PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
JANUARY 8, 1919.
The mystery of the Foreign Office official who has not gone to Paris
for the Peace Conference has been cleared up. He is the caretaker.
"The King and Queen of Roumania," says a Paris paper, "will embark
after Christmas, orthodox style, for Western Europe." It is easy
enough to start a voyage, orthodox style; the difficulty is at the
The supreme command of the German Navy, says a telegram, has been
transferred to Wilhelmshaven. This looks like carelessness on the
part of the watch at Scapa Flow.
This year's _Who's Who_ has eighty-six more pages than that of last
year. On the other hand, since the Election quite a number of people
are not Who at all.
"The present rule in _Who's Who_," says _The Evening News_, "is that
the more important a man is the less space he is content to occupy."
As some of the staff of our evening Press do not occupy any space at
all in this excellent publication we leave readers to draw their own
The _Frankfuerter Zeitung_ observes that the ex-Kaiser has grown very
silent and morose. It is supposed that he has something or other on
A Copenhagen message states that the Spartacus people have three
times attempted to murder Count REVENTLOW, who is said to regard
these attempts as being in the worst possible taste.
Once again the newspapers have been beaten. It appears that Princess
PATRICIA knew of her engagement some time before the Press announced
it to Her Royal Highness.
"We still believe," says the _Koelnische Zeitung_, "that in thought the
German and the Britisher are racially akin." All the same we should
not encourage the Hun to come over here with the idea of making a
spiritual home among his alleged relatives.
Charged with drunkenness at the Thames Police Court a man attributed
his condition to the beer habit. It is remarkable how men will cling
to any sort of excuse.
Woolwich Arsenal, we are informed, is turning out milk-cans. Can
nothing be done, asks a pacifist, to save our children from the
insidious grip of militarism?
Nottinghamshire War Committee states that rat-catchers are now
demanding four pounds a week. Diplomacy, it appears, is the only
branch of British sport that has succeeded in escaping the taint of
"Fractious mules," says a correspondent of _The Daily Mail_, "should
not be sent to the country for sale." The playful kind, on the other
hand, that bite and kick from sheer _joie de vivre_, are bound to have
a beneficial effect on the agricultural temperament.
A Guildford allotment-holder successfully grew new potatoes for
Christmas-day dinner. All were eaten, it appears, except one, which
was kept to show to the Christmas pudding.
There is no truth in the report that Mr. DANIELS, U.S. Secretary for
the Navy, has received a telegram from Mr. WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST,
saying, "You furnish the navy and I'll furnish the war."
"The Crystal Palace," says. Dean INGE, "is the embodiment of spiritual
emptiness." A determined attempt is to be made to find out what the
Crystal Palace thinks of Dean INGE.
Stories of an unsuccessful Candidate in the Midlands, who was heard to
admit that the voters probably preferred his opponent's personality,
must be definitely regarded as apocryphal.
Traditions in Scotland die hard. We gather that it is stili considered
unlucky for a red-headed burglar to cross a Scottish threshold on New
A man at Berne has recently confessed to a murder he committed
twenty-one years ago. This is what comes of memory-training.
It is reported that TROTSKY has been ordered by his doctor to take
a complete rest. He has therefore decided not to have any more
revolutions for the present. Orders however will be executed in
Credit where credit is due. A woman fined at Wood Green Police Court
said her name was JOLLY and she had been having a "jollification," yet
the magistrate refrained from comment.
"Where was the Poet Laureate during the visit of President Wilson?"
asks a correspondent in a contemporary. We do not share this
"Foxes are to be found within an omnibus ride of Charing Cross," says
Mr. RICHARD KEARTON. Young omnibuses with plenty of bone and stamina
are the best for suburban meets.
Anemones, said a lecturer at the Royal Institution, will live as long
as sixty years in captivity and are very intelligent. Nevertheless we
refuse to swallow the story about their being taught to jump through a
hoop. The man who told it must have been thinking of an Egyptian king
of the same name.
The LORD-LIEUTENANT, it is stated on good authority, threatens that
if Sinn Fein prisoners destroy any more jails they will be rigorously
* * * * *
[Illustration: _The Fare_. "I DEFY YOU!"
_The Driver_. "WHO ARE YOU?"
_The Fare_. "I AM A RETIRED TAXI-DRIVER."]
* * * * *
"Sir Eric Geddes speaks of L50,000,000,000--a sum so vast that it
could not be paid off in a century of annual payments so small as
L2,000,000,000 each."--_Yorkshire Paper_.
Our contemporary overestimates the difficulty.
* * * * *
THE VERDICT OF DEMOCRACY.
The nation's memory, then, is not so short;
It still recalls the fields we lately bled on;
And when it had to choose the likeliest sort
For clearing up the mess of Armageddon
And making all things new,
It chose the man whose courage saw it through.
Hun-lovers, pledged to Peace (the German kind),
And such as sported LENIN'S sanguine token,
Appealed to Liberty to speak her mind,
And Liberty has very frankly spoken,
Strewing around her polls
The remnants of their ungummed aureoles.
In Amerongen there is grief to-day;
I seem to hear the martyr of Potsdam say,
"Alas for SNOWDEN, gone the downward way,
And O my poor, my poor beloved RAMSAY;
I much regret the rout
That washed this couple absolutely out!"
Dreadfully, too, the heart of TROTSKY bleeds,
To match the stain upon his reeking sabre,
Which is the blood of Russia, when he reads
How BARNES, the champion knight of loyal Labour,
Downed in the Lowland lists
MACLEAN, the Red Hope of the Bolshevists.
But here is jubilation in the air
And matter made to build the jocund rhyme on,
Though in our joyance some may fail to share,
Like Mr. RUNCIMAN or Major SIMON,
That hardened warrior, he
Who won the Military O.B.E.
Already dawns for us a golden age
(Lo! with the loud "All Clear!" our paean mingles),
An era when the OUTHWAITES cease to rage
And there is respite from the prancing PRINGLES,
And absence puts a curb
On the reluctant lips of SAMUEL (HERB.).
* * * * *
HOW TO THROW OFF AN ARTICLE.
"Do you really write?" said Sylvia, gazing at me large-eyed with
wonder. I admitted as much.
"And do they print it just as you write it?"
"Well, their hired grammarians make a few trifling alterations to
justify their existence."
"And do they pay you quite a lot?"
"Sixpence a word."
"Oo! How wonderful!"
"But not for every word," I added hastily, "only the really funny
"And they send it to you by cheques?"
"Rather. I bought a couple of pairs of socks with the last story;
even then I had something left over."
"And how do you write the stories?"
"Oh, just get an idea and go right ahead."
"How wonderful! Do you just sit down and write it straight off?"
I just--only just--pulled myself up in time as I remembered that
Sylvia was an enthusiast of twelve whose own efforts had already
caused considerable comment in the literary circles described
round the High School. I felt this entitled her to some claim on
"Sylvia," I cried, "I shall have to make a confession. All those
stories you have been good enough to read and occasionally smile over
are the result of a cold-blooded mechanical process--and the help of
a dictionary of synonyms."
"Oo! How wonderful! Do show me how."
