PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
JANUARY 1, 1919.
TO AN UNKNOWN COLLEAGUE.
(Inspired by the exchange of Minutes in Government Departments.)
He was my friend—if friendship's proof Be sympathy profound and sweet; Eight months we toiled beneath one roof, Yet somehow never chanced to meet.
So near and yet so far! I own We may have passed upon the stair; Yet, if we did, we passed unknown; No tremor told me he was there.
He knew not it was I. Alas! With such community of souls That he and I should blindly pass And live as sundered as the poles!
For I, when darkness sealed my eyes, Would place my judgment in his hands, Would ask him humbly to advise And yield myself to his commands;
Just hinting what my view might be (If asked) on this or that affair, But never in undue degree And with a deprecating air.
And he, thus modestly addressed, Would wield an amicable pen And say he thought my view was best In full nine cases out of ten.
And so in deep harmonious flood Our friendship flowed, and proved, I think, Though water be less dense than blood, Yet blood is far less dense than ink. * * * * * And now, when things are somewhat slow, My leisure moments I beguile By reading o'er with heart aglow A certain old and dusty file—
One out of hundreds, kept to prove A truth the world may oft forget, That there can live pure trust and love 'Twixt persons who have never met.
Oh, sweet the trill of mating larks! But sweeter, sweeter, I aver, That soft appeal—"For your remarks," That gentle answer—"We concur."
* * * * *
A Fellow of the Royal Society states that, as a result of radium activity, the end of the world, which had been estimated to arrive in a few thousand years, may be postponed for a million aeons. It is hoped that this will allay the anxiety of those soldiers who were nervous about their chances of being demobilized.
It is reported that when asked his impression of President WILSON Mr. BALFOUR remarked, "Gee! He's the top shout and the main squeeze. And then some."
"How much water," asks a technical journal, "does it take to make a gallon of Government ale?" We do not profess to be expert, but we should say about a gallon.
There is no truth in the rumour that TROTSKY has written to President WILSON offering to execute the Peace Conference at any time within the next three months at half the usual rates.
A case which has been puzzling the medical authorities is reported from Warwickshire. After acting strangely for several days a boy named TOMMY SMITH asked his parents if he could have rice pudding instead.
"Great Britain," says an essayist, "has come out of the war with flying colours." No blame, we understand, attaches to Mr. PHILIP SNOWDEN for this.
A large marrow has been washed ashore at Lowestoft bearing a name and address and the words, "Please write." It is not known why the marrow left home.
A report comes from Berlin that Dr. SOLF has resigned. It is expected that he will be succeeded by Dr. SOLF.
The greengrocer who deliberately attempted to spoil President WILSON'S welcome by exhibiting American apples for sale on Boxing Day is suspected of being a naturalised German.
A North of England widower would like to meet lady possessing in her own right a bottle of whisky. Object, matrimony.
The largely increased number of unemployed politicians is causing the country great concern.
Heavy falls of snow have occurred in the Midlands, where the people say they have not had such a winter since last summer.
Described as the tallest soldier in Ireland, MICHAEL GRADY, of County Mayo, who is seven feet two inches in height, hopes to settle down on a farm. It is expected that he will shortly be measured for a village.
"To improve the appetite," says a Health Culture journal, "one should salute the morn by throwing open the windows, lay on the bedroom floor with the feet in the air and breathe deeply." This method of saluting is not recommended to recruits.
The latest Sunday newspaper reminds us that it prints all the news. It must do better than this if it is to keep pace with some of our contemporaries.
Charged at Carmarthen with bigamy a soldier said he had no recollection of his second marriage. Once again we feel compelled to point out the advantage of keeping a diary.
It appears that one burglar has claimed his discharge from the Army on the ground that he is a pivotal man and that several policemen are waiting for him.
It is wrong to suppose, says the Coal Control Department, that anthracite is injurious to health. The little ones all declare that its flavour compares favourably with that of Brazil nuts.
Three cases of mince-pie shock are reported from the Westbourne Grove district.
A woman has been fined ten shillings at Birmingham for putting cold tea in bottles and selling it as whisky. One of the purchasers, it appears, had his suspicions aroused by the peculiar taste of the liquid.
The KAISER'S health, says a contemporary, is still a cause of anxiety.
Not to us.
"Woman (middle-aged, respectable) would give services for home and small wage."
She would probably be quite effective at ordinary ranges.
"Would the Party who removed Petticoat from the Railway Fence, between 11th and 12th, kindly return same and save further exposure."—Provincial Paper.
In the interests of propriety we trust this appeal has been responded to.
* * * * *
ANOTHER HISTORIC INTERVIEW.
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.
Incited to great efforts by the interview in "The Times" with President WILSON, wherein so much is said (by the interviewer), Mr. Punch sent forth one of his most energetic and Napoleonic young men to attempt a similarly incredible feat and obtain an interview with that most unapproachable of men—President not excluded—the Editor of "The Times." The word "failure" being absent from the Bouverie Street lexicon, it follows that the impossible was achieved, and the electrifying result is printed below. In the wish that readers in vaster numbers than usual may peruse the winged words of the illustrious journalist, Mr. Punch offers the freedom of the article to all editors the world over.
The office of The Times is situated in a busy quarter of the great city of London and is built of brick and stone. Light enters the numerous rooms through windows made of glass. Outside is the roar of traffic; inside, the presses groan, not always without reason.
My appointment with the august and retiring controller of the great English journal—the Jupiter who directs its thunderbolts, determines the size of type appropriate to every correspondent, and latterly has added to the gaiety of nations by offering a tilting-space to the ATTORNEY-GENERAL and Mr. GIBSON BOWLES—my appointment being at three o'clock I was careful to reach the office a few minutes before that hour, because I like to have time to look around and collect those little details of environment and atmosphere which are so valuable in themselves as to make it almost immaterial whether the person I am to interview speaks at all.
