remembered how much Moddom had
admired it. It had suited Moddom so well too.
While it was being packed up, for I decided to take it with me, a
small boy arrived with several hat-boxes, which he put down on the
Red-hair proceeded to unpack them, carefully, almost reverently,
extracting the hats from the folds of surrounding tissue-paper and
placing them one by one in various cupboards and drawers. Presently
she drew forth from one of the boxes--I felt sure I was not
mistaken--that very blue hat which I had admired only the day before
upon the head of my wife.
I gave an involuntary exclamation. Red-hair looked at me.
"Surely," I said, feeling inwardly rather proud at recognising it
again--"surely that hat is exactly like one that my wife bought
Red-hair was hurt. "It is the same hat," she said coldly. "We never
make two models alike."
I tried to mollify her. "I can't understand her sending it back," I
said. "I think it's an extremely pretty hat, and it suits her so well.
But perhaps there was some alteration necessary. It may not have quite
fitted or something?"
Red-head dived gracefully into the box and drew forth a note from the
A faint flicker expressive of I knew not what hidden emotion seemed to
pass for one moment over her aristocratic features as she read it. But
it vanished instantaneously, and she turned to me with her previous
air of haughty and imperturbable aloofness.
"Moddom is not keeping the hat," she said.
I felt somehow a little snubbed, and said no more, and, my parcel
appearing at this moment, I paid and departed.
Nancy's joy over the jumper more than came up to my expectations. When
she had calmed down a little I bethought myself of the matter of the
"Oh, yes," said Nancy in reply to my question, "I sent it back after
all. It won't matter in the least now that you have bought this."
"But why didn't you keep it?" I said.
"Well, I really felt I didn't like it so very much," said Nancy, "and,
as you didn't seem quite to like it either--"
"My dear girl," I protested, "I told you I thought it was charming."
"Well, anyway you said that blue didn't suit me," persisted my wife.
"You _did_, George."
There was a moment's pause. It was no use saying anything. Suddenly
Nancy jumped up and clutched me by the arm.
"George," she said anxiously, "you didn't, you didn't say anything
about that hat to the girl in the shop, did you?"
"I believe I mentioned that I thought it was extremely pretty, and
that I was sorry you weren't keeping it," I replied airily. "But why?"
For my wife's face had suddenly assumed an expression of horrified
"I shall never be able to go into that shop again," she wailed,
"never. I wrote them a note saying that I was not keeping the hat
because _my husband very much disliked it_, and that I didn't care
ever to wear anything of which he didn't approve."
What is really very unfair about the whole thing is that I know
that Nancy thinks me entirely to blame. Indeed she told me so. When
I ventured to point out that she had not been quite truthful in
the matter she was at first genuinely and honestly amazed, and
subsequently so indignant that I was fain ultimately to apologise.
In looking back upon the episode I am filled with admiration for
the red-haired girl. I consider that she showed extraordinary
self-restraint in what must have been a peculiarly tempting situation.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Raw Hand_ (_at sea for first time and observing
steamer's red and green lights_). "'ERE'S SOME LIGHTS ON THE STARBOARD
_Officer_. "WELL, WHAT IS IT?"
_R.H_. "LOOKS TO ME LIKE A CHEMIST'S SHOP, SIR."]
* * * * *
"Of course you must come," said Mary; "it's nonsense to say you can't
Mary is married to my first cousin, Thomas. I looked at Thomas, but
saw no hope of support. Thomas labours under the delusion that he can
"It isn't only the dancing," I protested; "it's the conversational
strain. Besides, as one of the original founders of the League to
Minimise Gossip amongst General Staff Officers--"
"Rot!" said Thomas; "you simply let your partners do the talking.
You needn't even listen. Just say 'Quite' in your most official tone
whenever you hear them saying nothing."
Thomas, although my first cousin, is not bright; but I had to go.
For the first few dances I escaped; the crowd round the door was
so dense that I saw at once that I should be trampled to death if
I attempted to enter. Then I was caught by Mary and introduced to
a total stranger.
I suppose there are people who do not mind kicking a total stranger
round the room to the strain of cymbals, a motor siren and a
frying-pan. I fancy the lady expressed a desire to stop, but as her
words were lost in the orchestral pandemonium I realised that as long
as the dulcet chords continued conversation was impossible; so we
Fortunately too, when the interval came, she was full of small-talk.
"Isn't the floor good? And I always like this band."
"Quite," said I.
"Rather sporting of the Smythe-Joneses to give a dance."
"Quite," said I.
"Especially when their eldest boy, the one, you know, who was so
frightfully good at golf or something, has just got into a mess
"Quite," said I, while she plunged into a flood of reminiscences.
She did not ask whether I could jazz, mainly, I think, because I had
already danced with her. I concentrated my thoughts on the best means
of avoiding Mary when the music began again, and just threw in an
occasional "Quite" to keep the lady in a good temper.
But there was no escaping Mary.
"You _must_ go and dance with Miss Carter," she told me, adducing
incontrovertible arguments. I am terrified of Miss Carter, who can
only be described as "statuesque" and always does the right thing
(which makes her crushing to the verge of discourtesy). I am always
being asked if I know whether she is "only twenty-two." It was not
without satisfaction that I initiated her into my style of dancing.
To my horror, when we stopped she sat in silence, regarding me with
an air of expectant boredom. I racked my brains.
"Good floor, isn't it?" said I.
"Quite," said Miss Carter.
"Jolly good band too."
"Quite," said Miss Carter.
"And rather sporting of the Smythe-Joneses, don't you think?"
She said it again. By this time I felt convinced that all the other
couples within hearing were listening to us. Miss Carter is that sort
"Of course," I said with a nervous laugh, "it's rather absurd for me
to say anything about it, because, you know, dancing isn't much in my
"Quite," said Miss Carter.
That settled it; I felt I must stop her at all costs. I cleared my
throat and spoke as distinctly as I could.
"I'm always being asked a conundrum, Miss Carter, and you're the one
person who can tell me the true answer. Am I permitted to ask it?"
"Quite," said Miss Carter, for the first time almost smiling. I
plucked up courage.
"It's this: how old are you?"
She stopped herself just in time. Her answer was given in a tone
which expressed at the same time her contempt for my breach of the
conventions and the fact that she was too indifferent to think me
"Twenty-two," said she.
"Quite," said I.
* * * * *
[Illustration: "HOW WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR HAIR DONE, MADAM?"
"WELL, I WANT TO GET IT DEBOBBED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE."]
* * * * *
THE CAREER (POSTPONED).
MY DEAR JAMES,--A few weeks ago I wrote to tell you that ere long the
military machine would be able to spare one of its cogs--myself. I
discussed possible careers in civil life, and since then I had almost
decided on "filbert-grower." Had things gone well, by the beginning of
June you should have received a first instalment of forced filberts.
Now this cannot be. The cog is shown to be indispensable. I must
remain a soldier.
Why do they want me, James? I am nothing like a soldier. I cannot
click my heels as other men do. I try, Heaven knows how I try, but all
the C.O. hears is a sound as of two cabbages being slapped together.
And my word of command! The critics say it is like a cry for help in
a London fog.