"Very well. Since you are going to be a literary giantess it is well
that you should be initiated into the mysteries of producing what I
shall call the illusion of spontaneity. Now take this story here. Here
on this old envelope is THE IDEA."
"Oo! Let me see. I can't read a word."
"Of course you can't; nobody could. Rough copies are divided into
classes as follows:--
"No. 1. Those I can read, but nobody else can.
"No. 2. Those I can't read myself after two days.
"No. 3. Those my typist can read.
"This story is about a certain Brigade Major who is an inveterate
leg-puller. Some Americans are expected to be coming for instruction.
Well, before they arrive the Brigade Major has to go up to the line,
and on his way he meets a man with a very new tin hat who asks him
in a certain nasal accent we have all come to love if he has seen
anything of a party of Americans. Spotting him as a new chum, the
Brigade Major offers to show him round the line, and proceeds to pull
his leg and tells him the most preposterous nonsense. For instance,
on a shot being fired miles away he pretends they are in frightful
danger, and leads him bent double round and round trenches in the
"What a shame!"
"Wasn't it? Well, when he gets tired he asks the American if he thinks
he has learnt anything. The American says, 'Gee, I've been out here
two years now, but I guess you've taught me a whole heap I didn't
know. I'm a Canadian tunneller, you know, and I've got to show some
Americans our work, but I guess I've had a most interesting time
"Well now, to put the story into its form. Here's Copy No. 1, on
this old envelope. 'Americans coming--Brigade Major sees American
looking for party--pulls his leg--pretends to being in frightful
danger--American is Canadian who has been out two years.' See? Copy
No. 2. Here we begin to till in. Describe Brigade headquarters and
previous leg-pulls of Brigade Major. Make up details of what he tells
the American--'That's a trench. That thing you fell over is a coil
of wire. This is a sunken road--we sunk it, etc., etc.' Copy No.
3, additions and details, little touches of local colour, revision
of choice of words, heart-rending erasions. And here, my child," I
concluded, bringing out the beautiful, clean, smooth typed copy--"here
is the finished work itself, light, pleasant, fluent, humorous and,
most important of all, spontaneous."
"Oo! But how awfully cold-blooded. I thought you smiled to yourself
all the time you wrote it."
"My dear girl, it takes hours. If I smiled continually all that length
of time the top of my head would come off."
"Isn't it wonderful? Fancy building it all up from jottings on an old
envelope! What's that piece of paper you took out of the typed copy?"
"Oh, that's nothing to do with the literary side of it," I said,
crumpling up the little memorandum, which said that the Editor
presented compliments and regretted that he was unable to make
use of the enclosed contribution.
* * * * *
"Mr. Henderson ... was received with a cry of 'He is not on the
It is supposed that his supporter meant to say "not on the mat"--in
reference to an incident at the close of Mr. HENDERSON'S Ministerial
career. But many a true word is said in the Press by inadvertence.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE WAR AGAINST THE PUBLIC.
PROFITEERING HEN. "NOTHING DOING AT FIVEPENCE. BUT I MIGHT PERHAPS LAY
YOU ONE FOR NINEPENCE. WHAT! YOU THOUGHT THE WAR WAS OVER? NOT _MY_
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Dear Old Lady (to returning warrior)_. "WELCOME BACK
* * * * *
A DEMOBILISATION DISASTER.
Private Randle Janvers Binderbeck and Private John Hodge (of No. 12
Platoon) both enlisted in 1914. Previously Handle wrote articles,
mostly denunciatory. He denounced the Government of the day, tight
skirts, Christian Science, scorching on scooters, the foreign policy
of Patagonia and many other things. John, on the other hand, had not
an agile brain. He worked on a farm in some incredibly primitive
capacity, and the only thing that he denounced was the quality of
the beer at the "Waggon and Horses." It certainly was bad.
In the Army Randle had no ambition except to get out of it and to
remain a private while in it. His ambition for his civil career was
tremendous. He tried to prod the placid John (his neighbour in their
hut) into an equal ambition.
"My poor Hodge," said Randle to John, "you must cultivate a soul above
manure. Does it satisfy you, as a man made in the image of God, to be
able to distinguish between a mangold and a swede? Think of the glory
of literature, the power of the writer to send forth his burning words
to millions and sway public opinion as the west wind sways the pliant
"I dunno as I'd prefer that to bird-scaring or suchlike," murmured
Goaded by such beast-like placidity, Randle would forget all restraint
in trying to lash John into a worthy ambition.
It was for talking after "Lights out" that Randle and John were given
a punishment of three days' confinement to barracks. Randle, pouring
out a devastating torrent of words in the manner of a public orator,
bitterly denounced the punishment; John, who had merely snored (the
Captain said it took two to make a conversation), bore it with the
stoicism of ignorance.
Randle used to dream of Peace Day. He heard Sir DOUGLAS HAIG order his
Chief-of-Staff to summon Private Randle Janvers Binderbeck. "Release
him at once," said HAIG, in Randle's dream, "to resume his colossal
mission as leader and director of public opinion."
If John dreamed, it was of messy farmyards and draughty fields; but it
is improbable that he dreamed at all.
They both went to the War and faced the Hun. Randle thought of the
Hun only as a possible wrecker of his career, therefore as a foe of
mankind. John hardly thought of the Hun except in the course of coming
into contact with him, and then he used his bayonet with careless
Randle steeled himself against the rough edges of soldiering. He
allowed neither the curses of corporals nor the familiarities of
second-lieutenants to affect his dreams of the future. Always, even
_sotto voce_ in the last five minutes before going over the top, he
kept before John his vision splendid.
It was thoir luck to remain together and unhurt. Then arrived the
great day when the Hun confessed defeat. Randle vainly awaited a sign
from the Commander-in-Chief.
There came, however, a moment when No. 12 Platoon was paraded at the
Company Orderly-room. Particulars were to be taken before filling up
demobilisation forms. Men were to be grouped, on paper, according to
the nation's demand for their return to civil life.
Randle Janvers Binderbeck knew this was _der Tag_. Magnanimously he
overlooked the delay and felt that HAIG might, after all, have an
excuse. John Hodge remained placid. He had long ago classed Randle's
goadings with heavies and machine-guns, as unavoidable incidents of
Randle and John were called into the orderly-room together. By an
obvious error John was first summoned to the table.
"Well, Hodge," said the Company Sergeant-Major, "what's your job in
"I dunno as I got any special job," said John. "I just sort o' helped
on the farm."
"You must have a group," said the C.S.M. "What did you mostly do
before the War?"
"S' far as that do go," said John, "I were mostly a bird-scarer."
"'Bird-scarer,'" said the C.S.M. "I know there's a heading for that
somewhere. Agricultural, ain't it? 'Bird-scarer.' Ah, here we are.
'Group 1.' You'll be one of the first for release."
The Company Clerk noted the fact, and the C.S.M. called "Next man."
Randle Janvers Binderbeck stepped forward.
"What's your job, Binderbeck?" said the C.S.M.
(To ask Lord NORTHCLIFFE, "Do you sell newspapers?" To ask BOSWELL,
"Have you heard of a man named JOHNSON?" TO ask HENRY VIII, "Were you
The futility of the question flabbergasted Randle.
