Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 159, December 8, 1920 by Various
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PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
December 8, 1920
LORD RIDDELL, in giving his impression of President WILSON, says that his trousers and boots were not in keeping with the smartness of his appearance above the table. This is where the trained habits of journalistic observation come in.
* * *
In answer to many inquiries we are unable to obtain confirmation of a rumour that Mr. CHARLIE CHAPLIN'S contemplated retirement is connected with an invitation from Mr. HORATIO BOTTOMLEY to enter the arena of British politics.
* * *
According to an evening paper the lady who has just become Duchess of Westminster has "one son, a boy." On the other hand the DUKE himself has two daughters, both girls.
* * *
Over two million Chinese pigtails have been imported into the United States, where they will be used for straining soup, declares a Washington correspondent. The wartime curtailment of the moustache, it appears, has done away with the old custom of straining the soup after it comes to table.
* * *
A police magistrate of Louisville, Kentucky, has been called upon to decide whether a man may marry his divorced wife's mother. In our view the real question is whether, with a view to securing the sanctity of the marriage tie, it should not be made compulsory.
* * *
"This morning," says a recent issue of a Dublin paper, "police visited _Young Ireland_ office and placed arretssssshrrr rr rr r h bfad mb shs under arrest." Suspicion was apparently aroused by his giving his name in the Erse tongue.
* * *
Enormous damage, says a cable, has been done by a water-spout which struck Tangier, Morocco, on Saturday. We note with satisfaction, on the other hand, that the water-spout which recently struck Scotland had no ill effects.
* * *
Every hotel in London taken over by the Government has now been given up. The idea of keeping one as a memento was suggested, but Sir ALFRED MOND decided to throw in his hand.
* * *
Asked his profession last week a man is reported to have answered, "_Daily Mail_ Reader."
* * *
While a fire was being extinguished at Boston, Mass., recently the hose burst into flames. A country where that sort of thing occurs can afford to take Prohibition lying down.
* * *
A Constantinople message states that a Turk named ZORN MEHMED is one hundred and forty-six years of age. This is said to be due to the fact that for the last century or so he has kept a pet thyroid which he takes about on a chain.
* * *
We have no wish to cast any reflection on the courage of the Prohibitionists, but we can draw our own conclusions from the fact that we haven't noticed them rushing to Ireland.
* * *
A Denver newspaper points out that the "Wild West bandit" has died out. Our own impression was that he had got a job as a waiter in London.
* * *
Things are settling down in America. A news report states that WILLARD MACK, the actor, has only been divorced three times.
* * *
"We have an innate modesty about advertising ourselves," said Sir ROBERT HORNE at the International Advertising Exhibition. A certain colleague of his in the Ministry is reported to have said that Sir ROBERT can speak for himself in future.
* * *
We understand that the idea of producing a filmed version of Mrs. ASQUITH'S Diary has been shelved for the present, owing to the difficulty of procuring actors for the more dangerously acrobatic incidents.
* * *
An old lady writes to us with reference to wild-cat taxation that she has always advocated it, but that she has understood that the difficulty was to determine the ownership of these unfortunate vagrants.
* * *
The new houses when ready, says a North of England Town Clerk, will only be let to those people who are married. We have felt all along that there was some catch about Dr. ADDISON'S housing scheme.
* * *
To a discreditable alien source has been traced the scandalous rumour that the disappearance of the summit of Mont Blanc is due to certain admirers of Mr. LLOYD GEORGE, who wished to present their hero with something in the nature of a permanent peroration.
* * *
As a partial remedy for the overcrowding at Oxford, it is suggested that the University should come into line with Battersea by making a rule that lost causes will not be kept longer than three days before being destroyed.
* * *
"I was the anonymous person who walked down Harley Street and counted the number of open windows," confesses Sir ST. CLAIR THOMSON, M.D. So now we can concentrate on JUNIUS and the Man in the Iron Mask.
* * * Motorists are becoming much more polite, we read. They now catch pedestrians sideways, instead of full on.
* * *
According to an official of the R.S.P.C.A., as _Punch_ informed us last week, dogs do not possess suicidal tendencies. Yet the other day we saw an over-fed poodle deliberately loitering outside a sausage factory.
* * *
"The number of curates who seem to be able to find plenty of time for golf is most surprising," writes a correspondent. We suppose the majority of them employ vicars.
* * *
Spanish toreadors are on strike for a higher wage. There is talk, we understand, of a six bull week.
* * * * *
[Illustration: "WHAT IS YOUR LITTLE BROTHER CRYING ABOUT?" "OH, 'IM--'E'S A REG'LAR PESSIMIST, 'E IS."]
* * * * *
THE DARK AGES.
(_Being reflections on the pre-press period._)
[In _The Times_ of December 2nd Lord NORTHCLIFFE traces the history of the English Press from the appearance of the first newspaper uttered in English--"A Corrant out of Germany," imprinted at Amsterdam, December 2nd, 1620--and finds some difficulty in understanding how civilisation got on as well as it did through all those preceding centuries.]
To-day (December 2) we keep, with cheers, The Tercentenary of the Press! Probing the darkness of the previous years I try, but try in vain, to guess How anybody lived before the birth Of this the Very Greatest Thing on Earth.
You'd say it must have been a savage life. Men were content to eat and drink And spend the intervals in carnal strife With none to teach them how to think; They had no Vision and their minds were dense, Largely for lack of True "Intelligence."
When a volcano burst or floods occurred No correspondent flashed the news; It came by rumour or a little bird, Devoid of editorial views; No leader let them know to what extent The blame should lie upon the Government.
And yet, when no one knew in those dumb days Exactly what was going on, Without reporters they contrived to raise The Pyramids and Parthenon; CONFUCIUS preached the Truth, and so did PAUL, Though neither of them got in print at all.
It sounds incredible that, when in Greece The poets sang to lyre or pipe, When HOMER (say) threw off his little piece, Nobody put the thing in type; Even in days less barbarously rude VIRGIL, it seems, was never interviewed.
And how did DANTE manage to indite His admirable tale of Hell, Or BUONARROTI sculp his sombre "Night" Without the kodak's magic spell-- No Press-photographer, a dream of tact, To snap the artist in the very act?
Poor primitives, who groped amid the gloom And perished ere the dawn of day, Ere yet Publicity, with piercing boom, Had shown the world a better way; Before the age--so good for him that climbs-- Now culminating in the NORTHCLIFFE times.
* * * * *
How to Brighten the Weather Forecasts.
"Mild and hazy conditions with increasing haze and cloudiness for an unfavourable change in the weather of heliotrope georgette over pale blue."--_New Zealand Paper._
We commend this to our own Meteorological Office.
* * * * *
Of the Bishop-designate of Manchester:--
"Head master of an important public school while yet in his teens ... a permanent figure in social and religious movements ... the author of 'Men's Creatrix.'"--_Provincial Paper._
We knew Canon TEMPLE had had a remarkable career, but confess that these details had hitherto escaped us.
* * * * *
OUR LUCKY DIPPERS.
Further and final particulars of the drawings from the Lucky Bag at the Purple City are replete with illustrations of the extraordinary congruity between the prizes and the age, sex and station of the recipients.
Mrs. Sarah Boakes, who received the colossal equestrian bronze statue of Lord THANET, weighing three hundred tons and valued at five thousand guineas, told our representative that the idea of getting one of the big prizes never entered into her head, and added, "I did not sleep a wink last night; the statue was in my mind the whole time." Mrs. Boakes, an attractive elderly lady of some seventy-five summers, is engaged at a laundry at East Putney. The haulage of the statue to her home at 129, Arabella Road, S.W. 15, is likely to be a costly affair; but Mrs. Boakes has made an application for a grant-in-aid to the Ministry of Health and has received a sympathetic reply from Dr. ADDISON. The cost of reconstructing her house to enable the statue to be set up in her parlour is estimated at about £4,500.
Mr. Jolyon Forsyth, who won the African elephant, is a stoker on the South Western Railway and lives at Worplesdon. He applied to the Company for a day's leave in order to ride his prize home; but his request was most unwarrantably refused, and the matter is receiving the earnest attention of the N.U.R. Mr. Forsyth informed our representative that his wife keeps a small poultry run, and hopes that she will be able to make room for the new visitor without seriously incommoding her fowls. Failing that, he thinks that employment may be found for the elephant on the Worplesdon Links, either in rolling the greens or irrigating them with its trunk. The claims of the animal to an unemployment allowance are being considered by Dr. MACNAMARA.
