Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 156, May 7, 1919.
Produced by Malcolm Farmer, Sandra Brown and the Online Distributed
PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
May 7, 1919.
No enthusiasm attended the recent revival of the curious May Day
custom of dancing round the snow man.
Since the Muzzling Order, says a weekly paper, fewer postmen in the
West End have been bitten by dogs. We are asked by the Dogs' Trade
Union to point out that this is not due to the Muzzling Order, but
to the fact that just at present there is a fine supply of dairy-fed
milkmen in that district.
A negress has just died in South America, aged 136. It is supposed
that the exodus of so many of her descendants to London on account
of the great demand for Jazz-band players was largely responsible for
hastening her end.
According to a local paper an American officer refused to stay at
a seaside hotel during Easter-time because a flea hopped on to the
visitors' book whilst he was in the act of signing it. We agree that
it is certainly rather alarming when these unwelcome intruders adopt
such methods of espionage in order to discover which room one is about
The Society of Public Analysts declares that it is impossible to tell
what animal or what part of it is contained in a sausage. We gather
that it all depends on whether the beast is backed into the machine or
enticed into it with a sardine.
The British people still feel themselves the victors, so Mr. RAMSAY
MACDONALD told the _Vossische Zeitung_. Not Mr. MACDONALD'S fault, of
London butchers have protested against being compelled to sell
Chilian, Brazilian, Manchurian _and other_ beef. A simple way to
distinguish "other beef" from Manchurian beef is to offer it to the
cat. If it eats it, it is neither.
The Board of Agriculture claims that since 1914 eleven thousand
persons have been taught to make cheese. It is admitted, however, that
as the result of inexperience the mortality among young cheeses has
The Labour Party are submitting a Motion in the House of Commons
for the reduction of railway fares. An alternative suggestion that
passengers should be allowed to pay the extra shilling or two and buy
the train outright will probably be put forward.
The sum of L15,650 has just been paid for the lease of a West End
flat, says a contemporary. If this includes use of the bath, it seems
a bit of a bargain.
We gather from an American newspaper that shooting for the new Mexican
Presidency has commenced.
An East End fishmonger is reported to have sold fish at one penny a
pound. The controlled price being much higher, several trade rivals
have offered to bear the expense of a doctor for this man as they feel
that something may be pressing on his brain.
A Berlin message indicates that the man who shot KURT EISNER has again
been assassinated by the Spartacists. This, of course, cannot be the
end of the business. The last and positively final execution of the
man still rests with the German Government.
There has never been a case of rabies in Scotland, says _The Evening
News_. This speaks well for the bagpipes as a defensive weapon.
According to a Boston message some Americans gave Admiral WOOD, U.S.
Navy, a very cool reception the other day. In shaking hands with him
they only broke seven small bones.
We are pleased to be able to say that the recently demobilised
soldier who accidentally swallowed some "plum and apple" in a London
restaurant is well on the road to recovery.
The number of hot-cross-bun specialists who, since Easter, have
been in receipt of unemployment pay has not yet been disclosed for
A dog has returned to its home at Walsworth after being absent for two
months. It is feared that he has been leading a double life.
"Throughout the country," says a well-known daily paper, "the
hedges and trees are now budding forth into green leaves." This, we
understand, is according to precedent.
"Is your rent raised?" asks a contemporary. With difficulty, if he
Newcastle Justices have extinguished eight licences for redundancy.
There is no reason for supposing that the offence was intentional.
The report that the prehistoric flint axe recently found at Ascot had
been claimed by Sir FREDERICK BANBURY, M.P., is denied. Sir FREDERICK,
it appears, merely expressed warm approval of it.
The Manchester Parks Committee is considering the question of opening
the Municipal Golf Links for Sunday play. It is contended that the
more anti-Sabbatarian features of the game could be eliminated by
allowing players to pick out of a bunker without penalty.
Much advice has recently appeared in the Press regarding the treatment
of bites received from mad dogs, and in consequence there is a
movement on foot among Missionaries to obtain some information
regarding the best method of treating the bite of a cannibal.
A Chicago woman has been charged with attempting to shoot her husband
with a jewelled and gold-handled revolver. We are pleased to note that
the American authorities are determined to put down such ostentation.
It has come to our ears that a certain Conscientious Objector now
feels so ashamed of his refusal to fight that he has practically
decided to take boxing lessons by post.
* * * * *
[Illustration: "WHAT'S THAT THING YOU'VE GOT ON, ALBERT?"
"BUT YOU'VE NEVER BEEN IN THE TRENCHES."
"I KNOW. THAT'S THE IDEA."]
* * * * *
LETTERS TO PEOPLE I DON'T KNOW.
_(No answers required, thank you.)_
_To Count Brockdorff-Rantzau, Head of the German Peace Delegation._
The enthralling volume, entitled _Preliminary Terms of Peace_, on
which your attention is being engrossed at the present moment, is said
to be of the same length as _A Tale of Two Cities_. In other respects
there is little resemblance traceable between the two works. A more
striking likeness is to be found between the present volume and a
document produced (also in the neighbourhood of Paris) by the late
Prince BISMARCK in 1871. On your return home, if the fancy appeals
to you, you might, out of these two publications, construct a very
readable romance and call it _Two Tales of One City_. I think this
would be a better name for it than _Vice-Versailles._
_To Signor Orlando_.
Apart from our love for Italy we are, of course, naturally
prejudiced in favour of a man who got his surname from one of our
own SHAKSPEARE'S heroes, and has consequently given us several easy
chances of making little _As-you-like-it_ jokes for the Press in our
simple unsophisticated way. All the same I think you were wrong in
dropping out of the Big Four like that. If every other Allied delegate
were to go off home whenever he couldn't get his own way, or whenever
he differed from President WILSON, there might be nobody left to meet
the German representatives or to sign any sort of Peace terms. The
enemy might even start a Big Four of their own and begin to talk. What
should we do then? We might have to send for Marshal FOCH. I'm not
sure that in any case this wouldn't be the best plan.
But perhaps you will be back in Paris before this letter reaches you.
All roads lead to Rome, and there must be at least one that leads out
of it again.
_To Ferdinand, Fox_.
If news of the outside world ever reaches you in your earth, and you
read the discussions on the question whether your old friend WILLIAM
ought to be hanged, it can hardly have escaped Your Nosiness that
nothing is said about your own claim to similar treatment. Those who
never rightly appreciated you may imagine that you will meekly
consent to forgo that claim. But, if I know anything of your proud and
princely nature, you are, on the other hand, bitterly chagrined at the
thought that you have been forgotten so soon.
_To a British "Sportsman_."
I have often seen you of an afternoon in war-time hanging about in
groups along my workaday street, poring over what you regarded as the
vital news of the day. It was not a report of any battle in which your
brothers were fighting, and, if I had asked you breathlessly, "Who
won?" you would not have said, "The British"; you would have said,
"SOLLY JOEL'S colt." You had never seen the horse, but you had
half-a-dollar of your War-bonus on him, or more probably on one of
those who also ran. To-day there are no silly battles to take up
good space in your evening print; and, better still, there is no day
without its racing matter; no more curtailing of the King of Sports to
the lamentable detriment of our national horse-breeding, a subject so
close to your heart. The War is indeed well over.
And nothing can be more gratifying to you than to note the rapid
progress of Reconstruction in the domain of the Turf. In other spheres
of activity there may be a million people drawing the unemployment
donation; but here there is immediate occupation for all. The New
Jerusalem has been built in a day.
You must not mind if, when you come at last, we treat you like an
anti-climax. You see, we let ourselves go, once for all, over the
Armistice, and, though there will be plenty of celebrations for you,
we shan't forget ourselves again. There will be bands, of course,
and bunting, and we shall read the directions in the papers, and
buy expensive tickets and get to our seats early. But we shall be
respectable and inarticulate this time, like the present exhibition at
the Royal Academy. Besides, we have no nice things to shout when the
pageants go by, like "_Vive la Victoire_!" or "_Viva la Pace!_" and
even if we had we should all wait for somebody else to start shouting
But you are not to be disappointed; we shall really be glad to welcome
you, though we do it in that strange way we have of taking everything
as it comes.
I suppose you are bound to assist at your own celebrations, otherwise
I should recommend you to be content to read about them next
day--about the thundering cheers, the wild enthusiasm that swept like
a flame through the vast multitudes, and how "the red glare on Skiddaw
roused the Canon (RAWNSLEY) of Carlisle."
_To a Multi-Millionaire._
It must be a great satisfaction to you to see how highly the
CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER appreciates the loss which the country
will sustain by your eventual decease; and that he has proposed to
increase materially the amount to be raised out of your estate as
a national souvenir of your commercial activities. Indeed you may
reflect that, splendid and profitable as your life has been, nothing
in it will have become you so much as the leaving of it. With such a
thought in your mind the prospect of death should be robbed of a large
proportion of its sting.
_To a New Knight (Scots)._
Out of the eight hundred million pounds' worth of Government material
left over from the War, of which two hundred million pounds' worth
is expected to be realised in the current year, you should have no
difficulty in securing a pair of knightly spurs at quite a reasonable
price. They ought to go well with a kilt.
_To the Chairman of the "Societe des Bains de Mer de Monaco_."
