Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 153, November 14, 1917 online

. (page 3 of 3)
Online LibraryVariousPunch, or the London Charivari, Volume 153, November 14, 1917 → online text (page 3 of 3)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

let, by Tender" (this is not an oath but some odd legal or commercial
term) "as and from Lady Day all that nice little PASTURE FARM known as
HIGHER CHURCH FARM, situate in the village of Peter Tavy." Now what
could be more unlike London under the German invasion and all that
nasty little tunnel known as Lower Robert Street, than Peter Tavy?

But I must not be tempted. I must stick it out here.

* * * * *


The mystification practised by authors who have passed off as their
own work the compositions of others is familiar to all literary
students. SHAKSPEARE'S assumption of borrowed plumes is of course
the classic example. But another and more subtle problem is the
interchange of functions between two men of letters; and the theory
recently advanced by the distinguished critic and occultist, Mr.
Pullar Leggatt, deserves at least a respectful hearing.

* * * * *

Briefly stated, it is that during his hermit existence at Putney
the late Mr. SWINBURNE effected an interchange of this sort with Sir
W. ROBERTSON NICOLL; the Editor of _The British Weekly_ devoting
himself to the composition of poems, while the poet assumed editorial
control of the famous newspaper. If the theory thus crudely stated
sounds somewhat fantastic the arguments on which it is based are
extraordinarily plausible if not convincing.

* * * * *

To begin with, experts in anagrams will not fail to notice that the
names ALGERNON SWINBURNE and W. ROBERTSON NICOLL contain practically
the same number of letters - absolutely the same if SWINBURNE is spelt
without an "e" - and that the forenames of both end in "-on," as does
also the concluding syllable of WATTS-DUNTON. The fact that the Editor
of _The British Weekly_ has never published any poems over his own
name only tends to confirm the theory, as the argument conclusively

* * * * *

For it is impossible to believe that so versatile a polymath should
not at some time or other have courted the Muse, and if so, under what
name could he have had a stronger motive for publishing his poems than
that of SWINBURNE? So austere a theologian would naturally shrink from
revealing his excursions into the realms of poesy, and under this
disguise he was safe from detection. Lastly, while Sir W. ROBERTSON
NICOLL has always championed the Kailyard School, SWINBURNE lived
at The Pines. The connection is obvious; as thus: Kail, sea-kale,
sea-coal, coke, coker-nut, walnut, dessert, pine-apple, pine.

* * * * *

As regards SWINBURNE'S conduct of _The British Weekly_, it is enough
to point to such alliterative and melodious combinations as "Rambling
Remarks" and "Claudius Clear." The theological attitude of the paper
presents difficulties which are not so easy to overcome, but Mr.
Pullar Leggatt has promised to deal with this question later on.
Meanwhile the diplomatic silence maintained by Sir W. ROBERTSON NICOLL
and Mr. EDMUND GOSSE must not be interpreted as conveying either a
complete acceptance or a total rejection of this remarkable theory.

* * * * *

[Illustration: _Wounded Tommy_. "WILL YOU PLAY MENDELSSOHN'S 'SPRING

_Distinguished Pianist_ (_with a soul above Mendelssohn_). "I'M AFRAID


* * * * *


HERTLING "is not Prussian."

* * * * *



I hope this is not going to be embarrassing. If so, it is not my
fault. This is history, please remember, not fiction. I wanted - I am
obliged to say it - pyjamas for winter wear. I know all about pyjamas
for summer wear; what I wanted was pyjamas for winter wear, and I
decided that Agnes should make them. For years I have been trying to
get proper pyjamas - by which I mean pyjamas properly made - but the
haberdasher always smiles depreciation and tells me that the goods he
offers me are what are always worn. Quite so; but what I say is that
out of bed and for the purpose of having your photograph taken Trade
pyjamas are all right; but that in bed they commit untold offences. I
enter my bed clothed; I settle down in it half-naked. The jacket has
run up to my arm-pits; my legs are bare to the knee; my arms to the
elbows; the loosely buttoned front is ruckled up into a funnel, down
which, whenever I move, the bedclothes like a bellows draw a chill
blast of air on to that particular part of my chest which is designed
for catching colds. When I turn over in my dreams I wake to find
myself tied as with ropes. Slumber's chains have indeed bound me. I am
a man in the clothing of a nightmare. The cold, cold sheets catch me
in the most ticklesome delicacies of my back and make me jump again.