Entering the offices, which can be described only as palatial, I was struck by the thoughtfulness—no doubt appertaining to the head of the establishment who was so soon, for the first time in history, to grant me an audience—which had provided a parallelogram of some fibrous material for the purpose of removing the mud from one's boots. A minute later I was again delighted by the discovery of an ingenious contrivance in the shape of a kind of peg or hook on which a hat and coat could be placed. It is by just such minutiae as these that one place is distinguished from another and character indicated.
Punctually to the minute I was shown into the Editor's room, where again I was struck by the imaginative adequacy of the surroundings. Before coming to the man himself let me say something of these. The floor was not bare or even sprinkled with sawdust, as it might easily have been, but it was covered by a comfortable carpet, probably from Axminster. Comfort was indeed the note. The desk was neither pitch pine nor teak, but mahogany. Upon it were scattered papers—lightly scattered, although no doubt each was of the most momentous, even tragical import, some bearing the signatures of the most eminent publicists in the land. Yet, such is the domination of this man, they lay there like circulars or election addresses. In the ink-pot was ink. A date rack was proof that the Editor is not superior to the artificial divisions of time.
As I entered, his back was towards me, but none the less I was conscious of power, distinction, a man apart. I have seen many backs, but none more notable than this. Turning he revealed to the full the wonder and mystery of his famous frown—the frown of Jupiter Tonans. Much has been said of this frown, but since no analysis has yet appeared in print I must be permitted to offer one. To begin with, the frown is not only on his face, but (one instinctively knows) all over him. It suffuses him. Could one see, for instance, his knee, one is sure that it would be frowning too.
The effect was terrifying, but I stood my ground. As for the face, where the frown concentrates, it is most curiously divided. Below the masterful nose the frown may be said to be merely threatening; above the firm upper lip it assumes a quality of such dourness as to resemble a scowl. The forehead is corrugated. The ears twitch, especially the left. The eyes emit sparks.
Hitherto he had not spoken; but now he began to unburden himself of those opinions, hopes, fancies and idealistic meditations for which I had come so far to see him. In order that there shall be no ambiguity I have arranged for them to be set up in larger type than the rest of the article. After all, any type will suit my own poor setting, but the jewels, the jewels must be seen.
"Be seated, pray," he said. "The world," he added after a long silence, "is in an unusual state. The Versailles Conferences may effect great changes."
"Everyone hopes," he remarked after another pause, "that the weather will improve; recently it has been far from invigorating."
I give his exact words with scrupulous minuteness.
"A permanent peace," he continued, "based upon equity, cannot but be desired. The Election results," he added as an afterthought, "are interesting."
Asked what he thought of the PRIME MINISTER, he pondered deeply for a while and then replied, in carefully measured tones, "I think him an exceptional man."
Pressed as to the League of Nations, he considered the matter for some minutes and then said, "It is a fine notion. We might all be the happier if it came."
My time being now up he bowed me to the door and the interview was over. The knob was of brass and had been, recently polished.
His last words were, "Mind the step."
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
A conference of subscribers and contributors to the correspondence columns of The Times was held at Caxton Hall on Saturday last, to discuss the situation created in the issue of December 21st by the printing of the interview with President WILSON in larger type than had ever been used previously in the body of the paper. Amongst those present were "Scrutator," "Bis Dat Qui Cito Dat," "Judex," "Vindex," "Palmam Qui Meruit Ferat," "Rusticus Expectans," "Old Etonian," "Anxious Parent," "Anti-Jacobin," "Puzzled," "Octogenarian," "Quousque Tandem," and "The Thin End of the Wedge."
The Chair was taken by a "Subscriber of Fifty Years' Standing," who prefaced his remarks by observing that neither he nor any of those present was animated by the faintest antagonism to President WILSON. Their gratitude to him for his services in the War was so great that, in the abstract, they could have no objection to his being accorded the distinction of the largest possible type, so long as proper distinction was made typographically between the remarks of the PRESIDENT and the comments of the interviewer—as for example that Mr. WILSON's bedroom is "strictly First Empire," or that "there seems to be some kind of competition between the upper and the lower halves of his features," or that his "grey lounge suit" was "well cut into his body." But there ought to be some harmony between the size of the type and the importance of the views expressed. He had himself contributed many letters to The Times on subjects of the greatest urgency, but had never attained the dignity even of long primer. (Sensation.) He thought that in the circumstances they were entitled to address a modest protest to the Editor, to the effect that the use of "pica" should be reserved for the rarest occasions and not be allowed to prejudice the claims of those who were entitled to exercise the indefeasible privilege of "writing to The Times." (Cheers.)
"Scrutator," who followed, disclaimed any personal grievance. His letters had always appeared in large type and on the best pages. But he drew the line at "pica"; it looked too like an advertisement and destroyed the balance of the page. In old days an editor controlled the "make-up" of his paper. Now he was at the mercy of his "maker-up."
"Judex," speaking from the body of the hall, said that he had heard the interview in question spoken of as a "splendid scoop." He was not certain what the phrase meant, but he did not like the sound of it, and dreaded the prospect of President WILSON being made the subject of a typographical competition between our daily papers. While the paper shortage lasted this might lead to very serious results in the way of restricting the space available for the ventilation of the views of those present.
An "Anxious Parent" pointed out that the use of "pica" was unfortunate, as it irresistibly suggested "picador," one who participated in a cruel sport, whereas President WILSON was a most humane and compassionate man and had never assisted at a bull-fight.
After several other speeches it was ultimately resolved to form an association, to be known as the "Anti-Picador League," and a small committee was appointed to draw up an appeal to the principal Editors to abstain as far as possible from typographical Jumbomania.
* * * * *
BOY (SECOND CLASS).
