Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 156, April 2, 1919 online

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Down the garden, near the great big sumach-tree,
Where the grass has grown across the path and dead leaves lie and rot
And no one hardly ever goes but me;
Yes, it's just the place for fairies, and they told the pigeons so;
They begged to be allowed to move in soon;
It's a most tremendous honour, as of course the pigeons know;
It was all arranged this very afternoon.

There's a family of fairies lives inside our pigeon-cot -
Oh, the bustle and the sweeping there has been!
For the pigeons didn't scrub their house (I think they all forgot),
And the fairies like their home so _scrup_'lous clean;
There are fairy dusters hanging from the sumach as you pass;
Tiny drops are dripping still from overhead;
Broken fairy-brooms are lying near the fir-tree on the grass,
Though the fairies went an hour ago to bed.

There's a family of fairies lives inside our pigeon-cot,
And there's cooings round about our chimney-stack,
For the pigeons are all sitting there and talking such a lot
And there's nothing Gard'ner does will drive them back;
"Why, they'll choke up those roof-gutters if they start this nesting fuss;
They've _got_ a house," he says, "so I don't see - "
No, _he_ doesn't know the secret, and there's no one does but - _us_,
All the pigeons, and the fairy-folk and ME!

* * * * *

[Illustration: ENFIN SEULS!]

* * * * *


_The Times_ is much concerned with the chaotic condition of the Air
Ministry and the strange designs with which the political heads of the
Department are credited. "These suspicions we believe to be without
any real foundation, but they are active, though Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL
and General SEELY may be wholly unconscious of them. We believe they
are, and if they are the sooner they are told what is said about their
intentions the better."

So _The Times_ proceeds to describe these nefarious if nebulous
designs and appeals to Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL in particular, "if he has
no such intentions, to disclaim them publicly and in a way which will
leave no breeding-ground for future rumours."

_The Times_ has done a great service by its splendid candour, but it
has only gone about one-fortieth part of the way. There are still, we
believe, some eighty Ministers, and _all_ without exception ought
to know what is being said about them, to enable them to confirm or
disavow these disquieting speculations. The papers simply teem with
secret histories of the week, diaries of omniscient pundits and so
forth, in which these rumours multiply to an extent that staggers the
plain person.

Take the PREMIER to begin with. Is it really true that he has decided,
as the brain of the Empire can only be located in Printing House
Square, to resign office and become home editor of _The Times_,
leaving foreign policy to be controlled by Mr. WICKHAM STEED? Is it
true that he meditates appointing Mr. AUGUSTUS JOHN Minister of Fine
Arts? Is it true that he flies every day from Paris to Mentone, to
receive instructions from a Mysterious Nobleman who is shortly to be
raised to ducal honours? Is it true that until quite recently he had
never heard of JOAN OF ARC and thought that VICTOR HUGO was a Roman

Then there is Mr. BONAR LAW. He surely ought to know that it is said
by _The Job_ and _The Morning Ghost_ that he informed Mr. SMILLIE,
during one of their recent conversations, that he hoped, in the event
of a general strike, to be allowed to get away to the small island in
the South Pacific which he has purchased as a refuge in case of such a
contingency. Probably such an idea never entered his head. But this
is what he is supposed to be planning. Let him therefore disclaim the
intention promptly and publicly.

Grievous mischief again is being done by the persistent rumours
current about the intention of the LORD CHANCELLOR to take Orders with
the view of becoming Archbishop of Canterbury at the earliest possible
opportunity. There may be absolutely nothing in it. Mr. HAROLD SMITH
scouts the notion as absurd. But very great men do not always confide
in brothers. NAPOLEON, as we know, thought poorly of his.

Lastly, is it true that, although Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN is still
_nominally_ Chancellor of the Exchequer, he is really a prisoner in
the Tower, conveyed under guard to and from the House, and that the
reprieve of the sentence of capital punishment passed on him by _The
Daily Mail_ may expire - and he with it - at any moment?

These are only a few of the things which are said about them that
Ministers ought to know - if they don't know them already. And if they
do, and basely pretend not to, we feel that we have done a truly
patriotic service in rendering it impossible for them to avoid
enlightening the public. It is always well to know the worst, even
about politicians.

* * * * *


"Tablemaid (thoroughly experienced) required middle of March; god
wages." - _Scots Paper_.

