PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI
APRIL 2, 1919
A Liverpool grocer was fined last week for overcharging for margarine,
eggs, cheese, ham, bacon, cocoa, jam and suet. Any other nation, it is
pointed out, would have had a man like that at the Peace Conference.
The strike of wives, as proposed by a weekly paper, did not
materialise. The husbands' threat to employ black-legs (alleged silk)
appears to have proved effective.
A Reigate resident advertises in a daily newspaper for the recovery of
a human jawbone. It is supposed that the owner lost it during a Tube
"London from above," says a _Daily Mail_ correspondent, "is
gloriously, tenderly, wistfully beautiful." We rather gather that it
is the lid of Carmelite House that gives it just that little note of
"How to Prepare Marble Beef" is the subject of a contemporary's "Hints
to Young Housekeepers," We had always supposed that that sort of thing
could be safely left to the butcher.
The demobilised members of a Herefordshire band have all grown too
big for their uniforms. The contra-bombardon man, we understand, also
complains that his instrument is too tight round the chest.
"The one unselfish friend of man is the dog," said Sir FREDERICK
BANBURY, M.P. A less courageous man would certainly have mentioned the
PRESIDENT of the United States.
A correspondent who signs himself "Selborne" writes to inform us that
about 9 A.M. last Thursday he noticed a pair of labourers building
within a stone's-throw of Catford Bridge.
A Hendon man has just completed sixty-two years in a church choir. Few
choir-boys can boast of such a record.
One of the young recruits who joined the army last week in Dublin is
seven feet two inches in height. It is satisfactory to note that he is
on our side.
It is reported that seven cuckoos have been heard in different parts
of the country during the past week. It is felt in some quarters that
it may be just one cuckoo on a route march.
"Bacon Free Yesterday," says a headline. Somebody must have left the
An American scientest claims to have discovered a harmless germ likely
to defeat the "flu" microbe. It is said that some medical men have put
up a purse and that the two germs are being matched to fight a ten
round contest under National Sporting Club rules.
Those who have said that the unemployment donation makes for prolonged
holiday have just been dealt a sorry blow. It appears that one North
of England man in receipt of this pay has deliberately started work.
Plans for the housing of 12,000 Government clerks have just been
passed. While 12,000 may suffice for a nucleus, we cannot help
thinking that once again the Government isn't really trying.
A postman going his rounds at Kingston found a deserted baby on the
lawn of a front garden. It speaks well for the honesty of postal
servants that the child was at once given up.
We are pleased to announce with regard to the German waiter who, in
1913, gave a Scotsman a bad sixpence for change, that reassuring news
has just reached Scotland that the fellow, is still alive.
A morning paper states that a gentleman who had been at the War Office
since August 1914 was given a big reception on his return home. The
name of the Departmental Chief whom he had been waiting to see has not
yet been disclosed.
A morning paper tells us that FRISCO of New York, who is alleged to
have invented the Jazz, has declined an invitation to visit London.
By the way, they might have told us whether the offer to FRISCO came
from London or New York. Meanwhile we draw our own conclusions.
With reference to the horse that recently refused at the third jump
and ran back to the starting-post, we are asked to say that this only
proves the value of backing horses both ways.
"No man," says a writer in a daily paper, "can sit down and see a girl
standing in a crowded Tube train." This no doubt accounts for so many
men closing their eyes whilst travelling.
Mr. DEVLIN, M.P., has communicated to the Press a scheme for solving
the Irish problem. This is regarded by Irish politicians generally as
a dangerous precedent.
A defendant in a County Court case heard in London last week stated in
his evidence that two of his daughters were working and the other was
a typist at the Peace Conference.
* * * * *
[Illustration: "HOW PLEASANT IT IS, MY DEAR HORACE, TO PLAY WITH ONE'S
TOYS WITHOUT INCURRING THE RISK OF HAVING ONE'S ENJOYMENT MARRED BY
THE TRAGIC DISCOVERY OF THEIR TEUTONIC ORIGIN!"]
* * * * *
From a placard in a shop-window:--
"Do you buy Tea, or do you buy _our_ Tea?"
* * * * *
"Should a customer cut his hair and shave at the same time,
the price will be one shilling."--_Advt. in "Daily Gleaner"
Not a bit too much for such ambidexterity.
* * * * *
THE PRICE OF FREEDOM.
I thought the cruel wound was whole
Which left my inside so dyspeptic;
That Time had salved this tortured soul,
Time and Oblivion's antiseptic;
That thirty years (the period since
You showed a preference for Another)
Had fairly schooled me not to wince
At being treated like a brother.
When last I saw the shape I wooed
In coils of adipose embedded,
Fondling its eldest offspring's brood
(The image of the Thing you wedded),
I placed my hand upon the seat
Of those affections you had riven
And gathered from its steady beat
That your offence had been forgiven.
And now, to my surprise and pain,
Long past the stage of convalescence,
The wound has broken out again
With symptoms of pronounced putrescence;
And, from the spot where once was laid
Your likeness treasured in a locket,
The trouble threatens to invade
A tenderer place--my trouser pocket.
For AUSTEN (such is rumour's tale),
Faced with a rude financial deadlock,
Is bent on mulcting every male
Who shirks the privilege of wedlock;
With such a hurt Time cannot deal,
And Lethe here affords no tonic;
Nothing but Death can hope to heal
What looks as if it must be chronic.
And yet a solace soothes my brow,
Making my air a shade less gloomy:--
Six shillings in the pound is now
The figure out of which they do me;
But, were we man and wife to-day
(So close the Treasury loves to link 'em),
A grievous super-tax they'd lay
On our coagulated income.
I dare not even try to guess
What is the charge for being single;
It may be more, it may be less
Than if we twain had chanced to mingle;
But though with thrice as heavy a fist
They fall on bachelors to bleed 'em
Yet, when I think of what I've missed,
I'll gladly pay the cost of Freedom.
* * * * *
_(With acknowledgments to the kind of paper that wallows in this kind
Fringe and tassels, tassels and fringe! That is the burden of what I
have to say to you this time; for indeed and indeed this is to be a
fringe-and-tassel season, and you must cover yourself all over with
fringe and the rest of yourself with tassels, or else "to a nunnery
_A propos_, I popped into the dressing-room of the ever-delightful
Miss Frillie Farrington at the Incandescent the other evening and had
the joy of seeing her put on that sweet ickle f'ock she wears for the
Jazz supper scene in _Oh My!_ All the materials used are three yards
of embroidered chiffon, six yards of tinsel fringe and six dozen
tinsel tassels; and anything so completely swish and so immensely
tra-la-la you simply never!
The Armistice Smile is quickly giving way to the Peace Face. For the
Peace Face the eyes should look calmly straight before one, and the
lips should be gently closed, but not set in a hard line. Everybody
who is anybody is busy practising the Peace Face, as it is sure to be
wanted some day.
Was in a big squeeze the other night coining out of the Opera and
overheard Lady Mary Clarges remark to her pretty daughter, "What a
crush!" Lady Mary has a big reputation for always saying the right
I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I tell you that spotted
stockings have been seen walking in the park! Oh, no, there wasn't
anything spooky or _seancy_ about it; the stockings weren't walking
all alone by themselves; they were on the--that's to say, they were
worn by a very well-known woman, whose stockings are sure to give the
lead to _multitudes_ of other stockings!
Am told that the "Back from France" fancy-dress dance at Widelands
House, in honour of Captain Lord Widelands, was a huge success.
Winnie, Lady Widelands (grandmother of the hero of the night) was
enormously admired as a boy-scout.
I hear that there's been a great big noise at Middleshire Park. Lord
Middleshire found that Lady M. had asked LENIN and TROTSKY to join
her house-party at Easter. Lady Middleshire, who is one of the most
beautiful and gifted of our young go-ahead hostesses, assured her
husband that she meant no harm and had no Bolshie leanings, but simply
wanted to be even with Lady Oldacres, who has secured the Eskimo
Contortionists from the Palladrome for her Easter party.
I've received _mountains_ of letters asking about sucking the thumb,
as introduced by dainty Miss Vanity Vaux in _Draw it mild, Daisy_.
Only the _tip_ of the thumb should be sucked; those of you who put the
_whole_ thumb into your mouths must not complain if you see smiles
exchanged round you. Where the eyes are large and widely opened and
the right cast of feature exists, the thumb may be sucked by girls up
Passed the beautiful young Countess of Southshire walking near
Belgrave Square yesterday. As usual, she was _parfaitement mise_. Was
sorry for _her_ sake, but glad for my own, to hear her sneeze twice,
for she is considered to have easily the most musical sneeze in
London. Talk of sneezing, during the 'flu epidemic Madame Fallalerie
has been giving a course of lessons, "How to sneeze prettily" (twenty
guineas the course), and her reception-rooms in Bond Street have been
Absolutely _everybody_ seemed to be lunching at Kickshaw's yesterday!
