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´╗┐Title: The Angel and the Author, and others
Author: Jerome, Jerome K. (Jerome Klapka), 1859-1927
Language: English
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Transcribed from the 1908 Hurst and Blackett edition by David Price,
email ccx074@pglaf.org



Author of
"Paul Kelver," "Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow," "The Passing
of the Third Floor Back," and others.



I had a vexing dream one night, not long ago: it was about a fortnight
after Christmas.  I dreamt I flew out of the window in my nightshirt.  I
went up and up.  I was glad that I was going up.  "They have been
noticing me," I thought to myself.  "If anything, I have been a bit too
good.  A little less virtue and I might have lived longer.  But one
cannot have everything."  The world grew smaller and smaller.  The last I
saw of London was the long line of electric lamps bordering the
Embankment; later nothing remained but a faint luminosity buried beneath
darkness.  It was at this point of my journey that I heard behind me the
slow, throbbing sound of wings.

I turned my head.  It was the Recording Angel.  He had a weary look; I
judged him to be tired.

"Yes," he acknowledged, "it is a trying period for me, your Christmas

"I am sure it must be," I returned; "the wonder to me is how you get
through it all.  You see at Christmas time," I went on, "all we men and
women become generous, quite suddenly.  It is really a delightful

"You are to be envied," he agreed.

"It is the first Christmas number that starts me off," I told him; "those
beautiful pictures--the sweet child looking so pretty in her furs, giving
Bovril with her own dear little hands to the shivering street arab; the
good old red-faced squire shovelling out plum pudding to the crowd of
grateful villagers.  It makes me yearn to borrow a collecting box and go
round doing good myself.

"And it is not only me--I should say I," I continued; "I don't want you
to run away with the idea that I am the only good man in the world.
That's what I like about Christmas, it makes everybody good.  The lovely
sentiments we go about repeating! the noble deeds we do! from a little
before Christmas up to, say, the end of January! why noting them down
must be a comfort to you."

"Yes," he admitted, "noble deeds are always a great joy to me."

"They are to all of us," I said; "I love to think of all the good deeds I
myself have done.  I have often thought of keeping a diary--jotting them
down each day.  It would be so nice for one's children."

He agreed there was an idea in this.

"That book of yours," I said, "I suppose, now, it contains all the good
actions that we men and women have been doing during the last six weeks?"
It was a bulky looking volume.

Yes, he answered, they were all recorded in the book.

The Author tells of his Good Deeds.

It was more for the sake of talking of his than anything else that I kept
up with him.  I did not really doubt his care and conscientiousness, but
it is always pleasant to chat about one's self.  "My five shillings
subscription to the _Daily Telegraph's_ Sixpenny Fund for the
Unemployed--got that down all right?" I asked him.

Yes, he replied, it was entered.

"As a matter of fact, now I come to think of it," I added, "it was ten
shillings altogether.  They spelt my name wrong the first time."

Both subscriptions had been entered, he told me.

"Then I have been to four charity dinners," I reminded him; "I forget
what the particular charity was about.  I know I suffered the next
morning.  Champagne never does agree with me.  But, then, if you don't
order it people think you can't afford it.  Not that I don't like it.
It's my liver, if you understand.  If I take more--"

He interrupted me with the assurance that my attendance had been noted.

"Last week I sent a dozen photographs of myself, signed, to a charity

He said he remembered my doing so.

"Then let me see," I continued, "I have been to two ordinary balls.  I
don't care much about dancing, but a few of us generally play a little
bridge; and to one fancy dress affair.  I went as Sir Walter Raleigh.
Some men cannot afford to show their leg.  What I say is, if a man can,
why not?  It isn't often that one gets the opportunity of really looking
one's best."

He told me all three balls had been duly entered: and commented upon.

"And, of course, you remember my performance of Talbot Champneys in _Our
Boys_ the week before last, in aid of the Fund for Poor Curates," I went
on.  "I don't know whether you saw the notice in the _Morning Post_,

He again interrupted me to remark that what the _Morning Post_ man said
would be entered, one way or the other, to the critic of the _Morning
Post_, and had nothing to do with me.  "Of course not," I agreed; "and
between ourselves, I don't think the charity got very much.  Expenses,
when you come to add refreshments and one thing and another, mount up.
But I fancy they rather liked my Talbot Champneys."

He replied that he had been present at the performance, and had made his
own report.

I also reminded him of the four balcony seats I had taken for the monster
show at His Majesty's in aid of the Fund for the Destitute British in
Johannesburg.  Not all the celebrated actors and actresses announced on
the posters had appeared, but all had sent letters full of kindly wishes;
and the others--all the celebrities one had never heard of--had turned up
to a man.  Still, on the whole, the show was well worth the money.  There
was nothing to grumble at.

There were other noble deeds of mine.  I could not remember them at the
time in their entirety.  I seemed to have done a good many.  But I did
remember the rummage sale to which I sent all my old clothes, including a
coat that had got mixed up with them by accident, and that I believe I
could have worn again.

And also the raffle I had joined for a motor-car.

The Angel said I really need not be alarmed, that everything had been
noted, together with other matters I, may be, had forgotten.

The Angel appears to have made a slight Mistake.

I felt a certain curiosity.  We had been getting on very well together--so
it had seemed to me.  I asked him if he would mind my seeing the book.  He
said there could be no objection.  He opened it at the page devoted to
myself, and I flew a little higher, and looked down over his shoulder.  I
can hardly believe it, even now--that I could have dreamt anything so

He had got it all down wrong!

Instead of to the credit side of my account he had put the whole bag of
tricks to my debit.  He had mixed them up with my sins--with my acts of
hypocrisy, vanity, self-indulgence.  Under the head of Charity he had but
one item to my credit for the past six months: my giving up my seat
inside a tramcar, late one wet night, to a dismal-looking old woman, who
had not had even the politeness to say "thank you," she seemed just half
asleep.  According to this idiot, all the time and money I had spent
responding to these charitable appeals had been wasted.

I was not angry with him, at first.  I was willing to regard what he had
done as merely a clerical error.

"You have got the items down all right," I said (I spoke quite friendly),
"but you have made a slight mistake--we all do now and again; you have
put them down on the wrong side of the book.  I only hope this sort of
thing doesn't occur often."

What irritated me as much as anything was the grave, passionless face the
Angel turned upon me.

"There is no mistake," he answered.

"No mistake!" I cried.  "Why, you blundering--"

He closed the book with a weary sigh.

I felt so mad with him, I went to snatch it out of his hand.  He did not
do anything that I was aware of, but at once I began falling.  The faint
luminosity beneath me grew, and then the lights of London seemed shooting
up to meet me.  I was coming down on the clock tower at Westminster.  I
gave myself a convulsive twist, hoping to escape it, and fell into the

And then I awoke.

But it stays with me: the weary sadness of the Angel's face.  I cannot
shake remembrance from me.  Would I have done better, had I taken the
money I had spent upon these fooleries, gone down with it among the poor
myself, asking nothing in return.  Is this fraction of our superfluity,
flung without further thought or care into the collection box, likely to
satisfy the Impracticable Idealist, who actually suggested--one shrugs
one's shoulders when one thinks of it--that one should sell all one had
and give to the poor?

The Author is troubled concerning his Investments.

Or is our charity but a salve to conscience--an insurance, at decidedly
moderate premium, in case, after all, there should happen to be another
world?  Is Charity lending to the Lord something we can so easily do

I remember a lady tidying up her house, clearing it of rubbish.  She
called it "Giving to the Fresh Air Fund."  Into the heap of lumber one of
her daughters flung a pair of crutches that for years had been knocking
about the house.  The lady picked them out again.

"We won't give those away," she said, "they might come in useful again.
One never knows."

Another lady, I remember coming downstairs one evening dressed for a
fancy ball.  I forget the title of the charity, but I remember that every
lady who sold more than ten tickets received an autograph letter of
thanks from the Duchess who was the president.  The tickets were twelve
and sixpence each and included light refreshments and a very substantial
supper.  One presumes the odd sixpence reached the poor--or at least the
noisier portion of them.

"A little _decolletee_, isn't it, my dear?" suggested a lady friend, as
the charitable dancer entered the drawing-room.

"Perhaps it is--a little," she admitted, "but we all of us ought to do
all we can for the Cause.  Don't you think so, dear?"

Really, seeing the amount we give in charity, the wonder is there are any
poor left.  It is a comfort that there are.  What should we do without
them?  Our fur-clad little girls! our jolly, red-faced squires! we should
never know how good they were, but for the poor?  Without the poor how
could we be virtuous?  We should have to go about giving to each other.
And friends expect such expensive presents, while a shilling here and
there among the poor brings to us all the sensations of a good Samaritan.
Providence has been very thoughtful in providing us with poor.

Dear Lady Bountiful! does it not ever occur to you to thank God for the
poor?  The clean, grateful poor, who bob their heads and curtsey and
assure you that heaven is going to repay you a thousandfold.  One does
hope you will not be disappointed.

An East-End curate once told me, with a twinkle in his eye, of a smart
lady who called upon him in her carriage, and insisted on his going round
with her to show her where the poor hid themselves.  They went down many
streets, and the lady distributed her parcels.  Then they came to one of
the worst, a very narrow street.  The coachman gave it one glance.

"Sorry, my lady," said the coachman, "but the carriage won't go down."

The lady sighed.

"I am afraid we shall have to leave it," she said.

So the gallant greys dashed past.

Where the real poor creep I fear there is no room for Lady Bountiful's
fine coach.  The ways are very narrow--wide enough only for little Sister
Pity, stealing softly.

I put it to my friend, the curate:

"But if all this charity is, as you say, so useless; if it touches but
the fringe; if it makes the evil worse, what would you do?"

And questions a Man of Thought.

"I would substitute Justice," he answered; "there would be no need for

  "But it is so delightful to give," I answered.

"Yes," he agreed.  "It is better to give than to receive.  I was thinking
of the receiver.  And my ideal is a long way off.  We shall have to work
towards it slowly."


Philosophy and the Daemon.

Philosophy, it has been said, is the art of bearing other people's
troubles.  The truest philosopher I ever heard of was a woman.  She was
brought into the London Hospital suffering from a poisoned leg.  The
house surgeon made a hurried examination.  He was a man of blunt speech.

"It will have to come off," he told her.

"What, not all of it?"

"The whole of it, I am sorry to say," growled the house surgeon.

"Nothing else for it?"

"No other chance for you whatever," explained the house surgeon.

"Ah, well, thank Gawd it's not my 'ead," observed the lady.

The poor have a great advantage over us better-off folk.  Providence
provides them with many opportunities for the practice of philosophy.  I
was present at a "high tea" given last winter by charitable folk to a
party of char-women.  After the tables were cleared we sought to amuse
them.  One young lady, who was proud of herself as a palmist, set out to
study their "lines."  At sight of the first toil-worn hand she took hold
of her sympathetic face grew sad.

"There is a great trouble coming to you," she informed the ancient dame.

The placid-featured dame looked up and smiled:

"What, only one, my dear?"

"Yes, only one," asserted the kind fortune-teller, much pleased, "after
that all goes smoothly."

"Ah," murmured the old dame, quite cheerfully, "we was all of us a short-
lived family."

Our skins harden to the blows of Fate.  I was lunching one Wednesday with
a friend in the country.  His son and heir, aged twelve, entered and took
his seat at the table.

"Well," said his father, "and how did we get on at school to-day?"

"Oh, all right," answered the youngster, settling himself down to his
dinner with evident appetite.

"Nobody caned?" demanded his father, with--as I noticed--a sly twinkle in
his eye.

"No," replied young hopeful, after reflection; "no, I don't think so,"
adding as an afterthought, as he tucked into beef and potatoes,
"'cepting, o' course, me."

When the Daemon will not work.

It is a simple science, philosophy.  The idea is that it never matters
what happens to you provided you don't mind it.  The weak point in the
argument is that nine times out of ten you can't help minding it.

"No misfortune can harm me," says Marcus Aurelius, "without the consent
of the daemon within me."

The trouble is our daemon cannot always be relied upon.  So often he does
not seem up to his work.

"You've been a naughty boy, and I'm going to whip you," said nurse to a
four-year-old criminal.

"You tant," retorted the young ruffian, gripping with both hands the
chair that he was occupying, "I'se sittin' on it."

His daemon was, no doubt, resolved that misfortune, as personified by
nurse, should not hurt him.  The misfortune, alas! proved stronger than
the daemon, and misfortune, he found did hurt him.

The toothache cannot hurt us so long as the daemon within us (that is to
say, our will power) holds on to the chair and says it can't.  But,
sooner or later, the daemon lets go, and then we howl.  One sees the
idea: in theory it is excellent.  One makes believe.  Your bank has
suddenly stopped payment.  You say to yourself.

"This does not really matter."

Your butcher and your baker say it does, and insist on making a row in
the passage.

You fill yourself up with gooseberry wine.  You tell yourself it is
seasoned champagne.  Your liver next morning says it is not.

The daemon within us means well, but forgets it is not the only thing
there.  A man I knew was an enthusiast on vegetarianism.  He argued that
if the poor would adopt a vegetarian diet the problem of existence would
be simpler for them, and maybe he was right.  So one day he assembled
some twenty poor lads for the purpose of introducing to them a vegetarian
lunch.  He begged them to believe that lentil beans were steaks, that
cauliflowers were chops.  As a third course he placed before them a
mixture of carrots and savoury herbs, and urged them to imagine they were
eating saveloys.

"Now, you all like saveloys," he said, addressing them, "and the palate
is but the creature of the imagination.  Say to yourselves, 'I am eating
saveloys,' and for all practical purposes these things will be saveloys."

Some of the lads professed to have done it, but one disappointed-looking
youth confessed to failure.

"But how can you be sure it was not a saveloy?" the host persisted.

"Because," explained the boy, "I haven't got the stomach-ache."

It appeared that saveloys, although a dish of which he was fond,
invariably and immediately disagreed with him.  If only we were all daemon
and nothing else philosophy would be easier.  Unfortunately, there is
more of us.

Another argument much approved by philosophy is that nothing matters,
because a hundred years hence, say, at the outside, we shall be dead.
What we really want is a philosophy that will enable us to get along
while we are still alive.  I am not worrying about my centenary; I am
worrying about next quarter-day.  I feel that if other people would only
go away, and leave me--income-tax collectors, critics, men who come round
about the gas, all those sort of people--I could be a philosopher myself.
I am willing enough to make believe that nothing matters, but they are
not.  They say it is going to be cut off, and talk about judgment
summonses.  I tell them it won't trouble any of us a hundred years hence.
They answer they are not talking of a hundred years hence, but of this
thing that was due last April twelvemonth.  They won't listen to my
daemon.  He does not interest them.  Nor, to be candid, does it comfort
myself very much, this philosophical reflection that a hundred years
later on I'll be sure to be dead--that is, with ordinary luck.  What
bucks me up much more is the hope that they will be dead.  Besides, in a
hundred years things may have improved.  I may not want to be dead.  If I
were sure of being dead next morning, before their threat of cutting off
that water or that gas could by any possibility be carried out, before
that judgment summons they are bragging about could be made returnable, I
might--I don't say I should--be amused, thinking how I was going to dish
them.  The wife of a very wicked man visited him one evening in prison,
and found him enjoying a supper of toasted cheese.

"How foolish of you, Edward," argued the fond lady, "to be eating toasted
cheese for supper.  You know it always affects your liver.  All day long
to-morrow you will be complaining."

"No, I shan't," interrupted Edward; "not so foolish as you think me.  They
are going to hang me to-morrow--early."

There is a passage in Marcus Aurelius that used to puzzle me until I hit
upon the solution.  A foot-note says the meaning is obscure.  Myself, I
had gathered this before I read the foot-note.  What it is all about I
defy any human being to explain.  It might mean anything; it might mean
nothing.  The majority of students incline to the latter theory, though a
minority maintain there is a meaning, if only it could be discovered.  My
own conviction is that once in his life Marcus Aurelius had a real good
time.  He came home feeling pleased with himself without knowing quite

"I will write it down," he said to himself, "now, while it is fresh in my

It seemed to him the most wonderful thing that anybody had ever said.
Maybe he shed a tear or two, thinking of all the good he was doing, and
later on went suddenly to sleep.  In the morning he had forgotten all
about it, and by accident it got mixed up with the rest of the book.  That
is the only explanation that seems to me possible, and it comforts me.

We are none of us philosophers all the time.

Philosophy is the science of suffering the inevitable, which most of us
contrive to accomplish without the aid of philosophy.  Marcus Aurelius
was an Emperor of Rome, and Diogenes was a bachelor living rent free.  I
want the philosophy of the bank clerk married on thirty shillings a week,
of the farm labourer bringing up a family of eight on a precarious wage
of twelve shillings.  The troubles of Marcus Aurelius were chiefly those
of other people.

"Taxes will have to go up, I am afraid," no doubt he often sighed.  "But,
after all, what are taxes?  A thing in conformity with the nature of
man--a little thing that Zeus approves of, one feels sure.  The daemon
within me says taxes don't really matter."

Maybe the paterfamilias of the period, who did the paying, worried about
new sandals for the children, his wife insisting she hadn't a frock fit
to be seen in at the amphitheatre; that, if there was one thing in the
world she fancied, it was seeing a Christian eaten by a lion, but now she
supposed the children would have to go without her, found that philosophy
came to his aid less readily.

"Bother these barbarians," Marcus Aurelius may have been tempted, in an
unphilosophical moment, to exclaim; "I do wish they would not burn these
poor people's houses over their heads, toss the babies about on spears,
and carry off the older children into slavery.  Why don't they behave

But philosophy in Marcus Aurelius would eventually triumph over passing

"But how foolish of me to be angry with them," he would argue with
himself.  "One is not vexed with the fig-tree for yielding figs, with the
cucumber for being bitter!  One must expect barbarians to behave

Marcus Aurelius would proceed to slaughter the barbarians, and then
forgive them.  We can most of us forgive our brother his transgressions,
having once got even with him.  In a tiny Swiss village, behind the angle
of the school-house wall, I came across a maiden crying bitterly, her
head resting on her arm.  I asked her what had happened.  Between her
sobs she explained that a school companion, a little lad about her own
age, having snatched her hat from her head, was at that moment playing
football with it the other side of the wall.  I attempted to console her
with philosophy.  I pointed out to her that boys would be boys--that to
expect from them at that age reverence for feminine headgear was to seek
what was not conformable with the nature of boy.  But she appeared to
have no philosophy in her.  She said he was a horrid boy, and that she
hated him.  It transpired it was a hat she rather fancied herself in.  He
peeped round the corner while we were talking, the hat in his hand.  He
held it out to her, but she took no notice of him.  I gathered the
incident was closed, and went my way, but turned a few steps further on,
curious to witness the end.  Step by step he approached nearer, looking a
little ashamed of himself; but still she wept, her face hidden in her

He was not expecting it: to all seeming she stood there the
personification of the grief that is not to be comforted, oblivious to
all surroundings.  Incautiously he took another step.  In an instant she
had "landed" him over the head with a long narrow wooden box containing,
one supposes, pencils and pens.  He must have been a hard-headed
youngster, the sound of the compact echoed through the valley.  I met her
again on my way back.

"Hat much damaged?" I inquired.

"Oh, no," she answered, smiling; "besides, it was only an old hat.  I've
got a better one for Sundays."

I often feel philosophical myself; generally over a good cigar after a
satisfactory dinner.  At such times I open my Marcus Aurelius, my pocket
Epicurus, my translation of Plato's "Republic."  At such times I agree
with them.  Man troubles himself too much about the unessential.  Let us
cultivate serenity.  Nothing can happen to us that we have not been
constituted by Nature to sustain.  That foolish farm labourer, on his
precarious wage of twelve shillings a week: let him dwell rather on the
mercies he enjoys.  Is he not spared all anxiety concerning safe
investment of capital yielding four per cent.?  Is not the sunrise and
the sunset for him also?  Many of us never see the sunrise.  So many of
our so-termed poorer brethen are privileged rarely to miss that early
morning festival.  Let the daemon within them rejoice.  Why should he
fret when the children cry for bread?  Is it not in the nature of things
that the children of the poor should cry for bread?  The gods in their
wisdom have arranged it thus.  Let the daemon within him reflect upon the
advantage to the community of cheap labour.  Let the farm labourer
contemplate the universal good.


Literature and the Middle Classes.

I am sorry to be compelled to cast a slur upon the Literary profession,
but observation shows me that it still contains within its ranks writers
born and bred in, and moving amidst--if, without offence, one may put it
bluntly--a purely middle-class environment: men and women to whom Park
Lane will never be anything than the shortest route between Notting Hill
and the Strand; to whom Debrett's Peerage--gilt-edged and bound in red, a
tasteful-looking volume--ever has been and ever will remain a drawing-
room ornament and not a social necessity.  Now what is to become of these
writers--of us, if for the moment I may be allowed to speak as
representative of this rapidly-diminishing yet nevertheless still
numerous section of the world of Art and Letters?  Formerly, provided we
were masters of style, possessed imagination and insight, understood
human nature, had sympathy with and knowledge of life, and could express
ourselves with humour and distinction, our pathway was, comparatively
speaking, free from obstacle.  We drew from the middle-class life around
us, passed it through our own middle-class individuality, and presented
it to a public composed of middle-class readers.

But the middle-class public, for purposes of Art, has practically
disappeared.  The social strata from which George Eliot and Dickens drew
their characters no longer interests the great B. P. Hetty Sorrell,
Little Em'ly, would be pronounced "provincial;" a Deronda or a Wilfer
Family ignored as "suburban."

I confess that personally the terms "provincial" and "suburban," as
epithets of reproach, have always puzzled me.  I never met anyone more
severe on what she termed the "suburban note" in literature than a thin
lady who lived in a semi-detached villa in a by-street of Hammersmith.  Is
Art merely a question of geography, and if so what is the exact limit?  Is
it the four-mile cab radius from Charing Cross?  Is the cheesemonger of
Tottenham Court Road of necessity a man of taste, and the Oxford
professor of necessity a Philistine?  I want to understand this thing.  I
once hazarded the direct question to a critical friend:

"You say a book is suburban," I put it to him, "and there is an end to
the matter.  But what do you mean by suburban?"

"Well," he replied, "I mean it is the sort of book likely to appeal to
the class that inhabits the suburbs."  He lived himself in Chancery Lane.

May a man of intelligence live, say, in Surbiton?

"But there is Jones, the editor of _The Evening Gentleman_," I argued;
"he lives at Surbiton.  It is just twelve miles from Waterloo.  He comes
up every morning by the eight-fifteen and returns again by the five-ten.
Would you say that a book is bound to be bad because it appeals to Jones?
Then again, take Tomlinson: he lives, as you are well aware, at Forest
Gate which is Epping way, and entertains you on Kakemonos whenever you
call upon him.  You know what I mean, of course.  I think 'Kakemono' is
right.  They are long things; they look like coloured hieroglyphics
printed on brown paper.  He gets behind them and holds them up above his
head on the end of a stick so that you can see the whole of them at once;
and he tells you the name of the Japanese artist who painted them in the
year 1500 B.C., and what it is all about.  He shows them to you by the
hour and forgets to give you dinner.  There isn't an easy chair in the
house.  To put it vulgarly, what is wrong with Tomlinson from a high art
point of view?

"There's a man I know who lives in Birmingham: you must have heard of
him.  He is the great collector of Eighteenth Century caricatures, the
Rowlandson and Gilray school of things.  I don't call them artistic
myself; they make me ill to look at them; but people who understand Art
rave about them.  Why can't a man be artistic who has got a cottage in
the country?"