Few people can have been better pleased than you at the cessation of
hostilities. During all those terrible years the falling-off among the
patrons of your world-famous bathing-establishment must have been a
source of cruel grief to you. And now there are already myriads who
have washed away the stains of war in the pellucid waves that lap your
coast of azure.
Here, too, at your hospitable Board of Green Cloth there is
forgetfulness of Armageddon save when the cry of "Zero" recalls to the
convalescent British warrior the fateful hour for going over the top.
And to think of Monte Carlo without the guttural Hun and his raucous
"_Dass ist mein_" as he swoops upon his disputed spoils! An Eden with
the worm away!
* * * * *
"PUBLIC SCHOOLS' HIGH JUMP CHALLENGE CUP.--E.C. Archer
(Merchant Taylors'), 5 ft. 4 in. (unfinished), 1."--_The
We are glad to have later advices which state that he has returned to
* * * * *
"Alabaster Lady's Evening Cigarette Case, lid and hinges set
with diamonds; left in taxi."--_Advt. in "The Times."_
We trust the alabaster lady has by now regained her property and with
it her marmoreal calm.
* * * * *
[Illustration: IMPERIAL PREFERENCE.]
* * * * *
[Illustration: "THEY 'ALSO RUN' WHO ONLY STAND AND WAIT."]
* * * * *
THE ARRIVAL OF BLACKMAN'S WARBLER.
I am become an Authority on Birds. It happened in this way.
The other day we heard the Cuckoo in Hampshire. (The next morning
the papers announced that the Cuckoo had been heard in
Devonshire--possibly a different one, but in no way superior to ours
except in the matter of its Press agent.) Well, everybody in the house
said, "Did you hear the Cuckoo?" to everybody else, until I began to
get rather tired of it; and, having told everybody several times that
I _had_ heard it, I tried to make the conversation more interesting.
So, after my tenth "Yes," I added quite casually:--
"But I haven't heard the Tufted Pipit yet. It's funny why it should be
so late this year."
"Is that the same as the Tree Pipit?" said my hostess, who seemed to
know more about birds than I had hoped.
"Oh, no," I said confidently.
"What's the difference exactly?"
"Well, one is tufted," I said, doing my best, "and the
"Oh, I see."
"And of course the eggs are more speckled," I added, gradually
"I often wish I knew more about birds," she said regretfully. "You
must tell us something about them now we've got you here."
And all this because of one miserable Cuckoo!
"By all means," I said, wondering how long it would take to get a book
about birds down from London.
However, it was easier than I thought. We had tea in the garden that
afternoon, and a bird of some kind struck up in the plane-tree.
"There, now," said my hostess, "what's that?"
I listened with my head on one side. The bird said it again.
"That's the Lesser Bunting," I said hopefully.
"The Lesser Bunting," said an earnest-looking girl; "I shall always
I hoped she wouldn't, but I could hardly say so. Fortunately the
bird lesser-bunted again, and I seized the opportunity of playing for
"Or is it the Sardinian White-throat?" I wondered. "They have very
much the same note during the breeding season. But of course the eggs
are more speckled," I added casually.
And so on for the rest of the evening. You see how easy it is.
However the next afternoon a most unfortunate occurrence occurred. A
real Bird Authority came to tea. As soon as the information leaked out
I sent up a hasty prayer for bird-silence until we had got him safely
out of the place; but it was not granted. Our feathered songster in
the plane-tree broke into his little piece.
"There," said my hostess--"there's that bird again." She turned to me.
"What did you say it was?"
I hoped that the Authority would speak first, and that the others
would then accept my assurance that they had misunderstood me the day
before; but he was entangled at that moment in a watercress sandwich,
the loose ends of which were still waiting to be tucked away.
I looked anxiously at the girl who had promised to remember, in case
she wanted to say something, but she also was silent. Everybody was
silent except that miserable bird.
Well, I had to have another go at it. "Blackman's Warbler," I said
"Oh, yes," said my hostess.
"Blackman's Warbler; I shall always remember that," lied the
The Authority, who was free by this time, looked at me indignantly.
"Nonsense," he said; "it's the Chiff-chaff."
Everybody else looked at me reproachfully. I was about to say that
"Blackman's Warbler" was the local name for the Chiff-chaff in our part
of Flint, when the Authority spoke again.
"The Chiff-chaff," he said to our hostess with an insufferable air of
I wasn't going to stand that.
"So _I_ thought when I heard it first," I said, giving him a gentle
It was now the Authority's turn to get the reproachful looks.
"Are they very much alike?" my hostess asked me, much impressed.
"Very much. Blackman's Warbler is often mistaken for the Chiff-chaff,
even by so-called experts"--and I turned to the Authority and added,
"Have another sandwich, won't you?"--"and particularly so, of
course, during the breeding season. It is true that the eggs are more
"Bless my soul," said the Authority, but it was easy to see that he
was shaken, "I should think I know a Chiff-chaff when I hear one."
"Ah, but do you know a Blackman's Warbler? One doesn't often hear them
in this country. Now in Switzerland--"
The bird said "Chiff-chaff" again with an almost indecent plainness of
"There you are!" I said triumphantly. "Listen," and I held up a
finger. "You notice the difference? _Obviously_ a Blackman's Warbler."
Everybody looked at the Authority. He was wondering how long it would
take to get a book about birds down from London, and deciding that
it couldn't be done that afternoon. Meanwhile "Blackman's Warbler"
sounded too much like the name of something to be repudiated. For all
he had caught of our mumbled introduction I might have been Blackman
"Possibly you're right," he said reluctantly.
Another bird said "Chiff-chaff" from another tree, and I thought it
wise to be generous. "There," I said, "now that _was_ a Chiff-chaff."
The earnest-looking girl remarked (silly creature) that it sounded
just like the other one, but nobody took any notice of her. They were
all busy admiring me.
Of course I mustn't meet the Authority again, because you may be
pretty sure that when he got back to his books he looked up Blackman's
Warbler and found that there was no such animal. But if you mix in the
right society and only see the wrong people once it is really quite
easy to be an authority on birds--or, I imagine, on anything else.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _The Woman_. "JAZZ STOCKINGS ARE THE LATEST THING,
DEAR. HERE'S A PICTURE OF A GIRL WITH THEM ON."
_The Man_. "WHAT APPALLING ROT! ER--AFTER YOU WITH THE PAPER."]
* * * * *
(_BY A CYNIC_.)
A DUKEDOM, GRAND OR OTHERWISE,
NO LONGER IS AN ENVIED PRIZE
WHEN EVERY DAY SOME FIERCE COMMISSION
CLAMOURS FOR DUCAL INHIBITION.
THE STYLE OF MARQUESS--THUSWISE SPELT--
IS PICTURESQUE, BUT, LIKE THE BELT
OF EARLDOM, CANNOT LONG ABIDE
OR STEM THE DEMOCRATIC TIDE.
VISCOUNTIES STAND TO CHEER AND BLESS
THE LABOURS OF THE PURPLE PRESS,
AND BARONIES, ONCE HELD BY ROBBERS,
ARE GIVEN TO PATRIOTIC JOBBERS.
RESTS ON THE BARONETS OF FICTION;
IN ACTUAL LIFE THEY SERVE TO LINK
A PARTY WITH THE STREET OF INK;
WHILE KNIGHTHOOD'S LATEST HONOURS FALL
UPON THE FUNNIEST MEN OF ALL.
YES, WHILE OUR GRATITUDE ACCLAIMS
THE JUSTLY DECORATED NAMES
OF PEERS LIKE TENNYSON AND LISTER,
THERE IS MUCH VIRTUE IN PLAIN MISTER.
THE STYLE AND TITLE DEEMED MOST FIT
BY DARWIN, HUXLEY, BURKE AND PITT,
AND LATER ON BY A.J.B.,
ARE MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME.
* * * * *
[ILLUSTRATION ECHO OF "SHOW SUNDAY."
_VISITOR_. "WHAT'S THIS FELLOW DOIN' IN THE CORNER?"
_ARTIST_. "OH, HE'S THERE JUST TO HELP THE COMPOSITION."
_VISITOR_. "AWFULLY DECENT OF HIM--WHAT!"]
THE DOMESTIC QUESTION SOLVED.
LAST THURSDAY, AT A REGISTRY-OFFICE, I OBTAINED THE FAVOUR OF AN
INTERVIEW WITH A DOMESTIC ARTIST AND WAS ABLE (BY REASON OF A PREVIOUS
CONFERENCE WITH MY FRIEND FRESHFIELD--LIKE MYSELF A DEMOBILISED
BACHELOR AUTHOR) TO FACE THE ORDEAL WITH SOME DEGREE OF CONFIDENCE.
MRS. MILTON, WIDOW, FIFTY-FIVE, EXCEPTIONAL REFERENCES, WHO PROPOSED,
IF EVERYTHING ABOUT ME SEEMED SATISFACTORY, TO RULE MY HOUSEHOLD,
WAS AS SUAVE AS ONE HAS ANY RIGHT TO EXPECT NOWADAYS; BUT WHEN SHE
DICTATED THE TERMS I GATHERED THAT SHE WOULD BE SUFFICIENTLY DANGEROUS
SHE KNEW WHAT BACHELORS WERE, SHE DID, AND WASN'T GOING TO TAKE A
PLACE WHERE A LOT OF COMP'NY WAS KEPT.