"Come on, man," said the C.S.M.
Randle made an effort. "Journalist," he said.
"'Journalist,'" said the C.S.M., "'Journalist.' Yes, I thought so.
'Group 41.' You've got a long way to go, my lad. You'd have done
better if you was a bird-scarer, like Hodge. Them's the boys the
nation wants--Group 1 boys. You sticks in the Army for another six
months' fatigue. Next man."
That was all.
John Hodge is now soberly awaiting demobilisation, and will not have
to wait long.
Randle Janvers Binderbeck is secretly consoling himself by writing the
most denunciatory articles. They will never be published, but they
afford an alternative to cocaine.
He feels that he can never again consent to sway public opinion as the
west wind, etc., in the interests of a nation which rates him forty
groups lower than an animated scarecrow.
It is the nation's own fault, Randle is blameless.
* * * * *
A NOISY SALUTE.
From a review of _The Remembered Kiss_, in _The Westminster
"It would be doing Miss Ayres an injustice to suppose that
there is only one kiss to remember in the whole of her novel,
but the one which gives its title is bestowed by a young and
handsome burglar, and received by a girl who mistook the noise
he was making for a thunders torm."
As TENNYSON says in _The Day-Dream_: "O love, thy kiss would wake the
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Father (bringing son home from party)_. "WELL, OLD
CHAP, WERE THERE PLENTY OF LITTLE GIRLS FOR YOU TO DANCE WITH?"
_Son (rather proud of himself)_. "OH, THERE WERE SOME KIDS ABOUT, BUT
_I_ DANCED WITH A GIRL OF SIXTEEN--AND, BY JOVE, SHE LOOKED IT."]
* * * * *
FREAKS OF FOOD-CONTROL.
Though Mrs. Midas shows a righteous zeal
In preaching self-control at every meal,
She never in her stately home forgets
To cater freely for her precious pets.
On cheese and soup she feeds her priceless "Pekie"--
Stilton and Cheddar, Bortch and Cocky-leekie;
And Max, her shrill-voiced "Pom," politely begs
For his diurnal dole of new-laid eggs.
Semiramis, her noble Persian cat,
Threatens to grow inelegantly fat
Upon asparagus and Shaker oats,
With milk provided by two special goats.
Meanwhile her governess subsists on greens,
Canned conger-eel or cod and butter-beans,
And often in a black ungrateful mood
Envies the dogs and cat their daintier food.
* * * * *
"On one side was the naval guard of honour--splendid men from
the ships of the Dover Patrol--and on the other side a military
guard from the Garrison with the band of the Buffs waiting
to play President Wilson into England with 'The tar-spangled
A pretty compliment to the naval escort.
* * * * *
THE MUD LARKS.
Our Mr. MacTavish is a man with a past. He is now a cavalry subaltern
and he was once a sailor. As a soldier at sea is never anything but
an object of derision to sailors, correspondingly the mere idea of a
sailor on horseback causes the utmost merriment among soldiers.
"Sailors on horseback!"--the very words bring visions of apoplectic
mariners careering madly across sands, three to a horse, every limb
in convulsion. Why, it's one of the world's stock jokes.
The pathetic part of it is that, obeying the law of opposites, the
saddle has an irresistible and fatal attraction for the poor chaps.
They take to it on every possible and impossible occasion. You can see
them playing alleged polo at Malta, riding each other off at right
angles and employing their sticks as grappling irons. You can see them
over from the Rock whooping after Spanish foxes, bestriding their
steeds anywhere but in the appointed place.
As every proper farmer's boy has long, long thoughts of magic oceans,
spice isles and clipper ships, so I will warrant every normal Naval
officer dreams of a little place in the grass counties, a stableful
of long-tails and immortal runs with the Quorn and Pytchley.
It was thus with our Mr. MacTavish, anyhow. A stern parent and a
strong-armed crammer projected him into the Navy, and in the Navy
he remained for years bucketing about the salt seas in light and
wobbly cruisers, enforcing intricate Bait Laws off Newfoundland in
mid-winter, or playing hide-and-seek with elusive dhows on the Equator
in midsummer, but always with a vision of that little place in his
His opportunity arrived with the demise of the stern parent and the
acquisition of a comfortable legacy. MacTavish sent in his papers and
stepped ashore for good. He discovered the haven of his heart's desire
in the neighbourhood of Melton, purchased a pig and a cow (which
turned out to be a bullock) to give the little place a homely air,
engaged a terrier for ratting and intercourse, and with the assistance
of some sympathetic dealers was assembling as comprehensive a
collection of curbs, spavins, sprung tendons, pin-toes, herring-guts,
ewe-necks, cow-hocks and capped elbows as could be found between the
Tweed and Tamar, when--Mynheer W. HOHENZOLLERN (as he is to-day) went
and done it.
The evening of August 4th, 1914, discovered MacTavish sitting on the
wall of his pig-sty, his happy hunting prospects shot to smithereens,
arguing the position out with the terrier. He must attend to this
war, that was clear, but need he necessarily go back to the salt sea?
Couldn't he do his bit in some other service? What about the Cavalry?
That would mean galloping about Europe on a jolly old gee, shouting
"Hurrah!" and cutlassing the foot-passengers. A merry life, combining
all the glories of fox-hunting with only twenty-five per cent. of its
safety--according to _Jorrocks_.
What about the Cavalry, then? The terrier semaphored complete
approbation with its tail stump and even the pig made enthusiastic
A month later MacTavish turned up in a Reserve Regiment of Cavalry at
the Curragh as a "young officer." The Riding-Master treated his case
as no more hopeless than anybody else's and MacTavish was making
average progress until one evening in the anteroom he favoured the
company with a few well-spiced Naval reminiscences.
Next morning the Riding-Master was convulsed with merriment at the
mere sight of him, addressed him variously as Jellicoe, Captain
Kidd and Sinbad, and, after first warning MacTavish not to imagine
he was ashore at Port Said riding the favourite in a donkey Derby,
translated all his instructions into nautical language. For instance:
"Right rein--haul the starboard yoke line; gallop--full steam ahead;
halt--cast anchor; dismount--abandon ship," and so forth, giving his
delicate and fanciful sense of humour full play and evoking roars
of laughter from the whole house. It did not take MacTavish long to
realise that, no matter what he said, he would never again be taken
seriously in that place; he was, in fact, the world's stock joke, a
sailor on horseback (Ha, ha, ha!).
He set his jaw and was determined that he would not be caught tripping
again; there should be no more reminiscences. Once clear of Ireland he
would bury his past.
All this happened years ago.
When I came back from leave the other day I asked for Albert Edward.
"He and MacTavish are up at Corpse H.Q.," said the skipper; "they're
helping the A.P.M. straighten the traffic out. By the way you'd
better trickle up there and relieve them, as they're both going on
leave in a day or so."
I trickled up to Corpse and eventually discovered Albert Edward alone,
practising the three-card trick with a view to a career after the War.