"You don't understand me," retorted my critical friend, a little
irritably, as I thought.

"I admit it," I returned.  "It is what I am trying to do."

"Of course artistic people live in the suburbs," he admitted.  "But they
are not of the suburbs."

"Though they may dwell in Wimbledon or Hornsey," I suggested, "they sing
with the Scotch bard: 'My heart is in the South-West postal district.  My
heart is not here.'"

"You can put it that way if you like," he growled.

"I will, if you have no objection," I agreed.  "It makes life easier for
those of us with limited incomes."

The modern novel takes care, however, to avoid all doubt upon the
subject.  Its personages, one and all, reside within the half-mile square
lying between Bond Street and the Park--a neighbourhood that would appear
to be somewhat densely populated.  True, a year or two ago there appeared
a fairly successful novel the heroine of which resided in Onslow Gardens.
An eminent critic observed of it that: "It fell short only by a little
way of being a serious contribution to English literature."  Consultation
with the keeper of the cabman's shelter at Hyde Park Corner suggested to
me that the "little way" the critic had in mind measures exactly eleven
hundred yards.  When the nobility and gentry of the modern novel do leave
London they do not go into the provinces: to do that would be vulgar.
They make straight for "Barchester Towers," or what the Duke calls "his
little place up north"--localities, one presumes, suspended somewhere in

In every social circle exist great souls with yearnings towards higher
things.  Even among the labouring classes one meets with naturally
refined natures, gentlemanly persons to whom the loom and the plough will
always appear low, whose natural desire is towards the dignities and
graces of the servants' hall.  So in Grub Street we can always reckon
upon the superior writer whose temperament will prompt him to make
respectful study of his betters.  A reasonable supply of high-class
novels might always have been depended upon; the trouble is that the
public now demands that all stories must be of the upper ten thousand.
Auld Robin Grey must be Sir Robert Grey, South African millionaire; and
Jamie, the youngest son of the old Earl, otherwise a cultured public can
take no interest in the ballad.  A modern nursery rhymester to succeed
would have to write of Little Lord Jack and Lady Jill ascending one of
the many beautiful eminences belonging to the ancestral estates of their
parents, bearing between them, on a silver rod, an exquisitely painted
Sevres vase filled with ottar of roses.

I take up my fourpenny-halfpenny magazine.  The heroine is a youthful
Duchess; her husband gambles with thousand-pound notes, with the result
that they are reduced to living on the first floor of the Carlton Hotel.
The villain is a Russian Prince.  The Baronet of a simpler age has been
unable, poor fellow, to keep pace with the times.  What self-respecting
heroine would abandon her husband and children for sin and a paltry five
thousand a year?  To the heroine of the past--to the clergyman's daughter
or the lady artist--he was dangerous.  The modern heroine misbehaves
herself with nothing below Cabinet rank.

I turn to something less pretentious, a weekly periodical that my wife
tells me is the best authority she has come across on blouses.  I find in
it what once upon a time would have been called a farce.  It is now a
"drawing-room comedietta.  All rights reserved."  The _dramatis personae_
consist of the Earl of Danbury, the Marquis of Rottenborough (with a
past), and an American heiress--a character that nowadays takes with
lovers of the simple the place formerly occupied by "Rose, the miller's

I sometimes wonder, is it such teaching as that of Carlyle and Tennyson
that is responsible for this present tendency of literature?  Carlyle
impressed upon us that the only history worth consideration was the life
of great men and women, and Tennyson that we "needs must love the
highest."  So literature, striving ever upward, ignores plain Romola for
the Lady Ponsonby de Tompkins; the provincialisms of a Charlotte Bronte
for what a certain critic, born before his time, would have called the
"doin's of the hupper succles."

The British Drama has advanced by even greater bounds.  It takes place
now exclusively within castle walls, and--what Messrs. Lumley & Co.'s
circular would describe as--"desirable town mansions, suitable for
gentlemen of means."  A living dramatist, who should know, tells us that
drama does not occur in the back parlour.  Dramatists have, it has been
argued, occasionally found it there, but such may have been dramatists
with eyes capable of seeing through clothes.

I once wrote a play which I read to a distinguished Manager.  He said it
was a most interesting play: they always say that.  I waited, wondering
to what other manager he would recommend me to take it.  To my surprise
he told me he would like it for himself--but with alterations.

"The whole thing wants lifting up," was his opinion.  "Your hero is a
barrister: my public take no interest in plain barristers.  Make him the
Solicitor General."

"But he's got to be amusing," I argued.  "A Solicitor General is never

My Manager pondered for a moment.  "Let him be Solicitor General for
Ireland," he suggested.

I made a note of it.

"Your heroine," he continued, "is the daughter of a seaside lodging-house
keeper.  My public do not recognize seaside lodgings.  Why not the
daughter of an hotel proprietor?  Even that will be risky, but we might
venture it."  An inspiration came to him.  "Or better still, let the old
man be the Managing Director of an hotel Trust: that would account for
her clothes."

Unfortunately I put the thing aside for a few months, and when I was
ready again the public taste had still further advanced.  The doors of
the British Drama were closed for the time being on all but members of
the aristocracy, and I did not see my comic old man as a Marquis, which
was the lowest title that just then one dared to offer to a low comedian.

Now how are we middle-class novelists and dramatists to continue to live?
I am aware of the obvious retort, but to us it absolutely is necessary.
We know only parlours: we call them drawing-rooms.  At the bottom of our
middle-class hearts we regard them fondly: the folding-doors thrown back,
they make rather a fine apartment.  The only drama that we know takes
place in such rooms: the hero sitting in the gentleman's easy chair, of
green repp: the heroine in the lady's ditto, without arms--the chair, I
mean.  The scornful glances, the bitter words of our middle-class world
are hurled across these three-legged loo-tables, the wedding-cake
ornament under its glass case playing the part of white ghost.

In these days, when "Imperial cement" is at a premium, who would dare
suggest that the emotions of a parlour can by any possibility be the same
as those exhibited in a salon furnished in the style of Louis Quatorze;
that the tears of Bayswater can possibly be compared for saltness with
the lachrymal fluid distilled from South Audley Street glands; that the
laughter of Clapham can be as catching as the cultured cackle of Curzon
Street?  But we, whose best clothes are exhibited only in parlours, what
are we to do?  How can we lay bare the souls of Duchesses, explain the
heart-throbs of peers of the realm?  Some of my friends who, being
Conservative, attend Primrose "tourneys" (or is it "Courts of love"?  I
speak as an outsider.  Something mediaeval, I know it is) do, it is true,
occasionally converse with titled ladies.  But the period for
conversation is always limited owing to the impatience of the man behind;
and I doubt if the interview is ever of much practical use to them, as
conveying knowledge of the workings of the aristocratic mind.  Those of
us who are not Primrose Knights miss even this poor glimpse into the
world above us.  We know nothing, simply nothing, concerning the deeper
feelings of the upper ten.  Personally, I once received a letter from an
Earl, but that was in connection with a dairy company of which his
lordship was chairman, and spoke only of his lordship's views concerning
milk and the advantages of the cash system.  Of what I really wished to
know--his lordship's passions, yearnings and general attitude to life--the
circular said nothing.

Year by year I find myself more and more in a minority.  One by one my
literary friends enter into this charmed aristocratic circle; after which
one hears no more from them regarding the middle-classes.  At once they
set to work to describe the mental sufferings of Grooms of the
Bed-chamber, the hidden emotions of Ladies in their own right, the
religious doubts of Marquises.  I want to know how they do it--"how the
devil they get there."  They refuse to tell me.

Meanwhile, I see nothing before me but the workhouse.  Year by year the
public grows more impatient of literature dealing merely with the middle-
classes.  I know nothing about any other class.  What am I to do?

Commonplace people--friends of mine without conscience, counsel me in
flippant phrase to "have a shot at it."

"I expect, old fellow, you know just as much about it as these other
Johnnies do."  (I am not defending their conversation either as regards
style or matter: I am merely quoting.)  "And even if you don't, what does
it matter?  The average reader knows less.  How is he to find you out?"

But, as I explain to them, it is the law of literature never to write
except about what you really know.  I want to mix with the aristocracy,
study them, understand them; so that I may earn my living in the only way
a literary man nowadays can earn his living, namely, by writing about the
upper circles.

I want to know how to get there.


Man and his Master.

There is one thing that the Anglo-Saxon does better than the "French, or
Turk, or Rooshian," to which add the German or the Belgian.  When the
Anglo-Saxon appoints an official, he appoints a servant: when the others
put a man in uniform, they add to their long list of masters.  If among
your acquaintances you can discover an American, or Englishman,
unfamiliar with the continental official, it is worth your while to
accompany him, the first time he goes out to post a letter, say.  He
advances towards the post-office a breezy, self-confident gentleman,
borne up by pride of race.  While mounting the steps he talks airily of
"just getting this letter off his mind, and then picking up Jobson and
going on to Durand's for lunch."

He talks as if he had the whole day before him.  At the top of the steps
he attempts to push open the door.  It will not move.  He looks about
him, and discovers that is the door of egress, not of ingress.  It does
not seem to him worth while redescending the twenty steps and climbing
another twenty.  So far as he is concerned he is willing to pull the
door, instead of pushing it.  But a stern official bars his way, and
haughtily indicates the proper entrance.  "Oh, bother," he says, and down
he trots again, and up the other flight.

"I shall not be a minute," he remarks over his shoulder.  "You can wait
for me outside."

But if you know your way about, you follow him in.  There are seats
within, and you have a newspaper in your pocket: the time will pass more
pleasantly.  Inside he looks round, bewildered.  The German post-office,
generally speaking, is about the size of the Bank of England.  Some
twenty different windows confront your troubled friend, each one bearing
its own particular legend.  Starting with number one, he sets to work to
spell them out.  It appears to him that the posting of letters is not a
thing that the German post-office desires to encourage.  Would he not
like a dog licence instead? is what one window suggests to him.  "Oh,
never mind that letter of yours; come and talk about bicycles," pleads
another.  At last he thinks he has found the right hole: the word
"Registration" he distinctly recognizes.  He taps at the glass.

Nobody takes any notice of him.  The foreign official is a man whose life
is saddened by a public always wanting something.  You read it in his
face wherever you go.  The man who sells you tickets for the theatre!  He
is eating sandwiches when you knock at his window.  He turns to his

"Good Lord!" you can see him say, "here's another of 'em.  If there has
been one man worrying me this morning there have been a hundred.  Always
the same story: all of 'em want to come and see the play.  You listen
now; bet you anything he's going to bother me for tickets.  Really, it
gets on my nerves sometimes."

At the railway station it is just the same.

"Another man who wants to go to Antwerp!  Don't seem to care for rest,
these people: flying here, flying there, what's the sense of it?"  It is
this absurd craze on the part of the public for letter-writing that is
spoiling the temper of the continental post-office official.  He does his
best to discourage it.

"Look at them," he says to his assistant--the thoughtful German
Government is careful to provide every official with another official for
company, lest by sheer force of _ennui_ he might be reduced to taking
interest in his work--"twenty of 'em, all in a row!  Some of 'em been
there for the last quarter of an hour."

"Let 'em wait another quarter of an hour," advises the assistant;
"perhaps they'll go away."

"My dear fellow," he answers, "do you think I haven't tried that?  There's
simply no getting rid of 'em.  And it's always the same cry: 'Stamps!
stamps! stamps!'  'Pon my word, I think they live on stamps, some of

"Well let 'em have their stamps?" suggests the assistant, with a burst of
inspiration; "perhaps it will get rid of 'em."

Why the Man in Uniform has, generally, sad Eyes.

"What's the use?" wearily replies the older man.  "There will only come a
fresh crowd when those are gone."

"Oh, well," argues the other, "that will be a change, anyhow.  I'm tired
of looking at this lot."

I put it to a German post-office clerk once--a man I had been boring for
months.  I said:

"You think I write these letters--these short stories, these three-act
plays--on purpose to annoy you.  Do let me try to get the idea out of
your head.  Personally, I hate work--hate it as much as you do.  This is
a pleasant little town of yours: given a free choice, I could spend the
whole day mooning round it, never putting pen to paper.  But what am I to
do?  I have a wife and children.  You know what it is yourself: they
clamour for food, boots--all sorts of things.  I have to prepare these
little packets for sale and bring them to you to send off.  You see, you
are here.  If you were not here--if there were no post-office in this
town, maybe I'd have to train pigeons, or cork the thing up in a bottle,
fling it into the river, and trust to luck and the Gulf Stream.  But, you
being here, and calling yourself a post-office--well, it's a temptation
to a fellow."

I think it did good.  Anyhow, after that he used to grin when I opened
the door, instead of greeting me as formerly with a face the picture of
despair.  But to return to our inexperienced friend.

At last the wicket is suddenly opened.  A peremptory official demands of
him "name and address."  Not expecting the question, he is a little
doubtful of his address, and has to correct himself once or twice.  The
official eyes him suspiciously.

"Name of mother?" continues the official.

"Name of what?"

"Mother!" repeats the official.  "Had a mother of some sort, I suppose."

He is a man who loved his mother sincerely while she lived, but she has
been dead these twenty years, and, for the life of him he cannot
recollect her name.  He thinks it was Margaret Henrietta, but is not at
all sure.  Besides, what on earth has his mother got to do with this
registered letter that he wants to send to his partner in New York?

"When did it die?" asks the official.

"When did what die?  Mother?"

"No, no, the child."

"What child?"  The indignation of the official is almost picturesque.

"All I want to do," explains your friend, "is to register a letter."

"A what?"

"This letter, I want--"

The window is slammed in his face.  When, ten minutes later he does reach
the right wicket--the bureau for the registration of letters, and not the
bureau for the registration of infantile deaths--it is pointed out to him
that the letter either is sealed or that it is not sealed.

I have never been able yet to solve this problem.  If your letter is
sealed, it then appears that it ought not to have been sealed.

If, on the other hand, you have omitted to seal it, that is your fault.
In any case, the letter cannot go as it is.  The continental official
brings up the public on the principle of the nurse who sent the eldest
girl to see what Tommy was doing and tell him he mustn't.  Your friend,
having wasted half an hour and mislaid his temper for the day, decides to
leave this thing over and talk to the hotel porter about it.  Next to the
Burgomeister, the hotel porter is the most influential man in the
continental town: maybe because he can swear in seven different
languages.  But even he is not omnipotent.

The Traveller's one Friend.

Three of us, on the point of starting for a walking tour through the
Tyrol, once sent on our luggage by post from Constance to Innsbruck.  Our
idea was that, reaching Innsbruck in the height of the season, after a
week's tramp on two flannel shirts and a change of socks, we should be
glad to get into fresh clothes before showing ourselves in civilized
society.  Our bags were waiting for us in the post-office: we could see
them through the grating.  But some informality--I have never been able
to understand what it was--had occurred at Constance.  The suspicion of
the Swiss postal authorities had been aroused, and special instructions
had been sent that the bags were to be delivered up only to their
rightful owners.

It sounds sensible enough.  Nobody wants his bag delivered up to anyone
else.  But it had not been explained to the authorities at Innsbruck how
they were to know the proper owners.  Three wretched-looking creatures
crawled into the post-office and said they wanted those three bags--"those
bags, there in the corner"--which happened to be nice, clean, respectable-
looking bags, the sort of bags that anyone might want.  One of them
produced a bit of paper, it is true, which he said had been given to him
as a receipt by the post-office people at Constance.  But in the lonely
passes of the Tyrol one man, set upon by three, might easily be robbed of
his papers, and his body thrown over a precipice.  The chief clerk shook
his head.  He would like us to return accompanied by someone who could
identify us.  The hotel porter occurred to us, as a matter of course.
Keeping to the back streets, we returned to the hotel and fished him out
of his box.

"I am Mr. J.," I said: "this is my friend Mr. B. and this is Mr. S."

The porter bowed and said he was delighted.

"I want you to come with us to the post-office," I explained, "and
identify us."

The hotel porter is always a practical man: his calling robs him of all
sympathy with the hide-bound formality of his compatriots.  He put on his
cap and accompanied us back to the office.  He did his best: no one could
say he did not.  He told them who we were: they asked him how he knew.
For reply he asked them how they thought he knew his mother: he just knew
us: it was second nature with him.  He implied that the question was a
silly one, and suggested that, as his time was valuable, they should hand
us over the three bags and have done with their nonsense.

They asked him how long he had known us.  He threw up his hands with an
eloquent gesture: memory refused to travel back such distance.  It
appeared there was never a time when he had not known us.  We had been
boys together.

Did he know anybody else who knew us?  The question appeared to him
almost insulting.  Everybody in Innsbruck knew us, honoured us, respected
us--everybody, that is, except a few post-office officials, people quite
out of society.

Would he kindly bring along, say; one undoubtedly respectable citizen who
could vouch for our identity?  The request caused him to forget us and
our troubles.  The argument became a personal quarrel between the porter
and the clerk.  If he, the porter, was not a respectable citizen of
Innsbruck, where was such an one to be found?

The disadvantage of being an unknown Person.

Both gentlemen became excited, and the discussion passed beyond my
understanding.  But I gathered dimly from what the clerk said, that ill-
natured remarks relative to the porter's grandfather and a missing cow
had never yet been satisfactorily replied to: and, from observations made
by the porter, that stories were in circulation about the clerk's aunt
and a sergeant of artillery that should suggest to a discreet nephew of
the lady the inadvisability of talking about other people's grandfathers.

Our sympathies were naturally with the porter: he was our man, but he did
not seem to be advancing our cause much.  We left them quarrelling, and
persuaded the head waiter that evening to turn out the gas at our end of
the _table d'hote_.

The next morning we returned to the post-office by ourselves.  The clerk
proved a reasonable man when treated in a friendly spirit.  He was a bit
of a climber himself.  He admitted the possibility of our being the
rightful owners.  His instructions were only not to _deliver up_ the
bags, and he himself suggested a way out of the difficulty.  We might
come each day and dress in the post-office, behind the screen.  It was an
awkward arrangement, even although the clerk allowed us the use of the
back door.  And occasionally, in spite of the utmost care, bits of us
would show outside the screen.  But for a couple of days, until the
British Consul returned from Salzburg, the post-office had to be our
dressing room.  The continental official, I am inclined to think, errs on
the side of prudence.


If only we had not lost our Tails!

A friend of mine thinks it a pity that we have lost our tails.  He argues
it would be so helpful if, like the dog, we possessed a tail that wagged
when we were pleased, that stuck out straight when we were feeling mad.

"Now, do come and see us again soon," says our hostess; "don't wait to be
asked.  Drop in whenever you are passing."

We take her at her word.  The servant who answers our knocking says she
"will see."  There is a scuffling of feet, a murmur of hushed voices, a
swift opening and closing of doors.  We are shown into the drawing-room,
the maid, breathless from her search, one supposes, having discovered
that her mistress _is_ at home.  We stand upon the hearthrug, clinging to
our hat and stick as to things friendly and sympathetic: the suggestion
forcing itself upon us is that of a visit to the dentist.

Our hostess enters wreathed in smiles.  Is she really pleased to see us,
or is she saying to herself, "Drat the man!  Why must he choose the very
morning I had intended to fix up the clean curtains?"

But she has to pretend to be delighted, and ask us to stay to lunch.  It
would save us hours of anxiety could we look beyond her smiling face to
her tail peeping out saucily from a placket-hole.  Is it wagging, or is
it standing out rigid at right angles from her skirt?

But I fear by this time we should have taught our tails polite behaviour.
We should have schooled them to wag enthusiastically the while we were
growling savagely to ourselves.  Man put on insincerity to hide his mind
when he made himself a garment of fig-leaves to hide his body.

One sometimes wonders whether he has gained so very much.  A small
acquaintance of mine is being brought up on strange principles.  Whether
his parents are mad or not is a matter of opinion.  Their ideas are
certainly peculiar.  They encourage him rather than otherwise to tell the
truth on all occasions.  I am watching the experiment with interest.  If
you ask him what he thinks of you, he tells you.  Some people don't ask
him a second time.  They say:

"What a very rude little boy you are!"

"But you insisted upon it," he explains; "I told you I'd rather not say."

It does not comfort them in the least.  Yet the result is, he is already
an influence.  People who have braved the ordeal, and emerged
successfully, go about with swelled head.

And little Boys would always tell the Truth!

Politeness would seem to have been invented for the comfort of the
undeserving.  We let fall our rain of compliments upon the unjust and the
just without distinction.  Every hostess has provided us with the most
charming evening of our life.  Every guest has conferred a like blessing
upon us by accepting our invitation.  I remember a dear good lady in a
small south German town organizing for one winter's day a sleighing party
to the woods.  A sleighing party differs from a picnic.  The people who
want each other cannot go off together and lose themselves, leaving the
bores to find only each other.  You are in close company from early morn
till late at night.  We were to drive twenty miles, six in a sledge, dine
together in a lonely _Wirtschaft_, dance and sing songs, and afterwards
drive home by moonlight.  Success depends on every member of the company
fitting into his place and assisting in the general harmony.  Our
chieftainess was fixing the final arrangements the evening before in the
drawing-room of the _pension_.  One place was still to spare.


Two voices uttered the name simultaneously; three others immediately took
up the refrain.  Tompkins was our man--the cheeriest, merriest companion
imaginable.  Tompkins alone could be trusted to make the affair a
success.  Tompkins, who had only arrived that afternoon, was pointed out
to our chieftainess.  We could hear his good-tempered laugh from where we
sat, grouped together at the other end of the room.  Our chieftainess
rose, and made for him direct.

Alas! she was a short-sighted lady--we had not thought of that.  She
returned in triumph, followed by a dismal-looking man I had met the year
before in the Black Forest, and had hoped never to meet again.  I drew
her aside.

"Whatever you do," I said, "don't ask --- " (I forget his name.  One of
these days I'll forget him altogether, and be happier.  I will call him
Johnson.)  "He would turn the whole thing into a funeral before we were
half-way there.  I climbed a mountain with him once.  He makes you forget
all your other troubles; that is the only thing he is good for."

"But who is Johnson?" she demanded.  "Why, that's Johnson," I
explained--"the thing you've brought over.  Why on earth didn't you leave
it alone?  Where's your woman's instinct?"

"Great heavens!" she cried, "I thought it was Tompkins.  I've invited
him, and he's accepted."

She was a stickler for politeness, and would not hear of his being told
that he had been mistaken for an agreeable man, but that the error, most
fortunately, had been discovered in time.  He started a row with the
driver of the sledge, and devoted the journey outwards to an argument on
the fiscal question.  He told the proprietor of the hotel what he thought
of German cooking, and insisted on having the windows open.  One of our
party--a German student--sang, "Deutschland, Deutschland uber
alles,"--which led to a heated discussion on the proper place of
sentiment in literature, and a general denunciation by Johnson of
Teutonic characteristics in general.  We did not dance.  Johnson said
that, of course, he spoke only for himself, but the sight of middle-aged
ladies and gentlemen catching hold of each other round the middle and
jigging about like children was to him rather a saddening spectacle, but
to the young such gambolling was natural.  Let the young ones indulge
themselves.  Only four of our party could claim to be under thirty with
any hope of success.  They were kind enough not to impress the fact upon
us.  Johnson enlivened the journey back by a searching analysis of
enjoyment: Of what did it really consist?