Lord and Lady Oldacres were at a table with some of their children,
which reminds me of the fact that family parties are rather good form
just now. It's not at all unusual to see husbands and wives together,
and children, both small and grown-up, are quite _often_ with their
* * * * *
MR. PUNCH'S "SPORPOT."
The sum of L91 11_s_. 0_d_. generously collected by various schools in
South Africa for the "Sporpot" (savings-box) fund, which was suggested
in these pages by Mr. Punch's friend, the late Mr. BERTRAM SMITH of
Beattock, has been distributed amongst the Belgian refugees who have
spent four and a half years of exile at Beattock and have just left to
return to their own country.
* * * * *
[Illustration: A SPRING DEFENSIVE.
JOHN BULL. "I DON'T SAY IT QUITE MEETS THE CASE, BUT _(cheerfully)_
IT'S A SIZE LARGER THAN I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE."]
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Sandy (at Victoria Station)_. "GIE ME _THE PEEBLES
_Attendant_. "WE DON'T KEEP IT."
_Sandy_. "THEN JUST GIE ME ONE O' YER LOCAL PAPERS."]
* * * * *
The achievement of a certain paper in identifying the late Mr. G.W.E.
RUSSELL with Mr. GEORGE RUSSELL ("AE"), the Irish poet, is likely to
encourage imitation. The following first attempts have come under our
It is not generally known that the FOREIGN SECRETARY began life in a
Sheffield steel factory. By unremitting toil he became Master Cutler,
having first served an apprenticeship as Chief Secretary for Ireland.
The inclusion of Mr. ARTHUR BALFOUR in the Coal Commission was
particularly happy, and no one will grudge him his well-earned title
of Lord BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH.
Sir ANTHONY HOPE HAWKINS, better known as Mr. Justice HAWKINS, like
his brother judge, Mr. Justice GILBERT PARKER, combines a profound
knowledge of law with a fine literary gift. His well-known treatise on
Habeas Corpus, entitled _The Prisoner of Zenda_, will be familiar to
During the absence of the gallant Colonel JOHN WARD at the Front, we
understand that Mrs. WARD has been seeing through the Press a new
story, which is a return to the earlier manner of her _Robert
Sir GEORGE ASKWITH, as he will still be remembered long after his
elevation to the peerage, first struck the public imagination by his
advice to the railwaymen, who, when they asked what would happen if
they persisted in striking, received the answer, "Wait and see."
London is becoming herself again. Among well-known persons noticed
about yesterday were Mr. MCKENNA, whose retirement from office
presumably gives him more leisure for that sequel to _Sonia_ for which
we are all waiting; Mr. J.W.H.T. DOUGLAS, Cricket Specialist of _The
Star_; Sir ERNEST SHACKLETON, on his way to his work at the Ministry
of Labour; and Sir HARRY JOHNSON, the famous African pugilist.
* * * * *
THE BETTER PART.
[It is suggested that one result of army life will be a boom in
big-game hunting and visits to the world's most inaccessible
He may be correct, the observer who says
Henceforth there'll be many a rover
Ambitious to go, in American phrase,
To the edge of beyond and some over;
But I, for my part, harbour other designs;
My wanderlust's wholly abated;
With travel on even luxurious lines
I'm more than sufficiently sated.
Having roamed into Egypt, according to plan,
Along with my fellows (a merry Co.),
Having carried a pack from Beersheba to Dan
And footslogged from Gaza to Jericho,
I'll not seek a fresh inaccessible spot
In order to slaughter a new brute;
To me inaccessible's anywhere not
To be found on a regular tube route.
For barbarous jungles or desolate streams
I don't give a tuppenny damlet;
For, candidly, London revisited seems
A very endurable hamlet;
Though others may find her excitements too mild
And sigh for things gladder or madder,
I'm fully resolved that the call of the wild
Shall find me as deaf as an adder.
* * * * *
"Trouser maker wanted; constant."--_Jewish Chronicle_.
A very desirable quality in a composer of continuations.
* * * * *
"STRANGE BIGAMY STORY.
"MUNITIONER SAID TO HAVE POSED AS A WEALTHY MAN."
The strange thing, of course, is that he should have needed to pose.
* * * * *
THE TRAGEDY OF THE SUPER-PATRIOT.
If you happen to be standing upon the platform of Ealing Common
station at about nine o'clock on a week-day morning you will see a
poor shrunken figure with a hunted expression upon his face come
creeping down the stairs. And as the train comes in he will slink into
a carriage and hide himself behind his newspaper and great tears will
come into his eyes as he reads the correspondence column and thinks of
the days when his own letters used to be published over the signatures
of "Volunteer," "Patriot," or "Special Constable of Two Years'
Service." And this sorry figure is Mr. Coaster, whose patriotism
proved his undoing.
Before he lived in Ealing he had a little cottage at Ramstairs, on the
Kentish coast. Every morning he would travel up to the City, and every
evening he would return to Ramstairs, not to the carpet slippers and
the comforts of home, but to the brassard and the rigorous routine of
And the little drill-hall was filled with the noise of war as the Men
of Kent marched hither and thither, lashed by the caustic tongue of
the Territorial sergeant, with all the enthusiasm of the early Saxons
who flocked to HAROLD'S standard in order to repel the Danes.
For Mr. Coaster was as great a patriot as any of the old Saxons. In a
burst of enthusiasm he joined the Special Constables; in an explosion
of wrath, following the bombardment of Scarborough, he enlisted in the
Kentish Fencibles, and in a wave of self-sacrifice he enrolled himself
in the Old Veterans' Fire Brigade. And he had badges upon each lapel
of his coat and several dotted all over his waistcoat.
He belonged to a noble company of patriots. All true Men of Kent who
were past the fighting age joined one or other of these institutions,
but luckily not more than one.
On a certain fatal night a general alarm was given. In due course a
notification of it was conveyed to Ramstairs, and instantaneously the
members of the Special Constabulary, the Kentish Fencibles and the
Veterans' Fire Brigade were summoned from their beds. Then did Mr.
Coaster realise his terrible position. Since he belonged to all three,
to which of them should he now report? After some agonising moments of
doubt he hung up his three types of headgear upon the hat-stand and,
shutting his eyes, he twirled himself round twice and made a grab at
them. His hand touched the helmet of the Veterans' Fire Brigade. Fate
had decided. Seizing his fireman's axe he rushed off down the street.
The result of this was inevitable. He was dismissed with ignominy
from the Special Constables and was condemned to death, with a
recommendation to mercy, by a court-martial of the Kentish Fencibles.
His old friends among the Men of Kent cut him dead; the tradesmen of
his platoon refused to serve him. He had to leave Ramstairs and he
retired to Ealing. The catastrophe ruined his health. But he still
gets a little solace when, as he wipes the tears from his eyes after
reading the correspondence column of his penny paper, he sees upon his
waistcoat the crossed axes surmounted by a fire bucket, the emblem of
the Veterans' Fire Brigade.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Aunt (guardian of little nephew who has run away)_.
"EVERY COMFORT ALBERT 'AD--INCLUDIN' WHITE MICE IN 'IS BEDROOM."]
* * * * *
"Lady tired of her clothes wishes to sell them all very
* * * * *
"In this race County Cricket was left at least eight lengths and
yet managed to cover up ground and was only beaten by half a
week, greatest surprise to all those who noticed it."----_Bombay
We gather that it was only noticed by a few spectators who happened to
be staying on over the week-end.
* * * * *
From a publisher's advertisement of Mr. CHESTERTON'S works:--
"A SHILLING FOR MY THOUGHTS, Fcap. 8vo. _2s_. net."
Is "G.K.C." also among the profiteers?
* * * * *
"Private Frank Edwards, Canadian Forces, a native of Berwick, has
been presented to the King as the oldest soldier on active service
with the B.E.F. He enlisted as a private in the 50's and went
right away to fight in France."--_Edinbro' Evening News_.
We calculate that he is entitled to at least fifty-nine blue chevrons
and one red.
* * * * *
[ILLUSTRATION: BATTALION INSPECTION IN FRANCE.
MEN ARE BEING DEMOBILISED FASTER THAN OFFICERS.]
* * * * *
"CLEAR THE GALLERIES."
In response to the growth of dissatisfaction at the continued closing
of certain picture galleries and museums, either wholly or in part,
the Government has appointed a special commission to investigate the
matter, under the presidency of Sir Tite Barnacle (fifth baronet). A
report of the first session follows, during which the cases for the
public and culture, and for the Government as against both, were fully
The first witness was Lord HARCOURT, who said that he had done all he
could, both in the House of Lords and in the columns of _The Times_,
where, he was glad to say, large type was given him, to bring the
Government to its senses on this matter. So long as the War was on, he
and his fellow-critics had refrained from interfering. But now that
it was over they demanded that the museums and galleries should be
cleared at once of flappers and typewriters and thrown open again to
their rightful users, the public.