"You'll enjoy this Mess," said he, turning up "the Lady" where he
least expected her; "it's made up of Staff eccentrics--Demobilizing,
Delousing, Educational, Laundry and Burial _wallahs_--all sorts, very
interesting; you'll learn how the other half lives and all that. Oh,
that reminds me. You know poor old MacTavish's secret, don't you?"
"Of course," said I; "everybody does. Why?"
Albert Edward grinned. "Because there's another bloke here with a dark
past, only this is t'other way about; he's a bumpkin turned sailor,
Blenkinsop by name, you know, the Shropshire hackney breeders. He's
Naval Division. Ever rub against those merchants?"
I had not.
"Well, I have," Albert Edward went on. "They're wonders; pretend
they're in mid-ocean all the time, stuck in the mud on the Beaucourt
Ridge, gummed in the clay at Souchez--anywhere. They 'come aboard'
a trench and call their records-office--a staid and solid bourgeois
dwelling in Havre--_H.M.S. Victory_. If you were bleeding to death and
asked for the First Aid Post they wouldn't understand you; you've got
to say 'Sick bay' or bleed on. If you want a meal you've got to call
the cook-house 'The galley,' or starve.
"This _matelot_ Blenkinsop has got it very badly. He obtained all his
sea experience at the Crystal Palace and has been mud-pounding up and
down France for three years, and yet here we have him now pretending
there's no such thing as dry land."
"Not an unnatural delusion," I remarked.
"Well," resumed Albert Edward, "across the table from him sits our old
MacTavish, lisping, 'What is the Atlantic? Is it a herb?' I'll bet my
soul they're in their billets at this moment, MacTavish mugging up
some stable-patter out of NAT GOULD, and Blenkinsop imbibing a dose
of ship-chatter from 'BARTIMEUS.' They'll come in for food presently,
MacTavish doing what he imagines to be a 'cavalry-roll,' tally-hoing
at the top of his voice, and Blenkinsop weaving his walk like the
tough old sea-dog he isn't, ship a-hoying and avasting for dear life."
"They're both going on leave with you to-morrow, aren't they?" I
Albert Edward nodded.
"Then their game is up," said I.
Albert Edward's brow crinkled. "I don't quite get you."
"My dear old fool," said I, "it's blowing great guns now. With the
leave-packet doing the unbusted broncho act for two hours on end it
shouldn't be very difficult to separate the sheep from the goat, the
true-blue sailor from the pea-green lubber, should it? They may be
able to bluff each other, but not the silvery Channel in mid-winter."
Albert Edward slapped his knee and laughed aloud.
* * * * *
They all came back from England last night. I lost no time in
cornering Albert Edward.
"Well, everything worked just as I prophesied, didn't it?" said I.
"With the first buck the old boat gave Blenkinsop tottered to the
Albert Edward shook his head.
"No, he didn't. He ate a pound of morphia and lay in the Saloon
throughout sleeping like a little child."
"But MacTavish?" I stammered.
"Oh, MacTavish," said Albert Edward--"MacTavish took an emetic."
* * * * *
[Illustration: RECONSTRUCTION SHOCKS.
_Pianist (accompanying celebrated prima donna at classical concert
after three years of sing-songs in Army huts)_. "NOW THEN, BOYS! DROWN
HER WELL IN THE CHORUS!"]
* * * * *
"The post-war ---- will be the one car from which the owner with
moderate ideas can obtain the minimum amount of genuine pleasure
and satisfaction."--_Advt. in Trade Paper_.
* * * * *
From an account of a film-drama:--
"Horrified at his pseudanimity she agrees to the
It sounds rather pusillonymous.
* * * * *
We are semi-officially informed on the best authority that the
undermentioned nominations--some of which have already been
accepted--to the thrones and chairs now vacant in various parts of
the world have been made and approved by the Allied Governments.
Foremost among these is the nomination "by acclamation" of RICHARD
STRAUSS as King of the Cannibal Islands. It is understood that the
illustrious composer has already arrived and that a grand congress
of Anthropophagi with suitable festivities is in contemplation.
Two nominations which have been the cause of great satisfaction in
diplomatic circle are those of Mr. MARK HAMBOURG to the Kingdom of
Palestine, and that of M. MOISEIWITCH to the throne of the Solomon
Islands. Jamborees of jubilation are already rife in the latter
Sir HENRY WOOD has been simultaneously approached from two quarters.
The leading citizens of Sonora have offered him the Presidentship of
that interesting State. At the same time an urgent invitation has been
sent to the eminent conductor offering him the throne of the Empire of
Percussia. Sir HENRY'S decision is awaitod with feverish anxiety.
It is stated by the _Corriere della Sera_ that Madame MELBA,
the Australian nightingale, has been chosen to preside over the
Jug-jugo-Slav Republic, while Madame CLARA BUTT has been unanimously
elected Empress of Patagonia.
Sir THOMAS BEECHAM'S selection from among the candidates for the
throne of New Guinea, is regarded as a foregone conclusion. The famous
violinist, Mr. ALBERT SAMMONS, has so far returned no final answer
to the offer of the Crown of Sordinia, but it is believed that he
cannot long remain mute to the touching appeal of the signatories. A
favourable answer is also expected from Mlle. Jelly Aranyi, who has
been nominated Queen of Guava.
On the other hand Sir EDWARD ELGAR, O.M., has steadfastly declined the
Tsardom of Bulgaria, even though it was proposed to change the name of
the country to Elgaria.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Milliner_. "HOW DOES MODOM LIKE THIS LITTLE BIRD OF
PARADISE MODEL? IT BECOMES MODOM VERY WELL."
_Customer_. "YES, IT _IS_ RATHER NICE, BUT _(remembers her obligations
as a mother)_ HOW MANY COUPONS?"]
* * * * *
TO AN EGYPTIAN BOY.
Child of the gorgeous East, whose ardent suns
Have kissed thy velvet skin to deeper lustre
And given thine almond eyes
A look more calm and wise
Than any we pale Westerners can muster,
Alas! my mean intelligence affords
No clue to grasp the meaning of the words
Which vehemently from thy larynx leap.
How is it that the liquid language runs?
E'en so, methinks, did CLEOPATRA WOO
Her vanquished victor, couched on scented roses,
And PHARAOH from his throne
With more imperious tone
Addressed in some such terms rebellious MOSES;
And esoteric priests in Theban shrines,
Their ritual conned from hieroglyphic signs,
Thus muttered incantations dark and deep
To Isis and Osiris, Thoth and Shu:
In all my youthful studies why was this
Left out? What tutor shall I blame my folly on?
Return to mortal view,
O shade of BRUGSCH or MARIETTE or CHAMPOLLION;
Expound the message latent in his speech
Or send a clearer medium, I beseech;
For lo! I listen till I almost weep
For anguish at the priceless gems I miss:
To sundry greenish orbs arranged on trays--
Unripe, unluscious fruit--he draws attention.
My mind, till now so dark,
Receives a sudden spark
That glows and flames to perfect comprehension;
And I, whom no Rosetta Stone assists,
Become the peer of Egyptologists,
From whom exotic tongues no secrets keep;
For this is what the alien blighter says:
"Nice orang'; three for one piastre; very cheap."
