The Project Gutenberg eBook of Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 159, November 24, 1920

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Title: Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 159, November 24, 1920

Author: Various

Editor: Owen Seaman

Release date: January 18, 2007 [eBook #20392]
Most recently updated: January 1, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by gvb, Jonathan Ingram and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at


Transcriber’s note:

The original has a number of inconsistent spellings and punctuation. Five corrections have been made for obvious typographical errors; these, as well as one doubtful spelling, have been noted individually in the text.


Vol. 159.

November 24, 1920.

[pg 401]


No sooner had the League of Nations met at Geneva than news came of the pending retirement of Mr. Charlie Chaplin. We never seem to be able to keep more than one Great Idea going at a time.

"Have you read Mrs. Asquith's Book?" asks an evening paper advertisement. "What book?" may we ask.

"In our generation," says Dean Inge, "there are no great men." It is said that Sir Eric Geddes will not take this lying down.

Since the Gloomy Dean's address at Wigmore Hall it is suggested that the world should be sold to defray expenses while there is yet time.

"What is wanted to-day," says Mr. H. M. Rioden, "is a Destruction of Pests Bill." "Jaded Householder" writes to say that when this becomes law anybody can have the name of his rate-collector.

"M. Rhallis, the new Greek Premier," says The Evening News, "is a regular reader of The Daily Mail." We had felt all along he was one of us.

"Dendrology," says a contemporary, "is an admirable pursuit for women." We seem to remember, however, that one of the earliest female arboriculturists made a sad mess of it.

According to the U.S.A. Bureau of Standards the pressure of the jaw during mastication is eleven tons to the square inch. If this is propaganda work on behalf of the United States' bacon industry we regard it as particularly crude.

A Sioux City millionaire is said to have paid two hundred pounds for a goat. He claims that it is the only thing in Iowa that has whiskers and isn't thirsty.

"Mr. Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, has just visited Edinburgh, his birthplace, after an absence of fifty years," says a news item. We can only say that if he invented our telephone he had reason to keep away.

"After all," says an evening paper, "the Coalition is only human." The Times, however, is not quite so sure about it.

It is said that Mr. Bottomley is about to make a powerful announcement to the effect that the present year will be nearly all over by Christmas.

In connection with the Ministry of Health Bill, we read, not a penny of additional expenditure or expense will fall on the ratepayer or taxpayer. People are now wondering whether the Government thought of that one themselves.

Balls made of newspapers soaked in oil are said to be a good substitute for coal. It seems as if newspapers are determined to get a good circulation somehow.

Cars that run into four figures were to be seen at many stands at the recent Motor Show. In the ordinary way motor-cars run into as many figures as get in their way.

It appears that the man who was knocked down in Charing Cross Road by a motor-scooter was one of the middle class, and so could not afford to have it done properly by a motor-car.

It is rumoured that a Radical paper is about to offer a prize of one hundred pounds for the best design for a Daily Mail halo.

A man charged at the Guildhall admitted that he had been convicted sixty-seven times. Indeed it is understood that he has only to say "Season" to be admitted to any police-court.

"Pussyfoot beaten," announces a headline. We hear, however, that he intends to have another try when the water-rate is not quite so high.

A Streatham youth has been fined ten shillings for causing a disturbance by imitating a cat at night. He said everything would have gone off well if somebody had not made a noise like a policeman.

"All men are cowards," declares a lady-writer in a weekly journal. Still it should be remembered that one of us married the lady who is now known as "Mrs. Grundy."

In describing a storm a local paper recently stated that waves seventy feet high lashed themselves to fury against the rocks. We have always been given to understand that waves never exceed fifteen feet, but we suppose everything has gone up since the War.

"When is the Government going to commence operations in connection with the Channel Tunnel?" asks a correspondent in a daily paper. We understand that unless the English homing rabbit, recently released at Calais, puts in an appearance on this side once again, the idea will be abandoned as impracticable.


"Shall I dust the bricky-brack, Mum?"
"Not to-day, Norah. I don't think we can afford it."

High Life Below Stairs.

"Head Laundress wanted, titled lady."

Irish Paper.

This is what results from washing dirty linen in public.


Un Télégramme du roi George Ier À M. Millerand."

Le Figaro.

The attention of the Postmaster-General should be drawn to the unusually long delay in delivery.

"The Rat Catcher then said 'Look behind.' I looked behind, and there on the seat was strapped a larger cake. This contained 145 live rodents."—Local Paper.

And now the pie with the four-and-twenty blackbirds must also take a back seat.

[pg 402]


A football eleven composed of work-girls from a Lancashire factory recently journeyed to Paris to play a team of French female footballers. With women forcing an entry into the ranks of minor professions, such as the Law and Politics, it is doubtful if even the sacred precincts of professional football can now be considered safe, and Mr. Punch wonders if he may soon find himself reading in the Sporting Columns of the Press paragraphs something in the nature of the following:—

Kitty Golightly, who has the reputation of being one of the fastest young women seen in London this season, has now definitely thrown in her lot with the Tottenham Hotstuff. Her forward work is likely to cause something in the nature of a sensation.

The dropping of Hilda Smith from the League team of Newcastle United has been much criticised by football enthusiasts throughout the country. We are, however, in a position to state that there has been trouble between Hilda Smith and the Newcastle Directors for some time past. It appears that Newcastle's brilliant full-back objected to wearing the Newcastle jersey, on the plea that its sombre colour-scheme did not suit her complexion. She pointed out that Fanny Robinson, the Newcastle goal-keeper, wore an all-red jersey and that, as the shade chosen was most becoming to anyone with dark hair, she (Hilda Smith) claimed the right to wear red also. The Newcastle Directors replied that under the laws of the Football Association the goal-keeper is required to wear distinctive colours from the rest of the team. That being so, Hilda Smith would only consent to turn out in future on condition that she should play in goal, and as the club management would not agree to displacing Fanny Robinson the only thing to be done was to leave Hilda Smith out of the side entirely.

What would have been a very serious misfortune to the team chosen to represent England in the forthcoming International against Wales has only just been averted. But for the common-sense and good feeling of all concerned, Dolly Brown, the English captain, might have found herself assisting the Welsh side instead of her own country's eleven. Not long ago this brilliant back became engaged to a Welsh gentleman from Llanfairfechan and the wedding had been fixed for Thursday next. Under the present state of the British Constitution a married woman takes on the nationality of her husband, and had the marriage been solemnized before the International Match on Saturday Dolly Brown would have been ineligible for England and available for Wales. On this being pointed out to her she at once consented to postpone her marriage, like the patriotic sportswoman she is, and in the meantime legislation is to be rushed through both Houses of Parliament to alter the absurd state of the law and retain for England the services of one of the finest backs that ever fouled a forward.

Mr. Ted Hustler, the popular chairman of the Villa North End Club, has been away from home for some days, rumour being strong in his native city that he has gone to Scotland after Jennie Macgregor. On our representative calling at Mr. Hustler's house this morning to inquire if it really were true that Mr. Hustler has for a long time had his eye on Jennie Macgregor, Mrs. Hustler, the charming wife of the chairman, was understood to reply that she would like to catch him at it.

The regrettable incident at Stamford Bridge on Saturday last, when Gertie Swift was sent off the field by the referee, is to our mind yet another example of the misguided policy of the League management. Gertie Swift was strongly reprimanded by Mr. G. H. Whistler, the official in charge of the match, for an alleged offence. Gertie Swift retorted. Mr. Whistler warned her. Gertie again retorted. Mr. Whistler then ordered Gertie to retire from the game. Whilst we quite agree that a referee must exercise a strong control it is perfectly obvious that no self-respecting woman player is going to allow any mere man to have the last word; and the sooner the Football Association realise this and dispense with the services of all male referees the better for the good of the game.

Our arrangements for a full report of the English Cup Final are now completed. Our fashion experts are to journey to London with both teams, and a detailed description of the hats and travelling costumes worn by the players will appear in an extra special edition of this paper. We understand that the two rival elevens are to turn out in silk jumpers knitted in correct club colours by the players' own fair hands during the more restful periods of their strenuous training.

A Casual Family.

"Small house or flat required; one child (off hand); any district."—Daily Paper.


(A comparative study of incentives to labour.)

The miner's rôle is not for me;

These manual jobs I always shun;

In the bright realm of Poesy

My thrilling daily task is done.