Gladys Gilkes, a bright-eyed child of six, living with her parents at 345, Beaverbrook Avenue, Harringay, who received a Sandringham opera-hat, is enduring her felicity with fortitude. "I have never been to the opera yet," she naïvely remarked to our representative, "but my brother Bert plays beautifully on the concertina."
Great interest has been excited in the neighbourhood of Tulse Hill by the success of Mr. Enoch Pegler, the winner of the three-manual electric cathedral organ with sixty-four stops, the most sonorous instrument of its type yet constructed by Messrs. Waghorn and Fogg, the famous organ-builders of Penge. A special piquancy is lent to the episode by the fact that Mr. Pegler, who is seventy-nine years of age and has long been a martyr to rheumatoid arthritis in both hands, belongs to the sect of the Silentiary Tolstoyans, who discountenance all music, whether sacred or profane. Mr. Pegler, it should be explained, authorised his grandniece, Miss Hester Wigglesworth, to put in for the Lucky Bag in his name, but, on the advice of the family physician, Dr. Parry Gorwick, the result has not yet been broken to him. Meanwhile, thanks to the tactful intervention of Sir ERIC GEDDES, the instrument has been temporarily housed in the Zoological Gardens, where daily recitals are given at meal-times by Dr. CHALMERS MITCHELL and other powerful executants. Unfortunately the organ was not yet installed at the time of the recent encounter between a lion and a tigress, otherwise the fatality would, in the opinion of Sir FREDERICK BRIDGE, have almost certainly been avoided.
* * * * *
When that my Judith sticks her slender nose In things whereon a lass doth ill to trench, An ever-widening breach my fancy shows, For this is but the thin end of the wench.
* * * * *
[Illustration: LABOR OMNIA VINCIT.
"TURN HIM TO ANY CAUSE OF POLICY, THE GORDIAN KNOT OF IT HE WILL UNLOOSE, FAMILIAR AS HIS GARTER."
_HENRY V._, I. i. 46.]
[Illustration: _The Girl._ "I DON'T THINK YOUR FRIEND CAN BE MUCH CLASS."
_The Boy._ "WHY? WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HIM?"
_The Girl_ "WELL, WHEN I INTRODUCED HIM TO MY FRIEND, SHE, OF COURSE, SAID, 'PLEASED TO MEET YOU,' AND HE SAID, 'GRANTED.'"]
I cannot help it, but this article has got to begin with a short historical disquisition. Many people are puzzled to know why Lord HUGH CECIL wears that worried look, and why Lord ROBERT also looks so sad. Yet the explanation is simple enough. It is because nobody can pronounce their surname. "Cessil," says the man in the street (and being in a street is a thing that may happen to anybody) as he sees the gaunt careworn figures going by. And when they hear it the sensitive ear of the CECILS is wrung with torture at the sound. They wince. They would like to buttonhole the man in the street and explain to him, like the _Ancient Mariner_, all about David Cyssell, the founder of their line. David Cyssell, it seems, though he didn't quite catch the Norman Conquest and missed the Crusades, and was a little bit late for the Wars of the Roses, was nicely in time to get a place in the train of HENRY VIII., which was quite early enough for a young man who firmly intended to be an ancestor. When he died his last words were, "Rule England, my boys, but never never, never let the people call you 'Cessil,'" and his sons obeyed him dutifully by becoming Earls and Marquises and all that kind of thing, so that the trouble did not arise.
But, of course, if you don't happen to be the eldest son, the danger is still there. And it is this danger which has led Lord HUGH CECIL to withdraw himself more and more into the company of ecclesiastical dignitaries, who are accustomed to pronounce quite hard words, like _chrysoprasus_ and _Abednego_ without turning a hair, if they have one, and Lord ROBERT CECIL to confine his attention to the League of Nations, where all the people are foreigners and much too ignorant to pronounce any English name at all.
Personally I hold that, if it were not for this trouble about hearing their name said all wrong by people on omnibuses and even shouted all wrong by newspaper sellers, one of the CECILS might become Prime Minister some day. As it is they wear a look of sorrowful martyrdom, as if they were perfectly ready for the nearest stake; and this look, combined with their peculiar surname, has caused them to be not in-aptly known as _The Sizzles_. How very much better would it have been, my dear reader, if their great ancestor had been simply called "David," so that they could have had a sunny smile and not so many convictions.
It is customary in speaking of the Sizzles to include some mention of their more famous relative, Mr. ARTHUR BALFOUR. Very well, then.
_Mr. ARTHUR BALFOUR._
Born in 1873 the future Vice-President of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, Master Cutler and Chairman of the High-Speed Alloys Company, Limited, Widnes----
[_Editor._ What the deuce are you talking about?
_Author._ I like that. It comes straight out of _What's Which?_
_Editor._ Well, you must have got the wrong page.
_Author._ Why, you don't mean to say there are two ARTHUR BALFOURS, do you?
_Editor._ I do.
_Author._ Aren't you thinking of the two WINSTON CHURCHILLS?
_Editor._ No, I'm not.
_Author._ Well, perhaps I'd better begin again.
_Mr. ARTHUR BALFOUR._
Born, as one might say, with a silver niblick in his mouth and possessed of phenomenal intellectual attainments, Mr. ARTHUR BALFOUR (the one on the other page) was not long in settling down to his main life-work, which has been the laying out of University golf curricula.
[Is that better?--_Editor._ Much.]
In spite of this preoccupation he has found time for a remarkable number of hobbies, such as politics, music and the study of refrigerating machines, though the effect of all these various activities is sometimes a little confusing for those with whom he works. When consulted on a burning topic of the hour he may, for instance, be on the point of inventing a new type of ice-bucket, so that the interviewer is forced to go out quickly and fetch his fur overcoat before he can talk in comfort. Or he may be playing, like _Sherlock Holmes_, on his violin, and say, "Just wait till I've finished this sonata." And by the time it's finished the bother about Persia or Free Trade is quite forgotten. Or, again, Mr. BALFOUR may be closeted with Professor VARDON, Doctor RAY or Vice-Chancellor MITCHELL at the very moment when the Nicaraguan envoy is clamouring at the door.
It is for this reason that Mr. ARTHUR BALFOUR has sometimes been called Mr. Arthur Baffler. Puzzling, however, though he may be in many of his political manifestations, his writings are like a beacon in the gloom, and some day these simple chatty little booklets will surely gain the wide public which they deserve. "The Foundation of Bunkers," "A Defence of Philosophic Divots" and "Wood-wind and Brassies" should be read by all who are interested in _belles lettres_. And his latest volume of essays deals, I believe, with subjects so widely diverse and yet so enthralling as "Booty and the Criticism of Booty," "Trotsky's View of Russian World Policy," "Quizzical Research" and "The Freedom of the Tees."
The real pity is that with all his many and wonderful gifts Mr. ARTHUR BALFOUR has never felt the fiery enthusiasm of his Hatfield cousins. He remains, in fact, a salamander among the Sizzles.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Retired Dealer in Pork._ "HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT FOR IT?"
_Artist._ "FIFTY POUNDS."
_Retired Dealer._ "RIGHT-O. NOW COULD YOU DO ONE OF ME IN A RECLINING POSITION, TO MATCH?"]
* * * * *
[A writer in _The Athenæum_, discussing modern songs, observes that in the happy days of the eighteenth century "even the vulgar could not achieve vulgarity; to-day vulgarity is in the air, and only the strongest and most fastidious escape its taint." The accompanying lines are submitted as a modest protest against this sadly undemocratic and obscurantist doctrine.]
In days of old, when writers bold Betrayed the least disparity Between their genius and an age When frankness was a rarity, An odious word was often heard From critics void of charity, Simplicity or clarity, Or vision or hilarity, Who used to slate or deprecate The vices of vulgarity.
But now disdain is wholly slain By wide familiarity Which links the unit with his age In massive solidarity; No more the word is used or heard, No, no, we call it charity, Simplicity or clarity, Or vision or hilarity, But never slate or deprecate The virtues of vulgarity.
* * * * *
=An Object Lesson.=
"Nothing is so suggestive of a faulty education than a lack of grammar."--_Fiji Paper._
"The Vicar was born in Ireland, and lived there many years, and the problems of the Irish are no difficulty to him."
_New Zealand Paper._
That's the man we want over here.