Sir Buffer Stayte, K.C.B., O.B.E., speaking for his own Government
department, said that, although in a manner of speaking the War was
over, it was also not over. There was a heritage of trouble which
required endless attention, and the best place to attend to it was in
the museums and galleries. Experience had taught them that buildings
filled with works of art acquired by the nation, either by purchase
or gift, for the nation, and held as a national trust, were the most
suitable places in which a clerical staff could perform clerical
Lord HARCOURT begged to suggest that such a disregard of a national
trust was a treachery.
Sir Buffer Stayte said that, although in ordinary times such might be
the case, it was not so in war-time or while the Defence of the
Realm Act was in force. Under Dora's sanction all black was white.
Personally he had every belief in the efficiency of the staffs now
employed in the various public galleries and museums. He had seen them
arrive late and leave early--he meant arrive early and leave late--and
could not sufficiently admire their willingness to put up with the
dismal surroundings of pictures and curiosities.
Mr. ROBERT WITT, one of the Trustees of the National Gallery, said
that it was inconceivable to him as a business man that even if so
many clerks should still be required there was not a more reasonable
place for them than Trafalgar Square.
Sir Thomas Tannin, K.B.E., speaking for his own Government department,
said that it was evident that Mr. WITT did not fully realise the
position. These were historic and abnormal times and abnormal measures
were necessary. We thought in high numbers, and therefore high numbers
of clerks were needed. Trafalgar Square was as conveniently central a
spot as could be found; hence their presence there. It had also been
pointed out by the chiefs of the Government Clerks' Tea Advisory Board
that the facilities for obtaining more water for boiling were unusual
on account of the proximity of the two great fountains. If anybody
could suggest a better place for the accommodation of all these young
ladies he would be glad to know of it. The only suggestion yet made
had reference to buildings which, having been designed for office
work, were obviously unsuitable. Another reason for keeping them on
was their cost. Economy in one direction might lead to economy
in another, and the whole fabric of the now bureaucracy would be
threatened. It was therefore useless to hope for any early change.
Sir SIDNEY LEE pointed out that, owing to the occupation of a large
part of the National Gallery, all the National Portrait Gallery, all
the Tate Gallery, and all Hertford House, where the Wallace Collection
is, by Government clerks, these national institutions were not open
to our soldiers from the Dominions and the provinces, who might never
again have the opportunity of refreshing their eyes by gazing upon
some of our most beautiful possessions. In their interest alone he
pleaded for the rapid conversion of the buildings to their proper
Sir Yutely Taryan, K.C.V.O., speaking for his own Government
Department, said that in his opinion a great deal of nonsense was
talked about art, both its educational value and its power of giving
pleasure. Speaking for himself, even in normal times, he would rather
see a picture gallery given up to living clerks than to dead canvases.
If he had his way there should be no pictures but those that
stimulated people to greater activity. He had, for example, never seen
any beauty in WHISTLER'S portrait of his (WHISTLER'S) mother until it
was reproduced as a War-savings poster, with words scrawled across it.
A few of the placards which American business men pinned up in their
offices, such as, "To Hell with Yesterday," were better than all the
Continuing, Sir Yutely said that he could not permit himself to accept
the view that any privation was being suffered by our brave lads from
overseas. From conversations that he had had with some of them he
found that the only pictures that they knew anything of or cared about
were those in the cinemas. From his own recollections of his only
visit to the National Gallery some years ago he should say that these
noble fellows were better outside that place than in. One painting
that he saw there was so scandalous in its nudity that he blushed even
now when he thought of it. Better far that our defenders from the
Dominions should continue to walk up and down the Strand.
On the motion of the Chairman, who said that he thought the case for
the Government and the continued closing of the galleries and museums
had been adequately made out, the Commission adjourned _sine die_, and
Lord HARCOURT, Sir SIDNEY LEE and Mr. WITT were left sharpening their
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Manager of Coliseum (Ancient Rome)._ "YOUR IMPERIAL
MAJESTY, I REGRET THAT, OWING TO THE SUDDEN INDISPOSITION OF BIBULUS
TERTIUS, HIS COMBAT WITH THE TWO NUBIAN FOREST-BRED LIONS IS
UNAVOIDABLY POSTPONED. WITH YOUR MAJESTY'S KIND PERMISSION THE TURN
WILL BE TAKEN BY THE WELL-KNOWN BUCOLICUS CALVUS, WHO WILL GIVE A FEW
OF HIS WONDERFUL FARMYARD IMITATIONS."]
* * * * *
THE ARMY ORACLE.
I cannot conceal from myself that I am a great acquisition to the
Army of Occupation. My knowledge of the language being far and away
superior to that of any other British officer for miles around, I am
looked upon by the natives as a sort of high military authority in
whom they may have the privilege and the pleasure of confiding all
their troubles. According to the intensity of their various desires
I am addressed _crescendo_ as "Herr Ober-Leutenant," or "Herr
Hauptmann," or "Herr Majeur," or "Herr Commandant." They always
approach me in a becomingly servile attitude--cap or hat in hand--and
await with obvious tension my weighty pronouncements. They hide round
corners and wait behind doors or down narrow passages until I come
past, and then they spring out on me.
"What about the coal we are burning? The electric light we are using?
Who is going to pay?" "So-and-so's charlady, who was out obliging
another lady, had a breadknife pinched while she was away from home.
Was it one of my _Soldaten_, perhaps? Did I know anything about it,
and if so, would I punish the evildoer and restore the implement?"
The village expert in calf-delivery wants to know whether, in the case
of the happy event taking place after 9 P.M. (which it usually does),
I would give him permission to leave his home after closing hours, so
that he might assist at the function.
The local yokels of this spot and its neighbouring villages want to
resume their bi-weekly choral society meetings but cannot reach
the rendezvous until 8.45 P.M., which leaves them just a
quarter-of-an-hour to have their practice and to take cover for the
night. "Would the high-well-born be so fearfully gracious as to allow
them to continue until 10 P.M.?"
To be suddenly taken unawares and to have such conundrums volleyed at
you in a strange tongue is apt to be rather exhausting. However I have
a reputation to live up to and must be as frightful as possible.
I find the best thing to do is to refer them to the nearest
notice-board, which reads:--
* * * * *
THE MUD LARKS.
The Visiting Brigadier cracked a walnut and glanced towards the
General. "I wonder if you remember a French interpreter by the name of
de Blavincourt, Sir? He was with you once, I believe."
The A.P.M. across the way paused in the act of tapping a cigarette on
his case. "Little gunner man, wore red plush bags and a blue velvet
hat? Yes, up in the salient in '17."
The General puffed three perfect smoke rings towards the chandelier
(an accomplishment he had acquired thirty-five years previously at the
"Shop" and was still proud of) and smiled. "De Blavincourt? why, yes,
I remember him. He knew more about cooking than all the _chefs_ in
Europe and taught my poisoner to make rations taste like food. Of
course I remember him. Why?"
"Because he came my way just at the end of the War and had rather
a curious adventure," said the Brigadier, stirring his coffee. "I
thought you might be interested."
"I am," the General replied. "What happened?"
The Brigadier cleared his throat. "We were in front of Tournai at the
time, scrapping our way from house to house through Faubourg de Lille,
the city's western suburb. My Brigade Major stumped into H.Q. one
afternoon looking pretty grim. 'We'd best move out of here, Sir,' said
he, 'before we're wafted.'
"'What's the matter now?' I asked.
"'That unutterable little fool de Blavincourt has walked into Germany
with a large scale-map in his hand, showing every H.Q. mess and
billet.' He tapped a despatch from the forward battalion.
"De Blavincourt, it appeared, had been at work all the morning
evacuating unfortunate civilians from the cellars. At noon or
thereabouts he sidled along the wall, past a Lewis gun detachment
that was holding the street. The corporal shouted a warning, but de
Blavincourt sidled on, saying that he was only going to the first
house round the corner to rescue some old women he heard were in it.
And that was the last of him. Seeing that the Bosch opened fire from
the said house seven minutes later his fate was obvious.
"It was also obvious what our fate would be if we continued in those
marked billets, so we moved out, bag and baggage, into a sunken road
near by and spent the night there in the rain and muck, and were most
uncomfortable. What puzzled us rather was that the Hun did not shell
our old billets that night--that is, nothing out of the ordinary. 'But
that's only his cunning,' we consoled ourselves; 'he knows we know he
knows, and he's trying to lure us back. Ah, no, old friend.'
"So we camped miserably on in that sunken sewer. He dropped a lucky
one through a barn the same afternoon and lobbed a few wides over
during the next night, but again nothing out of the ordinary.
"We were more and more puzzled. Then, just about breakfast-time on
the second morning, in walks de Blavincourt himself, green as to the
complexion and wounded in the arm, but otherwise intact. I leapt upon
him, snarling, 'Where's that map?'