My songs are wild with beauty. This is one.

Yet has the miner, not the bard,

A life that runs in pleasant ways;

His labour may be pretty hard,

But, when compared with mine, it pays.

Scant the reward of my exhausting days.

I bear no grudge. I don't object

To watch his wages soaring high,

If, as I'm told, we may expect

To see him resolutely ply

His task with greater vigour. So must I.

Up, Muse, and get your wings unfurled!

My rhymes at double speed must flow;

Now, from this hour, the astonished world

Must see my output daily grow.

And why? I want some coal—a ton or so.

Coal is my greatest need, the crest

And pinnacle of my desires;

And as I toil with feverish zest

'Twill be the dream of blazing fires

That spurs me to my labour and inspires.

I wonder if the miner too

Has visions in his dark abyss

Which urge him on to hack and hew

That he may so achieve the bliss

Of buying great and deathless songs (like this).

Commercial Candour.

Notice in a Canadian book-shop:—

"It often happens that you are unable to obtain just the book you want. We specialise in this branch of book-selling."

"Observing a straw stack on fire opposite her house a woman removed her baby from the bath and poured the bath water on to the flames."—Evening Paper.

What we admire is her presence of mind in first removing the baby.

"Mr. and Mrs. John —— wish to return grateful thanks to all who so kindly contributed to their late great loss by theft."

Local Paper.

Always be polite to burglars. You never know when they may call again.

We understand that Smith minor, who in an examination paper wrote margot, instead of margo, as the Latin for "the limit," has been reprimanded severely by his master.

[pg i]
Row of copies of 'Mr. Punch's History of the Great War'

Mr. Punch's History of the Great War

THE OPTIMIST. "If this is the right village, then we're all right. The instructions is clear: Go past the post-office and sharp to the left afore you come to the church."


"If this is the right village, then we're all right. The instructions is clear: Go past the post-office and sharp to the left afore you come to the church."

Self-praise, it used to be held, is no recommendation; but that was before the War. The War has altered so many things that it may have altered this too, and self-praise be the best recommendation of all. Mr. Punch hopes so, because he wants to indulge for the moment in extolling one of his own products; he wishes, in short, to urge upon all his readers the merits of "Mr. Punch's History of the Great War." Everything is here, in very noteworthy synthesis; the tragedy and the comedy inextricably mingled, as they must ever be, but as by more formal historians they are not.

Such is Mr. Punch's opinion on Mr. Punch's own book, which is no formal history of the War in the strict or scientific sense of the phrase; no detailed record of naval and military operations. Rather it is a mirror of varying moods, reflecting in the main how England remained steadfastly true to her best traditions; a reflex of British character during the days of doubt and the hours of hope that marked the strenuous and wearying days of the War.

All ages and classes come into the picture—combatants and non-combatants, young and old, men and women. And Mr. Punch's pencil plays a part at least equal to that of his pen, the record of each month being generously supplied with cartoons and illustrations by famous Punch artists. Into these pages has been compressed just what we need to remember about the War, and we are reminded of things which we had already forgotten. Here is the tragedy and the pathos of the Great War—even the comedy of those great years of undying memory.

No more popular history of the War has been written; it has been eulogised everywhere, for it is a book that every citizen of the Empire should read and be proud to possess. As a Christmas gift it is ideal, and will be gladly welcomed not only by those at home, but also by those in Canada, Australia, India, South Africa, and other parts of our far-flung Empire, whose gallant sons shared the horrors and the victory of those four-and-a-half years.

[pg ii]

An Immortal Story

"Mr. Punch's History of the Great War" is a History we can all read, and all should read, for here is the record of the heroes who added to the glories of our blood and State—a roll that is endless—wonderful gunners and sappers, and airmen and despatch riders, devoted surgeons and heroic nurses, stretcher-bearers and ambulance drivers. "But Mr. Punch's special heroes are the Second-Lieutenants and the Tommy who went on winning the War all the time, and never said that he was winning it until it was won."

To read this book will help us to realise the great debt, unpaid and unpayable, to our immortal dead and to the valiant survivors, to whom we owe freedom and security.

It is "a corrective record," says The Times, "not only of what happened 'over there,' but of what people were saying and feeling at home"; while The Morning Post remarked: "Here Mr. Punch is the nation, deftly wielding the weapon of ridicule that has helped to kill so many enemy tyrants."

OUR MAN. With Mr. Punch's Grateful Compliments to Field-Marshal Sir DOUGLAS HAIG. ["Punch," November 29th, 1918.


With Mr. Punch's Grateful Compliments to Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig.

["Punch," November 29th, 1918.

This Most Acceptable Gift costs 10s. 6d. net

Postage Extra

Published by
CASSELL & Co., Ltd.
La Belle Sauvage, London, E.C.4


Use this Order Form for

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PLEASE supply to me.........cop...... of "Mr. PUNCH'S HISTORY OF THE GREAT WAR," at 10s. 6d. net, published by Cassell & Co., Ltd., La Belle Sauvage, London, E.C.4, by arrangement with the Proprietors of "Punch."
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[pg 403]




[pg 404]
Old Josh (who has just purchased stamp). "WOULD YER MIND A-STICKIN' OF IT ON FOR ME, MISSIE? OI BAIN'T NO SCHOLARD."

Old Josh (who has just purchased stamp). "Would yer mind a-stickin' of it on for me, missie? Oi bain't no scholard."


III.—Sir Eric Geddes.

Which is boyhood's commonest ambition, to run away to sea or to be something on a railway line? And how few, when they are grown up, find that they have realised either of these desires! The present Minister of Transport has freely confessed to his intimates that more than once, when he was floating paper-boats in his bath or climbing a tree in the garden to look out for icebergs from the crow's-nest, he felt in his child's heart that water was the ultimate quest, the adventure, the gleam. And yet for many a long year railways entranced and enslaved him. Often he would sit for hours, forgetful of the griddle cakes rapidly being burnt to a cinder, and gaze at the puffs of steam coming from the spout of the kettle or the quick vibrations of its lid, planning in his mind some greater and better engine that should be known perhaps as The Snorting Eric, and be enshrined in glass on Darlington platform.

Once, when he had bought a small model stationary engine and the methylated spirit lamp had by some accident set fire to the carpet, he was found after the conflagration had subsided standing serenely amongst the wreckage. When challenged as to its cause, "I cannot tell a lie," he replied calmly; "I did it with my little gadget." A few months later he and the present Ambassador of Great Britain at Washington had constructed a double line of miniature tracks, which connected all the rooms on the ground floor of the house and considerably interfered with the parlourmaid's duties. It was known to the family as the Great Auckland Railway. Another favourite hobby of the young engineer was to lie on his back and watch the spider spin her web, comparing the results with a railway map of Great Britain. It was seldom that he went to bed without having learnt at least a page of Bradshaw by heart.

Going from strength to strength this apparently dreamy lad had climbed the giddy rungs of fame until, at the outbreak of war, he stood with the ball at his feet and the title of Deputy General Manager of the N.E.R. It was he who had invented the system whereby the handle of the heating apparatus in railway carriages could be turned either to off or on without any consequent infiltration of steam, thereby saving passengers from the peril of death by suffocation. It was he who, thumping the table with an iron fist, had insisted vehemently that caged parrots travelling in the rack should, if capable of speech, be compelled to pay the full fare. It was he who effected one of the greatest economies that the line had ever known by using rock-cakes which had served their term of years in the refreshment-room as a substitute for the keys which hold the metals of the permanent way in their chairs.

In the summer of 1914 he was about to adopt a patent device for connecting the official notices in compartments with gramophones concealed under the seats in such a way that when humourists had by dint of much labour made the customary emendations, such as "It is dangerous to leap out of the windows," "To stop the   rain pull down the chain" and "To   eat five persons only," a loud and merry peal of laughter should suddenly hail the completed masterpiece.

Armageddon supervened, and the rest of Sir Eric Geddes' career is history. When a new and sure hand was needed [pg 405] at the Admiralty, Mr. Lloyd George was not long in making the only suitable choice. Sir Eric Geddes' bluff hearty manner, positively smacking, despite his inland training, of all that a viking ought to smack of, had long marked him out as the ideal ruler of the King's Navy, and his name was soon known and feared wherever the seagull dips its wing. Underneath the breezy exterior lay an iron will, like a precipitate in a tonic for neurasthenia, and scarcely had he boarded the famous building in Whitehall and mounted his quarter-deck (Naval terms are always used at the Admiralty, the windows being called "port-holes" and the staircases the "companion") than victory began to crown the arms of the Senior Service.