* * * * *
=PRISCILLA PLAYS FAIRIES.=
Unrehearsed dramatic dialogue comes quite easily to some people, and so does a knowledge of the ways of the fairy world, but I am not one of those people. Also I was supposed to have a headache that afternoon and to be recovering from a severe cold. Also I was reading a very exciting book. I cannot help thinking therefore that the fairy Bluebell was taking a mean advantage of my numerous disabilities in appearing at all. She rattled the handle of the door a long time, and when I had opened it came in by a series of little skips on her toes, accompanied by wagglings of the arms rather in the fashion of a penguin. Every now and then she gave a slightly higher jump and descended flatly and rather noisily on her feet. She wore a new frock, with frills.
_I._ What are you doing, Priscilla?
_She._ I'm the Fairy Bluebell dancing. Don't you like my dancing?
_I._ It's beautiful.
_She_ (_rapidly_). And you were a very poor old man who had a lot of nasty work to do and you were asleep.
_I_ (_feeling it might have been much worse and composing myself to slumber in my chair_). Honk!
_She_ (_pinching my ear and pulling it very hard_). And you woke up and said, "I do believe there's a dear little fairy dancing."
_I_ (_emerging from repose_). Why, I do believe I heard a fairy dancing, or (_vindictively_) can it have been another ton of coal coming in?
_She_ (_disregarding my malice_). And you said, "Alack, alack! I do want somefing to eat."
_I._ Alack, alack! I _am_ so hungry.
_She_ (_fetching a large cushion from the sofa and putting it on the top of me_). Lumpetty, lumpetty, lumpetty.
_I._ What's that, Priscilla?
_She._ Bitatoes pouring out of a sack. (_Fetches another cushion and puts it on the top of the first._) Lumpetty, lumpetty, lumpetty.
_I._ And this?
_She_ (_opening her eyes very wide_). Red plums. (_Fetches another cushion._) Limpetty, limpetty, limpetty.
_I._ What's that?
_She._ Lovely honey.
_I_ (_affecting to simulate the natural gratification of a poor old man suddenly smothered in vegetables, fruit and liquid preserve_). How perfectly delicious!
_She._ And you want to go to sleep again. [_I go._
_She_ (_pulling my ear again_). And you sawed a dragon coming up the drive, and the sofa was the dragon.
_I._ Alack, alack! I see a dragon coming up the drive. What shall I do? I must telephone to the police.
_She_ (_quickly_). Did the police have a tuncheon?
_I._ Yes, he did.
_She._ Shall I be the police?
_I_ (_cautiously, because a "tuncheon" necessitates making a long paper roll out of "The Times"_). I am afraid the telephone had broken down, so the police didn't hear. How I wish the Fairy Bluebell was about!
_She._ And so the Fairy Bluebell came and cut off the dragon's head and gave it to you.
[_Fetches a fourth large cushion and adds it to the pile._
_I._ But why should I have the dragon's head?
_She_ (_enigmatically_). You had to have it.
[_The poor old man resigns himself to his increasingly glutinous fate._
_She_ (_fetching a waste-paper basket and returning to the sofa_). Limpetty, limpetty, limpetty.
_I_ (_faint but inquisitive_). Whatever are you doing now, Priscilla?
_She._ Poisoning the dragon's body.
_I._ Poisoning it?
_She._ Yes, wiv a can.
_She._ Down its neck.
_I_ (_feeling that the immediate peril from the dragon's assault is now practically over and wishing to return the fairy's kindness_). Shall we pretend that the sofa is where the Fairy Bluebell lived, and I built her a little home with flowers, and these cushions were the flowers, and (_rather basely_) she went to sleep in it?
_She_ (_with sparkling eyes_). Yes, yes.
[_I remove the potatoes, the plums, the honey and the head of the dragon and manufacture a grotto in which the Fairy Bluebell reclines with closed eyes. It appears to be a suitable moment for returning to my book._
_She._ And suddenly the Fairy Bluebell woke up, and what do you think she wanted?
_I_ (_disillusioned_). I can't think.
_She._ She wanted to be readen to.
_I_ (_resignedly_). And what did I do?
_She._ You said, "I'll read about Tom and the otter."
_I_ (_hopefully_). I don't know where it is.
_She._ I think it's in the dining-room, and the Fairy Bluebell couldn't get it herself because she was only a _little_ girl really.
As I say, there are a lot of people, and many of them, doubtless, readers of this paper, who understand all about fairies. I want to ask them, as one poor old hard-worked man to another, whether this is the proper way for a fairy to behave. There seems to be a lack of delicacy--and shall I say shyness?--about it.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Mrs. McNicol._ "FOUND A POUN' NOTE IN THE STREET, DONAL'? THAT'S GUID!"
_Her Husband (sadly.)_ "AY, BUT MCTAVISH SAW ME PICK IT UP, AN' I OWE HIM TWENTY-TWO AN' SAXPENCE."]
* * * * *
=Our Tactful Orators.=
"At the close they asked President ----, who was in the chair, to present a very handsome umbrella to Mr. ----.
In a few well-chosen words the Chairman said he trusted that Mr. ----, while journeying through life, would be successful in warding off many a shower with his umbrella, but they all hoped they would be showers of goodwill."--_Trade Paper._
* * * * *
"This is great fun and mystifies your friends. Buy a few and you will be the cleverest fellow in your district.
Our leaders are 'Stink Bomb' (make bad smell when broken). Re. 1 a box.
'Sneeze Powder' (makes everybody sneeze when blown in the air) Re. 1 a bottle."
_Advt. in Indian Paper._
Who says the East has no sense of humour?
* * * * *
[Illustration: THROUGH THE GOAL-POSTS; OR, THE END OF A PERFECT SCRUM.]
* * * * *
=THE WHITE SPAT.=
When it is remembered how large a part has been played in history by revolutionary and political songs it is both lamentable and strange that at the present time only one of the numerous political faiths has a hymn of its own--"The Red Flag." The author of the words owes a good deal, I should say, to the author of "Rule Britannia," though I am inclined to think he has gone one better. The tune is that gentle old tune which we used to know as "Maryland," and by itself it rather suggests a number of tired sheep waiting to go through a gate than a lot of people thinking very redly. I fancy the author realised this, and he has got over it by putting in some good powerful words like "scarlet," "traitors," "flinch" and "dungeon," whenever the tune is particularly sheepish. The effect is effective. Just imagine if the Middle Classes Union could march down the middle of the Strand singing that fine chorus:--
"Then raise the scarlet standard high, Beneath its shade we'll live and die; Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer We'll keep the Red Flag flying here."
Well, I have set myself to supply some of the other parties with songs, and I have begun with "The White Spat," which is to be the party-hymn of the High Tories (if any). I have written it to the same tune as "The Red Flag," because, when the lion finally does lie down with the lamb, it will be much more convenient if they can bleat and roar in the same metre, and I shall hope to hear Mr. ROBERT WILLIAMS and Lord ROBERT CECIL singing these two songs at once one day. I am not wholly satisfied with "The White Spat," but I think I have caught the true spirit, or, at any rate, the proper inconsequence of these things:--
THE WHITE SPAT
The spats we wear are pure as snow-- We are so careful where we go; We don't go near the vulgar bus Because it always splashes us.
_Chorus._ We take the road with trustful hearts, Avoiding all the messy parts; However dirty you may get We'll keep the White Spat spotless yet.
At night there shines a special star To show us where the puddles are; The crossing-sweeper sweeps the floor-- That's what the crossing-sweeper's for.
_Chorus._ Then take the road, etc., etc.
I know it doesn't look much, just written down on paper; but you try singing it and you'll find you're carried away.
Of course there ought to be an international verse, but I'm afraid I can't compete with the one in my model:--
"Look round: the Frenchman loves its blaze, The sturdy German chants its praise; In Moscow's vaults its hymns are sung; Chicago swells the surging throng."
This is the best I can do:--
From Russia's snows to Afric's sun The race of spatriots is one; One faith unites their alien blood-- "There's nothing to be said for mud."
Now we have the song of the Wee Frees. I wanted this to be rather pathetic, but I'm not sure that I haven't overdone it. The symbolism, though, is well-nigh perfect, and, after all, the symbolism is the chief thing. This goes to the tune of "Annie Laurie":--
THE OLD BLACK BROLLY.
Under the Old Umbrella, Beneath the leaking gamp, Wrapped up in woolly phrases We battle with the damp. Come, gather round the gamp! Observe, it is pre-war; And beneath the old Black Brolly There's room for several more.
Shameless calumniators Calumniate like mad; Detractors keep detracting; It really is too bad; It really is too bad. To show we're not quite dead, We wave the old Black Brolly And hit them on the head.
