Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 156, May 28, 1919.
Produced by Malcolm Farmer, Sandra Brown and the Online Distributed
PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
May 28, 1919.
[Illustration: "AUSTRIAE EST IMPERARE ORBI UNIVERSO".
ONCE UPON A TIME.
* * * * *
It was the pig, says an eminent Danish economist, that lost Germany
the War. His omission to specify which pig seems almost certain to
provoke further recriminations among the German High Command.
After all, the War _may_ have wakened a new spirit in the nation. Up
to the time of writing no one has attempted to corner mint-sauce.
A movement, we hear, is on foot to give a public welcome to the
cheeses on their return to our midst. It is thought that a march-past
could easily be arranged.
Hackney will supply electricity to consumers at a special rate during
the Peace celebrations. The present price of one-and-sixpence per
kilowatt-and-soda practically inhibits anything like deep-seated
A Miners' Association in the North has decided not to establish a
weekly newspaper. Pending other arrangements they will do a little
light mining, but it must not be taken as a precedent.
At a meeting of Hassocks allotment-holders a speaker stated that he
had seen rabbits jump a fence five feet high. Experts declare that
this is at least three feet over proof.
As the outcome of suggestions by the Economy Committee at Eton Dr.
ALINGTON has made certain restrictions in regard to various articles
of dress, notably socks and mufflers. Henceforward only such socks as
do not require muffling will be worn.
The cow that walked into the lending library at Walton Heath has
since explained that it merely wanted to look up "Manchuria" in the
It is said that the question of neutrality has caused most of the
delay in the formation of the League of Nations. We certainly realise
the difficulty in deciding how Norway and Switzerland could come to
grips, in the event of a War between these two countries, without
infringing the laws of neutrality.
"No harm to the moon will result from the eclipse of the sun on May
28th," states a writer in an evening paper. This is good news for
those who have mining shares there.
There is a falling off in the tanning of kids in India, says _The
Shoe and Leather Trades Record_. Smith minor talks of migrating to the
Government ale, says a trade paper, will shortly be on sale in some
parts of Ireland. This certainly ought to be a lesson to them.
Two Parisians who had previously arranged to fight a duel have refused
to meet. It is supposed that they have quarrelled.
As we go to press we are informed on good authority that the cat that
developed rabies last week has now been successfully killed eight
times, and it is expected that its final execution will have taken
place by the time this appears in print.
We understand that the Tredegar Fire Brigade strike is settled.
Patrons are asked to bear with the Brigade, who have promised to work
off arrears of fires in strict rotation.
A Surrey Church magazine appeals for funds to renovate the church
exits. For ourselves, if we were a parson, we shouldn't worry about
getting people out of church so long as we got them in.
A Scottish Chamber of Commerce has passed a resolution in favour of
smaller One Pound Treasury Notes. If at the same time they could be
made a bit cheaper the movement would be a popular one.
A taxi-driver who knocked down a pedestrian in Edgware Road and
then drove off has been summoned. His defence is that he mistook the
unfortunate man for an intending fare.
The Northumberland Miners' Council has passed a resolution calling
on the Government to evacuate our troops from Russia, drop the
Conscription Bill, remove the blockade and release conscientious
objectors. Their silence on the subject of Dalmatia is being much
A report reaches us that Jazz is about to be made a notifiable
* * * * *
A SPRING IDYLL.
If wound stripes were given to soldiers on becoming casualties to
Cupid's archery barrage, Ronnie Morgan's sleeve would be stiff with
gilt embroidery. The spring offensive claimed him as an early victim.
When be became an extensive purchaser of drab segments of fossilized
soap, bottles of sticky brilliantine with a chemical odour, and
postcards worked with polychromatic silk, the billet began to make
"It's that little mam'zelle at the shop in the Rue de la Republique,"
reported Jim Brown. "He spends all his pay and as much as he can
borrow of mine to get excuses for speaking to her."
There was a period of regular visits and intense literary activity on
the part of Ronnie, followed by the sudden disappearance of Mam'zelle
and an endeavour by the disconsolate swain to liquidate his debts in
"I owe you seven francs, Jim," said he. "If you give me another
three francs and I give you two bottles of brilliantine and a cake of
vanilla-flavoured soap we'll be straight."
"Not me!" said Jim firmly. "I've no wish to be a scented fly-paper.
Have you frightened her away?"
"She's been _swept_ away on a flood of my eloquence," said Ronnie
sadly. "But in the wrong direction; and after I'd bought enough
pomatum from her to grease the keel of a battleship, and enough soap
to wash it all off again. Good soap it is too, me lad; lathers well if
you soak it in hot water overnight."
"How did you come to lose her?" asked Jim, steering the conversation
out of commercial channels.
"The loss is hers," said Ronnie; "I wore holes in my tunic leaning
over the counter talking to her, and I made about as much progress as
a Peace Conference. I got soap instead of sympathy and scent instead
of sentiment. However, she must have got used to me, because one day
she asked if I would translate an English letter she'd received into
"'Now's your chance to make good,' I thought, language being my
strong suit; but I felt sick when I found it was a love-letter from
a presumptuous blighter at Calais, who signed himself 'Your devoted
Horace.' Still, to make another opportunity of talking to her, I
offered to write it out in French. She sold me a block of letter-paper
for the purpose, and I went home and wrote a lifelike translation.
"She gave me a dazzling smile and warm welcome when I took it in, but
on the balance I didn't feel that I'd done myself much good. And next
day I'm dashed if she didn't give me another letter to translate, this
time signed 'Your loving Herbert.' Herbert, I discovered, was a sapper
who'd been transferred to Boulogne and, judging by his hand, was
better with a shovel than a pen. As an amateur in style I couldn't
translate his drivel word for word. Like _Cyrano_, the artist in
me rose supreme, and I manicured and curled his letter, painted and
embroidered it, and nearly finished by signing 'Ronnie' instead of
"She was quite surprised when she read the translation.
"_'C'est gentil, n'est-ce-pas_?' said she, kissing it and stuffing it
away in her belt. 'I did not think,' she went on in French, 'that the
dear stupid 'Erbert had so much eloquence.' I saw my error. I had made
a probable of a horse that hadn't previously got an earthly. So, to
adjust things, I refrigerated the next letter--which happened to be
from 'Orace--to the temperature of codfish on an ice block. And the
consequence was that Georgette sulked and would scarcely speak to me
for three whole days.
"The situation, coldly reviewed, appeared to be like this. When 'Orace
or 'Erbert pleased her I got a share of the sunshine, but when their
love-making cooled her displeasure was visited on poor Ronnie. Any
advances on my own part were countered with sales of soap, customers
apparently being rarer than lovers. So I had to bide my time.
"But one day letters from 'Orace and 'Erbert arrived simultaneously,
and were duly handed to the fourth party for necessary action. It
occurred to me that when the time came for me to enter the race on
my own behalf I need have little fear of 'Erbert as a rival, so I
determined to cut 'Orace out of the running.
"I translated his letter first. I censored the tender parts, spun out
the padding and served it up like cold-hash. Then I set to work on
'Erbert. I got the tremolo stop out and the soft pedal on and made a
symphony of it. I made it a stream of trickling melody--blue skies,
yellow sunshine and scent of roses, with Georgette perched like a
sugar goddess on a silver cloud and 'Erbert trying to clamber up to
her on a silk ladder. To read it would have made a Frenchman proud of
his own language. Then, for dramatic effect, I took the letters, put
them on the counter and walked out without a word. 'That,' thought I,
'will do 'Orace's business--and then for 'Erbert!'
"Next day, when I went to see the result, to my surprise I found
that her place behind the counter was taken by that little red-haired
"'Where's Georgette?' said I.
"'Ah, M'sieur, she has gone,' said Celestine. 'Figure to yourself,
this 'Orace, who used to write with ardour and spirit, sent her
yesterday a poor pitiful note. It made one's heart bleed to read
it, such halting appeal, such inarticulate sentiment. _"Le pauvre
garcon!"_ cried Georgette, "his passion is so strong he cannot find
words for it. He is stricken dumb with excess of feeling. I must be at
his side to comfort him." And she has flown like the wind to Calais,
that she may be affianced to him. But if M'sieur desires to buy the
soap I know the kind you prefer.'
"So you see me," concluded Ronnie plaintively, "bankrupt in love and
money. Three francs, Jim, and I'll chuck in a packet of post-cards."