BOY (Second Class) John Simpkins, a bad 'un, you must know, Was told to swab a plank one day by a First-Class C.P.O., Whose eagle eye, returning, on the deck espied a stain— "Boy Simpkins, fetch your mop, me lad, and swab yon plank again." Boy Simpkins (Second Class, too!) made as though he wouldn't go, And distinctly muttered "Blast you!" to that First-Class C.P.O.
The splendid Petty Officer fell flat upon the deck; They bore him to the Sick Bay just a weak and worthless wreck; But an A.B. who was standing by had caught the wicked word And told the Duty Officer exactly what occurred:— "Boy Simpkins (Second Class, too!), which I think yer oughter know, Sir, 'Ad the lip ter mutter 'Blast you!' ter the Fust-Class C.P.O., Sir."
There is silence in the foc's'le, on the quarter-deck dismay, And the lower deck is humming in a most unusual way; The working-party pauses as it cleans a six-inch gun, And tho Officer on Duty whispers hoarse to "Number One":— "Boy Simpkins (Second Class, too!), I suppose you ought to know, Sir, Had the cheek to mutter 'Blast you!' to a First-Class C.P.O., Sir."
Number One, his face is ashen and his knees knock as he runs (A curious phenomenon quite rare in Number Ones); But on he rushed until he saw the tall brass-hatted Bloke, And, nervously saluting, incoherently he spoke:— "Boy Simpkins (Second Class, too!), I'm afraid that you must know, Sir, Had the nerve to mutter 'Blast you!' to a First-Class C.P.O., Sir."
The Bloke turned blue and shivered, then hysterically laughed, And hurried, cackling shrilly, to the Owner's cabin aft; There in that awful presence, with lips aghast and pale, To the horror-haunted Owner he re-told the horrid tale:— "Boy Simpkins (Second Class, too!), I regret to let you know, Sir, Had the face to mutter 'Blast you!' to a First-Class C.P.O., Sir!"
You could almost hear the silence when the flags began to flap And the Captain made the signal that destroyed the Admiral's nap; And though I wasn't there myself beside the great man's bed You all can guess as well as I just what the Owner said:—"SUBMITTED. Boy Simpkins (Second Class, too!), it is thought you ought to know, Sir, Has dared to mutter 'Blast you!' to a First-Class C.P.O., Sir!"
The Press Bureau won't let me mention how the Admiral went And told Sir ERIC GEDDES, who informed the Government; How the Cabinet, when summoned, found him far too bad to kill, So packed him off to Weiringen to valet LITTLE WILL. Boy Simpkins (Second Class, too!) down to history will go As the first and last who dared say "Blast" to a First-Class C.P.O.
* * * * *
Simmons is a writer of fiction and was a friend of mine.
I used to play billiards with Simmons, to talk to Simmons, but not to read Simmons.
There are limits to friendship.
I met him the other day in a very depressed state.
"Look at these munition workers," he said. "See what the Government is doing for them. Paying them wages all the time that they're out of work. What about me?"
"Well, you weren't on munitions."
"I have been on intellectual munitions," replied Simmons. "And now all my editors write to me, 'Get away from the War.' I have to transfer my machinery to peace work. I have to turn away from the production of the German spy. Think of it. I have almost lived on him for years. I have created hundreds of him during the War. All my laboriously acquired knowledge of German terms—like 'Schweinhund,' you know—goes for nothing. I shall have to make all my villains Bolsheviks. That will require close study of Russia. All my old Russian knowledge goes for nothing. They have abolished the knout and exile to Siberia. I have to start afresh.
"Then look at my heroes. I have mastered the second lieutenant. My typewriter almost automatically writes 'old top,' 'old soul,' 'old bean,' 'old egg.' All my study of this type is thrown away. And heroines—why, I shall have to study dress again. The hospital nurse is done for; the buxom proportions of the land-girl avail me no more. My dear fellow, it will be six months before I can deal with women's costume competently.
"And plots. How the War simplified everything. The Zep, a failure in fact, was a splendid success in fiction. The awkward people could be wiped out so simply. Then one's villains could die gallantly—a bit of good in the worst of men, you know—whispering a hurried confession in the ears of the Company Sergeant-Major in the front trenches.
"Then, again, all misunderstandings were explained when the V.C. looked up from his hospital bed. 'Eric,' she gushed, 'you here!' And from that moment he needed no more medicine. My dear fellow, we shall want new plots now; real plots and new characters. It will be a long time before I can return to my pre-war standard of strong, silent, masterful millionaires from the backwoods. Haven't I a right to seek compensation from the Government for checking my intellectual output?"
"I think the Government ought to pay you ten pounds for every week in which you don't write," I said.
Simmons shook me warmly by the hand.
The next day he cut me dead. I believe that Simmons, though an author of popular fiction, must have been thinking.
* * * * *
"THE FUTURE OF LYING.
"INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE TO BE CALLED."
Northampton Dally Echo.
We should have thought it might quite safely be left to private enterprise.
* * * * *
"The American troops on this side are already either in the States or on their way."—Letter in "Daily Express."
The Germans will take this as convincing evidence of American duplicity.
* * * * *
THE HISTORY OF A JOKE.
* * * * *
* * * * *
IN MEMORY OF DORA.
(A JOYOUS ANTICIPATION.)
Walk very softly here and very slowly; Let no sound pass the barrier of your teeth; Not that the spot whereon you tread is holy, But lest you rouse her up that lies beneath.
She ruthlessly curtailed our golf and skittles; She vetoed daily sprees and nightly jinks; She doled our baccy and weighed out our victuals, And watered (cruellest of all) our drinks.
Anathema (by order) were our races; Joy-riding was taboo in car or train; And when they ventured to kick o'er the traces She strafed her victims till they roared again.
Now where she sleeps the sleep that knows no waking A simply graven sentence marks the place (The Latin's shaky but bears no mistaking):— "Hic jacet DORA and hic let her jace."