Then we have the National Party. I am rather vague about the National Party, but I know they are frightfully military, and they keep on having Mass Rallies in Kensington--complete with drums, I expect. Where all the masses come from I don't quite know, as a prolonged search has failed to reveal anyone who knows anyone who is actually a member of the party. Everybody tells me, though, that there is at least one Brigadier-General (Tempy.) mixed up with it, if not two, and at least one Lord, though possibly one of the Brigadiers is the same as the Lord; but after all they represent the Nation, so they ought to have a song. They have nothing but "Rule Britannia" now, I suppose.
Their song goes to the tune of "The British Grenadiers." I have written it as a duet, but no doubt other parts could be added if the occasion should ever arise.
Air--_The British Grenadiers._
Some talk of Coalitions, Of Tories and all that; They are but cheap editions Of the one and only Nat.; Our Party has no equals, Though of course it has its peers, With a tow, row, row, row, row, row, For the British Brigadiers.
You have no idea how difficult it is to write down the right number of _rows_ first time; however I daresay the General wouldn't mind a few extra ones.
We represent the Nation As no one else can do; Without exaggeration Our membership is two. We rally in our masses And give three hearty cheers, With a tow, row, row, row, row, row For the National Brigadiers.
There could be a great deal more of that, but perhaps you have had enough.
Of course, if you don't think the poetry of my songs is good enough, I shall just have to quote some of "The International" words to show you that it's the _tune_ that matters.
Here you are:--
"Arise! ye starvelings from your slumbers, Arise! ye criminals of want, For reason in revolt now thunders, And at last ends the age of cant."
If people can get excited singing that, my songs would send them crazy.
Then there is the Coalition. I have had a good deal of difficulty about this, but I think that at last I have hit the right note; all my first efforts were too dignified. This goes to a darkie tune:--
THE PIEBALD MARE.
Down-town darkies all declare, Doo-dah, doo-dah, There never was a hoss like the piebald mare, Doo-dah, doo-dah day! One half dark and the other half pale, Doo-dah, doo-dah, Two fat heads and a great big tail, Doo-dah, doo-dah day!
_Chorus._ Gwine to run all night, Gwine to run all day! I put my money on the piebald mare Because she run both way.
Little old DAVE he ride dat hoss, Doo-dah, doo-dah, Where'll she be if he takes a toss? Doo-dah, doo-dah day! De people try to push him off, Doo-dah, doo-dah, De more dey push de more he scoff, Doo-dah, doo-dah day!
_Chorus._ Gwine to run, &c.
Over the largest fence they bound, Doo-dah, doo-dah, Things exploding all around, Doo-dah, doo-dah day! One fine day dat hoss will burst, Doo-dah, doo-dah, But little old DAVE he'll _walk_ in first, Doo-dah, doo-dah day!
_Chorus._ Gwine to run, &c.
Once again, merely written down, the words do _not_ thrill, but I hope none of the parties will definitely reject these hymns till they have heard them actually sung; if necessary I will give a trial rendering myself.
The other day, when we were playing charades and had to act L, we did _Lloyd George and the Coalition_; and the people who were acting the Coalition sang the above song with really wonderful effect. It is true that the other side thought we were acting _Legion and the Gadarene Swine_, but that must have been because of something faulty in our make-up. The sound of this great anthem was sufficiently impressive to make one long to hear the real Coalition shouting it all along Downing Street. It is a solo with chorus, you understand, and the Coalition come in with a great roar of excitement and fervour on _Doo-dah! Doo-dah!_
Yes, I like that.
A. P. H.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Profiteer Host._ "WOT D'YER THINK OF MY OAKS?" _Profiteer Guest._ "BIT OF ALL RIGHT. WHERE D'YER GET 'EM?"]
* * * * *
"MORE THAN MILLION SALE. Waste! Waste! Waste!"
In mercy we suppress the title of our contemporary.
* * * * *
"The man in custody has been identified as the result of the efforts of the Birkenhead detective stag."--_Liverpool Paper._
A variation on the old-fashioned sleuth-hound.
* * * * *
From the report of a speech by Admiral Sir PERCY SCOTT:--
"He might say that when the Germans were demolarised at the Battle of Jutland ..."
This confirms our impression that, whatever happened at Jutland, we certainly drew the German Navy's teeth.
* * * * *
How did mankind get to all corners of the earth? and what is the cause of exploding suns? These are among the questions put by Professor A. W. BICKERTON, of the London Astronomical Society, and they would be solved, it seems, if our learned men would only band themselves together. I have no wish to hamper the good work, but a moment's reflection suggests a number of other questions simply asking to be answered.
For instance, what happens when an irresistible force meets Sir ERIC GEDDES?
And why is it that while we hear of thousands of people losing their umbrellas we have never yet heard of a single case where a man openly admitted that he had found one?
And is there any reason why the modern novel should not end happily, instead of the hero and heroine always marrying at the last moment.
And how does it happen that Thanet is the best holiday-place in this country and enjoys more sunshine than any other resort?
And could not _The Daily Mail_ extend the same sunshine privilege to other parts?
And what makes a music-hall audience laugh when a comedian changes his hat and mutters the mystic word, "Winston"?
And who is the gentleman referred to?
And why is it that nine-tenths of the coon-singers on the halls are always wanting to get back to their dear old homes? And who is stopping them in their noble desire? And is there any explanation why all these singers seem to have their homes in distant Alabam, where the roses keep on climbing round the door, just close to where the cotton and the corn are growing all the year round, only later in life to leave the dear old place to take up music-hall work here, and then spend the remainder of their lives telling us of their passionate determination to get away back to the old folks?
And would I be right in my surmise that very few homes in Wigan have roses round the door or stand in fields of growing cotton and corn or reek of new-mown hay?
And why is it that, when you tell a man there are so many million stars in the skies, he will believe you, but the moment he sees a notice on a gate bearing the words "Wet Paint" he puts his finger upon it just to find out for himself?
And why did Mrs. ASQUITH----But perhaps that will be enough for the Professor to be going on with.
* * * * *
"My Studio is the most up-to-date and my methods of photography just a little bit different."--_Canadian Paper._
* * * * * [Illustration: _Hostess._ "WHAT--GOING ALREADY? WHY, IT'S ONLY THREE O'CLOCK."
_Guest._ "I KNOW. BUT I'M DEAD TIRED, AND I'VE GOT TO BE UP EARLY FOR A '_DÉJEUNER DANSANT_.'"]
* * * * *
A NOTE ON THE DRAMA.
["_Hamlet_ was not a business man."--Mr. A. B. WALKLEY.]
Had he but learned the useful knowledge And that essential grasp of things Which training at a business college (If diligently followed) brings, We should have had, no doubt, A _Hamlet_ with the "moody" Dane left out.
He'd not have stalked in gloomy fashion Nor wanted to soliloquise, But rather, undisturbed by passion, He would have sat Napoleon-wise, Chewing an unlit weed And talking down the telephone (full speed).
Planning a "book" to suit his players, He would have sought a theme less grim, For tragedies are doubtful payers; Revue would be the stuff for him, Scanty in dress and plot, With dancers featuring the Hammy Trot.
He missed one glorious proposition-- The money would have come in stacks If he had shown the Apparition For half-a-crown (including tax), And, though 'twas after eight, Added a side-line trade in chocolate.
At other stunts we find him lacking; Thus, when he met _Laertes_, he Did not secure a proper backing Nor nominate the referee; And, what was even worse, Did no finessing for a bigger purse.
Had _Hamlet_ made it his endeavour To seize each chance of lawful gain, Certain it is that there would never Have been a doubt that he was sane; And then perhaps Act Five Had left some people--one or two--alive.
* * * * *
=Christmas and the Children.=
With the approach of a Festival that is dedicated to the joy of children, Mr. Punch makes bold to plead the cause of the less fortunate among them. The Queen's Hospital for Children, once known as the North-Eastern Hospital for Children, is the only one of its kind in this part of London and serves a poor district with a population of half-a-million. Its claim upon the generosity of more favoured Londoners is as strong as its lack of funds at the present moment is serious. It has one hundred-and-seventy beds, and during the last year has cared for eighteen hundred in-patients and sixty thousand out-patients. Mr. Punch is certain that, if the children of the West-end understood the suffering and needs of these other children of Bethnal Green, they would want to help them by forgoing some of their Christmas toys. Gifts should be addressed to the Secretary, T. GLENTON-KERR, Esq., Queen's Hospital for Children, Hackney Road, Bethnal Green, E.2.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE ROAD TO ECONOMY.
THE SHEPHERD. "I WONDER IF ANY OF YOU SHEEP COULD SHOW ME THE WAY."