I ASSURED HER ON THIS POINT. MY FRIEND, MR. FRESHFIELD, I SAID, WOULD
COME ONCE A WEEK, EVERY MONDAY, TO DINE AND SLEEP, BUT BEYOND THAT I
SHOULD PUT NO STRAIN UPON HER POWERS OF ENTERTAINMENT.
MRS. MILTON FURTHER SAID THAT SHE WOULD REQUIRE AT LEAST TWO
AFTERNOONS AND ONE EVENING A WEEK. HERE WAS MY OPPORTUNITY TO APPEAR
"TWO AFTERNOONS AND ONE EVENING?" I SAID. "MY DEAR FRIEND AND
FELLOW-WORKER, YOU CAN HAVE EVERY WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY FROM AFTER
BREAKFAST ON THE FORMER TO PRACTICALLY DINNER-TIME (EIGHT O'CLOCK)
ON THE LATTER. NO QUESTIONS WILL BE ASKED OF YOU OR OF THE PIANO OR
GRAMOPHONE, BOTH OF WHICH INSTRUMENTS YOU WILL FIND IN SMOOTH RUNNING
ORDER. I AM AWAY," I ADDED, "EVERY WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY."
THAT CLINCHED IT. HIDING HER SURPRISE AS WELL AS SHE COULD UNDER AN
IRREPROACHABLE BONNET AND TOUPEE, MRS. MILTON EXPRESSED HER READINESS
TO ACCOMPANY ME THEN AND THERE, AND TO SUPERINTEND THE DISAPPEARANCE
OF MY COALS AND MARMALADE.
PERHAPS YOU HAVE GUESSED THAT I PROPOSE TO SPEND EVERY WEDNESDAY NIGHT
AT FRESHFIELD'S PLACE, AND THAT THE COMPLETE SUCCESS OF THE SCHEME HAS
BEEN ASSURED BY THE MAKING OF A SIMILAR AGREEMENT BETWEEN FRESHFIELD
AND A PERSON HOLDING CORRESPONDING VIEWS TO THOSE OF MRS. MILTON.
THUS FRESHFIELD AND I HAVE EACH SECURED THE FULL SEVEN DAYS'
ATTENDANCE BY A DEVICE PLEASING TO ALL CONCERNED. AFTER LOCKING UP
THE MELBA AND GEORGE ROBEY RECORDS ON WEDNESDAY MORNINGS AND WITH
THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THE PIANO IS PAST SERIOUS INJURY, I DEPART FOR
FRESHFIELD'S (_VIA_ THE CLUB FOR LUNCH) EACH WEEK WITH A LIGHT HEART.
MY COLLABORATOR IS ALL FOR KEEPING THIS SOLUTION OF A HARASSING
PROBLEM TO OURSELVES. I SAY "NO." THE GENERAL ADOPTION OF SUCH A
SCHEME, WITH ALTERATIONS TO SUIT INDIVIDUAL CASES, WOULD, I THINK, BE
A NAIL IN THE COFFIN OF BOLSHEVISM IN THE HOME.
* * * * *
MR. WILSON RUBS IT IN.
"THE _ECHO DE PARIS_ SAYS, 'MR. WILSON BELIEVES HE CAN PLAY
THE ROLE OF THE POPES OF THE MIDDLE AGES. IN THE ECLAT OF
HIS PUBLIC MESSAGES HE TRIES TO SET PEOPLES AGAINST
* * * * *
"GENERAL MONASH MAKING AN IMPOSING FIGURE ON HIS GREY
HORSE, WHERE HE RODE WITH GENERAL HOBBS AND THREE
THE R.S.P.C.A. MUST LOOK INTO THIS.
* * * * *
"GOLF BATTLE OF THE SEXES.
THE LATEST JACK JOHNSON STORY IS THAT HE IS TRAINING IN MEXICO
CITY FOR A SERIES OF FIGHTS, WHICH WILL TAKE PLACE IN THE
LADIES: MISS CECIL LEITCH, MISS CHUBB, MISS BARRY, MRS.
MCNAIR, MRS. JILLARD, MRS. F.W. BROWN, MISS JONES PARKER AND
MRS. WILLOCK POLLEN."--_DAILY SKETCH_.
WE ARE RATHER SORRY FOR MASSA JOHNSON.
* * * * *
[ILLUSTRATION: _BORED CADET (IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY)._ "LET'S SHOVE OFF
NOW, MATER. HATE HANGIN' ROUND A PLACE WHERE ONE MIGHT BE BURIED SOME
* * * * *
THE CHURCH AND PEACE.
The acquiescence of the Coventry Peace Celebration Committee in the
Bishop of COVENTRY'S view that the Lady GODIVA of their pageant
should be fully clothed is leading not only to many innovations in
the representations of history all over the country, but to a
recrudescence of ecclesiastical power which is affording the liveliest
satisfaction to Lord HUGH CECIL.
For already several other divines have followed suit. It is agreeable,
for example, to the very reasonable wishes of the DEAN and Chapter
of Westminster that the Westminster Peace Celebration Committee have
decided that NELL GWYNN shall either be excluded from the Whitehall
procession altogether or shall figure as a Mildmay deaconess.
Acting under the influence of a local curate, the Athelney Peace
Celebration Committee have unanimously resolved that in these hard
times, when (as the curate pointed out) food is not too plentiful, it
would be better if KING ALFRED cooked the cakes properly and they were
So many watering-places claim CANUTE as their own that he may be
expected to be multiplied exceedingly in the approaching Peace revels;
but from more than one Pastoral Letter it may be gathered that the
Episcopal Bench is very wisely in favour of the King's retirement from
the margin of the ocean before his shoes are actually wet. It is held
that in these days of leather-shortage and the need for economy no
risks should be run with footwear.
Other laudable efforts in the direction of economy are to be made,
again through the earnest solicitude of the Establishment, in
connection with the impersonation of Sir WALTER RALEIGH and KING JOHN.
With the purpose of saving Sir WALTER'S cloak from stain and possible
injury the puddle at QUEEN ELIZABETH'S feet will be only a painted
one, while, owing to the exorbitant price of laundry-work at the
moment, it has been arranged that only a few of KING JOHN'S more
negligible articles shall be consigned to the Wash.
* * * * *
HUN DUPLICITY IN PARIS.
"Count von Brockdorff-Rantzau replied simply, pointing to
Herr Dandsbery and saying: 'I present to you Herr
* * * * *
How oft I tried by smart intrigue
To do the British Army,
And dodge each rightly-termed Fatigue
Which nearly drove me barmy.
In vain! Whoever else they missed
My name was always on the list.
And so, while other minds were set
On smashing Jerry Bosch up
With rifle, bomb and bayonet,
I chiefly learned to wash-up,
To peel potatoes by the score,
Sweep out a room and scrub the floor.
Thus, now that I have left the ranks,
The plain unvarnished fact is
That through those three rough years, and thanks
To very frequent practice,
I, who was once a nascent snob,
Am master of the menial's job.
To-day I count this no disgrace
When "maids" have gone to blazes,
But take our late Eliza's place
And win my lady's praises,
As she declares in grateful mood
The Army did me worlds of good.
* * * * *
THE MUD LARKS.
"So," said Albert Edward, "I clapped him on the back and said, 'You
were at Geelong College in 1910, and your name's Cazenove, isn't it?'"
"To which he made reply, 'My name's Jones and I never heard of
Geewhizz,' and knocked you down and trod on you for your dashed
familiarity," said the Babe.
"Nothing of the sort. He was delighted to meet me again--de-lighted.
He's coming to munch with us tomorrow evening, by the way, so you
might sport the tablecloth for once, William old dear, and tell the
cook to put it across Og, the fatted capon, and generally strive to
live down your reputation as the worst Mess President the world has
ever seen. You will, I know--for my sake."
Next morning, when I came down to breakfast, I found a note from him
saying that he had gone to the Divisional Races with his dear old
college chum, Cazenove; also the following addenda:--
"P.S.--If William should miss a few francs from the Mess Fund tell him
I will return it fourfold ere night. I am on to a sure thing.
"P.P.S.--If MacTavish should raise a howl about his fawn leggings,
tell him I have borrowed them for the day as I understand there will
be V.A.D.'s present, and _noblesse oblige_."
At a quarter past eight that night he returned, accompanied by a
pleasant-looking gunner subaltern, whom we gathered to be the Cazenove
person. I say "gathered," for Albert Edward did not trouble to
introduce the friend of his youth, but, flinging himself into a chair,
attacked his food in a sulky silence which endured all through the
repast. Mr. Cazenove, on the other hand, was in excellent form. He had
spent a beautiful day, he said, and didn't care who knew it. A judge
of horseflesh from the cradle, he had spotted the winner every time,
backed his fancy like a little man and had been very generously
rewarded by the Totalizator. He was contemplating a trip to Brussels
in a day or so. Was his dear old friend Albert Edward coming?
His "dear old friend" (who was eating his thumb-nails instead of his
savoury) scowled and said he thought not.
The gunner wagged his head sagely. "Ah, well, old chap, if you
will bet on horses which roar like a den of lions you must take the
Albert Edward writhed. "That animal used to win sprints in England; do
you know that?"