But peace no less than war finds an outlet for the energies of the old sea-dog, and the veriest hint of a railway strike finds him ready with flotillas of motor lorries in commission and himself in his flag char-à-banc, aptly named the Queen of Eryx, at their head. Lever, marlin-spike or steering wheel, it is all one to the brain which can co-ordinate squadrons as easily as rolling-stock, to the man who is now sometimes known as the Stormy Petrol of the Cabinet. Yet even so the sailor is strongest in him still. It is not generally known that Sir Eric has already cocked his weather eye at our inland waterways as an auxiliary line of defence in case of need. Experience has taught him that it is even now quicker to travel, let us say, from Boston (Lincs.) to Wolverhampton, by river and canal than by rail, and the future may yet see Thames, Trent and Severn churned to foam by motor barges of incredible rapidity, distributing the nation's food supplies.

This is one of the things that the Ministry of Transport has, so to say, up its sleeve, and is alone a sufficient answer to those who suggest that this Ministry has outlived its hour. There is a grim Norse spirit amongst its officials, inspired perhaps by their chieftain's name, and already the plans for a first-class Pullman galley are under way. As Longfellow sings:—

"Never saw the wild North Sea

Such a gallant company

Sail its billows blue;

Never, while they cruised and quarrelled,

Old King Gorm or Blue Tooth Harold,

Owned a ship so well apparelled,

Boasted such a crew."


"Mr. P. G. H. Fender, the Surrey cricket captain who has gone out with the M.C.C. team to Australia, is preparing a book on the tour, for which he has chosen the title of 'Defending the Ashes.'"—Weekly Paper.

Quite the proper function for a Fender.

Tailor (to yokel who has brought suit back "WHAT'S WRONG? DON'T THEY FIT?" Yokel "OH, AY, THEY FIT ALL RIGHT, BUT (pointing to fashion-plates) WOT'S USE O' THEY PICTURES IF YOU BAIN'T GOIN' TO BIDE BY UN."

Tailor (to yokel who has brought suit back). "What's wrong? Don't they fit?"

Yokel. "Oh, ay, they fit all right, but (pointing to fashion-plates) wot's use o' they pictures if you bain't goin' to bide by un."


Once in a fold of the hill I caught them—

All by my lone was I—

Out on the downs one night in Autumn,

Under a moonlit sky.

There on a smooth little green rectangle

Sparkled the lines of dew;

Over the court with their wings a-spangle

Four little fairies flew;

Skeleton leaves in their hands for racquets

(All in a ring around

Brownies and elves in their bright green jackets

Watched from the rising ground).

Then, as I crept up close for clearer

Sight of the Fairy Queen,

Oberon, throned on a toadstool near her,

Carolled out "Love fifteen."

Over a net of the fairies' knitting

(Fine-spun gossamer thread)

Smallest of tiny puff-balls flitting

Hither and thither sped.

So for a minute I watched them, shrinking

Low in the gorse-bush shade;

Then, like a mortal fool unthinking,

Shouted aloud, "Well played!"

Right in the midst of an elfin rally

Sudden I stood alone;

Far away over the distant valley

Fairies and elves had flown.

[pg 406]


[From which will be perceived not only that telephonic communication exists between Fiume and Lucerne, but also that there is an easy way out of the difficulty with Greece if only the League of Nations will utilise the instrument that lies to their hand.]

D'Annunzio (testily). Hello, Lucerne! Hello! Is that the Greek King?

Confound this buzz! Is that you, Tino? Speaking.

King Constantine.

What do you want? I'm packing up my grip.

D'Ann.D'Annunzio speaks. Attend the trumpet's lip.

Snatching a few brief moments, Constantine,

Out of my business morning—eight to nine,

Composing epic poems; nine to one,

Consolidating our position in the sun

(Sweet Alexandrine!), breakfast, bath and post,

A raid or two on the Dalmatian coast,

Speeches, parades and promulgating laws

Which, being published to my followers, cause

Loud cries of "Author!" and sustained applause;

Such is the round of toil that leaves not limp

Fiume's favoured Pontifex et Imp.—

I thought I'd ring you up. Well, well, what is it?

King Con.

D'Ann. I hear you are proposing to revisit

Athens. Well, if I am, what's that to you?

King Con.

D'Ann. This, that, whilst gazing at the local blue

The other day, I hit upon the plan

Of conquering the Mediterranean,

Including the Ægean and the finer

Portions, most probably, of Asia Minor,

And holding them as provinces beneath

Fiume and my own imperial wreath.

King Con. Go on, then, dash you. I shall soon begin;


But I decline to have you butting in.

Tyrants there still may be, but not the sort

Discarded from a philo-Teuton Court;

The tolerant warmth that sheds a kind of lustre

Over a stout Ausonian filibuster

Does not extend to thoroughly bad hats

Like abdicated Hellene autocrats.

And, if the Allies feel some slight reserve

About resisting your confounded nerve,

I, Gabriele, do not. You may be

A kind of subject satrap under me;

If not, look out. You shall have cause to know

The singing eagles of D'Annunzio.

King Con. I'll think it over. Do so swiftly then;


Meanwhile good morning; I must see some men—

Also the Muse. She waits upon my pen.

[Rings off.


"How many cocktails are there? 'William,' the mixer at the Royal Automobile lub, who was for eayrs at the Hotel ecil, states that he can produce some 70 varieties without repeating himself."

Daily Paper.

And did the author of the above paragraph try them all?

"Towards the conclusion of the meeting Miss Dolly —— sang the solo 'The City of Light' in a very able style, and, as Mr. —— mentioned in a vote of thanks, which he proposed, seconded and supported, to the Chairman, speaker, accompanist, and soloist, she excelled herself."—Local Paper.

We understand that the Gasworkers' Union has remonstrated with the orator on his excessive output.


Brackley is a good fellow, but I loathe him.

How would you like it if you were tied to work and every now and then a man came up to you in your club and said, "Old man, do come away with me to the Pyrenees and shoot jummel," or "Can't you spare a month, old fellow, to come stalking ibex in Montenegro with me?" or "Look here, you're just the chap I want to run over to Alaska with me for a pot at the grizzlies"?

Just a fortnight ago Brackley came and told me of a delightful rough shooting he had rented in an obscure corner of Ireland. According to him it was a congested snipe area. You could not see the pools for wild-duck. The honking of wild-geese kept one awake at night. The drawback to the estate was that you were always tripping over hares.

"You won't be safe there," I said to Brackley.

"I'm safe anywhere," said Brackley. "Work it on system. In Arabia send the mullah a bottle of brandy. On the Continent stand the local mayor a bottle of wine. In Ireland ask the priest up to drink whiskey with you in the evening. So long as the authorities have their thirst relieved there's never trouble. Now just come for a fortnight. There'll be crowds of snipe. I'm told there are woodcock too."

I was adamant.

"Well," sighed Brackley, "I'll send you a card to say how I get on."

When his postcard arrived it ran:—


Ten brace snipe.

Four landrail.

One brace partridge.

Three wild-duck.

Nine hares.

One woodcock.

"What ho!"

Isn't that an aggravating card to get when you are deep in the most elusive and trying chase of all—the money hunt?

I wrote Brackley a scornful postcard:—

"Go on with your baleful schemes. Wallow in slaughter. Roll in blood. Devastate the district. As an honest hard-working Englishman I regard you with utter contempt."

Three days later Brackley slapped me on the back in our club.

"What are you doing here?" I said. "Don't tell me the snipe have gone on strike."

"All your fault," he grumbled. "About half-an-hour after I got your infernal postcard six outsize Republican soldiers called on me and gave me just ten minutes to get a car and drive to the station. I told them what a silly fool you were and that it was one of your wretched jokes; but you can't expect an Irishman to see a joke. I tried to explain it; I said that you referred to my exploits as a sniper; and they replied that sniping was their department and nobody else's.

"So I decided to come home and arrange for some shooting in a place where there's a bit of peace. I'm thinking of going after the ongdu antelopes in Somaliland. You can't spare three months, can you?"

"Why didn't you face it out?" I said, knowing that Brackley had spent four years and two months of his life shooting Huns.