* * * * *
AN UNHAPPY CHRISTMAS.
"A number of persons have booked dooms for Yuletide."—Scottish Paper.
* * * * *
THE BROTHER SERVICE.
MR. PUNCH, DEAR SIR,—I am still with the Q.M.A.A.C.'s at what used to be called the Front. But do not imagine I am cut off from news. Papers from home pour in by every mail. I read articles written by People Who Know, and speeches of politicians to female electors, and that is how I have learned that it is we Women of England who have won the War.
Yet out here one cannot help noticing that the War was not waged entirely by the lovelier sex. And so I am writing to ask you to say a word or two about the work of the Brother Service, the less conspicuous branches of our army, the men who hauled big guns about, who stood in trenches, who looked after ammunition, or who killed mules to provide us with pressed beef. Little bits of the great machinery—hangers-on of the great Women's Army Corps—yes, but without the humble hairpin the whole coiffure falls to the ground.
I have never been a pessimist or a scaremonger, but without some of these men I don't believe we women would have won the War at all!
They ought to be encouraged, Mr. Punch. Could you not start a Muscle Competition for the men who helped the women win the War? Something like the Beauty Competitions for us other warriors? Why not offer prizes to the Tommy with the biggest biceps, the Subaltern with the thickest calf, and the Brigadier with the finest abdominal development?
One is so afraid that at the next European crisis the War Office, having learned its history from picture papers, will simply mobilise the women and forget all about the men. Those absurd machine guns with their wobbly legs really need a man's touch. Besides, it would be so jolly dull without them.
No, the men really helped, and we ought not to forget it.
I hope that in years to come, when little voices in the firelight (that's a pretty touch—who says the Army has made us unfeminine?) beseech me, "Tell us again how you won the War, Great-grandma," I shall retain sufficient perspective to reply, "Granny didn't do it all alone, darlings; there were a lot of men who helped too."
* * * * *
From a description of our infantry's arrival in Cologne:—
"Then came more Fusiliers, the Lancashire Fusiliers and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and after them battalions from all parts of the British Isles.... It was wonderfully thrilling to go from one bridge to the other, from skirl of pipes to the triumphant swing of 'John Peel,' and then to the 'Maple Leaf For Ever.'"
And what did the Dublins play? "Erin on the Rhine"?
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE WATCH DOGS.
My dear Charles,—Old Bowdler has been brooding again on that idea of a brief for the defence in the forthcoming trial of the ex-Kaiser. He rather fancies himself cross-examining with courtesy but firmness some Generalissimo or other, or reducing to tears by an eloquent speech a court packed with everybody who is anybody, and in both cases having the eyes of Europe upon him and the ears of America hanging on his next word. After all, barristers will be barristers and, when they are, your ordinary man is no match for 'em. It took another man of his own kind to knock the conceit out of the idea.
Lack of precedent was no difficulty to Bowdler's learned opponent. A ready imagination made up. To hear him talk you would think he had spent his life assisting at the trials of ex-Kaisers. He described the whole affair as if it had already taken place. Thus:—
The culprit, he assumed, is on bail, though not, of course, on his own recognizances. First, attention is called to the case by Counsel for the Prosecution rising early in the sitting and asking his Lordship if he might mention the case of WILLIAM HOHENZOLLERN, next on his Lordship's list.
"William who?" asks the Clerk of Assize.
"WILLIAM HOHENZOLLERN," answers counsel: "H-O-H-E-N-Z-O-double L-E-R-N."
A titter is heard at the idea of a man going about with a name like that. His Lordship, regarding it as a nuisance rather than a joke, threatens to have the court cleared. A juryman in waiting in the gallery seizes the opportunity to ask, if anyone is to be turned out, might it be himself.
Counsel goes on to mention the case. "A complicated case of false pretences, my Lord——," he begins. But his solicitor plucks at his gown and points out to him that he is confusing his briefs. Counsel apologises to the Court and asks leave to refresh his memory. In a passionate whisper to his solicitor he asks who is this Hohenzollern man, anyway, and why the devil does he want to be mentioned before his time? Enlightened, he explains to the Court that the accused has got some money together for a dock defence and would like an opportunity to instruct his counsel more fully.
His Lordship refuses a postponement; Hohen-what's-his-name should have thought of this before. His Lordship has every confidence in counsel's ability to pick up the facts as the case proceeds. If counsel's personal convenience is involved that is another matter. But as for Zohenhollern—["Hohenzollern, my Lord"]—he cannot expect particular treatment; and that will do, thank you.
The ushers start calling out for him to surrender to his bail: "Hohenzollern! Hhhohenzollern! Owen Zollern!" re-echoes throughout the building. "Zollern—O-N!" is heard faintly in the far distance. No one notices that a gentleman with a fierce moustache has already made his dramatic entry and is trying to push his way into the dock....
He is stood up with half-a-dozen other prisoners, so that one jury may be sworn for the lot. It is desired that each prisoner should be identified with his name as it is called. WILLIAM HOHENZOLLERN, whichever he may be, is asked to bold up his hand. An old man in corduroys, who wears a dirty handkerchief round his neck for collar and cravat, and is charged with feloniously stealing, taking and carrying away his forty-first pair of boots and is also a bit 'ard of 'earing, insists that he is the man. As nothing will persuade him that he is not, the Clerk of Assize leaves it to the warders to decide which of the two is which. After all it is a small point.
The case is called on and WILLIAM is left in sole possession of the dock. This is his moment, thinks he. With set features he stands forward and assumes the most important attitude possible.
"Are you WILLIAM HOHENZOLLERN?" asks the Clerk of Assize.
There is a pause. "I am," says he.
Everyone turns to have a look at him. Feeling that he is thoroughly impressing everyone WILLIAM fixes a commanding eye on the judge, compelling, as he supposes, his utmost attention.