Mr. Cazenove shrugged his shoulders.
"He may have thirty years ago. All I'd back him to win now would be an
old-age pension. Well, I warned you, didn't I?"
Albert Edward lost control. "When I'm reduced to taking advice on
racing form from a Tasmanian I'll chuck the game and hie me to a
monkery. Why, look at that bit of bric-a-brac you were riding to-day;
a decent God-fearing Australian wouldn't be seen dead in a ten-acre
paddock with it."
Mr. Cazenove spluttered even more furiously. "That's a dashed good
horse I'll have you know."
"I am not alluding to his morals, but to his appearance," said Albert
Edward; "I've seen better-looking hat-racks."
"I'd back him to lick the stuffing out of anything you've got in this
unit, anyway," Cazenove snorted.
"Don't be rash, Charlie," Albert Edward warned; "your lucky afternoon
has gone to your head. Why, I've got an old mule here could give that
boneshaker two stone and beat him by a furlong in five."
The gunner sprang to his feet. "Done with you!" he roared. "Done with
you here and now!"
Albert Edward appeared to be somewhat taken back. "Don't be silly,
man," he soothed. "It's pitch dark outside and cut up with trenches.
Sit down and have some more of this rare old port, specially concocted
for us by the E.F.C."
But Mr. Cazenove was thoroughly aroused. "You're hedging," he sneered;
"Nonsense," said Albert Edward. "I have never known what fear is--not
since the Armistice, anyhow. I am one of the bravest men I have ever
met. What are you doing with all that money?"
"Putting it down for you to cover," said Cazenove firmly.
Albert Edward sighed. "All right, then, if you will have it so.
William, old bean, I'm afraid I shall have to trouble you for a trifle
more out of the Mess Fund. _Noblesse oblige_, you know."
MacTavish and the Babe departed with the quest to prepare his mount
for the ordeal, while Albert Edward and I sought out Ferdinand and
Isabella, our water-cart pair. Isabella was fast asleep, curled
up like a cat and purring pleasantly, but Ferdinand was awake,
meditatively gnawing through the wood-work of his stall. With the
assistance of the line-guard we saddled and bridled him; but at the
stable door he dug his toes in. It was long past his racing hours, he
gave us to understand, and his union wouldn't permit it. He backed
all round the standings, treading on recumbent horses, tripping
over bails, knocking uprights flat and bringing acres of tin roofing
clattering down upon our heads, Isabella encouraging him with ringing
fanfares of applause.
At length we roused out the grooms and practically carried him to the
"You've been the devil of a time," William grumbled. "Cazenove's been
waiting for twenty minutes. See that light over there? That's where
MacTavish is. He's the winning-post. Keep straight down the mud-track
towards it and you'll be all right. Don't swing sideways or you'll get
bunkered. Form line. Come up the mule. Back, Cazenove, back! Steady.
The rivals clapped heels to their steeds and were swallowed up in
the night. I looked at my watch, the hands pointed to 10.30 exactly.
William and I lit cigarettes and waited. At 10.42 MacTavish walked
into us, his lamp had given out and he wanted a new battery.
"Who won?" we inquired.
"Won?" he asked. "They haven't started yet, have they?"
"Left here about ten minutes ago," said William. "Do you mean to say
you've seen nothing of them?"
At that moment two loud voices, accompanied by the splash of liquid
and the crash of tin, struck our ears from different points of the
"Sounds to me as if somebody had found a watery grave over to the
left," said the Babe.
"Sounds to me as if somebody had returned to stables over to the
right," said I.
We trotted away to investigate. 'Twas as I thought; Ferdinand had
homed to his Isabella and was backing round the standings once more,
trailing the infuriated Albert Edward after him, sheets of corrugated
iron falling about them like leaves in Vallombrosa.
"Bolted straight in here and scraped me off against the roof," panted
the latter. "Suppose the confounded apple-fancier won ages ago, didn't
"He's upside down in the Tuning Fork trench system at the present
moment," said I. "The Babe and the grooms are digging him out. If you
hurry up you'll win yet."
We roused out the guard, bore the reluctant Ferdinand back to the
course and by eleven o'clock had restarted him. At 11.10 William
returned to report that the digging party had salved the Cazenove pair
and got them going again.
"Too late," said I; "Albert Edward must have won in a walk by now. He
left here at..."
The resounding clatter of falling sheet-iron cut short my words.
Ferdinand had, it appeared, returned to stables once more.
Suddenly something hurtled out of the gloom and crashed into us. It
was the Babe.
"What's the matter now? Where are you going?" we asked.
"Wire-cutters, quick!" he gasped and hurtled onwards towards the
"Hello there!" came the hail of MacTavish from up the course. "I
s-say, what about this blessed race? I'm f-f-rozen s-s-tiff out here.
I'm about f-f-fed up, I t-tell you."
William groaned. "As if we all weren't!" he protested. "If all the
Mess Funds for the next three weeks weren't involved I'd make the
silly fools chuck it. Here, you, run and tell Albert Edward to get a
I found Ferdinand rapidly levelling the remainder of the standings,
playing his jockey at the end of his reins as a fisherman plays a
"This cursed donkey won't steer at all," Albert Edward growled.
"Sideslips all over the place like a wet tyre. Has Cazenove won yet?"
"Not yet," said I. "He's wound up in the Switch Line wire
entanglements now. The Babe and the wrecking gang are busy chopping
him out. There's still time."
"Then drag Isabella out in front of this brute," said he. "Quick, man,
At 11.43, by means of a brimming nose-bag, I had enticed Isabella
forth, and the procession started in the following order: First,
myself, dragging Isabella and dangling the bait. Secondly, Isabella.
Thirdly, the racers, Ferdinand and Albert Edward, the latter
belting Isabella with a surcingle whenever she faltered. Lastly, the
line-guard, speeding Ferdinand with a doubled stirrup-leather. We
toiled down the mud. track at an average velocity of .25 m.p.h.,
halting occasionally for Isabella to feed and the line-guard to rest
his arm. I have seen faster things in my day.
Then, just as we were arriving at our journey's end we collided
with another procession. It was the wrecking gang, laden with the
implements of their trade (shovels, picks, wire-cutters, ropes,
planks, waggon-jacks, etc.), and escorting in their midst Mr. Cazenove
and his battered racehorse. Both competitors immediately claimed the
"Beaten you this time, Albert Edward, old man."... "On the contrary,
Charles, old chap, I won hands down."... "But, my good fellow, I've
been here for hours."... "My dear old thing, I've been here _all
night_!"... "Do be reasonable."... "Don't be absurd."
"Oh, dry up, you two, and leave it to the winning-post to decide,"
"By the way, where is the winning-post?"
"The winning-post," we echoed. "Yes, where is he?"
"Begging your pardon, Sir," came the voice of the Mess orderly,
"but if you was referring to Mister MacTavish he went home to bed
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Potential President of the Royal Academy._ "AND HERE,
AUNTIE, WE GET THE SIDE ELEVATION."
_Auntie._ "HOW DELIGHTFULLY THOROUGH! I'D NO IDEA THAT ARCHITECTS DID
THE SIDES AS WELL."]
* * * * *
ANOTHER IMPENDING APOLOGY.
"A sub-department of Scotland Yard ... which looks after Kings
and visiting potentates, Cabinet Ministers and Suffragettes,
spies, anarchists, and other 'undesirables.'"--_Daily Paper._
* * * * *
"The custodian smothered the ball, and after a Ruby scrimmage
the City goal escaped."--_Provincial Paper._
A much prettier word than the other.
* * * * *
"Teacher (juniors); L1 monthly."--_Advt. in Liverpool Paper._
Who says there are no prizes in the teaching profession?
* * * * *
[Illustration: OUR ARTIST GIVES HIS MODEL AN IDEA OF THE GRACE AND
BEAUTY OF THE POSE HE REQUIRES OF HER.]
When I had seen ten thousand pass me by
And waved my arms and wearied of hallooing,
"Ho, taxi-meter! Taxi-meter, hi!"
And they hied on and there was nothing doing;
When I was sick of counting dud by dud
Bearing I know not whom--or coarse carousers,
Or damsels fairer than the moss-rose bud--
And still more sick at having bits of mud
Daubed on my new dress-trousers;
I went to dinner by the Underground
And every time the carriage stopped or started
Clung to my neighbour very tightly round
The neck till at Sloane Square his collar parted.
I saw my hostess glancing at my socks,
Surprised perhaps at so much clay's adherence
And, still unnerved by those infernal shocks,
Said, "I was working in my window-box;
Excuse my soiled appearance."
But in the morn I found a silent square
And one tall house with all the windows shuttered,
The mansion of the Marquis of Mayfair,
And "Here shall be the counter-stroke," I muttered;
"Shall not the noble Marquis and his kin
Make feast to-night in his superb refectory,
And then go on to see 'The Purple Sin'?
They shall." I sought a taxi-garage in
The Telephone Directory.
"Ho, there!" I cried within the wooden hutch;
"Hammersmith House--a most absurd dilemma--
His lordship's motor-cars have strained a clutch,
And taxis are required at 8 pip emma
(Six of your finest and most up-to-date,
With no false starts and no foul petrol leaking),
To bear a certain party of the great
To the Melpomene at ten past eight.
Thompson, the butler, speaking."