"'I got 'im, Sir,' he gulped, 'safe' (gulp).
"This was his story. He had remembered the corporal shouting
something, but so intent on his work was he that he hardly noticed the
warning until suddenly, to his horror, he perceived a party of Huns
creeping out of a passage _behind him_. He was cut off! They had not
seen him for the moment, so quick as thought he slipped into the
nearest house, turned into a front room--a sort of parlour place--and
crouched there, wondering what to do.
"He was not left wondering long, for the Bosches followed him into
that very house. There was a small table in one corner covered with
a large cloth. Under this de Blavincourt dived, and not a second too
soon, for the Bosches--seven of them--followed him into that very room
and, setting up their machine gun at the window, commenced to pop
off down the street. Charming state of affairs for little de
Blavincourt--alone and unarmed in a room full of bristling Huns with
that fatal map in his possession.
"Sweating all over he eased the map out of his pocket and slowly and
silently commenced to eat it.
"You know what those things are like. A yard square of tough paper
backed by indestructible calico--one might as well try to devour a
child's rag book.
"Anyhow that's what de Blavincourt did. He ate it, and it took him
forty hours to do the trick. For forty hours day and night he squatted
under that table, with the Huns sitting upon and around it, and gnawed
away at that square yard of calico.
"Just before the dawn of the third day he gulped the last corner down
and peeped out under the tablecloth. The Bosch on guard was oiling
the lock of the machine-gun. Two more he could hear in the kitchen
clattering pots about. The remaining four were asleep, grotesquely
sprawled over sofas and chairs.
"De Blavincourt determined to chance it. He could not stop under the
table for ever, and even at the worst that map, that precious map, was
out of harm's way. He crept stealthily from his hiding-place, dealt
the kneeling Bosch a terrific kick in the small of the back, dived
headlong out of the window and galloped down the street towards our
Lewis gunners, squealing, '_ Friend! Ros'bif! Not'arf!'_--which, in
spite of his three years of interpreting, was all the English he could
muster at the moment. The Huns emptied their automatics after him, but
only one bullet found the target, and that an outer.
"'I weesh it vos t'rough my 'eart,' he told me later, tears rolling
down his cheeks. 'Vot more use to me my life, hein? My stomach she is
for ever ruin.'"
The General laughed. "Stout fellow for a' that."
"I grant you," said the Brigadier, "but a fellow should be stout along
accepted lines. 'To Lieutenant Felix Marcel, Comte de Blavincourt, the
Military Cross for eating his map.' No, Sir, it can't be done."
The Horse-master, who was helping himself to old tawny, nodded
vigorously and muttered "No, by Jove, it can't."
"You speak with feeling, Coper," remarked the General.
"I do, Sir. I sat up the best part of three nights last March trying
to write for official consumption the story of a fellow who seemed to
me to qualify for the 'Stout' class. It was a wash-out, though; too
"Well, give the port a fair wind and let's have the absurdity now,"
said the General.
The Horse-master bowed to the command.
"I was with the Fifth Army last year when the wave swept us. We were
fairly swamped for the moment and all nohow. One evening, retreating
on my own line, I came upon some little village--can't remember the
name just now, but you know the sort of thing--typical Somme hamlet, a
smear of brick-dust with a big notice-board on top, saying, 'THIS IS
LE SARS,' or 'POZIERES,' or whatever its name was. Anyway, in this
village I found a Divisional H.Q., four Brigade H.Q.'s, and oddities
of all sorts sitting one on top of t'other waiting for the next thing
to happen. The next thing was a single wounded lancer who happened in
about four in the morning with the glad tidings that Bosch tanks were
advancing on us". Questioned further he admitted that he had
only actually seen one and that in the dark. But it was the
great-grandfather of all tanks, according to the chap; it stood twenty
foot high; it 'roared and rumbled' in its career, and it careered by
"It wasn't any manner of use assuring him that there wasn't a steam
tank on anybody's front. He said there was, and we couldn't move him.
"'I saw steam coming from it in clouds,' be mumbled, 'and sparks and
smoke.' Then he crumpled slowly on the floor, fast asleep.
"The Divisional General was properly mystified.
"'If only I had a single field-gun or even some gelignite,' he
groaned; then turning to me, 'I must get the strength of this; it
may be some new frightfulness the Hun is springing. You're an old
horse-soldier, I believe? Well, jump on your gee and go scout the
thing, will you?'
"I scratched together a rag and bobtail patrol of grooms and pushed
off just before daybreak. Our people had the edge of the village
manned with every rifle they could collect. A subaltern lying ear to
earth hailed me as I passed. 'It's coming,' he called.
"A quarter of a mile further on I could hear the roaring and rumbling
myself without lying on the road.
"Light was breaking fast, but there were wisps and shreds of fog
blowing about which made observation exceedingly difficult. Still,
observation I was out to get, so, spreading my bobbery pack, I worked
closer and closer. Suddenly one of my patrol shrilled, 'There y'are,
Sir!' and I saw a monstrous shape loom for a moment through a thinning
of mist, and rock onwards into obscurity again.
"'It's an armoured car. I seed wheels under it,' gasped one groom.
'More like a blasted Dreadnought,' grunted another. 'Cheer-o, chaps,
the 'Un fleet 'as come out.' But nobody laughed or felt like laughing;
this mysterious monster, thundering westward wrapped in its barrage of
fog, was getting on our nerves."
The Horse-master paused and carefully removed the long ash from his
"Then the mists rolled up and revealed what I at first took to be a
walking R.E. dump, but secondly discovered to be a common ordinary
domestic British steam-roller with 'LINCOLN URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL'
in dirty white lettering upon its fuel box, a mountain of duck-boards
stacked on the cab roof, railway sleepers, riveting stakes and odds
and ends of lumber tied on all over it. As I rode up an elderly head,
grimy and perspiring, was thrust between a couple of duck-boards and
nodded pleasantly to me. ''Ello,' it said, 'seen anythin' o' the
"I was too dumbfounded to say anything excepting that the lads were in
the next village waiting for him.
"'Ah'm right glad o' that,' said he; 'been feeling a bit lonesome-like
these last two days;' adding, in case I might not appreciate the
situation, 'These yer Germans 'ave been after me, you know, Sir.'
"I replied that my only wonder was that they had not captured him long
"'Very nearly did once or twice,' he admitted, and wagged his elderly
head; 'but t'owd lass is a great one to travel when she's sweet, an'
ah've 'ad a lot o' luck pickin' oop these bits o' firin' along the
road;' and he jammed a bunch of riveting stakes into the furnace.
"'Oh, ah reckon we're just keepin' ahead of 'em. Well, best be gettin'
along now, s'pose. Good day to you, Sir.'
"He wrenched at a lever and 't'owd lass' rumbled off down the highway
towards Albert, rearguard of His Britannic Majesty's Armies in the
* * * * *
[Illustration: STRIKE NERVES.
SHOCKING EXPERIENCE IN OXFORD STREET OF JAMES SIMPKINS, ESQ., A LARGE
EMPLOYER OF LABOUR.]
* * * * *
[Illustration: _He (new to the Jazz and eager to learn)._ "WHICH STEP
* * * * *
MISTRESS AND MAID.
My wife burst into the room, her face aglow with the joy of success.
"Oh, George, isn't it simply splendid?"
"Absolutely top-hole, I am sure, my dear; but supposing you let me
know what it's all about?"
"How silly I am," she murmured as she sank into a chair. "I quite
forgot I had not seen you all day, and it happened just after you left
for the office. You had not been gone five minutes when Jane came up
and gave notice. I determined to be firm and told her she could go
when she liked, and then I marched straight off to Mrs. Smith's
Registry Office. I found the dear old thing just as amiable and ready
to please as ever, but she told me I must not mind if the methods of
her establishment were a bit changed. In the old days, you know, we
used to sit in a small room and interview the servants she wanted
places for. But now the position is reversed, and the servants
interview you and ask you questions. I was told to go in and see a
nice-looking girl. She was not a bit shy and, after asking me to take
a chair, began to put questions--our income? your profession? what
other servants we kept? wages? margarine or butter in the kitchen?
"She seemed quite satisfied with everything until we came to the
matter of her afternoons out. I said that two a week and every
other Sunday was my usual custom, and that I hoped this would prove
agreeable. She snapped me up at once and said she must have at least
four, as well as the whole of every other Sunday.
"My heart sank, because I did not see how we could possibly give her
all that, so I just said how sorry I was and got up to go--in fact I
was half-way to the door--when she called me back and said, 'I like
your face, and perhaps for the present two afternoons and the Sunday
will be enough. If you will wait a minute I will have another talk to
Mrs. Smith about you,' and off she went.
"It seemed ages before anyone came, and then old Mrs. Smith walked in,
saying, 'I'm glad to tell you, Madam, that you have been approved of.'