("Let the Nation set the example [in economy] to the Government."--_Mr. LLOYD GEORGE._)]
* * * * *
=ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.=
_Monday, November 29th._--Some time ago Lord NEWTON was appointed Chairman of a Committee on Smoke Abatement. It took enough evidence to fill a Blue-book a couple of inches thick, and, at the request of the Government, furnished an interim report. Supposing, not unnaturally, that its valuable recommendations would be adopted in the Government's housing schemes the Committee was disgusted to find that, save for an emasculated summary in "a dismal journal called _Housing_," no notice was taken of its report. Lord NEWTON is not a man who can safely be invited to consume his own smoke, and he made indignant protest this afternoon. A soft answer from Lord SANDHURST, who assured him that the Government, far from being unmindful of the Committee's labours, had already equipped some thousands of houses with central heating, temporarily diverted his wrath.
Thanks to the Sinn Feiners, the Public Galleries of the House of Commons were closed. Thus deprived of all audience save themselves and the reporters the most loquacious Members were depressed. _Bombinantes in gurgite vasto_, their arguments sounded hollow even to themselves. With an obvious effort they tried to carry on what the SPEAKER described--and deprecated--as "the usual Monday fiscal debate." This time it turned upon the large imports from Russia in 1913. One side seemed to think that similar imports would be forthcoming to-day but for the obstructiveness of the British Government, while the other was confident that Russia had nothing to export save propaganda. The controversy was beginning to pall when by a happy inspiration Mr. RONALD MCNEILL, with mock solemnity, inquired if the last egg in Russia had not been eaten by a relation of the SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR.
[Illustration: "His conscience now quite clear."
SIR J. T. AGG-GARDNER.]
A long-standing Parliamentary tradition enjoins that the reply to any Question addressed to the CHAIRMAN OF THE KITCHEN COMMITTEE should be greeted with laughter. By virtue of his office he holds, as it were, the "pass-the-mustard" prerogative. Members laughed accordingly when he replied to a question relating to the number of ex-Service men employed by his Committee; but they laughed much more loudly when the hon. Member who put the original Question proceeded to inquire "if his conscience is now quite clear," and Sir J. T. AGG-GARDNER, looking as respectable as if he were _Mrs. Grundy's_ second husband, declared, hand on heart, that it was.
[Illustration: THE DEFENDER OF KUT--WITH ESCORT.
SIR CHARLES TOWNSHEND.]
The House gave a rather less stentorian welcome than might have been expected to Sir CHARLES TOWNSHEND, who was escorted up to the Table by Mr. BOTTOMLEY and Colonel CROFT. Perhaps it was afraid that cheers intended for the defender of Kut might be appropriated by the Editor of _John Bull_.
Encouraged, I suppose, by the emptiness of the Ladies' Gallery, it then proceeded with great freedom to discuss a proposal for the employment of women and young persons "in shifts."
[Illustration: THE FAT BOY OF DULWICH.
SIR FREDERICK HALL.]
_Tuesday, November 30th._--The EX-CROWN PRINCE OF PRUSSIA will be tremendously bucked when he reads the report of to-day's proceedings, and discovers that there is one person in the world who takes him seriously. Sir FREDERICK HALL has been much disturbed by the reports of Hohenzollern intrigues for a restoration, and begged the Government to send a protest to the Dutch Government. But the Fat Boy of Dulwich quite failed to make Mr. BONAR LAW'S flesh creep.
Mr. BALDWIN is the least perturbable of Ministers. Even when Major EDWARDS invited him to elucidate the phrase "a working knowledge of the Welsh language"--"Does it mean having an intimate acquaintance with the literary works of DAFYDD AP GWILYM or the forgeries of 'Iolo Morganwg'?"--he never turned a hair.
Modesty not having hitherto been regarded as one of Mr. CHURCHILL'S most salient characteristics I feel it my duty to record that, on being asked when he would introduce the Supplementary Army Estimates, he replied, "I am entirely in the hands of my superiors."
_Wednesday, December 1st._--That Hebrew should be one of the official languages of Palestine seems, on the face of it, not unreasonable. But, according to Lord TREOWEN, to compel the average Palestinian Jew, who speaks either Spanish or Yiddish, to use classical Hebrew, will be like obliging a user of pidgin English to adopt the language of ADDISON. He failed, however, to make any impression upon Lord CRAWFORD, who expressed the hope that the Government's action would help to purify the language. Sir HERBERT SAMUEL is determined, I gather, to make Palestine a country fit for rabbis to live in.
The Government of Ireland Bill had a very rough time in Committee. The LORD CHANCELLOR managed to ward off Lord MIDLETON's proposal to have one Parliament instead of two--"a blow at the heart of the Bill"--but was less successful when Lord ORANMORE AND BROWNE moved that the Southern Parliament should be furnished with a Senate. The Peers' natural sentiment in favour of Second Chambers triumphed, and the Government were defeated by a big majority.
The Office of Works has been lending a hand to local authorities in difficulties with their housing schemes. But when Sir ALFRED MOND brought up a Supplementary Estimate in respect of these transactions he met with a storm of indignation that surprised him. "The road to bankruptcy," "Nationalisation in the building trade," "Socialistic proposals"--these were some of the phrases that assailed his ears. Fortified, however, by the support of the Labour Party--Mr. MYERS declared that his action had been "the one bright spot in the whole of the housing policy"--Sir ALFRED challenged his critics to go and tell their constituents that they had voted to prevent houses being built, and got his Estimate through by 190 to 64.
_Thursday, December 2nd._--Thanks to the free-and-easy procedure of the House of Lords the Government began the day with a victory. Lord SHANDON had moved an amendment, to which the LORD CHANCELLOR objected. But he did not challenge a division when the question was put. Lord DONOUGHMORE, most expeditious of Chairmen, announced "the Contents have it," and the matter seemed over. But then the LORD CHANCELLOR woke up, and said he had meant to ask for a division. "All right," said the CHAIRMAN; "clear the Bar," and when the white-wanded tellers had counted their flocks it appeared that the Government had a majority of three.
I do not suppose anyone will say of Lord BIRKENHEAD, as a celebrated judge is reported to have said of one of his predecessors, "'Ere comes that 'oly 'umbug 'umming 'is 'orrid 'ymns;" but he is evidently a student of hymnology, for he referred to the Government victory as this "scanty triumph" and for a long time did not challenge any more divisions.
In the House of Commons an attack upon the new liquor regulations--"pieces of gross impertinence" according to Mr. MACQUISTEN--found no favour with the PRIME MINISTER. Mr. MCCURDY announced that he had reduced the price of wheat to the millers and hoped that "in a few weeks" the consumer might begin to receive the benefit. The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER excused the delay in publishing the Economy Committee's reports on the ground that the MINISTER OF MUNITIONS was "at sea," and elicited the inevitable gibe that he was not the only one. Sir ERIC GEDDES, with a judicious compliment to the motorists for setting "an extraordinary example of voluntary taxation," got a Second Reading for his Roads Bill; and Sir GORDON HEWART with some difficulty induced the House to accept his assurance that the Official Secrets Bill was meant for the discomfiture of spies and not the harassing of honest journalists.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Golfer._ "HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A WORSE PLAYER?" [No answer.] "I SAID, 'HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A WORSE PLAYER?'" _Aged Caddie._ "I HEERD YE VERRA WEEL THE FURRST TIME. I WAS JEST THENKIN' ABOOT IT."]
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Margaret_ (_not satisfied with the parental explanation of the recent disappearance of a pet rabbit_). "MUMMY, IS--IS _THIS_ GLADYS?"]
* * * * *
TO A CLERICAL GOLFING FRIEND.
Fine is your temper as your hand-forged iron! Even should you hack the ball from out the spherical, Or find it near the pin with lumps of mire on, Your language is not otherwise than clerical. Once only, when your toe received the niblick, The word I saw your lips frame was not biblic.
Upon the links as perfect in address As in the pulpit, just as you are seen In life to play according to the Book, So too, mid all the hazards of the green, You teach us by example not to press And how to shun the faults of slice and hook.
Treating the ball as if it had a soul, Imparting safe direction, you determine How best it may keep up its given _rôle_; Indeed your daily round's a model sermon.
So, till life's course is traversed, I'll await Your well-timed counsel. If I have you by me I'll laugh at all the baffling strokes of Fate And lay the bogie of Despair a stymie.
* * * * *
TWO HUNDRED YEARS AGONE.