Yet, on wishing him "Good-night," our chieftainess thanked him for his
company in precisely the same terms she would have applied to Tompkins,
who, by unflagging good humour and tact, would have made the day worth
remembering to us all for all time.

And everyone obtained his just Deserts!

We pay dearly for our want of sincerity.  We are denied the payment of
praise: it has ceased to have any value.  People shake me warmly by the
hand and tell me that they like my books.  It only bores me.  Not that I
am superior to compliment--nobody is--but because I cannot be sure that
they mean it.  They would say just the same had they never read a line I
had written.  If I visit a house and find a book of mine open face
downwards on the window-seat, it sends no thrill of pride through my
suspicious mind.  As likely as not, I tell myself, the following is the
conversation that has taken place between my host and hostess the day
before my arrival:

"Don't forget that man J--- is coming down to-morrow."

"To-morrow!  I wish you would tell me of these things a little earlier."

"I did tell you--told you last week.  Your memory gets worse every day."

"You certainly never told me, or I should have remembered it.  Is he
anybody important?"

"Oh, no; writes books."

"What sort of books?--I mean, is he quite respectable?"

"Of course, or I should not have invited him.  These sort of people go
everywhere nowadays.  By the by, have we got any of his books about the

"I don't think so.  I'll look and see.  If you had let me know in time I
could have ordered one from Mudie's."

"Well, I've got to go to town; I'll make sure of it, and buy one."

"Seems a pity to waste money.  Won't you be going anywhere near Mudie's?"

"Looks more appreciative to have bought a copy.  It will do for a
birthday present for someone."

On the other hand, the conversation may have been very different.  My
hostess may have said:

"Oh, I _am_ glad he's coming.  I have been longing to meet him for

She may have bought my book on the day of publication, and be reading it
through for the second time.  She may, by pure accident, have left it on
her favourite seat beneath the window.  The knowledge that insincerity is
our universal garment has reduced all compliment to meaningless formula.
A lady one evening at a party drew me aside.  The chief guest--a famous
writer--had just arrived.

"Tell me," she said, "I have so little time for reading, what has he

I was on the point of replying when an inveterate wag, who had overheard
her, interposed between us.

"'The Cloister and the Hearth,'" he told her, "and 'Adam Bede.'"

He happened to know the lady well.  She has a good heart, but was ever
muddle-headed.  She thanked that wag with a smile, and I heard her later
in the evening boring most evidently that literary lion with elongated
praise of the "Cloister and the Hearth" and "Adam Bede."  They were among
the few books she had ever read, and talking about them came easily to
her.  She told me afterwards that she had found that literary lion a
charming man, but--

"Well," she laughed, "he has got a good opinion of himself.  He told me
he considered both books among the finest in the English language."

It is as well always to make a note of the author's name.  Some people
never do--more particularly playgoers.  A well-known dramatic author told
me he once took a couple of colonial friends to a play of his own.  It
was after a little dinner at Kettner's; they suggested the theatre, and
he thought he would give them a treat.  He did not mention to them that
he was the author, and they never looked at the programme.  Their faces
as the play proceeded lengthened; it did not seem to be their school of
comedy.  At the end of the first act they sprang to their feet.

"Let's chuck this rot," suggested one.

"Let's go to the Empire," suggested the other.  The well-known dramatist
followed them out.  He thinks the fault must have been with the dinner.

A young friend of mine--a man of good family--contracted a _mesalliance_:
that is, he married the daughter of a Canadian farmer, a frank, amiable
girl, bewitchingly pretty, with more character in her little finger than
some girls possess in their whole body.  I met him one day, some three
months after his return to London.

And only people would do Parlour Tricks who do them well!

"Well," I asked him, "how is it shaping?"

"She is the dearest girl in the world," he answered.  "She has only got
one fault; she believes what people say."

"She will get over that," I suggested.

"I hope she does," he replied; "it's awkward at present."

"I can see it leading her into difficulty," I agreed.

"She is not accomplished," he continued.  He seemed to wish to talk about
it to a sympathetic listener.  "She never pretended to be accomplished.  I
did not marry her for her accomplishments.  But now she is beginning to
think she must have been accomplished all the time, without knowing it.
She plays the piano like a schoolgirl on a parents' visiting-day.  She
told them she did not play--not worth listening to--at least, she began
by telling them so.  They insisted that she did, that they had heard
about her playing, and were thirsting to enjoy it.  She is good nature
itself.  She would stand on her head if she thought it would give real
joy to anyone.  She took it they really wanted to hear her, and so let
'em have it.  They tell her that her touch is something quite out of the
common--which is the truth, if only she could understand it--why did she
never think of taking up music as a profession?  By this time she is
wondering herself that she never did.  They are not satisfied with
hearing her once.  They ask for more, and they get it.  The other evening
I had to keep quiet on my chair while she thumped through four pieces one
after the other, including the Beethoven Sonata.  We knew it was the
Beethoven Sonata.  She told us before she started it was going to be the
Beethoven Sonata, otherwise, for all any of us could have guessed, it
might have been the 'Battle of Prague.'  We all sat round with wooden
faces, staring at our boots.  Afterwards those of them that couldn't get
near enough to her to make a fool of her crowded round me.  Wanted to
know why I had never told them I had discovered a musical prodigy.  I'll
lose my temper one day and pull somebody's nose, I feel I shall.  She's
got a recitation; whether intended to be serious or comic I had never
been able to make up my mind.  The way she gives it confers upon it all
the disadvantages of both.  It is chiefly concerned with an angel and a
child.  But a dog comes into it about the middle, and from that point
onward it is impossible to tell who is talking--sometimes you think it is
the angel, and then it sounds more like the dog.  The child is the
easiest to follow: it talks all the time through its nose.  If I have
heard that recitation once I have heard it fifty times; and now she is
busy learning an encore.

And all the World had Sense!

"What hurts me most," he went on, "is having to watch her making herself
ridiculous.  Yet what am I to do?  If I explain things to her she will be
miserable and ashamed of herself; added to which her frankness--perhaps
her greatest charm--will be murdered.  The trouble runs through
everything.  She won't take my advice about her frocks.  She laughs, and
repeats to me--well, the lies that other women tell a girl who is
spoiling herself by dressing absurdly; especially when she is a pretty
girl and they are anxious she should go on spoiling herself.  She bought
a hat last week, one day when I was not with her.  It only wants the
candles to look like a Christmas tree.  They insist on her taking it off
so they may examine it more closely, with the idea of having one built
like it for themselves; and she sits by delighted, and explains to them
the secret of the thing.  We get to parties half an hour before the
opening time; she is afraid of being a minute late.  They have told her
that the party can't begin without her--isn't worth calling a party till
she's there.  We are always the last to go.  The other people don't
matter, but if she goes they will feel the whole thing has been a
failure.  She is dead for want of sleep, and they are sick and tired of
us; but if I look at my watch they talk as if their hearts were breaking,
and she thinks me a brute for wanting to leave friends so passionately
attached to us.

"Why do we all play this silly game; what is the sense of it?" he wanted
to know.

I could not tell him.


Fire and the Foreigner.

They are odd folk, these foreigners.  There are moments of despair when I
almost give them up--feel I don't care what becomes of them--feel as if I
could let them muddle on in their own way--wash my hands of them, so to
speak, and attend exclusively to my own business: we all have our days of
feebleness.  They will sit outside a cafe on a freezing night, with an
east wind blowing, and play dominoes.  They will stand outside a tramcar,
rushing through the icy air at fifteen miles an hour, and refuse to go
inside, even to oblige a lady.  Yet in railway carriages, in which you
could grill a bloater by the simple process of laying it underneath the
seat, they will insist on the window being closed, light cigars to keep
their noses warm, and sit with the collars of their fur coats buttoned up
around their necks.

In their houses they keep the double windows hermetically sealed for
three or four months at a time: and the hot air quivering about the
stoves scorches your face if you venture nearer to it than a yard.  Travel
can broaden the mind.  It can also suggest to the Britisher that in some
respects his countrymen are nothing near so silly as they are supposed to
be.  There was a time when I used to sit with my legs stretched out
before the English coal fire and listen with respectful attention while
people who I thought knew all about it explained to me how wicked and how
wasteful were our methods.

All the heat from that fire, they told me, was going up the chimney.  I
did not like to answer them that notwithstanding I felt warm and cosy.  I
feared it might be merely British stupidity that kept me warm and cosy,
not the fire at all.  How could it be the fire?  The heat from the fire
was going up the chimney.  It was the glow of ignorance that was making
my toes tingle.  Besides, if by sitting close in front of the fire and
looking hard at it, I did contrive, by hypnotic suggestion, maybe, to
fancy myself warm, what should I feel like at the other end of the room?

It seemed like begging the question to reply that I had no particular use
for the other end of the room, that generally speaking there was room
enough about the fire for all the people I really cared for, that sitting
altogether round the fire seemed quite as sensible as sulking by one's
self in a corner the other end of the room, that the fire made a cheerful
and convenient focus for family and friends.  They pointed out to me how
a stove, blocking up the centre of the room, with a dingy looking
fluepipe wandering round the ceiling, would enable us to sit ranged round
the walls, like patients in a hospital waiting-room, and use up coke and

Since then I have had practical experience of the scientific stove.  I
want the old-fashioned, unsanitary, wasteful, illogical, open fireplace.
I want the heat to go up the chimney, instead of stopping in the room and
giving me a headache, and making everything go round.  When I come in out
of the snow I want to see a fire--something that says to me with a
cheerful crackle, "Hallo, old man, cold outside, isn't it?  Come and sit
down.  Come quite close and warm your hands.  That's right, put your foot
under him and persuade him to move a yard or two.  That's all he's been
doing for the last hour, lying there roasting himself, lazy little devil.
He'll get softening of the spine, that's what will happen to him.  Put
your toes on the fender.  The tea will be here in a minute."

My British Stupidity.

I want something that I can toast my back against, while standing with
coat tails tucked up and my hands in my pockets, explaining things to
people.  I don't want a comfortless, staring, white thing, in a corner of
the room, behind the sofa--a thing that looks and smells like a family
tomb.  It may be hygienic, and it may be hot, but it does not seem to do
me any good.  It has its advantages: it contains a cupboard into which
you can put things to dry.  You can also forget them, and leave them
there.  Then people complain of a smell of burning, and hope the house is
not on fire, and you ease their mind by explaining to them that it is
probably only your boots.  Complicated internal arrangements are worked
by a key.  If you put on too much fuel, and do not work this key
properly, the thing explodes.  And if you do not put on any coal at all
and the fire goes out suddenly, then likewise it explodes.  That is the
only way it knows of calling attention to itself.  On the Continent you
know when the fire wants seeing to merely by listening:

"Sounded like the dining-room, that last explosion," somebody remarks.

"I think not," observes another, "I distinctly felt the shock behind
me--my bedroom, I expect."

Bits of ceiling begin to fall, and you notice that the mirror over the
sideboard is slowly coming towards you.

"Why it must be this stove," you say; "curious how difficult it is to
locate sound."

You snatch up the children and hurry out of the room.  After a while,
when things have settled down, you venture to look in again.  Maybe it
was only a mild explosion.  A ten-pound note and a couple of plumbers in
the house for a week will put things right again.  They tell me they are
economical, these German stoves, but you have got to understand them.  I
think I have learnt the trick of them at last: and I don't suppose, all
told, it has cost me more than fifty pounds.  And now I am trying to
teach the rest of the family.  What I complain about the family is that
they do not seem anxious to learn.

"You do it," they say, pressing the coal scoop into my hand: "it makes us

It is a pretty, patriarchal idea: I stand between the trusting, admiring
family and these explosive stoves that are the terror of their lives.
They gather round me in a group and watch me, the capable, all-knowing
Head who fears no foreign stove.  But there are days when I get tired of
going round making up fires.

Nor is it sufficient to understand only one particular stove.  The
practical foreigner prides himself upon having various stoves, adapted to
various work.  Hitherto I have been speaking only of the stove supposed
to be best suited to reception rooms and bedrooms.  The hall is provided
with another sort of stove altogether: an iron stove this, that turns up
its nose at coke and potato-peelings.  If you give it anything else but
the best coal it explodes.  It is like living surrounded by peppery old
colonels, trying to pass a peaceful winter among these passionate stoves.
There is a stove in the kitchen to be used only for roasting: this one
will not look at anything else but wood.  Give it a bit of coal, meaning
to be kind, and before you are out of the room it has exploded.

Then there is a trick stove specially popular in Belgium.  It has a
little door at the top and another little door at the bottom, and looks
like a pepper-caster.  Whether it is happy or not depends upon those two
little doors.  There are times when it feels it wants the bottom door
shut and the top door open, or _vice versa_, or both open at the same
time, or both shut--it is a fussy little stove.

Ordinary intelligence does not help you much with this stove.  You want
to be bred in the country.  It is a question of instinct: you have to
have Belgian blood in your veins to get on comfortably with it.  On the
whole, it is a mild little stove, this Belgian pet.  It does not often
explode: it only gets angry, and throws its cover into the air, and
flings hot coals about the room.  It lives, generally speaking, inside an
iron cupboard with two doors.  When you want it, you open these doors,
and pull it out into the room.  It works on a swivel.  And when you don't
want it you try to push it back again, and then the whole thing tumbles
over, and the girl throws her hands up to Heaven and says, "Mon Dieu!"
and screams for the cook and the _femme journee_, and they all three say
"Mon Dieu!" and fall upon it with buckets of water.  By the time
everything has been extinguished you have made up your mind to substitute
for it just the ordinary explosive stove to which you are accustomed.

I am considered Cold and Mad.

In your own house you can, of course, open the windows, and thus defeat
the foreign stove.  The rest of the street thinks you mad, but then the
Englishman is considered by all foreigners to be always mad.  It is his
privilege to be mad.  The street thinks no worse of you than it did
before, and you can breathe in comfort.  But in the railway carriage they
don't allow you to be mad.  In Europe, unless you are prepared to draw at
sight upon the other passengers, throw the conductor out of the window,
and take the train in by yourself, it is useless arguing the question of
fresh air.  The rule abroad is that if any one man objects to the window
being open, the window remains closed.  He does not quarrel with you: he
rings the bell, and points out to the conductor that the temperature of
the carriage has sunk to little more than ninety degrees, Fahrenheit.  He
thinks a window must be open.

The conductor is generally an old soldier: he understands being shot, he
understands being thrown out of window, but not the laws of sanitation.
If, as I have explained, you shoot him, or throw him out on the permanent
way, that convinces him.  He leaves you to discuss the matter with the
second conductor, who, by your action, has now, of course, become the
first conductor.  As there are generally half a dozen of these conductors
scattered about the train, the process of educating them becomes
monotonous.  You generally end by submitting to the law.

Unless you happen to be an American woman.  Never did my heart go out
more gladly to America as a nation than one spring day travelling from
Berne to Vevey.  We had been sitting for an hour in an atmosphere that
would have rendered a Dante disinclined to notice things.  Dante, after
ten minutes in that atmosphere, would have lost all interest in the show.
He would not have asked questions.  He would have whispered to Virgil:

"Get me out of this, old man, there's a good fellow!"

Sometimes I wish I were an American Woman.

The carriage was crowded, chiefly with Germans.  Every window was closed,
every ventilator shut.  The hot air quivered round our feet.  Seventeen
men and four women were smoking, two children were sucking peppermints,
and an old married couple were eating their lunch, consisting chiefly of
garlic.  At a junction, the door was thrown open.  The foreigner opens
the door a little way, glides in, and closes it behind him.  This was not
a foreigner, but an American lady, _en voyage_, accompanied by five other
American ladies.  They marched in carrying packages.  They could not find
six seats together, so they scattered up and down the carriage.  The
first thing that each woman did, the moment she could get her hands free,
was to dash for the nearest window and haul it down.

"Astonishes me," said the first woman, "that somebody is not dead in this

Their idea, I think, was that through asphyxiation we had become
comatose, and, but for their entrance, would have died unconscious.

"It is a current of air that is wanted," said another of the ladies.

So they opened the door at the front of the carriage and four of them
stood outside on the platform, chatting pleasantly and admiring the
scenery, while two of them opened the door at the other end, and took
photographs of the Lake of Geneva.  The carriage rose and cursed them in
six languages.  Bells were rung: conductors came flying in.  It was all
of no use.  Those American ladies were cheerful but firm.  They argued
with volubility: they argued standing in the open doorway.  The
conductors, familiar, no doubt, with the American lady and her ways,
shrugged their shoulders and retired.  The other passengers undid their
bags and bundles, and wrapped themselves up in shawls and Jaeger

I met the ladies afterwards in Lausanne.  They told me they had been
condemned to a fine of forty francs apiece.  They also explained to me
that they had not the slightest intention of paying it.


Too much Postcard.

The postcard craze is dying out in Germany--the land of its birth--I am
told.  In Germany they do things thoroughly, or not at all.  The German
when he took to sending postcards abandoned almost every other pursuit in
life.  The German tourist never knew where he had been until on reaching
home again he asked some friend or relation to allow him to look over the
postcards he had sent.  Then it was he began to enjoy his trip.

"What a charming old town!" the German tourist would exclaim.  "I wish I
could have found time while I was there to have gone outside the hotel
and have had a look round.  Still, it is pleasant to think one has been

"I suppose you did not have much time?" his friend would suggest.

"We did not get there till the evening," the tourist would explain.  "We
were busy till dark buying postcards, and then in the morning there was
the writing and addressing to be done, and when that was over, and we had
had our breakfast, it was time to leave again."

He would take up another card showing the panorama from a mountain top.

"Sublime! colossal!" he would cry enraptured.  "If I had known it was
anything like that, I'd have stopped another day and had a look at it."

It was always worth seeing, the arrival of a party of German tourists in
a Schwartzwald village.  Leaping from the coach they would surge round
the solitary gendarme.

"Where is the postcard shop?"  "Tell us--we have only two hours--where do
we get postcards?"

The gendarme, scenting _Trinkgeld_, would head them at the double-quick:
stout old gentlemen unaccustomed to the double-quick, stouter Frauen
gathering up their skirts with utter disregard to all propriety, slim
_Fraulein_ clinging to their beloved would run after him.  Nervous
pedestrians would fly for safety into doorways, careless loiterers would
be swept into the gutter.

In the narrow doorway of the postcard shop trouble would begin.  The
cries of suffocated women and trampled children, the curses of strong
men, would rend the air.  The German is a peaceful, law-abiding citizen,
but in the hunt for postcards he was a beast.  A woman would pounce on a
tray of cards, commence selecting, suddenly the tray would be snatched
from her.  She would burst into tears, and hit the person nearest to her
with her umbrella.  The cunning and the strong would secure the best
cards.  The weak and courteous be left with pictures of post offices and
railway stations.  Torn and dishevelled, the crowd would rush back to the
hotel, sweep crockery from the table, and--sucking stumpy pencils--write
feverishly.  A hurried meal would follow.  Then the horses would be put
to again, the German tourists would climb back to their places and be
driven away, asking of the coachman what the name of the place they had
just left might happen to be.

The Postcard as a Family Curse.

One presumes that even to the patient German the thing grew tiresome.  In
the _Fliegende Blatter_ two young clerks were represented discussing the
question of summer holidays.

"Where are you going?" asks A of B.

"Nowhere," answers B.

"Can't you afford it?" asks the sympathetic A.

"Only been able to save up enough for the postcards," answers B,
gloomily; "no money left for the trip."

Men and women carried bulky volumes containing the names and addresses of
the people to whom they had promised to send cards.  Everywhere, through
winding forest glade, by silver sea, on mountain pathway, one met with
prematurely aged looking tourists muttering as they walked:

"Did I send Aunt Gretchen a postcard from that last village that we
stopped at, or did I address two to Cousin Lisa?"

Then, again, maybe, the picture postcard led to disappointment.
Uninteresting towns clamoured, as ill-favoured spinsters in a
photographic studio, to be made beautiful.

"I want," says the lady, "a photograph my friends will really like.  Some
of these second-rate photographers make one look quite plain.  I don't
want you to flatter me, if you understand, I merely want something nice."

The obliging photographer does his best.  The nose is carefully toned
down, the wart becomes a dimple, her own husband doesn't know her.  The
postcard artist has ended by imagining everything as it might have been.

"If it were not for the houses," says the postcard artist to himself,
"this might have been a picturesque old High street of mediaeval aspect."

So he draws a picture of the High street as it might have been.  The
lover of quaint architecture travels out of his way to see it, and when
he finds it and contrasts it with the picture postcard he gets mad.  I
bought a postcard myself once representing the market place of a certain
French town.  It seemed to me, looking at the postcard, that I hadn't
really seen France--not yet.  I travelled nearly a hundred miles to see
that market place.  I was careful to arrive on market day and to get
there at the right time.  I reached the market square and looked at it.
Then I asked a gendarme where it was.

He said it was there--that I was in it.

I said, "I don't mean this one, I want the other one, the picturesque

He said it was the only market square they had.  I took the postcard from
my pocket.

"Where are all the girls?" I asked him.

"What girls?" he demanded.

The Artist's Dream.

"Why, these girls;" I showed him the postcard, there ought to have been
about a hundred of them.  There was not a plain one among the lot.  Many
of them I should have called beautiful.  They were selling flowers and
fruit, all kinds of fruit--cherries, strawberries, rosy-cheeked apples,
luscious grapes--all freshly picked and sparkling with dew.  The gendarme
said he had never seen any girls--not in this particular square.
Referring casually to the blood of saints and martyrs, he said he would
like to see a few girls in that town worth looking at.  In the square
itself sat six motherly old souls round a lamp-post.  One of them had a
moustache, and was smoking a pipe, but in other respects, I have no
doubt, was all a woman should be.  Two of them were selling fish.  That
is they would have sold fish, no doubt, had anyone been there to buy
fish.  The gaily clad thousands of eager purchasers pictured in the
postcard were represented by two workmen in blue blouses talking at a
corner, mostly with their fingers; a small boy walking backwards, with
the idea apparently of not missing anything behind him, and a yellow dog
that sat on the kerb, and had given up all hope--judging from his
expression--of anything ever happening again.  With the gendarme and
myself, these four were the only living creatures in the square.  The
rest of the market consisted of eggs and a few emaciated fowls hanging
from a sort of broom handle.

"And where's the cathedral?" I asked the gendarme.  It was a Gothic
structure in the postcard of evident antiquity.  He said there had once
been a cathedral.  It was now a brewery; he pointed it out to me.  He
said he thought some portion of the original south wall had been
retained.  He thought the manager of the brewery might be willing to show
it to me.

"And the fountain?" I demanded, "and all these doves!"

He said there had been talk of a fountain.  He believed the design had
already been prepared.

I took the next train back.  I do not now travel much out of my way to
see the original of the picture postcard.  Maybe others have had like
experience and the picture postcard as a guide to the Continent has lost
its value.

The dealer has fallen back upon the eternal feminine.  The postcard
collector is confined to girls.  Through the kindness of correspondents I
possess myself some fifty to a hundred girls, or perhaps it would be more
correct to say one girl in fifty to a hundred different hats.  I have her
in big hats, I have her in small hats, I have her in no hat at all.  I
have her smiling, and I have her looking as if she had lost her last
sixpence.  I have her overdressed, I have her decidedly underdressed, but
she is much the same girl.  Very young men cannot have too many of her,
but myself I am getting tired of her.  I suppose it is the result of
growing old.

Why not the Eternal Male for a change?