* * * * *

"'Eh, what?' queried Lawrence in astonishment. 'What are you doing
here, my dear? Are you French?'

"'Je suis Belgique, M'sieu,' replied the girl, whose knowledge of
English seemed limited." - _Weekly Paper_.

But not so limited as her knowledge of French, we hope.

* * * * *

"St. Ives, Cornwall. - Artists visiting this town will find
their requirements in Artists' Materials well catered for. All
manufacturers' colours stocked. Canvases sketched at shortest
possible notice. - - , Artists' Colourman." - _The Studio_.

Surely there are no "ghosts" in "the Cornish School!"

* * * * *


* * * * *


In these dull days of reaction, when, in the intervals of jazzing, we
have nothing to satisfy the spiritual void left by the War except the
possibility of an industrial cataclysm at home and the triumph of
Bolshevism abroad, we owe a large debt of gratitude to Sir THOMAS
BEECHAM for his efforts to revive the Town. And the Town is at last
appreciating at their full worth his services both to the cause of
popular education in music and to the encouragement of native talent.

It was perhaps a little unfortunate that _Aïda_ should have been given
on the night of the Guards' march through London, for the parade of
the Pharaoh's scratch soldiery suffered badly by comparison. The
priesthood of Isis, too, furnished more humour than could, I think,
have been designed, and I doubt if even Mr. WEEDON GROSSMITH could
have given us anything funnier than the spectacle presented by the
Egyptian monarch when making his announcement of an Ethiopian raid.
Nor shall I easily forget the figure of the King of Ethiopia, with
a head of hair like a Zulu's, and swathed in a tiger-skin. I should
myself have chosen the hide of a leopard, for the leopard cannot
change his spots nor the Ethiopian his skin, and when you get the two
together you have an extraordinarily durable combination.

It would be false flattery to say that Miss ROSINA BUCKMAN quite
looked the part of _Aïda_, or Miss EDNA THORNTON that of _Amneris_,
but they both sang finely, and the orchestra did great work under Mr.

In _Louise_, again, it was the orchestra, cleverly steered by Sir
THOMAS BEECHAM through the difficult score for the choruses, that
sustained us through the banalities of an opera which has only one
dramatic moment - when her father hastens the eviction of _Louise_ by
throwing a chair at her, very well aimed by Mr. ROBERT RADFORD, who
only just missed his mark. I suppose it is hopeless to expect that the
makers of "Grand" Opera (whose sense of humour is seldom their strong
point) will consent to allow the trivialities of ordinary speech in
everyday life ("How do you do?" "Thank you, I am not feeling my
best," and so on) to be said - if they _must_ find expression of some
sort - and not sung.

By way of contrast to the modern realism which makes so unlikely a
material for serious opera, the fantastic irresponsibility of _The
Magic Flute_ came as a great relief. Its simpler music, serenely
sampling the whole gamut of emotions, grave to gay, offered equal
chances (all taken) to the pure love-singing of Miss AGNES NICHOLLS
as _Pamina_, and Mr. MAURICE D'OISLY as _Tamino_, the light-hearted
frivolity of _Papageno_ (Mr. RANALOW), and the solemn pontifics
(_de profundissimis_) of Mr. FOSTER RICHARDSON'S _Sarastro_. A most
delightful and refreshing performance.


* * * * *


Terpsichore, tired of the "trot,"
And letting the waltz go to pot,
In the glorious Jazz
Most undoubtedly has
Discovered the pick of the lot.

There was an exuberant "coon"
Who invented a horrible tune
For a horrible dance
Which suggested the prance
Of a half-epileptic baboon.

* * * * *

"The Prime Minister threw aside precedent to such an extent that
he got out of his depth and went on his knees when we were on the
rocks." - _Letter in "The Globe_."

When we get out of our depth we never think of kneeling on the bottom.

* * * * *



MR. MACDONALD HASTINGS has invented, and committed, yet another new
sin - that of attempting to do a CONRAD novel into a three-act play.
Fifteen, possibly; but three? We hardly think. What every Conradist
knows is that you can't compress that master of subtlety without
losing the master's dominant quality - atmosphere; that it's not so
much the things he says but the queer way and the odd order in which
he says them that matter. He is not precisely a filmable person.

And yet, all things considered, the potter has produced a tolerable
pot, and we may write down his fault of extreme foolhardiness as
venial. What, however, Mr. CONRAD himself thought of the rehearsals,
if he attended them - but perhaps we need not go into that.