DEAR MR. PUNCH,--You are fond, in "Charivaria," of poking some of your gentle fun at the leisurely bricklayer, and indeed at all the "ca-canny" brigade; but the bricklayer has come in for the thickest of your fire. I hope, however, that you don't think you have discovered his and his fellow-workers' deliberate processes yourself. If so, permit me to draw your attention to NED WARD'S _London Spy_, which was published as long ago as 1699. In that work is the description of a visit to St. Paul's Cathedral when it was building. A passage in this description runs thus:
"We went a little further, where we observed ten men in a corner very busie about two men's work, taking so much care that everyone should have his due proportion of the labours as so many thieves in making an exact division of their booty. The wonderful piece of difficulty the whole number had to perform was to drag along a stone of about three hundredweight in a carriage, in order to be hoisted upon the moldings of the cupola, but they were so fearful of despatching this facile undertaking with too much expedition that they were longer in hauling about half the length of the church than a couple of lusty porters, I am certain, would have been carrying it to Paddington without resting of their burthen."
Shall I refrain from remarking that there is nothing new under the sun? I will.
Yours, etc., L. V. E.
* * * * *
NEW RHYMES FOR OLD CHILDREN.
(_A Sort of Sea Shanty._)
Old Bill Barnacle sticks to his ship, He never is ill on the stormiest trip; Upside down he crosses the ocean-- If you do that you _enjoy_ the motion.
Barnacle's family grows and grows; Little relations arrive in rows; And the quicker the barnacles grow, you know, The slower the ship doth go--yo ho!
Thousands of barnacles, small and great, Stick to the jolly old ship of State; So we mustn't be cross if she seems to crawl-- It's rather a marvel she goes at all.
A. P. H.
* * * * *
"Priests preach the want of brotherhood in the Anglican Church, but many, I am sorry to say, do not practise what they preach."
_Letter to Daily Paper._
Is not this carrying the reactionary spirit a little too far?
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
Some day, no doubt, plays like _Mr. Wu_ and _The Dragon_ (by R. E. JEFFREY) will be forbidden by the League of Nations. Meanwhile let us allow ourselves to be diverted by the motiveless villainies of crooked cruel "Chinks" like _Wang Fu Chang_, who sold opium at a terrific profit in Mayfair, hung his servants up by their thumbs and belonged to a Society of Elder Brethren, as to whose activities we were given no clue, unless indeed their job was the kidnapping of Younger Sisters for Wicked Mandarins.
For _Jack Stacey_, who opened the Prologue in Loolong with head in hands and moaned invocations of the Deity (a version doubtless of the well-known gambit, "'Hell!' said the Duchess"), had his little daughter kidnapped at birth or thereabouts (by _Wang Fu_, as it happened), and never saw her again till, after eighteen years of opium-doping--between the Prologue and the First Act--he called upon the same _Wang Fu_ (just before dinner) with a peremptory message from a very bad and powerful mandarin that if little Miss _Che Fu_ were not packed off to China by eleven that same evening the Elder Brethren would be one short by midnight. _Che Fu_, I ought to say, passed as _Wang's_ daughter, but was so English, you know, to look at that nobody could really believe it.
Of course _Jack_ didn't recognise her as his own daughter, but equally of course we did, and knew that she would be rescued by her impetuous boy-lover and restored to her real father; but not before great business with opium pipes, pivoting statues of goddesses, inoperative revolvers, gongs, strangulations (with gurgles), detectives, rows of Chinese servants each more rascally (and less Chinese, if possible) than the last, and over all the polished villainy of the inscrutable _Wang Fu Chang_.
Mr. JEFFREY'S technique was quite adequate for this ingenuous kind of thing. He achieved what I take to be the supreme compliment of noisy hushings sibilated from the pit and gallery when the later curtains rose. Perhaps action halted a little to allow of rather too much display of pidgin-English and (I suppose) authentic elementary Chinese and comic reliefs which filled the spaces between the salient episodes of the slender and naïve plot. I couldn't help wondering how _Jack Stacey_, whom we left at 10.45 in a horrible stupor, shut away in a gilded alcove of _Wang Fu's_ opium den, could appear at 11.30 at _Lady Handley's_ in immaculate evening dress and with entirely unruffled hair, having in the meantime cut down and restored to consciousness two tortured Chinese and heard the true story of his daughter's adventures. This seems to be overdoing the unities. And I wondered whether the puzzled look on young _Handley's_ face was due to this same wonder or to the reflection that if he had shed one undesirable father-in-law he had let himself in for another. For, needless to say, they had all met in the famous opium scene when _Stacey_ was naturally not at his best.
Mr. D. LEWIN MANNERING was suitably sinister as _Wang Fu_; Mr. TARVER PENNA'S _Ah Fong_, the heroine's champion, made some very pleasant faces and gestures and was less incurably Western than some of his colleagues; Mr. CRONIN WILSON'S _Jack Stacey_ seemed a meritorious performance. The part of _Che Fu_ made no particular demand on Miss CHRISTINE SILVER'S talent, and Miss EVADNE PRICE faithfully earned the laughter she was expected to make as _Sua Se_, the opium-den attendant. Leave your critical faculty at home and you will be able to derive considerable entertainment from this unambitious show.
[Illustration: THE MODEL FLAPPER (CHINESE STYLE). _Wang Fu Chang_ MR. D.L. MANNERING. _Che Fu_ MISS CHRISTINE SILVER.]
* * * * *
Fashions in Hand-wear.
"Amusing contrast is seen in the Riviera and winter sports outfits now on view, with filmy lace, shimmering silks, and glowing velvets on the one hand and thick wool and the stoutest of boots on the other."
* * * * *
From a _feuilleton_:--
"... She was startled by a low sibilant whisper, 'I've caught you, my girl!'"
Try and hiss this for yourself.
* * * * *
THE BARREL OF BEEF.
We were dawdling home from the westward on the flood. Astern of us, knee-deep in foam, stood the slim column of the Bishop lighthouse, a dark pencil mark on the cloudless sky. To the south the full Atlantic piled the black reefs with hills of snow. Ahead the main islands humped out of the blue sea like a school of basking whales. I had the tiller and Uncle Billy John Polsue was forward picking up the marks and carrying on a running commentary, punctuated by expectorations of dark fluid. Suddenly something away on the port bow attracted his attention. He rolled to his feet, stared for some seconds and shouted, "Hold 'er on the corner o' Great Minalte!" a tremor of excitement in his voice.
I did as I was bid and sheeted home.
Billy John fished the conger gaff from under the blue and silver heap of mackerel in the well and climbed laboriously on to the little half-deck. So we were after some sort of flotsam, I could not see what, because Billy John's expansive back-view obscured the prospect ahead, but from his tense attitude I judged that it appeared interesting. He signed to me to come up another couple of points, took a firm grasp of the gaff and leaned over the bows. Then with a creak of straining tackle and a hiss of riven water a gig was on us. She swooped out of the blue, swept by not two fathoms to windward and with a boat-hook snapped up the treasure trove (it looked suspiciously like a small keg) right under our very noses as adroitly as a lurcher snaps a hare. She ran on a cable's length, spun on her heel and slipped away down the sound, a long lean craft, leaping like a live thing under her press of canvas. She seemed full of redheaded men of all ages and was steered by a brindled patriarch who wagged his vermilion beard at us and cackled loudly. I roared with laughter; I had seldom seen anything so consummately slick in my life.
Billy John roared too, but from other influences. He bellowed, he spat, he danced with rage. He cursed the gig's company collectively and singly, said they were nothing better than common pirates and that they lured ships to destruction and devoured the crews--raw.
The gig's company were delighted; they jeered and waved their caps. Billy John trembled with passion.
"Who stole the bar'l o' beef?" he trumpeted through his palms. "Who--stole--the--bar'l--o'--beef? Hoo hoo!"
This last sally had a subduing effect on the gig's company; they turned their faces away and became absorbed in the view ahead.
* * * * *
[Illustration: CHILDREN'S PRESENTS. CHRISTMAS, 1920.
_Mother._ "ISN'T IT A PERFECT GEM, DARLING?"
_Son._ "WOULDN'T BE SEEN DEAD WITH IT. I ASK YOU, WHERE'S THE H.P. CYLINDER THAT DRIVES THE CRANK-PINS ON THE TRAILING WHEELS?"]
* * * * *
Billy John sat down with a grunt of satisfaction. "That settled 'em," he grinned. "They dunno who did steal the bar'l to this day, and each wan do suspect t'other."
"St. Martin's islanders?" I queried.
Billy John shook his head. "Naw, from St. Helen's, o' course; deddn' you see their red 'eads? They 're all red-'eaded over on Helen's--take after their great-grandfather the Devil."