Girls of my acquaintance are also beginning to grumble at her.  I often
think it hard on girls that the artist so neglects the eternal male.  Why
should there not be portraits of young men in different hats; young men
in big hats, young men in little hats, young men smiling archly, young
men looking noble.  Girls don't want to decorate their rooms with
pictures of other girls, they want rows of young men beaming down upon

But possibly I am sinning my mercies.  A father hears what young men
don't.  The girl in real life is feeling it keenly: the impossible
standard set for her by the popular artist.

"Real skirts don't hang like that," she grumbles, "it's not in the nature
of skirts.  You can't have feet that size.  It isn't our fault, they are
not made.  Look at those waists!  There would be no room to put

"Nature, in fashioning woman, has not yet crept up to the artistic ideal.
The young man studies the picture on the postcard; on the coloured
almanack given away at Christmas by the local grocer; on the
advertisement of Jones' soap, and thinks with discontent of Polly
Perkins, who in a natural way is as pretty a girl as can be looked for in
this imperfect world.  Thus it is that woman has had to take to shorthand
and typewriting.  Modern woman is being ruined by the artist.

How Women are ruined by Art.

Mr. Anstey tells a story of a young barber who fell in love with his own
wax model.  All day he dreamed of the impossible.  She--the young lady of
wax-like complexion, with her everlasting expression of dignity combined
with amiability.  No girl of his acquaintance could compete with her.  If
I remember rightly he died a bachelor, still dreaming of wax-like
perfection.  Perhaps it is as well we men are not handicapped to the same
extent.  If every hoarding, if every picture shop window, if every
illustrated journal teemed with illustrations of the ideal young man in
perfect fitting trousers that never bagged at the knees!  Maybe it would
result in our cooking our own breakfasts and making our own beds to the
end of our lives.

The novelist and playwright, as it is, have made things difficult enough
for us.  In books and plays the young man makes love with a flow of
language, a wealth of imagery, that must have taken him years to acquire.
What does the novel-reading girl think, I wonder, when the real young man
proposes to her!  He has not called her anything in particular.  Possibly
he has got as far as suggesting she is a duck or a daisy, or hinting
shyly that she is his bee or his honeysuckle: in his excitement he is not
quite sure which.  In the novel she has been reading the hero has likened
the heroine to half the vegetable kingdom.  Elementary astronomy has been
exhausted in his attempt to describe to her the impression her appearance
leaves on him.  Bond Street has been sacked in his endeavour to get it
clearly home to her what different parts of her are like--her eyes, her
teeth, her heart, her hair, her ears.  Delicacy alone prevents his
extending the catalogue.  A Fiji Island lover might possibly go further.
We have not yet had the Fiji Island novel.  By the time he is through
with it she must have a somewhat confused notion of herself--a vague
conviction that she is a sort of condensed South Kensington Museum.

Difficulty of living up to the Poster.

Poor Angelina must feel dissatisfied with the Edwin of real life.  I am
not sure that art and fiction have not made life more difficult for us
than even it was intended to be.  The view from the mountain top is less
extensive than represented by the picture postcard.  The play, I fear me,
does not always come up to the poster.  Polly Perkins is pretty enough as
girls go; but oh for the young lady of the grocer's almanack!  Poor dear
John is very nice and loves us--so he tells us, in his stupid, halting
way; but how can we respond when we remember how the man loved in the
play!  The "artist has fashioned his dream of delight," and the workaday
world by comparison seems tame to us.


The Lady and the Problem.

She is a good woman, the Heroine of the Problem Play, but accidents will
happen, and other people were to blame.

Perhaps that is really the Problem: who was responsible for the heroine's
past?  Was it her father?  She does not say so--not in so many words.
That is not her way.  It is not for her, the silently-suffering victim of
complicated antecedent incidents, to purchase justice for herself by
pointing the finger of accusation against him who, whatever his faults
may be, was once, at all events, her father.  That one fact in his favour
she can never forget.  Indeed she would not if she could.  That one
asset, for whatever it may be worth by the time the Day of Judgment
arrives, he shall retain.  It shall not be taken from him.  "After all he
was my father."  She admits it, with the accent on the "was."  That he is
so no longer, he has only himself to blame.  His subsequent behaviour has
apparently rendered it necessary for her to sever the relationship.

"I love you," she has probably said to him, paraphrasing Othello's speech
to Cassio; "it is my duty, and--as by this time you must be aware--it is
my keen if occasionally somewhat involved, sense of duty that is the
cause of almost all our troubles in this play.  You will always remain
the object of what I cannot help feeling is misplaced affection on my
part, mingled with contempt.  But never more be relative of mine."

Certain it is that but for her father she would never have had a past.
Failing anyone else on whom to lay the blame for whatever the lady may
have done, we can generally fall back upon the father.  He becomes our
sheet-anchor, so to speak.  There are plays in which at first sight it
would almost appear there was nobody to blame--nobody, except the heroine
herself.  It all seems to happen just because she is no better than she
ought to be: clearly, the father's fault! for ever having had a daughter
no better than she ought to be.  As the Heroine of a certain Problem Play
once put it neatly and succinctly to the old man himself: "It is you
parents that make us children what we are."  She had him there.  He had
not a word to answer for himself, but went off centre, leaving his hat
behind him.

Sometimes, however, the father is merely a "Scientist"--which in
Stageland is another term for helpless imbecile.  In Stageland, if a
gentleman has not got to have much brain and you do not know what else to
make of him, you let him be a scientist--and then, of course, he is only
to blame in a minor degree.  If he had not been a scientist--thinking
more of his silly old stars or beetles than of his intricate daughter, he
might have done something.  The heroine does not say precisely what:
perhaps have taken her up stairs now and again, while she was still young
and susceptible of improvement, and have spanked some sense into her.

The Stage Hero who, for once, had Justice done to him.

I remember witnessing long ago, in a country barn, a highly moral play.
It was a Problem Play, now I come to think of it.  At least, that is, it
would have been a Problem Play but that the party with the past happened
in this case to be merely a male thing.  Stage life presents no problems
to the man.  The hero of the Problem Play has not got to wonder what to
do; he has got to wonder only what the heroine will do next.  The hero--he
was not exactly the hero; he would have been the hero had he not been
hanged in the last act.  But for that he was rather a nice young man,
full of sentiment and not ashamed of it.  From the scaffold he pleaded
for leave to embrace his mother just once more before he died.  It was a
pretty idea.  The hangman himself was touched.  The necessary leave was
granted him.  He descended the steps and flung his arms round the sobbing
old lady, and--bit off her nose.  After that he told her why he had
bitten off her nose.  It appeared that when he was a boy, he had returned
home one evening with a rabbit in his pocket.  Instead of putting him
across her knee, and working into him the eighth commandment, she had
said nothing; but that it seemed to be a fairly useful sort of rabbit,
and had sent him out into the garden to pick onions.  If she had done her
duty by him then, he would not have been now in his present most
unsatisfactory position, and she would still have had her nose.  The
fathers and mothers in the audience applauded, but the children, scenting
addition to precedent, looked glum.

Maybe it is something of this kind the heroine is hinting at.  Perhaps
the Problem has nothing to do with the heroine herself, but with the
heroine's parents: what is the best way of bringing up a daughter who
shows the slightest sign of developing a tendency towards a Past?  Can it
be done by kindness?  And, if not, how much?

Occasionally the parents attempt to solve the Problem, so far as they are
concerned, by dying young--shortly after the heroine's birth.  No doubt
they argue to themselves this is their only chance of avoiding future
blame.  But they do not get out of it so easily.

"Ah, if I had only had a mother--or even a father!" cries the heroine:
one feels how mean it was of them to slip away as they did.

The fact remains, however, that they are dead.  One despises them for
dying, but beyond that it is difficult to hold them personally
responsible for the heroine's subsequent misdeeds.  The argument takes to
itself new shape.  Is it Fate that is to blame?  The lady herself would
seem to favour this suggestion.  It has always been her fate, she
explains, to bring suffering and misery upon those she loves.  At first,
according to her own account, she rebelled against this cruel
Fate--possibly instigated thereto by the people unfortunate enough to be
loved by her.  But of late she has come to accept this strange destiny of
hers with touching resignation.  It grieves her, when she thinks of it,
that she is unable to imbue those she loves with her own patient spirit.
They seem to be a fretful little band.

Considered as a scapegoat, Fate, as compared with the father, has this
advantage: it is always about: it cannot slip away and die before the
real trouble begins: it cannot even plead a scientific head; it is there
all the time.  With care one can blame it for most everything.  The
vexing thing about it is, that it does not mind being blamed.  One cannot
make Fate feel small and mean.  It affords no relief to our harrowed
feelings to cry out indignantly to Fate: "look here, what you have done.
Look at this sweet and well-proportioned lady, compelled to travel first-
class, accompanied by an amount of luggage that must be a perpetual
nightmare to her maid, from one fashionable European resort to another;
forced to exist on a well-secured income of, apparently, five thousand a
year, most of which has to go in clothes; beloved by only the best people
in the play; talked about by everybody incessantly to the exclusion of
everybody else--all the neighbours interested in her and in nobody else
much; all the women envying her; all the men tumbling over one another
after her--looks, in spite of all her worries, not a day older than
twenty-three; and has discovered a dressmaker never yet known to have
been an hour behind her promise!  And all your fault, yours, Fate.  Will
nothing move you to shame?"

She has a way of mislaying her Husband.

It brings no satisfaction with it, speaking out one's mind to Fate.  We
want to see him before us, the thing of flesh and blood that has brought
all this upon her.  Was it that early husband--or rather the gentleman
she thought was her husband.  As a matter of fact, he was a husband.  Only
he did not happen to be hers.  That naturally confused her.  "Then who is
my husband?" she seems to have said to herself; "I had a husband: I
remember it distinctly."

"Difficult to know them apart from one another," says the lady with the
past, "the way they dress them all alike nowadays.  I suppose it does not
really matter.  They are much the same as one another when you get them
home.  Doesn't do to be too fussy."

She is a careless woman.  She is always mislaying that early husband.  And
she has an unfortunate knack of finding him at the wrong moment.  Perhaps
that is the Problem: What is a lady to do with a husband for whom she has
no further use?  If she gives him away he is sure to come back, like the
clever dog that is sent in a hamper to the other end of the kingdom, and
three days afterwards is found gasping on the doorstep.  If she leaves
him in the middle of South Africa, with most of the heavy baggage and all
the debts, she may reckon it a certainty that on her return from her next
honeymoon he will be the first to greet her.

Her surprise at meeting him again is a little unreasonable.  She seems to
be under the impression that because she has forgotten him, he is for all
practical purposes dead.

"Why I forgot all about him," she seems to be arguing to herself, "seven
years ago at least.  According to the laws of Nature there ought to be
nothing left of him but just his bones."

She is indignant at finding he is still alive, and lets him know it--tells
him he is a beast for turning up at his sister's party, and pleads to him
for one last favour: that he will go away where neither she nor anybody
else of any importance will ever see him or hear of him again.  That's
all she asks of him.  If he make a point of it she will--though her
costume is ill adapted to the exercise--go down upon her knees to ask it
of him.

He brutally retorts that he doesn't know where to "get."  The lady
travels round a good deal and seems to be in most places.  She accepts
week-end invitations to the houses of his nearest relatives.  She has
married his first cousin, and is now getting up a bazaar with the help of
his present wife.  How he is to avoid her he does not quite see.

Perhaps, by the by, that is really the Problem: where is the early
husband to disappear to?  Even if every time he saw her coming he were to
duck under the table, somebody would be sure to notice it and make
remarks.  Ought he to take himself out one dark night, tie a brick round
his neck, and throw himself into a pond?

What is a Lady to do with a Husband when she has finished with him?

But men are so selfish.  The idea does not even occur to him; and the
lady herself is too generous to do more than just hint at it.

Maybe it is Society that is to blame.  There comes a luminous moment when
it is suddenly revealed to the Heroine of the Problem Play that it is
Society that is at the bottom of this thing.  She has felt all along
there was something the matter.  Why has she never thought of it before?
Here all these years has she been going about blaming her poor old
father; her mother for dying too soon; the remarkable circumstances
attending her girlhood; that dear old stupid husband she thought was
hers; and all the while the really culpable party has been existing
unsuspected under her very nose.  She clears away the furniture a bit,
and tells Society exactly what she thinks of it--she is always good at
that, telling people what she thinks of them.  Other people's failings do
not escape her, not for long.  If Society would only step out for a
moment, and look at itself with her eyes, something might be done.  If
Society, now that the thing has been pointed out to it, has still any
lingering desire to live, let it look at her.  This, that she is, Society
has made her!  Let Society have a walk round her, and then go home and

Could she--herself--have been to blame?

It lifts a load from us, fixing the blame on Society.  There were periods
in the play when we hardly knew what to think.  The scientific father,
the dead mother, the early husband! it was difficult to grasp the fact
that they alone were to blame.  One felt there was something to be said
for even them.  Ugly thoughts would cross our mind that perhaps the
Heroine herself was not altogether irreproachable--that possibly there
would have been less Problem, if, thinking a little less about her
clothes, yearning a little less to do nothing all day long and be
perfectly happy, she had pulled herself together, told herself that the
world was not built exclusively for her, and settled down to the
existence of an ordinary decent woman.

Looking at the thing all round, that is perhaps the best solution of the
Problem: it is Society that is to blame.  We had better keep to that.


Civilization and the Unemployed.

Where Civilization fails is in not providing men and women with
sufficient work.  In the Stone Age man was, one imagines, kept busy.  When
he was not looking for his dinner, or eating his dinner, or sleeping off
the effects of his dinner, he was hard at work with a club, clearing the
neighbourhood of what one doubts not he would have described as aliens.
The healthy Palaeolithic man would have had a contempt for Cobden
rivalling that of Mr. Chamberlain himself.  He did not take the incursion
of the foreigner "lying down."  One pictures him in the mind's eye:
unscientific, perhaps, but active to a degree difficult to conceive in
these degenerate days.  Now up a tree hurling cocoa-nuts, the next moment
on the ground flinging roots and rocks.  Both having tolerably hard
heads, the argument would of necessity be long and heated.  Phrases that
have since come to be meaningless had, in those days, a real

When a Palaeolithic politician claimed to have "crushed his critic," he
meant that he had succeeded in dropping a tree or a ton of earth upon
him.  When it was said that one bright and intelligent member of that
early sociology had "annihilated his opponent," that opponent's friends
and relations took no further interest in him.  It meant that he was
actually annihilated.  Bits of him might be found, but the most of him
would be hopelessly scattered.  When the adherents of any particular Cave
Dweller remarked that their man was wiping the floor with his rival, it
did not mean that he was talking himself red in the face to a bored
audience of sixteen friends and a reporter.  It meant that he was
dragging that rival by the legs round the enclosure and making the place
damp and untidy with him.

Early instances of "Dumping."

Maybe the Cave Dweller, finding nuts in his own neighbourhood growing
scarce, would emigrate himself: for even in that age the politician was
not always logical.  Thus _roles_ became reversed.  The defender of his
country became the alien, dumping himself where he was not wanted.  The
charm of those early political arguments lay in their simplicity.  A
child could have followed every point.  There could never have been a
moment's doubt, even among his own followers, as to what a Palaeolithic
statesman really meant to convey.  At the close of the contest the party
who considered it had won the moral victory would be cleared away, or
buried neatly on the spot, according to taste: and the discussion, until
the arrival of the next generation, was voted closed.

All this must have been harassing, but it did serve to pass away the
time.  Civilization has brought into being a section of the community
with little else to do but to amuse itself.  For youth to play is
natural; the young barbarian plays, the kitten plays, the colt gambols,
the lamb skips.  But man is the only animal that gambols and jumps and
skips after it has reached maturity.  Were we to meet an elderly bearded
goat, springing about in the air and behaving, generally speaking, like a
kid, we should say it had gone mad.  Yet we throng in our thousands to
watch elderly ladies and gentlemen jumping about after a ball, twisting
themselves into strange shapes, rushing, racing, falling over one
another; and present them with silver-backed hair-brushes and
gold-handled umbrellas as a reward to them for doing so.

Imagine some scientific inhabitant of one of the larger fixed stars
examining us through a magnifying-glass as we examine ants.  Our
amusements would puzzle him.  The ball of all sorts and sizes, from the
marble to the pushball, would lead to endless scientific argument.

"What is it?  Why are these men and women always knocking it about,
seizing it wherever and whenever they find it and worrying it?"

The observer from that fixed star would argue that the Ball must be some
malignant creature of fiendish power, the great enemy of the human race.
Watching our cricket-fields, our tennis-courts, our golf links, he would
conclude that a certain section of mankind had been told off to do battle
with the "Ball" on behalf of mankind in general.

"As a rule," so he would report, "it is a superior class of insect to
which this special duty has been assigned.  They are a friskier, gaudier
species than their fellows.

Cricket, as viewed from the fixed Stars.

"For this one purpose they appear to be kept and fed.  They do no other
work, so far as I have been able to ascertain.  Carefully selected and
trained, their mission is to go about the world looking for Balls.
Whenever they find a Ball they set to work to kill it.  But the vitality
of these Balls is extraordinary.  There is a medium-sized, reddish
species that, on an average, takes three days to kill.  When one of these
is discovered, specially trained champions are summoned from every corner
of the country.  They arrive in hot haste, eager for the battle, which
takes place in the presence of the entire neighbourhood.  The number of
champions for some reason or another is limited to twenty-two.  Each one
seizing in turn a large piece of wood, rushes at the Ball as it flies
along the ground, or through the air, and strikes at it with all his
force.  When, exhausted, he can strike no longer, he throws down his
weapon and retires into a tent, where he is restored to strength by
copious draughts of a drug the nature of which I have been unable to
discover.  Meanwhile, another has picked up the fallen weapon, and the
contest is continued without a moment's interruption.  The Ball makes
frantic efforts to escape from its tormentors, but every time it is
captured and flung back.  So far as can be observed, it makes no attempt
at retaliation, its only object being to get away; though,
occasionally--whether by design or accident--it succeeds in inflicting
injury upon one or other of its executioners, or more often upon one of
the spectators, striking him either on the head or about the region of
the waist, which, judging by results, would appear, from the Ball's point
of view, to be the better selection.  These small reddish Balls are
quickened into life evidently by the heat of the sun; in the cold season
they disappear, and their place is taken by a much larger Ball.  This
Ball the champions kill by striking it with their feet and with their
heads.  But sometimes they will attempt to suffocate it by falling on it,
some dozen of them at a time.

"Another of these seemingly harmless enemies of the human race is a small
white Ball of great cunning and resource.  It frequents sandy districts
by the sea coast and open spaces near the large towns.  It is pursued
with extraordinary animosity by a florid-faced insect of fierce aspect
and rotundity of figure.  The weapon he employs is a long stick loaded
with metal.  With one blow he will send the creature through the air
sometimes to a distance of nearly a quarter of a mile; yet so vigorous is
the constitution of these Balls that it will fall to earth apparently but
little damaged.  It is followed by the rotund man accompanied by a
smaller insect carrying spare clubs.  Though hampered by the prominent
whiteness of its skin, the extreme smallness of this Ball often enables
it to defy re-discovery, and at such times the fury of the little round
man is terrible to contemplate.  He dances round the spot where the ball
has disappeared, making frenzied passes at the surrounding vegetation
with his club, uttering the while the most savage and bloodcurdling
growls.  Occasionally striking at the small creature in fury, he will
miss it altogether, and, having struck merely the air, will sit down
heavily upon the ground, or, striking the solid earth, will shatter his
own club.  Then a curious thing takes place: all the other insects
standing round place their right hand before their mouth, and, turning
away their faces, shake their bodies to and fro, emitting a strange
crackling sound.  Whether this is to be regarded as a mere expression of
their grief that the blow of their comrade should have miscarried, or
whether one may assume it to be a ceremonious appeal to their gods for
better luck next time, I have not as yet made up my mind.  The striker,
meanwhile, raises both arms, the hands tightly clenched, towards the
heavens, and utters what is probably a prayer, prepared expressly for the

The Heir of all Ages.  His Inheritance.

In similar manner he, the Celestial Observer, proceeds to describe our
billiard matches, our tennis tournaments, our croquet parties.  Maybe it
never occurs to him that a large section of our race surrounded by
Eternity, would devote its entire span of life to sheer killing of time.
A middle-aged friend of mine, a cultured gentleman, a M.A. of Cambridge,
assured me the other day that, notwithstanding all his experiences of
life, the thing that still gave him the greatest satisfaction was the
accomplishment of a successful drive to leg.  Rather a quaint commentary
on our civilization, is it not?  "The singers have sung, and the builders
have builded.  The artists have fashioned their dreams of delight."  The
martyrs for thought and freedom have died their death; knowledge has
sprung from the bones of ignorance; civilization for ten thousand years
has battled with brutality to this result--that a specimen gentleman of
the Twentieth Century, the heir of all the ages, finds his greatest joy
in life the striking of a ball with a chunk of wood!

Human energy, human suffering, has been wasted.  Such crown of happiness
for a man might surely have been obtained earlier and at less cost.  Was
it intended?  Are we on the right track?  The child's play is wiser.  The
battered doll is a princess.  Within the sand castle dwells an ogre.  It
is with imagination that he plays.  His games have some relation to life.
It is the man only who is content with this everlasting knocking about of
a ball.  The majority of mankind is doomed to labour so constant, so
exhausting, that no opportunity is given it to cultivate its brain.
Civilization has arranged that a small privileged minority shall alone
enjoy that leisure necessary to the development of thought.  And what is
the answer of this leisured class?  It is:

"We will do nothing for the world that feeds us, clothes us, keeps us in
luxury.  We will spend our whole existence knocking balls about, watching
other people knocking balls about, arguing with one another as to the
best means of knocking balls about."

Is it "Playing the Game?"

Is it--to use their own jargon--"playing the game?"

And the queer thing is this over-worked world, that stints itself to keep
them in idleness, approves of the answer.  "The flannelled fool," "The
muddied oaf," is the pet of the people; their hero, their ideal.

But maybe all this is mere jealousy.  Myself, I have never been clever at
knocking balls about.


Patience and the Waiter.

The slowest waiter I know is the British railway refreshment-room waiter.

His very breathing--regular, harmonious, penetrating, instinct as it is
with all the better attributes of a well-preserved grandfather's
clock--conveys suggestion of dignity and peace.  He is a huge, impressive
person.  There emanates from him an atmosphere of Lotusland.  The
otherwise unattractive refreshment-room becomes an oasis of repose amid
the turmoil of a fretful world.  All things conspire to aid him: the
ancient joints, ranged side by side like corpses in a morgue, each one
decently hidden under its white muslin shroud, whispering of death and
decay; the dish of dead flies, thoughtfully placed in the centre of the
table; the framed advertisements extolling the virtues of heavy beers and
stouts, of weird champagnes, emanating from haunted-looking chateaux,
situate--if one may judge from the illustration--in the midst of desert
lands; the sleep-inviting buzz of the bluebottles.

The spirit of the place steals over you.  On entering, with a quarter of
an hour to spare, your idea was a cutlet and a glass of claret.  In the
face of the refreshment-room waiter, the notion appears frivolous, not to
say un-English.  You order cold beef and pickles, with a pint of bitter
in a tankard.  To win the British waiter's approval, you must always
order beer in a tankard.  The British waiter, in his ideals, is mediaeval.
There is a Shakespearean touch about a tankard.  A soapy potato will, of
course, be added.  Afterwards a ton of cheese and a basin of rabbit's
food floating in water (the British salad) will be placed before you.  You
will work steadily through the whole, anticipating the somnolence that
will subsequently fall upon you with a certain amount of satisfaction.  It
will serve to dispel the last lingering regret at the reflection that you
will miss your appointment, and suffer thereby serious inconvenience if
not positive loss.  These things are of the world--the noisy, tiresome
world you have left without.