* * * * *
SONGS OF SIMLA.
Along a narrow mountain track
Stalking supreme, alone,
Head upwards, hands behind his back,
He swings his sixteen stone.
Quit of the tinsel and the glare
That lit his forbears' lives,
His tweed-clad shoulders amply bear
The burden that was CLIVE'S.
A man of few and simple needs
He smokes a briar--and yet
His rugged signature precedes
The half an alphabet.
Across these green Elysian slopes
The Secretariat gleams,
The playground of his youthful hopes,
The workshop of his schemes.
He sees the misty depths below,
Where plain and foothills, meet,
And smiles a wistful smile to know
The world is at his feet;
To know that England calls him back;
To know that glory's path
Is leading to a _cul de sac_
In Cheltenham or Bath;
To know that all he helped to found,
The India of his prayers,
Has now become the tilting ground
Of MILL-bred doctrinaires.
But his the inalienable years
Of faith that stirred the blood,
Of zeal that won through toil and tears,
And after him--the flood.
* * * * *
OUR FEMININE ATHLETES.
"Wanted, Young Lady, vaults bar.--Apply personally, Mrs.
-----, Oddfellows' Arms."--_Provincial Paper_.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE GREAT RENUNCIATION.
PRESIDENT WILSON. "NO! I DON'T THINK IT QUITE SUITS MY AUSTERE TYPE OF
[It is reported that the United States of America have declined to
accept a mandate for Constantinople.]]
* * * * *
[Illustration: PERFORMING LION AT MUSIC-HALL, HAVING GOT LOOSE, FINDS
ITS WAY TO ROOM OCCUPIED BY CHARWOMAN.
_Char_. "NAH, THEN! I WON'T 'AVE THEM NASTY THINGS IN 'ERE. I CAN'T
* * * * *
PEACE AND OTHER COMPLICATIONS.
DEAREST DAPHNE,--Already everyone's got peace-strain and what state
we shall all be in by the time it's actually signed I haven't the
dimmest. People have their own ideas of how they mean to celebrate it,
and when they find that other people have the same ideas and mean to
do the same things at the same time there are alarums and excursions,
and things are said, and quite several people who were dear friends
during the War don't speak now owing to the peace!
_Par exemple_, marches and processions being so much in the air,
I'd planned a lovely Procession of Knitters; two enormous gilt
knitting-needles to be carried by the leaders and a banner with "We
Knitted our Way to Victory!" and myself on a triumphal car dressed in
white silk-knitting. And then, just as everything was being arranged
at our "Knitters' Peace Procession" committee meetings, I found that
Beryl Clarges had _stolen my idea_ and was arranging a "Crochet Peace
Procession," with an immense gilt crochet-hook to be carried in front,
and a banner with some nonsense about crochet on it, and herself on a
triumphal car dressed in crochet!
I said exactly what I thought before I left off speaking to her.
Then, again, everyone wants to give a dance on peace night. I'd
settled to give a big affair with some perfectly new departures, and
all the nicest people I wanted have said, "Sorry, dearest, but I'm
giving one myself that night." I've no patience with the silliness and
selfishness of everybody.
Talking of dances, one's getting a bit _degoutee_ of Jazz bands and
steps. When _ces autres_ get hold of anything it always begins to
leave off being amusing. There's really a new step, however, the Peace
Leap, that hasn't yet been quite _use_ and spoilt by the outlying
tribes. The origin of it was a little funny. Chippy Havilland was
at one of Kickshaw's Jazz dinners one night, where people fly out of
their seats to one-step and two-step between the courses and during
the courses and all the time. Well, while Chippy was eating his fish
the band struck up that catchy Jazz-stagger, "She's corns on her
toes," and Chippy, his mouth full of fish, jumped up and began to
dance. _Of course_ several fish-bones flew down his throat, and while
he was choking he did such fearful and wonderful things that the whole
room, not dreaming the poor dear was at his _dernier soupir_, broke
out clapping and shouting and then imitated him, and by the time
Chippy felt better he found himself famous and everybody doing the
Peace Leap, which has completely cut out the Jazz-stagger, the Wolf's
Prowl and everything else.
Oh, my dearest, who _do_ you think are among the crowd of married
people who're going to celebrate peace by dissolving partnership? The
Algy Mallowdenes! Our prize couple! The _flitchiest_ of Dunmow Flitch
pairs! The _turtlest_ of turtle--doves! Whenever people spoke of
marriage as played out other people always weighed in with, "Well, but
look at the Algy Mallowdenes."
They married on war-bread and Government cheese and kisses
(unrationed). Seriously, though, _m'amie_, I believe they'd
scarcely anything beyond his two thousand pounds a year as Permanent
Irremovable Assistant Under-Secretary at the No-Use-Coming-Here
Office. Certainly an "official residence" and a staff of servants were
allowed 'em, but when poor Lallie asked to have a ball-room built, and
Algy said he simply _must_ have a billiard-room and smoke-room added,
one of those fearful red-flag creatures got up in the House just
as the money was going to be voted and made such an uproar that the
matter was dropped.
And then, having heaps of spare time at the No-Use-Coming-Here Office,
Algy began to write novels and found himself at once. You've read some
of them, of course? Life with a big L, my dear. Every kind of world
while you wait, the upper, the under, and the half. Lallie was
very glad of the money that came rolling in, but I believe she said
wistfully, "How does my gentle quiet Algy know so much about
this, that and the other?" And her gentle quiet Algy made answer:
"Intuition, dear; imagination; the novelist's temperament."
By-and-by, however, she began to hear of his being seen at the Umpty
Club and Gaston's, chatting with Pearl Preston (one of those people,
you know, Daphne, who're immensely talked about but never mentioned).
And then a "certain liveliness" set in at the official residence of
the Permanent Irremovable Assistant Under-Secretary.
"You silly little goosey!" said Algy; "don't you see that it's not as
a man who admires her but as a novelist who's studying her that I
talk to Pearl Preston? She's my next heroine. A heroine like that is a
_sine qua non_ in a novel of the Modernist school."
But Lallie _couldn't_ see the dif between a man and a novelist, and
Algy _couldn't_ write his best seller without studying its heroine,
and so--and so--at last our poor prize couple are in that long list
that an overworked judge complained of the other day. And if you ask
for the moral I suppose it's "Don't try to study character where there
This is emphatically a season for _arms_, my Daphne, which seems quite
a good little idea for peace-time! Faces and figures don't count; it's
the arm, the whole arm and nothing but the arm! There are all sorts
of stunts for attracting attention to round white arms, and if one has
the other kind one had better go and do a rest-cure. Your Blanche is
beyond criticism in that respect, as you know, and the other night at
the opera I'd a _succes fou_ with a big black-enamel beetle, held in
place by an invisible platinum chain, crawling on my upper arm.
Lady Manoeuvrer is simply _ravie de joie_ at the rage for arms, for
her Daffodil, who's been a great worry to her (she's the only clever
one, you know, all the others being pretty), has the best arms of the
whole bunch. She's taken Madame Fallalerie's course, "The Fascination
of the Arms," and is made to flourish hers about from morn to
night, poor child, till she sometimes does a small weep from sheer
exhaustion. The other day at Kempford Races, in a no-sleeved coatee
with a black sticking-plaster racehorse in full gallop on her upper
arm, she attracted plenty of attention and had two offers, I hear.
Arms and the man, again!
_A propos_, Lady Manoeuvrer told me yesterday she'd sent a
thank-offering to one of the hospitals. "But how sweet of you!" I
said. "For the restoration of Peace, I suppose?" "No, dearest," she
whispered; "for the restoration of the London Season!"
Ever thine, BLANCHE.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Tube Habitue (homeward bound)._ "TWO STRAPS,
* * * * *
"LETTS TAKE RIGA."
Yes, and let's keep it.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Manager (introducing music-hall turn)._ "LADIES
AND GENTLEMEN, KHAGOOLA WILL NOW PROCEED TO GIVE HIS ASTOUNDING
CLAIRVOYANT, MEMORY AND SECOND SIGHT ACT, AND WILL ANSWER ANY QUESTION
THAT ANY MEMBER OF THE AUDIENCE MAY PUT TO HIM."
_Voice from Gallery_. "TELL US WHERE THERE'S A 'OUSE TO LET."]