"Isn't it too glorious, George? You and I have been approved of. We
have got a situation."
* * * * *
"OUT OF THE FRYING-PAN--"
When, moved a few brief seasons back,
To brave the battle's brunt,
On Britain's shores I turned my pack
And "somewhere" found a Front;
Said I; as in my tympanum
I heard the cannon's roar,
"'Twill be a wonder if I come
Impervious through the War."
Yet bomb, shell, bullet and grenade
Made no great hit with me;
And now I'm--well, I've just been paid
My war gratuity.
But at the sight of civil life,
If "life" it can be called,
With all its agonising strife,
I simply stand appalled.
And "Oh!" in utter fear I cry,
"How horrors never cease;
'Twill be a miracle if I
Ever survive the Peace."
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE PERIL WITHOUT.]
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
_Monday, March 24th_.--The Archbishop of CANTERBURY sought from the
Government a clear statement of policy regarding the repatriation of
enemy aliens, and incidentally paid a high tribute to the British
Press, which, we were glad to hear, contains "nobody who desires to
fabricate baseless statements."
He was supported by Lord LAMBOURNE, who as a member of the Advisory
Committee knows all about aliens, and declared that "Repatriate them
all" was a foolish cry, if it meant that we were expected to present
Germany with the British wives and children of the dear deported.
Lord JERSEY, for the Government, desired to treat even Germans justly,
but could not see why anyone should wish in these times to increase
our alien population. His speech did not please a batch of noble
sentimentalists, drawn from both sides, but seemed to give great
satisfaction to Lord LINCOLNSHIRE, who quoted with approval the brave
words on the subject uttered by the LORD CHANCELLOR at the General
Election, before his style had been mollified by the Woolsack.
In the Commons Mr. BONAR LAW regretfully explained that it was
impossible for the Government to do anything to reduce the high prices
now being charged for furniture in the East End. His own experience as
a Cabinet-maker has been entirely confined to the West End.
Nor could the Government take any direct steps to ameliorate the
overcrowding on the Underground railways. But, as it was stated that
large quantities of leather are still being purchased on Government
account, there are hopes that more accommodation for strap-hangers may
shortly be available.
_Tuesday, March 25th_.--The Lords spent three hours of almost
unrelieved gloom in discussing the financial condition of the country.
On that old problem of the economists, "What is a pound?" Lord
D'ABERNON delivered an erudite discourse, from which I gathered that
it was at present about ten shillings and still shrinking. The only
comfort is that at that rate the National Debt has already been
Lord MILNER made a fairly cheerful speech in the circumstances; but
I hope that potential strikers will not take too literally his
observation that the one thing most needed at the present moment was
"economy of national energy."
Mr. CHURCHILL came down heavily upon Sir DONALD MACLEAN'S attempt to
delay the adoption of compulsion in the new Military Service Bill.
When rather more than half of Europe was seething with unrest, which
might require military intervention, it would be fatal to let our army
disappear; yet the right hon. gentleman seemed to think that everyone
ought to be disarmed except LENIN and TROTSKY.
For the first time since 1914 private Members had an evening to
themselves. They utilised it in endeavouring to obtain from the
Government a direct statement of its future fiscal policy. On Imperial
Preference Mr. BONAR LAW was quite explicit; the CHANCELLOR OF THE
EXCHEQUER was already considering how to incorporate it in the next
Budget. As to the Government's fiscal policy generally it had already
been outlined in the PRIME MINISTER'S letter to himself, and would be
definitely declared as soon as the time was ripe--a cautious statement
which, as was perhaps intended, left Free Traders and Protectionists
[Illustration: THE BONAR LAW ORACLE WILL SPEAK ON FISCAL POLICY "AS
SOON AS THE TIME IS RIPE."]
_Wednesday, March 26th_.--After Lord DESBOROUGH'S vivacious attack
upon the Cippenham Motor Depot, it is doubtful whether anyone could
have enabled the Government to wriggle out of the demand for an
independent inquiry. At any rate Lord INVERFORTH was insufficiently
agile. The innumerable type-written sheets which he read out
laboriously may have contained a complete reply to Lord DESBOROUGH'S
main allegations, even if they included no refutation of the stones of
the bricks imported by the hundred thousand into a district containing
some of the best brick-earth in the country, or of the four pounds a
week paid for the services of a railway pensioner aged ninety-two. But
as hardly anyone could hear the recital it created little impression.
The Ministry are evidently unwilling to stake their political lives on
Mr. CHURCHILL'S approval of the project, for Mr. BONAR LAW announced
that the Government Whips would not be put on for the forthcoming
division on the subject.
Mr. G. ROBERTS furnished an interesting analysis of the nine shillings
now charged for a bottle of whisky. Three-and-sixpence represents the
cost of the spirit plus pre-war taxation. The other five-and-sixpence
is made up of interest to manufacturers, insurance and rent; increased
price of bottles and corks; margins of profit to blenders and
bottlers, merchants and other traders; and increase of taxation. By
some oversight nothing appears to have been charged for the extra
water, but no doubt this will be remedied in the next Budget.
_Thursday, March 27th._--To those who remember the debates on the
Parliament Act, _circa_ 1911, it was amusing to hear Lords CREWE and
BUCKMASTER complaining of the unceremonious manner in which the Lords'
amendments to the Rents Bill had been treated in "another place;"
and being entreated not to pick a quarrel with the Commons by those
ancient champions of the Upper Chamber, Lord CURZON and the LORD
The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER announced the names of the Royal
Commissioners who are to consider how the income-tax can be improved.
Several Members complained that there is only one woman among them,
and that, pending their report (expected some time next year), the
glaring anomaly by which husband and wife are regarded for taxable
purposes as a single entity is apparently to be continued. The idea of
presenting Mr. CHAMBERLAIN with a box for _The Purse Strings,_ in the
hope that it would convert him, has unfortunately been frustrated by
the withdrawal of the play.
Mr. BONAR LAW'S determination to leave the Cippenham question to the
free judgment of the House led (as possibly he anticipated) to its
expressing no judgment at all. Sir DONALD MACLEAN and others served up
a rather insipid _rechauffe_ of Lord DESBOROUGH'S indictment, and Mr.
CHURCHILL repeated Lord INVERFORTH'S defence, but put a little more
ginger into it. Incidentally he mentioned that a prolonged search for
the nonagenarian pensioner had produced nobody more venerable than
a comparative youngster of sixty-five. Deprived of this prop the
Opposition felt unequal to walking through the Lobbies.
* * * * *
THE FAIRIES' FLITTING.
There's a family of fairies lives inside our pigeon-cot,
Down the garden, near the great big sumach-tree,
Where the grass has grown across the path and dead leaves lie and rot
And no one hardly ever goes but me;
Yes, it's just the place for fairies, and they told the pigeons so;
They begged to be allowed to move in soon;
It's a most tremendous honour, as of course the pigeons know;
It was all arranged this very afternoon.
There's a family of fairies lives inside our pigeon-cot--
Oh, the bustle and the sweeping there has been!
For the pigeons didn't scrub their house (I think they all forgot),
And the fairies like their home so _scrup_'lous clean;
There are fairy dusters hanging from the sumach as you pass;
Tiny drops are dripping still from overhead;
Broken fairy-brooms are lying near the fir-tree on the grass,
Though the fairies went an hour ago to bed.
There's a family of fairies lives inside our pigeon-cot,
And there's cooings round about our chimney-stack,
For the pigeons are all sitting there and talking such a lot
And there's nothing Gard'ner does will drive them back;
"Why, they'll choke up those roof-gutters if they start this nesting fuss;
They've _got_ a house," he says, "so I don't see--"
No, _he_ doesn't know the secret, and there's no one does but--_us_,
All the pigeons, and the fairy-folk and ME!
* * * * *
[Illustration: ENFIN SEULS!]
* * * * *
WHAT EVERY MINISTER SHOULD KNOW.
_The Times_ is much concerned with the chaotic condition of the Air
Ministry and the strange designs with which the political heads of the
Department are credited. "These suspicions we believe to be without
any real foundation, but they are active, though Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL
and General SEELY may be wholly unconscious of them. We believe they
are, and if they are the sooner they are told what is said about their
intentions the better."
So _The Times_ proceeds to describe these nefarious if nebulous
designs and appeals to Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL in particular, "if he has
no such intentions, to disclaim them publicly and in a way which will
leave no breeding-ground for future rumours."