"Not worth while. I could have had a guard, of course. But you can't expect decent snipe-shooting when there's a lot of promiscuous firing going on in the district. The snipe is a peculiarly nervous bird, you know."

[pg 407]


[pg 408]

Porter. "Do you want to sit next to one another, or vice-versa?"


[The Vice-Chairman of No. 1 Committee of the League of Nations, dealing with general organisation, is Mr. Wellington Koo, the distinguished Chinese diplomatist.]

Serene and Celestial Sage,

How well you revive and renew

The delights of an age when good "Bab" was the rage—

Eminent Wellington Koo!

For I feel, though I may be a fool,

You were reared in remote Rum-ti-Foo,

Maybe suffered at school its episcopal rule—

Tolerant Wellington Koo.

Next I see you adorning the scene

In the city of fair Titipu,

Garbed in green and in gold, very fine to behold—

Sumptuous Wellington Koo.

Then you probably met Captain Reece

And all his affectionate crew,

Who knew no decrease of their comfort and peace—

Nautical Wellington Koo.

Clonglocketty Angus McClan

I fear was withheld from your view;

That unfortunate man was not fated to scan

Fortunate Wellington Koo.

But my reason instinctively tells

It was you who contrived to imbue

With his knowledge of spells John Wellington Wells

Magical Wellington Koo.

"Morality, heavenly link,"

I'm sure you will never taboo,

Though to it I don't think you'll "eternally drink"—

Temperate Wellington Koo.

It is rather malicious, I own,

To play with a name that is true,

But I hope you'll condone my irreverent tone—

Generous Wellington Koo.

"Royal Exiles.

Some archdukes have become clerks, and many have become governesses and ladies' maids."—Tasmanian Paper.

For these last two posts, their archness would, we think, be an irresistible qualification.

"Nurses Wanted.

540 Hours Working Week.

Extra pay at special rates for any time worked in excess of ordinary working hours."

Provincial Paper.

The generous provision for "overtime" makes the above offer unusually attractive.


(That is, if the House of Commons were like our School Debating Society—as indeed it is—and if its proceedings were reported with the incisive brevity of our School Magazine—and why not?)

On Wednesday the Society held its 2,187th meeting. There was some regrettable rowdiness during Private Business, and A. Moseley (Collegers) had to be ejected for asking too many questions. Members must not bring bags of gooseberries into the debates.

In Public Business the motion was:—

"That in the opinion of this House Science is better than Sport."

D. Lloyd George, Proposer (School House), said that Science had won the War, and quoted Wireless Telegraphy and Daylight Saving to prove this. The most successful Generals had had a scientific training. His uncle had met a General who knew algebra and used it at the Battle of the Marne. Only two first-class cricketers had ever been in the Cabinet. Three scientists had. The earth went round the sun. The moon went round the earth. Rivers flowed into the ocean.

An improving speaker, who is inclined to be carried away by his enthusiasm. Too many metaphors.

[pg 409]

H. Asquith, Opposer (Collegers), said that the speech of the hon. Proposer was a tissue of fabrications, as ineffective as they were insincere. Never in the whole course of his career had he encountered a subterfuge so transparent, a calumny so shameless as the attempt of the Hon. Prop., he might say the calculated and cynical attempt of the Hon. Prop., to seduce from their faith the tenacious acolytes of Sport by the now threadbare recital of the dubious and, on his own showing, the anæmic enticements of Science. The War had proved that Science was no good.

This speaker is steadily improving, but he has a tendency to a "fatal fluency," and he must beware of high-sounding phrases. Also too many passages in his speech sounded like quotations.

A. Bonar Law, Seconder (Commoners), said that the War had proved that Sport was no good. Gas had been invented by Science. He pointed out the importance of astronomy in navigation.

A rapidly improving speaker. But he must not mumble.

E. G. Prettyman (Hodgeites) said that farming was both a science and a sport. The canal system of Great Britain had been neglected.

Some neat little epigrams.

Leslie Scott (Collegers) said that his father was a lawyer. Science had been used in the Russo-Japanese War.

This speaker was not at his best. Perhaps it was the gooseberries.

Leslie Wilson (Hittites) said that his Christian name was the same as the previous speaker's—(Laughter)—but his views were very different. (Loud laughter.) He would like to ask the House which had done most in the War—Tanks or Banks.

The speech of the evening. Witty and well-argued. But he must not fidget with his waistcoat-buttons.

W. S. Churchill (Hivites) said that this was a revolutionary motion. Sport and Science must stand together. True sport was scientific and true scientists were sportsmen. (Applause.) Together they would stand as an imperishable bulwark against the relentless tide of Socialism. Divided they would fall.

A steadily improving speaker, but he must not recite.

H. A. L. Fisher (Collegers) was in favour of Proportional Education.

He must not lecture.

E. Geddes (Perizzites) said he did not mind what game he played. Rugger, Soccer, Hockey, Cricket, Lacrosse, Rounders—he was equally at home with all of them.

An improving speaker. He must not speak at the roof; there is no one there.

F. Banbury (Sittites) must not go on and on.

A. Mond (Moabites) must not fidget with his feet.

H. D. King (Hivites) said that sailing was scientific.

He has not been heard before.

R. Kenworthy (Day-boy) must not be heard again.

R. Brace (Coalites) must not wheedle.

Adamson (Coalites) must not shout.

A. Addison (Collegers) was inaudible where we were.

E. Carson (Jebusites) was inaudible everywhere. But we gather we did not miss much. He must speak up.

W. Benn (Amalekites) was invisible.

A. Balfour (Stalactites) was insensible. But why not sleep in the dormitory?

R. Cecil mi. (Parasites) must not preach.

J. Devlin (Meteorites) said that Ireland was a nation. But he must not get excited.

R. Cecil ma. (Collegers) must not eat while he is speaking. Otherwise a gentlemanly speech.

The President summed up and the Motion was carried by 12 votes to 11.

A. P. H.




[pg 410]


"Ladies and gents, I 'ope you will let me 'ave your kind attention while I give a rendering of 'Rule, Britannia,' the national song of Britain, accompanyin' myself on the 'arp, wich I learned to play wen I was servin' in the army of occupation in that remote and barbarous island."


Dear Mr. Punch,—This is one of those social problems which end by asking what A should do, only in this case I want to know what you would do.

It happened on the first day of my leave, just after I had, as is my custom on this day, had my hair cut and otherwise made beautiful at a place in Bond Street. (I am afraid this sounds as if I was a rich man, but really I am a Naval Officer.)

I was wearing—well, that would not interest you, but it really was rather a pleasant suit, with a hat which even The Daily Mail could not improve upon. Briefly, I was strolling along in a perfectly contented frame of mind when a horse, drawing a van, chose to fall down right alongside me.

In a moment of rashness and chivalry—have I said that the horse was being driven by a girl?—I promptly sat on the brute's head, an act which I had always been told is the correct thing to do, though, I should imagine, discouraging for the horse.

In my haste I sat down with my back to the van, so was unable to gauge the progress of the refitting work which was going on.

In an effort to convey to the crowd, which had, of course, collected, that I was in no way embarrassed, nay more, that I was well accustomed to sitting on horses' heads in the middle of Bond Street, I lit a cigarette and tried to look blasé, no easy thing to do in the circumstances.

Small boys made tactless remarks about my personal appearance and eccentric habits, but I ignored them, feverishly thinking that this adventure would necessitate an early visit to my club. I had just decided what brand of cocktail would best meet the case when I felt a tap on my shoulder and looked up at a vast blue expanse which I realised later was a policeman.

"If you've quite finished with that there 'orse you're sitting on, young man," he said, "the leddy wants to take it 'ome."

The crowd chuckled and I rose hurriedly. Unfortunately, so did the horse, urged on, possibly by the cries and kicks of several willing helpers, or possibly by the sight of his mistress, who had come up, I hoped, to thank me.

Not only did the horse rise, but he rose at full speed and without giving me time to get my foot off the rein on which I was unwittingly standing.

My leg shot into the air and I lost all sense of direction for a few seconds. Then a slight shock, and I found myself clasping the "leddy" firmly round the neck.

At this juncture my aunt appeared.

My aunt, I should explain, is nothing if not dignified. She is built on the lines of a monitor, bluff in the bow, broad in the beam, slow and majestic of movement. Her lips were moving feebly when I saw her, but she uttered no sound, uncertain, I suppose, whether to intervene or to pretend that I was in no way connected with her.