* * * * *
"Napoleon was crowned Emperor of the French on December 2nd, 1804,
and abdicated in 1914. On December 2nd, 1918, the papers announced
the formal abdication of Wilhelm II. of Germany."--_Kent
WILHELM probably wishes that he had chosen the same date for his
abdication as NAPOLEON.
* * * * *
When a dear little lady from Lancashire
Came to London to act as a bank cashier,
And asked, "Is it true
1 + 1 = 2?"
They thought they'd revert to a man cashier.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE BABES IN THE WOOD.
THE OLD LIBERAL NURSERY (_moribund but sanguine_). "NO MATTER--A
TIME WILL COME!"]
* * * * *
Dear Mr. Punch,--I am told that Mr. ASQUITH considers that this
has been a most unsatisfactory election. So do I. As you know, the
principal function of the House of Commons nowadays is to provide
amusing "copy" for the late editions of the evening papers and to give
the "sketch"-writers a chance of exercising their pretty wits. As Mr.
SPENCER LEIGH HUGHES once remarked in an after-dinner speech to Mr.
BALFOUR, "You, Sir, are our raw material."
Now, what I complain of is that on the present occasion the voters
have entirely disregarded the needs of the journeymen of the Press,
and have ruthlessly deprived them of the greater part of their raw
material. Mr. HUGHES himself, I am glad to see, has been spared, but
he fortunately had not to undergo the hazards of a contest. I tremble
to think what his fate might have been if at the last moment some
stodgy statesman had been nominated to oppose him.
Against humour, conscious or unconscious, the voters seem to have
solidly set their faces. It was bad enough that Mr. JOE KING--who has
probably helped to provide more deserving journalists with a living
than any other legislator who ever lived--should have declined the
contest. Question-time without Mr. KING and his unerring nose for
mare's-nests will be like _Alice_ without _The Mad Hatter_. It was
bad, too, that Sir HEDWORTH MEUX should have decided to interrupt the
flow of that eloquence which we were forbidden to call "breezy," and
that Major "Boadicea" HUNT, Mr. JOHN BURNS, Mr. TIM HEALY, and Mr.
SWIFT MACNEILL should have withdrawn from a scene in which they had
provided so much profitable entertainment for the gods in the Press
These losses made it all the more incumbent upon the electors to see
that the House should retain as much as possible of the remnant of its
comic relief. But what do we find? Why, that practically every one of
the gentlemen who made the journalist's life worth living in the last
Parliament has been cruelly turned down.
For much of this grief the Sinn Feiners are responsible. They
have easily accomplished what a few years ago six stalwart British
constables could scarcely do and have removed the gigantic Mr. FLAVIN
from his emerald bench. With him have gone nearly all his comrades;
and the once-powerful Nationalist party, which for nearly forty years
has been such an unfailing source of sparkling paragraphs, is reduced
to the number immortalised by WORDSWORTH'S little maid.
Almost more distressing than the loss of individuals is the breaking
up of Parliamentary partnerships. What is the use of Mr. HOUSTON being
returned if he has no longer Sir LEO CHIOZZA MONEY to heckle? Captain
PRETYMAN-NEWMAN will doubtless continue to ask questions about the
shocking condition of his native country, but without Mr. REDDY'S
squeaking _obbligato_, "Why isn't the honourable and gallant Member
out at the Front?" they will lose half their savour. He will be as
dull as Io without her gad-fly. Mr. "Boanerges" STANTON is happily
still with us, but with no pacifists to bellow at I fear that his
vocal chords will atrophy.
Then the famous Young Scots Trio, which has given us so many
attractive "turns," has been violently dissolved. Mr. PRINGLE, whose
ample supply of vitriolic invective was always at the service of the
PRIME MINISTER, has been left by an ungrateful constituency at the
bottom of the poll, and Mr. WATT has shared his fate. It is true
that Mr. HOGGE managed to save his bacon, but without the support of
_Harlequin_ and _Pantaloon_ I fear his clowning will fail to draw.
With so many of the old puppets gone I feel very lonely, and can
only try to comfort myself with the hope that the new Parliament may
provide some adequate substitutes. After all, so vast a machine must
contain a few cranks.
Meantime I remain, Sir, with the highest respect,
YOUR PARLIAMENTARY CORRESPONDENT.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Boarder (firmly)_. "YOU MUST ALLOW ME ANOTHER KNOB OF
COAL, MISS SKIMPLE. MY NERVES WILL NO LONGER BEAR THE NOISE OF THESE
* * * * *
THE BOOM IN ARCHITECTURE.
Since that far-away period before the War, my architectural nerve
has become sadly debilitated; so when a card (bearing the name of
Carruthers) was brought to me the other morning I felt quite unmanned.
"Some potential client," I observed inwardly, "who has heard of the
removal of the five-hundred pound limit and has bearded me before I
have had time to get the hang of T-square and compasses again."
I liked the appearance of Mr. Carruthers, and his greeting had a
slight ring of flattery in it that was very soothing.
"You are Mr. Bellamy, the architect?" he said.
"I am," I replied; "at least I was before the War."
"And have a large practice?" he resumed.
"I certainly had a large practice formerly," I said. "With my methods
and experience one ought to acquire an extensive _clientele_. I have
been an architect, my dear sir, man and boy for over forty years,
and have always followed the architectural fashions. In the late
seventies, when little columns of Aberdeen granite were the rage--you
know the stuff, tastes like marble and looks like brawn--I went in for
them hot and strong, and every building I touched turned to potted
meat. Then SHAW came along--BERNARD, was it? no, NORMAN--with his red
brick and gables, and I got so keen that I moved to Bedford Park to
catch the full flavour of it.
"Next, the Ingle-nooker's found in me a willing disciple. I designed
rows of houses, all roofs and no chimneys, or all chimneys and no
roofs, it didn't matter which so long as there was an ingle-nook with
a motto over it. Why, after a time I got so expert that I simply
designed an ingle-nook and the rest seemed to grow by itself.
"Just as the War started I had broken out in another place and was
getting into my Italian loggia-pergola-and-sunk-garden stride, and
then came the five-hundred pound limit and busted the whole show. In
fact, when you called I was wondering whether to chuck the business
and go in for writing cinema plays."
"When I want a really fashionable house built for me," said
Carruthers, "I shall certainly come to you."
"Ah," I said, "you have come to see me then on behalf of a friend?"
"On behalf," he said, "of several friends."
My chest swelled visibly. "This man," I said to myself, while reaching
for my Corona Coronas, "is planning a garden city, or at least a group
of houses on the communal plan."
"The fact is," said Carruthers, clearing his throat, "I am a
scout-master, and my troop are collecting wastepaper, and I expect
you have any amount of old plans and things that you--"
I was just in time to save the cigar.
* * * * *
[Illustration: "I HEAR YOUR HUSBAND IS HOME FROM FRANCE. IS THE ARMY
GOING TO RELEASE HIM?"
"WELL, 'E'S GOT A FORTNIGHT BEFORE HE GOES BACK, BUT BY THAT TIME 'E
'OPES TO BE DEMORALISED."]
* * * * *
FRUITS OF VICTORY.