It is easy to see the attraction, for the players, of the series
of star parts provided by the exciting story. You have first the
eccentric, misjudged Swede, _Heyst_ (the adapter makes him an
Englishman, perhaps wisely, as our stage takes no account of Swedes),
come from self-banishment on a far Pacific island - a complex Conradian
personality. Then his arch-enemy, _Schomberg_, lieutenant of reserve,
shady hotel-keeper, sensualist and craven, with his insane malice.
To these enter as pretty a company of miscreants as ever sailed the
Southern seas: the sinister _Jones_, misogynist to the point of fine
frenzy, nonconformist in the matter of card-playing, and thereafter
frank bandit with a high ethic as to the superiority of plain robbery
under arms over mere vulgar swindling - a gentleman with a code, in
fact; his strictly incomparable "secretary," _Ricardo_ of the rolling
eyes and gait and deathly treacherous knife, philogynist _sans
phrase_; and _Pedro_, their groom, a reincarnated _Caliban_. It may
also be noted that _Heyst_ has a freak servant, the disappearing
_Wang_, whom the adapter uses, I suppose legitimately, as a kind of
clown. And then, finally, there is a charming and unusual heroine,
_Lena_, still in her teens, but of real flesh and blood, innocent and
persecuted, daughter of a drunken fiddler (deceased), herself fiddling
in a tenth-rate orchestra at _Schomberg's_ hotel, wherein it is not
intended that the music shall be the chief attraction to the guests.

_Heyst_ is Perseus to _Lena's_ Andromeda, carrying her off to his
island out of lust's way. But dragon _Schomberg_ has a sting left in
his malicious tale, told to the unlikely trio of scoundrels, to the
effect that _Heyst_ has ill-gotten treasure hoarded on his island.
Dragon _Ricardo_ persuades his chief to the adventure of attaching
it. A fine brew of passion and action forsooth: _Lena_ passionately
adoring; the aloof _Heyst_ passing suddenly from indifference to
ardour; the bestial _Ricardo_ in pursuit of his startled quarry; and
gentleman _Jones_ intent on non-existent booty and rapt out of him
self by cynical fury at the discovery of an unsuspected woman in
the case. And while Mr. CONRAD in his novel drives all these to a
relentless doom Mr. HASTINGS contrives a happy ending, which goes
perilously near an anticlimax, with the hero on his knees and the
heroine pointing up to heaven and claiming a "victory" quite other
than their creator intended. But then he knew perfectly well that
nobody wants to come to see Miss MARIE LÖHR killed.

[Illustration: THE LAGGARD LOVER. _Lena_ (Miss MARIE LÖHR) _to Heyst_

On the whole I can't think the cast was up to its extremely difficult
task, if you estimate that task, as it seems to me you must, to be
the reproducing of the original _Victory_ characters. Perhaps Mr. SAM
LIVESEY'S _Ricardo_ was the nearest, though the primitive savagery of
his wooing had to be toned down in the interests of propriety. Mr.
GAYER MACKAY made his _Jones_ interesting and plausible in the quieter
opening movements. In the intended tragic spasms one felt that he
became rather comic than sinister. Not his fault, I think. He had
no room or time to work up his part. That should also apply to Mr.
GARRY'S _Schomberg_, though he doesn't seem to have tried to fit
himself into the skin of that entertaining villain. Mr. MURRAY
CARRINGTON had an exceedingly tough task with his _Heyst_. But was he
even as detached and eccentric as the average modern don? Certainly
he was not the man of mystery of the original pattern, but rather the
amiable comely film-hero.

Miss LÖHR had her interesting moments, the best of them, perhaps, in
the First Act. In her big scene, where the knife is to be won from
_Ricardo_, she was no doubt hampered by the tradition that it is
necessary to play down to the carefully cultivated imbecility of the
audience in order that they should not misunderstand the most obvious
points. It's not flattering to us, but it can't be helped. Probably
we deserve it. But need she have been quite so refined? Only very
occasionally does she remember that _Lena_ is fine matter in a
"common" mould, which is surely of the essence of the situation. I do
seriously recommend a re-reading of what should be a character full
of blood, which is ever so much more amusing than sawdust, however
charmingly encased. I feel sure she could shock and at the same time
please the groundlings if she let herself go.