Paralysed by her arrival, I saw her slowly take in the scene. Her eye wandered from the policeman to me, from me to the unfortunate girl to whom I still clung. I could see her jumping—no, moving ponderously—towards the wrong conclusion.

Mr. Punch, what would you have done?

Yours faithfully,    An N.O.

[Your first thought should have been for the girl, whom you had clearly compromised in your aunt's eyes. You should at once have introduced her to that lady as your long-lost fiancée. Later in the afternoon you could have called on your relative and told her that you had mislaid the girl again—this time irretrievably.—Ed.]

[pg 411]


Athena (to her Owl). "SAY 'TINO'!"


[pg 412]
[pg 413]


Monday, November 15th.—To induce the House of Lords to accept a measure for the compulsory acquisition of land is analogous to the process of getting butter out of a dog's mouth; and it is not surprising that Lord Peel essayed the task of getting a second reading for an Acquisition of Lands Bill in rather gingerly fashion. When one remembered a racy correspondence in the newspapers over certain Midlothian farms one could hardly have been surprised if the Laird of Dalmeny had reappeared in the arena, flourishing his claymore. But, alas! he still remains in retirement, and it was left to Lord Sumner to administer some sound legal thwacks and, in his own words, to "dispel the mirage which the noble Viscount raised over the sand of a very arid Bill." He did not oppose the Second Reading, but hinted that if ever it emerged from Committee its own draftsman would not know it.

The President of the Board of Trade must regard Monday with rather mixed feelings. That is the day on which Questions addressed to his Department have first place on the Order-paper; and accordingly he has a lively quarter-of-an-hour in coping with the contradictory conundrums of Cobdenites and Chamberlainites. On the whole he treads the fiscal tight-rope with an imperturbability worthy of Blondin. A Tariff Reformer, indignant at the increased imports of foreign glass-ware, provoked the query, "Does my hon. friend regard bottles as a key-industry?" And a Wee Free Trader who sarcastically inquired if foreign countries complained of our dumping cement on them at prices much above the cost in this country was promptly told that "that is the very reverse of dumping."



Conductor Addison (to Driver Law). "What, you can't get 'ome by Christmas with all them passengers on top? Well, why didn't you tell me before I took 'em on?"

Sir Donald Maclean was rewarded to-night for all his uphill work as leader of the Wee Frees before—and since—Mr. Asquith's reappearance. On the Financial Resolution of the Ministry of Health Bill his eloquent plea for the harassed ratepayers received an almost suspiciously prompt response from Mr. Bonar Law, who admitted that it was inconvenient to drive an "omnibus" measure of this kind through an Autumn Session, and intimated that thirteen of its clauses would be jettisoned. An appeal from Lady Astor, that the Government should not "economise in health," fell upon deaf ears. Dr. Addison not only enumerated the thirteen doomed clauses, but threw in a fourteenth for luck.

Tuesday, November 16th.—I don't suppose Lord Crewe and the other noble Lords who enlarged upon the theme "Persicos odi" expected to embarrass the Foreign Secretary by their cross-questioning. Persia is to Lord Curzon what "de brier-patch" was to Brer Rabbit. He has been cultivating it all his life, and knows every twist and turn of its complicated history, ancient and modern. The gist of his illuminating lecture to the Peers was that our one aim had been to maintain Persian independence with due regard to British interests, and that it now rested with the Persians themselves to decide their own destiny.



Lord Curzon.

Hopes of a relaxation of the passport restrictions were a little dashed by Mr. Harmsworth's announcement that the fees received for British visas amounted to some fifty per cent. more than the cost of the staff employed. The Government will naturally be loth to scrap a Department which actually earns its keep.

The War Minister was again badgered about the hundred Rolls-Royces that he had ordered for Mesopotamia. Now that we were contemplating withdrawal was it necessary to have them? To this Mr. Churchill replied that the new Arab State would still require our assistance. A mental picture of the sheikhs taking joy-rides in automobiles de luxe presented itself to Mr. Hogge, who gave notice that he should "reduce" the Army Estimates by the price of the chassis. A little later Mr. Churchill came down heavily on an innocent Coalitionist who had proffered suggestions as to the better safeguarding of the troops in Ireland. "Odd as it may seem," he told him, "this aspect of the question has engaged the attention of the military authorities."

In the course of debate on the Agricultural Bill, Mr. Acland hinted that Sir F. Banbury, one of its severest critics, was out of touch with rural affairs. Whereupon Mr. Pretyman came to the rescue with the surprising revelation that the junior Member for the City of London, in addition to his vocations as banker, stockbroker and [pg 414] railway director, had on one occasion carried out the functions of "shepherd to a lambing flock." The right hon. Baronet, who is known to his intimates as "Peckham," will have Mr. Pretyman to thank if his sobriquet in future is "Little Bo-Peep."

Wednesday, November 17th.—The Lords, having welcomed the Bishop of Durham—a notable addition to the oratorical strength of the Episcopal Bench—proceeded to show that even the lay peers had not much to learn in the matter of polite invective. Lord Gainford invited them to declare that the Government should forthwith reduce its swollen Departmental staffs and incidentally relieve our open spaces from the eyesores that now disfigure them. Perhaps he laid overmuch stress upon the latter part of his motion, for the Ministerial spokesman rode off on this line—Lord Crawford confessing that his artistic sensibility was outraged by these "horrible hutments"—and said very little about cutting down the staffs. This way of treating the matter dissatisfied the malcontents, who voted down the Ministry.



(After the Pompeii mosaic.)

With Mr. Punch's best wishes to Captain Wedgwood Benn.

The Front Opposition Bench in the Commons was almost deserted at Question-time. Presently the appearance of Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy in unusually festive attire furnished an explanation. After forty years of bachelorship and four of fighting, Wedgwood Benn is Benedict indeed; and his colleagues were attending his wedding-festivities.

The Secretary to the Admiralty has not yet attained to the omniscience in Naval affairs that his predecessor acquired in the course of twelve years' continuous occupancy of the post. But Sir James Craig can handle an awkward questioner no less deftly than "Dr. Mac." Witness his excuse for not replying to a "Supplementary":—"The hon. and gallant gentleman must understand that I attach so much importance to his questions that I wish to be most punctilious in my answers." Who could persist after that?

Mr. Bonar Law stated that the treaties by which Great Britain and France were responsible for constitutional government in Greece came to an end in August last. Consequently the two Powers have "a completely free hand" in regard to the Greek Monarchy. But he begged to be excused from saying in what manner that "free hand" would bee used if Tino should think of returning.

Thursday, November 18th.—In the Lords the Acquisition of Land Bill had most of its teeth drawn. Lord Sumner was the most adroit of the many operators employed, and he used no gas.

The usual dreary duel of Nationalist insinuation and Ministerial denial in regard to Irish happenings was lightened by one or two interludes. Mr. Jack Jones loudly suggested that the Government should send for General Ludendorff to show them how to carry out reprisals. "He is no friend of mine," retorted the Chief Secretary, with subtle emphasis. Later he read a long letter from the C.-in-C. of the Irish Republican Army to his Chief of Staff discussing the possibility of enlisting the germs of typhoid and glanders in their noble fight for freedom. The House listened with rapt attention until Sir Hamar came to the pious conclusion, "God bless you all." Amid the laughter that followed this anti-climax Mr. Devlin was heard to ask, "Was not the whole thing concocted in Dublin Castle?" Well, if so, Dublin Castle must have developed a sense of humour quite foreign to its traditions. Perhaps that is the reason why the Prime Minister, earlier in the Sitting, expressed the opinion that "things in Ireland are getting much better."



Counsel for Prosecution arrives from London.

The Proceedings.

Notes on the Leading Personalities in the Great Drama.

Prisoner Adkins' Awkward Admission.

[Note.—The author is surprised, not to say pained, at the conspiracy of silence on the part of the daily Press, as a result of which he is left to write this matter up himself. However ...]

A sombre court-house of Quarter Sessions, the light with difficulty penetrating the dusty panes of the windows. On the so-called Bench sits the Bench so-called; in point of fact there are half-a-dozen ripe aldermen sitting on chairs, in the midst of which is an arm-chair, and in it Mr. Augustus Jones, the Recorder of Bilbury.