"Well," said Agnes, "if I am going to make your pyjamas you must tell
me exactly what you want."

"My pyjamas," I said, "shall be buttoned round the ankle and capacious
below the waist - there I ask a Turkish touch. The jacket shall be
buttoned at the wrists and baggy at the shoulder; at the chest it
shall strap me across like an R.F.C. tunic, and it shall be securely
clipped to the trousers."

"Why not have it all in one?"

"What!" I cried, "and parade hotel passages in search of the bath
looking like a clown out of a circus? No, thank you."

"You must make me a pattern then," said Agnes, "or I shan't know what
to do."

I can't make patterns, but I can, and I did, make plans of ground and
first-floor levels, a section and back and front elevations, all to a
scale of one inch to the foot exactly. I also made a full-size detail
of a toggle-and-cinch gear linking the upper storey to the lower.

"I think," Agnes said, "you had better come to the shop and choose the

I thought so too. I wanted something gaudy that would make me feel
cheerful when I woke in the morning; but I also had another idea in
my mind. _Mangle-proof buttons_! Have the things been invented yet?

The archbishop who attended to us deprecated the idea of india-rubber

"What kind are you now using?" he asked solicitously.

"At present, on No. 2," I said, "I am using splinters of
mother-of-pearl. Last week, with No. 1, I used a steel ring hanging
by its rim to a shred of linen, two safeties, and a hairpin found on
the floor."

I chose a flannel with broad green and violet stripes, and very large
buttons of vitrified brick which I hoped might break the mangle. These
buttons were emerald in colour and gave me a new idea. _Trimmings_.

"I want to look right if the house catches fire," I told Agnes. "Green
sateen collar to match the buttons - "

"And for the wristbands," said Agnes, catching my enthusiasm.

"And for the wristbands," I agreed; "but," I added, "not at the
ankles. That would make the other people in the street expect me to
dance to them, and I don't know how to."

And now the good work is complete. Toggle and cinch perform their
proud functions, and I sleep undisturbed by Arctic nightmares, for I
have substituted green ties for the stoneware buttons which reduced
my vitality by absorbing heat. My only trouble is my increasing
reluctance to rise in the morning. I don't like changing out of my
beautiful things so early in the day. I am beginning to want breakfast
in bed.

* * * * *



Now is the hour of dusk and mist and midges,
Now the tired planes drone homeward through the haze,
And distant wood-fires wink behind the ridges,
And the first flare some timorous Hun betrays;
Now no shell circulates, but all men brood
Over their evening food;
The bats flit warily and owl and rat
With muffled cries their shadowy loves pursue,
And pleasant, Corporal, it is to chat
In this hushed moment with a man like you.

How strange a spectacle of human passions
Is yours all day beside the Arras road,
What mournful men concerned about their rations
When here at eve the limbers leave their load,
What twilight blasphemy, what horses' feet
Entangled with the meat,
What sudden hush when that machine-gun sweeps,
And - flat as possible for men so round -
The Quartermasters may be seen in heaps,
While you sit still and chuckle, I'll be bound!

Here all men halt awhile and tell their rumours;
Here the young runners come to cull your tales,
How Generals talked with you, in splendid humours,
And how the Worcestershires have gone to Wales;
Up yonder trench each lineward regiment swings,
Saying some shocking things;
And here at dark sad diggers stand in hordes
Waiting the late elusive Engineer,
While glowing pipes illume yon notice-boards,

And you sit ruminant and take no action,
But daylong watch the aeroplanes at play,
Or contemplate with secret satisfaction
Your fellow-men proceeding towards the fray;
Your sole solicitude when men report
There is a shovel short,
Or, numbering jealously your rusty store,
Some mouldering rocket, some wet bomb you miss
That was reserved for some ensuing war,
But on no grounds to be employed in this.

For Colonels flatter you, most firm of warders,
For sandbags suppliant, and do no good,
And high Staff officers and priests in orders
In vain beleaguer you for bits of wood,
While I, who have nor signature nor chit,
But badly want a bit,
I only talk to you of these high themes,
Nor stoop to join the sycophantic choir,
Seeing (I trust) my wicked batman, Jeames,
Has meanwhile pinched enough to light my fire.