_The Times_ has done a great service by its splendid candour, but it
has only gone about one-fortieth part of the way. There are still, we
believe, some eighty Ministers, and _all_ without exception ought
to know what is being said about them, to enable them to confirm or
disavow these disquieting speculations. The papers simply teem with
secret histories of the week, diaries of omniscient pundits and so
forth, in which these rumours multiply to an extent that staggers the
Take the PREMIER to begin with. Is it really true that he has decided,
as the brain of the Empire can only be located in Printing House
Square, to resign office and become home editor of _The Times_,
leaving foreign policy to be controlled by Mr. WICKHAM STEED? Is it
true that he meditates appointing Mr. AUGUSTUS JOHN Minister of Fine
Arts? Is it true that he flies every day from Paris to Mentone, to
receive instructions from a Mysterious Nobleman who is shortly to be
raised to ducal honours? Is it true that until quite recently he had
never heard of JOAN OF ARC and thought that VICTOR HUGO was a Roman
Then there is Mr. BONAR LAW. He surely ought to know that it is said
by _The Job_ and _The Morning Ghost_ that he informed Mr. SMILLIE,
during one of their recent conversations, that he hoped, in the event
of a general strike, to be allowed to get away to the small island in
the South Pacific which he has purchased as a refuge in case of such a
contingency. Probably such an idea never entered his head. But this
is what he is supposed to be planning. Let him therefore disclaim the
intention promptly and publicly.
Grievous mischief again is being done by the persistent rumours
current about the intention of the LORD CHANCELLOR to take Orders with
the view of becoming Archbishop of Canterbury at the earliest possible
opportunity. There may be absolutely nothing in it. Mr. HAROLD SMITH
scouts the notion as absurd. But very great men do not always confide
in brothers. NAPOLEON, as we know, thought poorly of his.
Lastly, is it true that, although Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN is still
_nominally_ Chancellor of the Exchequer, he is really a prisoner in
the Tower, conveyed under guard to and from the House, and that the
reprieve of the sentence of capital punishment passed on him by _The
Daily Mail_ may expire--and he with it--at any moment?
These are only a few of the things which are said about them that
Ministers ought to know--if they don't know them already. And if they
do, and basely pretend not to, we feel that we have done a truly
patriotic service in rendering it impossible for them to avoid
enlightening the public. It is always well to know the worst, even
* * * * *
WANTED, A HEBE.
"Tablemaid (thoroughly experienced) required middle of March; god
* * * * *
"'Eh, what?' queried Lawrence in astonishment. 'What are you doing
here, my dear? Are you French?'
"'Je suis Belgique, M'sieu,' replied the girl, whose knowledge of
English seemed limited."--_Weekly Paper_.
But not so limited as her knowledge of French, we hope.
* * * * *
"St. Ives, Cornwall.--Artists visiting this town will find
their requirements in Artists' Materials well catered for. All
manufacturers' colours stocked. Canvases sketched at shortest
possible notice. ----, Artists' Colourman."--_The Studio_.
Surely there are no "ghosts" in "the Cornish School!"
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Jock_. "OCH, IT'S WONDERFU'. THE MANNIE MANEEPULATES
THE BLACK AN' WHITE NOTES WI' EQUAL FACEELITY."]
* * * * *
AT THE OPERA.
In these dull days of reaction, when, in the intervals of jazzing, we
have nothing to satisfy the spiritual void left by the War except the
possibility of an industrial cataclysm at home and the triumph of
Bolshevism abroad, we owe a large debt of gratitude to Sir THOMAS
BEECHAM for his efforts to revive the Town. And the Town is at last
appreciating at their full worth his services both to the cause of
popular education in music and to the encouragement of native talent.
It was perhaps a little unfortunate that _Aida_ should have been given
on the night of the Guards' march through London, for the parade of
the Pharaoh's scratch soldiery suffered badly by comparison. The
priesthood of Isis, too, furnished more humour than could, I think,
have been designed, and I doubt if even Mr. WEEDON GROSSMITH could
have given us anything funnier than the spectacle presented by the
Egyptian monarch when making his announcement of an Ethiopian raid.
Nor shall I easily forget the figure of the King of Ethiopia, with
a head of hair like a Zulu's, and swathed in a tiger-skin. I should
myself have chosen the hide of a leopard, for the leopard cannot
change his spots nor the Ethiopian his skin, and when you get the two
together you have an extraordinarily durable combination.
It would be false flattery to say that Miss ROSINA BUCKMAN quite
looked the part of _Aida_, or Miss EDNA THORNTON that of _Amneris_,
but they both sang finely, and the orchestra did great work under Mr.
EUGENE GOOSSENS, Sen.
In _Louise_, again, it was the orchestra, cleverly steered by Sir
THOMAS BEECHAM through the difficult score for the choruses, that
sustained us through the banalities of an opera which has only one
dramatic moment--when her father hastens the eviction of _Louise_ by
throwing a chair at her, very well aimed by Mr. ROBERT RADFORD, who
only just missed his mark. I suppose it is hopeless to expect that the
makers of "Grand" Opera (whose sense of humour is seldom their strong
point) will consent to allow the trivialities of ordinary speech in
everyday life ("How do you do?" "Thank you, I am not feeling my
best," and so on) to be said--if they _must_ find expression of some
sort--and not sung.
By way of contrast to the modern realism which makes so unlikely a
material for serious opera, the fantastic irresponsibility of _The
Magic Flute_ came as a great relief. Its simpler music, serenely
sampling the whole gamut of emotions, grave to gay, offered equal
chances (all taken) to the pure love-singing of Miss AGNES NICHOLLS
as _Pamina_, and Mr. MAURICE D'OISLY as _Tamino_, the light-hearted
frivolity of _Papageno_ (Mr. RANALOW), and the solemn pontifics
(_de profundissimis_) of Mr. FOSTER RICHARDSON'S _Sarastro_. A most
delightful and refreshing performance.
* * * * *
Terpsichore, tired of the "trot,"
And letting the waltz go to pot,
In the glorious Jazz
Most undoubtedly has
Discovered the pick of the lot.
There was an exuberant "coon"
Who invented a horrible tune
For a horrible dance
Which suggested the prance
Of a half-epileptic baboon.
* * * * *
"The Prime Minister threw aside precedent to such an extent that
he got out of his depth and went on his knees when we were on the
rocks."--_Letter in "The Globe_."
When we get out of our depth we never think of kneeling on the bottom.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
MR. MACDONALD HASTINGS has invented, and committed, yet another new
sin--that of attempting to do a CONRAD novel into a three-act play.
Fifteen, possibly; but three? We hardly think. What every Conradist
knows is that you can't compress that master of subtlety without
losing the master's dominant quality--atmosphere; that it's not so
much the things he says but the queer way and the odd order in which
he says them that matter. He is not precisely a filmable person.
And yet, all things considered, the potter has produced a tolerable
pot, and we may write down his fault of extreme foolhardiness as
venial. What, however, Mr. CONRAD himself thought of the rehearsals,
if he attended them--but perhaps we need not go into that.
It is easy to see the attraction, for the players, of the series
of star parts provided by the exciting story. You have first the
eccentric, misjudged Swede, _Heyst_ (the adapter makes him an
Englishman, perhaps wisely, as our stage takes no account of Swedes),
come from self-banishment on a far Pacific island--a complex Conradian
personality. Then his arch-enemy, _Schomberg_, lieutenant of reserve,
shady hotel-keeper, sensualist and craven, with his insane malice.
To these enter as pretty a company of miscreants as ever sailed the
Southern seas: the sinister _Jones_, misogynist to the point of fine
frenzy, nonconformist in the matter of card-playing, and thereafter
frank bandit with a high ethic as to the superiority of plain robbery
under arms over mere vulgar swindling--a gentleman with a code, in
fact; his strictly incomparable "secretary," _Ricardo_ of the rolling
eyes and gait and deathly treacherous knife, philogynist _sans
phrase_; and _Pedro_, their groom, a reincarnated _Caliban_. It may
also be noted that _Heyst_ has a freak servant, the disappearing
_Wang_, whom the adapter uses, I suppose legitimately, as a kind of
clown. And then, finally, there is a charming and unusual heroine,
_Lena_, still in her teens, but of real flesh and blood, innocent and
persecuted, daughter of a drunken fiddler (deceased), herself fiddling
in a tenth-rate orchestra at _Schomberg's_ hotel, wherein it is not
intended that the music shall be the chief attraction to the guests.
_Heyst_ is Perseus to _Lena's_ Andromeda, carrying her off to his
island out of lust's way. But dragon _Schomberg_ has a sting left in
his malicious tale, told to the unlikely trio of scoundrels, to the
effect that _Heyst_ has ill-gotten treasure hoarded on his island.
Dragon _Ricardo_ persuades his chief to the adventure of attaching
it. A fine brew of passion and action forsooth: _Lena_ passionately
adoring; the aloof _Heyst_ passing suddenly from indifference to
ardour; the bestial _Ricardo_ in pursuit of his startled quarry; and
gentleman _Jones_ intent on non-existent booty and rapt out of him
self by cynical fury at the discovery of an unsuspected woman in
the case. And while Mr. CONRAD in his novel drives all these to a
relentless doom Mr. HASTINGS contrives a happy ending, which goes
perilously near an anticlimax, with the hero on his knees and the
heroine pointing up to heaven and claiming a "victory" quite other
than their creator intended. But then he knew perfectly well that
nobody wants to come to see Miss MARIE LOEHR killed.
