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

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"Christmas is Christmas" (not exactly about fraternization), as
convincing a realisation of the Front at its best as any I remember to
have read in more pretentious volumes.

I am bound to admit that for all my appreciation of Mr. J.D. BERESFORD
as a literary craftsman I did find _The Jervaise Comedy_ (COLLINS)
a bit slow off the mark. Here is a quite considerable volume,
exquisitely printed upon delightful paper, all about the events of
twenty-four hours, in which, when you come to consider it afterwards,
nothing very much happened. The heroine thought about eloping with the
chauffeur, and the onlooker, who tells the tale, thought about
falling in love with the sister of the same. In both cases thought is
subsequently translated into action, but only after the curtains fall.
Meanwhile an affair of hesitations, suggestions, moods and (as
I hinted above) rather too many words. It is a. tribute to Mr.
BERESFORD'S art that out of all this we do eventually emerge with some
definite idea of the characters and a pleasantly-amused interest in
their fate. There is, of course, plenty of distinction in the writing.
But I could have wished more or earlier movement. Even the motor-car,
whose appearance promised a hint, the merest far-off possibility, of
farcical developments, shared in the general lethargy and refused to
move from its ditch. In spite, however, of this procrastination I wish
it to be understood that the story is in some ways one of unusual
charm; it has style, atmosphere and a very sensible dignity. But,
lacking the confidence that I fortunately had in my author, I question
whether I should have survived to the point at which these qualities
became apparent.

* * * * *

An author who in his first novel can deliberately put himself in
the way of temptation and as unhesitatingly avoid it must be worth
following. And so, if for no other reason, one might look forward to
Mr. BERNARD DUFFY'S next book with uncommon interest. His hero comes
into the story as a foundling, being deposited in a humble Irish home
and an atmosphere of mystery by some woman unknown; he is supported
thereafter by sufficiently suggestive remittances, and he passes
through a Bohemian boyhood and a more normal though still intriguing
early struggle and fluctuating love-story to eventual success, always
with the glamour of conventional romance about him, only to turn out
nobody in particular in the end. Congratulations! One was horribly
afraid he would be compelled to be at least the acknowledged heir to a
title. Quite apart from this, too, _Oriel_ (FISHER UNWIN) is after an
unassuming fashion one of the most easily and happily read and, one
would say, happily written books that has appeared for many a long
day, with humour that is Irish without being too broadly of the
brogue, and with people who are distinctive without ever becoming
unnatural. The dear old tramping quack-doctor, _Oriel's_
foster-father, in particular might well be praised in language that
would sound exaggerated. Mr. DUFFY'S work, depending as it does mainly
on a flow of charming and even exquisite side incident, suggests that
he is no more than beginning to tap a most extensive reservoir. I
greatly hope that this is the case.

* * * * *

I gather that _The Son of Tarzan_ (METHUEN) is the fourth of a
_Tarzan_ series by Mr. EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS, who specialises in an
exciting brand of hero, half ape, half man. _Tarzan père_ had been
suckled and reared by a proud ape foster-mother, and after many
jungle adventures had settled down as _Lord Greystoke_. This latest
instalment of the _Tarzan_ chronicles finds the _Greystokes_ somewhat
anxious about the restlessness and unconventional tastes of their
schoolboy son, who inherits not only his father's vague jungle
longings but all his explicit acquired characteristics, so that when,
with the decent old ape, _Akut_, disguised as his invalid grandmother,
he sails away from England and plunges into the wild he promptly
becomes the terror of the jungle and bites the jugular veins of
hostile man and beast with such a precision of technique that he
becomes king of the ape-folk, as his father, _Tarzan_, had been before
him. Plausibility, even within the limits of his bizarre plan, is
not Mr. BURROUGHS' strong suit, but exciting incident, ingeniously
imagined and staged, with swift movement, undoubtedly is. If the
author wouldn't let his favourites off so easily and would give their
enemies a better sporting chance, he would more readily sustain the
illusion which is of the essence of real enjoyment in this kind of
fantasy. But I imagine the normal human boy will find nothing whatever
to complain of, and to him I chiefly commend this yarn.

* * * * *

_The Tale of Mr. Tubbs_ (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) is one of those which
hover agreeably between low comedy and refined farce, in a world
which, being frankly to the last degree improbable, makes no urgent
demand for belief. Sometimes indeed (as I have observed before with
Mr. J.E. BUCKROSE) the characters themselves are more credible
than the way in which they carry on. Thus while _Mr. Tubbs_, the
middle-aged and high-principled champion of distress, is both human
and likeable, I was never persuaded that any more real motive than
regard for an amusing situation would compel him to saddle himself
with the continued society of a squint-eyed maid-servant and her
yellow cat, turned adrift through his unfortunate attempts to befriend
them. I think I need not tell you all, or even a part of all, that
happens to _Mr. Tubbs_ and _Belinda_ and the yellow cat after their
arrival as fugitives at the pleasant village of Holmes-Eaton, or do
more than hint at the trials of this poor knight-errant, mistaken
for a burglar and a libertine, till the hour when (the book being
sufficiently full) he is rewarded with the hand of beauty and the
prospect of what I will venture to call a Buckroseate future. They
were no more than his due for remaining a consistent gentleman amid
the temptations of farce. One word of criticism however; surely Mr.
BUCKROSE has made a study of _The Boy's Own Paper_ less intimate than
mine if he supposes that a story with such a title as "The Red Robbers
of Ravenhill" could ever have gained admittance to those chaste

* * * * *

_John Justinian Jellicoe_, the hero's father in _The Quest of
the Golden Spurs_ (JARROLD), possessed a secretive and peculiar
disposition. Not only did he conceal his true nature from his son,
but he also left a will with some remarkable clauses which made it
necessary for _J.J.J., Junior_, to work and wait for his inheritance;
and it is the tale of his search for it that Mr. SHAUN MALORY tells us
here. Perhaps I have known treasure-hunts in which I have followed
the scent with a more abandoned interest. But we are given some
fine hunting, with a surprise at the end of it, and what more can
treasure-hunters, or we who read of them, possibly want? The date of
this quest is modern, and more than once I found myself thinking that
the twentieth century was not the fittest period in which to lay such
a plot as this. But I am content to believe that Mr. MALORY knows his
business better than I do, and as - like a good huntsman - he has left
me with a keen desire to go a-hunting with him again, I beg to thank
him for my day's sport.

* * * * *


* * * * *


"After the tremendous battles of the present war, even such
actions as Marlborough's victories - Dettingen, Luicelles,
Vittoria, Waterloo, and Inkerman - seem insignificant by
comparison." - _Daily Paper_.

We don't suppose the shades of GEORGE II., WELLINGTON and RAGLAN will
worry much about this annexation of their triumphs, but Lord LAKE'S
ghost will be seriously annoyed at the misspelling of Lincelles.

* * * * *

Extract from a letter received from a well-known wholesale
tobacconist: -

"We think that if you will apply to either of the three
tobacconists, whose names and addresses we append, you will
have no difficulty in obtaining an inadequate supply for your

Judging by our own experiences we are jolly well sure of it.


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