To the English traveller, the foreign waiter in the earlier stages of his
career is a burden and a trial.  When he is complete--when he really can
talk English I rejoice in him.  When I object to him is when his English
is worse than my French or German, and when he will, for his own
educational purposes, insist, nevertheless, that the conversation shall
be entirely in English.  I would he came to me some other time.  I would
so much rather make it after dinner or, say, the next morning.  I hate
giving lessons during meal times.

Besides, to a man with feeble digestion, this sort of thing can lead to
trouble.  One waiter I met at an hotel in Dijon knew very little
English--about as much as a poll parrot.  The moment I entered the _salle-
a-manger_ he started to his feet.

"Ah!  You English!" he cried.

"Well, what about us?" I answered.  It was during the period of the Boer
War.  I took it he was about to denounce the English nation generally.  I
was looking for something to throw at him.

"You English--you Englishman, yes," he repeated.

And then I understood he had merely intended a question.  I owned up that
I was, and accused him in turn of being a Frenchman.  He admitted it.
Introductions, as it were, thus over, I thought I would order dinner.  I
ordered it in French.  I am not bragging of my French, I never wanted to
learn French.  Even as a boy, it was more the idea of others than of
myself.  I learnt as little as possible.  But I have learnt enough to
live in places where they can't, or won't, speak anything else.  Left to
myself, I could have enjoyed a very satisfactory dinner.  I was tired
with a long day's journey, and hungry.  They cook well at this hotel.  I
had been looking forward to my dinner for hours and hours.  I had sat
down in my imagination to a _consomme bisque_, _sole au gratin_, a
_poulet saute_, and an _omelette au fromage_.

Waiterkind in the making.

It is wrong to let one's mind dwell upon carnal delights; I see that now.
At the time I was mad about it.  The fool would not even listen to me.  He
had got it into his garlic-sodden brain that all Englishmen live on beef,
and nothing but beef.  He swept aside all my suggestions as though they
had been the prattlings of a foolish child.

"You haf nice biftek.  Not at all done.  Yes?"

"No, I don't," I answered.  "I don't want what the cook of a French
provincial hotel calls a biftek.  I want something to eat.  I want--"
Apparently, he understood neither English nor French.

"Yes, yes," he interrupted cheerfully, "with pottitoes."

"With what?" I asked.  I thought for the moment he was suggesting potted
pigs' feet in the nearest English he could get to it.

"Pottito," he repeated; "boil pottito.  Yes?  And pell hell."

I felt like telling him to go there; I suppose he meant "pale ale."  It
took me about five minutes to get that beefsteak out of his head.  By the
time I had done it, I did not care what I had for dinner.  I took _pot-du-
jour_ and veal.  He added, on his own initiative, a thing that looked
like a poultice.  I did not try the taste of it.  He explained it was
"plum poodeen."  I fancy he had made it himself.

This fellow is typical; you meet him everywhere abroad.  He translates
your bill into English for you, calls ten centimes a penny, calculates
twelve francs to the pound, and presses a handful of sous affectionately
upon you as change for a napoleon.

The cheating waiter is common to all countries, though in Italy and
Belgium he flourishes, perhaps, more than elsewhere.  But the British
waiter, when detected, becomes surly--does not take it nicely.  The
foreign waiter is amiable about it--bears no malice.  He is grieved,
maybe, at your language, but that is because he is thinking of you--the
possible effect of it upon your future.  To try and stop you, he offers
you another four sous.  The story is told of a Frenchman who, not knowing
the legal fare, adopted the plan of doling out pennies to a London cabman
one at a time, continuing until the man looked satisfied.  Myself, I
doubt the story.  From what I know of the London cabman, I can see him
leaning down still, with out-stretched hand, the horse between the shafts
long since dead, the cab chockfull of coppers, and yet no expression of
satiety upon his face.

But the story would appear to have crossed the Channel, and to have
commended itself to the foreign waiter--especially to the railway
refreshment-room waiter.  He doles out sous to the traveller, one at a
time, with the air of a man who is giving away the savings of a lifetime.
If, after five minutes or so, you still appear discontented he goes away
quite suddenly.  You think he has gone to open another chest of
half-pence, but when a quarter of an hour has passed and he does not
reappear, you inquire about him amongst the other waiters.

A gloom at once falls upon them.  You have spoken of the very thing that
has been troubling them.  He used to be a waiter here once--one might
almost say until quite recently.  As to what has become of him--ah! there
you have them.  If in the course of their chequered career they ever come
across him, they will mention to him that you are waiting for him.
Meanwhile a stentorian-voiced official is shouting that your train is on
the point of leaving.  You console yourself with the reflection that it
might have been more.  It always might have been more; sometimes it is.

His Little Mistakes.

A waiter at the Gare du Nord, in Brussels, on one occasion pressed upon
me a five-franc piece, a small Turkish coin the value of which was
unknown to me, and remains so to this day, a distinctly bad two francs,
and from a quarter of a pound to six ounces of centimes, as change for a
twenty-franc note, after deducting the price of a cup of coffee.  He put
it down with the air of one subscribing to a charity.  We looked at one
another.  I suppose I must have conveyed to him the impression of being
discontented.  He drew a purse from his pocket.  The action suggested
that, for the purpose of satisfying my inordinate demands, he would be
compelled to draw upon his private resources; but it did not move me.
Abstracting reluctantly a fifty-centime piece, he added it to the heap
upon the table.

I suggested his taking a seat, as at this rate it seemed likely we should
be doing business together for some time.  I think he gathered I was not
a fool.  Hitherto he had been judging, I suppose, purely from
appearances.  But he was not in the least offended.

"Ah!" he cried, with a cheery laugh, "Monsieur comprend!"  He swept the
whole nonsense back into his bag and gave me the right change.  I slipped
my arm through his and insisted upon the pleasure of his society, until I
had examined each and every coin.  He went away chuckling, and told
another waiter all about it.  They both of them bowed to me as I went
out, and wished me a pleasant journey.  I left them still chuckling.  A
British waiter would have been sulky all the afternoon.

The waiter who insists upon mistaking you for the heir of all the
Rothschilds used to cost me dear when I was younger.  I find the best
plan is to take him in hand at the beginning and disillusion him; sweep
aside his talk of '84 Perrier Jouet, followed by a '79 Chateau Lafite,
and ask him, as man to man, if he can conscientiously recommend the Saint
Julien at two-and-six.  After that he settles down to his work and talks

The fatherly waiter is sometimes a comfort.  You feel that he knows best.
Your instinct is to address him as "Uncle."  But you remember yourself in
time.  When you are dining a lady, however, and wish to appear important,
he is apt to be in the way.  It seems, somehow, to be his dinner.  You
have a sense almost of being _de trop_.

The greatest insult you can offer a waiter is to mistake him for your
waiter.  You think he is your waiter--there is the bald head, the black
side-whiskers, the Roman nose.  But your waiter had blue eyes, this man
soft hazel.  You had forgotten to notice the eyes.  You bar his progress
and ask him for the red pepper.  The haughty contempt with which he
regards you is painful to bear.  It is as if you had insulted a lady.  He
appears to be saying the same thing:

"I think you have made a mistake.  You are possibly confusing me with
somebody else; I have not the honour of your acquaintance."

How to insult him.

I do not wish it to be understood that I am in the habit of insulting
ladies, but occasionally I have made an innocent mistake, and have met
with some such response.  The wrong waiter conveys to me precisely the
same feeling of humiliation.

"I will send your waiter to you," he answers.  His tone implies that
there are waiters and waiters; some may not mind what class of person
they serve: others, though poor, have their self-respect.  It is clear to
you now why your waiter is keeping away from you; the man is ashamed of
being your waiter.  He is watching, probably, for an opportunity to
approach you when nobody is looking.  The other waiter finds him for you.
He was hiding behind a screen.

"Table forty-two wants you," the other tells him.  The tone of voice

"If you like to encourage this class of customer that is your business;
but don't ask me to have anything to do with him."

Even the waiter has his feelings.


The everlasting Newness of Woman.

An Oriental visitor was returning from our shores to his native land.

"Well," asked the youthful diplomatist who had been told off to show him
round, as on the deck of the steamer they shook hands, "what do you now
think of England?"

"Too much woman," answered the grave Orientalist, and descended to his

The young diplomatist returned to the shore thoughtful, and later in the
day a few of us discussed the matter in a far-off, dimly-lighted corner
of the club smoking-room.

Has the pendulum swung too far the other way?  Could there be truth in
our Oriental friend's terse commentary?  The eternal feminine!  The
Western world has been handed over to her.  The stranger from Mars or
Jupiter would describe us as a hive of women, the sober-clad male being
retained apparently on condition of its doing all the hard work and
making itself generally useful.  Formerly it was the man who wore the
fine clothes who went to the shows.  To-day it is the woman gorgeously
clad for whom the shows are organized.  The man dressed in a serviceable
and unostentatious, not to say depressing, suit of black accompanies her
for the purpose of carrying her cloak and calling her carriage.  Among
the working classes life, of necessity, remains primitive; the law of the
cave is still, with slight modification, the law of the slum.  But in
upper and middle-class circles the man is now the woman's servant.

I remember being present while a mother of my acquaintance was instilling
into the mind of her little son the advantages of being born a man.  A
little girl cousin was about to spend a week with him.  It was impressed
upon him that if she showed a liking for any of his toys, he was at once
to give them up to her.

"But why, mamma?" he demanded, evidently surprised.

"Because, my dear, you are a little man."

Should she break them, he was not to smack her head or kick her--as his
instinct might prompt him to do.  He was just to say:

"Oh, it is of no consequence at all," and to look as if he meant it.

Doctor says she is not to be bothered.

She was always to choose the game--to have the biggest apple.  There was
much more of a similar nature.  It was all because he was a little man
and she was a little woman.  At the end he looked up, puzzled:

"But don't she do anything, 'cos she's a little girl?"

It was explained to him that she didn't.  By right of being born a little
girl she was exempt from all duty.

Woman nowadays is not taking any duty.  She objects to housekeeping; she
calls it domestic slavery, and feels she was intended for higher things.
What higher things she does not condescend to explain.  One or two wives
of my acquaintance have persuaded their husbands that these higher things
are all-important.  The home has been given up.  In company with other
strivers after higher things, they live now in dismal barracks differing
but little from a glorified Bloomsbury lodging-house.  But they call them
"Mansions" or "Courts," and seem proud of the address.  They are not
bothered with servants--with housekeeping.  The idea of the modern woman
is that she is not to be bothered with anything.  I remember the words
with which one of these ladies announced her departure from her bothering

"Oh, well, I'm tired of trouble," she confided to another lady, "so I've
made up my mind not to have any more of it."

Artemus Ward tells us of a man who had been in prison for twenty years.
Suddenly a bright idea occurred to him; he opened the window and got out.
Here have we poor, foolish mortals been imprisoned in this troublesome
world for Lord knows how many millions of years.  We have got so used to
trouble we thought there was no help for it.  We have told ourselves that
"Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards."  We imagined the only
thing to be done was to bear it philosophically.  Why did not this bright
young creature come along before--show us the way out.  All we had to do
was to give up the bothering home and the bothering servants, and go into
a "Mansion" or a "Court."

It seems that you leave trouble outside--in charge of the hall-porter,
one supposes.  He ties it up for you as the Commissionaire of the Army
and Navy Stores ties up your dog.  If you want it again, you ask for it
as you come out.  Small wonder that the "Court" and "Mansion" are growing
in popularity every day.

That "Higher Life."

They have nothing to do now all day long, these soaring wives of whom I
am speaking.  They would scorn to sew on a shirt-button even.  Are there
not other women--of an inferior breed--specially fashioned by Providence
for the doing of such slavish tasks?  They have no more bothers of any
kind.  They are free to lead the higher life.  What I am waiting for is a
glimpse of the higher life.  One of them, it is true, has taken up the
violin.  Another of them is devoting her emancipation to poker work.  A
third is learning skirt-dancing.  Are these the "higher things" for which
women are claiming freedom from all duty?  And, if so, is there not
danger that the closing of our homes may lead to the crowding up of the
world with too much higher things?

May there not, by the time all bothers have been removed from woman's
path, be too many amateur violinists in the world, too many
skirt-dancers, too much poker work?  If not, what are they? these "higher
things," for which so many women are demanding twenty-four hours a day
leisure.  I want to know.

One lady of my acquaintance is a Poor Law Guardian and secretary to a
labour bureau.  But then she runs a house with two servants, four
children, and a husband, and appears to be so used to bothers that she
would feel herself lost without them.  You can do this kind of work
apparently even when you are bothered with a home.  It is the
skirt-dancing and the poker work that cannot brook rivalry.  The modern
woman has begun to find children a nuisance; they interfere with her
development.  The mere man, who has written his poems, painted his
pictures, composed his melodies, fashioned his philosophies, in the midst
of life's troubles and bothers, grows nervous thinking what this new
woman must be whose mind is so tremendous that the whole world must be
shut up, so to speak, sent to do its business out of her sight and
hearing, lest her attention should be distracted.

An optimistic friend of mine tells me not to worry myself; tells me that
it is going to come out all right in the end.  Woman just now, he
contends, is passing through her college period.  The school life of
strict surveillance is for ever done with.  She is now the young
Freshwoman.  The bothering lessons are over, the bothering schoolmaster
she has said good-bye to.  She has her latchkey and is "on her own."
There are still some bothering rules about being in at twelve o'clock,
and so many attendances each term at chapel.  She is indignant.  This
interferes with her idea that life is to be one long orgie of
self-indulgence, of pleasure.  The college period will pass--is passing.
Woman will go out into the world, take her place there, discover that
bothers were not left behind in the old schoolhouse, will learn that life
has duties, responsibilities, will take up her burden side by side with
man, will accomplish her destiny.

Is there anything left for her to learn?

Meanwhile, however, she is having a good time--some people think too good
a time.  She wants the best of both.  She demands the joys of
independence together with freedom from all work--slavery she calls it.
The servants are not to be allowed to bother her, the children are not to
be allowed to bother her, her husband is not to be allowed to bother her.
She is to be free to lead the higher life.  My dear lady, we all want to
lead the higher life.  I don't want to write these articles.  I want
somebody else to bother about my rates and taxes, my children's boots,
while I sit in an easy-chair and dream about the wonderful books I am
going to write, if only a stupid public would let me.  Tommy Smith of
Brixton feels that he was intended for higher things.  He does not want
to be wasting his time in an office from nine to six adding up figures.
His proper place in life is that of Prime Minister or Field Marshal: he
feels it.  Do you think the man has no yearning for higher things?  Do
you think we like the office, the shop, the factory?  We ought to be
writing poetry, painting pictures, the whole world admiring us.  You seem
to imagine your man goes off every morning to a sort of City picnic, has
eight hours' fun--which he calls work--and then comes home to annoy you
with chatter about dinner.

It is the old fable reversed; man said woman had nothing to do all day
but to enjoy herself.  Making a potato pie!  What sort of work was that?
Making a potato pie was a lark; anybody could make a potato pie.

So the woman said, "Try it," and took the man's spade and went out into
the field, and left him at home to make that pie.

The man discovered that potato pies took a bit more making than he had
reckoned--found that running the house and looking after the children was
not quite the merry pastime he had argued.  Man was a fool.

Now it is the woman who talks without thinking.  How did she like hoeing
the potato patch?  Hard work, was it not, my dear lady?  Made your back
ache?  It came on to rain and you got wet.

I don't see that it very much matters which of you hoes the potato patch,
which of you makes the potato pie.  Maybe the hoeing of the patch demands
more muscle--is more suited to the man.  Maybe the making of the pie may
be more in your department.  But, as I have said, I cannot see that this
matter is of importance.  The patch has to be hoed, the pie to be cooked;
the one cannot do the both.  Settle it between you, and, having settled
it, agree to do each your own work free from this everlasting nagging.

I know, personally, three ladies who have exchanged the woman's work for
the man's.  One was deserted by her husband, and left with two young
children.  She hired a capable woman to look after the house, and joined
a ladies' orchestra as pianist at two pounds a week.  She now earns four,
and works twelve hours a day.  The husband of the second fell ill.  She
set him to write letters and run errands, which was light work that he
could do, and started a dressmaker's business.  The third was left a
widow without means.  She sent her three children to boarding-school, and
opened a tea-room.  I don't know how they talked before, but I know that
they do not talk now as though earning the income was a sort of round

When they have tried it the other way round.

On the Continent they have gone deliberately to work, one would imagine,
to reverse matters.  Abroad woman is always where man ought to be, and
man where most ladies would prefer to meet with women.  The ladies _garde-
robe_ is superintended by a superannuated sergeant of artillery.  When I
want to curl my moustache, say, I have to make application to a superb
golden-haired creature, who stands by and watches me with an interested
smile.  I would be much happier waited on by the superannuated sergeant,
and my wife tells me she could very well spare him.  But it is the law of
the land.  I remember the first time I travelled with my daughter on the
Continent.  In the morning I was awakened by a piercing scream from her
room.  I struggled into my pyjamas, and rushed to her assistance.  I
could not see her.  I could see nothing but a muscular-looking man in a
blue blouse with a can of hot water in one hand and a pair of boots in
the other.  He appeared to be equally bewildered with myself at the sight
of the empty bed.  From a cupboard in the corner came a wail of distress:

"Oh, do send that horrid man away.  What's he doing in my room?"

I explained to her afterwards that the chambermaid abroad is always an
active and willing young man.  The foreign girl fills in her time
bricklaying and grooming down the horses.  It is a young and charming
lady who serves you when you enter the tobacconist's.  She doesn't
understand tobacco, is unsympathetic; with Mr. Frederic Harrison, regards
smoking as a degrading and unclean habit; cannot see, herself, any
difference between shag and Mayblossom, seeing that they are both the
same price; thinks you fussy.  The corset shop is run by a most
presentable young man in a Vandyck beard.  The wife runs the restaurant;
the man does the cooking, and yet the woman has not reached freedom from

A brutal suggestion.

It sounds brutal, but perhaps woman was not intended to live free from
all bothers.  Perhaps even the higher life--the skirt-dancing and the
poker work--has its bothers.  Perhaps woman was intended to take her
share of the world's work--of the world's bothers.


Why I hate Heroes.

When I was younger, reading the popular novel used to make me sad.  I
find it vexes others also.  I was talking to a bright young girl upon the
subject not so very long ago.

"I just hate the girl in the novel," she confessed.  "She makes me feel
real bad.  If I don't think of her I feel pleased with myself, and good;
but when I read about her--well, I'm crazy.  I would not mind her being
smart, sometimes.  We can all of us say the right thing, now and then.
This girl says them straight away, all the time.  She don't have to dig
for them even; they come crowding out of her.  There never happens a time
when she stands there feeling like a fool and knowing that she looks it.
As for her hair: 'pon my word, there are days when I believe it is a wig.
I'd like to get behind her and give it just one pull.  It curls of its
own accord.  She don't seem to have any trouble with it.  Look at this
mop of mine.  I've been working at it for three-quarters of an hour this
morning; and now I would not laugh, not if you were to tell me the
funniest thing, you'd ever heard, for fear it would come down again.  As
for her clothes, they make me tired.  She don't possess a frock that does
not fit her to perfection; she doesn't have to think about them.  You
would imagine she went into the garden and picked them off a tree.  She
just slips it on and comes down, and then--my stars!  All the other women
in the room may just as well go to bed and get a good night's rest for
all the chance they've got.  It isn't that she's beautiful.  From what
they tell you about her, you might fancy her a freak.  Looks don't appear
to matter to her; she gets there anyhow.  I tell you she just makes me

Allowing for the difference between the masculine and feminine outlook,
this is precisely how I used to feel when reading of the hero.  He was
not always good; sometimes he hit the villain harder than he had
intended, and then he was sorry--when it was too late, blamed himself
severely, and subscribed towards the wreath.  Like the rest of us, he
made mistakes; occasionally married the wrong girl.  But how well he did
everything!--does still for the matter of that, I believe.  Take it that
he condescends to play cricket!  He never scores less than a hundred--does
not know how to score less than a hundred, wonders how it could be done,
supposing, for example, you had an appointment and wanted to catch an
early train.  I used to play cricket myself, but I could always stop at
ten or twenty.  There have been times when I have stopped at even less.

It is the same with everything he puts his hand to.  Either he does not
care for boating at all, or, as a matter of course, he pulls stroke in
the University Boat-race; and then takes the train on to Henley and wins
the Diamond Sculls so easily that it hardly seems worth while for the
other fellow to have started.  Were I living in Novel-land, and had I
entered for the Diamond Sculls, I should put it to my opponent before the
word was given to us to go.

"One minute!" I should have called out to him.  "Are you the hero of this
novel, or, like myself, only one of the minor characters?  Because, if
you are the hero you go on; don't you wait for me.  I shall just pull as
far as the boathouse and get myself a cup of tea."

Because it always seems to be his Day.

There is no sense of happy medium about the hero of the popular novel.  He
cannot get astride a horse without its going off and winning a
steeplechase against the favourite.  The crowd in Novel-land appears to
have no power of observation.  It worries itself about the odds,
discusses records, reads the nonsense published by the sporting papers.
Were I to find myself on a racecourse in Novel-land I should not trouble
about the unessential; I should go up to the bookie who looked as if he
had the most money, and should say to him:

"Don't shout so loud; you are making yourself hoarse.  Just listen to me.
Who's the hero of this novel?  Oh, that's he, is it?  The heavy-looking
man on the little brown horse that keeps coughing and is suffering
apparently from bone spavin?  Well, what are the odds against his winning
by ten lengths?  A thousand to one!  Very well!  Have you got a
bag?--Good.  Here's twenty-seven pounds in gold and eighteen shillings in
silver.  Coat and waistcoat, say another ten shillings.  Shirt and
trousers--it's all right, I've got my pyjamas on underneath--say seven
and six.  Boots--we won't quarrel--make it five bob.  That's twenty-nine
pounds and sixpence, isn't it?  In addition here's a mortgage on the
family estate, which I've had made out in blank, an I O U for fourteen
pounds which has been owing to me now for some time, and this bundle of
securities which, strictly speaking, belong to my Aunt Jane.  You keep
that little lot till after the race, and we will call it in round
figures, five hundred pounds."

That single afternoon would thus bring me in five hundred thousand
pounds--provided the bookie did not blow his brains out.

Backers in Novel-land do not seem to me to know their way about.  If the
hero of the popular novel swims at all, it is not like an ordinary human
being that he does it.  You never meet him in a swimming-bath; he never
pays ninepence, like the rest of us, for a machine.  He goes out at
uncanny hours, generally accompanied by a lady friend, with whom the
while swimming he talks poetry and cracks jokes.  Some of us, when we try
to talk in the sea, fill ourselves up with salt water.  This chap lies on
his back and carols, and the wild waves, seeing him, go round the other
way.  At billiards he can give the average sharper forty in a hundred.  He
does not really want to play; he does it to teach these bad men a lesson.
He has not handled a cue for years.  He picked up the game when a young
man in Australia, and it seems to have lingered with him.