They came. And I at the appointed hour
Watched them arrive before the muted dwelling
And heard some speeches full of pith and power
And saw them turn and go with anger swelling;
Save only one who, spite his rude dismay,
Like a whipped Hun, made traffic of his sorrow
And shouted, "Taxi, Sir?" I answered "Nay,
I do not need you, jarvey, but I may
Be disengaged to-morrow."
* * * * *
THE PUNISHMENT OF GREED.
"Large quantity of new Block Chocolate offered cheap; cause
ill-health."--_Manchester Evening News._
* * * * *
"Miss M. Albanesi, daughter of the well-known singer, Mme.
Not to be confused with Mme. ALBANI, the popular novelist.
* * * * *
"The Portuguese retreated a step. His head flew to his
hip-pocket. But he was a fraction of a second too late."--_The
Many a slip 'twixt the head and the hip.
* * * * *
[Illustration: GHOSTS AT VERSAILLES.]
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
_Tuesday, April 29th._--When the House of Commons re-assembled this
afternoon a good many gaps were noticeable on the green benches. They
were not due, however, to the New Year's Honours, which made a belated
appearance this morning, for not a single Member of Parliament has
been ennobled. The notion that not one of the seven hundred is worthy
of elevation is, of course, unthinkable. But by-elections are so
Mr. JEREMIAH MACVEAGH still has some difficulty in realising that the
Irish centre of gravity has shifted from Westminster to Dublin. He
indignantly refused to accept an answer to one of his questions from
little Mr. PRATT, and loudly demanded the corporeal presence of the
CHIEF SECRETARY. Mr. MACPHERSON, however, considers that his duty
requires him to remain in Ireland, where Mr. MACVEAGH'S seventy Sinn
Fein colleagues are keeping him sufficiently busy.
In explaining the swollen estimates of the Ministry of Labour, Sir
ROBERT HORNE pointed out that it is now charged with the functions
formerly appertaining to half-a-dozen other Departments. He has indeed
become a sort of administrative _Pooh-Bah_. Unlike that functionary,
however, he was not "born sneering." On the contrary, he made a most
sympathetic speech, chiefly devoted to justifying the much-abused
unemployment donation, which accounts for twenty-five out of the
thirty-eight millions to be spent by his Department this year. But let
no one mistake him for a mere HORNE of Plenty, pouring out benefits
indiscriminately upon the genuine unemployed and the work-shy. He has
already deprived some seventeen thousand potential domestics of their
unearned increment, and he promises ruthless prosecution of all who
try to cheat the State in future.
Criticism was largely silenced by the Minister's frankness. Sir F.
BANBURY, of course, was dead against the whole policy, and
demanded the immediate withdrawal of the civilian grants; but his
uncompromising attitude found little favour. Mr. CLYNES thought it
would have been better for the State to furnish work instead of doles,
but did not explain how in that case private enterprise was to get
going. France's experience with the _ateliers nationaux_ is not
encouraging, though 1919, when "demobbed" subalterns turn up their
noses at L250 a year, is not 1848.
_Wednesday, April 30th._--Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN, returning to the
Exchequer after an interval of thirteen years, made a much better
Budget speech than one would have expected. It was longer, perhaps,
than was absolutely necessary. Like the late Mr. GLADSTONE, he has a
tendency to digress into financial backwaters instead of sticking to
the main Pactolian stream. His excursus upon the impracticability of
a levy on capital was really redundant, though it pleased the
millionaires and reconciled them to the screwing-up of the
death-duties. Still, on the whole, he had a more flattering tale to
unfold than most of us had ventured to anticipate, and he told it
well, in spite of an occasional confusion in his figures. After all,
it must be hard for a Chancellor who left the national expenditure
at a hundred and fifty millions and comes back to find it multiplied
tenfold not to mistake millions for thousands now and again.
[Illustration: _Budget Victims._ "YOU MAY HAVE WON THE WAR, BUT WE'VE
GOT TO PAY FOR IT."]
On the whole the Committee was well pleased with his performance,
partly because the gap between revenue and expenditure turned out to
be a mere trifle of two hundred millions instead of twice or thrice
that amount; partly because there was, for once, no increase in the
income-tax; but chiefly, I think, for the sentimental reason that in
recommending a tiny preference for the produce of the Dominions and
Dependencies Mr. CHAMBERLAIN was happily combining imperial interests
with filial affection.
Almost casually the CHANCELLOR announced that the Land Values Duties,
the outstanding feature of Mr. LLOYD GEORGE'S famous Budget of 1909,
were, with the approval of their author, to be referred to a Select
Committee, to see if anything could be made of them. If only Mr.
ASQUITH had thought of that device when his brilliant young lieutenant
first propounded them! There would have been no quarrel between the
two Houses: the Parliament Act would never have been passed, and a
Home Rule Act, for which nobody in Ireland has a good word, would not
now be reposing on the Statute-Book.
In the absence of any EX-CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER the task of
criticism was left to Mr. ADAMSON, who was mildly aggressive and
showed a hankering after a levy on capital, not altogether easy to
reconcile with his statement that no responsible Member of the Labour
Party desired to repudiate the National Debt. Mr. JESSON, a National
Democrat, was more original and stimulating. As a representative of
the Musicians' Union he is all for harmony, and foresees the time
when Capital and Labour shall unite their forces in one great national
orchestra, under the directing baton of the State.
At the instance of Lord STRACHIE the House of Lords conducted a
spirited little debate on the price of milk. It appears that there
is a conflict of jurisdiction between the FOOD-CONTROLLER and the
MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, and that the shortage in the supply of this
commodity must be ascribed to the overlapping of the Departments.
_Thursday, May 1st._--Sinn Fein has decreed that nobody in Ireland
should do any work on May Day. Messrs. DEVLIN and MACVEAGH, however,
being out of the jurisdiction, demonstrated their independence by
being busier than ever. The appointment of a new Press Censor in
Ireland furnished them with many opportunities at Question-time for
the display of their wit, which some of the new Members seemed to find
Mr. DEVLIN'S best joke was, however, reserved for the Budget debate,
when, in denouncing the further burdens laid on stout and whisky, he
declared that Ireland was, "apart from political trouble," the most
peaceful country in the world.
The fiscal question always seems to invite exaggeration of statement.
The CHANCELLOR'S not very tremendous Preference proposals were
denounced by Sir DONALD MACLEAN as inevitably leading to the taxation
of food and to quarrels with foreign countries. Colonel AMERY, on the
other hand, waxed dithyrambic in their praise, and declared that
by taking twopence off Colonial tea the Government were not only
consecrating the policy of Imperial Preference, but were "putting the
coping-stone on it."
* * * * *
[Illustration: The Minister of Labour (anxious to find work for the
ex-munitionette drawing unemployment pay). "HERE, MODOM, IS A CHARMING
MODEL WHICH WOULD SUIT YOU, IF I MAY SO PUT IT, DOWN TO THE GROUND."]
* * * * *
A CELTIC COUNTER-BLAST.
The continued domination of the Russians in the domain of the ballet
has already excited a certain amount of not unfriendly criticism. But
our Muscovite visitors are not to be allowed to have it all their own
way, and we understand that negotiations are already on foot with a
view to enabling the Irish Ballet to give a season at a leading London
theatre in the near future.
The Irish Ballet, which is organised on a strictly self-determining
basis, is one of the outcomes of the Irish Theatre, but derives in its
essentials directly from the school established by Cormac, son of Art.
That is to say it is in its aims, ideals and methods permeated by the
Dalecarlian, Fomorian, Brythonic and Firbolgian impulse. Mr. Fergal
Dindsenchus O'Corkery, the Director, is a direct descendant of
Cuchulinn and only uses the Ulidian, dialect. Mr. Tordelbach
O'Lochlainn, who has composed most of the ballets in the repertoire,
is a chieftain of mingled Dalcassian and Gallgoidel descent. The
scenery has been painted by Mr. Cathal Eochaid. MacCathamhoil, and the
dresses designed by Mr. Domnall Fothud O'Conchobar.
The artists who compose the troupe have all been trained during
the War at the Ballybunnion School in North Kerry, and combine in a
wonderful way the sobriety of the Delsartean method with the feline
agility of that of Kilkenny. Headed by the bewitching Gormflaith
Rathbressil, and including such brilliant artists as Maeve Errigal,
Coomhoola Grits, Ethne O'Conarchy, Brigit Brandub, Corcu and Mocu,
Diarmid Hy Brasil, Murtagh MacMurchada, Aillil Molt, Mag Mell and
Donnchad Bodb, they form a galaxy of talent which, alike for the
euphony of its nomenclature and the elasticity of its technique, has
never been equalled since the days of ST. VITUS.
We have spoken of the work of Mr. O'Lochlainn, who is responsible for
the three-act ballet, _Brian Boruma_; a fantasy on the Brehon laws,
entitled _The Gardens of Goll; Poulaphuca_, and the _Roaring of
O'Rafferty;_ but the repertory also includes notable and impassioned
compositions by Ossian MacGillycuddy, Aghla Malachy, Carolan MacFirbis
and Emer Sidh. The orchestra employed differs in many respects from
that to which we are accustomed, the wood-wind being strengthened by
a quartet of Firbolg flutes and two Fodlaphones, while the brass is
reinforced by a bass bosthoon, an instrument of extraordinary depth
and sonority, and the percussion by a group of Dingle drums.