And where, by the way, did she get that charmingly-cut skirt in the
Second Act? She certainly hadn't it in her bundle when she left the
hotel. And yet the stage-manager will go to the trouble, for the sake
of a quite misguided realism, of making the hotel orchestra play
against the dialogue as if the persistent coughing of the audience
were not sufficient handicap to his team.

Miss BALVAIRD-HEWETT gave a clever rendering of the hotel-keeper's
sombre _Frau_; and Mr. GEORGE ELTON contributed an excellent Chinese

But you can't, you really can't, get a gallon into a pint pot, however
strenuous the potter.


* * * * *


"What has to be done is to draw a sanitary cordon to bar the road
to Bolshevism." - _M. PICHON in the French Chamber_.

The need of this policy is strengthened by the simultaneous
announcement that the Bolsheviks have crossed the Bug on a wide front.

* * * * *

"Mr. - - has for twenty-one years been illustrating 'A Saunter
Through Kent.'" - _Sunday Pictorial_.

The artist seems to have caught the spirit of his subject.

* * * * *

"This was seconded by Mr. Mackinder, who said the barque of
British trade had to steer a perilous course between the scylla of
the front Opposition bench and the charybodies as represented by
the Government." - _Western Daily Press_.

This is the first intimation we have yet received of any noticeable
tendency to penurious economy on the part of the Government.

* * * * *

[Illustration: THE IRREPRESSIBLE.]

* * * * *


Mr. Bingley-Spyker pleaded surprise. He pointed out that he had
been in bed for a fortnight, "laid aside," as he said, "through the
prevailing epidemic." In the meantime the revolution had taken place,
and he had heard nothing about it.

"Well," said the President gruffly, "we carn't 'elp that, can we,
comrades? While this 'ere citizen 'as been restin' in the lap o'
luxury, so to speak, we workers 'ave been revolutin'. An' that's all
there is to it."

"But fair play," persisted Mr. Bingley-Spyker gently, "is a jewel. At
least so I have always understood."

"Not so much of it, me lad," interrupted the President sharply. "Now
then, comrade, wot's the charge?"

An unkempt person stepped up to the front and, clearing his throat
with some emphasis, began: -

"About ten-thirty this morning I see this gentleman - "

"_What? _" The interruption came simultaneously from several members
of the tribunal.

" - this party walkin' down Whitehall casual-like, as if the place
belonged to 'im instead of to us. 'What ho!' I says to myself, 'this
'ere chap looks like a counter-revolution'ry;' and with that I comes
closer to 'im. Sure enough he was wearin' a 'igh collar, about three
inches 'igh, I should say, all white an' shiny, straight from the
lorndry. I could 'ardly believe my eyes."

"Never mind your eyes, comrade," the President said; "tell us what you

"I accosted 'im and said, 'Ere, citizen, wot do you mean by wearin' a
collar like that?'"

"An' what was the reply?"

"He looked at me 'aughty-like, an' says, 'Get away, my man, or I shall
call the police.' An' thereupon I said, 'P'r'aps you don't know it,
citizen, but I _am_ the p'lice, an', wot's more, I arrest you for
wearin' a white collar, contrairy to the regulations in that case made
an' perwided.'"

"Very good, comrade," murmured the President, "very good indeed. Did
he seem surprised?"

"Knocked all of a 'eap. So I took him into custody and brought him

"You did well, comrade. The Tribunal thanks you. Step down now, me
lad, and don't make too much noise. Now then, prisoner, you've 'eard
the charge; what have you got to say about it?"

"Only this," said Mr. Bingley-Spyker firmly, "that I am not guilty."

"Not guilty?" shouted the President. "Why, you've got the blooming
thing on now!"

"Yes," said the prisoner mildly. "But observe."

Somewhat diffidently he removed his collar and held it up to view.
"You call this a clean, white, shiny collar? Well, it's not.
Fawn-colour, if you like; speckled - yes; but white - clean? No! Believe
me," continued Mr. Bingley-Spyker, warming to his subject, "it's years
since I've had a genuinely clean collar from my laundry. Mostly they
are speckled. And the specks are usually in a conspicuous position;
one on each wing is a favourite combination. I grant you these can be
removed by a penknife, but imperfectly and with damage to the fabric.
When what I may call the main portion of the collar is affected, the
speckled area may occasionally be concealed by a careful disposition
of one's tie. But not often. The laundress, with diabolical cunning,
takes care to place her trade-mark as near the top rim as possible.
I have not by any means exhausted the subject," he concluded, "but I
think I have said enough to clear myself of this particular charge."