He does not have to get up early and worry dumb-bells in his nightshirt;
he just lies on a sofa in an elegant attitude and muscle comes to him.  If
his horse declines to jump a hedge, he slips down off the animal's back
and throws the poor thing over; it saves argument.  If he gets cross and
puts his shoulder to the massive oaken door, we know there is going to be
work next morning for the carpenter.  Maybe he is a party belonging to
the Middle Ages.  Then when he reluctantly challenges the crack fencer of
Europe to a duel, our instinct is to call out and warn his opponent.

"You silly fool," one feels one wants to say; "why, it is the hero of the
novel!  You take a friend's advice while you are still alive, and get out
of it anyway--anyhow.  Apologize--hire a horse and cart, do something.
You're not going to fight a duel, you're going to commit suicide."

If the hero is a modern young man, and has not got a father, or has only
something not worth calling a father, then he comes across a
library--anybody's library does for him.  He passes Sir Walter Scott and
the "Arabian Nights," and makes a bee-line for Plato; it seems to be an
instinct with him.  By help of a dictionary he worries it out in the
original Greek.  This gives him a passion for Greek.

When he has romped through the Greek classics he plays about among the
Latins.  He spends most of his spare time in that library, and forgets to
go to tea.

Because he always "gets there," without any trouble.

That is the sort of boy he is.  How I used to hate him!  If he has a
proper sort of father, then he goes to college.  He does no work: there
is no need for him to work: everything seems to come to him.  That was
another grievance of mine against him.  I always had to work a good deal,
and very little came of it.  He fools around doing things that other men
would be sent down for; but in his case the professors love him for it
all the more.  He is the sort of man who can't do wrong.  A fortnight
before the examination he ties a wet towel round his head.  That is all
we hear about it.  It seems to be the towel that does it.  Maybe, if the
towel is not quite up to its work, he will help things on by drinking
gallons of strong tea.  The tea and the towel combined are irresistible:
the result is always the senior wranglership.

I used to believe in that wet towel and that strong tea.  Lord! the
things I used to believe when I was young.  They would make an
Encyclopaedia of Useless Knowledge.  I wonder if the author of the
popular novel has ever tried working with a wet towel round his or her
head: I have.  It is difficult enough to move a yard, balancing a dry
towel.  A heathen Turk may have it in his blood to do so: the ordinary
Christian has not got the trick of it.  To carry about a wet towel
twisted round one's head needs a trained acrobat.  Every few minutes the
wretched thing works loose.  In darkness and in misery, you struggle to
get your head out of a clammy towel that clings to you almost with
passion.  Brain power is wasted in inventing names for that towel--names
expressive of your feelings with regard to it.  Further time is taken up
before the glass, fixing the thing afresh.

You return to your books in the wrong temper, the water trickles down
your nose, runs in rivulets down your back.  Until you have finally flung
the towel out of the window and rubbed yourself dry, work is impossible.
The strong tea always gave me indigestion, and made me sleepy.  Until I
had got over the effects of the tea, attempts at study were useless.

Because he's so damned clever.

But the thing that still irritates me most against the hero of the
popular novel is the ease with which he learns a modern foreign language.
Were he a German waiter, a Swiss barber, or a Polish photographer, I
would not envy him; these people do not have to learn a language.  My
idea is that they boil down a dictionary, and take two table-spoonsful
each night before going to bed.  By the time the bottle is finished they
have the language well into their system.  But he is not.  He is just an
ordinary Anglo-Saxon, and I don't believe in him.  I walk about for years
with dictionaries in my pocket.  Weird-looking ladies and gentlemen
gesticulate and rave at me for months.  I hide myself in lonely places,
repeating idioms to myself out loud, in the hope that by this means they
will come readily to me if ever I want them, which I never do.  And,
after all this, I don't seem to know very much.  This irritating ass, who
has never left his native suburb, suddenly makes up his mind to travel on
the Continent.  I find him in the next chapter engaged in complicated
psychological argument with French or German _savants_.  It appears--the
author had forgotten to mention it before--that one summer a French, or
German, or Italian refugee, as the case may happen to be, came to live in
the hero's street: thus it is that the hero is able to talk fluently in
the native language of that unhappy refugee.

I remember a melodrama visiting a country town where I was staying.  The
heroine and child were sleeping peacefully in the customary attic.  For
some reason not quite clear to me, the villain had set fire to the house.
He had been complaining through the three preceding acts of the heroine's
coldness; maybe it was with some idea of warming her.  Escape by way of
the staircase was impossible.  Each time the poor girl opened the door a
flame came in and nearly burned her hair off.  It seemed to have been
waiting for her.

"Thank God!" said the lady, hastily wrapping the child in a sheet, "that
I was brought up a wire walker."

Without a moment's hesitation she opened the attic window and took the
nearest telegraph wire to the opposite side of the street.

In the same way, apparently, the hero of the popular novel, finding
himself stranded in a foreign land, suddenly recollects that once upon a
time he met a refugee, and at once begins to talk.  I have met refugees
myself.  The only thing they have ever taught me is not to leave my
brandy flask about.

And, finally, because I don't believe he's true.

I don't believe in these heroes and heroines that cannot keep quiet in a
foreign language they have taught themselves in an old-world library.  My
fixed idea is that they muddle along like the rest of us, surprised that
so few people understand them, begging everyone they meet not to talk so
quickly.  These brilliant conversations with foreign philosophers!  These
passionate interviews with foreign countesses!  They fancy they have had

I crossed once with an English lady from Boulogne to Folkestone.  At
Folkestone a little French girl--anxious about her train--asked us a
simple question.  My companion replied to it with an ease that astonished
herself.  The little French girl vanished; my companion sighed.

"It's so odd," said my companion, "but I seem to know quite a lot of
French the moment I get back to England."


How to be Healthy and Unhappy.

"They do say," remarked Mrs. Wilkins, as she took the cover off the dish
and gave a finishing polish to my plate with the cleanest corner of her
apron, "that 'addicks, leastways in May, ain't, strictly speaking, the
safest of food.  But then, if you listen to all they say, it seems to me,
we'd have to give up victuals altogether."

"The haddock, Mrs. Wilkins," I replied, "is a savoury and nourishing
dish, the 'poor man's steak' I believe it is commonly called.  When I was
younger, Mrs. Wilkins, they were cheaper.  For twopence one could secure
a small specimen, for fourpence one of generous proportions.  In the
halcyon days of youth, when one's lexicon contained not the word failure
(it has crept into later editions, Mrs. Wilkins, the word it was found
was occasionally needful), the haddock was of much comfort and support to
me, a very present help in time of trouble.  In those days a kind friend,
without intending it, nearly brought about my death by slow starvation.  I
had left my umbrella in an omnibus, and the season was rainy.  The kind
rich friend gave me a new umbrella; it was a rich man's umbrella; we made
an ill-assorted pair.  Its handle was of ivory, imposing in appearance,
ornamented with a golden snake.

The unsympathetic Umbrella.

"Following my own judgment I should have pawned that umbrella, purchased
one more suited to my state in life, and 'blued' the difference.  But I
was fearful of offending my one respectable acquaintance, and for weeks
struggled on, hampered by this plutocratic appendage.  The humble haddock
was denied to me.  Tied to this imposing umbrella, how could I haggle
with fishmongers for haddocks.  At first sight of me--or, rather, of my
umbrella--they flew to icy cellars, brought up for my inspection soles at
eighteenpence a pound, recommended me prime parts of salmon, which my
landlady would have fried in a pan reeking with the mixed remains of pork
chops, rashers of bacon and cheese.  It was closed to me, the humble
coffee shop, where for threepence I could have strengthened my soul with
half a pint of cocoa and four "doorsteps"--satisfactory slices of bread
smeared with a yellow grease that before the days of County Council
inspectors they called butter.  You know of them, Mrs. Wilkins?  At sight
of such nowadays I should turn up my jaded nose.  But those were the days
of my youth, Mrs. Wilkins.  The scent of a thousand hopes was in my
nostrils: so they smelt good to me.  The fourpenny beefsteak pie,
satisfying to the verge of repletion; the succulent saveloy, were not for
the owner of the ivory-handled umbrella.  On Mondays and Tuesdays,
perhaps, I could enjoy life at the rate of five hundred a year--clean
serviette a penny extra, and twopence to the waiter, whose income must
have been at least four times my own.  But from Wednesday to Saturday I
had to wander in the wilderness of back streets and silent squares
dinnerless, where there were not even to be found locusts and wild honey.

"It was, as I have said, a rainy season, and an umbrella of some sort was
a necessity.  Fortunately--or I might not be sitting here, Mrs. Wilkins,
talking to you now--my one respectable acquaintance was called away to
foreign lands, and that umbrella I promptly put 'up the spout.'  You
understand me?"

Mrs. Wilkins admitted she did, but was of opinion that twenty-five per
cent., to say nothing of the halfpenny for the ticket every time, was a
wicked imposition.

"It did not trouble me, Mrs. Wilkins," I replied, "in this particular
instance.  It was my determination never to see that umbrella again.  The
young man behind the counter seemed suspicious, and asked where I got it
from.  I told him that a friend had given it to me."

"'Did he know that he had given it to you?" demanded the young man.

"Upon which I gave him a piece of my mind concerning the character of
those who think evil of others, and he gave me five and six, and said he
should know me again; and I purchased an umbrella suited to my rank and
station, and as fine a haddock as I have ever tasted with the balance,
which was sevenpence, for I was feeling hungry.

"The haddock is an excellent fish, Mrs. Wilkins," I said, "and if, as you
observe, we listened to all that was said we'd be hungrier at forty, with
a balance to our credit at the bank, than ever we were at twenty, with
'no effects' beyond a sound digestion."

A Martyr to Health.

"There was a gent in Middle Temple Lane," said Mrs. Wilkins, "as I used
to do for.  It's my belief as 'e killed 'imself worrying twenty-four
hours a day over what 'e called 'is 'ygiene.  Leastways 'e's dead and
buried now, which must be a comfort to 'imself, feeling as at last 'e's
out of danger.  All 'is time 'e spent taking care of 'imself--didn't seem
to 'ave a leisure moment in which to live.  For 'alf an hour every
morning 'e'd lie on 'is back on the floor, which is a draughty place, I
always 'old, at the best of times, with nothing on but 'is pyjamas,
waving 'is arms and legs about, and twisting 'imself into shapes
unnatural to a Christian.  Then 'e found out that everything 'e'd been
doing on 'is back was just all wrong, so 'e turned over and did tricks on
'is stomach--begging your pardon for using the word--that you'd 'ave
thought more fit and proper to a worm than to a man.  Then all that was
discovered to be a mistake.  There don't seem nothing certain in these
matters.  That's the awkward part of it, so it seems to me.  'E got
'imself a machine, by means of which 'e'd 'ang 'imself up to the wall,
and behave for all the world like a beetle with a pin stuck through 'im,
poor thing.  It used to give me the shudders to catch sight of 'im
through the 'alf-open door.  For that was part of the game: you 'ad to
'ave a current of air through the room, the result of which was that for
six months out of the year 'e'd be coughing and blowing 'is nose from
morning to night.  It was the new treatment, so 'e'd explain to me.  You
got yourself accustomed to draughts so that they didn't 'urt you, and if
you died in the process that only proved that you never ought to 'ave
been born.

"Then there came in this new Japanese business, and 'e'd 'ire a little
smiling 'eathen to chuck 'im about 'is room for 'alf an hour every
morning after breakfast.  It got on my nerves after a while 'earing 'im
being bumped on the floor every minute, or flung with 'is 'ead into the
fire-place.  But 'e always said it was doing 'im good.  'E'd argue that
it freshened up 'is liver.  It was 'is liver that 'e seemed to live
for--didn't appear to 'ave any other interest in life.  It was the same
with 'is food.  One year it would be nothing but meat, and next door to
raw at that.  One of them medical papers 'ad suddenly discovered that we
were intended to be a sort of wild beast.  The wonder to me is that 'e
didn't go out 'unting chickens with a club, and bring 'em 'ome and eat
'em on the mat without any further fuss.  For drink it would be boiling
water that burnt my fingers merely 'andling the glass.  Then some other
crank came out with the information that every other crank was
wrong--which, taken by itself, sounds natural enough--that meat was fatal
to the 'uman system.  Upon that 'e becomes all at once a raging, tearing
vegetarian, and trouble enough I 'ad learning twenty different ways of
cooking beans, which didn't make, so far as I could ever see, the
slightest difference--beans they were, and beans they tasted like,
whether you called them _ragout a la maison_, or cutlets _a la
Pompadour_.  But it seemed to please 'im.

He was never pig-headed.

"Then vegetarianism turned out to be the mistake of our lives.  It seemed
we made an error giving up monkeys' food.  That was our natural victuals;
nuts with occasional bananas.  As I used to tell 'im, if that was so,
then for all we 'ad got out of it we might just as well have stopped up a
tree--saved rent and shoe leather.  But 'e was one of that sort that
don't seem able to 'elp believing everything they read in print.  If one
of those papers 'ad told 'im to live on the shells and throw away the
nuts, 'e'd have made a conscientious endeavour to do so, contending that
'is failure to digest them was merely the result of vicious
training--didn't seem to 'ave any likes or dislikes of 'is own.  You
might 'ave thought 'e was just a bit of public property made to be
experimented upon.

"One of the daily papers interviewed an old gent, as said 'e was a
'undred, and I will say from 'is picture as any'ow 'e looked it.  'E said
it was all the result of never 'aving swallowed anything 'ot, upon which
my gentleman for a week lives on cold porridge, if you'll believe me;
although myself I'd rather 'ave died at fifty and got it over.  Then
another paper dug up from somewhere a sort of animated corpse that said
was a 'undred and two, and attributed the unfortunate fact to 'is always
'aving 'ad 'is food as 'ot as 'e could swallow it.  A bit of sense did
begin to dawn upon 'im then, but too late in the day, I take it.  'E'd
played about with 'imself too long.  'E died at thirty-two, looking to
all appearance sixty, and you can't say as 'ow it was the result of not
taking advice."

Only just in time.

"On this subject of health we are much too ready to follow advice," I
agreed.  "A cousin of mine, Mrs. Wilkins, had a wife who suffered
occasionally from headache.  No medicine relieved her of them--not
altogether.  And one day by chance she met a friend who said: 'Come
straight with me to Dr. Blank,' who happened to be a specialist famous
for having invented a new disease that nobody until the year before had
ever heard of.  She accompanied her friend to Dr. Blank, and in less than
ten minutes he had persuaded her that she had got this new disease, and
got it badly; and that her only chance was to let him cut her open and
have it out.  She was a tolerably healthy woman, with the exception of
these occasional headaches, but from what that specialist said it was
doubtful whether she would get home alive, unless she let him operate on
her then and there, and her friend, who appeared delighted, urged her not
to commit suicide, as it were, by missing her turn.

"The result was she consented, and afterwards went home in a four-wheeled
cab, and put herself to bed.  Her husband, when he returned in the
evening and was told, was furious.  He said it was all humbug, and by
this time she was ready to agree with him.  He put on his hat, and
started to give that specialist a bit of his mind.  The specialist was
out, and he had to bottle up his rage until the morning.  By then, his
wife now really ill for the first time in her life, his indignation had
reached boiling point.  He was at that specialist's door at half-past
nine o'clock.  At half-past eleven he came back, also in a four-wheeled
cab, and day and night nurses for both of them were wired for.  He also,
it appeared, had arrived at that specialist's door only just in time.

"There's this appendy--whatever they call it," commented Mrs. Wilkins,
"why a dozen years ago one poor creature out of ten thousand may possibly
'ave 'ad something wrong with 'is innards.  To-day you ain't 'ardly
considered respectable unless you've got it, or 'ave 'ad it.  I 'ave no
patience with their talk.  To listen to some of them you'd think as
Nature 'adn't made a man--not yet: would never understand the principle
of the thing till some of these young chaps 'ad shown 'er 'ow to do it."

How to avoid Everything.

"They have now discovered, Mrs. Wilkins," I said, "the germ of old age.
They are going to inoculate us for it in early youth, with the result
that the only chance of ever getting rid of our friends will be to give
them a motor-car.  And maybe it will not do to trust to that for long.
They will discover that some men's tendency towards getting themselves
into trouble is due to some sort of a germ.  The man of the future, Mrs.
Wilkins, will be inoculated against all chance of gas explosions, storms
at sea, bad oysters, and thin ice.  Science may eventually discover the
germ prompting to ill-assorted marriages, proneness to invest in the
wrong stock, uncontrollable desire to recite poetry at evening parties.
Religion, politics, education--all these things are so much wasted
energy.  To live happy and good for ever and ever, all we have to do is
to hunt out these various germs and wring their necks for them--or
whatever the proper treatment may be.  Heaven, I gather from medical
science, is merely a place that is free from germs."

"We talk a lot about it," thought Mrs. Wilkins, "but it does not seem to
me that we are very much better off than before we took to worrying
ourselves for twenty-four 'ours a day about 'ow we are going to live.
Lord! to read the advertisements in the papers you would think as 'ow
flesh and blood was never intended to 'ave any natural ills.  'Do you
ever 'ave a pain in your back?' because, if so, there's a picture of a
kind gent who's willing for one and sixpence halfpenny to take it quite
away from you--make you look forward to scrubbing floors, and standing
over the wash-tub six 'ours at a stretch like to a beanfeast.  'Do you
ever feel as though you don't want to get out of bed in the morning?'
that's all to be cured by a bottle of their stuff--or two at the outside.
Four children to keep, and a sick 'usband on your 'ands used to get me
over it when I was younger.  I used to fancy it was just because I was

The one Cure-All.

"There's some of them seem to think," continued Mrs. Wilkins, "that if
you don't get all you want out of this world, and ain't so 'appy as
you've persuaded yourself you ought to be, that it's all because you
ain't taking the right medicine.  Appears to me there's only one doctor
as can do for you, all the others talk as though they could, and 'e only
comes to each of us once, and then 'e makes no charge."


Europe and the bright American Girl.

"How does she do it?"

That is what the European girl wants to know.  The American girl!  She
comes over here, and, as a British matron, reduced to slang by force of
indignation, once exclaimed to me: "You'd think the whole blessed show
belonged to her."  The European girl is hampered by her relatives.  She
has to account for her father: to explain away, if possible, her
grandfather.  The American girl sweeps them aside:

"Don't you worry about them," she says to the Lord Chamberlain.  "It's
awfully good of you, but don't you fuss yourself.  I'm looking after my
old people.  That's my department.  What I want you to do is just to
listen to what I am saying and then hustle around.  I can fill up your
time all right by myself."

Her father may be a soap-boiler, her grandmother may have gone out

"That's all right," she says to her Ambassador: "They're not coming.  You
just take my card and tell the King that when he's got a few minutes to
spare I'll be pleased to see him."

And the extraordinary thing is that, a day or two afterwards, the
invitation arrives.

A modern writer has said that "I'm Murrican" is the _Civis Romanus sum_
of the present-day woman's world.  The late King of Saxony, did, I
believe, on one occasion make a feeble protest at being asked to receive
the daughter of a retail bootmaker.  The young lady, nonplussed for the
moment, telegraphed to her father in Detroit.  The answer came back next
morning: "Can't call it selling--practically giving them away.  See
Advertisement."  The lady was presented as the daughter of an eminent

It is due to her to admit that, taking her as a class, the American girl
is a distinct gain to European Society.  Her influence is against
convention and in favour of simplicity.  One of her greatest charms, in
the eyes of the European man, is that she listens to him.  I cannot say
whether it does her any good.  Maybe she does not remember it all, but
while you are talking she does give you her attention.  The English woman
does not always.  She greets you pleasantly enough:

"I've so often wanted to meet you," she says, "must you really go?"

It strikes you as sudden: you had no intention of going for hours.  But
the hint is too plain to be ignored.  You are preparing to agree that you
really must when, looking round, you gather that the last remark was not
addressed to you, but to another gentleman who is shaking hands with her:

"Now, perhaps we shall be able to talk for five minutes," she says.  "I've
so often wanted to say that I shall never forgive you.  You have been
simply horrid."

Again you are confused, until you jump to the conclusion that the latter
portion of the speech is probably intended for quite another party with
whom, at the moment, her back towards you, she is engaged in a whispered
conversation.  When he is gone she turns again to you.  But the varied
expressions that pass across her face while you are discussing with her
the disadvantages of Protection, bewilder you.  When, explaining your own
difficulty in arriving at a conclusion, you remark that Great Britain is
an island, she roguishly shakes her head.  It is not that she has
forgotten her geography, it is that she is conducting a conversation by
signs with a lady at the other end of the room.  When you observe that
the working classes must be fed, she smiles archly while murmuring:

"Oh, do you really think so?"

You are about to say something strong on the subject of dumping.
Apparently she has disappeared.  You find that she is reaching round
behind you to tap a new arrival with her fan.

She has the Art of Listening.

Now, the American girl looks at you, and just listens to you with her
eyes fixed on you all the time.  You gather that, as far as she is
concerned, the rest of the company are passing shadows.  She wants to
hear what you have to say about Bi-metallism: her trouble is lest she may
miss a word of it.  From a talk with an American girl one comes away with
the conviction that one is a brilliant conversationalist, who can hold a
charming woman spell-bound.  This may not be good for one: but while it
lasts, the sensation is pleasant.

Even the American girl cannot, on all occasions, sweep from her path the
cobwebs of old-world etiquette.  Two American ladies told me a sad tale
of things that had happened to them not long ago in Dresden.  An officer
of rank and standing invited them to breakfast with him on the ice.  Dames
and nobles of the _plus haut ton_ would be there.  It is a social
function that occurs every Sunday morning in Dresden during the skating
season.  The great lake in the Grosser Garten is covered with all sorts
and conditions of people.  Prince and commoner circle and recircle round
one another.  But they do not mix.  The girls were pleased.  They secured
the services of an elderly lady, the widow of an analytical chemist:
unfortunately, she could not skate.  They wrapped her up and put her in a
sledge.  While they were in the _garde robe_ putting on their skates, a
German gentleman came up and bowed to them.

He was a nice young man of prepossessing appearance and amiable manners.
They could not call to mind his name, but remembered having met him,
somewhere, and on more than one occasion.  The American girl is always
sociable: they bowed and smiled, and said it was a fine day.  He replied
with volubility, and helped them down on to the ice.  He was really most
attentive.  They saw their friend, the officer of noble family, and, with
the assistance of the German gentleman, skated towards him.  He glided
past them.  They thought that maybe he did not know enough to stop, so
they turned and skated after him.  They chased him three times round the
pond and then, feeling tired, eased up and took counsel together.

"I'm sure he must have seen us," said the younger girl.  "What does he
mean by it?"

"Well, I have not come down here to play forfeits," said the other,
"added to which I want my breakfast.  You wait here a minute, I'll go and
have it out with him."

He was standing only a dozen yards away.  Alone, though not a good
performer on the ice, she contrived to cover half the distance dividing
them.  The officer, perceiving her, came to her assistance and greeted
her with effusion.

The Republican Idea in practice.

"Oh," said the lady, who was feeling indignant, "I thought maybe you had
left your glasses at home."

"I am sorry," said the officer, "but it is impossible."

"What's impossible?" demanded the lady.

"That I can be seen speaking to you," declared the officer, "while you
are in company with that--that person."

"What person?"  She thought maybe he was alluding to the lady in the
sledge.  The chaperon was not showy, but, what is better, she was good.
And, anyhow, it was the best the girls had been able to do.  So far as
they were concerned, they had no use for a chaperon.  The idea had been a
thoughtful concession to European prejudice.