My haversack contains no trace of any Field-Marshal's baton. You are
aware that every private soldier's haversack is issued complete with
"Batons, one, Field-Marshal (potential), for the use of." But there is
no authority for such an issue for commissioned ranks.
Is it because of my manner with men and my powers as a disciplinarian?
I fear not. If a man is brought before me for summary jurisdiction a
lump rises in my throat and I want to cry. I am always sure he didn't
mean to do it. As for military law, I am shaky on the fines for
drunkenness, and I don't feel at all sure whether death at dawn or two
extra fatigues is the maximum punishment for having one string of the
hold-all longer than the other when on active service.
When I kicked the bell-push towards the end of last guest-night the
Adjutant said he should mark me down for the job of Physical Training
Officer; but I hope he was only joking. I am not built for the work.
My frame is puny and my countenance irresolute. I hate bending and
stretching my arms; they creak and frighten me. I never could squat on
my heels like a thingummy.
I might, if allowed, make a hit as Messing Officer. With the aid of
my Cookery Course notes I can differentiate between no fewer than
thirty-four different types of rissole. Unfortunately we already have
a Messing Officer of deadly efficiency. He can classify dripping by
instinct. He can memorise at sight all the revolting contents of a
swill-tub. My rissole lore is a poor asset in comparison.
No, James, I think I have it. One day you will read that our Armies
of Occupation consist of so many hundred thousands of all ranks,
including, perhaps, 35,001 officers. That is why they retain me.
I shall be the "1" at the end of the thousands. It is your humble
servant's function to keep the Armies of Occupation up to strength.
Are we to be robbed of the fruits of victory? The reply is in the
negative. Therefore, when next June comes along and you yearn for
the early filberts, do not be fretty. Remember that I am gathering
in fruits of another and a nobler kind. Yours ever,
* * * * *
[Illustration: "SORRY, MUM, BUT I'M AFRAID YOU'LL 'AVE TER STAY
UPSTAIRS 'COS THE AFFILIATED SOCIETY OF PIANNER-SHIFTERS 'AS CALLED A
GENERAL STRIKE THIS MINNIT."]
* * * * *
NEW BREAD FOR OLD.
["New Bread Again"--"Loaves of Any Shape."--_Headlines from a
As I walked forth in Baker Street
As sober as a Quaker,
Whom did I have the luck to meet?
I met a jolly Baker.
His voice was gay, his eye was bright,
His step was light and airy,
His face and arms were powdered white--
I think he was a fairy;
He danced beneath the April moon,
And as he danced he trolled
Wild snatches of an ancient rune,
Yet all the burden of his tune
Was "New--Bread--for Old!"
Quoth I: "Whence got you, lad, a heart
So glad that you must show it?"
Quoth he: "The Baker hath his art
No less, Sir, than the Poet;
I tell ye, I'm so blithe to-night
I'd paint the old Moon's orb red!
Oh, think ye that I took delight
For years in baking war-bread?
One shape, one colour and one size,
By Government controlled?
But now all this to limbo flies;
What wonder that to-night I cries
"Good Sir, the Baker hath a soul
And loves to make bread pleasant--
The Twist, the long Vienna Roll,
The Horseshoe and the Crescent,
The Milk, the Tin, the lovely loaf
Where currants one discovers,
The Wholemeal for the country oaf,
The Knot for all true lovers.
So, till upon the glowing East
The sun in red and gold
Comes forth to bake the daily feast,
I'll cry with heart as light as yeast,
* * * * *
THE MODERN ICARUS.
"After an hour's flight over the frozen Conception Bay and
the town of St. John's, Mr. Hawker made a perfect landing. He
appeared more than over confident of success."--_Daily Paper_.
"General admiration and sympathy is extended to Mr. Tawker
due to his frankness regarding his progress towards making
the trans-ocean flight."--_Sunday Paper_.
We trust our contemporaries are not in a conspiracy to represent the
gallant aviator as a hot-air man.
* * * * *
"Presently, when aviation becomes a commonplace, the fares
will come down."--_Daily Dispatch_.
That's just what makes us so nervous.
* * * * *
BEING SOME LETTERS OF MRS. PARTINGTON TO HER SISTER.
[Conferences between mistresses and servants are being held in
various parts of the country to discuss terms of peace in the
DEAR MOIRA,--We haven't got a servant yet, but we are clutching at
a new hope. There is to be a conference here between mistresses
and maids, to discuss and readjust the servants' rights and the
mistresses' wrongs--or is it the other way about? Anyhow, I shall
attend that conference. I shall bribe, plead, consent to any
arrangement if I can but net a cook-general. Ten months of doing
my own washing-up has brought me to my knees, while Harry says the
performance of menial duties has crushed his spirit.
Of course, Harry does make such a fuss of things. You might think, to
hear him talk, that the getting up of coal, lighting fires, chopping
wood and cleaning flues was the entire work of a household, instead
of being mere incidents in the daily routine. If he had to tackle _my_
duties--but men never seem to understand how much there is to do in a
I will tell you about the conference when I write again.
Yours always, DODO.
DEAR MOIRA,--The conference was a most interesting affair; the one
going on in Paris could never be half so thrilling. There was a goodly
attendance of servants, and they had their own spokeswoman. We spoke
for ourselves--those of us who were not too dazed at the sight of so
many "treasures" almost within our grasp.
What the servants wanted was not unreasonable. They chiefly demanded a
certain time to themselves during the day, with fixed hours for meals,
evening free, etc.
Then Mrs. Boydon-Spoute got up--you know how that woman loves to
hear herself talk--and said that such demands were outrageous. (It's
easy for her to raise objections. She has somehow paralysed her two
servants into staying with her for over ten years.) She pointed out
that under such conditions the servant would have more freedom than
the mistress; and to allow the working classes to thus get the upper
hand was nothing short of encouraging Bolshevism in the home. Dreadful
thing to say, wasn't it?
The servants got rather restive at that. When I thought of the two
days' washing-up waiting for me at home I retorted with spirit that
servants had as much right to freedom as we, and it was our duty to
guard their interests--and lots of inspired things like that, glaring
at Mrs. Boydon-Spoute the while.
I spoke so well that a cook-general offered herself to me as soon as
the conference was over. She comes in on Monday.
Yours in transports, DODO.
DEAR MOIRA,--Emma, the new maid, has arrived. Harry is as relieved
as I am and was quite cheerful while I was dressing the gash he had
inflicted on his hand while chopping wood. Isn't it strange that men
can never give the slightest assistance in the house without getting
themselves hurt in some way?
Emma promises to be a treasure. If mistresses would only show a little
humanity there never would be any servant trouble at all. It is people
like Mrs. Boydon-Spoute who are responsible for it.
Yours, purring content, DODO.
DEAR MOIRA,--I am sorry not to have written for such a long time. I
have been so extremely busy.
You see, when Emma has had her two hours free daily, her
hour-and-a-half off for dinner, with half-an-hour for other meals,
every evening out as well as two afternoons a week, you would be
surprised what little leisure is left to her for the housework.
She gets in what she can, of course, and I do the rest. Doing the
rest, by the way, takes up a great deal of my time. But I generally
have an hour free in the evenings.
Your brave DODO.