* * * * *

[Illustration: _Lady_ (_looking out of train on to darkened

_Porter_ (_with Irish blood in her_). "NOT YET, M'M. EDGWARE ROAD'S

* * * * *



"In a few days," says the puff preliminary of _The Coming_ (CHATTO
AND WINDUS), "you and all your friends will be reading and discussing
this most strange and prophetic novel." Perhaps. But what we shall
be saying about it depends largely, I suppose, upon our definition
of the term prophetic; also a little upon our feeling with regard to
good taste and the permissible in fiction. My own contribution will
be a sincere regret that a writer as gifted as Mr. J.C. SNAITH should
have attempted the obviously impossible. His theme, symbolised by a
wrapper-design of three figures silhouetted against a golden sunrise,
is a second advent of the Messiah, embodied in the person of a village
carpenter named (with palpable significance) _John Smith_, whom local
prejudice sends, not inexcusably, to a madhouse, where he dies, after
converting the inmates and instituting a campaign of universal peace.
Frankly, the chief interest of such a wildly fantastic idea lies in
watching just how far Mr. SNAITH can carry it without too flagrant
offence. That his treatment is both sincere and careful hardly lessens
my feeling that the whole attempt is one to be deplored. Humour of the
intentional kind has, of course, no place in the author's scheme. How
remote is its banishment you may judge when I tell you that the Divine
message is represented as given to mankind in the form of a wonderful
play, which instantly achieves world-wide fame, being performed by no
fewer than fifty companies in America alone. The problem (to name but
one) of the resulting struggle between plenary inspiration and the
conditions of a fit-up tour is only another proof of my contention
that there are more things in heaven and earth than can be treated
in realistic fiction, and that Mr. SNAITH'S good intentions have
unfortunately betrayed him into selecting the least possible.

* * * * *

If _Humphrey Thorncot_ and his sister _Edith_ had not bored one
another and grown touchy - I judge by their reported conversations - in
a house with green shutters in Chelsea, they would never have gone
to St. Elizabeth, which is a Swiss resort, and would never have met
the East-Prussian family of the _von Ludwigs_ in the year before the
War. And _Humphrey_ would never have fallen (temporarily) in love
with _Hulda von Ludwig_, nor would _Karl von Ludwig_ have fallen
(permanently) in love with _Edith Thorncot_. The troubles and miseries
of this latter couple are related by Mr. HUGH SPENDER in _The Gulf_
(COLLINS). Papa _von Ludwig_ objects so violently to all this
love-making that he eventually succumbs to a regular East-Prussian
stroke of apoplexy which all but leads to a charge of parricide
against _Karl_ by his base brother, _Wilhelm_. _Karl_ is really too
good for this world. He objects to atrocities and refuses at the risk
of his own life to shoot innocent Belgian villagers. Being imprisoned,
he escapes by means of a secret sliding panel and an underground
passage which leads him, not immediately, but after many vicissitudes,
to America. There he is joined by his faithful _Edith_, who defies the
Gulf caused by the War, and marries him. Mr. SPENDER appears to have
been in some doubt as to whether he should write the story of two
souls or the history of the first few weeks of the War. Eventually
he elects to do both, and his novel consequently suffers somewhat in
grip. He certainly paints a very vivid picture of events in the first
period of active operations. May I hint a doubt, by the way, whether
in 1913 a French Professor would have mentioned HINDENBURG as one of
Germany's most important men? Whatever he may have been in Germany,
HINDENBURG was for the outside world a later discovery.

* * * * *

_Further Memories_ (HUTCHINSON) is justly called by its publishers
a "fascinating volume." The designation will not surprise those who
enjoyed the late Lord REDESDALE'S former book of recollections. The
present collection is a little haphazard (but none the worse for
that), its chapters ranging over such diverse subjects as Gardens
and Trees, QUEEN VICTORIA, BUDDHA, and the Commune. Certainly not
the least interesting is that devoted to the story of the Wallace
Collection, of which Lord REDESDALE was one of the trustees. His
account of the origin and devolution of the famous treasures will
invest them with a new interest in the happy days when they shall
again be visible. Mr. EDMUND GOSSE contributes a foreword to the
present volume, in which he draws a pathetic picture of the author,
still unconquerably young, despite his years, facing the future with
only one fear, that of the unemployment to which his increasing
deafness, and the break-up of the world as it was before the War,
seemed to be condemning him. _Further Memories_ was, we are told,
undertaken as some sort of a safeguard against this menace of
stagnation. It was a measure for which we may all be glad, as we can
share Mr. GOSSE'S thanksgiving that the writer's death, coming when
it did, saved him, as he had wished, "from all consciousness of