"The person in knickerbockers," explained the officer.

"Oh, _that_," exclaimed the lady, relieved: "he just came up and made
himself agreeable while we were putting on our skates.  We have met him
somewhere, but I can't exactly fix him for the moment."

"You have met him possibly at Wiesman's, in the Pragerstrasse: he is one
of the attendants there," said the officer.

The American girl is Republican in her ideas, but she draws the line at
hairdressers.  In theory it is absurd: the hairdresser is a man and a
brother: but we are none of us logical all the way.  It made her mad, the
thought that she had been seen by all Dresden Society skating with a

"Well," she said, "I do call that impudence.  Why, they wouldn't do that
even in Chicago."

And she returned to where the hairdresser was illustrating to her friend
the Dutch roll, determined to explain to him, as politely as possible,
that although the free and enlightened Westerner has abolished social
distinctions, he has not yet abolished them to that extent.

Had he been a commonplace German hairdresser he would have understood
English, and all might have been easy.  But to the "classy" German
hairdresser, English is not so necessary, and the American ladies had
reached, as regards their German, only the "improving" stage.  In her
excitement she confused the subjunctive and the imperative, and told him
that he "might" go.  He had no wish to go; he assured them--so they
gathered--that his intention was to devote the morning to their service.
He must have been a stupid man, but it is a type occasionally
encountered.  Two pretty women had greeted his advances with apparent
delight.  They were Americans, and the American girl was notoriously
unconventional.  He knew himself to be a good-looking young fellow.  It
did not occur to him that in expressing willingness to dispense with his
attendance they could be in earnest.

There was nothing for it, so it seemed to the girls, but to request the
assistance of the officer, who continued to skate round and round them at
a distance of about ten yards.  So again the elder young lady, seizing
her opportunity, made appeal.

What the Soldier dared not do.

"I cannot," persisted the officer, who, having been looking forward to a
morning with two of the prettiest girls in Dresden, was also feeling mad.
"I dare not be seen speaking to a hairdresser.  You must get rid of him."

"But we can't," said the girl.  "We do not know enough German, and he
can't, or he won't, understand us.  For goodness sake come and help us.
We'll be spending the whole morning with him if you don't."

The German officer said he was desolate.  Steps would be taken--later in
the week--the result of which would probably be to render that young
hairdresser prematurely bald.  But, meanwhile, beyond skating round and
round them, for which they did not even feel they wanted to thank him,
the German officer could do nothing for them.  They tried being rude to
the hairdresser: he mistook it for American _chic_.  They tried joining
hands and running away from him, but they were not good skaters, and he
thought they were trying to show him the cake walk.  They both fell down
and hurt themselves, and it is difficult to be angry with a man, even a
hairdresser, when he is doing his best to pick you up and comfort you.

The chaperon was worse than useless.  She was very old.  She had been
promised her breakfast, but saw no signs of it.  She could not speak
German; and remembered somewhat late in the day that two young ladies had
no business to accept breakfast at the hands of German officers: and, if
they did, at least they might see that they got it.  She appeared to be
willing to talk about decadence of modern manners to almost any extent,
but the subject of the hairdresser, and how to get rid of him, only bored

Their first stroke of luck occurred when the hairdresser, showing them
the "dropped three," fell down and temporarily stunned himself.  It was
not kind of them, but they were desperate.  They flew for the bank just
anyhow, and, scrambling over the grass, gained the restaurant.  The
officer, overtaking them at the door, led them to the table that had been
reserved for them, then hastened back to hunt for the chaperon.  The
girls thought their trouble was over.  Had they glanced behind them their
joy would have been shorter-lived than even was the case.  The
hairdresser had recovered consciousness in time to see them waddling over
the grass.  He thought they were running to fetch him brandy.  When the
officer returned with the chaperon he found the hairdresser sitting
opposite to them, explaining that he really was not hurt, and suggesting
that, as they were there, perhaps they would like something to eat and

The girls made one last frantic appeal to the man of buckram and
pipeclay, but the etiquette of the Saxon Army was inexorable.  It
transpired that he might kill the hairdresser, but nothing else: he must
not speak to him--not even explain to the poor devil why it was that he
was being killed.

Her path of Usefulness.

It did not seem quite worth it.  They had some sandwiches and coffee at
the hairdresser's expense, and went home in a cab: while the chaperon had
breakfast with the officer of noble family.

The American girl has succeeded in freeing European social intercourse
from many of its hide-bound conventions.  There is still much work for
her to do.  But I have faith in her.


Music and the Savage.

I never visit a music-hall without reflecting concerning the great future
there must be before the human race.

How young we are, how very young!  And think of all we have done!  Man is
still a mere boy.  He has only just within the last half-century been put
into trousers.  Two thousand years ago he wore long clothes--the Grecian
robe, the Roman toga.  Then followed the Little Lord Fauntleroy period,
when he went about dressed in a velvet suit with lace collar and cuffs,
and had his hair curled for him.  The late lamented Queen Victoria put
him into trousers.  What a wonderful little man he will be when he is
grown up!

A clergyman friend of mine told me of a German _Kurhaus_ to which he was
sent for his sins and his health.  It was a resort, for some reason,
specially patronized by the more elderly section of the higher English
middle class.  Bishops were there, suffering from fatty degeneration of
the heart caused by too close application to study; ancient spinsters of
good family subject to spasms; gouty retired generals.  Can anybody tell
me how many men in the British Army go to a general?  Somebody once
assured me it was five thousand, but that is absurd, on the face of it.
The British Army, in that case, would have to be counted by millions.
There are a goodish few American colonels still knocking about.  The
American colonel is still to be met with here and there by the curious
traveller, but compared with the retired British general he is an extinct
species.  In Cheltenham and Brighton and other favoured towns there are
streets of nothing but retired British generals--squares of retired
British generals--whole crescents of British generals.  Abroad there are
_pensions_ with a special scale of charges for British generals.  In
Switzerland there has even been talk of reserving railway compartments
"For British Generals Only."  In Germany, when you do not say distinctly
and emphatically on being introduced that you are not a British general,
you are assumed, as a matter of course, to be a British general.  During
the Boer War, when I was residing in a small garrison town on the Rhine,
German military men would draw me aside and ask of me my own private
personal views as to the conduct of the campaign.  I would give them my
views freely, explain to them how I would finish the whole thing in a

"But how in the face of the enemy's tactics--" one of them would begin.

"Bother the enemy's tactics," I would reply.  "Who cares for tactics?"

"But surely a British general--" they would persist.  "Who's a British
general?" I would retort, "I am talking to you merely as a plain
commonsense man, with a head on my shoulders."

They would apologize for their mistake.  But this is leading me away from
that German _Kurhaus_.

Recreation for the Higher clergy.

My clergyman friend found life there dull.  The generals and the
spinsters left to themselves might have played cards, but they thought of
the poor bishops who would have had to look on envious.  The bishops and
the spinsters might have sung ballads, but the British general after
dinner does not care for ballads, and had mentioned it.  The bishops and
the generals might have told each other stories, but could not before the
ladies.  My clergyman friend stood the awful solemnity of three evenings,
then cautiously felt his way towards revelry.  He started with an
intellectual game called "Quotations."  You write down quotations on a
piece of paper, and the players have to add the author's name.  It roped
in four old ladies, and the youngest bishop.  One or two generals tried a
round, but not being familiar with quotations voted the game slow.

The next night my friend tried "Consequences."  "Saucy Miss A. met the
gay General B. in"--most unlikely places.  "He said."  Really it was
fortunate that General B. remained too engrossed in the day before
yesterday's _Standard_ to overhear, or Miss A. could never have again
faced him.  "And she replied."  The suppressed giggles excited the
curiosity of the non-players.  Most of the bishops and half the generals
asked to be allowed to join.  The giggles grew into roars.  Those
standing out found that they could not read their papers in comfort.

From "Consequences" the descent was easy.  The tables and chairs were
pushed against the walls, the bishops and the spinsters and the generals
would sit in a ring upon the floor playing hunt the slipper.  Musical
chairs made the two hours between bed and dinner the time of the day they
all looked forward to: the steady trot with every nerve alert, the ear
listening for the sudden stoppage of the music, the eye seeking with
artfulness the likeliest chair, the volcanic silence, the mad scramble.

The generals felt themselves fighting their battles over again, the
spinsters blushed and preened themselves, the bishops took interest in
proving that even the Church could be prompt of decision and swift of
movement.  Before the week was out they were playing Puss-in-the-corner;
ladies feeling young again were archly beckoning to stout deans, to whom
were returning all the sensations of a curate.  The swiftness with which
the gouty generals found they could still hobble surprised even

Why are we so young?

But it is in the music-hall, as I have said, that I am most impressed
with the youthfulness of man.  How delighted we are when the long man in
the little boy's hat, having asked his short brother a riddle, and before
he can find time to answer it, hits him over the stomach with an
umbrella!  How we clap our hands and shout with glee!  It isn't really
his stomach: it is a bolster tied round his waist--we know that; but
seeing the long man whack at that bolster with an umbrella gives us
almost as much joy as if the bolster were not there.

I laugh at the knockabout brothers, I confess, so long as they are on the
stage; but they do not convince me.  Reflecting on the performance
afterwards, my dramatic sense revolts against the "plot."  I cannot
accept the theory of their being brothers.  The difference in size alone
is a strain upon my imagination.  It is not probable that of two children
of the same parents one should measure six foot six, and the other five
foot four.  Even allowing for a freak of nature, and accepting the fact
that they might be brothers, I do not believe they would remain so
inseparable.  The short brother would have succeeded before now in losing
the long brother.  Those continual bangings over the head and stomach
would have weakened whatever affection the short brother might originally
have felt towards his long relation.  At least, he would insist upon the
umbrella being left at home.

"I will go for a walk with you," he might say, "I will stand stock still
with you in Trafalgar Square in the midst of the traffic while you ask me
silly riddles, but not if you persist in bringing with you that absurd
umbrella.  You are too handy with it.  Put it back in the rack before we
start, or go out by yourself."

Besides, my sense of justice is outraged.  Why should the short brother
be banged and thumped without reason?  The Greek dramatist would have
explained to us that the shorter brother had committed a crime against
the gods.  Aristophanes would have made the longer brother the instrument
of the Furies.  The riddles he asked would have had bearing upon the
shorter brother's sin.  In this way the spectator would have enjoyed
amusement combined with the satisfactory sense that Nemesis is ever
present in human affairs.  I present the idea, for what it may be worth,
to the concoctors of knockabout turns.

Where Brotherly (and Sisterly) Love reigns supreme.

The family tie is always strong on the music-hall stage.  The acrobatic
troupe is always a "Family": Pa, Ma, eight brothers and sisters, and the
baby.  A more affectionate family one rarely sees.  Pa and Ma are a
trifle stout, but still active.  Baby, dear little fellow, is full of
humour.  Ladies do not care to go on the music-hall stage unless they can
take their sister with them.  I have seen a performance given by eleven
sisters, all the same size and apparently all the same age.  She must
have been a wonderful woman--the mother.  They all had golden hair, and
all wore precisely similar frocks--a charming but _decolletee_
arrangement--in claret-coloured velvet over blue silk stockings.  So far
as I could gather, they all had the same young man.  No doubt he found it
difficult amongst them to make up his mind.

"Arrange it among yourselves," he no doubt had said, "it is quite
immaterial to me.  You are so much alike, it is impossible that a fellow
loving one should not love the lot of you.  So long as I marry into the
family I really don't care."

When a performer appears alone on the music-hall stage it is easy to
understand why.  His or her domestic life has been a failure.  I listened
one evening to six songs in succession.  The first two were sung by a
gentleman.  He entered with his clothes hanging upon him in shreds.  He
explained that he had just come from an argument with his wife.  He
showed us the brick with which she had hit him, and the bump at the back
of his head that had resulted.  The funny man's marriage is never a
success.  But really this seems to be his own fault.  "She was such a
lovely girl," he tells us, "with a face--well, you'd hardly call it a
face, it was more like a gas explosion.  Then she had those wonderful
sort of eyes that you can see two ways at once with, one of them looks
down the street, while the other one is watching round the corner.  Can
see you coming any way.  And her mouth!"

It appears that if she stands anywhere near the curb and smiles, careless
people mistake her for a pillar-box, and drop letters into her.

"And such a voice!"  We are told it is a perfect imitation of a motor-
car.  When she laughs people spring into doorways to escape being run

If he will marry that sort of woman, what can he expect?  The man is
asking for it.

The lady who followed him also told us a sad story of misplaced trust.
She also was comic--so the programme assured us.  The humorist appears to
have no luck.  She had lent her lover money to buy the ring, and the
licence, and to furnish the flat.  He did buy the ring, and he furnished
the flat, but it was for another lady.  The audience roared.  I have
heard it so often asked, "What is humour?"  From observation, I should
describe it as other people's troubles.

A male performer followed her.  He came on dressed in a night-shirt,
carrying a baby.  His wife, it seemed, had gone out for the evening with
the lodger.  That was his joke.  It was the most successful song of the
whole six.

The one sure Joke.

A philosopher has put it on record that he always felt sad when he
reflected on the sorrows of humanity.  But when he reflected on its
amusements he felt sadder still.

Why was it so funny that the baby had the lodger's nose?  We laughed for
a full minute by the clock.

Why do I love to see a flabby-faced man go behind curtains, and, emerging
in a wig and a false beard, say that he is now Bismarck or Mr.
Chamberlain?  I have felt resentment against the Lightning Impersonator
ever since the days of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.  During that
summer every Lightning Impersonator ended his show by shouting, while the
band played the National Anthem, "Queen Victoria!"  He was not a bit like
Queen Victoria.  He did not even, to my thinking, look a lady; but at
once I had to stand up in my place and sing "God save the Queen."  It was
a time of enthusiastic loyalty; if you did not spring up quickly some
patriotic old fool from the back would reach across and hit you over the
head with the first thing he could lay his hands upon.

Other music-hall performers caught at the idea.  By ending up with "God
save the Queen" any performer, however poor, could retire in a whirlwind
of applause.  Niggers, having bored us with tiresome songs about coons
and honeys and Swanee Rivers, would, as a last resource, strike up "God
save the Queen" on the banjo.  The whole house would have to rise and
cheer.  Elderly Sisters Trippet, having failed to arouse our enthusiasm
by allowing us a brief glimpse of an ankle, would put aside all
frivolity, and tell us of a hero lover named George, who had fought
somebody somewhere for his Queen and country.  "He fell!"--bang from the
big drum and blue limelight.  In a recumbent position he appears to have
immediately started singing "God save the Queen."

How Anarchists are made.

Sleepy members of the audience would be hastily awakened by their
friends.  We would stagger to our feet.  The Sisters Trippet, with eyes
fixed on the chandelier, would lead us: to the best of our ability we
would sing "God save the Queen."

There have been evenings when I have sung "God save the Queen" six times.
Another season of it, and I should have become a Republican.

The singer of patriotic songs is generally a stout and puffy man.  The
perspiration pours from his face as the result of the violent
gesticulations with which he tells us how he stormed the fort.  He must
have reached it very hot.

"There were ten to one agin us, boys."  We feel that this was a
miscalculation on the enemy's part.  Ten to one "agin" such wildly
gesticulating Britishers was inviting defeat.

It seems to have been a terrible battle notwithstanding.  He shows us
with a real sword how it was done.  Nothing could have lived within a
dozen yards of that sword.  The conductor of the orchestra looks nervous.
Our fear is lest he will end by cutting off his own head.  His
recollections are carrying him away.  Then follows "Victory!"

The gas men and the programme sellers cheer wildly.  We conclude with the
inevitable "God save the King."


The Ghost and the Blind Children.

Ghosts are in the air.  It is difficult at this moment to avoid talking
of ghosts.  The first question you are asked on being introduced this
season is:

"Do you believe in ghosts?"

I would be so glad to believe in ghosts.  This world is much too small
for me.  Up to a century or two ago the intellectual young man found it
sufficient for his purposes.  It still contained the unknown--the
possible--within its boundaries.  New continents were still to be
discovered: we dreamt of giants, Liliputians, desert-fenced Utopias.  We
set our sail, and Wonderland lay ever just beyond our horizon.  To-day
the world is small, the light railway runs through the desert, the
coasting steamer calls at the Islands of the Blessed, the last mystery
has been unveiled, the fairies are dead, the talking birds are silent.
Our baffled curiosity turns for relief outwards.  We call upon the dead
to rescue us from our monotony.  The first authentic ghost will be
welcomed as the saviour of humanity.

But he must be a living ghost--a ghost we can respect, a ghost we can
listen to.  The poor spiritless addle-headed ghost that has hitherto
haunted our blue chambers is of no use to us.  I remember a thoughtful
man once remarking during argument that if he believed in ghosts--the
silly, childish spooks about which we had been telling anecdotes--death
would possess for him an added fear: the idea that his next
dwelling-place would be among such a pack of dismal idiots would sadden
his departing hours.  What was he to talk to them about?  Apparently
their only interest lay in recalling their earthly troubles.  The ghost
of the lady unhappily married who had been poisoned, or had her throat
cut, who every night for the last five hundred years had visited the
chamber where it happened for no other purpose than to scream about it!
what a tiresome person she would be to meet!  All her conversation during
the long days would be around her earthly wrongs.  The other ghosts, in
all probability, would have heard about that husband of hers, what he
said, and what he did, till they were sick of the subject.  A newcomer
would be seized upon with avidity.

A lady of repute writes to a magazine that she once occupied for a season
a wainscotted room in an old manor house.  On several occasions she awoke
in the night: each time to witness the same ghostly performance.  Four
gentlemen sat round a table playing cards.  Suddenly one of them sprang
to his feet and plunged a dagger into the back of his partner.  The lady
does not say so: one presumes it was his partner.  I have, myself, when
playing bridge, seen an expression on my partner's face that said quite

"I would like to murder you."

I have not the memory for bridge.  I forget who it was that, last trick
but seven, played the two of clubs.  I thought it was he, my partner.  I
thought it meant that I was to take an early opportunity of forcing
trumps.  I don't know why I thought so, I try to explain why I thought
so.  It sounds a silly argument even to myself; I feel I have not got it
quite right.  Added to which it was not my partner who played the two of
clubs, it was Dummy.  If I had only remembered this, and had concluded
from it--as I ought to have done--that my partner had the ace of
diamonds--as otherwise why did he pass my knave?--we might have saved the
odd trick.  I have not the head for bridge.  It is only an ordinary
head--mine.  I have no business to play bridge.

Why not, occasionally, a cheerful Ghost.

But to return to our ghosts.  These four gentlemen must now and again,
during their earthly existence, have sat down to a merry game of cards.
There must have been evenings when nobody was stabbed.  Why choose an
unpleasant occasion to harp exclusively upon it?  Why do ghosts never
give a cheerful show?  The lady who was poisoned! there must have been
other evenings in her life.  Why does she not show us "The first
meeting": when he gave her the violets and said they were like her eyes?
He wasn't always poisoning her.  There must have been a period before he
ever thought of poisoning her.  Cannot these ghosts do something
occasionally in what is termed "the lighter vein"?  If they haunt a
forest glade, it is to perform a duel to the death, or an assassination.
Why cannot they, for a change, give us an old-time picnic, or "The
hawking party," which, in Elizabethan costume, should make a pretty
picture?  Ghostland would appear to be obsessed by the spirit of the
Scandinavian drama: murders, suicides, ruined fortunes, and broken hearts
are the only material made use of.  Why is not a dead humorist allowed
now and then to write the sketch?  There must be plenty of dead comic
lovers; why are they never allowed to give a performance?

Where are the dead Humorists?

A cheerful person contemplates death with alarm.  What is he to do in
this land of ghosts? there is no place for him.  Imagine the commonplace
liver of a humdrum existence being received into ghostland.  He enters
nervous, shy, feeling again the new boy at school.  The old ghosts gather
round him.

"How do you come here--murdered?"

"No, at least, I don't think so."


"No--can't remember the name of it now.  Began with a chill on the liver,
I think."

The ghosts are disappointed.  But a happy suggestion is made.  Perhaps he
was the murderer; that would be even better.  Let him think carefully;
can he recollect ever having committed a murder?  He racks his brains in
vain, not a single murder comes to his recollection.  He never forged a
will.  Doesn't even know where anything is hid.  Of what use will he be
in ghostland?  One pictures him passing the centuries among a moody crowd
of uninteresting mediocrities, brooding perpetually over their wasted
lives.  Only the ghosts of ladies and gentlemen mixed up in crime have
any "show" in ghostland.

The Spirit does not shine as a Conversationalist.

I feel an equal dissatisfaction with the spirits who are supposed to
return to us and communicate with us through the medium of three-legged
tables.  I do not deny the possibility that spirits exist.  I am even
willing to allow them their three-legged tables.  It must be confessed it
is a clumsy method.  One cannot help regretting that during all the ages
they have not evolved a more dignified system.  One feels that the three-
legged table must hamper them.  One can imagine an impatient spirit
getting tired of spelling out a lengthy story on a three-legged table.
But, as I have said, I am willing to assume that, for some spiritual
reason unfathomable to my mere human intelligence, that three-legged
table is essential.  I am willing also to accept the human medium.  She
is generally an unprepossessing lady running somewhat to bulk.  If a
gentleman, he so often has dirty finger-nails, and smells of stale beer.
I think myself it would be so much simpler if the spirit would talk to me
direct; we could get on quicker.  But there is that about the medium, I
am told, which appeals to a spirit.  Well, it is his affair, not mine,
and I waive the argument.  My real stumbling-block is the spirit
himself--the sort of conversation that, when he does talk, he indulges
in.  I cannot help feeling that his conversation is not worth the
paraphernalia.  I can talk better than that myself.

The late Professor Huxley, who took some trouble over this matter,
attended some half-dozen _seances_, and then determined to attend no

"I have," he said, "for my sins to submit occasionally to the society of
live bores.  I refuse to go out of my way to spend an evening in the dark
with dead bores."

The spiritualists themselves admit that their table-rapping spooks are
precious dull dogs; it would be difficult, in face of the communications
recorded, for them to deny it.  They explain to us that they have not yet
achieved communication with the higher spiritual Intelligences.  The more
intelligent spirits--for some reason that the spiritualists themselves
are unable to explain--do not want to talk to them, appear to have
something else to do.  At present--so I am told, and can believe--it is
only the spirits of lower intelligence that care to turn up on these
evenings.  The spiritualists argue that, by continuing, the higher-class
spirits will later on be induced to "come in."  I fail to follow the
argument.  It seems to me that we are frightening them away.  Anyhow,
myself I shall wait awhile.

When the spirit comes along that can talk sense, that can tell me
something I don't know, I shall be glad to meet him.  The class of spirit
that we are getting just at present does not appeal to me.  The thought
of him--the reflection that I shall die and spend the rest of eternity in
his company--does not comfort me.

She is now a Believer.

A lady of my acquaintance tells me it is marvellous how much these
spirits seem to know.  On her very first visit, the spirit, through the
voice of the medium--an elderly gentleman residing obscurely in
Clerkenwell--informed her without a moment's hesitation that she
possessed a relative with the Christian name of George.  (I am not making
this up--it is real.)  This gave her at first the idea that spiritualism
was a fraud.  She had no relative named George--at least, so she thought.
But a morning or two later her husband received a letter from Australia.
"By Jove!" he exclaimed, as he glanced at the last page, "I had forgotten
all about the poor old beggar."