DEAR MOIRA,--I am glad to say Emma has gone and I am putting my name
down at a registry-office in the usual way. It's too much of a strain
having "conference" girls in the home.
Who was it said that if we are to allow the working classes to get the
upper hand it was nothing short of encouraging Bolshevism in the home?
Anyhow, I think he--or perhaps it was she--must be right.
I must close rather hastily. I have just heard a terrific crash in the
kitchen; I'm afraid Harry has dropped something on his foot _again_.
Your long-suffering DODO.
* * * * *
"Mr. ----, like a fatherly hen, hovered over all, satisfying
himself that nothing had been omitted that could detract from
their comfort."--_Egyptian Mail._
We cannot imagine any hen, however unsexed, behaving like that.
* * * * *
RHYMES OF RANK.
Vice-Admirals command a base;
Their forms blend dignity with grace.
You never see the smallest trace
Of levity upon the face
Of one who wears a Vice's lace.
For Admirals to romp and race
Or frolic in a public place
Is held to be a great disgrace;
I do not think a single case
Of this has happened at our base.
The Commodore, the Commodore
Is very popular ashore;
He can relate an endless store
Of yarns which scarcely ever bore
Till they are told three times or more.
The ladies young and old adore
This man who bathed in Teuton gore
And practically won the War;
But once, a fact I much deplore,
A General was heard to snore
While seated near the Commodore.
The Captain dwells aloof, alone;
He has a cabin of his own;
And should the smallest nose be blown,
Though softly and with dulcet tone,
In earshot of this sacred zone
The very ship herself would groan.
Yes, Captains (though but flesh and bone
Like little snotties, be it known)
Are best severely left alone.
Commanders are a stern-eyed folk
Who may or may not take a joke;
It really isn't safe to poke
Light fun at any three-ringed bloke;
You may be sorry that you spoke.
Their ways are proud; they sport the oak;
They are not tame enough to stroke;
I greatly dread these grim-eyed folk.
Lieutenants of the R.N.V.
Were born and bred on land, not sea,
And ancient mariners like me
With sly grimace and winks of glee
Would watch them when the winds blew free,
Or send them down a cup of tea.
But soon their deeds became their plea
For standing with the Big Navee
In equal fame and dignity:
While even Subs. R.N. agree
They're better than they used to be,
These Looties of the R.N.V.
Sub-Loots are nothing if not sports;
The nicest girls in all the ports
Declare they are the best of sorts
And useful on the tennis-courts.
In gun-rooms, where their rank resorts,
They bandy quips and shrewd retorts,
And swig champagne, not pints but quarts.
I said at first that they were sports.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Headmaster_ (_interviewing new boy_). "AT WHAT SCHOOL
WERE YOU LAST, MY BOY?"
_New Boy_. "P-P-PLEASE, SIR, AT A ST-T-T-TAMMERING T-TUTOR'S"; (_feels
he is not making the best of himself_) "B-BUT THEY T-TAUGHT OTHER
THINGS BESIDES ST-T-T-TAMMERING."]
* * * * *
WITH THE RED GUARDS.
A good deal of curiosity exists regarding the management of
the Bolshevik army, in which it is stated that discipline
does not exist. A copy of Battalion Orders may therefore be
BY MAJOR TROTOFF
(COMMANDING THE 22ND BATTALION THE RED GUARDS).
Disorderly Officer--LOOT VODKAWITCH.
Next for duty (if so disposed): LOOT PUTAWAYSKY.
The Battalion (or such of it as has no other engagement) will parade
as strong as possible on the Peter-and-Paulsky Prospekt, at 10.30 A.M.
for 9.30 A.M.
Barging order, with rifles, razors, knives, pokers and horsewhips.
The following scheme will be carried out:--
_General Idea_.--A few families of the Bourgeois class have taken up
a position in certain cellars in West End of City. Patrols report that
they still possess a few valuables.
_Special Idea_.--The O.C. invites the Battalion to occupy district and
The Second in Command of this unit regrets to announce that he found
it necessary to sentence his Commanding Officer to forty-two days No.
1 F.P. for attempting to maintain discipline; the Second in Command
therefore assumes command of this unit in the absence of the C.O. now
Would a few officers mind being detailed for the
hundred-and-twenty-first course in the use of Private House Grenades,
13th of this month?
(5) BOOTS, BOLSHEVISTS FOR THE USE OF, ISSUE OF.
The Quartermaster would be greatly obliged if private gentlemen of
the Battalion requiring boots would favour him with a visit at any
time during the day or night.
If not inconvenient to them it would be a kindness if they let him
know what they take.
The Officer at present in command of the Battalion has pleasure in
announcing that the private residence of the Commanding Officer,
which contains a large number of objects of great beauty and value,
is through its owner's unavoidable absence at present unguarded.
In these circumstances the O.C. is pleased to grant an extension to
all ranks until twelve midnight.
_Captain and Agitant_.
* * * * *
"A Nelson soldier in a letter states that General ----
informed his unit that he had 2,000 wives to ship out to New
Zealand, and another 2,000 would be ready to leave England
during the next few months."--_New Zealand Paper_.
* * * * *
There was an industrial freak,
As a labourer sadly to seek;
But he leapt into fame
By preferring a claim
For a general Ten-Minutes' Week.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Vicar_ (_to parishioner who has violent quarrels
with her neighbour_), "MRS. CRABBE SENT A MESSAGE THAT SHE HAS QUITE
FORGIVEN YOU. WHAT MESSAGE CAN I TAKE TO HER?"
_Parishioner_. "YOU CAN SAY I 'OPE SHE'LL DIE 'APPY."]
* * * * *
There's no fear that strikes so dumb,
None so hard to overcome,
As the thought that there are two
Eyes that _may_ be watching you.
Here's a perfect illustration
Of that sickening sensation.
Young Lieutenant Jimmy Spry's
Power resided in his eyes;
He'd been able all his days
To revolve them different ways.
For example, let's suppose
That the right one watched his nose,
Then the left--you'll think it queer--
Turned towards his dexter ear.
But what really made him great
Was--he always _saw_ things straight.
Out in France, a year ago,
He was cornered by the foe;
Neither party had a gun,
But the odds were three to one
And the Huns were fit and strong;
One was lean and very long,
One was short and stout of calf,
While the third was half and half.
Jimmy, spoiling for a fight,
Fixed the short one with his right,
While his left with martial glare
Met the long 'un's startled stare;
But--I know it sounds absurd--
He was _looking_ at the third.
Jimmy was, I'd have you know,
Something of a boxing pro.,
So he knew the golden maxim:
"He who eyes his man best whacks him."
Shorty, when he saw the grim
Optic that was turned on him,
Thinking Jimmy's fist looked hard
Prudently remained on guard.
Canny Hun! And who can blame
Longshanks if he did the same?
But our hero, irritated,
Grassed the third man while they waited.
Filled with rage and anger, both
Rushed upon him with an oath,
Eager now to slit the gizzard
Of that astigmatic wizard,
Till they noticed with dismay
_Both_ his eyes were far away!
(One eye sought the earth, while one
Seemed to contemplate the sun.)
Both stopped dead; the same cold thought
At their jangling heart-strings caught.