["Unlimited lard may now be purchased without coupon."--_Daily
Swiftly the shadow of William the Hun
Fades from the fields that our valour has won;
Totter the thrones of our many Controllers,
Freedom is coming to man and his molars:
Doomed is the coupon and doomed is the card,
With all the embargos that hit us so hard;
Now we may purchase unlimited lard.
Soon will the mud-spattered soldier be free;
Soon will the sailor be home from the sea:
Victory beams on the banners of Right,
This is the time to be merry and bright;
Stilled is the riot of shot and of shard
And (what a boon to the heart of the bard!)
Now we may purchase unlimited lard.
Shout for the joy of it, waving your hats;
Where there are puttees will shortly be spats;
Never again will we form on the right,
Squad or platoon, for a sergeant's delight;
So let our faces, by discipline marred,
Shine with an unction that savours of nard,
Now we may purchase unlimited lard.
* * * * *
BIG BERTHA OUTRANGED.
"Two Russian battleships and some cruisers set out from Cronstadt
to meet the British warships in the Baltic, and were fired on from
the Flemish coast."--_Yorkshire Paper_.
* * * * *
"After four incessant years across Dora's knee the peace New
Year ought surely to hold something good in its kindly lap for
But after four years across Dora's knee the New Year is probably not
thinking about its lap, but quite the reverse.
* * * * *
"The announcement of a ball in Brussels gave plenty of scope for
imaginative scribes to quote, in some cases almost correctly,
the lines about 'there was a scene of revelry by night.'"--"_Mr.
Gossip_" in "_The Daily Sketch_."
"MR. GOSSIP," too, quotes "almost correctly."
* * * * *
It is hoped that if M. PADEREWSKI becomes President of the new Polish
Republic he will experience the truth of the old proverb, _Chi va
piano va sano._
* * * * *
[Illustration: _British Officer (Army of occupation)_. "LOOK OUT, OLD
BEAN! WE'RE GETTING THE GLAD EYE."]
* * * * *
THE ARMY OF ENTERTAINMENT, LTD.
As a mere soldier threatened with unemployment owing to the sudden
outbreak of peace, I offer to any enterprising company-promoter an
idea which should provide him with an immense fortune and myself with
a congenial means of livelihood.
My suggestion is that, with the consent of Lord NORTHCLIFFE and the
Allies, a slice of the old Front should be kept up _in statu quo_, and
a representative assortment of troops retained to hold it on what was
our side, and to carry on the War as it was in the good old days of
'15, when we thought our life's work was bespoken and soldiers with
boy babies raised the question of making acting rank hereditary. No
enemy would be employed, experiment having proved that the existence
of an enemy detracts from the enjoyment of modern war.
The little army, commanded by a General, himself an employe of
the Army of Entertainment Co., Ltd., would conduct operations for
demonstration purposes. Visitors would be charged admission to the
Company's zone, and pay extra for any particular stunt show arranged
for their benefit.
It would be necessary to acquire a strip of country running right back
to the coast, if realism should be the aim of the directors, otherwise
it would be impossible, to show an A.M.L.O. in action, or some
interesting types of Headquarters, or laundry Colonels winning the
I have in mind a highly entertaining General who might be willing to
accept the position of G.O.C. for the Company--one of those desperate
old gentlemen whose joy was to stalk about busy areas and strafe the
domestic and sanitary arrangements of batteries and battalions. He
is of picturesque appearance and would afford the best comic relief.
This General would be attended by the usual assistants, traditionally
housed, clothed and fed, but, the division being run as a commercial
venture, it would be a matter for consideration by the directors
whether these young gentlemen should receive a salary or pay a fee.
Some visitors might well be so delighted with soldiering, free from
the annoyance of enemy action, that they would wish to make a long
stay and experience all its variations, beginning perhaps with the
P.B.I, (or Pretty Busy Infantry) in a mud-hole in the front line, and
passing through all the stages of the normal military career till they
arrived at the Divisional Chateau. Should anyone desire to survey
life from the altitude of an R.T.O. (Railway Transport, not Really
Tantalising Officer, as supposed by some) it might be arranged for
him, in the interests of realism, to improvise information as to
trains for the benefit of other visitors.
Appropriate rations would be included, in the entrance money, while
there might be canteens for the sale of such extras as bootlaces and
penholders. Visitors would not be allowed to bring money into the
area, but would be given the usual books of cash withdrawal forms,
entitling them to obtain small sums from the field cashier--if they
could find him. As a field cashier of experience would be employed and
possibly act in collusion with the R.T.O., these sums of money might
be regarded as prizes, and would create a pleasant excitement without
amounting to any great expense for the Company.
Those willing to pay high prices would have arranged for them such
displays as "normal artillery activity," pukka strafes, S.O.S.
bombardments or barrages chaperoning infantry advances, while balloons
might be set on fire, dumps blown up, or leave cancelled at special
rates. There might also be an assortment of inexpensive and amusing
side-shows, such as a Second-in-command trying to check a monthly
return of dripping, or a conscientious gunner calculating the correct
Should an application be received from any person anxious to
experience war from the "Receipts" end he would be granted free entry
to the area on the far side of the line, protected grand-stands being
erected, from which, on suitable payment, spectators could study his
deportment. A short stay in the "enemy's area" during a strafe might
be recommended for politicians and arranged by their constituents.
Space forbids further detail. It remains only for a Company to be
formed--affiliated perhaps to the Bureau of Information--a detailed
prospectus issued and applications invited for posts under the Army
of Entertainment, Ltd.
I shall myself be willing to serve the Company in the capacity of a
Town Major on condition that a suitable town is provided.
* * * * *
_Poor Old Woman (to youth, who has given her a gratuity and relieved
her of her load of wood)_. "I PRESUME, MY KIND YOUNG FRIEND, THAT YOU
ARE THE YOUNGEST OF THE THREE BROTHERS WHO ARE GOING OUT TO SEEK THEIR
_Clever Youth_. "NO, I'M THE ELDEST. BUT I'VE BEEN READING THE
* * * * *
WISE WORDS FOR BIRDS.
Dear Mr. Punch,--While lately turning over some old family papers I
came across a number of maxims in rhyme which seem to me to be worthy
of publication at a time devoted to good cheer. The form appears to be
the same as that expressed in the familiar couplets on the woodcock
and the partridge; but these variations on an old theme have at least
the merit of freshness and originality.
I begin in order of magnitude with the ostrich:--
"If an ostrich had but a woodcock's thigh
It would only be some three feet high.
If a woodcock had but an ostrich's jaw
It would have to be carved with a circular saw."
The foregoing lines clearly enforce the important lesson of
contentment with the existing order. This moral is perhaps less
implicit in the lines on the peacock:--
"If a peacock had but the nightingale's trill
It would make all prima donnas feel ill.
If the nightingale had but the peacock's tail
It would merit a headline in the _Mail_."
Contentment again is the keynote of the couplets on the owl:--
"If an owl would enter the nuthatch's nest
Its figure would have to be much compressed.
If the nuthatch had but the face of an owl
It would be a most unpopular fowl."
A slightly different formula is to be noted in the lines on the snipe,
but the spirit is substantially the same:--
"If a snipe were the size of a threepenny bit
It would be a great deal harder to hit.