But enough has been said to show that the Irish ballet is assured in
advance of a cordial reception from all admirers of the neo-Celtic
* * * * *
"A Bill has been introduced in Florida providing that 'from
and after equal suffrage has been established in Florida
it shall be lawful for females to don and wear the wearing
apparel of man as now worn publicly by him.'"--_Western
Happily they cannot take the breeks off a Highlander.
* * * * *
Biddick has placed me in a most awkward position. I am a proud man; I
cannot bring myself to accept a gift of money from anybody. And yet I
cannot help feeling I should be justified in taking the guinea he has
Biddick is a journalist. I was discussing the inflation of prices and
asking his advice as to how to increase one's income. "Why not write
something for the Press, my dear fellow?" he said. "Five hundred words
with a catchy title; nothing funny--that's _my_ line--but something
solid and practical with money in it; the public's always ready for
that. Take your neighbour, old Diggles, and his mushroom-beds, for
instance. Thriving local industry--capital copy. Try your hand at half
a column, and call it 'A Fortune in Fungus.'"
"I 'm afraid I know nothing about mushrooms, with the exception of the
one I nearly died of," I replied, "and I'm not sufficiently acquainted
with Mr. Diggles to venture to invite his confidence respecting his
"My dear man, I don't ask you to tell Diggles you're going to write
him up in the newspapers; he'd kick you off the premises; he doesn't
want his secrets given away to competitors. Just dodge the old man
round the sheds, get into conversation with his staff, keep your
eyes open generally and you'll pick up as much as you want for half a
column. And when you've got your notes together bring 'em along to me.
I'll put 'em shipshape for you."
I thanked him very gratefully.
The mushroom-sheds are situated in a field some distance from my
residence, and I found it rather a fatiguing walk. After tedious
watching in a cramped position through a gap in the hedge I saw Mr.
Diggles emerge from a shed and move away from my direction. I lost
no time in creeping forward under cover of my umbrella towards an
employee, who was engaged in tossing manure. I drew out my note-book
and interrogated him briefly and briskly.
"Do you rear from seeds or from cuttings?" I asked him. He scratched
his head and appeared in doubt. "Are your plants self-supporting," I
went on, "or do you train them on twigs? What would be the diameter
of your finest specimen?" He continued in doubt. I adopted a
conversational manner. "I suppose you'll be potting off soon? You
must get very fond of your mushrooms. I think one always gets fond of
anything which demands one's whole care and attention. I wonder if I
might have a peep at your _proteges_?"
I edged towards the door of one of the sheds, but he made no attempt
to accompany me. Instead he put his hands to his mouth and shouted,
Mr. Diggles promptly responded to the summons. There was no eluding
him. I put my note-book out of sight and inquired if he could oblige
me with a pound of fresh-culled mushrooms. He could, and he did. I
paid him four-and-sixpence for them, the control price presumably,
but he gave me no invitation to view the growing crops. I retraced
my steps without having collected even an opening paragraph for "A
Fortune in Fungus."
The next day found me again near the sheds. Mr. Diggles was nowhere
in sight. I approached unobtrusively through the hedge and accosted a
"Hulloa, my little man," I said, "what is your department in this
hive of industry? You weed the mushrooms, perhaps, or prune them?" He
seemed shy and offered no answer. "Perhaps you hoe between the plants
or syringe them with insecticide?"
Still I could not win his confidence, so I tried pressing sixpence
into his palm. "Between ourselves, what are the weekly takings?" I
said. He pocketed the coin and put his finger on his lips.
"_Belge,"_ he said. Then he bolted into a shed and returned
accompanied by Mr. Diggles. There was nothing for it but to purchase
another pound of mushrooms. I was no nearer "A Fortune in Fungus" than
Two days later, having received apparently reliable information that
Mr. Diggles was confined to his bed with influenza, I ventured again
to visit the sheds. I was advancing boldly across the field when to
my consternation he suddenly appeared from behind a hayrick. I was
so startled that I turned to fly, and in my precipitancy tripped on a
tussock and fell. Mr. Diggles came to my assistance, and, when he had
helped me to my feet and brushed me down with a birch broom he was
carrying, I could do nothing less than buy another pound of his
I felt it was time to consult Biddick. He was sitting at his desk
staring at a blank sheet of paper. His fingers were harrowing his hair
and he looked distraught.
"Excuse the interruption," I said, "but this 'Fortune in Fungus' is
ruining me;" and I related my experience.
At the finish Biddick gripped my hand and spoke with some emotion.
"Dear old chap," he said, "it's my line, after all. It's funny. If
only I can do it justice;" and he shook his fountain-pen.
This morning I received a guinea and a newspaper cutting entitled "A
Cadger for Copy," which may appeal to some people's sense of humour.
It makes none to mine. In the flap of the envelope Biddick writes:
"Halves, with best thanks."
Upon consideration I shall forward him a simple formal receipt.
* * * * *
[Illustration: "IT LOOKS QUITE LIKE PRE-WAR BACON."
"ON THE CONTRARY, MADAM, PERMIT ME TO ASSURE YOU IT IS OUR FINEST
* * * * *
From a bookseller's catalogue:--
"THE ART OF TATTING.
This book is intended for the woman who has time to spare
for reading, Tatting being such quick and easy work that busy
fingers can do both at the same time."
An edition in Braille would appear to be contemplated.
* * * * *
The great Bacteriologist entered the lecture-room and ascended the
platform. A murmur of astonishment ran round the audience as they
beheld, not the haggard face of a man who daily risked the possibility
of being awarded the O.B.E., but the calm and smiling countenance of
one who had succeeded where other scientists, even of Anglo-American
reputation, had failed.
In an awed silence this remarkable man placed on the table a dish,
somewhat like a soup-plate in appearance, and carefully removed its
"In this dish, gentlemen," said the Professor, "we have the Agar-Agar,
which is without doubt the best bacteriological culture medium yet
discovered and is especially useful in growing a pathogenic organism
such as we are about to test this afternoon."
Then taking a glass rod, to the end of which was attached a small
piece of platinum wire, the lecturer proceeded to scrape a little
of the growth from off the Agar-Agar. Having done this he quickly
deposited it in a test-tube half full of distilled water, which
he then heated over a Bunsen burner. Finally, with the aid of a
hypodermic syringe, a little of the liquid was injected into two
sleepy-looking guinea-pigs, and with bated breath the result of the
test was awaited.
Suddenly, without any warning, the two little animals rose on their
hind legs and violently clutched each other by any part of the body
on which they could get a grip. Before the astounded gaze of the
onlookers they swayed, nearly fell, then went round in circles, at the
same time executing every sort of conceivable contortion.
A great cheer burst from the audience. From all sides a rush was made
for the platform, and the Professor was carried shoulder-high round
The Jazz germ had been discovered at last.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Pekinese (who has been accidentally pushed into the
gutter by gigantic bloodhound)._ "AND YOU MAY THANK YOUR STARS I'VE
GOT A MUZZLE ON!"
* * * * *
A FRIENDLY OFFER.
"A French Gentleman would like to make acquaintance with
and English one to improve the English language."--_French
* * * * *
"Ste. Genevieve (422-572), born just outside Paris, spent a
long life in the city."--_Daily Paper._
Wherever it was spent, it was clearly a long life.
* * * * *
"---- College is the chosen home, the favoured haunt
of educational success. Our staff is composed of lineal
descendants of poets, seers, or savants, and it is the
intention of this formidable phalanx of intellectuals to drive
the whole world before them! We, of course, will say that
these classes will be famous, and well worth attending. In
Carlyle especially, the undersigned, with due modesty, expects
to constitute himself a Memnon, and to receive the sage of
Chelsea's martial pibroch from Hades, transmit it to the
listeners, and to thrill them to the very marrow of their
bones!"--_Advt. in Indian Paper_.
We should like to hear what the sage's martial pibroch has to say
about the advertiser's "due modesty."
* * * * *
LAXITY IN QUOTATIONS.
Among the many privileges which I propose to claim as a set-off for
what are called advancing years is a greater laxity in quotation. When
I have made a quotation I mean that that shall _be_ the quotation,
and I don't intend to be driven either to the original source or to
cyclopaedias of literature for verification. DANTE, for instance, is
a most prolific fount of quotations, especially for those who do not
know the original Italian. If I have quoted the words "_Galeotto fu
il libro e chi lo scrisse_" once, I have quoted them a hundred times,
always with an excellent effect and often giving the impression that
I am an Italian scholar, which I am not. But surely it is not usual
to abstain from a quotation because to use it would give a false
impression? I am perfectly certain, for instance, that there are
plenty of Italians who quote _Hamlet_, but know no more of English
than the words they quote, so I dare say that brings us right in the
Then there is the quotation about "a very parfitt gentil knight," or
words to that effect. At the moment of writing it down I felt that my
version was so correct that I would go to the scaffold for it; but
at this very instant a doubt insinuates itself. Is "parfitt" with two
"t's" the right spelling?
It is related somewhere that TENNYSON and EDWARD FITZGERALD once
conspired together to see which of them could write the most
Wordsworthian line, and that the result was:--
"A Mr. Wilkinson, a clergyman."