Longshanks, trembling at the knee,
Quavered, "Hans, he's watching _me_!"
Shorty whimpered, scared to fits,
"No, it's _me_ he's after, Fritz!"
Sick with fear, their souls revolted;
As one man they turned and bolted.
At them Spry in mild amaze
(Literally) bent his gaze,
Sighed, and then without a word
Wandered homeward with the third.
* * * * *
[Lord Justice BANKS recently referred to the possible
establishment of a Law Courts' _creche_, where the female
barrister might leave her young while engaged in forensic
_From "The Law Times" of 192--._
"A Violent altercation took place yesterday in the room
allotted to infants of the Junior Bar (adjoining the Court
of Pathetic Appeal) between his nurse and little Johnnie,
the teething infant of Mrs. Flapperton, who, by the way,
we noticed being measured only the other day for silk. The
Court Husher having failed to produce silence, Mrs. Justice
Spankhurst had to intervene, and only succeeded in restoring
order by threatening to have the _creche_ cleared."
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE RECKONING.
PAN-GERMAN. "MONSTROUS, I CALL IT. WHY, IT'S FULLY A QUARTER OF WHAT
_WE_ SHOULD HAVE MADE _THEM_ PAY, IF _WE_'D WON."]
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
_Monday, April 14th_.--The Criminal Injuries (Ireland) Bill furnished
the LORD CHANCELLOR with the text for a rather gloomy sermon on the
present state of the sister-country. The King's Writ still runs there,
but in many counties is outstripped by the rival _fiat_ of Sinn Fein.
A tribute to the impeccable behaviour of "law-abiding" Ulster appeared
to stir in the breast of Lord CREWE memories of the pre-war prancings
of a certain "Galloper," for he remarked that the noble lord's
information seemed to be "partial and recent."
Exception has recently been taken to the cab-shelter in Palace Yard,
some Members objecting that its architectural design was out of
harmony with that of the Houses of Parliament, and others complaining
that its internal attractions were so great as to seduce the taxi-men
from paying any attention to prospective fares. Sir ALFRED MOND, after
long consideration, has decided to abolish the offending edifice
and to give the drivers a shelter in the Vaults, where the police
will discourage them from exceeding in the matter of "rest and
Members were naturally eager to hear what Mr. BONAR LAW, freshly
flown from Paris, had to tell them about the Peace Conference, the
prospects of hanging the EX-KAISER, and so forth, but received little
information, save that the Government shared the popular desire that
no legal quibble should prevent the arch-criminal being brought to
justice. Members were a little comforted, however, by the announcement
that a Committee of the Cabinet is already considering the whole
question of Peace-celebrations. While Mr. LLOYD GEORGE is engaged (if
the image is permitted) in fighting beasts at Ephesus it is pleasant
to think of his colleagues deciding upon the relative merits of
crackers and Catherine-wheels, flares and bonfires, church-bells and
steam-sirens, as means for the expression of the national joy.
[Illustration: SIR A. MOND AND AN EFFICIENT CAB SERVICE FOR MEMBERS.
At a blast on whistle the cab-drivers will down tea-cups, cake,
kippers or what-not, and double smartly on to parade.]
After the loud orgy of headline which followed upon his remarkable
victory at Central Hull, Commander KENWORTHY might reasonably
have expected that his entry into the House would have produced an
uproarious scene of demonstration and counter-demonstration. But there
was nothing of the kind. The jubilant "Wee Frees," of course, cheered
as one man, but the volume of sound produced was not appreciably
greater than if one man had cheered; and the crowded Coalitionists
sat gloomily silent, though no doubt they thought a lot. The gallant
Commander has already introduced one pleasing innovation into the
procedure of the House, for, before signing the Roll, he nodded
cheerfully to the ladies in the Gallery, as if to say, "But for you
I shouldn't be here!"
Sir A. GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN, who at Question-time had regretfully
admitted that the Government were withdrawing soldiers from
agriculture at a moment when they were particularly required, now
moved the Second Reading of the Bill which is intended to give them
the chance of going back to the land in perpetuity. In spite of his
warning that the cost of the land to be acquired was a comparatively
minor part of the expense, Members vied with one another in
denouncing the iniquity of allowing the land-owner to get the present
market-value of his property; and the landlords' representatives
themselves hastened to declare that such a preposterous notion
never entered their heads. The Bill was read a second time without
a division. I don't suppose it will provide land for anything
approaching the eight hundred thousand soldiers who are said to
be pining for it; but it ought to satisfy the relatively small
proportion who, after hearing about the trials and hardships of
a small-holder--no forty-eight hours' week for him!--retain their
_Tuesday, April 15th_.--In a couple of hours the Lords disposed of
several Bills, enjoyed a scientific debate on neurasthenia--described
by a correspondent of Lord KNUTSFORD as "a gas escaping from
people"--discussed the prices of milk and cheese, and still found time
for the consideration of their own procedure. Lord CURZON said the
suggestion that the House should sit on more days in the week had not
been favourably received. Friday would not do, as their Lordships went
out of town on that day, and Monday was equally inconvenient, as they
could not contrive to get back by then. To earlier sittings the LORD
CHANCELLOR objected on behalf of his legal colleagues. So it looks as
if there would be no change, and since, _teste_ Lord SALISBURY, the
House does its work admirably, why should there be?
Remembering a famous speech on the presumption of certain organs
of the Press, the Commons were not surprised to learn from Mr.
CHAMBERLAIN, _a propos_ of the beer-tax, that he is not responsible
for what may appear in _The Times_.
There is still something of "the eternal boy" in Major WEDGWOOD
BENN. It was with an air of "Now I've got him" that he propounded the
question, "Is paper a raw material or a manufactured article?" But
Mr. BRIDGEMAN can always solve these Cobdenite conundrums, and quietly
replied, "Both." Whereupon Major BENN, with an engaging blush, retired
from the fray.
In moving the second reading of the Aliens Restriction Bill the
HOME SECRETARY said that, while national safety must be the first
consideration, no unnecessary hardship should be inflicted on our
foreign immigrants. But his proposal that the Government should rest
contented with its present powers for another two years met with
little favour from Members whose knowledge of history seems to date
from 1914. In the opinion of Mr. BOTTOMLEY, who led the Opposition,
every alien was _prima facie_ undesirable; Sir ERNEST WILD, from
his experience in the criminal courts, took the same view, and
patriotically demanded the exclusion from our shores of persons whose
principal occupation, we gathered, was to furnish him with briefs
for the defence; and Mr. JOYNSON HICKS, Mr. BILLING and Sir R. COOPER
urged that the SHORTT way with aliens should be made considerably
shorter. Before this massed attack the HOME SECRETARY gave way and
agreed to reduce the operation of the Bill to one year.
The temperature of the House rose so appreciably during the debate as
to upset the nerves of some of the ladies in the Strangers' Gallery.
At least that is the charitable explanation of the behaviour of Miss
SYLVIA PANKHURST and her friends, who interrupted a discussion on
soldiers' pensions by shouting out, "You are a gang of murderers!"