[Illustration: THE LAGGARD LOVER. _Lena_ (Miss MARIE LOeHR) _to Heyst_
(Mr. MURRAY CARRINGTON). "OH YES, YOU SMILE ALL RIGHT; BUT ONE MAY
SMILE AND SMILE AND YET GET NO FORRARDER."]
On the whole I can't think the cast was up to its extremely difficult
task, if you estimate that task, as it seems to me you must, to be
the reproducing of the original _Victory_ characters. Perhaps Mr. SAM
LIVESEY'S _Ricardo_ was the nearest, though the primitive savagery of
his wooing had to be toned down in the interests of propriety. Mr.
GAYER MACKAY made his _Jones_ interesting and plausible in the quieter
opening movements. In the intended tragic spasms one felt that he
became rather comic than sinister. Not his fault, I think. He had
no room or time to work up his part. That should also apply to Mr.
GARRY'S _Schomberg_, though he doesn't seem to have tried to fit
himself into the skin of that entertaining villain. Mr. MURRAY
CARRINGTON had an exceedingly tough task with his _Heyst_. But was he
even as detached and eccentric as the average modern don? Certainly
he was not the man of mystery of the original pattern, but rather the
amiable comely film-hero.
Miss LOeHR had her interesting moments, the best of them, perhaps, in
the First Act. In her big scene, where the knife is to be won from
_Ricardo_, she was no doubt hampered by the tradition that it is
necessary to play down to the carefully cultivated imbecility of the
audience in order that they should not misunderstand the most obvious
points. It's not flattering to us, but it can't be helped. Probably
we deserve it. But need she have been quite so refined? Only very
occasionally does she remember that _Lena_ is fine matter in a
"common" mould, which is surely of the essence of the situation. I do
seriously recommend a re-reading of what should be a character full
of blood, which is ever so much more amusing than sawdust, however
charmingly encased. I feel sure she could shock and at the same time
please the groundlings if she let herself go.
And where, by the way, did she get that charmingly-cut skirt in the
Second Act? She certainly hadn't it in her bundle when she left the
hotel. And yet the stage-manager will go to the trouble, for the sake
of a quite misguided realism, of making the hotel orchestra play
against the dialogue as if the persistent coughing of the audience
were not sufficient handicap to his team.
Miss BALVAIRD-HEWETT gave a clever rendering of the hotel-keeper's
sombre _Frau_; and Mr. GEORGE ELTON contributed an excellent Chinese
But you can't, you really can't, get a gallon into a pint pot, however
strenuous the potter.
* * * * *
"What has to be done is to draw a sanitary cordon to bar the road
to Bolshevism."--_M. PICHON in the French Chamber_.
The need of this policy is strengthened by the simultaneous
announcement that the Bolsheviks have crossed the Bug on a wide front.
* * * * *
"Mr. ---- has for twenty-one years been illustrating 'A Saunter
Through Kent.'"--_Sunday Pictorial_.
The artist seems to have caught the spirit of his subject.
* * * * *
"This was seconded by Mr. Mackinder, who said the barque of
British trade had to steer a perilous course between the scylla of
the front Opposition bench and the charybodies as represented by
the Government."--_Western Daily Press_.
This is the first intimation we have yet received of any noticeable
tendency to penurious economy on the part of the Government.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE IRREPRESSIBLE.]
* * * * *
THE COUNTER-REVOLUTIONARY COLLAR.
Mr. Bingley-Spyker pleaded surprise. He pointed out that he had
been in bed for a fortnight, "laid aside," as he said, "through the
prevailing epidemic." In the meantime the revolution had taken place,
and he had heard nothing about it.
"Well," said the President gruffly, "we carn't 'elp that, can we,
comrades? While this 'ere citizen 'as been restin' in the lap o'
luxury, so to speak, we workers 'ave been revolutin'. An' that's all
there is to it."
"But fair play," persisted Mr. Bingley-Spyker gently, "is a jewel. At
least so I have always understood."
"Not so much of it, me lad," interrupted the President sharply. "Now
then, comrade, wot's the charge?"
An unkempt person stepped up to the front and, clearing his throat
with some emphasis, began:--
"About ten-thirty this morning I see this gentleman--"
"_What? _" The interruption came simultaneously from several members
of the tribunal.
"--this party walkin' down Whitehall casual-like, as if the place
belonged to 'im instead of to us. 'What ho!' I says to myself, 'this
'ere chap looks like a counter-revolution'ry;' and with that I comes
closer to 'im. Sure enough he was wearin' a 'igh collar, about three
inches 'igh, I should say, all white an' shiny, straight from the
lorndry. I could 'ardly believe my eyes."
"Never mind your eyes, comrade," the President said; "tell us what you
"I accosted 'im and said, 'Ere, citizen, wot do you mean by wearin' a
collar like that?'"
"An' what was the reply?"
"He looked at me 'aughty-like, an' says, 'Get away, my man, or I shall
call the police.' An' thereupon I said, 'P'r'aps you don't know it,
citizen, but I _am_ the p'lice, an', wot's more, I arrest you for
wearin' a white collar, contrairy to the regulations in that case made
"Very good, comrade," murmured the President, "very good indeed. Did
he seem surprised?"
"Knocked all of a 'eap. So I took him into custody and brought him
"You did well, comrade. The Tribunal thanks you. Step down now, me
lad, and don't make too much noise. Now then, prisoner, you've 'eard
the charge; what have you got to say about it?"
"Only this," said Mr. Bingley-Spyker firmly, "that I am not guilty."
"Not guilty?" shouted the President. "Why, you've got the blooming
thing on now!"
"Yes," said the prisoner mildly. "But observe."
Somewhat diffidently he removed his collar and held it up to view.
"You call this a clean, white, shiny collar? Well, it's not.
Fawn-colour, if you like; speckled--yes; but white--clean? No! Believe
me," continued Mr. Bingley-Spyker, warming to his subject, "it's years
since I've had a genuinely clean collar from my laundry. Mostly they
are speckled. And the specks are usually in a conspicuous position;
one on each wing is a favourite combination. I grant you these can be
removed by a penknife, but imperfectly and with damage to the fabric.
When what I may call the main portion of the collar is affected, the
speckled area may occasionally be concealed by a careful disposition
of one's tie. But not often. The laundress, with diabolical cunning,
takes care to place her trade-mark as near the top rim as possible.
I have not by any means exhausted the subject," he concluded, "but I
think I have said enough to clear myself of this particular charge."
It seemed then to Mr. Bingley-Spyker that all the members of the
Tribunal were shouting together. On the whole he gathered that he had
not improved his position. He had been "attacking the proletariat."
"'Ard-working gyurls," panted a woman-member excitedly, "toilin' and
moilin' at wash-tubs and mangles for the likes of 'im! It's a rope
collar he wants, Mr. President. Make it a 'anging matter, I should."
"Silence, comrades!" commanded the President. "Let me deal with 'im.
Prisoner, the Tribunal finds you guilty of wearing a collar,
contrary to the regulations. Collars are the 'all-marks of a slave
civilization; they 'ave no place in a free state. The sentence of the
Court is that you be committed to a State laundry for ten years, with
'ard labour, principally at mangles. Remove the prisoner."
So they removed Mr. Bingley-Spyker....
He was glad when he woke up to find himself in his own room in his
own Government office at Whitehall, with the afternoon sun streaming
deliciously through the windows. Involuntarily he felt for his collar.
* * * * *
When I come into my kingdom, which will happen very soon,
I shall ride a milk-white palfrey from the Mountains of the Moon;
He's caparisoned and costly, but he did his bit of work
In a bridle set with brilliants, which he used to beat the Turk.
Then they called their Uncle Edward and they blew without a check,
Keeping time with much precision, down the back of Uncle's neck,
Till he fled to get an iceberg, which he providently found
Half on land and half in water, so he couldn't well be drowned.
Oh, his gait was very silent, very sinuous and slow--
He had learnt it from a waiter whom he met about Soho;
He was much the best tactician of the migratory band
And he earned a decent living as a parcel packed by hand.
"Sergeant James," we said, "how goes it?" but the Sergeant looked askance;
Not for him the mazy phalanx or the military dance;
He could only sit and suffer, with a most portentous frown,
While a crowd of little gipsies turned the whole thing upside down.
Aunt Maria next surprised us: for her massive back was grooved,
And her adenoids gave trouble, so we had them all removed;
If we hadn't done it neatly she'd have gone and joined the dead,
As it is she hops politely while she walks upon her head.
So we'll all fill up a cheque-form on some celebrated Banks--
It's a pity that a cheque-form should be made so much of blanks--
And we'll give the Bank of England all the credit that is due
To her hoards of gold and silver; and I wish they weren't so few.