* * * * *

When an unstable young wife, getting tired of a pedantic husband in
the way so familiar to students of novels, goes off with a companion
more to her taste, anyone can foresee trouble, or what would there be
to write about? When, further, her detestable lover, seeking change
and fearing the financial lash of his properly indignant parent,
terminates the arrangement, even an observer of real life can
guess that her return to her rightful lord and master must entail
disagreeables; but only a reader well brazened in modern fiction could
expect Don Juan promptly to make love to and marry the husband's
sister without a word of apology to anyone. This kind of rather
unsavoury dabbling in problems best left to themselves generally
concludes with the decease of most of the characters and a sort
of clearing up, and to this rule, after many years and pages of
discomfort, MARY E. MANN'S new story, _The Victim_ (HODDER AND
STOUGHTON), is no exception. Not a very attractive programme, but all
the same the volume has one or two redeeming features. For one thing,
the sister is clearly and attractively drawn, and so is the picture on
the wrapper, though it represents no particular incident to be traced
in the pages of the volume which it adorns. Writing more strongly than
is perhaps her wont, Mrs. MANN has taken some trouble to emphasise the
fact that in these cases of uncontrolled passion the major penalty
of guilt is borne not by the offenders themselves but by the first
generation succeeding. This does need saying occasionally, I suppose,
and to that extent _The Victim_ redeems itself from the charge of
trivial unpleasantness.

* * * * *

Mr. J. RATH has really discovered a new type of heroine, new at least
this side the Atlantic. His farm-bred _Sadie_, a Buffalo shirt-packer,
classifies men by the sizes of their shirts, has no use for any
swain with a chest measurement under forty, and eventually in a most
original way finds her hero in _Mister 44_ (METHUEN), an enormous
Canadian engineer and sportsman. She is no chicken herself and has
a passion to be free of the city and out in the great open. _Sadie_
is more than big; she is beautiful, burnished-copper-haired, sincere
and kind, and, though I think the author "gets this over" quite well
I liked her best before she found her man and her _Robinson Crusoe_
adventures among the islands of Ontario, and was giving back chat to
the little foreman in the factory. Here she is a pure delight; and
in these days, when a knowledge of the American language may come in
handy at any moment, this amiable romance may well be recommended as
an attractive manual of first-aid in the matter.

* * * * *

Without professing to be a student of Mrs. DIVER'S books I know enough
about them to be worried by the commonplaceness of _Unconquered_
(MURRAY). Like so many other authors she has succumbed to the lure
of the War-novel. There may be a public for tales of this kind, but
I have not yet read one that approaches artistic success. Here we
are spared nothing. _Sir Mark Forsyth_ goes to France in the early
days, is first of all reported "missing, believed killed," and then
officially reported "killed." Of course he turns up again, but such
a physical wreck that the minx whom he was to have married breaks
off the engagement. Naturally the sweet girl, friend of _Mark's_
childhood, undertakes to fill the gap. The minx, _Bel Alison_, is so
scathingly drawn that from sheer perversity I found myself hunting
for one good point in her character; but without a find. On the other
hand, _Lady Forsyth_, _Mark's_ mother, and a quiet, capable man called
_Macnair_, are admirably put before us. Yet at best there remains
the conviction that the War is terribly real that these attempts to
romance about it are almost bound to be as superficial as they are

* * * * *

[Illustration: DURING THE RAID. _Disappointed Player_. "HARD LINES! I

* * * * *

"Lost, between Ryde Pier and Southsea, Black Satin Bag, containing
keys and eyeglasses. Reward given." - _Portsmouth Paper_.

A chance for the local mine-sweepers.


1 3

Online LibraryVariousPunch, or the London Charivari, Volume 153, November 14, 1917 → online text (page 3 of 3)