_Wednesday, April 16th_.--A crowded House, the Peers' Gallery full to
overflowing, the HEIR-APPARENT over the Clock, and the new Editor of
_The Times_ among the representatives of the Press--the PRIME MINISTER
could have desired no better setting for his speech upon the labours
of the Peace Conference. His original intention was to hold his forces
in reserve and invite his critics to "fire first," but, as none of
these gentlemen seemed to be particularly anxious to go "over the
top," Mr. LLOYD GEOEGE obligingly altered his battle-plan and himself
delivered the opening fusillade.
That he was in no apologetic mood was shown in almost his first
sentence. His declaration that indemnities were a difficult
problem, "not to be settled by telegram," evoked resounding cheers.
Thenceforward he held the sympathy of the House, whether he was
describing the difficulties of the Peace Conference, or reconciling
the apparent inconsistencies of its Russian policy, or inveighing
against the attempts of certain newspapers to sow dissension among the
Allies. "I would rather have a good Peace than a good Press" was one
of his most telling phrases, and it was followed by a character-sketch
of his principal newspaper-critic which in pungency left nothing to be
desired. "What a journalist I could have made of him!" the recluse of
Fontainebleau will doubtless remark when he reads the passage.
The PRIME MINISTER'S object, I imagine, was less to impart information
than to create an atmosphere; and he was so far successful that
the House showed little inclination to listen to other speakers.
Nevertheless several of them devoted some hours to saying nothing
in particular before the House mercifully adjourned for the Easter
* * * * *
"The Postmaster-General, in a written answer, states that
arrangements are now in hand for the improvement, where
circumstances permit, of postal services which have been
curtained as a result of war conditions."--_Scots Paper_.
As for the telephone service, we can well believe that he would prefer
the veil to be kept over that.
* * * * *
A GERMLESS EDEN.
The antiseptic baby and the prophylactic pup
Were playing in the garden when the bunny gambolled up;
They looked upon the creature with a loathing undisguised,
For he wasn't disinfected and he wasn't sterilized.
They said he was a microbe and a hotbed of disease;
They steamed him in a vapour of a thousand odd degrees,
They froze him in a freezer that was cold as banished hope,
They washed him with permanganate and carbolated soap,
With sulphuretted hydrogen they bathed his wiggly ears;
They trimmed his frisky whiskers with a pair of hard-boiled shears;
Then they donned their rubber mittens and they took him by the hand
And elected him a member of the fumigated band.
Now there's not a micrococcus in the garden where they play
And they bathe in pure iodoform a dozen times a day,
Taking each his daily ration from a hygienic cup,
The baby and the bunny and the prophylactic pup.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE QUESTION OF PEACE CELEBRATIONS IS BEING CONSIDERED
BY A COMMITTEE OF THE CABINET.]
* * * * *
"Cpl. A.A.C. Earl of Shaftesbury, K.P., K.C.V.O., relinquishes
his appt. (March 1), and is granted the hon. rank of
* * * * *
FROM THE STREET OF ADVENTURE.
Journalistic reconstructions and amalgamations have been proceeding
so rapidly and extensively of late that there seems no end to the
kaleidoscopic possibilities of the future.
Up to the present, however, no confirmation can be obtained of
the startling rumor that _The Spectator_ has been purchased by the
proprietors of _The Kennel Gazette_, and will henceforth be devoted
to the interests of our four-footed friends, the supplements being
restricted to purely feline amenities.
Another persistent rumour, which hitherto lacks the seal of official
corroboration, is to the effect that _The Guardian_ is to be given a
new range of activity as the organ of scientific spiritualism, under
the title of _The Guardian Angel_ and the joint editorship of Sir
Oliver Doyle and Sir Conan Lodge. The investigations into multiple
consciousness conducted by these two eminent _savants_ have proved
their mutual convertibility to such an extent that they have decided
upon this rearrangement of their names. If the scheme materialises
the stimulating collaboration of Mr. HAROLD BEGBIE is a foregone
conclusion, and there is even a possibility of contributions from
an August Exile somewhere in Holland.
A third report maintains with minute circumstantiality that the
proprietors of _The Economist_, having come to the conclusion that
this journal needs brightening, have decided to entrust the post of
principal leader-writer to "CALLISTHENES," and retain the services of
the authoress of _The Tunnel_ as financial _feuilleton_ writer. But
on enquiry at the London School of Economics we could not obtain any
The rumours that _The Morning Post_ is about to be merged in _The
Winning Post_, and that Mr. MAXSE is starting an evening paper, to be
called _The Job and Caviller_, are extremely interesting, but need to
be received with a certain amount of caution.
* * * * *
"Two-seater Motor-car. 7-9 h.p., in perfect running order,
Bosch magneto, Michelin tyres, spare wheel and accessories,
Axminster and Brussels carpets, stair carpeting, lino.,
kitchen utensils, dinner service, copper chafing dish, pots,
pans, lawn mower, deck chairs, &c., nearly new mangle, and
numerous other effects."--_Local Paper_.
Just the car for the _White Knight_ when he takes to motoring.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Excited Officer_ (_in demobilisation special_). "I
_KNEW_ THE COUNTRY WAS GRATEFUL! LOOK AT THAT OLD CHAP WAVING HIS HOE
* * * * *
It has been suggested to me that the time has come for a comprehensive
investigation of the interesting language known as Bablingo. Materials
for this are ready for use in every home that still possesses a
nursery with an inmate not more than two years of age. I must premise
that it is the inmate's mother and the inmate's nurse, not the actual
inmate, who use the language. Some day, no doubt, there will arise
an investigator who will reduce to order and catalogue the inchoate
efforts of an infant to make itself understood by talking. These
efforts are doubtless of high interest to the etymologist, but the
difficulties of the task are at present too great, and in any case I
am not the man to undertake it.
I shall content myself for the moment with setting an examination
paper in Bablingo for the purpose of testing knowledge. It will differ
from most other examinations in having a further object--namely to
supply instruction and information to the examiner. Later on it may
be possible to construct a grammar, and to append to this a few
easy exercises. It must be remembered, however, that there are great
difficulties to be overcome in such a task. Every home, for instance,
has its own rules for pronunciation. Of these I do not for my
immediate purpose propose to take cognisance.
Here, then, is a short Bablingo examination paper for the use of
mothers and nurses. I do not at present see my way to including
(1) On what principles is the language which you use in your nursery
formed? Did you (a) acquire it, or (b) find yourself unconsciously in
possession of it?
(2) Give a list of the characteristic features which distinguish
Bablingo from the dialects employed by Prehistoric Man.
(3) What justification can you allege for the conversion of the words
_little thing_ into the words _ickle sing_? Are the spelling and
pronunciation of these two words intended to be a concession to the
feeble understanding of an infant?
(4) _Wasums and didums, then? Was it a ickle birdie, then?_ Expand the
above into a four-line verse with rhymes, and explain why the language
as spoken and written is nearly always in the past tense, and rarely
in the present or future.
(5)(a) _Did he woz-a-woz, then; a Mum's own woz-man?_ (b) _'Oose
queenie-mouse was 'oo?_ Write a short story on one of the above texts.
(6) _Did she try to hit her ickle bruzzer on his nosie-posie wiz
a mug? She was a Tartar, and did she want to break him up into
bitsy-witsies?_ Construct a scene from a typical nursery drama on the
above motive. What theories do you base on the extract with regard to
the girl's temper and the boy's courage and endurance?