* * * * *
"Mr. ---- has been actively connected with the last two Victory
Loan drives, in the last one raising $15,282,000. As an
appreciation of his work the salesmen presented him with a
(fifteen million dollar) diamond ring."--_Canadian Paper_.
We are glad that something was left for the Loan.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Small Boy (who has been promised a visit to the Zoo
to-morrow)_. "I HOPE WE SHALL HAVE A BETTER DAY FOR IT THAN NOAH
* * * * *
_(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)_
I found myself as much taken with the title of _The Great
Interruption_ (HUTCHINSON) as with any of the dozen short war-stories
that Mr. W.B. MAXWELL has collected in the volume. Yet these are
admirable of their kind--"muffin-tales" is my own name for them, of
just the length to hold your attention for a solitary tea-hour and
each with some novelty of idea or distinction in treatment that makes
the next page worth turning. The central theme of all is, of course,
the same: the War in its effect upon people at the fighting front and
elsewhere. Perhaps it was inevitable that Mr. MAXWELL should betray a
certain faintly cynical amusement in his dealings with the people of
elsewhere. Two of the stories especially--"The Strain of It" and "What
Edie Regretted"--are grimly illustrative of some home-keeping types
for whom the great tragedy served only as an opportunity for social
advancement or a pleasantly-thrilling excuse for futilities. There
will be no reader who will not smilingly acknowledge the justice of
these sketches; not one of us whose neighbours could not supply an
original for them. Fortunately the book has other tales of which the
humour is less caustic; probably of intention Mr. MAXWELL'S pictures
of war as the soldier knew it, its hardships and compensations,
contrast poignantly with the others. On the active-service side my
choice would undoubtedly be for the admirably cheery and well-told
"Christmas is Christmas" (not exactly about fraternization), as
convincing a realisation of the Front at its best as any I remember to
have read in more pretentious volumes.
I am bound to admit that for all my appreciation of Mr. J.D. BERESFORD
as a literary craftsman I did find _The Jervaise Comedy_ (COLLINS)
a bit slow off the mark. Here is a quite considerable volume,
exquisitely printed upon delightful paper, all about the events of
twenty-four hours, in which, when you come to consider it afterwards,
nothing very much happened. The heroine thought about eloping with the
chauffeur, and the onlooker, who tells the tale, thought about
falling in love with the sister of the same. In both cases thought is
subsequently translated into action, but only after the curtains fall.
Meanwhile an affair of hesitations, suggestions, moods and (as
I hinted above) rather too many words. It is a. tribute to Mr.
BERESFORD'S art that out of all this we do eventually emerge with some
definite idea of the characters and a pleasantly-amused interest in
their fate. There is, of course, plenty of distinction in the writing.
But I could have wished more or earlier movement. Even the motor-car,
whose appearance promised a hint, the merest far-off possibility, of
farcical developments, shared in the general lethargy and refused to
move from its ditch. In spite, however, of this procrastination I wish
it to be understood that the story is in some ways one of unusual
charm; it has style, atmosphere and a very sensible dignity. But,
lacking the confidence that I fortunately had in my author, I question
whether I should have survived to the point at which these qualities
* * * * *
An author who in his first novel can deliberately put himself in
the way of temptation and as unhesitatingly avoid it must be worth
following. And so, if for no other reason, one might look forward to
Mr. BERNARD DUFFY'S next book with uncommon interest. His hero comes
into the story as a foundling, being deposited in a humble Irish home
and an atmosphere of mystery by some woman unknown; he is supported
thereafter by sufficiently suggestive remittances, and he passes
through a Bohemian boyhood and a more normal though still intriguing
early struggle and fluctuating love-story to eventual success, always
with the glamour of conventional romance about him, only to turn out
nobody in particular in the end. Congratulations! One was horribly
afraid he would be compelled to be at least the acknowledged heir to a
title. Quite apart from this, too, _Oriel_ (FISHER UNWIN) is after an
unassuming fashion one of the most easily and happily read and, one
would say, happily written books that has appeared for many a long
day, with humour that is Irish without being too broadly of the
brogue, and with people who are distinctive without ever becoming
unnatural. The dear old tramping quack-doctor, _Oriel's_
foster-father, in particular might well be praised in language that
would sound exaggerated. Mr. DUFFY'S work, depending as it does mainly
on a flow of charming and even exquisite side incident, suggests that
he is no more than beginning to tap a most extensive reservoir. I
greatly hope that this is the case.
* * * * *
I gather that _The Son of Tarzan_ (METHUEN) is the fourth of a
_Tarzan_ series by Mr. EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS, who specialises in an
exciting brand of hero, half ape, half man. _Tarzan pere_ had been
suckled and reared by a proud ape foster-mother, and after many
jungle adventures had settled down as _Lord Greystoke_. This latest
instalment of the _Tarzan_ chronicles finds the _Greystokes_ somewhat
anxious about the restlessness and unconventional tastes of their
schoolboy son, who inherits not only his father's vague jungle
longings but all his explicit acquired characteristics, so that when,
with the decent old ape, _Akut_, disguised as his invalid grandmother,
he sails away from England and plunges into the wild he promptly
becomes the terror of the jungle and bites the jugular veins of
hostile man and beast with such a precision of technique that he
becomes king of the ape-folk, as his father, _Tarzan_, had been before
him. Plausibility, even within the limits of his bizarre plan, is
not Mr. BURROUGHS' strong suit, but exciting incident, ingeniously
imagined and staged, with swift movement, undoubtedly is. If the
author wouldn't let his favourites off so easily and would give their
enemies a better sporting chance, he would more readily sustain the
illusion which is of the essence of real enjoyment in this kind of
fantasy. But I imagine the normal human boy will find nothing whatever
to complain of, and to him I chiefly commend this yarn.
* * * * *
_The Tale of Mr. Tubbs_ (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) is one of those which
hover agreeably between low comedy and refined farce, in a world
which, being frankly to the last degree improbable, makes no urgent
demand for belief. Sometimes indeed (as I have observed before with
Mr. J.E. BUCKROSE) the characters themselves are more credible
than the way in which they carry on. Thus while _Mr. Tubbs_, the
middle-aged and high-principled champion of distress, is both human
and likeable, I was never persuaded that any more real motive than
regard for an amusing situation would compel him to saddle himself
with the continued society of a squint-eyed maid-servant and her
yellow cat, turned adrift through his unfortunate attempts to befriend
them. I think I need not tell you all, or even a part of all, that
happens to _Mr. Tubbs_ and _Belinda_ and the yellow cat after their
arrival as fugitives at the pleasant village of Holmes-Eaton, or do
more than hint at the trials of this poor knight-errant, mistaken
for a burglar and a libertine, till the hour when (the book being
sufficiently full) he is rewarded with the hand of beauty and the
prospect of what I will venture to call a Buckroseate future. They
were no more than his due for remaining a consistent gentleman amid
the temptations of farce. One word of criticism however; surely Mr.
BUCKROSE has made a study of _The Boy's Own Paper_ less intimate than
mine if he supposes that a story with such a title as "The Red Robbers
of Ravenhill" could ever have gained admittance to those chaste
* * * * *
_John Justinian Jellicoe_, the hero's father in _The Quest of
the Golden Spurs_ (JARROLD), possessed a secretive and peculiar
disposition. Not only did he conceal his true nature from his son,
but he also left a will with some remarkable clauses which made it
necessary for _J.J.J., Junior_, to work and wait for his inheritance;
and it is the tale of his search for it that Mr. SHAUN MALORY tells us
here. Perhaps I have known treasure-hunts in which I have followed
the scent with a more abandoned interest. But we are given some
fine hunting, with a surprise at the end of it, and what more can
treasure-hunters, or we who read of them, possibly want? The date of
this quest is modern, and more than once I found myself thinking that
the twentieth century was not the fittest period in which to lay such
a plot as this. But I am content to believe that Mr. MALORY knows his
business better than I do, and as--like a good huntsman--he has left
me with a keen desire to go a-hunting with him again, I beg to thank
him for my day's sport.
* * * * *
[Illustration: "'ELLO, DOROFEE WATKINS, I SEE YER HIDING THERE!"]
* * * * *
OUR ERUDITE CONTEMPORARIES.
"After the tremendous battles of the present war, even such
actions as Marlborough's victories--Dettingen, Luicelles,
Vittoria, Waterloo, and Inkerman--seem insignificant by
We don't suppose the shades of GEORGE II., WELLINGTON and RAGLAN will
worry much about this annexation of their triumphs, but Lord LAKE'S
ghost will be seriously annoyed at the misspelling of Lincelles.
* * * * *
Extract from a letter received from a well-known wholesale
"We think that if you will apply to either of the three
tobacconists, whose names and addresses we append, you will
have no difficulty in obtaining an inadequate supply for your
Judging by our own experiences we are jolly well sure of it.