* * * * *
This was to have been an essay from an igloo, describing the
awful privations of the writer and the primitive savagery of his
surroundings on the Murman coast. It was to have wrung the sympathetic
heart of the public and at the same time to have enthralled the
student of barbaric life with its wealth of exotic detail. While
embodying all the best-known newspaper _cliches_ appropriated to these
latitudes it was to have included others specially and laboriously
prepared after a fascinating study of Arctic literature.
But circumstances have blighted its early inspiration, and the article
it was to have been will never be written, the telling word-pictures
designed on board the transport never executed.
Figure the disgust of five adventurers who, landing at the Murman
base, sternly braced to encounter the last extremity of peril and of
hardship, to sleep in the snow and dig one another out o' mornings,
to give the weakest of their number the warmest icicle to suck, the
longest candle to chew--found themselves billeted in a room which the
landladies of home would delight to advertise! Its walls were hung
with such pictures as give cheap lodgings half their horror; it was
encumbered with countless frail chairs and "kiggly" tables, and upon
every flat surface had settled a swarm of albums, framed photographs,
china dogs, wax flowers, penholder-stands, and all the choicest
by-products of civilization struggling towards culture. As we were not
to be frozen by exposure or immediately attacked by Bolshies, we might
reasonably have expected to be asphyxiated by the Russian stove; but
even this consolation was denied us, since Madame, convinced that
the English are mad in their love of fresh air, consented to leave it
When first we arrived, five large soldiers with five large kits, the
aspect of the room filled us with terror. The fiercest frost or foe we
could have faced, but the bravest man may quail before wax-flowers and
fragile tables top-heavy with ornaments and knick-knacks, and all felt
that to encounter such things within the Arctic Circle was an unfair
test of our fortitude. Why had not the War Office or some newspaper
correspondent warned us?
Madame, however, proved to have a sense of proportion or humour; or
perhaps the collection was not her own. In any case she showed no
reluctance to displace family photographs or china dogs, and rapidly
had the room cleared for action; so that now, when we roll about the
floor in friendly struggle, it is only someone's toilet tackle that
crashes with its spidery table, instead of cherished artificial fauna
Thanks to our serviceable and becoming Arctic kit and the steady
approach of the Spring thaw, heralded by the preparation of spare
bridges to replace the existing ones, we can defy the eccentricities
of the climate. Even the language begins to reveal what might be
termed hand-holds; though possibly, when the natives echo our words
of greeting, painfully acquired from textbooks on Russian, they are
simply imitating the sounds we make under the impression that they are
learning a little English.
More difficult problems arise, however, regarding questions of
military etiquette. Not King's Regulations, nor Military Law, nor
any handbook devotes even a sub-paragraph to light and leading upon
certain points which we have here to consider every day. For example,
if a subaltern glissading on ski down the village street, maintaining
his precarious balance by the aid of a "stick" in each hand, meets
a General, also on ski and also a novice, what should happen? What
_does_ happen we know by demonstration: the subaltern brandishes both
sticks round his head, slides forward five yards, smartly crosses the
points of his ski and then, plunging forward, buries his head in the
wayside drift, while the General Officer sits down and says what he
thinks. But we do not know if these gestures of natural courtesy are
such as our mentors would approve. No authority has set up for us any
ideal in such matters. From official rules of deportment the British
soldier knows how to salute when on foot or mounted on bicycle, horse,
mule, camel, elephant, motor-lorry or yak, but no provision has been
made for the case of an army scooting on ski. So here we are at large
in the Arctic Circle, coping with new conditions by the light of
nature, and paying such perilous "compliments" to senior officers as
our innate courtesy and sense, of balance suggest and permit.
Further, consider the question of dress. Even the gunners, who in the
late war used to wear riding-breeches of their favourite colour, no
matter what it was, the kind of footgear they most fancied, and any
old variety of hat they thought becoming, are shocked by the fantastic
kit that is countenanced in this latitude. It must be borne in mind
that most of us are old campaigners and old nomads whose tailors have
grown accustomed to build us appropriate gear for various climes.
Fashions for fighting in France, in Egypt, in Mesopotamia, have gained
a hold upon our affections, to say nothing of those designs for civil
breadwinning or moss-dodging in Central Africa, Bond Street, Kirkcaldy
or Dawson City. The consequence is that here, pretty well out of
A.P.M. range, sartorial individualism flourishes unchecked. Thus
the eye is startled to behold a fur headdress as big as a busby, an
ordinary service tunic, gaberdine breeches, shooting stockings and
Shackleton boots, going about as component parts of one officer's
make-up; or snow-goggles worn with flannel trousers, or sharp-toothed
Boreas defied by a bare head and a chamois-leather jerkin; or the
choice flowers of Savile Row associated with Canadian moccasins.
What idea will the North Russians retain of the outward appearance of
the typical British officer? How will the little Lapps, befurred and
smiling, who come sliding to market behind the trotting reindeer,
report of us to the smaller Lapps at home? In any case I hope we shall
found a legend of a well-meaning if peculiar and patchwork people.
* * * * *
[Illustration: SOCIAL DIFFICULTIES IN EARLY TIMES.
_British Matron (whose husband has just had his weekly coat of woad,
"I'M SORRY, SIR, BUT MY HUSBAND CAN'T SEE YOU TILL HE'S DRY."]
* * * * *
"Gas Stoker wanted for 11 million works, used to gas
engine and exhauster; 50_s_. per week of seven 12-hour
shifts."--_Advt. in Daily Paper_.
In the circumstances the reference to "exhauster" seems superfluous.
* * * * *
NEW AIDS TO THE ANGRY.
The readers of the Personal Column of _The Times_ were lately
refreshed by the following entry:--
"Would the person in the green Tyrolese hat note that though
it may be a custom on his own course to pocket golf-balls on
the fairway, it is not done elsewhere."
For long the Personal Column has been a vehicle for appeal and regret,
for affection and grief, in addition to its other manifold uses; but
as an instrument of admonishment it is fresh. The tragic thing is that
up to the time of going to press the green Tyrolese hat has made no
reply. Either it does not read _The Times_ or it has been rendered
speechless. We were longing for some first-class recriminations.
The new fashion is sure to spread. For example, any morning we are
liable to find this:--
Would the lady (?) in the purple toque note that, though it
may be the thing in her home to disregard the feelings of
others, the abstraction of someone else's chair at a White
Sale at Blankridge's is not the thing.
The female with a red parasol, who thought it her duty to
struggle like a wild-cat for a place on a No. 11 bus, opposite
the Stores, on Friday afternoon last at a quarter to three,
may be interested in learning that the service is not run
solely for her.
And a more intimate note still may be struck. Something like this may
be looked for:--
Will Lydia Lopokova take pity on an unhappy and neglected
wife, whose husband has stated that he would resume dining at
home only on condition that the table was laid as it is laid
in _The Good-Humoured Ladies_?
* * * * *
Before I was a little girl I was a little bird,
I could not laugh, I could not dance, I could not speak a word;
But all about the woods I went and up into the sky--
And isn't it a pity I've forgotten how to fly?
I often came to visit you. I used to sit and sing
Upon our purple lilac bush that smells so sweet in Spring;
But when you thanked me for my song of course you never knew
I soon should be a little girl and come to live with you.
* * * * *
"Arbitration is to be adopted first in disputes
between members of the League, then meditation by the
* * * * *
THE TREACHEROUS SON.
I certainly hoped when I took up my quarters in this quiet village
that there would be no jarring note to disturb the idyllic peace of
my surroundings. And yet I had not been long in this pleasant
sitting-room, with its outlook on blossom-laden fruit-trees,
creamy-spired chestnuts and wooded down, before I became aware that a
pitiful and rather sordid little domestic drama was in progress within
fifty yards from my open windows. I discovered a son in the act of
encouraging his aged and apparently imbecile parent to gamble with
a professional swindler! Not that I have actually seen them thus
engaged. As a matter of fact I have merely heard a few short
remarks--and those were all spoken by the son. But, as everyone knows,
even a single sentence accidentally overheard by an observant stranger
may give him a clearer insight into the unknown, and possibly unseen,
speaker's character than could be gained from countless chapters of a
modern analytical novel.
So these four sentences were quite enough for _me_. Perhaps I should
mention here that the three personages in this drama are birds--which
makes it all the more painful.
Like many of our British birds, the sole speaker occasionally drops
into English, or I should never have understood what was going on.