* * * * *
A REALLY CANDID CANDIDATE.
"TO THE ELECTORS OF ---- WARD.
"Ladies and Gentlemen,--I beg to thank you for returning me
as your member at the Election on Monday last. Nothing shall
be wanting on my part to betray the confidence thus reposed
in me."--_Provincial Paper_.
* * * * *
A YEAR'S REPRISALS.
When I sent Aunt Emily--from whom I have expectations--a pincushion
at Christmas and she retaliated with a pen-wiper on New Year's Day,
I thought that was the end of it.
Aunt Emily reopened hostilities on my birthday with a purple satin
letter-case embroidered with a sprig of rosemary and the word
"Remembrance." That fresh offensive occurred on January 27th, which,
I repeat, is my birthday. Readers please note.
When was Aunt Emily's birthday? Frenzied search in antique birthday
books revealed not the horrid secret. Probing my diary for other
suitable anniversaries, I came to February 1st--"Partridge and
Pheasant Shooting ends."
I passed this as being inappropriate, and then--the very
thing--February 14th, St. Valentine's. Also Full Moon.
To arrive on that day, I despatched, carefully packed, the white
marble clock from the spare-room. When well shaken it will tick for
an hour. Aunt Emily had never seen it, I knew.
Then I sounded the All Clear.
But on Easter Eve a heavy packing-case was bumped onto my doorstep.
From wrappings of sacking there emerged a large model of Eddystone
lighthouse; a thermometer was embedded in its chest, minus the
mercury, I noted. And Aunt Emily wished me as per enclosed card "A
With groans and lamentations another anniversary must be found by me.
Ah! Here we have it! KING GEOKGE V. born June 3rd. On the dark roof
of my spare-room wardrobe loomed an Indian vase--bright yellow with
red blobs--very rare and very hideous, with a bulge in its middle.
Obviously unique, because when the Indian made it his fellow-Indians
slew him to prevent repetitions of the offence. I packed it in the
middle of a crate and much straw, calculated to make an appalling mess
To dear Aunt Emily it went, with love, and a few topical remarks about
But Aunt Emily evidently had a diary too. On the 21st of
October--anniversary of Trafalgar--my heart sank as the railway
delivery van drew up at my door. The angry driver toiled into my
passage with a packing-case (bristling with splinters and nails). When
it was open and the chisel broken I picked the splinters out of my
fingers and contemplated the battered horn of a gramophone emerging
from sawdust and shavings.
The mess created was indescribable when the horn was drawn forth.
Shavings flew everywhere. The sawdust was like a butcher's shop. There
were records too, some broken, all scratched. When set going it made
a noise like a cockatoo with a cold. Decently covered with a cloth it
was interned in the loft.
Next please. One more effort and I should be one up and Aunt Emily to
play. And her turn would be Christmas. Once she sent me five pounds at
The diary again. A poor hatch of anniversaries for November. A partial
eclipse of the moon, partially visible at Greenwich, was down for the
22nd. But eclipses are too ominous.
I fell back on KING EDWARD VII., born November 9th, 1841. Twenty-three
volumes of Goodworthy's _History of England_ should commemorate this.
There had once been twenty-four, but the puppy ate one.
Gratitude came by return of post, and I sat down in peace to await
Christmas and a cheque.
But on December 19th came another dreadful and splintery packing-case.
Desperately I gouged it open. Out of it, through a cloud of shavings,
emerged my own loathsome yellow-and-red Indian vase! No word with
it--not a word, not a note. Not a funeral note.
Rage overtook me. I disinterred Aunt Emily's own gramophone and
records. I packed the horn anyhow. Such of the records as seemed
difficult to get in I broke into small pieces and shoved in corners.
I nailed the packing-case up with the same nails and addressed it in
the boldest and fiercest of characters to Aunt Emily and caught the
railway-van on the rebound. The deed was done.
I laughed "Ha, ha!" I laughed "Ho, ho!" I would teach Aunt Emily to
return me my own vase.
Next morning came a letter. As I read it perspiration burst out on my
forehead. Language the most awful burst from my lips.
And yet it was a simple letter--from my little cousin Dolly.
"DEAR BOB," it said,--"I sent you a yellow-and-red vase for Christmas.
Your Aunt Emily gave it me as a wedding present. It is not my style and
must be yours, because I have seen one like it in your house. Perhaps
you collect them. Don't tell your Aunt, but I really couldn't bear it.
I forgot to put any note in the box. Happy Christmas.
And Aunt Emily would have opened my case by now.
On Christmas Day I received a letter from her which I opened with
cold and clammy fingers.
She thanked me for sending back the gramophone. She was sorry I
did not care for it. She was now sending it to a hospital for
shell-shocked officers. And she wished me a Blithe Yuletide on a
penny card. And she was very sincerely mine.
Anyone can have her for aught I care.
[Illustration: _Unsuccessful House-huntress_. "REALLY ONE SEES SO
FEW OF THE SORT OF MEN WHO USED TO _BUILD_ HOUSES. WHY DOESN'T THE
GOVERNMENT RELEASE MORE CORDUROY TROUSERS AND ENTICE THE LABOURERS
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE SUPER-HUMAN DOG.
WHEN YOU CAME HOME ON LEAVE YOUR DOG, UNLIKE SOME
HUMANS, NEVER EXPRESSED SURPRISE AT SEEING YOU _STILL IN ENGLAND_.
NEVER INDULGED IN DEMOBILISATION TALK.
OR HANDED OUT "CHESTNUTS."
OR INTRODUCED YOU TO YOUR C.O. (ALSO ON PASS).
OR BORED YOU WITH HIS OWN DOMESTIC TROUBLES ("LEFT A BOOT-JACK IN
MY DRINKING-TROUGH, SHE DID").
OR INTRUDED HIS PRESENCE AT INOPPORTUNE MOMENTS.
BUT SIMPLY WELCOMED YOU--
--IN HIS OWN--
* * * * *
A SOUTH SEA BUBBLE.
"I want you," said my hostess, "to take in Mrs. Blank. She is
charming. All through the War she has been with her husband in the
South Seas. London is a new place to her."
Mrs. Blank did not look too promising. She was pretty in her
way--"elegant" an American would have called her--but she lacked
animation. However, the South Seas...! Anyone fresh from the Pacific
must have enough to tell to see soup, fish and _entree_ safely
I began by remarking that she must find London a very complete change
after the sun and placidity that she had come from.
"It's certainly noisier," she said; "but we had our share of rain."
"I thought it was always fine there," I remarked; but she laughed a
denial and relapsed into silence.
She was one of those women who don't take soup, and this made the
economy of her utterances the more unfair.
Racking my brain for a new start I fell back on those useful fellows,
the authors. Presuming that anyone who had lived in that fascinating
region--the promised land (if land is the word) of so many of us who
are weary of English climatic treacheries--would be familiar with the
literature of it. I went boldly to work.
"The first book about the South Seas that I ever read," I said, "was
BALLANTYNE'S _Coral Island_."
"Indeed!" she replied.
I asked her if she too had not been brought up on BALLANTYNE, and she
said no. She did not even know his name.