It seemed then to Mr. Bingley-Spyker that all the members of the
Tribunal were shouting together. On the whole he gathered that he had
not improved his position. He had been "attacking the proletariat."

"'Ard-working gyurls," panted a woman-member excitedly, "toilin' and
moilin' at wash-tubs and mangles for the likes of 'im! It's a rope
collar he wants, Mr. President. Make it a 'anging matter, I should."

"Silence, comrades!" commanded the President. "Let me deal with 'im.
Prisoner, the Tribunal finds you guilty of wearing a collar,
contrary to the regulations. Collars are the 'all-marks of a slave
civilization; they 'ave no place in a free state. The sentence of the
Court is that you be committed to a State laundry for ten years, with
'ard labour, principally at mangles. Remove the prisoner."

So they removed Mr. Bingley-Spyker....

He was glad when he woke up to find himself in his own room in his
own Government office at Whitehall, with the afternoon sun streaming
deliciously through the windows. Involuntarily he felt for his collar.

* * * * *


When I come into my kingdom, which will happen very soon,
I shall ride a milk-white palfrey from the Mountains of the Moon;
He's caparisoned and costly, but he did his bit of work
In a bridle set with brilliants, which he used to beat the Turk.

Then they called their Uncle Edward and they blew without a check,
Keeping time with much precision, down the back of Uncle's neck,
Till he fled to get an iceberg, which he providently found
Half on land and half in water, so he couldn't well be drowned.

Oh, his gait was very silent, very sinuous and slow -
He had learnt it from a waiter whom he met about Soho;
He was much the best tactician of the migratory band
And he earned a decent living as a parcel packed by hand.

"Sergeant James," we said, "how goes it?" but the Sergeant looked askance;
Not for him the mazy phalanx or the military dance;
He could only sit and suffer, with a most portentous frown,
While a crowd of little gipsies turned the whole thing upside down.

Aunt Maria next surprised us: for her massive back was grooved,
And her adenoids gave trouble, so we had them all removed;
If we hadn't done it neatly she'd have gone and joined the dead,
As it is she hops politely while she walks upon her head.

So we'll all fill up a cheque-form on some celebrated Banks -
It's a pity that a cheque-form should be made so much of blanks -
And we'll give the Bank of England all the credit that is due
To her hoards of gold and silver; and I wish they weren't so few.

* * * * *

"Mr. - - has been actively connected with the last two Victory
Loan drives, in the last one raising $15,282,000. As an
appreciation of his work the salesmen presented him with a
(fifteen million dollar) diamond ring." - _Canadian Paper_.

We are glad that something was left for the Loan.

* * * * *

[Illustration: _Small Boy (who has been promised a visit to the Zoo

* * * * *


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

I found myself as much taken with the title of _The Great
Interruption_ (HUTCHINSON) as with any of the dozen short war-stories
that Mr. W.B. MAXWELL has collected in the volume. Yet these are
admirable of their kind - "muffin-tales" is my own name for them, of
just the length to hold your attention for a solitary tea-hour and
each with some novelty of idea or distinction in treatment that makes
the next page worth turning. The central theme of all is, of course,
the same: the War in its effect upon people at the fighting front and
elsewhere. Perhaps it was inevitable that Mr. MAXWELL should betray a
certain faintly cynical amusement in his dealings with the people of
elsewhere. Two of the stories especially - "The Strain of It" and "What
Edie Regretted" - are grimly illustrative of some home-keeping types
for whom the great tragedy served only as an opportunity for social
advancement or a pleasantly-thrilling excuse for futilities. There
will be no reader who will not smilingly acknowledge the justice of
these sketches; not one of us whose neighbours could not supply an
original for them. Fortunately the book has other tales of which the
humour is less caustic; probably of intention Mr. MAXWELL'S pictures
of war as the soldier knew it, its hardships and compensations,
contrast poignantly with the others. On the active-service side my
choice would undoubtedly be for the admirably cheery and well-told

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Online LibraryVariousPunch, or the London Charivari, Volume 156, April 2, 1919 → online text (page 3 of 4)