Born in 1873 of rich but respectable parents; called, with no uncertain voice, to the Bar in 1894; of a weighty corpulence and stormy visage, Mr. Jones now settles himself in his arm-chair to hear and determine all this business about Absalom Adkins and the Boots. How admirably impressive is Mr. Jones's typically English absence of hysteria, his calm, his restfulness. Indeed, give Mr. Jones five minutes to himself and it is even betting he would be fast asleep.

The Clerk of the Court with awful dignity suggests getting a move on. Mr. Blaythwayte who, as well as Clerk of the Court is also Town Clerk of Bilbury, was born in 1850 and, having survived the intervening years, now demands the production of the prisoner from below. Looking at this dignitary one gets the poetic impression of a mass of white hair, white moustache, white whiskers, white beard and white wig, with little bits of bright red face appearing in between. From a crevice in one of these patches come the ominous words, of which we catch but a sample or two: "... Prisoner at the bar ... for that you did ... steal, take and carry away ... pairs of boots ... of our Lord the King, his crown and dignity."

At this moment there arrives in court [pg 415] a sinister figure wearing the wig and gown so much affected by the English Bar. Plainly a man of character and of moment; obviously selected with great care for this highly difficult and delicate matter. His features are sharp, clean-cut. One feels that they have been sharpened and cut clean this very morning. In his hand he holds the fateful brief, pregnant with damnatory facts. He makes his way into the pen reserved "For Counsel only." The usher locks him in for safety's sake.

Persons in the Drama (so far).

Mr. Augustus Jones. Recorder. Born in 1873.

Mr. Joseph K. Blaythwayte. Clerk of the Court. Born in 1850.

Absalom Adkins, of uncertain age, supposed boot-fancier.

Our Lord the King, whose peace, crown and dignity are reported to have been rudely disturbed by the alleged activities of Absalom Adkins.

Who is this strong silent man, this robed counsellor trusted with the case of the Crown? Who is it? It is I! Born in the year—but if I'm to tell my life story it's a thousand pounds I want. Make it guineas and I will include portraits of self and relations, with place of birth, inset.

The scenario (or do we mean the scene?) is now complete. Leading characters, minor characters, chorus, supernumeraries and I myself are all on the stage. Absalom Adkins, clad in a loose-fitting corduroy lounge suit and his neck encased in a whitish kerchief, rises from his seat. Mr. Jones, the Recorder, does much as he was doing before—nothing in particular. Counsel for the prosecution re-reads his brief, underlines the significant points, forgets that his pencil is a blue one and licks it. On a side-table, impervious to their surroundings and apparently unconcerned with their significance, sit the crucial boots.

"How say you, Absalom Adkins"—such the concluding words of the Clerk, the finish of the prologue which rings up the curtain on this human drama—"how say you? Are you guilty or not guilty?"

"Guilty," says Absalom, and that ends it.

Later a large and enthusiastic crowd outside (had there been one) might have seen a man with clean and sharp-cut features carrying a bag in one hand and an umbrella in the other, stepping lightly on to a Bilbury corporation tram, station bound. This is the counsel for the prosecution (still me), his grave responsibilities honourably discharged, hurrying back to the vortex of metropolitan life.

F. O. L.


Vicar. "I understand from the doctor that your husband is hearing better with this ear."

Darby. "Eh, what? What's 'e say, Joan?"

Joan. "'E says 'e understands from the doctor that you're 'earing better with that there."

From a stores catalogue:—

"The —— Wringer.

Guaranteed for one year—Fair wear and tear excepted."

There is always a catch somewhere.

"A consignment of Rumanian eggs has arrived in this country. This shipment, which is the first to arrive since the war closed this source of supply in 1914, consists of 100 cases, each containing 1914 eggs."—Scots Paper.

Referring, we trust, to the number and not the vintage.

"Contracts, Tenders, &c.

The Great Northern Railway Company.

Allegro moderato
Notturno ............
} from String
Quartet, No. 2,
in D
} Borodine.

stores contracts."

Daily Paper.

It is generally supposed that the company entertains the idea of attempting to "soothe the savage breast" of the Minister of Transport.

[pg 416]


I met a philosopher the other day—he is not a philosopher by profession, but an architect—who told me that, when annoyed by the anomalies and petty red-tape restrictions of life or irritated by incompetence and incivility, or even when he feels that he can amend somebody else's error or propose an improvement, it is his habit to write a letter expressing his indignation or embodying his suggestions.

After remarking that he must be kept very busy I asked him what kind of replies he got.

"Oh, I don't get any replies," he said, "because, you see, I don't send the letters; I only write them and then I tear them up."

This is how I knew that he was a philosopher.

I propose to take to philosophy myself.

To a Taxi-Driver.

Dear Sir,—(You must understand, as must all the people that I address in these epistles, that by "dear" I do not necessarily imply any affection. I employ the word because I am too old to care about breaking down harmless conventions; but I might claim in the present connection that it has more than one meaning. That indeed you will see, if you read on, is the main point of this letter.)—Dear Sir, then, you may remember me. I am the fare who hailed you on your rank at the corner of Fulham Road and Drayton Gardens last Tuesday evening at a quarter to six, and told you to drive to the Marble Arch. You put down the flag and then jumped off the box to wind up the starter. It failed, and after several attempts you had to examine the machinery. I suppose that six minutes were occupied in this way, whether because you are a bad mechanic or a careless fellow or because the engine is defective, I cannot say; all I know is that I was in a hurry and that the flag was down, but we were not moving. If you had not put the flag down I should have got out and taken another cab; but I felt that that would be unfair to you. When, however, at the end of the journey I paid you without adding any tip, and you received the money with an offensive grunt, I wished that I had been less considerate.

It is because nothing that I could have said then, in your horrid hostile mood, would have convinced you that there is any injustice to a fare at all in putting down your flag before you are properly started, that I am writing this letter. My hope is that quiet perusal may demonstrate that the fare has, at any rate, a grain of logic on his side if he looks upon himself as defrauded. We don't, you know, take your cabs for the joy of sitting in them, or for the pleasure of watching you struggling with a crank, but to be conveyed quickly from place to place. It is wrong to ask us to pay for the time spent by you in persuading your engine to behave, and it is indecent to become abusive when we act on that assumption. If I had not been so busy I should have refused to pay at all and forced you to summon me; but who has time for such costly formalities? And I might have had to lose my temper, which I have not done (much) since I read an article by a doctor saying that every such loss means an abbreviation of life. Life in a world made fit for heroes may not be any great catch, but it is better, at any rate, than passing to a region where one is apparently liable to be in constant communication with mediums.

One other thing. I have just returned from Paris, where, amid much that is unsatisfactory and besmirched by Peace, taxis remain trustworthy and plentiful. The price marked on the meter is that which the fare pays, and any number of persons may ride in the cab without extra charge. Nothing exceeds my scorn for the English taxi-driver who demands another ninepence for an additional passenger, even though only a child—nothing except my scorn for the cowardly official who conceded this monstrous imposition.

To an Administrator.

Dear Sir,—May I implore you to authorise the instant removal of the buildings in the St. James's Park lake? During the War we who find on the suspension bridge, looking West, the most beautiful late afternoon view in London, were content to endure the invasion. But we have passed the second Armistice Day, and still the huts remain, and still there is no water, and still the enchanted prospect is denied us. After all, this lake is part of London, and London ratepayers should be entitled to their city's beauties as well as its necessities.

To a Pretty Girl.

My Dear,—I want you to be a little more merciful. The other day, when your father, over the eggs and bacon, was reading out the news from Greece, with the defeat of Venizelos, you said lightly that exile didn't matter very much because Venizelos was a very old man. You then returned to the absorbing occupation of identifying Society people, reading from left to right. Now Venizelos is fifty-five years of age, and I cannot allow the term "very old" to be applied to him without protest; I am too nearly his contemporary. "Getting on," if you like, "mature," "ripe," but not "very old." You must keep that phrase for the people who—well, who are very old.

To a Haberdasher.

Dear Sir,—When I came to put on the collar that I bought from you yesterday (I am the tallish customer who takes sixteen and a half by two and was in a hurry to get home to dress) I found that your young man's finger-marks were on it. Why don't you make your assistants wear gloves when they handle collars?

To a Minister of Religion.