"He wrote for boys," I explained rather lamely.
"I read poetry chiefly as a girl," she said.
"But surely you know STEVENSON'S _Island Nights' Entertainment_?"
No, she did not. Was it nice?
"It's extraordinary," I said. "It gives you more of the atmosphere
of the South Seas than any other work. And Louis BECKE--you must have
read him?" I continued.
No, she had not. She read very little. The last book she had read was
"Not even CONRAD?" I pursued. "No one has so described the calms and
storms of the Pacific."
No, she remembered no story called _Conrad_.
I was about to explain that CONRAD was the writer, not the written;
but it seemed a waste of words, and we fell into a stillness broken
only by the sound of knife and fork.
"Hang it! you shall talk," I said to myself; and then aloud, "Tell me
all about copra. I have longed to know what copra is; how it grows,
what it looks like, what it is for."
"You have come to the wrong person," she replied, with wide eyes. "I
never heard of it. Or did you say 'cobra'? Of course I know what a
cobra is--it's a snake. I've seen them at the Zoo."
I put her right. "Copra, the stuff that the traders in the South Seas
"I never heard of it," she said. "But then why should I? I know
nothing about the South Seas."
My stock fell thirty points and I crumbled bread nervously, hoping for
something sensible to say; but at this moment "half-time" mercifully
set in. My partner on the other side turned to me suavely and asked if
I thought the verses in _Abraham Lincoln_ were a beauty or a blemish;
and with the assistance of the London stage, the flight to America,
Mrs. FULTON'S _Blight_, Mr. WALPOLE'S _Secret City_ and the prospects
of the new Academy, I sailed serenely into port. She was as easy and
agreeable a woman as that other was difficult, and before she left for
the drawing-room she had invited me to lunch and I had accepted.
As I said Good-night to my hostess I asked why she had told me that my
first partner had been in the South Seas. She said that she had said
nothing of the sort; what she had said was that during the War she had
been stationed with her husband, Colonel Blank, at Southsea.
* * * * *
THE MESSAGE OF HULL.
The Hull Election has been keenly discussed in various papers, but by
none with more enthusiasm than _The Daily News_. In a special article
from the luminous pen of "A.G.G.," in the issue of April 12th, the
true inwardness of the portent is thus revealed:--
"The message of Hull is a message for all the world. It is the
announcement that this country, whatever its Government may do, will
not have a French peace. It is a declaration to America that the
English people are with her in her determination to have a League
of Nations' settlement and no other. It is the repudiation of
Conscription, of war on Russia, of the permanent military occupation
of Germany, of imperialism and grab, of war policy in Ireland, of
repression in Egypt, of the reckless profligacy and corruption that
are plunging Europe into Bolshevism and hurrying this country to
We confess that we are staggered by the moderation, not to say
modesty, of "A.G.G." as an interpreter of the meaning of the Hull
Election. He has omitted infinitely more than he has inscribed in
The return of Commander KENWORTHY stands, of course, for all these
things, but for many others of at least equal importance.
It means the disappearance of influenza, the ravages of which
are clearly traceable to the political virus disseminated by the
It means the rehabilitation of Mr. BIRRELL and his return to public
life as English Ambassador to the Court of King Valeroso I.
It foreshadows the wholesale gratuitous distribution of cigarettes,
marmalade and gramophones.
It means the prohibition of the use of the French horn in orchestras
and all places where they play, the reinstatement of the German flute
and the restoration of the German Fleet.
Lastly, it means the compulsory prohibition of all Greek except "Alpha
of the Plough."
* * * * *
TO A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD
(_WITH HIS FIRST CRICKET SET_).
Here's a gift to take and treasure,
England's gift as well as mine,
Symbol of her clean-spent leisure,
Of her youth and strength a sign;
Gleams of sunlight on old meadows
O'er these varnished toys are cast,
And within that box's shadows
Stir the triumphs of the Past.
Still the ancient tale entrances,
Giving us in golden dower
ULYETT'S drives and IVO's glances,
JACKSON'S dash and THORNTON'S power;
Skill of LYTTELTONS and LACEYS,
Grit of SHREWSBURYS and GUNNS;
Pride of STUDDS and STEELS and GRACES
Piling up their English runs.
Take these simple toys as token
Of the champions that have been,
Stalwart in defence unbroken,
Hefty hitters, hitting clean;
And, when capped in Life's eleven,
May you stand as firm as they;
May you, little son of seven,
Play the game the English way.
* * * * *
"It seems to be a ruling passion amongst certain writers
to portray anybody connected with commerce as being an
ungrammatical ignoramus. Even Kipling panders to this notion
in his conception of a drapery assistant in the person of
But did not Mr. WELLS do something to redress the balance in _Kim_?
* * * * *
[Illustration: "WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO, NO. 4?"
"IT'S NO GOOD, INSTRUCTOR; I AIN'T GOT NO HEAD FOR HEIGHTS."]
* * * * *
(_BY MR. PUNCH'S STAFF OF LEARNED CLERKS._)
The latest of the now so fashionable short-story volumes to come my
way is one called _Our Casualty, Etc._ (SKEFFINGTON). Much virtue in
that "_Etc._," which covers other fifteen little tales in the best, or
nearly the best, "Birmingham" manner. I say "nearly," because for its
happiest expression the art of "Mr. GEORGE BIRMINGHAM" demands space
to tangle events into more complicated confusion than can be contrived
in the dozen pages of these episodes. But within their limitations
they are all excellent fun, partly concerned with the War (usually
with an Irishman involved), partly recalled from the piping and
whisky-drinking times of peace, at Inishmore and elsewhere. One
can only treat them after the manner of the schoolboy who declined
to distinguish between the Major and Minor Prophets. But I
rather specially enjoyed the title-piece, which tells how the
super-patriotism of an aged volunteer defeated the kindly plans of
those who would have saved him fatigue by assigning to him the role
of casualty in a trench-relief practice. Casualties also figure in
"Getting Even," an improbable but highly entertaining fiction of the
score practised by an ingenious Medical Officer (Irish, I need hardly
say) upon an over-zealous C.O., who, to keep him busy during a field
day, flooded his "clearing station" with all sorts of complicated
imaginary cases, only to find the fictitious victims arranged
comfortably in rows under the shade of the trees to await the Padre
and a burying party, the M.O. reporting that they had all died before
reaching him. It couldn't possibly happen as here told, but that
matters little, since, so far as I am concerned, a "Birmingham" tale
can always well afford to dispense with credibility.
* * * * *
I am distinctly grateful to ROSE MACAULAY for _What Not_ (CONSTABLE).