"Let's adjourn for lunch," says the judge....
When at last the case gets to its hearing (so far as anything at all can be heard over the small talk in front of the dock and the shuffle of impatient feet behind it) a novel point arises. A witness refers to the War. "What war?" asks his Lordship. Counsel thinks he can explain, but WILLIAM isn't for letting him. "Will you keep silence?" says the Judge to WILLIAM. "You must call evidence to prove that there was a war," he says to counsel.
WILLIAM faints upon realising that Armageddon, his masterpiece, was such that judicial knowledge wasn't aware of it....
Witness after witness is called; barrister after barrister, in the bar beneath the dock rail, goes to sleep. WILLIAM, after shaking off the stupor caused by the awful disregard of his personality, begins to murmur incoherently. The warder taps him on the shoulder. WILLIAM, who has never even conceived of being tapped by anybody, bursts out with an exclamation. The worst thing which has ever happened to him in his life then happens. Bowdler, Bowdler of all the un-imperial and un-godlike people in this world, turns to WILLIAM to rebuke him in a stern whisper, telling him that he is doing himself no good and concluding his remarks with "My man"....
The trial proceeds, WILLIAM being speechless with rage. In his ears is ringing a Hymn of Hate—hate of everybody in the court, but particularly of Bowdler. Every time he can get his brain to work and his tongue to work with it, he leans forward to breathe some drastic utterance at his defending counsel. Bowdler remains detached. WILLIAM (late Kaiser) has to realise as a cold fact that here is a wretched mortal daring to sharpen a pencil while he is being addressed by the ALL-HIGHEST. The ALL-HIGHEST reaches over the dock rail to thump the wretched mortal's wretched head....
Bowdler rises deliberately. There is a hush. He is going to say something important. WILLIAM feels that at last the world is sane and duly attentive to him again. Bowdler submits that the state of mind of the accused person (accused person!) should be inquired into.
The judge very readily acquiesces; anything to get rid of the fellow. The prison doctor swears that he has never seen a lunatic if this isn't one. An assertive juryman, who disapproves of business being so rushed as not to permit of a hanging, expresses the view aloud that it is all put on. Silence ensues upon the anomaly of a juryman daring to express a view aloud; WILLIAM avails himself of this silence for the same purpose. His view, which was evidently intended to take some time in the expressing, starts off with personal reminiscences of the intimate friendship and business partnership between himself and the Almighty. The juryman at once gives in and the verdict is found before WILLIAM has completed his second sentence....
WILLIAM hears himself being ordered "to be detained during His Majesty's pleasure." The warder, propelling him down below stairs to the cells, makes it quite clear to WILLIAM that the Majesty referred to is not his (WILLIAM'S)....
Bowdler follows later to tell WILLIAM what a lucky fellow he is, and also to take off him one pound, three shillings and sixpence....
Yours ever, HENRY.
* * * * *
* * * * *
A "POCKET" BOROUGH.
"Beyrout, the ancient Berytus, is 55 miles WNW from Damascus. The port is strongly fortified, its walls being three inches in circumference."—East African Paper.
* * * * *
THE EUPHEMISTIC MOSLEM.
"DEATH OF TURKISH MINISTER.
"A Constantinople message reports that the Turkish Minister of the Interior has resigned."
* * * * *
"You recognize, of course, that the situation is exceptional," said Edith's mother. "You left New York on December 2, and arrived at Euston on December 13. To-day, December 18, you ask me for my daughter's hand, after a three days' acquaintance. Is this the usual American pace?"
"That is hardly my fault," I said. "We ran into a nasty bit of weather off Cape Race and lost twelve hours."
"Still," she said, "under the circumstances you will admit that I have the right to put a few questions. Edith is all I have. She has naturally not told me everything, but I gather you have spoken to her a good deal about yourself."
"Not more than three or four hours at a sitting," I replied.
"And you have never spoken to anyone else as you have to Edith?"
"Oh," she said.
"I wish it had been otherwise," I pleaded; "but life is very complex nowadays on both sides of the Atlantic. Much that I have told Edith I have also revealed to the passport clerk at Washington and the keeper of birth records in New York. Something too I confided to the assistant-book-keeper in the War Zone Bureau at the Custom-House in New York, to the cashier of the French consulate at home, and to the gateman of Cunard Pier 54, at the foot of West Fourteenth Street. I am sorry; I wish Edith had been the first to whom I gave up the inner secrets of my soul, but the fact is that to some extent she was anticipated by your Military Control-Officer at Liverpool."
"It might have been worse," she sighed. "You have nice manners and a good face. At home I suppose you are quite popular?"
"Up to the twenty-fifth of October I shouldn't have said so," I replied. "But since then a great many people have taken to me. Not quite like DORIS KEANE, you know, but still I have distributed in a little more than a month no fewer than three dozen photographs of myself two and a-half inches square. Your consul at New York took two, the French Chamber of Commerce took three, and I am having some more ready for the time when I go to make application for my emergency ration card, in case your food department proves equally susceptible. I have been asked out a great deal. The State Department at Washington made me come down for several weekends and your Military Officer at home had me in on three successive days."
"Mr. Smith," she said, "you seem an honest man. Do you, in your heart, believe yourself good enough for my Edith?"
"Had you asked me that six weeks ago," I said, "I should have answered 'No.' Before I spoke to Edith, that very same question flashed up within me. I saw the golden sheen of her hair in the moonlight—for you do sometimes have moonlight here in London—and wondered whether I had the right to speak. Of course I was not good enough for her, but still I felt that I was not altogether unfit. I might justly ask for her in the face of high Heaven, the Passport Bureau at Washington, the War Zone Bureau at the Custom-House, the head clerk at the Cunard office, the watchman at the pier, the official who changed my American money into your own very confusing monetary system, the man at the head of the gang-plank, the man at the foot of the gang-plank, the steward who filled my alien's declaration, the steward who gave me my landing-card, several battalions of control officers, and approximately half the Allied diplomatic services. When I spoke to Edith I had all the documents in my breast-pocket, and my heart glowed with justifiable confidence beneath them. The dear girl never asked for my college certificate and my luggage check, but I have them all here."