"They're pretty smart, anyhow," said I.
Billy John threw up both hands. "Smart! By dang you've said it! Anythin' in the way o' honest work they do leave to us poor mainland grabbers; they don't unnerstand it; but come a bit o' easy money in the way of wreckage and we might as well stop bed as try to compete with they; we eddn but children to 'em."
"What about this barrel of beef?" I asked.
Billy John chuckled. "Comed to pass years ago, Sir. There was a party of us over 'ere crabbin'. My brother Zackariah 'ad married a Helen's wumman, and a brear great piece she were too. They was livin' on Helen's upon Lower Town beach, and we lodged with 'em.
"Wan mornin' before dawn along comes great Susan in her stockined feet. 'Whist!' says she, 'rouse thee out an' don't make no noise; I think I heerd a gun from Carnebiggal Ledges.'
"We sneaked out like shadows, got the boat afloat and pulled away, mufflin' the oars with our caps. We got a fair start; nobody heerd us go. It weren't yet light and the fog were like a bag, but we got there somehow, and sure enough there were a big steamer fast on the rocks. Great Susan were right. Oh, I tell you t'eddn guesswork with they St. Helen's folk; male or female they got a nose for a wreck, same as cats for mice. There was a couple o' ship's boats standing by on her port side full o' men.
"'Where in 'ell are we?' shouts 'er skipper as we comed nosing through the fog. 'I ain't seen the sun for two days.'
"We told en and lay by chattin' and wonderin' 'ow we was to plunder she, with them in the road. Time went by and there we was still chattin' about the weather an' suchlike damfoolery. Every minute I was expectin' to see the Helen's gigs swarmin' out, and then it wouldn't be pickin's we'd get but leavin's.
"''Ere,' whispers I to Zakky, 'scare 'im off for God's sake.'
"'I'll 'ave a try,' says 'e. 'Say, Mr. Captain, the tide's makin'. She do come through 'ere like a river and you'll be swamped for certain. Pull for the shore, sailor.'
"'Will you pilot me in?' says the captain.
"'Naw,' says Zakky. 'I got to be after my crab-pots; but I'll send my nephew wid 'e.'
"'Keep 'em lost out in the Sound for a couple of hours, son,' he whispers to the boy, and the lad takes 'em off into the fog. 'Now for the plunder, my dears,' says Zakky; and we makes for the ship.
"But Lor' bless you, Sir, she were already plundered. While we was chattin' away on her port side four Helen's gigs' crews had boarded her quietly from starboard and was eatin' through her like a pest o' ants. They'd come staggering on deck--fathers, sons and grandfathers--with bundles twice as big nor themselves, toss 'em into the gigs and go back for more. As for us, we stood like men mazed. I tell you, Sir, a God-fearing man can't make a livin' 'mong that lot; they'll turn a vessel inside out while he's thinkin' how to begin.
"By-'m-by they comed on the prize o' the lot--a bar'l o' beef. My word, what an outcry! 'I seed 'en first!' 'Naw, you deddn': hands off!' 'Leggo; 's mine!' Quarrellin' 'mong themselves now, mark you, beef bein' as scarce as diamonds in them hard times. Old Hosea--the old toad that you seed steerin' that gig just now--he puts a stop to et.
"'Avast ragin', thou fools,' says 'e; "coastguards will be along in a minute and then there'll be nothin' for nobody. Set en in my boat an' I'll divide it up equal on the beach.'
"They done as they were told, and away goes old Hosea for the shore, followed by the other gigs loaded that deep they could hardly swim. Seein' they hadn't left us nothin' but the bare bones we pulled in ourselves shortly after, and my dear life what a sight we did behold! Fellows runnin' about in the fog on the beach, for all the world like shadows on a blind, cursin', shoutin', fightin', tumblin' over each other, huntin' high and low, and in the middle of 'em all old Hosea crying out for his bar'l o' beef like a wumman after her first-born. Somebody'd stole it! Mercy me! we mainlanders lay on our oars and laughed till the tears rolled out of us in streams."
"Who did steal it? Do you know?" I asked.
Billy John nodded. "I do, Sir. Why, great Susan, o' course. They'd forgotten she, livin' right upon the beach--wan o' their own breed. Susan stalked en through the fog an' had en locked in her own house before they could turn round. And many a full meal we poor honest mainlanders had off it, Sir, take it from me."
* * * * *
=Our Cynical Municipalities.=
"Schemes for the relief of the unemployed at ---- include the extension of the cemetery."
* * * * *
"The constable went to the warehouse doorway and found two men, who, when asked to account for their movements, suddenly bolted in different directions, pursued by the constable."--_Welsh Paper._
A worthy colleague of the Irish policeman who in a somewhat similar dilemma "surrounded the crowd."
* * * * *
VIGNETTES OF SCOTTISH SPORT.
(_By a Peckham Highlander._)
O brawly sklents the break o' day On far Lochaber's bank and brae, And briskly bra's the Hielan' burn Where day by day the Southron kern Comes busking through the bonnie brake Wi' rod and creel o' finest make, And gars the artfu' trouties rise Wi' a' the newest kinds o' flies, Nor doots that ere the sun's at rest He'll catch a basket o' the best. For what's so sweet to nose o' man As trouties skirrlin' in the pan Wi' whiles a nip o' mountain dew Tae warm the chilly Saxon through, And hold the balance fair and right Twixt intellect and appetite? But a' in vain the Southron throws Abune each trout's suspectfu' nose His gnats and coachmen, greys and brouns, And siclike gear that's sold in touns, And a' in vain the burn he whups Frae earliest sunrise till the tups Wi' mony a wean-compelling "meeeh!" Announce the punctual close of day. Then hameward by the well-worn track Gangs the disgruntled Sassenach, And, having dined off mountain sheep, Betakes him moodily to sleep. And "Ah!" he cries, "would I micht be A clansman kilted to the knee, Wi' sporran, plaid and buckled shoe, And Caledonian whuskers too! Would I could wake the pibroch's throes And live on parritch and peas brose And spurn the ling wi' knotty knees, The dourest Scot fra Esk tae Tees! For only such, I'll answer for 't, Are rightly built for Hielan' sport, Can stalk Ben Ledi's antlered stag Frae scaur to scaur and crag tae crag, Cra'ing like serrpents through the grass On waumies bound wi' triple brass; Can find themselves at set o' sun, Wi' sandwiches and whusky gone, And twenty miles o' scaur and fell Fra Miss McOstrich's hotel, Yet utter no revilin' word Against the undiminished herd Of antlered monarchs of the glen That never crossed their eagle ken: But a' unfrettit turn and say, 'Hoots, but the sport's been grand the day!' For none but Scotsmen born and bred, When ither folk lie snug in bed, Would face yon cauld and watery pass, The eerie peat-hag's dark morass, Where wails the whaup wi' mournful screams, Tae wade a' day in icy streams An' flog the burn wi' feckless flies Though ilka trout declines tae rise, Then hameward crunch wi' empty creel Tae sit and hark wi' unquenched zeal Tae dafties' tales o' lonesome tarns Cramfu' o' trout as big as barns."
E'en thus the envious Southron girds Complainin' fate wi' bitter words For a' the virtues she allots Unto the hardy race o' Scots. And when the sun the brae's abune He taks the train to London toun, Vowing he ne'er again will turn Tae Scottish crag or Hielan' burn, But hire a punt and fish for dace At Goring or some ither place.
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EFFECT AND CAUSE.
The bell was knelling: dong, dong, dong, dong, dong, dong, dong, dong.
Inside the Hall there was nothing but gloom.
Suddenly the echoes were startled by a loud knocking on the door: rat, tat, tat, tat, tat, tat, ratta, tatta, tatta, tatta, tat, tat.
Who could it be?
The old servitor shambled to undo the bolts. As he opened the door the wind rushed in, carrying great flakes of snow with it and an icy blast penetrated to every corner of the house.
There followed a man muffled up to the eyes in a vast red scarf--or not so much red as pink, salmon colour--which he proceeded gradually to unwind, revealing at length the features of Mr. James Tod Brown, the senior partner of the firm of Brown, Brown & Brown, of Little Britain. Save for a curious nervousness of speech which caused him to repeat every remark several times, Mr. James Tod Brown was a typical lawyer, in the matter of ability far in advance of either of his partners, Brown or Brown.
"Dear me," he said, "dear me, dear me! This is very sad, very sad--very sudden too, very sudden. And what--tut, tut, dear, dear, let me see--what was the cause of--ah! What was the cause--what was it that occasioned the--how did your master come to die? Yes, how did your master come to die?"