It brought me the pleasantest end to anything but a perfect English
Spring day. She has wit, not so common a gift that you can afford
just to take it for granted; she knows when to stop, selecting not
exhausting; and she makes her epigrams by the way, as it were,
without exposing the process of manufacture. (Other epigrammatists
please copy.) Miss MACAULAY'S "prophetic comedy" is a joyous rag
of Government office routine, flappery, Pelmania, Tribunals, State
advertising, the Lower Journalism and "What Not." That audacious
eugenist, _Nicky Chester_, first Minister of Brains in the post-war
period of official attempts to raise the nation from C3 to something
nearer A1 on the intellectual plane, happens, because of his family
history, to be uncertified for marriage. He also happens to fall very
desperately in love with his secretary, _Kitty Grammont_, and the
conflict between duty and desire becomes the theme--perhaps just a
little too heavy--of an extravaganza that is happiest in its lighter
and more irreverent moments. Which is to say that _What Not_ wanders
out of the key. But what on earth does that matter if one is made to
laugh quite often and to smile almost continuously at a very shrewd
piece of observation, whimsicality and tempered malice? And you will
like the serene _Pansy Ponsonby_ (out of "Hullo, Peace!"), who could
scarcely be called _Kitty's_ "sister-in-law," but was of the most
faithful. The odd thing is that under all her gibing the author
seems to have a queer furtive admiration for her precious Ministry
* * * * *
Among the many things I like in DORETHEA CONYERS' novels is the
artistic subtlety, achieved by few of our other novelists, with which
she manages to write them as it were in character. I am quite sure
that if _Berenice Ermyntrude Nicosia Nevin_, who is called by her
initials on the cover and inside by what they spell, had tried to
write a novel it would have been remarkably like _B.E.N._ (METHUEN).
There would have been the same keen delight in horses, hunting and
Irish scenery, and the same cheerful disregard for such trifles as
spelling or such conventions as making quite sure that your reader
knows which character is speaking at any given moment, and the same
excellent humour, which, if it is at the expense of the Irish, is
kindly enough for all that. It seems to me that in her new novel Mrs.
CONYERS, wisely refusing to stray to that suburbia in which her gifts
lack this charm, has recaptured much of the careless rapture of her
earliest books; and very careless and very rapturous they wore. But I
am not quite sure that in real life even _Ben_, when as second whip to
the East Cara hounds she lost her horse, would have found an aeroplane
useful to catch up with. In case it should be objected that anything
so funny as the tea at _Miss Talty's_ never could happen, even in the
Caher Valley district, I want to put it on record here and now that it
could and does.
* * * * *
_The Mystery Keepers_ (LANE), by MARION FOX, reminds me of the old
riddle, "What is it that has feathers and two legs, and barks like
a dog?"--the answer being a stork. People who protest that a stork
doesn't bark like a dog are told that that part is put in to make
it harder. I find that the greater part of the mystery kept by _The
Mystery Keepers_ is put in to make it harder. The Abbey at Clynch St.
Mary has a "coise" put on it by the last Abbess, and every direct
male heir expires punctually on his twenty-first birthday. The actual
agency is a poisoned ring concealed in the frame of a portrait of
the malevolent Abbess and is in the custody of the _Otway_ family,
who enjoy a prescriptive if nebulous right to be stewards of the
property. Just how or why the _Otways_--noble fellows, we are given to
understand--carry out the deceased Abbess's nefarious wishes with such
precision and despatch is not explained. Anyway the mother of the last
victim, who has found out the secret, steals the ring, murders the
_Otway_ of the period, and retires to a lunatic asylum after her son
has himself stolen the ring from her workbox and poisoned himself into
the next world. That finishes it. The ring retires to a museum and the
proper people marry each other. It is a slender and quite impossible
story, but told in a clever way which goes far to redeem its lack of
* * * * *
_The Graftons_ (COLLINS) is a sequel to Mr. ARCHIBALD MARSHALL'S
former chronicle of the same pleasant family. Herein you shall find
them, pursuing the even tenor of their prosperous way, father, son and
charming daughters, and arriving placidly at the point where, in the
natural sequence of events, these daughters leave the paternal nest
for others provided by eligible mates. Their courtships, and some mild
uncertainty as to whether papa _Grafton_, well-preserved and wealthy
widower, will or will not follow the example of his female offspring,
provide the entire matter of the book. For the rest Mr. MARSHALL is
content to mark time (and very pleasantly) with pictures of English
country life at its most comfortable, and in particular with some
comedy scenes, excellently done, turning upon the often delicate
relationship of Hall and Parsonage. There are a couple of clerical
portraits in the book that seem to me as lifelike as anything of the
kind since _Barchester_. Apart from this the outstanding virtue of
the _Graftons_ is the reality of their dialogue. Precisely thus do,
or did, actual people speak in the quiet old times before the War;
precisely thus also did nothing whatever of any consequence happen
to the vast majority of them. Since, however, the truth and charm of
the tale depend upon this absence of the sensational, I must the more
regret that Messrs. COLLINS, who have printed it exquisitely, should
have been betrayed into a coloured wrapper of almost grotesque
* * * * *
In _Graduation_ (CHATTO AND WINDUS) there is an essential femininity
about Miss IRENE RUTHERFORD McLEOD'S style and general attitude that
imposes limitations; it is a quality that shows itself not only in
her plot, but in her characters, the three reputed males who figure
therein being as fine examples of true womanliness as you need wish
to meet. _Frieda_ was the heroine (a name somehow significant); and of
the trouser-wearers, the first, _Geoffrey_, was a cat-like deceiver,
who fascinated poor _Frieda_ for ends unspecified, pretended (the
minx!) to be keen on the Suffrage movement, which he wasn't, and
concealed a wife; the second was a Being too perfect to endure beyond
Chapter 10, where he expires eloquently of heart-failure, leaving
_Alan_, the third, to bear the white man's burden and clasp _Frieda_
to his maidenly heart. This sentimental progress is, I suppose, what
is implied by the title and the symbolic staircase (if it _is_ a
staircase?) on the wrapper. But my trouble was that I could never
discern in the sweet girl-graduate any development of character from
the pretentious futility of her earliest appearance. Perhaps I am
prejudiced. Undeniably Miss McLEOD can draw a certain type of prig
with a horrible facility. But the antiquated modernity of her scheme,
flooded as it is with the New Dawn of, say, a decade ago, and its
bland disregard of everything that has happened since, ended by
violently irritating me. Others may have better luck.
* * * * *
Spring has been slow in coming, but I got something more than a whiff
of actual summer when _Under Blue Skies_ (HUTCHINSON) came my way. Mr.
DE VERD STACPOOLE is at the top of his form, and it is a real pleasure
to recommend an author who brings to his tales of adventure so nice
a sense of style and so keen a feeling for character. In "The Frigate
Bird" the rapscallions who seize a schooner and, without any knowledge
of navigation, sail the high seas, are full-blooded adventurers; but
there is all the difference in the world between the character of the
educated _Carlyon_ and that of the simple-minded and ignorant _Finn_.
This yarn occupies nearly half of the book, and the other stories
should give food for thought to those who allege that no Englishman
can write a short story. Apart from one charming little tale of a
haunted French _chateau_ Mr. STACPOOLE allows us to bask here in the
eternal summer of Pacific skies. I am very grateful for my sun-bath.
* * * * *
In _Poems of the Great War_, by Mrs. ROBERTSON-GLASGOW, readers
of _Punch_ will recognise some of the best serious poems that have
appeared in these pages of recent years. The little half-crown volume
in which they reappear has been admirably printed at S. Aldhelm's
Home for Boys, Frome, and may be bought at SMITH'S in Kensington High
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Voice of Tommy in audience_. "NAH THEN, MATE, WHY
DON'T YER DIG YERSELF IN?"]
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