He may be a blackbird or thrush, but I doubt it, because I know all
_their_ remarks, while his are new to me. If A.A.M. heard them he
would probably tell me they were those of a "Blackman's Warbler," and
I should have believed him--once. Hardly now, after he has so airily
exposed his title as an authority; but even as it is I should not
dream of questioning his statement that "the egg of course is
rather more speckled," because I can well believe that the egg this
bird--whatever he is--came from was very badly speckled indeed.
It seems that, some time ago--I can't say when exactly, but it was
before I came down here--this unnatural son introduced to the parental
abode (which I think is either No. 5 or No. 6 in a row of young
chestnuts abutting on the high road) a rook of more than dubious
reputation, whom he persuaded his unsuspecting sire to put up for
the night. And there the rook has been ever since. As I said, I have
neither heard nor seen him, but I'm positive he's _there_. I am unable
to give the precise date on which he first led the conversation to the
good old English game of "rigging the thimble"--that also was before I
came. All I can state with certainty is that he interested his host in
it so effectually that now the infatuated old fool is playing it all
This is evident from his son's conversation; during the pause which
invariably precedes it I should undoubtedly hear the father-bird (if
he would only speak up--which he doesn't) quavering, "I'm not sure,
my boy, I'm not _sure_, but I've a notion that, _this_ time, he's left
the pea under the _middle_ thimble--eh?"
On which the young scoundrel, knowing well that it is elsewhere,
pipes out, "There it _is_, Fa-ther, there it _is_, Fa-ther!" with
an unctuous humility shading into impatient contempt that is simply
indescribable, being indeed too revolting for words.
Then, as the father still wavers, his son makes some observations
which I cannot quite follow, but take to be on the fairness of the
game as played with a sportsbird, and the certainty that the luck must
turn sooner or later. After which he exhorts him--this time in plain
English--to "be a bird." Whereupon the doting old parent decides that
he _will_ be a bird and back the middle thimble, and the next moment I
hear the son exclaim, evidently referring to the rook, "No, '_e_'s got
it; no, '_e_'s got it. Cheer up! Cheer up!" with a perfunctory
concern that is but a poor disguise for indecent exultation. I am not
suggesting, by the way, that birds are in the habit of dropping their
"h's"--but _this_ one does. There are times when he is so elated by
his parent's defeat that he cannot repress an outburst of inarticulate
devilry. And so the game goes on, minute after minute, hour after
hour, every day from dawn to dusk. The amount of grains or grubs or
whatever the stakes may be (and it is not likely that any rook would
play for love), that that old idiot must have lost even since I have
been here, is beyond all calculation. He has never once been allowed
to spot the right thimble, but he _will_ go on. As to the son's motive
in permitting it, any bird of the world would tell you that, if you
possess a senile parent who is bound to be rooked by somebody, it
had better be by a person with whom you can come to a previous
Now I come to think of it, though, I have not heard the unnatural
offspring once since I sat down to write this. Can it have dawned at
last upon his parent that this is one of those little games where the
odds are a trifle too heavy in favour of the Table? Or can the son
have sickened of his own villainy and washed his claws of his shady
confederate? I don't know why, but I am almost beginning to hope....
No; through the open window comes the well-known cry, "There it _is_,
Fa-ther! There it _is_, Fa-ther! Be a bird! Be a _bird_!... No, '_e_'s
got it! No, '_e_'s got it! Cheer up! Cheer up!" They are at it again!
* * * * *
A SHADY TENANT.
[From inquiries made by a _Daily Chronicle_ representative it
appears that the present demand for housing accommodation is
such that people no longer draw the line at ghosts.]
The problem at last is a thing of the past;
Doubts and fears, Geraldine, are at rest;
We can put up the banns and make definite plans,
For the love-birds will soon have a nest.
I've inspected, my sweet, the sequestered retreat
In which we are destined to dwell,
And on thinking things out I have not the least doubt
It will suit us exceedingly well.
There are drawbacks, I grant, but one nowadays can't
Have perfection, as you are aware,
And I'm sure you won't grouse when I state that the house
Is both damp and in need of repair.
I might add there's a floor that shows traces of gore;
I discovered the latter to be
That of one Lady Jane, who was brutally slain
By her husband in Sixteen-Two-Three.
Years have passed since the time of that dastardly crime,
But the victim's intangible shade
Can be seen to this day, so the villagers say,
In diaphanous garments arrayed.
In the gloom of the room where she met with her doom
She's appearing once nightly, it seems,
And the listener quails as lugubrious wails
Are succeeded by agonised screams.
But the trivial flaws I have mentioned need cause
No concern; I am certain that you
Will approve of my choice, Geraldine, and rejoice
In the thought that our haven's in view.
In the likely event of your mother's descent
There's the warmest of welcomes in store,
And a rug I'll provide for her bedroom, to hide
That indelible stain on the floor.
* * * * *
[Illustration: A PAUSE BEFORE RECONSTRUCTION.]
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Small Bridesmaid (loudly, in middle of ceremony)._
"MUMMIE, ARE WE ALL GETTING MARRIED?"]
* * * * *
THE NEW ARM.
_(On perceiving William in mufti again and carrying one.)_
What is this implement of warfare, Bill?
What seed of fire within its entrails slumbers?
Does it unfold at all? Run through the drill,
Doing it first by numbers.
Not a grenade and not a parachute?
Some remnant rather of the ancient folly,
Some touch of times before the Big Dispute?
I have it now! A brolly.
Yes, and it opens outwards like a tent,
Guarding the sacred poll from skies injurious.
Up with it! Let us see your tops'ls bent.
How splendid! And how curious!
Do it again, Bill. I am better now;
Only at first, perhaps, I slightly trembled.
Press on the little clutch and show me how
The parts are reassembled.
To think men poked these things into the sky,
Fearing to face the storm's minutest particles,
Through four long hectic years, whilst you and I
Forgot there were such articles.
It brings the old times back to one again,
The grim-eyed crowd that faced the morning's dolours
Doing their very best to drip the rain
Down other people's collars;
The fond, fond pair beneath a single dome;
The fight to ride on Hammersmiths and Chelseas;
The rapture when you found on reaching home
Your gamp was someone else's.
O symbol of routine and office hours!
O emblem of the soft civilian status!
Shall I too deign to roof me from the showers
With such an apparatus?
Shall I consent to grasp within my hand
The sign of serfdom and to get the habit
Of marching like a mushroom down the Strand,
A mushroom on a rabbit?
Never. O hateful sight! And yet--and yet
I'm not so sure. This month has been a dry one;
June will most probably be beastly wet;
P'r'aps, after all, I'll buy one.
* * * * *
EAST IS EAST.
"The Girl Guides are doing well.... Another guide was
married this month to Corporal ----. We wish them all
happiness."--_Diocesan Magazine (India)._
Corporal ---- appears to be a specialist.
* * * * *
"There are persistent rumours of a plot to bring back the old
regime and put either a Hohenzollern or a representative of
some other Royal house on the Thorne of Germany."--_Canadian
EX-KAISER (_loq_.): "No, thanks; I've had some."
* * * * *
"OXFORD FOR HOLIDAYS.--Most beautiful city in England. Good
lodgings and boating. Two golf links and fishing."--_Advt. in
We seem to remember, too, some mention of an educational establishment
in connection with the place.
* * * * *
OUR HELPFUL CONTEMPORARIES.
"There have been cases, we believe, in which the height of a
person has increased after the person had reached mature age, but
it has always been suspected that this was due to greater
uprightness. A man who stoops always looks shorter than when he
is standing quite upright. But no such explanation as this can be
given for an apparent increase of the human head. If a head
really requires a larger hat it must be because the head is
* * * * *
[Illustration: HONOUR SATISFIED.
GERMAN DELEGATE. "SIGN? I'D SOONER DIE! _(Aside)_ AFTER WHICH
PRELIMINARY REMARKS I WILL NOW SELECT A NIB."]
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
_Monday, May 19th._--The coalminers lately received concessions in
wages and hours that are going to cost the country twenty millions
sterling in the present financial year. The first result of this boon
(_teste_ Sir AUCKLAND GEDDES) is that they are turning out less coal
per man than ever, and that the unhappy consumer must look forward to
a further reduction in his already meagre ration. It is rather hard
upon Mr. SMILLIE, who daily dilates in the Coal Commission upon the
hardships of the miner's life, that his clients should let him down
For a thorough-going democrat commend me to Lieutenant-Commander
KENWORTHY, the new Member for Central Hull, whose latest idea is that
before British troops are sent to any new front the approval of the
House of Commons should be obtained. I suspect that if, during his
active-service days, some Member had proposed a similar restriction
on the movements of the Fleet the comments of the gallant Commander
himself would have been more pithy than Parliamentary.