"Perhaps it isn't necessary," she said. "You may have her, my dear boy."
"Without even looking at my Czecho-Slovak vise my club dues for 1918, and my inoculation receipt for typhoid and paratyphoid A and B?" I stammered.
"You have a nice face," she said.
* * * * *
* * * * *
OUR GREAT UNKNOWN.
First Official. I say, who is the Head of the Thingumyjig Ministry—the one at the Hotel Giorgione?
Second Official. Haven't an idea. I thought it had been wound up.
First Official. Well, I'm not so sure of that. There was an announcement about it in the papers, and then an official dementi, and then the Minister resigned, and now I hear he has been reappointed.
Second Official. Then you evidently knew his name all along. Why on earth did you ask me?
First Official. You see, it's like this. I had a bet on with a man at the Club that out of ten Government officials not more than one would know the Minister's name. You didn't, and you happen to be the ninth who didn't, so I've won my bet. By the way, do you know what has become of the chef at the Giorgione?
Second Official. You mean old Savary, who was always gassing about his descent from NAPOLEON'S General? I think he went back to Paris some time ago.
First Official. Thanks; then I win my second bet—that out of ten Government officials five would know his name.
* * * * *
From a feuilleton:—
"She watched him catch the sticklebacks which were one day to turn into frogs."
Church Family Newspaper.
* * * * *
"The Crown Prince expressed hope he would one day be able to return to Germany and live there as a sample citizen."—Bath Herald.
We don't think quite so badly of the Germans as all that.
* * * * *
"To Property Owners and Hotel Proprietors.—Start Redecorating and Repairs now, before the rush comes, and gives the boys returning a chance for work."—Provincial Paper.
Personally, we shall postpone our order until the boys do come home.
* * * * *
* * * * *
A CONSPIRACY IN THE POULTRY-YARD.
DEAR MR. PUNCH,—I suppose it must be conceded that practical jokes have not the vogue that they once enjoyed. No longer do you discover some fine morning that the street in which you live is blockaded with furniture vans, all endeavouring to deliver furniture you don't require and never heard of before, while your staircase is a mass of flowers and fruit constantly increasing upon you and threatening to smother you with their amount no less than with their scent. It would gradually appear that the deliveries both of the flowers and the furniture were being executed in accordance with the orders of one of your friends, and that you had to grin and bear it as best you might. I cannot say that the victim or the general public, when they heard of it, looked upon it with any excess of enthusiasm. Anyhow, practical jokes have gone out.
Yet there is a kind of practical joke which, so far as I know, has never been played upon anybody, and which, if it wore played, might provoke a considerable volume of laughter and no small inconvenience. I have schemed it out and venture to submit the plan to you.
My idea is to take some weekly magazine which caters either for some special trade or amusement or pursuit. Let us imagine it to be The Chicken Run, with which is incorporated The Fowls' Guardian. I am entitled to assume that most of Mr. Punch's readers are acquainted with this bright and lively feathered journal. My plan is to get together some bold spirits, to capture the editor and his staff, and to hold them in a comfortable but rigorous imprisonment for one week; to take possession of the editorial office, and then to set to work to transform the contents of the paper. I foresee the amazement of the faithful readers of The Chicken Run, on being informed, in the column headed "Hints to Beginners," that Mr. LLOYD GEORGE'S pet Leghorn cockerel has developed a surprising taste for latchkeys, and recently swallowed two of them, while Mr. ASQUITH'S Buff Orpington pullet has taken to following him about like a dog and roosting on his bed-rail. Then there would be a breezy editorial article designed to prove that poultry had come out of the war with a much enhanced reputation, owing to the loyal part they had played in assisting the FOOD-CONTROLLER.
Further, there would be special articles proving, for instance, that champagne is the one drink on which all breeds of chickens increase and multiply their production of eggs, especially if hot caviare is afterwards administered in large bowls. Then there would be the first chapters of an enthralling serial whose plot revolved round the love-story of Sir Robert Wyandotte and Lady Cecilia Buttercup—a literary effort of unparalleled brilliancy due to the genius of a new novelist who preferred to be known as the Red Rover of Rhode Island. And so on and so on. If you think the scheme is feasible, let me hear from you and I will begin to get my team of villains together.
THE GAME CHICK.
* * * * *
"Women and young persons now employed in these works enjoy a miximum working week of fifty-five and a half hours."—Sunday Paper.
And, we suppose, a manimum wage.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
"THE BABES IN THE WOOD."
When I saw a dull red glow in the early evening sky above the great open flares that lit the portals of the Theatre Royal, I said to myself, "This brings the Peace home to one!" But those who think that England will never be the same after the War, that all things will become new and better, have not reckoned with the Drury Lane Pantomime. Its tactics may change, but its general strategy remains untouched by War or Peace. Under any name—Ali Baba or Aladdin, Puss in Boots or The Babes in the Wood—its savour is the same. If only a tenth part of the enterprise that goes to the making of its great pageants were devoted to the invention of a new subject, though it were only The Babes in Boots or Puss in the Wood! However, with Bolshevism in the air it is best perhaps not to tamper with British institutions.
Still, even within the limits imposed by immemorial tradition there surely must be somebody in the United Kingdom who could make a better book. It was pathetic that so capable a cast—Miss LILY LONG in particular—should have such second-rate stuff to say and sing. Seldom could one detect any attempt to evade the obvious. Of topical allusions, apart from timeworn themes of coupons and profiteers, there was scarce a sign, and such burlesque as there was had no sort of subtlety in it. Take, for example, the opportunity lost in the imitation of a bedroom scene from modern drama. It announced itself as something "West-Endy," yet it was like nothing (I imagine) even in the remote Orient. And constantly the poor play of esprit had to be carried off by the distracting thud of some falling body or covered by the deadening clash of the eternal cymbals.