But there was no need for TENNYSON to go beyond his own works in
search of such an effect. He had already done the thing; and this was
his effort, which occurs in _The May Queen_:--
"And that good man, the clergyman, has told me words of peace."
This sounds as if it could not be defeated or matched, but matched it
certainly was in _Enoch Arden_. After describing _Enoch Arden's_ death
and the manner in which he "roll'd his eyes" upon _Miriam_, the bard
"So past the strong heroic soul away.
And when they buried him the little port
Had seldom seen a costlier funeral."
But I feel that I have strayed beyond my purpose, which was to claim
a certain mitigated accuracy in quotation for those who suffer from
* * * * *
"----, chambermaid at the ---- Hotel, ----, was charged
yesterday with stealing two diamond rings and a diamond and
sapphire broom worth L80."--_Daily Paper_.
Yet Mr. CHAMBERLAIN refuses to impose a Luxury Tax.
* * * * *
From a list of the German Peace-delegates:--"Baron von
Lersner, chief of the preliminary mission and ex-secretary
of the German Embassy in Washington. He was also formerly
attached to the German Embassy in Wales."--_Belfast News
This sounds like another injustice to Ireland.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Scientific Uncle_. "DO YOU KNOW, CHILDREN, THAT AT ONE
TIME, LONG AGO, WE USED TO HAVE FIVE TOES ON EACH HAND, AND LIVE IN
_Niece_. "WE WON'T TELL ANYBODY, UNCLE."]
* * * * *
The 23rd. To-day, my son,
Two turgid years ago,
Your father battled with the Hun
At five A.M. or so;
This was the day (if I exclude
A year of painful servitude
Under the Ministry of Food)
I struck my final blow.
Ah, what a night! The cannon roared;
There was no food to spare;
And first it froze and then it poured;
Were we dismayed? We were.
Three hundred yards we went or more,
And, when we reached, through seas of gore,
The village we were fighting for,
The Germans were not there.
But miles behind a 9.2
Blew up a ration dump;
Far, far and wide the tinned food flew
From that tremendous crump:
And one immense and sharp-toothed tin
Came whistling down, to my chagrin,
And caught me smartly on the shin--
By Jove, it made me jump.
A hideous wound. The blood that flowed!
It was a job to dress;
I hobbled bravely down the road
And reached a C.C.S.;
Nor was I so obsessed with gloom
At leaving thus the field of doom
As one might easily assume
From stories in the Press.
Though other soldiers as they fell--
Or so the papers say--
Cried, "GEORGE for England! Give 'em hell!"
(It was ST. GEORGE'S Day),
Inspiring as a Saint can be,
I should not readily agree
That anyone detected me
Behaving in that way.
Such is the tale. And, year by year,
I shall no doubt relate
For your fatigued but filial ear
The history of this date;
Yet, though I do not now enhance
The crude events of that advance,
There is a wild fantastic chance
That they will grow more great.
So be you certain while you may
Of what in fact occurred,
And if I have the face to say
On some far 23rd
That on this day the war was won,
That I despatched a single Hun,
Or even caught a glimpse of one--
_Don't you believe a word_.
* * * * *
ANOTHER IMPENDING APOLOGY.
"Miss ---- looked sweetly pretty in an emerald-green satin
(very short) skirt, white blouse, and emerald handkerchief
tied over her head--an Irish Colleen, and a bonie one
* * * * *
"According to a Vienna message, the Government has
introduced a Bill dealing with the former reigning Mouse of
Alas, poor KARL! _Ridiculus mus_.
* * * * *
"Wanted one hour daily from ten to eleven morning at
convenience an English Talking Family for practice of talking.
Remuneration twenty rupees per mensem."--_Times of India_.
We know one or two "talking families" that we should be glad to
* * * * *
"In finding the defendant L3, Mr. Price told the defendant
that he would get into serious trouble if he persisted in his
And he may not meet such a generous magistrate next time.
* * * * *
"Englishman, well educated, desires afternoon engagement;
experienced in the care of children; good needlewoman; or
would assist light housework."--_Canadian Paper_.
We hope we shall hear no further complaints from Canada that
Englishmen are not adaptable.
* * * * *
I was sitting in the Club, comfortably concealed by sheets of a
well-known journal, when two voices, somewhere over the parados of the
deep arm-chair, broke in upon my semi-consciousness.
"... Then poor old Tubby, who hasn't recovered from his 1918 dose of
shell-shock, got a go of claustrophobia and felt he simply had to get
out of the train."
The speaker paused and I heard the clink of glass.
"Well?" said the other voice.
"So, before we could flatten him out, he skipped up and pulled the
communicator thing and stopped the train; consequently we ran into
Town five minutes behind time. There was the deuce of a buzz about
"What's five minutes in this blissful land of lotus-eaters? Why, I've
known the Calais-Wipers express lose itself for half-a-day without a
murmur from anyone, unless the Brigadier had run out of bottled Bass."
"But, my dear fellow," the first voice expostulated, "this was the
great West of England non-stop Swallowtail; runs into Town three
minutes ahead of time every trip. Habitues of the line often turn an
honest penny by laying odds on its punctuality with people who are
strangers to the reputation of this flier."
"A pretty safe thing to bet on, eh?" said the other voice. Again there
was the faint clink of glass and then the voices drifted into other
topics, to which, having re-enveloped myself in my paper, I became
A few days later I was called away from London, with Mr. Westaby
Jones, to consult in a matter of business. Mr. Westaby Jones is a
member of the Stock Exchange and, amongst other trivial failings, he
possesses one which is not altogether unknown in his profession. He
cannot resist a small wager. On several occasions he has gambled with
me and shown himself to be a gentleman of considerable acumen.
Our business was finished and we were on the way back to Town by the
great West of England non-stop Swallowtail. We had lunched well and
discussed everything there was to discuss. It was a moment for rest. I
unfolded my paper and proceeded to envelop myself in the usual way.
I seemed to hear the chink of glasses ... a voice murmured, "A pretty
safe thing to bet on."
Then in a dreamy sort of manner I realised that Fate had delivered
Westaby Jones into my hands. When we were within twenty miles of
London I opened the campaign. I grossly abused the line on which we
were travelling and suggested that anybody could make a fortune by
assuming that its best train would roll in well after the scheduled
Westaby Jones, having privily ascertained that the engine-driver had
a minute or so in hand, immediately pinned me down to what he thought
(but wisely did not say) were the wild inaccuracies of an imbecile.
He did it to the extent of twenty-five pounds, and I sat back with the
comfortable feeling of a man who will shortly have a small legacy to
expend. At the moment which I had calculated to be most auspicious I
suddenly threw off the semblance of boredom, rose up, lurched across
the carriage and pulled the communication cord. (For the benefit
of those who have not done this I may say that the cord comes away
pleasantly in the hand and, at the same time, gives one a piquant
feeling of unofficial responsibility.) Westaby Jones was, for a
stockbroker, obviously astonished.
"What on earth are you doing?" he exclaimed.
"Sit down," I said; "this is my improved exerciser."
"But you'll stop the train," he shouted.
"Never mind," I replied; "what's a fine of five pounds compared to
physical fitness? Besides," I added significantly, "it may be a good
investment after all."
For perhaps twenty seconds there was the silent tension of expectation
in the air and then I realised with a shock that the train did not
show any signs of slackening speed. It was, if anything, going faster.
I snatched frantically at the cord and pulled about half-a-furlong
into the carriage. We flashed past Ealing like a rocket, and I
desperately drew in coils and coils of the communicator until I and
Westaby Jones resembled the Laocoon. It was no good. Smoothly and
irresistibly we glided into the terminus and drew up at the platform
three minutes ahead of time.
I have paid Westaby Jones, who was unmannerly enough to look pleased.
I have also corresponded with the railway company, claiming damages
on the grounds of culpable negligence. Unfortunately they require more
evidence than I am prepared to supply of the reasonable urgency of my
* * * * *
From a theatre programme:--
"The name of the actual and responsible Manager of the
premises must be printed at least once during every
performance to ensure its being in proper order."
So that explains the noise going on behind the scenes.
* * * * *
The Cuckoo has arrived and will sing as announced.
* * * * *
One of the results of the arrival of the Cuckoo is the prevalence of
notices, for those that have eyes to see, drawing attention to the
ineligible character of nests. These take a variety of forms--such as
"All the discomforts of home," "Beware of mumps," "We have lost our
worm cards," "Serious lining-shortage"--but the purpose of each is to
discourage the Cuckoo from depositing an egg where it is not wanted.
* * * * *
From all parts of the country information reaches us as to the odd
nesting-places of wrens and robins. A curious feature is the number
of cases where letter-boxes have been chosen, thus preventing the
delivery of letters, and in consequence explaining why so many letters
have not been answered. Even the biggest dilatory correspondent is not
ashamed to take advantage of the smallest bird.
* * * * *
The difficulty of obtaining muzzles is very general and many
dog-owners have been hard put to it to comply with the regulation.
From these, however, must be excepted those who possess wire-haired
terriers, from whose coats an admirable muzzle can be extracted in a
* * * * *
The statement of a telephone operator, that "everything gives way to
trunks," is said to have caused great satisfaction in the elephant
house at the Zoo.