[Illustration: LADIES IN GOVERNMENT MOTOR-CARS.
_General Seely._ "WELL, HARDLY EVER."]
The number of motor-cars at the disposal of the Air Ministry now
stands at the apparently irreducible minimum of forty-two. Quite a
number of the officials use train or bus, like ordinary folk; some
have even been seen to walk; and there has been such a slump in
"joy-riding" that when asked if ladies were now carried in the
official chariots General SEELY was able to assure the House that that
never happens; though I think he added under his breath--"well, hardly
There was barely a quorum when Colonel LESLIE WILSON rose to introduce
the estimates of the Shipping Controller. This was a pity, for he had
a good story to tell of the mercantile marine, and told it very well.
He was less successful on the subject of the "national shipyards,"
which have cost four millions of money and in two years have not
succeeded in turning out a single completed ship. With the wisdom that
comes after the event Sir CHARLES HENRY fulminated ferociously against
the "superman" who had imposed this "disastrous scheme" upon the
This brought up the superman himself, Sir ERIC GEDDES, who in the most
vigorous speech he has yet delivered in the House defended the scheme
as being absolutely essential at the time it was initiated. It was
a war-time expedient, which changing circumstances had rendered
unnecessary; but if the War and the U-boat campaign had gone on it
might have been the salvation of the country. After all you can't
expect to have shipyards without making a few slips.
_Tuesday, May 20th._--The advance of woman continues. Very soon she
will have her foot upon the first rung of the judicial ladder, and be
able to write J.P. after her name, for the LORD CHANCELLOR, pointing
out that in this matter the Government were bound to honour the
pledges of the PRIME MINISTER, gracefully swallowed Lord BEAUCHAMP'S
Bill. He took occasion, however, to warn the prospective justicesses
(if that is the right term) that, as the Commissions of the Peace were
already fully manned, it might be some time before any large number
of ladies could be added to the roll of those who, in the words of the
Prayer-book, "indifferently administer justice."
[Illustration: THE LONG PULL.
MR. ROBERTS RESPONDS TO HIS COUNTRY'S CALL.]
Quite unintentionally, of course, Mr. BOTTOMLEY did the Government a
real service in the Commons. Every day since his return from Paris Mr.
BONAR LAW has been pestered with inquiries as to when, if ever, the
House was to be allowed to discuss the Peace terms, and has evaded
a direct answer with more or less ingenuity. This afternoon Mr.
BOTTOMLEY, after hearing that the LEADER OF THE HOUSE had "nothing to
add" to his previous replies, asked if he was right in supposing that,
when the Treaty came up for ratification, the House must take it or
leave it, and would have no power to amend it in any respect. Mr. LAW
joyfully jumped at the chance of ending the daily catechism once for
all. "That," he said, "exactly represents the position, and I do not
see in what other way any Treaty could ever be arranged."
In anticipation of the debate on the Finance Bill Mr. SYDNEY ARNOLD
sought an admission from the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER that the
income-tax on small incomes was hardly worth retaining, owing to the
cost of collection. Not at all, said Mr. CHAMBERLAIN. It costs six
hundred thousand pounds and brings in eight million. Of course, he
added, it costs more proportionately to collect small amounts than
large. If the whole of the income-tax could be paid by one individual
the cost of collection would be _nil_. One imagined the CHANCELLOR
on the eve of the Budget wishing, _a la_ NERO, that the whole of the
British people had but one purse, into which he could dip as deeply
and as often as he pleased.
The debate on the Finance Bill was largely devoted to the proposed
"levy on capital," which a section of the "Wee Frees," who already
display fissiparous tendencies, have borrowed from the Labourites.
After their amendment was framed, however, Mr. ASQUITH spoke at
Newcastle, and ostentatiously refused to say a word about the new
nostrum. Sir DONALD MACLEAN, anxious to avoid displeasing either
his old leader or his new supporters, contented himself with the
suggestion that a Commission should be set up to consider the subject.
The CHANCELLOR had little difficulty in disposing of the amendment.
He might, indeed, have contented himself with quoting the War Bond
advertisements, which daily inform us that the patriotic investor
"will receive the whole of his money back with a substantial premium."
The Preference proposals which Mr. ACLAND had described as bred "by
Filial Piety out of the Board of Trade" received the unexpected aid of
Sir ALFRED MOND, who disposed of his Cobdenite prejudices as easily as
the conjurer swallows his gloves, and unblushingly asserted that the
tiny Preference now proposed, far from being the advance-guard of
Protection, was in reality a very strong movement towards Free Trade.
Comforted by this authoritative declaration Coalition Liberals helped
the Government to defeat the amendment by 317 to 72.
_Wednesday, May 21st._--The Peers being as usual rather short of work
at this period of the Session, the LORD CHANCELLOR introduced a Bill
"to enable the Official Solicitor for the time being to exercise
powers and duties conferred on the person holding the office of
The rumours that have lately appeared in the papers, to the effect
that the FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS was contemplating revolutionary
alterations at Hampton Court--in particular that he was going to
transform the famous pond-garden into something quite different: a
MOND-garden, in fact--are, it seems, grossly exaggerated. All that he
has done is to appoint a Committee of experts to advise him what, if
any, changes are desirable.
The resumed debate on the Finance Bill was enlivened by some personal
details. By way of showing that even without a levy on capital the
rich man bears his share of the burdens of the State, Sir EDWARD
CARSON remarked that, when he receives a retainer, he immediately
allows for the super-tax and enters it in his fee-book at only
half the amount. He had had one that very morning. "Say it was five
pounds"--and the House laughed loudly at such an absurd supposition.
Then we had Lord HUGH CECIL pointing his argument that the importance
of the proposed Preference to the Dominions was political rather than
economical by the remark that if he was going to be married--which he
fervently hoped would not happen to him--he would expect his mythical
bride to value his engagement-ring less for its pecuniary than its
A capital speech by Mr. STANLEY BALDWIN, one of the few men in the
House who talks finance as if he really understood it, wound up the
debate, and procured the Finance Bill a second reading _nem. con._
_Thursday, May 22nd._--The Ministry of Health Bill came up for third
reading in the Lords. An eleventh-hour attempt by the Government
to provide the new Minister with an additional Under-Secretary was
heavily defeated, Lord DOWNHAM being appropriately enough one of the
Tellers for the Opposition.
The Commons heard some good news. Mr. KENDALL'S pathetic story of an
angling-party which, after walking five miles along a dusty road to
its favourite hostelry, found it adorned with the now too frequent
notice, "Closed--No Beer," brought a most sympathetic reply from Mr.
GEORGE ROBERTS, who boldly confessed, "I am a believer in good beer
myself," and later on announced that the Government had decided to
increase the output from twenty million to twenty-six million standard
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Geordie (after intently watching conductor of Jazz
band for some time)._ "AH'VE HAD ENOUGH O' THIS. YON CHAP WI' STICK'S
ONLY CODDIN'. HE'S NOT HIT ONE OF 'EM SINCE WE CAAME IN."]
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Farmer._ "WELL, I BE MAIN GLAD TO SEE YOU BACK FROM
THE WAR. I SUPPOSE YOU'LL BE THINKING OF TAKING TO WORK NOW?"]
* * * * *
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
The original answer to the question at the head of these insignificant
remarks was (correct me if I am wrong) nothing. "A rose," said
_Juliet_, "by any other name would smell as sweet." But of course she
was wrong. If a rose were handed to a visitor in the garden, with the
words, "Do see how wonderful this onion is!" such a prejudice would be
set up as fatally to impair its fragrance. There is, in fact, much
in a name; and therefore the attempt of a correspondent of _The Daily
Express_ to find a generic nomenclature for domestic servants should
be given very serious attention; the purpose being to meet "the
objection felt by so many women servants to being either called by
Christian or surname."