It is significant, in this connection, that there never seems to be any male character in these pantomimes that is not committed to buffoonery. Apparently no reliance is placed on the unassisted humour of the dialogue. A funny remark must be clinched with a somersault, a repartee be driven home by a resounding smack on the face. You might have thought that on such an occasion there would be room for the figure of some gallant soldier of the masculine sex. Yet there wasn't a vestige of khaki in the whole show, and the only patriotic song assigned to a man's voice had to be delivered by the comic villain.
However, the actors were too good to be defeated by the authors; and the two couples—the Babes (Mr. STANLEY LUPINO as Horace and Mr. WILL EVANS as Flossie) and the Robbers (Messrs. EGBERT)—went far by their personal drollery and unflagging spirits to make up for any defect in the words. Each member of the two pairs played very loyally into the other's hands. Mr. ALBERT EGBERT indeed played into his brother's feet with equal devotion; and the good humour with which he accepted the fiercest blows on face and person seemed to indicate an exceptionally close fraternal understanding.
Mr. HARRY CLAFF as the Wicked Uncle (with a note or two in the operatic manner) belied his villainous nature by an unusually amiable temperament; and Miss FLORENCE SMITHSON, with her dainty air, furnished interludes of conventional song, during which we gave our ribs a rest.
The dancing, as usual, was rather perfunctory, if one excepts a pas de deux which gave promise of a parody of the Russians and turned out to be just a series of contortionist feats, brilliant but unlovely.
As good wine needs no bush, so good babes need no wood; but Messrs. McCLEERY and HUMPHRIES painted for them a quite nice one, where, after some very pleasant business with a brace of giant mushrooms that went up and down like a lift, the robins came and camouflaged the wanderers under a counterpane of fallen leaves, where they behaved much better than in ordinary beds. But the best scene was M. MARC HENRI's Temple of Peace—very beautiful with its dim perspective, till the garish light of "The Day" was turned on. Here the assertive colours of the Allies were tempered to an exquisite pale harmony, only slightly damaged by a nondescript contingent in pink (possibly neutrals) and the apparition of Mr. ARTHUR COLLINS and other gentlemen in black, who came on to receive the expression of our grateful approbation.
I stayed long enough into the Harlequinade to see little Prince OLAF of Norway, in QUEEN ALEXANDRA's box, capture a large cracker dexterously flung to him by the Pantaloon. So ended for me an evening more jocund than I have had the good grace to admit.
* * * * *
OUR CLASSICAL ADVERTISERS.
"The trade-mark name of tins coat—'Aquascutum'—is a Latin word, and translated into our own good English, 'Aqua,' means water. 'Scutum' means to shed. There you are—Watershed."
Advt. in Canadian Paper.
* * * * *
"They belileve that an not inconsiderable number of dddeeeeeddlllllllcleeeeeece cw pavem ponnun ex-parte opinions are given for what they may be worth."
For our part we belileve this estimate of the value of ex-parte opinions, of the kind indicated, to be sound, if rather scathing.
* * * * *
"In lieu of the February Sale and Spring Show, hitherto held in April, an important sale of pure-bred bulls will be held in the Show Grounds at Ballsbridge, on Thursday and Friday, 13th and 14th March."—Cork Examiner.
We trust the above specimen will be duly entered.
* * * * *
"After the act from Masks and Faces came the letter-reading, the murder and the sleepwalking scenes from Macbeth, with Miss Mary Anderson and Mr. Lyn Harding. Tragic poetry of this intensity, of course, knocks everything else endways."—Times.
Or, as SHAKSPEARE himself is said to have exclaimed, as he penned the last line of it, "That's the stuff to give 'em."
* * * * *
"There should also be mentioned the merchants' bank, Towarzystwo Pozyczkowe Przemyslowcow Miasta Poznania."
Journal of the Royal Statistical Society.
We have tried to mention it, but failed miserably.
* * * * *
"The Major then spoke of battles in which he had taken part. He had been wounded in the back leg and arm."—Evening News.
Bit of a dog, this Major.
* * * * *
"PROMOTION.-Rifleman P.R. Shand to be Sergeant Cock."—Ceylon Paper.
We hope Sergeant Cock was consulted about this.
* * * * *
* * * * *
(BY MR. PUNCH'S STAFF OF LEARNED CLERKS.)
Not infrequently our novelists will follow success with a boy hero by a sequel showing the same character grown up. Mr. E.F. BENSON, however, has reversed this process, and in a second book about David Blaize introduces him grown not up, but down. So far down, indeed, as to be able to pass through a door conveniently situated under his own pillow and leading to a dreamland of the most varied enchantments. I know, of course, what you are about to say; I can see your lips already forming upon the word Alice. But while I admit that David Blaize and the Blue Door (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) is frankly built after that famous plan this means no more than that Mr. BENSON has used, so to speak, the CARROLL formula as a medium for his agreeable fancies. These are altogether original and filled with the proper dream-spirit of inconsequence. Moreover the author has a pretty gift for remembering just the stuff that childhood's dreams are made of—such transfigured delights as swimming like fishes or flying in a company of birds; he knows too the odd tags of speech that linger there from daytime, things meaningless and full of meaning—"Rod-pole-or-perch," for example, or that thrice-blessed word, "Popocatapetl." Best of all, he has resisted the subtle temptation to be even momentarily too clever for his audience (you know the devastating effect that may be produced if a grown-up pauses on the edge of the circle and reminds the story-teller that he has a reputation for wit). In fine, this early dream of David's shows him fortunate in having an old family friend like Mr. Benson to write it down; also—what I must on no account forget—so sympathetic an artist as Mr. H.J. FORD to make it into pictures.