* * * * *
Please be careful where you tread,
The fairies are about;
Last night, when I had gone to bed,
I heard them creeping out.
And wouldn't it be a dreadful thing
To do a fairy harm?
To crush a little delicate wing
Or bruise a tiny arm?
They 're all about the place, I know,
So do be careful where you go.
Please be careful what you say,
They're often very near,
And though they turn their heads away
They cannot help but hear.
And think how terribly you would mind
If, even for a joke,
You said a thing that seemed unkind
To the dear little fairy folk.
I'm sure they're simply everywhere,
So _promise_ me that you'll take care.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Harold (_after a violent display of affection)._
"'TISN'T 'COS I LOVE YOU--IT'S 'COS YOU SMELL SO NICE."]
* * * * *
(_By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks_.)
The Great Man is, I suppose, among the most difficult themes to treat
convincingly in fiction. To name but one handicap, the author has in
such cases to postulate at least some degree of acquaintance on the
part of the reader with his celebrated subject. "Everyone is now
familiar," he will observe, "with the sensational triumph achieved by
the work of X----;" whereat the reader, uneasily conscious of never
having heard of him, inclines to condemn the whole business beforehand
as an impossible fable. I fancy Mr. SOMERSET MAUGHAM felt something of
this difficulty with regard to the protagonist of his quaintly-called
_The Moon and Sixpence_ (HEINEMANN), since, for all his sly pretence
of quoting imaginary authorities, we have really only his unsupported
word for the superlative genius of _Charles Strickland_,
the stockbroker who abandoned respectable London to become a
Post-impressionist master, a vagabond and ultimately a Pacific
Islander. The more credit then to Mr. MAUGHAM that he does quite
definitely make us accept the fellow at his valuation. He owes this,
perhaps, to the unsparing realism of the portrait. Heartless, utterly
egotistical, without conscience or scruple or a single redeeming
feature beyond the one consuming purpose of his art, _Strickland_ is
alive as few figures in recent fiction have been; a genuinely great
though repellent personality--a man whom it would have been at once
an event to have met and a pleasure to have kicked. Mr. MAUGHAM has
certainly done nothing better than this book about him; the drily
sardonic humour of his method makes the picture not only credible but
compelling. I liked especially the characteristic touch that
shows _Strickland_ escaping, not so much from the dull routine of
stockbroking (genius has done that often enough in stories before now)
as from the pseudo-artistic atmosphere of a flat in Westminster and a
wife who collected blue china and mild celebrities. _Mrs. Strickland_
indeed is among the best of the slighter characters in a tale with a
singularly small cast; though it is, of course, by the central figure
that it stands or falls. My own verdict is an unhesitating _stet_.
* * * * *
If there be any who still cherish a pleasant memory of the Bonnie
Prince CHARLIE of the Jacobite legend, Miss MARJORIE BOWEN'S _Mr.
Misfortunate_ (COLLINS) will dispose of it. She gives us a study of
the YOUNG PRETENDER in the decade following Culloden. Figures such as
LOCHIEL, KEITH, GORING, the dour KELLY, HENRY STUART, LOUIS XV., with
sundry courtiers and mistresses, move across the film. I should say
the author's sympathy is with her main subject, but her conscience
is too much for her. I find myself increasingly exercised over
this conscience of Miss BOWEN'S. She seems to me to be deliberately
committing herself to what I can only describe as a staccato method.
This was notably the case with _The Burning Glass_, her last novel.
Her narratives no longer seem to flow. She will give you catalogues
of furniture and raiment, with short scenes interspersed, for all the
world as if she were transcribing from carefully taken notes. Quite
probably she is, and I am being authentically instructed and should
be duly grateful, but I find myself longing for the exuberance of her
earlier method. I feel quite sure this competent author can find a
way of respecting historical truth without killing the full-blooded
flavour of romance.
* * * * *
There is a smack of the Early Besantine about the earnest scion of
a noble house who decides to share the lives and lot of common and
unwashed men with an eye to the imminent appearance of the True Spirit
of Democracy in our midst. Such a one is the hero of Miss MAUD DIVER'S
latest novel, _Strange Roads_ (CONSTABLE); but it is only fair to
say that _Derek Blunt_ (_ne_ Blount), second son of the _Earl of
Avonleigh_, is no prig, but, on the contrary, a very pleasant fellow.
For a protagonist he obtrudes himself only moderately in a rather
discursive story which involves a number of other people who do
nothing in particular over a good many chapters. We are halfway
through before _Derek_ takes the plunge, and then we find, him, not
in the slums of some industrial quarter, but in Western Canada, where
class distinctions are founded less on soap than on simoleons. At the
end of the volume the War has "bruk out," and our hero, apart from
having led a healthy outdoor life and chivalrously married and been
left a widower by a pathetic child with consumption and no morals,
is just about where he started. I say "at the end of the volume," for
there I find a publisher's note to the effect that in consequence
of the paper shortage the further adventures of our hero have been
postponed to a subsequent volume. It is to be entitled _The Strong
Hours_, and will doubtless provide a satisfactory _raison d'etre_ for
all the other people who did nothing in particular in Vol. I.
* * * * *
If you had numbered _Elizabeth_, the heroine of _A Maiden in Malaya_
(MELROSE), among your friends, I can fancy your calling upon her to
"hear about her adventures in the East." I can see her delightedly
telling you of the voyage, of the people she met on board (including
the charming young man upon whom you would already have congratulated
her), of how he and she bought curios at Port Said, of her arrival, of
her sister's children and their quaint sayings, of Singapore and its
sights, of Malaya and how she was taken to see the tapping on a rubber
plantation--here I picture a gleam of revived interest, possibly
financial in origin, appearing in your face--of the club, of dinner
parties and a thousand other details, all highly entertaining to
herself and involving a sufficiency of native words to impress the
stay-at-home. And perhaps, just as you were considering your chance of
an escape before tea, she would continue "and now I must tell you all
about the dreadful time I had in the rising!" which she would then
vivaciously proceed to do; and not only that, but all about the
dreadful time (the same dreadful time) that all her friends had in
the same rising, chapters of it, so that in the end it might be six
o'clock or later before you got away. I hope this is not an unfair
_resume_ of the impression produced upon me by Miss ISOBEL MOUNTAIN'S
prattling pages. To sum up, if you have an insatiable curiosity for
the small talk of other people's travel, _A Maiden in Malaya_ may not
prove too much for it. If otherwise, otherwise.
* * * * *
I wish Col. JOHN BUCHAN could have been jogging Mrs. A.C. INCHBOLD'S
elbow while she was writing _Love and the Crescent_ (HUTCHINSON), All
the essential people in his _Greenmantle_, which deals, towards the
end at any rate, with just about the same scenes and circumstances as
her story, are so confoundedly efficient, have so undeniably learnt
the trick of making the most of their dashing opportunities. In Mrs.
INCHBOLD's book the trouble is that with much greater advantages in
the way of local knowledge and with all manner of excitement, founded
on fact, going a-begging, nothing really thrilling or convincing
ever quite materialises. The heroine, Armenian and beautiful, is
as ineffective as the hero, who is French and heroic, both of them
displaying the same unfortunate tendency to be carried off captive by
the other side and to indulge in small talk when they should be most
splendid. And the majority of the other figures follow suit. On the
face of it the volume is stuffed with all the material of melodrama;
but somehow the authoress seems to strive after effects that don't
come naturally to her. What does come naturally to her is seen in a
background sketch of the unhappy countries of Asia Minor in the hands
of the Turk and the Hun, which is so much the abler part of the book
that one would almost rather the too intrusive narrative were brushed
aside entirely. Personally, at any rate, I think I should prefer Mrs.
INCHBOLD in essay or historical form.
* * * * *
Madame ALBANESI, in _Tony's Wife_ (HOLDEN AND HARDINGHAM), has
provided her admirers with a goodly collection of sound Albanesians,
but she has also given them a villain in whom, I cannot help thinking,
they will find themselves hard-pressed to believe. _Richard Savile_
was deprived of a great inheritance by _Tony's_ birth, and as his
guardian spent long years in nourishing revenge. He was not, we know,
the first guardian to play this game, but that he could completely
deceive so many people for such a long time seems to prove him far
cleverer than appears from any actual evidence furnished. If, however,
this portrait is not in the artist's best manner, I can praise without
reserve the picture of _Lady Feo_, a little Society butterfly, very
frivolous on the surface, but concealing a lot of nice intuition and
sympathy, and I welcome her as a set-off to the silly caricatures we
commonly get of the class to which she belonged. Let me add that
in the telling of this tale Madame ALBANESI retains her quiet and
* * * * *
[Illustration: A MARCH-PAST AS PORTRAYED BY OUR TYPIST ON HER
* * * * *
A CURIOUS ROMANIAN CUSTOM.
"The two white doves which were perched in the wedding
carriage excited much interest. They were given, following the
pretty Roumanian cuckoo, to the bride and bridegroom by the
people of Roumania to symbolise the happiness and peace which
are hoped to the newly-married couple."--_North Mail_.
* * * * *
"A ROMANTIC COURTSHIP IN TURKEY.
Miss ---- visited Colonel ---- when boat, money, a
hiding-place in Constantinople last summer suffering from
There seem here to be all the elements of romance, but the story
suffers from overmuch compression. We shall wait to see it on the
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