As a means of placating this very sensitive class the correspondent
"One nearly always calls a cook by the name of her calling. I
therefore suggest that a name be adopted beginning with the first
letter of the class. For example:--
Here we have materials for a sweeping innovation which might, if it
spread, not only simplify life but reinforce the language. For why
confine such terms to domestic servants? If all parlourmaids are to be
called "Palmer," why not, for example, call all editors "Eddy" (very
good Eddy, or very bad Eddy, according to taste)? And all London
County Councillors, "Elsie"?
But let us look a little narrowly at the specimens given. "Palmer"
for "parlourmaid" is good; but "Louise" does not reproduce the sound
values of "lady's-maid." Some such word as "Lais" would be better, or
why not "Lady-bird," which combines the desired similarity with the
new euphemism "home-bird," invented to help transform domestic service
to a privilege and pleasure? "Hannah" for "housemaid" is also wrong,
although for "handmaid" it would be good. On the analogy of "Palmer,"
why not call all housemaids "How"? or even "House"?
If American Colonels can be called HOUSE, why not English housemaids?
For generals "Jenny" would be better than "Gertrude"; and for
scullery-maids "Scully." "Scully" is quite a good name; there is a
distinguished psychologist named SULLY, and there was an M.P. for
Pontefract named GULLY. No scullery-maid need be offended.
It is odd how we call some persons by their profession or calling, and
others not. We say "Doctor," but we do not address our gum-architect
as "Dentist." We say "Carpenter," but we do not address a plumber as
"Plumber." (Incidentally, all plumbers might be called Warner). We
say "Gardener" and "Coachman," but we do not address an advocate as
"Barrister." If we had a definite rule everything would be simple, but
as we have not it is necessary to find several more names. I am not at
all satisfied with _The Daily Express's_ test. For example, what would
a second parlour-maid be called? If three were kept they might be
called Palm, Palmer and Palmist. A long vista of difficulties opens.
* * * * *
RUS IN URBE.
["Encouraged by the summer weather yesterday, a titled lady
took her tea with some friends on the footway at Belsize
Park Gardens, Hampstead. Unsympathetic passers-by,
however, complained of the obstruction ... and, following
representation to the police by the public, the _al-fresco_
tea-party was broken up."--_Daily News_.]
In spite of the innate conservatism of the police we are pleased
to think that the seeds of a happy unconventionality, sown by this
courageous lady of title, have already borne fruit.
On Thursday night, about ten o'clock, the attention of passers-by was
drawn to a four-post bed, which was being trundled along the Strand
by eight stalwart footmen. On it reposed the Duke of Sleepyacres. It
appears that his Grace, on return from active service, found that the
confined air of an ordinary bed-room engendered insomnia. He therefore
conceived the idea of sleeping in the open-air and caused his bed to
be placed in the centre of the Strand, opposite the entrance to the
Savoy Hotel. The presence of the sleeping nobleman might have been
unnoticed, had not Mr. SMILLIE chanced to pass the spot on his way
from dining after a session of the Coal Commission. His eye was
immediately caught by the ducal crest on the panels of the bed.
Suspicious that this was a dastardly attempt on the part of a
member of the landed classes to obtain sleeping-rights in a public
thoroughfare, Mr. SMILLIE lodged a complaint with the police, and the
Duke was removed to Bow Street.
Some mild interest has been displayed by the public in a camp which
has been established by three subalterns in the roadway at the corner
of Charing Cross and Northumberland Avenue. It is a small and quite
inconspicuous affair, consisting merely of an army pattern bell-tent,
a camp fire and a few deck chairs. Our representative recently visited
the occupants to ascertain the reason for their presence. After
hastily declining an offer of a glass of E.F.C. port, smuggled over
from France, he inquired with polite interest whether his hosts
contemplated a lengthy stay. They replied that they did. They were
waiting for their demobilisation gratuities. The locality, they added,
was a quiet one, where advancing old age could be met in comfortable
meditation. Also the offices of Messrs. Cox, Box & Co., the Regimental
Agents, were in convenient proximity, and the latest news of the
gratuities could be obtained with a minimum of trouble. Up to the
present the police have not interfered with them, apparently taking
them for workmen employed in repairing the roadway.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
For an infrequent worshipper at the shrine of Musical Comedy the
atmosphere of a first night at a new, or renascent, theatre is perhaps
rather too heady. There are so many potent vintages set on the board;
so many connoisseurs who will offer to tell you beforehand of the
merits of their favourite brands.
I confess, to my shame, that when an actor with whose gifts I am
unfamiliar is received on his entrance with a storm of applause, I
am not prejudiced, as I ought to be, in his favour. On the contrary I
follow his performance the more judicially, and if I cannot find that
it corresponds to his apparent reputation I am apt (wrongly again) to
conclude that the fault lies with him and not with myself.
[Illustration: THE OLD GAIETY IN A NEW HOME.
MR. GEORGE GROSSMITH AND MR. LESLIE HENSON AT THE WINTER GARDEN
But in the case of _Kissing Time_, after a rather dull First Act,
during which I kept telling myself that I was not suffering from
senile decay, I had to admit that the gods were in a great measure
justified of their elect. For one thing the authors, taking a bold
and original line (from the French), had produced a coherent plot;
and both dialogue and lyrics were above what I understand to be
the average in this kind. One expects, of course, a little Cockney
licence--"pyjamas" rhymed with "Palmer's," and so on--and a certain
amount of popular banality, as in the song, "Some Day" (rapturously
approved); but there were excellent verses on the text, "A woman has
no mercy on a man," and, I doubt not, much other good stuff which
I missed because Mr. IVAN CARYLL, who conducted (and was probably
thinking more of his own pleasant music than somebody else's words),
did not make enough allowance for my slowness in the up-take of
Mr. LESLIE HENSON was funny, and should be funnier still when the book
has been cut down by about an hour and space allowed him for private
developments. Miss PHYLLIS DARE was graceful and confident. One easily
understood her popularity; but Miss YVONNE ARNAUD, who was a little
slow for the general pace, must, I think, be more of an acquired
Mr. TOM WALLS (very svelte in his French uniform) did sound work, and
so did Mr. GEORGE BARRETT, a humourist by gift of nature. Mr. GEORGE
GROSSMITH, who with Mr. LAURILLARD has made out of the old Middlesex
a most attractive and spacious "Winter Garden," brought with him the
traditions of the Gaiety, and had a warm personal welcome. I could
bear him to be funnier than he was; but as I'm sure that he's clever
enough to be anything he likes I can only assume that he wasn't really
I join everybody in wishing him good cheer in this "garden" of his,
where, if the auguries fulfil themselves, he is not likely, even in
the dog-days, to have to endure "the winter of our discontent."
* * * * *
THE LAND OF MY DREAMS
I know a spot where balmy air and still
Enfolds the placid dweller hour by hour
As, all unhampered in his tranquil bower,
He stretches idle limbs at ease until
The blessed peace about him calms his will
And hidden thoughts, expanding into flower,
Amaze him with their beauty, and the sour
Sharp voice of Care, that sounds far off and shrill,
Moves him to gentle mirth that men can be
So strangely foolish as to heed her call,
Regardless of their true felicity....
Avoid the place, ye bores. Aroint ye all!
Afflict not one to this dear haven fled,
My private earthly paradise--my BED.
* * * * *
"Quarrymen (experienced) Wanted, wages 1s. 5-1/2d. per
hour; constant employment for good men. No bankers need
Why this marked discrimination against bankers? We have known several
who were most respectable.
* * * * *
The unexampled rapidity with which, owing to the opportunities of
war-time, men in all walks of life have reached the top of the tree in
early manhood is leading on to strange but inevitable results. Unable
to rise any higher they are already contemplating the heroic course
of justifying their eminence by starting afresh at the bottom of the
The crucial and classical example is, of course, furnished by our Boy
Chancellor. It is an open secret that, with that sagacious foresight
which has always characterised him, Lord BIRKENHEAD recognises the
impermanency of his exalted position and is resolved when and if he
leaves the Woolsack to resume practice as a Junior. It is further
rumoured that some of our judges intend to follow his august example.
The atmosphere of the Bench is not always exhilarating, and the salary
is fixed. But a self-effacing altruism doubtless also enters into
The impending exodus from Whitehall is another factor in the
situation. Scores of demobilised "Ministerial angels" will soon
be released, and are meditating fresh outlets for their benevolent
energies. Many of them are young and some beautiful. The romance of
commerce and of the stage will prove a potent lure. Never has the
demand for an elegant deportment and urbane manners in our great shops
and stores been more clamant; never has the standard been higher.