But if it grew to the size of an emu
It wouldn't be better to eat than seamew."
Lastly I may quote the only couplet in which beasts as well as birds
are subjected to this searching analysis. I think you will admit that
it is the most sagacious and impressive of them all:--
"If a pig had wings and the legs of a stork
It would damage the quality of its pork,"
Thine, MCDOUGALL POTT.
_Poets' Corner House, Dottyville._
* * * * *
"As a result of trying to find an escape of gas with a light, a
flat in Westminster was seriously damaged."--_Provincial Paper_.
Serve him right.
* * * * *
The other day I was looking through some school reports. Holidays
always bring them forth. You know the kind of thing: History--Is most
diligent but needs concentration; Music--Lacks purposefulness, does
not practise sufficiently; Mathematics--Weak; General Conduct--Might
be better; Conversational French--_Sera plus facile avec plus de
confiance_; Theology--A sad falling off; and so on; and it occurred to
me that it might not be a bad thing if the report system, instead of
stopping with our school-days, pursued us through life. The periodical
perusal of a report, drawn up with as much authority as a scholastic
staff possesses, might have very beneficial results.
My own early ones no longer exist; but it would be a very searching
test of our educational system to study these reports thirty-five
years after and subject them to an honest commentary. How little that
one learned then has persisted, has survived the probation of time and
necessity. At the age of fifteen I knew the principal rivers of South
America ("Geography--Has made great progress"); to-day at fifty I have
no recollection of any, nor any desire to have it. Instead I can order
dinner. Gastronomy for geography; new lamps for old! In any report
drawn up now there would be a totally different series of subjects.
Business Method . . . Might be better.
Punctuality . . . . . Tries his best.
Patriotism . . . . . Good.
Veracity . . . . . . Moderate.
Financial Soundness . Very variable.
As a means of constructive criticism the report system might be useful
in Parliament. The Speaker, as headmaster, should be entrusted with
the task of preparing the documents. I can see some such results as
THE PRIME MINISTER.
Logic . . . . . . . . Weak.
Opportunism . . . . . Strong.
Golf . . . . . . . . Shows little improvement.
Belligerence . . . . Very good.
Tonsorial Artistry . Far from satisfactory. Should give it
Oratory . . . . . . . Fluent and powerful, but must guard
against impulse. Too fond in perorations
of drawing metaphors from Welsh
MR. BONAR LAW.
Mediation . . . . . . Admirable, but must not be overworked.
Oratory . . . . . . . Fair. Has tendency to unnecessary candour.
Does not sufficiently employ periphrasis.
Fidelity . . . . . . Beyond praise.
MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL.
Oratory . . . . . . . Effective, if given enough time to prepare.
Modesty . . . . . . . Room for improvement.
Polarity . . . . . . Weak.
Ambition . . . . . . An honest worker.
Lastly, let us take the report sheet of one not wholly absent from
the public eye, whom I will designate merely by the initials W.W.
Pride . . . . . . . . Far less than he had two or three years ago.
Facial beauty . . . . More than adequate.
Subrisivity . . . . . Phenomenal.
Oratory . . . . . . . Admirable, but too fond of telling the
Popularity . . . . . Could not be greater.
* * * * *
HAIR-CUTTING AND DENTISTRY.
I am going to get my hair cut. But I must first mention the matter to
Why do I do this? It is not because I am a coward, for there are few
men who are in reality braver than I am. I carried my firstborn in my
arms round the drawing-room when she was a week old, and I have done
other things equally brave, the enumeration of which I spare you.
But I could no more think of getting my hair cut without previously
informing my wife than I could think of wearing a top hat in the
I know what will happen when I have told my wife. She will look up and
say, "That's right; you always do it."
And I shall say, "What do I always do?"
And she will answer, "You always get yourself cropped like a convict
just when your hair was beginning to look nice."
And I shall say, "I can't help that; it's got to be done." And then I
shall go and get it done.
But I wonder if my wife is right after all. There used to be a nice
wave in my front hair, a wave into which you could lay two fingers. Is
that there still? No, it's gone. In fact there is not sufficient front
hair to make a wave with. It's odd how gradually these things happen.
I could have sworn that I had that wave, and there is a photograph
of me in the drawing-room with a fully-developed tidal bore; and I
went on brushing my front hair and combing it and thinking of it all
the time as constituting a wave, and lo it had vanished, leaving me
under the impression that it was still there and accountable for the
pleasing effect I produced in general society.
But if it wasn't the wave that produced this effect, what could it
have been? My voice? Perhaps. My moustache? I doubt it. My teeth?
Possibly. See advertisements of tooth powders _passim_. You know how
it's done, in the before and after style. Before you use Dentoline you
apparently do not possess so much as a front tooth. After you have
used it once you are in possession of thirty-two regular and brilliant
white teeth, and it seems plain that no dentist will ever make his
fortune out of your mouth. All this, however, has nothing to do with
getting my hair cut. But it brings me to an analogous consideration.
When I tell my wife I am going to get my teeth attended to, does she
try to restrain me from the fatal deed? Not she. She urges me to it,
and leaves me no loophole for escape. She indulges in reminiscences
of herself and the children defying pain in the dentist's chair, and
heartens me with the statement that the instrument she likes best is
the one that goes _berr-r-r-r_ and makes you jump.
Let me now resume my commentary on hair-cutting. I wonder if I am
sufficiently chatty with my hair-cutter. Most men talk to their
hair-cutter all the time. They discuss politics and revolutions and
Britain's unconquerable might, while I, having made a blundering start
with the weather, am brought up with a round turn on the Bolsheviks
and President WILSON'S manner of dealing with the situation. I cannot
lay bare my inmost thoughts about the League of Nations while someone
is running a miniature mowing-machine along the back of my neck ...
At this moment my wife entered the room.
"My dear," I said, "I am going to get my hair cut."
She gave me one mind-piercing look and said, "It's time you did. I've
been noticing it for the last day or two."
Nothing, you see, about convicts. Isn't that like a woman, never to
say the thing you expect her to say? It's taken all the pleasure out
of my visit to the barber. In fact I don't think I shall go at all.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE ENFRANCHISEMENT OF WOMAN.
_First Voter_. "SO MR. JONES HAS BEEN ELECTED. YOU VOTED FOR HIM, OF
_Second Voter_. "NO, I VOTED FOR THE OTHER MAN. YOU SEE, MR. JONES
SUPPORTED WOMAN'S SUFFRAGE, WHICH I ABHOR."]
