Various.

Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 156, April 16, 1919 online

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way, indeed several ways, of spending the result agreeably. As I have
said, it is all the gentlest little comedy of happiness, not specially
exciting perhaps. I find it characteristic of Mrs. CLIFFORD'S method
that the only at all violent incident, a railway smash, happens
discreetly out of sight, and does no more than provide its victim
with an enjoyable convalescence, and the attentive reader with the
suggestion of a psychological problem that is both unnecessary and
unconvincing. The best of the tale is its picture of _Miss Fingal_
herself, rescued from premature decay and gradually recovering her
youth under the stimulus of new interests and opportunities. Whether
the now rather too familiar _Kaiser-ex-machina_ solution was needed in
order to rid the stage of a superfluous character is open to question;
but at all events it leaves _Miss Fingal_ happy in companionship and
assured of the success that waits upon a satisfactory finish.

* * * * *

"How can I" - I seem to hear the author of _Elizabeth and Her German
Garden_ communing with herself - "how can I write a story, with all
my necessary Teutonic ingredients in it, which shall be popular even
during the War?" And then I seem to see the satisfaction with which
she hit upon the solution of inventing pretty twin girls of seventeen,
an age which permits remarks with a sting in them to be uttered
apparently in innocence and yet is marriageable or, at any rate,
engageable; making them orphans; giving them a German father and
an English mother, and very mixed sympathies, in which England
predominates; and sending them to America to pass its novelty under
their candid European eyes. Much of the satisfaction which her scheme
must have given to the authoress of _Christopher and Columbus_
(MACMILLAN) is shared by its readers, although the feeling that it has
been made to order to fit a difficult market is never absent. For much
of the dialogue, and often when most amusing, does not ring true,
and we are occasionally asked to believe that the twins could be far
slower in the uptake than at other, and less inconvenient, times they
show themselves to be. But the book is another sufficing proof that
the male sex has no monopoly of humour.

* * * * *

Mr. CHRISTOPHER CULLEY, in his rather superfluous and petulant preface
to _Billy McCoy_ (CASSELL), observes that such reviewers as "may find
time to skip through its pages" will probably call it a Romance. Well,
skipping or not, here is one reviewer who will not disappoint him.
A story of a hero who adventures into sinister places, disregards
repeated warnings to "go back ere it is too late" (or the American for
that entrancing formula), meets there a Distressed Damsel and kisses
her as introduction, and finally, after an infinity of perils, is
left with the D.D. as his B.B., or blushing bride - this I state
emphatically to be not only Romance, but a most excellent brand of
that article. What however Mr. CULLEY seems most to fear is that we
shall think that _McCoy_ himself and the whole setting (New Mexican
scenes) are all make-believe. He need have had no such alarm in my
case. I have, I remember, already commented on the admirable reality
of his cowboys, as exemplified in the hero of a previous story.
_Billy_, if just a little less convincing, is in many ways a worthy
companion. But Mr. CULLEY'S heroines always strike me as inferior to
his men. They have the air of hanging about in corners of the tale,
and generally of being rather a nuisance than a delight to their
creator. But the heroine of _Billy McCoy_ makes hardly a pretence
of being other than a lay figure; without her it would be just as
entertaining and exciting, if perhaps less completely furnished for
Romance.

* * * * *

While reading _"Q" Boat Adventures_ (JENKINS) I kept on telling myself
that it ought to be read in small doses if the greatest enjoyment
was to be got from it; but all the same I could not let it out of my
hands. "The 'Q' boat," says Lieutenant-Commander AUTEN, V.C., "was a
'stunt' possible only to a nation of sailors. Officers might be found
for 'Q' boats in any country with a seaboard; but men - no;" and I
imagine that few Englishmen will be found to deny this statement.
Elizabethan days for all their spaciousness contained nothing more
incredibly brave than the exploits of these decoy boats, exploits
which could only be carried out if absolutely every man taking part in
them played his r√іle to perfection. And it cannot be too widely noted
that after the Huns had become suspicious the "Q" boat had to invite
a torpedo as a preliminary to real business. Officers and men alike
deserve all the gratitude their nation can give them, not only for
their courage in action, but also for their patience when spending
dreary months without getting to grips with the enemy. Few things are
more demoralizing than to wait to be attacked and to find no one kind
enough to accommodate you; but even during all these long periods
of inaction the discipline and keenness of the "Q" boat crews never
relaxed. Lieut.-Commander AUTEN has done a great service in telling us
of these astounding achievements and of the infinite difficulties in
the way of their successful accomplishment. We may be a nation of
short memories, but it is impossible to believe that our "Q" boats
will ever be forgotten.

* * * * *

Anything more Pettridgian than _The Bustling Hours_ (METHUEN) cannot
be conceived and cannot certainly be written. That means that Mr. PETT
RIDGE'S latest book will be heartily welcomed and thoroughly enjoyed
by the large circle of his readers. Mr. PETT RIDGE is as good as a
tonic in these depressing days, and without any effort he keeps at a
high level of sane cheerfulness. His heroine is a certain _Dorothy
Gainsford_, who has the gift of turning up at exactly the right moment
and of getting exactly the right thing done, or more often of doing it
herself. She really is a marvel and the last word in efficiency. There
is only one thing at which I hint a doubt or hesitate dislike. She
takes a banjo with her to a picnic on the Upper Thames.

* * * * *

[Illustration: _Professor (who has inadvertently pulled the
shower-bath handle)._ "TYPICAL APRIL WEATHER!"]

* * * * *

There was a young man who said, "How,
With the minimum sweat of my brow,
Can I find jobs to do
For a maximum screw?"
So they said to him, "Why not try Slough?"



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Online LibraryVariousPunch, or the London Charivari, Volume 156, April 16, 1919 → online text (page 4 of 4)