Our ex-officials may have to stoop, but it will be to conquer. We can
confidently look forward to the day when no shop will be without its
DEMOSTHENES, ALCIBIADES or its CICERO. Opportunities for employment
on the stage are likely to be multiplied by the alleged intention
of several actor-managers to enter Parliament, while others, nobly
anxious to satisfy the claims of youth, have expressed their resolve
only to appear henceforth in such subsidiary parts as dead bodies and
In the domain of letters some startling developments are also
threatened on similar lines. Mr. WELLS, always remarkable for his
refusal to commit himself to any finality in the formulation of his
opinions, has, it is said, decided to devote his talents in future
exclusively to the composition of educational works in words of
one syllable, and where possible of three letters. He is also
contemplating a revised and simplified edition of his novels,
beginning with _Mr. Brit Sees It Thro'_. Mr. SHAW'S fresh start will
be the greatest surprise of all. He intends to go to Eton and
Oxford, and, as a don, to combat the tide of Socialism at our older
Universities. Mr. BELLOC, it is reported, has re-enlisted in the
French Artillery, and Mr. ARNOLD BENNETT has accepted a commission in
the Dutch mercantile marine.
The future of Mr. ASQUITH has given rise to a good deal of speculation
in the Press, but we are in a position to state that he does not
intend to re-enter politics or to resume his practice at the Bar, but
has resolved to return to his first love--journalism. Sport is the
only department in which the ornate and orotund style of which Mr.
ASQUITH is a master is still in vogue, and the description of classic
events in classical diction will furnish him with a congenial opening
for the exercise of his great literary talent.
The rumour that Mr. BALFOUR, on his retirement from the post of
Foreign Secretary, will take up the arduous duties of caddie-master at
St. Andrew's is not yet fully confirmed. Meanwhile he is known to be
considering the alternative offer of the secretaryship to the Handel
Society. In this context it is interesting to hear that, according to
a Rotterdam agency, Sir EDWARD ELGAR has just completed a series of
pieces for the mouth-organ, dedicated to Sir LEO CHIOZZA MONEY, which
will, it is hoped, be shortly heard in the luncheon interval at the
* * * * *
[Illustration: "EXCUSE ME, OFFICER, BUT HAVE YOU SEEN ANY PICKPOCKETS
ABOUT HERE WITH A HANDKERCHIEF MARKED 'SUSAN'?"]
* * * * *
A SPORTING CHANCE.
DEAR ALEC,--Jolly glad to hear you're coming home. I beat
you after all, though. I suppose I was looking particularly
pivotal when I saw the D.O., because he let me through at
Will you go back to the Governor's office?
Yours ever, GARRY NORTON.
DEAR GARRY,--Haven't the faintest; but before settling down
I'm going to have a week or two, either sailing or fishing, so
as to try to shed the army feeling, and I think you'd better
come with me. I've saved no end of shekels, and I'm going to
give old Cox a run for his money (the bit that's mine, I mean,
that he's been keeping for me).
If you can find a likely craft, mop her up for me, old bean,
and we'll have a hairy time somewhere on the S.W. coast.
Yours in haste, ALEC RIDLEY.
DEAR ALEC,--I wish you'd be less vague. What sort of a boat do
you want--schooner, yawl, cutter or spoonbill? A half-decker,
or the full five quires to the ream? Give me definite
instructions and I'll do my best to carry them out. I'm afraid
I can't get off, so you'll have to take someone else, or
incarnadine the seas by yourself.
Yours as ever, GARRY.
DEAR GARRY,--Sorry to hear you can't come. Any kind of a boat
that will go without bouncing too high will do, and if it
has a rudder, a couple of starboard tacks, bath and butler's
pantry so much the better. I mean to wash out the memory of
those nine months at Basra last year with the flies. Yours,
DEAR ALEC,--What you want, my lad, is a houseboat, and I doubt
whether you'll get one during this shortage of residential
I should try fishing if I were you. In fact I have taken a bit
of water for you in Chamshire. I haven't seen it, but am told
it's very all right and only twenty pounds till the 10th of
Yours ever, GARRY NORTON.
DEAR GARRY,--This is a top-hole place. To have got this water
for so little you 're absolutely the Senior Wangler.
You might send me some mayflies, old dear; about half a pint I
shall want, judging from the infernal number of bushes on the
river banks here. Mr. MILLS's bombs have put me right off my
cast and I can't do the old Shimmy shake either somehow. I can
hear the click of croquet balls in the Vicarage garden as I
write, so the hooping season has begun.
There's one other chap staying in the pub. Talks and dresses
like a War profiteer. Seems to be doing nothing but loafing
about at present.
Yours ever, ALEC.
Have ordered the mayflies and will send them soon as poss. G.
DEAR GARRY,--Thanks for yours. Not so anxious about mayflies
now, but should be glad if you would send me a pound or two of
the best chocolates. Having good sport.
In haste for post,
DEAR ALEC,--I enclose a couple of pounds of extra special
chocolates, but didn't know they were included in the Angler's
Glad you are having good sport and justifying my choice of
Yours as usual, GARRY.
DEAR GARRY,--Thanks for chocs. The Vicar called the other day,
and I have caught several cups of tea on the recoil at the
Vicarage since. Miss Stevenson, his ewe-lamb, is A1, and
we have had some splendid sport together. We caught eleven
beauties yesterday; one was over 19-1/2 inches.
Post just going out.
Yours in haste, ALEC.
P.S.--Another couple of pounds of chocs would be useful.
DEAR ALEC,---Awfully glad to hear the fishing is so good. I
shall expect a brace of good long trout for breakfast one of
DEAR GARRY,--Who said anything about fish? I sub-let the water
(at a profit) to the War-profiteer three days after arriving.
Miss Stevenson, with a brace of bouncing terriers, is outside
whistling for me, so I must put the lid on.
DEAR ALEC,--What's the idea? You say you let the fishing a
fortnight ago; but last Wednesday you wrote about catching
eleven beauties, one over nineteen and a half inches long.
Some trout--what? But why the terriers? Yours in darkness,
* * * * *
"WHEN GREEK JOINS GREEK."
"The Red Cross announces that the repatriation of Greeks
forcibly removed from their homes in Eastern Macedonia has
been virtually completed despite Bulgarian opposition. The
reports says the Greek Red Cross rendered invaluable aid
in looting imprisoned Greeks hidden remotely."--_Egyptian
* * * * *
THE NAVY AT CAMBRIDGE.
When first I joined the R.N.V.
And ventured out upon the sea,
The war-tried Subs. R.N. and Looties
Who guided me about my duties
Were wont to wink and chuckle if
I found the going rather stiff;
And when, upon the Nor'-East Rough,
My legs proved scarcely firm enough
To keep me yare and head-to-wind
The very nicest of them grinned.
Now times are changed, and here I am
Once more beside the brimming Cam,
Where lo, those selfsame Loots and Subs
Whirl madly by in punts and tubs,
Which they propel by strength of will
And muscle rather more than skill.
For (if one may be fairly frank)
They barge across from bank to bank,
With zig-zag motions, in and out,
As though torpedoes were about;
Whilst I with all an expert's ease
Glide by as gaily as you please,
Or calmly, 'mid the rout of punts,
Perform accomplished super-stunts.
But do not think I jibe or jeer
However strangely they career.
In soothing accents, sweet as spice,
I offer them my best advice,
Or deftly show them how to plant a
Propulsive pole in oozy Granta,
Observing, "If you only knew it
_This_ is the proper way to do it;"
Till soon each watching Looty's face
Grows full of wonder at my grace,
And daring Subs in frail Rob Roys
Attempt to imitate my poise.
O war-tried Loots and Subs. R.N.,
Thus by the Cam we meet again;
And, as in wilder sterner days,
We shared the ocean's dreary ways
In fellowship of single aim,
I never doubt we'll do the same
By sunny Cam in happier times;
And therefore, if through these my rhymes
Some gentle banter slyly flits,
Forgive me, Sirs--and call it quits.
* * * * *
From a club journal:--
"Members will look forward to the River Trip this year as a
change from a Trip to the River."
This constant craving for variety is one of the most unhealthy
symptoms of the times in which we live.