Your Far-from-serene Gloominess,—Won't you one day be a little cheerful, and wrong? Won't you send out a lifeboat to the wreck instead of watching her through your smoked field-glasses as she sinks? What you seem to forget is that most people at times are their own Gloomy Deans: some of us too often; and there can be too much of a good thing. Hopelessness butters no parsnips and it is a mood not to be encouraged or the world would be as bad as we then think it. Gloomy-deaniness, though salutary for brief intervals, should be sparingly indulged in; but you are at it all the time. There is a Chinese proverb which says, "If you can't smile don't open a shop;" and, after all, St. Paul's Cathedral is in a manner of speaking a kind of shop, isn't it?—the goods, at any rate, should be obtainable there. The phrase "there is no health in us" does not constitute the whole liturgy. Down with facile optimists by all means, but, my dear Sir——

E. V. L.


The Ermine.

The ermine is not quite as grand as he sounds;

As a rule he is shot if he comes in the grounds;

You have seen him about by the mulberry-tree,

Though I very much doubt if you knew it was he.

He is shot with a gun and hung up by the throat,

For the ermine, my son, is the same as the stoat;

So when Auntie has got just a little more ermine

You can tell her (or not) she is covered with vermin.

A. P. H.

Another Impending Apology.

"Col. —— was unable to be present, and altogether the event was highly successful."

Local Paper.

[pg 417]

First Pugilist. "You're standing on my foot."

Second Pugilist. "Well, what do you propose to do about it?"

First Pugilist. "I'll show you what I'll do about it—for a purse of ten thousand pounds and the cinema rights."


November 20th.—I have been much struck this morning by a remarkable instance of protective mimicry on the part of a grey squirrel, which assumes attitudes and adopts gestures which at a little distance render him almost indistinguishable from a small monkey. White's Selborne throws no light on this strange phenomenon, which I can only explain as a result on the animal world of the now fashionable Tarzan cult, which so happily reconciles the old hostility between apes and angels.

Of the habits and customs of the hedgehog mention has already been made in these notes. It may be added that the whistle which these interesting creatures emit from time to time resembles the timbre of a muted piccolo, and their employment in a mixed orchestra is well worth the consideration of our younger and more enterprising composers. Another animal which shares with the hedgehog the defensive faculty of rolling itself up in a ball is the "pill millipede," a myriopod with seventeen pairs of legs, but fortunately exempt from the necessity of wearing trousers, which at present prices would impose an exorbitant demand on its resources.

As winter draws on the evolutions of birds great and small are a never-ending source of surprise and delight. Many hooded crows are now to be seen consorting with the rooks in the field and swelling the sable multitude that flies at evensong towards the park trees. And great congregations of plovers, curiously self-sufficing in their ability to dispense with the services of any feathered parson, lend colour and subconscious uplift to marshland scenes, which would otherwise look extremely triste.

Small indigenous birds, such as titmice, chipmunks, pipits and squinches, are constantly seen in coveys or even bevies just now. A party of pipwinks visited my copse yesterday afternoon, and indulged in delicious morceaux of melody before the red sun sank starkly below the horizon....

As long as the weather remains open I find it a good plan to plant flowers and shrubs which bloom in the spring. Proticipation is a cardinal asset in the outfit of the judicious gardener, and no time should be lost in completing the spring beds, as the cost of hair-mattresses is going up by leaps and bounds.

The Plague of Dots.

There are decimal dots which we can't do without

In spite of Lord Randolph's historical flout;

There are dots too, with dashes combined, in the mode

Familiar in Morse's beneficent code;

While some British parents good reasons advance

In favour of "dots" as they're managed in France.

But as for the writers disdainful of plots

Who pepper their pages with plentiful dots,

They must not complain if the critics of prose

Disapprove of a practice which savours of pose,

And, searching around for an adequate ὅτι,

Proclaim it a sign of a brain that is dotty.

From an article on "Back to Germany":—

"The quiet, old-fashioned restaurants, where in the old days I have seen field-marshals' batons hanging up in the cloak-room, know them no more."—Daily Paper.

Nowadays the German Field-Marshal takes his baton into the dining-room to stir his soup.

[pg 418]


"Will You Kiss Me?"

Even before the era of Prohibition (there were cocktails in this play) strange things must have happened in "God's own country" under the banner of the Bird of Freedom. But never so strange as the effects you get on the stage when very English people play at being Americans. You have to be rather young and unsophisticated if such phrases as "He's putting it over on us," or "I'm not going to stand for that," generously peppered about the dialogue and recited in the purest of English accents, can persuade you to believe that you are getting the real local stuff. At the same time you accept cheerfully the most farcical conditions on the vague assumption that all things may be possible over there.

So, when John W. Brook, of Fifth Avenue, millionaire, engaged the services of Alexander Y. Hedge, plenipotentiary representative of an Efficiency Company, to introduce economic reforms into his motherless household during his temporary absence, we regarded it as a most reasonable experiment. And for a time it made excellent fun. But after a while it began to wear thin for lack of fresh stimulus, and by the end of the Second Act there was a general feeling in the audience that something would have to be done about it.

The same thought seems to have occurred to Mr. Cyril Harcourt, the author, and he started, a little late in the day, to introduce an element of sex-romance into what so far had been an absolutely bloodless proposition. But at first it was with sinister intent that Brook's elder daughter made advances to Alexander Y. Hedge. As soon as she could induce this monster of inhumanity to become a prey to her charm she would repulse him with scorn, and then he would have to go.

The children's allowances having been cut off on the ground that they did nothing to earn them, she offered her services as his paid secretary. "Propinquity" did its work and she was soon in a position to offer him the privilege of an experimental kiss, thus incidentally justifying the dreadful title of the play.

The first, delivered on the cheek, was a wash-out; but the second, pressed home on the lips, had the desired effect. Then she turned and rent him, telling him exactly what she thought of his treatment of the family. He replied with an eloquent philippic directed at the vices of a bloated aristocracy (this was the ante-bellum age, before things had been made so much safer for democracy). Almost before the applause of the gallery had died down, the father burst upon the scene, furious at the report that this hired commercial had been making love to his daughter.

STEPS TOWARD EFFICIENCY. Horace, the Butler (MR. C. V. FRANCE) lengthens his stride in obedience to Alexander Y. Hedge (MR. DONALD CALTHROP).


Horace, the Butler (Mr. C. V. France) lengthens his stride in obedience to

Alexander Y. Hedge (Mr. Donald Calthrop).

Explanations follow which appease his wrath, and he is further mollified by the statement that the Master of Efficiency had cut down the expenses of his ménage by some nineteen thousand dollars. But why, when his feats of economy had all the time been the matter of his offence in the children's eyes, the announcement of the total should have favourably affected the girl's heart I cannot say, and I don't think anybody else can. Yet the fact remains that the next moment she undertakes to marry the object of her previous loathing.

To have arrived naturally at such an end would have meant a couple more Acts, in which the man Hedge might have had time to live down the evil effects of his efficiency. But with so much economy in the air the author appears to have caught the infection of it and economised in his processes to save our time. That is the kindest excuse I can find for him.

As for the moral, it would seem to be that, if (as is more than probable) you have no copy of the works of Aristotle in your Fifth Avenue library, and imagine, never having heard of the happy mean, that virtue lies in one of two excesses—an excess of idle luxury or an excess of efficiency—the former is the one to choose.

Mr. Donald Calthrop as Hedge bore the burden of the play with a high hand that had a very sure touch. It was extraordinary with what alertness and confidence he commanded every situation—except, of course, the absurd climax which nobody could hope to handle. Mr. C. V. France, as the English butler (ex-clergyman) who had taken a long time to learn how to disfigure his aspirates (out of deference to the American legend), gave a very fresh and attractive performance. Some of the best things in the dialogue—not always very humorous—were given to little Alice Brook (aged 14), one of those precocities for which America has always held the world's record. I don't know, and should not think of asking, Miss Ann Trevor's age, but she looked to me a little old for the part of this child, however precocious. Miss Marjorie Gordon played with intelligence as the elder sister, but never for a moment suggested a New York atmosphere. Indeed she adopted just the mincing kind of speech which out there is held to bewray the "Britisher." The only performance that made any real pretence of being American was that of Mr. Turnbull as the manager of the Efficiency Company.