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"What is it all about?" asks the reader.
Well, it is not quite so meaningless as it may appear; there is method in the madness; for this is a passage from a story by one of the most popular English authors in America, to whom an American editor has offered twenty cents a word. At the present rate of exchange such commissions are not to be trifled with.
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"Wanted, experienced Parlourmaid for a good home, where the household does not change."--_Local Paper._
Apparently "no washing."
* * * * * [Illustration _Cheerful Sportsman._ "HULLO, PADRE! I SEE YOUR LATE COLLEAGUE HAS GONE ON AHEAD."]
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(_By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks._)
MR. JOSEPH HERGESHEIMER, for whose work as a novelist I have more than once expressed high admiration, has now brought together seven long-short stories under the collective title of _The Happy End_ (HEINEMANN). Lest however this name and the little preface, in which the writer asserts that his wares "have but one purpose--to give pleasure," should lead you to expect that species of happy ending in which Jack shall have Jill and naught shall go ill, I think a word of warning may not be wasted. In only three of the tales is the finish a matter of conventional happiness. Elsewhere you have a deserted husband, who has tracked his betrayer to a nigger saloon in Atlantic City, wrested from his purpose of murder by a revivalist hymn; a young lad, having avenged the destruction of his home, returning to his widowed mother to await, one supposes, the process of the law; or an over-fed war profiteer stricken with apoplexy at sight of a boat full of the starved victims of a submarine outrage. You observe perhaps that the epithet "happy" is one to which the artist and the casual reader may attach a different significance. But let not anything I have said be considered as reflecting upon the tales themselves, which indeed seem to me to be masterpieces of their kind. Personally my choice would rest on the last, "The Thrush in the Hedge," a simple history of how the voice of a young tramp was revealed by his chance meeting with a blind and drug-sodden fiddler who had once played in opera--a thing of such unforced art that its concluding pages, when the discovery is put to a final test, shake the mind with apprehension and hope. A writer who can make a short story do that comes near to genius.
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If you wish to play the now fashionable game of newspaper-proprietor-baiting you can, with Miss ROSE MACAULAY, create a possible but not actual figure like _Potter_ and, using it for stalking-horse, duly point your moral; or, with Mr. W. L. GEORGE in _Caliban_ (METHUEN), you can begin by mentioning all the well-known figures in the journalistic world by way of easy camouflage, so as to evade the law of libel, call your hero-villain _Bulmer_, attach to him all the legends about actual newspaper kings, add some malicious distortion to make them more exciting and impossible, and thoroughly let yourself go. Good taste alone will decide which is the cleaner sport, and good taste does not happen to be the fashion in certain literary circles at the moment. Of course Mr. GEORGE, being a novelist of some skill, has provided a background out of his imagination. The most interesting episode, excellently conceived and worked out, is the only unsuccessful passage in _Lord Bulmer's_ life, the wooing of _Janet Willoughby_. The awkward thing for Mr. GEORGE is that he has so splashed the yellow over _Bulmer_ in the office that there is no use in his pretending that the _Bulmer_ in _Mrs. Willoughby's_ drawing-room is the same man in another mood. He just isn't. Incidentally the author gives us the best defence of the saffron school of journalism I've read--a defence that's a little too good to believe; and some shrewd blows above (and, as I have hinted, occasionally below) the belt.
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I want to give the epithet "lush" to _The Breathless Moment_ (LANE), and, although the dictionary asks me as far as in me lies to reserve that adjective for grass, I really don't see why, just for once, I shouldn't do what I like with it. Lush grass is generally long and brightly coloured--"luxuriant and succulent," the dictionary says--and that is exactly what MISS MURIEL HINE'S book is. She tells the story of _Sabine Fane_, who, loving _Mark Vallance_, persuaded him to pass a honeymoon month with her before he went to the Front, though his undesirable wife was still alive. In allowing her heroine to suffer the penalty of this action Miss HINE would appear, as far as plot is concerned, to discourage such adventures. But _Sabine_ is so charming, her troubles end so happily and the setting of West Country scenery is so beautiful that, taken as a whole, I should expect the book to have the opposite effect. The picture of a tall green wave propelling a very solid rainbow, which adorns the paper wrapper and as an advertisement has cheered travellers on the Tube for some weeks past, has no real connection with the story, but perhaps is meant to be symbolical of the book, which, clever and well written as it is, is almost as little like what happens in real life.
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_The Uses of Diversity_ (METHUEN) is the title of a little volume in which Mr. G. K. CHESTERTON has reprinted a selection of his shorter essays, fugitive pieces of journalism, over which indeed the casual reader may experience some natural bewilderment at finding, what is inevitable in such work, the trivialities of the day before yesterday treated with the respect of contemporary regard. Many of the papers are inspired by the appearance of a particular book or play. I can best illustrate what I have said above by a quotation from one of them, in which the author wrote (_à propos_ of the silver goblets in _Henry VIII._ at His Majesty's) that he supposed such realism might be extended to include "a real Jew to act _Shylock_." For those who recall a recent triumph, this flight of imagination will now have an oddly archaic effect. It is by no means the only passage to remind us sharply that much canvas has gone over the stage rollers since these appreciations were written. Unquestionably Mr. CHESTERTON, with the unstaled entertainment of his verbal acrobatics, stands the ordeal of such revival better than most. Even when he is upon a theme so outworn as the "Pageants that have adorned England of late," he can always astonish with some grave paradox. But for all that I still doubt whether journalism so much of the moment as this had not more fitly been left for the pleasure of casual rediscovery in its original home than served up with the slightly overweighting dignity of even so small a volume.
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In _A Tale That Is Told_ (COLLINS), Mr. FREDERICK NIVEN throws himself into the personality of _Harold Grey_, who is the youngest son of an "eminent Scottish divine," and constitutes himself the annalist of the family, its private affairs and its professional business in the commerce of literature and art. The right of the family to its annals, notwithstanding that its members are little involved in furious adventures or thrilling romance, is established at once by the very remarkable character of the _Reverend Thomas Grey_. The duty upon you to read them depends, as the prologue hints, upon whether you are greatly interested in life and not exclusively intent on fiction. When I realised that I must expect no more than an account, without climax, of years spent as a tale that is told, I accepted the conditions subject to certain terms of my own. The family must be an interesting one and not too ordinary; the sons, _Thomas_ (whose creed was "Give yourself," and whose application of it was such that it usually wrecked the person to whom the gift was made), _Dick_ the artist, and _John_ the novelist, must be very much alive; if the big adventures were missing the little problems must be faced; the question of sex must not be overlooked; and of humour none of the characters must be devoid, and the historian himself must be full. Mr. NIVEN failed me in no particular.
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Miss F. E. MILLS YOUNG, in _Imprudence_ (HODDER AND STOUGHTON), is not at the top of her form, but a neat and effective finish makes some amends for a performance which is, like the wind in a weather report, mainly moderate or light. The heroine, _Prudence Graynor_, was the child of her father's second marriage, and she was afflicted with a battalion of elderly half-sisters and one quite detestable half-brother. This battalion was commanded by one _Agatha_, and it submitted to her orders and caprices in a way incomprehensible to _Prudence_--and incidentally to me. The _Graynors_ and also the _Morgans_ were of "influential commercial stock," and both families were so essentially Victorian in their outlook and manner of living that I was surprised when 1914 was announced. The trouble with this story is that too many of the characters are drawn from the stock-pot. But I admit that, before we have done with them, they acquire a certain distinction from the adroitness with which the author extricates them from apparently hopeless situations.
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[Illustration: MORE WORRIES OF THE MIDDLE AGES.
_The Goat._ "WHO ARE YOU?"
_The Man_ (_greatly disturbed_). "WHO? ME? I--I'M THE NEW GAMEKEEPER."
_The Goat._ "WELL, I'M THE LATE GAMEKEEPER. YOU SEE, OLD BILKS THE SORCERER TOOK TO POACHING LATELY, AND I WAS FOOL ENOUGH TO CATCH HIM AT IT."]
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=Praise from "The Times."=
"The Chancellor of the Exchequer, with that absence of commercial training which is essential to one occupying such a position..."
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"WANTED.--Six White Leghorn Cockerels; 6 Black Minorca Cockerels. Must lay eggs."--_Times of Ceylon._
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"A dreamy professor in a dim romantic laboratory may light upon a placid formula and, like Aladdin, roll back the portals of the enchanted fastness with a tranquil open sesame."--_Magazine._
But why should his laboratory be dim when he has _Ali Baba's_ wonderful lamp to light it?
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