* * * * *
From a report of the debate on the National Shipyards:--
"'The Mercantile Marine was our weakest front. If the sinking
increased our unbiblical cord would be cut' (a graphic phrase
Graphic, perhaps, but hardly stenographic.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Poacher (to gamekeeper who has been chasing him for
twenty minutes)._ "NOW, SONNY, IF YOU'VE 'AD A GOOD REST WE'LL SET OFF
* * * * *
_(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)_
MR. E.F. BENSON, seizing occasion as it flies, has given us, in
_Across the Stream_ (MURRAY), a story on the very topical subject of
spiritualism and communication with the dead. As a practised novelist,
with a touch so sure that it can hardly fail to adorn, he has made a
tale that is interesting throughout and here and there aspires to real
beauty of feeling; though not all the writer's skill can disguise a
certain want of unity in the natural and supernatural divisions of
his theme. The early part of the book, which tells of the boyhood
of _Archie_ and the attempts of his dead brother _Martin_ to "get
through" to him, are admirably done. As always in these studies of
happy and guarded childhood, Mr. BENSON is at his best, sympathetic,
tender, altogether winning. There was lung trouble in _Archie's_
record--_Martin_ indeed had died of it (sometimes I wonder whether any
of Mr. BENSON'S protagonists can ever be wholly robust), and there is
a genuine thrill in the scene at the Swiss sanatorium, where the
dead and living boys touch hands over the little _cache_ of childish
treasure buried by the former beneath a pine-tree in the garden.
Later, when _Archie_ had recovered from his disease and grown to
suitor's estate, I could not but feel, despite the sardonically
observed figure of _Helena_, the detestable girl who nearly ruins him,
that the whole affair had become conventional, and by so much lost
interest for its creator. Apart, however, from the bogie chapters of
Possession (which I shall not further indicate) the most moving scenes
in this latter part are those between _Archie_ and his father. I have
seldom known a horrible situation handled with more delicate art; it
is for this, rather than for its slightly unconvincing devilments,
that I would give the book an honourable place in the ranks of
* * * * *
I quite agree with Mr. HAROLD BEGBIE, whose _Mr. Sterling Sticks it
Out_ (HEADLEY) is a generous attempt to put into the form of a story
the case of the conscientious objector of the finest type, that,
when we are able to think about this matter calmly, we shall have
considerable misgivings at least about details in our treatment of
this difficult problem. I also agree that the officials of the Press
Bureau don't come at all well out of the correspondence which he
prints in his preface, and, further, that the Government ought to have
had the courage to alter the law allowing absolute exemption rather
than stretch it beyond the breaking point. But I emphatically dispute
his assumption that the matter was a simple one. It was not the
saintly, single-minded and sweet-natured C.O.'s of _Christopher
Sterling's_ type that made the chief difficulty. There were few of
this literal interpretation and heroic texture. The real difficulty
was created by men of a very different character and in much greater
numbers, sincere in varying degrees, but deliberately, passionately
and unscrupulously obstructive, bent on baulking the national will and
making anything like reasonable treatment of them impossible. It would
require saints, not men, to deal without occasional lapses from strict
equity with such infuriating folk. Mr. BEGBIE'S book is unfair in
its emphasis, but it is not fanatical or subversive, and I can see no
decent reason why it should have been banned. I certainly commend it
to the majority-minded as a wholesome corrective.
* * * * *
That the reviewer should finish his study of the assembled
biographies of twenty-four fallen heroes of this War with a feeling of
disappointment and some annoyance argues a fault in the biographer or
in the reviewer. I invite the reader to be the judge between us,
for _The New Elizabethans_ (LANE) must certainly be read, if only to
understand clearly that there is no fault in the heroes, at any rate.
Mr. E.B. OSBORN describes them as "these golden lads ... who
first conquered their easier selves and secondly led the ancestral
generations into a joyous captivity" (whatever that may mean), and
maintains, against the father of one of them apparently, that he is
apt in the title he has given to them and to their countless peers. I
agree with the father and think they deserve a new name of their own;
such men as the GRENFELL brothers, HUGH and JOHN CHARLTON and DONALD
HANKEY did more than maintain a tradition. There is about DIXON SCOTT,
"the Joyous Critic," something, I think, which will be recognised
as marking a production and a surprise of our own generation--the
"ink-slinger" who, when it came to the point, was found equally
reckless and brave in slinging more dangerous matter. Again, I feel
that there is needed a clearer motive than is apparent to warrant "a
selection of the lives of young men who have fallen in the great war."
Selections in this instance are more odious than comparisons; there
should be one book for one hero. Thirdly, I disapprove the dedication
to the Americans; and, lastly, I found in the author's prose a certain
affectation that is unworthy of the subject-matter. An instance is the
reference to HARRY BUTTERS' "joyous" quotation of the quatrain:--
Every day that passes
Filling out the year
Leaves the wicked Kaiser
Harder up for beer.
I like the quatrain, of course; who, knowing the "Incorrigibles,"
doesn't? But I did not like that reiterated word "joyous."
* * * * *
I should certainly have supposed that recent history had discounted
popular interest in the monarchies of make-believe; in other words,
that when real sovereigns have been behaving in so sensational a
manner one might expect a slump in counterfeits. But it appears that
Mr. H.B. MARRIOTT WATSON is by no means of this opinion. His latest
story, _The Pester Finger_ (SKEFFINGTON), shows him as Ruritanian
as ever. As usual we find that distressful country, here called
_Varavia_, in the throes of dynastic upheaval, which centres, in
a manner also not without precedent, in the figure of a young and
beautiful Princess. This lady, the last of her race, had been adopted
as ward--on, I thought, insufficient introduction--by the hero, _Sir
Francis Vyse_. The situation was further complicated by the fact that
in his youth he had been the officer of the guard who ought to have
prevented the murder of _Sonia's_ august parents, and didn't. Quite
early I gave up counting how many times _Sir Francis_ and his fair
ward were set upon, submerged, imprisoned and generally knocked about.
You never saw so convulsed a courtship; for I will no longer conceal
the fact that, when he was not more strenuously engaged, he soon began
to regard _Sonia_ with a softening eye. And as _Sonia_ herself
was growing up to womanhood, or, in Mr. WATSON'S elegant phrase,
"muliebrity claimed her definitely"--well, he is an enviable reader
for whom the last page will hold any considerable surprise.
* * * * *
"ETIENNE," in an introductory note to _A Naval Lieutenant, 1914-1918_
(METHUEN), gives an excellent reason for wishing to record his
impressions of the "sea affair." He was in _H.M.S. Southampton_ during
the earlier part of the War, and "on all the four principal occasions
when considerable German forces were encountered in the North Sea, her
guns were in action." Very naturally he desired to do honour to this
gallant light cruiser, and I admire prodigiously the modest way in
which he has done it. "ETIENNE" is not a stylist; a professor
of syntax might conceivably be distressed by his confusion of
prepositions; but apart from this detail all is plain sailing--and
fighting. I have read no more thrilling account of the Battle of
Jutland than is to be found here. The author does it so well because
he tells his story with great simplicity and without what I believe
he would call "windiness." Best of all, he has a nice sense of humour,
and would even, I believe, have discovered the funny side of Scapa, if
there had been one. "ETIENNE," whose short stories of naval life were
amusing, makes a distinct advance in this new work.
* * * * *
SONGS OF INNOCENCE.
GOLF IN SPRINGTIME.
Merry little baa-lambs sporting on the grass,
Playing ring-a-roses, dancing as you pass,
"Jones has topped his brassie shot! What a way to play!
Now then, all together, boys--Me-e-eh!"
Pretty little woollies, white as driven snow,
Following your mothers, skipping as you go,
"Jones is in the bunker! What a lot he has to say!
Give it all together, boys--Me-e-e-eh!"
Harbingers of Springtime! innocently fair,
Frisking on the greensward, leaping in the air,
"Jones is in the whins again! He's off his drive to-day;
Once more let him have it, boys--Me-e-e-e-eh!"
Silly little baa-lambs! If you only knew,
One day you'll be fatter and I'll have the laugh on you,
"Every time I foozled they bleated with delight.
Now they're lamb-and-mint-sauce. Serves the beggars right!"
* * * * *
[Illustration: BORROWED THUNDER.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY HANGING ON BEHIND ME LIKE THAT?"
"I'VE BROKEN MY HORN, OLD TOFF, AND I THOUGHT YOU COULD TOOT FOR
* * * * *
Back to Full Books