Still, after all, local colour is no great matter so long as you get some recognisable aspect, though farcically presented, of human nature; but the trouble with this play is that while our sense of the probabilities is never too much outraged so long as the chief character is just a piece of inhuman machinery, the author lapses into the incredible the moment he tries to introduce a little humanity into his scheme. However, I have perhaps taken things too seriously, instead of being properly grateful for some very good entertainment.

O. S.

Fashions for Men.

"Miss —— takes Orders for Knitted Skirts, Jerseys, and Hats to match. Also, Gent.'s Cardigan Coats and Hand-Painted Blouses."

Scots Paper.

"The Rev. W. E. —— based the subject of his discourse on 'The Foolish Virgins.' A large number were present."

South African Paper.

We trust they were edified.

"The discovery of Saturn's rings was made by Galileo in 1610 through his little refractory telescope."—Welsh Paper.

The difficulty with this kind of instrument is to make it shut up.

[pg 419]



(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)

Inevitably one's first thought on sighting A Naval History of the War (Hodder and Stoughton) is that he must be a brave skipper indeed who would take out a lone ship, however excellently found, to cruise such controversial waters. But Sir Henry Newbolt is an experienced hand, and, though (so to speak) one finds him at times conscious of Sir Julian Corbett on the sky-line, he brings off his self-appointed task triumphantly. To drop metaphor, here is a temperate and clearly-written history, midway between the technical and the popular, of a kind precisely suited to the plain man who wishes a comprehensive résumé of the course of the War at sea. For this purpose its arrangement is admirable, the story being presented first in a general survey under dates, then in special chapters devoted to episodes or aspects, e.g., Coronel and the Falklands (that unmatchable drama of disaster and revenge), the submarines and their countering, and finally Jutland. Throughout, as I have said, Sir Henry, having one of the best stories in the world to tell, is at pains to avoid anything that even remotely approaches fine writing. Only once have I even detected the literary man, when, in describing the strange finish of the Königsberg, he permits himself the pleasure of calling it "the sea fight in the forest." For the rest, the "strength and splendour" of England's greatest naval war are left to make their own impression. I shall be astonished if such a book, having figured brilliantly as a present this Christmas, is not treasured for generations as a work of family reference in hundreds of British homes.

The name of Mrs. Belloc Lowndes on the outside would alone have made me open From the Vasty Deep (Hutchinson) with a pleasant anticipation of creepiness, even without the generous measure of bogies depicted on the coloured wrapper. Having now read the story, I am bound to add (and I can only hope that Mrs. Lowndes will take my admission for the compliment that it really is) that the net result has been one of slight disappointment. Briefly, I continue to prefer the writer as a criminal, rather than a psychic, "Fat Boy." After all, once grant your ghost and anyone can conjure it, with appropriate circumstance, at the proper moments. Wyndfell Hall was full enough of ghosts, all ready to appear at the voluntary or involuntary instance of a young lady named Bubbles, who was one of the Christmas house-party and the owner of a rather uncomfortable gift of spook-raising. But beyond making themselves an occasional nuisance to the guests I couldn't find that the phantoms did anything practical to help along such plot as there was. Even the quite palpable fact that the host was at least a double murderer came to proof by the ordinary process of law rather than by any supernatural revelation. Before this I have gratefully owed to Mrs. Lowndes the raising of my remaining hairs like quills upon the fretful porcupine, but the ca'-canny bogies of her present story are too perfunctory to excuse even a shiver in any but the most unsophisticated reader.

It may, I suppose, be accounted for righteousness to Major-General Sir Archibald Anson that in About Others and Myself (Murray) he is so little of an egotist as to convey scarcely any impression of what manner of man he [pg 420] is or what he thinks of this or that. Much more clear from her quoted letters is the character of his grandmother, who vainly tried to keep the over-gallant First Gentleman of Europe out of mischief. Our autobiographer gives us a plain, blunt, not to say bald record of what must have been an interesting life. He was at Eton under Keate; a cadet at Woolwich, where he saw a gunner receive two hundred lashes; a gunnery subaltern in the Crimea, where he saw many queer and unedifying things; a successful administrator in Madagascar, Mauritius and Penang, and finally Governor of the Straits Settlements, with a K.C.M.G. and honourable retirement to follow. But he is a man of action rather than words, and his faculty of observation is but too often exercised upon such slender matters as that "Poor Captain Powlett met with a misfortune on the way to Kedah. His servant laid the dinner things on the deck of the gunboat, then went below for something and, coming up again, accidentally walked into the middle of the crockery and glass, causing considerable destruction." Also, I think he quotes his testimonials—those never very candid and always very dull documents—much too freely. The best of the book is concerned with his administration work in Penang and district, where on the evidence he seems to have kept his end up with skill and no small zeal for good government.

The title of Lady (Laura) Troubridge's new novel, O Perfect Love (Methuen), applies to her V. C. hero only; with his wife it is a case of O Very Imperfect Love. Jean Chartres is a common product of the age, the sort of girl that insists on "having a good time" and "living her life" and "being herself" (how well one knows the jargon!). Less common, let us hope, is the woman who would desert her husband, as Jean did, because the injuries he had received in the War prevented him from giving her the kind of life for which she craved. Foolish rather than vicious, she drifts into a relationship which could have had only one conclusion, if her lover, tiring of platonics, had not prematurely pressed his demands. Thoroughly scared by his violence she runs away and finds sanctuary with the "perfect love" of the title. In this happy solution she had better fortune than she deserved. It is not every woman who has the good luck, when rushing blindly out of the House of Peril into the wintry night (in a ball-dress), to find—what had apparently escaped Jean's memory for the moment—that her faithful husband's estate is in the immediate neighbourhood. Though Lady Troubridge's sense of style is not impeccable she can tell a good tale; her dialogue rings true and her characters are well observed. The trouble with most authors of Society novels is that either they know their subject but can't write, or that they can write but know nothing of their subject. Lady Troubridge is one of the very few writers in this kind who both know their world and how to portray it.

Mr. B. Bennion follows the vogue for confidentially descriptive covers in announcing, as a title to his volume of angling reminiscences, that The Trout are Rising in England and South Africa (Lane) and suggesting that here is "a book for slippered ease." One is certainly warned not to expect anything very strenuous in its course, and indeed so placidly flow its waters that few, perhaps, but devotees of the craft will follow it to the end. Not but what there are metaphorical trout in it, too—enticing descriptions of bits of rivers, for instance—but on the whole they are easy-going fish that come to bank without showing very much sporting spirit. Here is no manual of precise information, though even old fishermen may gather a hint or two; nor yet a guide-book to the trout-streams of two continents; not even a collection of good stories, though anyone may come across some old friends in it. The author's yarns indeed are numerous and, on the whole, as an angler's yarns should be, picturesque. If he does seem to enjoy the rather feeble joke or incident as much as the other sort, that may be natural in a book of ease, whether slippered or not. Indeed one half suspects it is as a book for his own ease that the writer is mainly considering it, yet, taken in the right spirit and especially if you are an enticer of trout, it may be for your ease too. Of course, if you are not an angler and if your spirit is not right, the slipper may not fit.

In the course of a long study of detective fiction I have never met any sleuths with a gift of loquacity like that of Messrs. Corson and Gibbs, who during the first part of In the Onyx Lobby (Hodder and Stoughton) make futile efforts to trace the murderer of Sir Herbert Binney, proprietor of Binney's Buns. Sir Herbert had gone to New York to persuade his nephew to become the manager of an American branch of a Binney Bun factory, and, on returning late at night to his apartment-house, was stabbed to death. Fortunately Miss Carolyn Wells seems to have grown as tired of them as I did, and they give way to one Pennington Wise (whose name did not prepossess me in his favour) and his assistant, Zizi. This couple have the authentic sleuth-touch, and their detection of those implicated in the murder is a very ingenious piece of work. There is so much padding in this book that if Sir Herbert had worn a tithe of it no stabber could even have scratched him; but with judicious skipping it will wile away two or three idle hours. And, as I said, the solution is a really skilful piece of work.


"I 'ear she's 'ad a legacy o' twenty pounds left 'er."

"Yes, she 'as. But one good thing about 'er is, 'er wealth ain't spoilt 'er."

Extract from an account of the unveiling of the portrait of Mr. ——, M.P.:—

"It was a happy idea to unveil the portrait in a darkened room."

Local Paper.

But after the Leverhulme-John episode we ought to have been told whose was the happy idea, the artist's or the sitter's?