* * * * *
_(BY MR. PUNCH'S STAFF OF LEARNED CLERICS.)_
_Secrets of the Bosphorus_ (HUTCHINSON) is one of the happily large
number of books to which time and tardy-footed justice have now added
an unwritten chapter that makes amends for all. But for the glories
of the last few months I think I could hardly have borne to read many
of these "revelations" of Mr. HENRY MORGENTHAU, sometime American
Ambassador to Turkey. They make strange and often tragic reading. One
of them is already famous: the disclosure of the narrow margin by
which the attack of the Allied fleets upon the Dardanelles came short
of victory. For that, with all its ghastly sequence of misadventure,
no happy end can quite compensate. But one may read more pleasantly
now of the Prussian Baron WANGENHEIM, sitting the day long on a bench
before his official residence to exult publicly in what looked like
the triumphal march to Paris. Mr. MORGENTHAU has many other matters
of interest in his note-book, a large part of which is occupied by the
story, almost incredible even in an age of horrors, of the planned
slaughter by the Turkish rulers, with Germany as accessory before and
after the act, of "at least 600,000 and perhaps as many as 1,000,000"
Armenians. He rightly calls this murder of a nation probably the
blackest deed in all the foul record of the war, in which (at the
precise moment of its execution) the same people who now protest
against the severity of our terms were taking a horrible and ruthless
joy. The reminder is apt.
* * * * *
Much of the pleasure that I have just enjoyed over Mr. ARTHUR SYMONS'
essays of travel in _Cities and Sea Coasts and Islands_ (COLLINS)
belongs to the wistful joy of recollection: remembered loveliness in
the beautiful places of which he writes so vividly, remembered peace
of the quiet unpreoccupied days in which they were written. The
book is made up of three groups, studies of Spain, of London and of
certain coasts, chiefly Cornish. For several reasons I found the last
interested me most. There is entertainment in watching Mr. SYMONS,
so essentially a dweller in cities, discovering the open air like
an explorer. You know already his mastery of delicate and sensitive
words; many of these pages catch with exquisite skill the subtle charm
of the country between land and wave, as it would present itself to a
receptive summer visitor rather than the returned native. Mr. SYMONS'
similes are essentially urban; the sea (to take an example at random)
has for him "something of the colour of absinthe." In fine, though he
can and does get into his pages much of the exhilaration of a tramp
over heathery cliffs "smelling of honey and sea wind," one retains
throughout a not unpleasing consciousness of Paddington. I have left
myself too little space to deal adequately with other papers, among
which I was delighted to find again that called "Dieppe 1895," long
remembered from _The Savoy_ (though here, of course, lacking the
interpretation of the BEARDSLEY drawings). Certainly a book to read
at leisure and to keep "for further reference," perhaps in a future
when travel studies may again become of more than merely sentimental
* * * * *
Sir ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, on the strength of _Danger! and Other Stories_
(MURRAY), may claim a place among the prophets who were not accepted
by their own country. "Danger!"--written some eighteen months before
the outbreak of war--foretells the horrors of the unrestricted use of
the submarine. In those days Sir ARTHUR could get no one to listen to
him, because "in some unfortunate way subjects of national welfare are
in this country continually subordinated to party politics." Possibly
now that we have been taught by painful experience all we want to know
about U-boat warfare, excitement in this tale is rather to seek, but
it remains a most successful prophecy. In the last story of the book
we have the author in his very worst form. "Three of Them" is a study
of children, and the only excuse I can find for it is that it must
be intended as a sop to the sentimentalists. Of the others my first
vote goes to "The Surgeon of Gaster Fell," and my second to "The
Prisoner's' Defence;" but if you are susceptible to Sir ARTHUR'S
sense of fun I can also recommend "The Fall of Lord Barrymore" and
"One Crowded Hour." Not a great collection, but just good enough.
* * * * *
Mr. ROMER WILSON has devoted the nearly three hundred pages of his
_Martin Schuler_ (METHUEN) to describing what it feels like to be a
genius, and, speaking from a very limited knowledge of this class, I
should say that he had mapped the mind of a genius of a certain sort
very well. His estimate of the creative artist's anguish of emptiness
rings true, and will, perhaps surprise the people who think that his
lot, like a policeman's, is a very happy one. His _Martin_, who struck
me as a very unpleasant young man, was a composer who meant to achieve
immortality, but turned down the broad way of musical comedy and
acquired money instead. Just in time he repented and wrote a grand
opera, and then Mr. WILSON cut short his career in a fashion that
seemed to me regrettably hackneyed, which was the only reason why I
shared the other characters' sorrow. Why so many people, all rather
nasty people too, came to devote themselves to _Martin_ I could not
discover, although I had the publisher's word for it that he was
"attractive"; but perhaps his genius accounted for it. Probably it
is my duty to declare here that _Martin_ and his friends were almost
all made in Germany before the War, but as they are exceptionally
disagreeable and quite unlikely to inspire anyone with an unjust
tenderness for their nation I have no hesitation in recommending the
book as a clever study of temperament and a just picture of a part
of the German musical world as it was when one last knew anything
* * * * *
It is all a matter of taste, of course, but personally I don't
envy Mr. J.G. LEGGE his self-imposed task of convicting the Hun out
of his own mouth of--well, of being a Hun. Germans they were and
Germans they remain, and the author goes to great lengths, even to
the length of 572 pages, to show that their peculiar qualities date
back at least as far as 1813. His _Rhyme and Revolution in Germany_
(CONSTABLE) is not so much a history of the scrambling undignified
revolutionary movements culminating in the year 1848, as a collection
of contemporary comment thereon, in prose and verse. The prose is
generally bad; the verse is generally very bad; and one turns with
relief to the author's connecting links, wishing only at times that
he would not worry about proving his point quite so thoroughly. The
bombast and the bullying, the self-pity and the cruelty, and, most of
all, the instinctive claim, typical of Germany to-day, to prescribe
one law for themselves but something quite different for the rest
of the world, run through all these quotations, even the earliest.
But the particular value of this book at the moment is its reminder
that twice already has the House of Hohenzollern humbly pledged its
All-Highest word to give constitutional government, only to resume
"divine right" at the earliest convenient moment. Ruling Germany, and
as much else as possible, with a view to the glorification of one's
personal family and one's personal God, must be an exhausting labour,
and once again the head of the dynasty is afforded an opportunity
for a respite. It is a temptation which one feels sure he will find
himself strong enough to resist if occasion serves. History and Mr.
LEGGE suggest that he will be willing--even enthusiastic--to grovel
in the dust to assist that occasion.
* * * * *
Mr. SPENCER LEIGH HUGHES is a brilliant and distinguished member of
the great brotherhood of the Press; he is also a Member of Parliament
and has devoted himself heart and soul to the propagation of his
principles on the platform. He has therefore, save in respect of great
age (he is barely sixty), every right to compile and publish a book
with the title, _Press, Platform and Parliament_ (NISBET). It is one
of the most genuinely good-tempered books I have ever read; but that
was to be expected from the author of the column signed "_Sub Rosa_,"
who had in this course of desultory writing made innumerable friends
and never lost one; and, more pleasing sport than that, had brought
two people together through a matrimonial agency conducted by W.T.
STEAD, and had met the pair many years after, to find that they were
perfectly and unexpectedly happy.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Dealer (trying to sell horse to Government Buyer)_.
"THAT 'ORSE, SIR, 'AS GONE A MILE IN A GOOD DEAL LESS THAN THREE
_Government Buyer_. "ON WHAT RAILWAY?"]
* * * * *
"noticed in the Editorial pages of '----&----' (see Book Reviews),
or listed in its advertising columns, may be obtained post free
from the offices, at the marked prices, plus postage."--_Trade
We felt sure there was a catch somewhere.