* * * * *
Those who have learnt to value their "TAFFRAIL" will find matter very much to their mind in his latest book, A Little Ship (CHAMBERS). I do not wish to institute any invidious comparisons between the marine mixture as provided by "TAFFRAIL" and that of other nautical writers, but this much I may say with perfect confidence: the men to be found in "TAFFRAIL'S" stories are true human stuff, sturdy, dogged in doing their duty, and brave almost beyond recklessness; but they are men all the time, and not solemn and consecrated angels. That is, I suppose, why I find that "TAFFRAIL'S" stories go straight to the mark and make their effect with no undue waste of time; and, if a little bit of laughter is occasionally worked in, so much the better. The last chapter in the book gives an account of the Zeebrugge expedition. The story is so bravely told that a man can hardly refrain from shouting in apprehension and exultation as he reads it.
* * * * *
I have a grudge against the publishers of Miss Mink's Soldier (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) because they have printed on its wrapper, "By the Author of Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch," which led me, perhaps foolishly, to hope that Mrs. Wiggs and I were to foregather once more, and when we didn't made me just a little surly towards a book of short tales which, opened with any other expectation, would have seemed much above the average. There are eight stories in the book, and in almost all of them is found that blend of pathos and humour that Mrs. ALICE HEGAN RICE has taught us to expect. I liked "Cupid Goes Slumming," because it was almost Cabbage Patch; but "Hoodooed," the story of an old negro who believed himself the victim of a spell which involved the presence of a cricket in his leg, delighted me even more. His wife removes the charm with a vacuum cleaner, in which she has previously secreted a cricket, and the victim recovers. It pleased me very much to learn that among "white folk's superstitions" is the theory that it is "bad luck to sleep with the windows shet," and, when I come to think of it, I believe that it is very bad luck indeed.
* * * * *
I should have liked GABRIELLE VALLINGS' Tumult (HUTCHINSON) a good deal better if she could have managed it without the aid of a Pan who wandered, emitting a strong smell, chiefly in the demesne of a very expensive and over-cultivated French noble. It was his daughter (by an Australian wife) who was suffering from an inordinate perplexity as to which half of her blood had the real call. The Australian half suggested that she should marry a gentleman-rider who won the Grand Prix in a canter, but fell at the winning-post because his horse shied at the irrepressible Pan. The French half—and both her parents—urged a dissolute and anaemic aristocrat—blue blood and a gold lining. Her grandfather, a strong unsilent sheep-rancher, was against this inept decadent and converted to his view that saintly worldling, the gorgeous Cardinal Camperioni. A neo-futurist of the most bizarre type prances through the pages upon his head, causing enough "tumult" to satisfy any one. So why drag in Pan? Miss VALLINGS can tell a story, cannot keep down the volume of her puppets' talk, has a sense of movement and colour, and ought to win for herself a good circulating library constituency.
* * * * *
For myself I have never yet lived in a sailing barge, and under the providence of Heaven trust to continue in this immunity. There are however those who regard the matter differently; and for their benefit I have no hesitation in recommending most warmly A Floating Home (CHATTO AND WINDUS), written by CYRIL IONIDES and J.B. ATKINS, and illustrated partly with photographs, partly with water-colour sketches by that various craftsman, Mr. ARNOLD BENNETT. Let me say at once that you have no need to be an amateur bargee, either by practice or desire, to enjoy this most entertaining volume. Witness my own case, who read every page of it with delight. It is a reasonable contention that a writer possessing the enthusiasm, the humour and the persuasive gifts of Mr. IONIDES, with a twelve-and-sixpenny book for their display, could present a case that would give some theoretic and superficial charm to the most uncomfortable conditions of existence. Not that A Floating Home is a work only of theory; on the contrary, nothing could be more practical than its account of the purchase, conversion and enjoyment of the Ark Royal. The most prejudiced—again I speak personally—will find pleasure in the author's zestful story of how the dingy, foul-smelling Will Arding, full of cement (and worse things), was transformed into the spick-and-span Ark Royal, with a piano in the saloon and Queen Anne silver on the breakfast-table; while for the persuadable there are added plans, scales of expense and the like, which bring the whole matter to a working basis. The book, in short, is propaganda at its best (was it perhaps this that attracted Mr. BENNETT?) and as such well entitled to its toll of converts.
* * * * *
Warriors and Statesmen (MURRAY) is a book selected from the "gleanings" of the late Lord BRASSEY. Such gleanings depend so largely on the personality of the gleaner that they may be worth anything or nothing; so let me say at once that Lord BRASSEY had too sound a taste to be a collector of ill-considered trifles. Although warriors have the place of honour in the title they are given but little space in the book. Still, in these days the soldier can well afford to let the statesman have the advantage in a collection that does not deal with the living. This limitation may explain the absence of all mention of Lord ROBERTS, who was probably still alive when the gleanings were completed. Apart from the evidence it gives of a fine mind the book preserves much that is worth remembering and presents it in a convenient form. For this we have in part to thank Mr. HORACE HUTCHINSON, to whom Lord BRASSEY entrusted the work of selecting these literary sheaves.
* * * * *
From the Home Front (CONSTABLE) is a further, and rather belated, selection from the War verses that have appeared from week to week on the second page of Punch. Conscious of cherishing a natural prejudice in favour of his own productions, Mr. Punch forbears to commend this little volume, but he may permit himself to say that, in the judgment of The Daily News, which is above suspicion of bias, it is calculated to provoke "a sorrow chequered by disgust."
* * * * *
"This royal throne of kings, This sceptical isle, this seat of Mars."
Quotation by Miss MARIE CORELLI in "The Pall Mall Gazette."
No man is a prophet in his own country, and this is how Shakespeare gets treated at Stratford-on-Avon.