"Whom is it from?" she asked.

"Oh, nobody you know--haven't seen him myself for twenty years--a third
or fourth cousin of mine--George--"

She never heard the surname, she was too excited.  The spirit had been
right from the beginning; she _had_ a relative named George.  Her faith
in spiritualism is now as a rock.

There are thousands of folk who believe in Old Moore's Almanac.  My
difficulty would be not to believe in the old gentleman.  I see that for
the month of January last he foretold us that the Government would meet
with determined and persistent opposition.  He warned us that there would
be much sickness about, and that rheumatism would discover its old
victims.  How does he know these things?  Is it that the stars really do
communicate with him, or does he "feel it in his bones," as the saying is
up North?

During February, he mentioned, the weather would be unsettled.  He

"The word Taxation will have a terrible significance for both Government
and people this month."

Really, it is quite uncanny.  In March:

"Theatres will do badly during the month."

There seems to be no keeping anything from Old Moore.  In April "much
dissatisfaction will be expressed among Post Office employees."  That
sounds probable, on the face of it.  In any event, I will answer for our
local postman.

In May "a wealthy magnate is going to die."  In June there is going to be
a fire.  In July "Old Moore has reason to fear there will be trouble."

I do hope he may be wrong, and yet somehow I feel a conviction that he
won't be.  Anyhow, one is glad it has been put off till July.

In August "one in high authority will be in danger of demise."  In
September "zeal" on the part of persons mentioned "will outstrip
discretion."  In October Old Moore is afraid again.  He cannot avoid a
haunting suspicion that "Certain people will be victimized by extensive
fraudulent proceedings."

In November "the public Press will have its columns full of important
news."  The weather will be "adverse," and "a death will occur in high
circles."  This makes the second in one year.  I am glad I do not belong
to the higher circles.

How does he do it?

In December Old Moore again foresees trouble, just when I was hoping it
was all over.  "Frauds will come to light, and death will find its

And all this information is given to us for a penny.

The palmist examines our hand.  "You will go a journey," he tells us.  It
is marvellous!  How could he have known that only the night before we had
been discussing the advisability of taking the children to Margate for
the holidays?

"There is trouble in store for you," he tells us, regretfully, "but you
will get over it."  We feel that the future has no secret hidden from

We have "presentiments" that people we love, who are climbing mountains,
who are fond of ballooning, are in danger.

The sister of a friend of mine who went out to the South African War as a
volunteer had three presentiments of his death.  He came home safe and
sound, but admitted that on three distinct occasions he had been in
imminent danger.  It seemed to the dear lady a proof of everything she
had ever read.

Another friend of mine was waked in the middle of the night by his wife,
who insisted that he should dress himself and walk three miles across a
moor because she had had a dream that something terrible was happening to
a bosom friend of hers.  The bosom friend and her husband were rather
indignant at being waked at two o'clock in the morning, but their
indignation was mild compared with that of the dreamer on learning that
nothing was the matter.  From that day forward a coldness sprang up
between the two families.

I would give much to believe in ghosts.  The interest of life would be
multiplied by its own square power could we communicate with the myriad
dead watching us from their mountain summits.  Mr. Zangwill, in a poem
that should live, draws for us a pathetic picture of blind children
playing in a garden, laughing, romping.  All their lives they have lived
in darkness; they are content.  But, the wonder of it, could their eyes
by some miracle be opened!

Blind Children playing in a World of Darkness.

May not we be but blind children, suggests the poet, living in a world of
darkness--laughing, weeping, loving, dying--knowing nothing of the wonder
round us?

The ghosts about us, with their god-like faces, it might be good to look
at them.

But these poor, pale-faced spooks, these dull-witted, table-thumping
spirits: it would be sad to think that of such was the kingdom of the


Parents and their Teachers.

My heart has been much torn of late, reading of the wrongs of Children.
It has lately been discovered that Children are being hampered and
harassed in their career by certain brutal and ignorant persons called,
for want of a better name, parents.  The parent is a selfish wretch who,
out of pure devilment, and without consulting the Child itself upon the
subject, lures innocent Children into the world, apparently for the
purpose merely of annoying them.  The parent does not understand the
Child when he has got it; he does not understand anything, not much.  The
only person who understands the Child is the young gentleman fresh from
College and the elderly maiden lady, who, between them, produce most of
the literature that explains to us the Child.

The parent does not even know how to dress the Child.  The parent will
persist in dressing the Child in a long and trailing garment that
prevents the Child from kicking.  The young gentleman fresh from College
grows almost poetical in his contempt.  It appears that the one thing
essential for the health of a young child is that it should have perfect
freedom to kick.  Later on the parent dresses the Child in short clothes,
and leaves bits of its leg bare.  The elderly maiden Understander of
Children, quoting medical opinion, denounces us as criminals for leaving
any portion of that precious leg uncovered.  It appears that the
partially uncovered leg of childhood is responsible for most of the
disease that flesh is heir to.

Then we put it into boots.  We "crush its delicately fashioned feet into
hideous leather instruments of torture."  That is the sort of phrase that
is hurled at us!  The picture conjured up is that of some fiend in human
shape, calling itself a father, seizing some helpless cherub by the hair,
and, while drowning its pathetic wails for mercy beneath roars of demon
laughter, proceeding to bind about its tender bones some ancient
curiosity dug from the dungeons of the Inquisition.

If the young gentleman fresh from College or the maiden lady Understander
could be, if only for a month or two, a father!  If only he or she could
guess how gladly the father of limited income would reply,

"My dear, you are wrong in saying that the children must have boots.  That
is an exploded theory.  The children must not have boots.  I refuse to be
a party to crushing their delicately fashioned feet into hideous leather
instruments of torture.  The young gentleman fresh from College and the
elderly maiden Understander have decided that the children must not have
boots.  Do not let me hear again that out-of-date word--boots."

If there were only one young gentleman fresh from College, one maiden
lady Understander teaching us our duty, life would be simpler.  But there
are so many young gentlemen from College, so many maiden lady
Understanders, on the job--if I may be permitted a vulgarism; and as yet
they are not all agreed.  It is distracting for the parent anxious to do
right.  We put the little dears into sandals, and then at once other
young gentlemen from College, other maiden lady Understanders, point to
us as would-be murderers.  Long clothes are fatal, short clothes are
deadly, boots are instruments of torture, to allow children to go about
with bare feet shows that we regard them as Incumbrances, and, with low
cunning, are seeking to be rid of them.

Their first attempt.

I knew a pair of parents.  I am convinced, in spite of all that can be
said to the contrary, they were fond of their Child; it was their first.
They were anxious to do the right thing.  They read with avidity all
books and articles written on the subject of Children.  They read that a
Child should always sleep lying on its back, and took it in turns to sit
awake o' nights to make sure that the Child was always right side up.

But another magazine told them that Children allowed to sleep lying on
their backs grew up to be idiots.  They were sad they had not read of
this before, and started the Child on its right side.  The Child, on the
contrary, appeared to have a predilection for the left, the result being
that neither the parents nor the baby itself for the next three weeks got
any sleep worth speaking of.

Later on, by good fortune, they came across a treatise that said a Child
should always be allowed to choose its own position while sleeping, and
their friends persuaded them to stop at that--told them they would never
strike a better article if they searched the whole British Museum
Library.  It troubled them to find that Child sometimes sleeping curled
up with its toe in its mouth, and sometimes flat on its stomach with its
head underneath the pillow.  But its health and temper were decidedly

The Parent can do no right.

There is nothing the parent can do right.  You would think that now and
then he might, if only by mere accident, blunder into sense.  But, no,
there seems to be a law against it.  He brings home woolly rabbits and
indiarubber elephants, and expects the Child to be contented "forsooth"
with suchlike aids to its education.  As a matter of fact, the Child is
content: it bangs its own head with the woolly rabbit and does itself no
harm; it tries to swallow the indiarubber elephant; it does not succeed,
but continues to hope.  With that woolly rabbit and that indiarubber
elephant it would be as happy as the day is long if only the young
gentleman from Cambridge would leave it alone, and not put new ideas into
its head.  But the gentleman from Cambridge and the maiden lady
Understander are convinced that the future of the race depends upon
leaving the Child untrammelled to select its own amusements.  A friend of
mine, during his wife's absence once on a visit to her mother, tried the

The Child selected a frying-pan.  How it got the frying-pan remains to
this day a mystery.  The cook said "frying-pans don't walk upstairs."  The
nurse said she should be sorry to call anyone a liar, but that there was
commonsense in everything.  The scullery-maid said that if everybody did
their own work other people would not be driven beyond the limits of
human endurance; and the housekeeper said that she was sick and tired of
life.  My friend said it did not matter.  The Child clung to the frying-
pan with passion.  The book my friend was reading said that was how the
human mind was formed: the Child's instinct prompted it to seize upon
objects tending to develop its brain faculty.  What the parent had got to
do was to stand aside and watch events.

The Child proceeded to black everything about the nursery with the bottom
of the frying-pan.  It then set to work to lick the frying-pan clean.  The
nurse, a woman of narrow ideas, had a presentiment that later on it would
be ill.  My friend explained to her the error the world had hitherto
committed: it had imagined that the parent knew a thing or two that the
Child didn't.  In future the Children were to do their bringing up
themselves.  In the house of the future the parents would be allotted the
attics where they would be out of the way.  They might occasionally be
allowed down to dinner, say, on Sundays.

The Child, having exhausted all the nourishment the frying-pan contained,
sought to develop its brain faculty by thumping itself over the head with
the flat of the thing.  With the selfishness of the average
parent--thinking chiefly of what the Coroner might say, and indifferent
to the future of humanity, my friend insisted upon changing the game.

His foolish talk.

The parent does not even know how to talk to his own Child.  The Child is
yearning to acquire a correct and dignified mode of expression.  The
parent says: "Did ums.  Did naughty table hurt ickle tootsie pootsies?
Baby say: ''Oo naughty table.  Me no love 'oo.'"

The Child despairs of ever learning English.  What should we think
ourselves were we to join a French class, and were the Instructor to
commence talking to us French of this description?  What the Child,
according to the gentleman from Cambridge, says to itself is,

"Oh for one hour's intelligent conversation with a human being who can
talk the language."

Will not the young gentleman from Cambridge descend to detail?  Will he
not give us a specimen dialogue?

A celebrated lady writer, who has made herself the mouthpiece of feminine
indignation against male stupidity, took up the cudgels a little while
ago on behalf of Mrs. Caudle.  She admitted Mrs. Caudle appeared to be a
somewhat foolish lady.  "_But what had Caudle ever done to improve Mrs.
Caudle's mind_?"  Had he ever sought, with intelligent illuminating
conversation, to direct her thoughts towards other topics than lent
umbrellas and red-headed minxes?

It is my complaint against so many of our teachers.  They scold us for
what we do, but so rarely tell us what we ought to do.  Tell me how to
talk to my baby, and I am willing to try.  It is not as if I took a
personal pride in the phrase: "Did ums."  I did not even invent it.  I
found it, so to speak, when I got here, and my experience is that it
soothes the Child.  When he is howling, and I say "Did ums" with
sympathetic intonation, he stops crying.  Possibly enough it is
astonishment at the ineptitude of the remark that silences him.  Maybe it
is that minor troubles are lost sight of face to face with the reflection
that this is the sort of father with which fate has provided him.  But
may not even this be useful to him?  He has got to meet with stupid
people in the world.  Let him begin by contemplating me.  It will make
things easier for him later on.  I put forward the idea in the hope of
comforting the young gentleman from Cambridge.

We injure the health of the Child by enforcing on it silence.  We have a
stupid formula that children should be seen and not heard.  We deny it
exercise to its lungs.  We discourage its natural and laudable curiosity
by telling it not to worry us--not to ask so many questions.

Won't somebody lend the young gentleman from Cambridge a small and
healthy child just for a week or so, and let the bargain be that he lives
with it all the time?  The young gentleman from Cambridge thinks, when we
call up the stairs to say that if we hear another sound from the nursery
during the next two hours we will come up and do things to that Child the
mere thought of which should appal it, that is silencing the Child.  It
does not occur to him that two minutes later that Child is yelling again
at the top of its voice, having forgotten all we ever said.

The Child of Fiction.

I know the sort of Child the weeper over Children's wrongs has in his
mind.  It has deep, soulful, yearning eyes.  It moves about the house
softly, shedding an atmosphere of patient resignation.  It says: "Yes,
dear papa."  "No, dear mamma."  It has but one ambition--to be good and
useful.  It has beautiful thoughts about the stars.  You don't know
whether it is in the house or isn't: you find it with its little face
pressed close against the window-pane watching the golden sunset.  Nobody
understands it.  It blesses the old people and dies.  One of these days
the young gentleman from Cambridge will, one hopes, have a Baby of his
own--a real Child: and serve him darn-well right.

At present he is labouring under a wrong conception of the article.  He
says we over-educate it.  We clog its wonderful brain with a mass of
uninteresting facts and foolish formulas that we call knowledge.  He does
not know that all this time the Child is alive and kicking.  He is under
the delusion that the Child is taking all this lying down.  We tell the
Child it has got to be quiet, or else we will wring its neck.  The
gentleman from Cambridge pictures the Child as from that moment a silent
spirit moving voiceless towards the grave.

We catch the Child in the morning, and clean it up, and put a little
satchel on its back, and pack it off to school; and the maiden lady
Understander pictures that Child wasting the all too brief period of
youth crowding itself up with knowledge.

My dear Madam, you take it from me that your tears are being wasted.  You
wipe your eyes and cheer up.  The dear Child is not going to be
overworked: _he_ is seeing to that.

As a matter of the fact, the Child of the present day is having, if
anything, too good a time.  I shall be considered a brute for saying
this, but I am thinking of its future, and my opinion is that we are
giving it swelled head.  The argument just now in the air is that the
parent exists merely for the Children.  The parent doesn't count.  It is
as if a gardener were to say,

"Bother the flowers, let them rot.  The sooner they are out of the way
the better.  The seed is the only thing that interests me."

You can't produce respectable seed but from carefully cultivated flowers.
The philosopher, clamouring for improved Children, will later grasp the
fact that the parent is of importance.  Then he will change his tactics,
and address the Children, and we shall have our time.  He will impress on
them how necessary it is for their own sakes that they should be careful
of us.  We shall have books written about misunderstood fathers who were
worried into early graves.

The misunderstood Father.

Fresh Air Funds will be started for sending parents away to the seaside
on visits to kind bachelors living in detached houses, miles away from
Children.  Books will be specially written for us picturing a world where
school fees are never demanded and babies never howl o' nights.  Societies
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Parents will arise.  Little girls who
get their hair entangled and mislay all their clothes just before they
are starting for the party--little boys who kick holes in their best
shoes will be spanked at the public expense.


Marriage and the Joke of it.

Marriages are made in heaven--"but solely," it has been added by a
cynical writer, "for export."  There is nothing more remarkable in human
sociology than our attitude towards the institution of marriage.  So it
came home to me the other evening as I sat on a cane chair in the ill-
lighted schoolroom of a small country town.  The occasion was a Penny
Reading.  We had listened to the usual overture from _Zampa_, played by
the lady professor and the eldest daughter of the brewer; to "Phil
Blood's Leap," recited by the curate; to the violin solo by the pretty
widow about whom gossip is whispered--one hopes it is not true.  Then a
pale-faced gentleman, with a drooping black moustache, walked on to the
platform.  It was the local tenor.  He sang to us a song of love.
Misunderstandings had arisen; bitter words, regretted as soon as uttered,
had pierced the all too sensitive spirit.  Parting had followed.  The
broken-hearted one had died believing his affection unrequited.  But the
angels had since told him; he knew she loved him now--the accent on the

I glanced around me.  We were the usual crowd of mixed humanity--tinkers,
tailors, soldiers, sailors, with our cousins, and our sisters, and our
wives.  So many of our eyes were wet with tears.  Miss Butcher could
hardly repress her sobs.  Young Mr. Tinker, his face hidden behind his
programme, pretended to be blowing his nose.  Mrs. Apothecary's large
bosom heaved with heartfelt sighs.  The retired Colonel sniffed audibly.
Sadness rested on our souls.  It might have been so different but for
those foolish, hasty words!  There need have been no funeral.  Instead,
the church might have been decked with bridal flowers.  How sweet she
would have looked beneath her orange wreath!  How proudly, gladly, he
might have responded "I will," take her for his wedded wife, to have and
to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for
poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death did
them part.  And thereto he might have plighted his troth.

In the silence which reigned after the applause had subsided the
beautiful words of the Marriage Service seemed to be stealing through the
room: that they might ever remain in perfect love and peace together.  Thy
wife shall be as the fruitful vine.  Thy children like the olive branches
round about thy table.  Lo! thus shall a man be blessed.  So shall men
love their wives as their own bodies, and be not bitter against them,
giving honour unto them as unto the weaker vessel.  Let the wife see that
she reverence her husband, wearing the ornament of a meek and quiet

Love and the Satyr.

All the stories sung by the sweet singers of all time were echoing in our
ears--stories of true love that would not run smoothly until the last
chapter; of gallant lovers strong and brave against fate; of tender
sweethearts, waiting, trusting, till love's golden crown was won; so they
married and lived happy ever after.

Then stepped briskly on the platform a stout, bald-headed man.  We
greeted him with enthusiasm--it was the local low comedian.  The piano
tinkled saucily.  The self-confident man winked and opened wide his
mouth.  It was a funny song; how we roared with laughter!  The last line
of each verse was the same:

"And that's what it's like when you're married."

"Before it was 'duckie,' and 'darling,' and 'dear.'  Now it's 'Take your
cold feet away, Brute! can't you hear?'

"Once they walked hand in hand: 'Me loves ickle 'oo.'  Now he strides on
ahead" (imitation with aid of umbrella much appreciated; the bald-headed
man, in his enthusiasm and owing to the smallness of the platform,
sweeping the lady accompanist off her stool), "bawling: 'Come along,

The bald-headed man interspersed side-splitting patter.  The husband
comes home late; the wife is waiting for him at the top of the stairs
with a broom.  He kisses the servant-girl.  She retaliates by discovering
a cousin in the Guards.

The comic man retired to an enthusiastic demand for an encore.  I looked
around me at the laughing faces.  Miss Butcher had been compelled to
stuff her handkerchief into her mouth.  Mr. Tinker was wiping his eyes;
he was not ashamed this time, they were tears of merriment.  Mrs.
Apothecary's motherly bosom was shaking like a jelly.  The Colonel was
grinning from ear to ear.

Later on, as I noticed in the programme, the schoolmistress, an unmarried
lady, was down to sing "Darby and Joan."  She has a sympathetic voice.
Her "Darby and Joan" is always popular.  The comic man would also again
appear in the second part, and would oblige with (by request) "His Mother-

So the quaint comedy continues: To-night we will enjoy _Romeo and
Juliet_, for to-morrow we have seats booked for _The Pink Domino_.

What the Gipsy did not mention.

"Won't the pretty lady let the poor old gipsy tell her fortune?"  Blushes,
giggles, protestations.  Gallant gentleman friend insists.  A dark man is
in love with pretty lady.  Gipsy sees a marriage not so very far ahead.
Pretty lady says "What nonsense!" but looks serious.  Pretty lady's
pretty friends must, of course, be teasing.  Gallant gentleman friend, by
curious coincidence, happens to be dark.  Gipsy grins and passes on.

Is that all the gipsy knows of pretty lady's future?  The rheumy, cunning
eyes!  They were bonny and black many years ago, when the parchment skin
was smooth and fair.  They have seen so many a passing show--do they see
in pretty lady's hand nothing further?

What would the wicked old eyes foresee did it pay them to speak:--Pretty
lady crying tears into a pillow.  Pretty lady growing ugly, spite and
anger spoiling pretty features.  Dark young man no longer loving.  Dark
young man hurling bitter words at pretty lady--hurling, maybe, things
more heavy.  Dark young man and pretty lady listening approvingly to
comic singer, having both discovered: "That's what it's like when you're

My friend H. G. Wells wrote a book, "The Island of Dr. Moreau."  I read
it in MS. one winter evening in a lonely country house upon the hills,
wind screaming to wind in the dark without.  The story has haunted me
ever since.  I hear the wind's shrill laughter.  The doctor had taken the
beasts of the forest, apes, tigers, strange creatures from the deep, had
fashioned them with hideous cruelty into the shapes of men, had given
them souls, had taught to them the law.  In all things else were they
human, but their original instincts their creator's skill had failed to
eliminate.  All their lives were one long torture.  The Law said, "We are
men and women; this we shall do, this we shall not do."  But the ape and
tiger still cried aloud within them.

Civilization lays her laws upon us; they are the laws of gods--of the men
that one day, perhaps, shall come.  But the primeval creature of the cave
still cries within us.

A few rules for Married Happiness.

The wonder is that not being gods--being mere men and women--marriage
works out as well as it does.  We take two creatures with the instincts
of the ape still stirring within them; two creatures fashioned on the law
of selfishness; two self-centred creatures of opposite appetites, of
desires opposed to one another, of differing moods and fancies; two
creatures not yet taught the lesson of self-control, of
self-renunciation, and bind them together for life in an union so close
that one cannot snore o'nights without disturbing the other's rest; that
one cannot, without risk to happiness, have a single taste unshared by
the other; that neither, without danger of upsetting the whole applecart,
so to speak, can have an opinion with which the other does not heartedly

Could two angels exist together on such terms without ever quarrelling?  I
doubt it.  To make marriage the ideal we love to picture it in romance,
the elimination of human nature is the first essential.  Supreme
unselfishness, perfect patience, changeless amiability, we should have to
start with, and continue with, until the end.

The real Darby and Joan.

I do not believe in the "Darby and Joan" of the song.  They belong to
song-land.  To accept them I need a piano, a sympathetic contralto voice,
a firelight effect, and that sentimental mood in myself, the foundation
of which is a good dinner well digested.  But there are Darbys and Joans
of real flesh and blood to be met with--God bless them, and send more for
our example--wholesome living men and women, brave, struggling, souls
with common-sense.  Ah, yes! they have quarrelled; had their dark house
of bitterness, of hate, when he wished to heaven he had never met her,
and told her so.  How could he have guessed those sweet lips could utter
such cruel words; those tender eyes, he loved to kiss, flash with scorn
and anger?

And she, had she known what lay behind; those days when he knelt before
her, swore that his only dream was to save her from all pain.  Passion
lies dead; it is a flame that burns out quickly.  The most beautiful face
in the world grows indifferent to us when we have sat opposite it every
morning at breakfast, every evening at supper, for a brief year or two.
Passion is the seed.  Love grows from it, a tender sapling, beautiful to
look upon, but wondrous frail, easily broken, easily trampled on during
those first years of wedded life.  Only by much nursing, by long caring-
for, watered with tears, shall it grow into a sturdy tree, defiant of the
winds, 'neath which Darby and Joan shall sit sheltered in old age.

They had commonsense, brave hearts.  Darby had expected too much.  Darby
had not made allowance for human nature which he ought to have done,
seeing how much he had of it himself.  Joan knows he did not mean it.
Joan has a nasty temper; she admits it.  Joan will try, Darby will try.
They kiss again with tears.  It is a workaday world; Darby and Joan will
take it as it is, will do their best.  A little kindness, a little
clasping of the hands before night comes.

Many ways of Love.

Youth deems it heresy, but I sometimes wonder if our English speaking way
is quite the best.  I discussed the subject once with an old French lady.
The English reader forms his idea of French life from the French novel;
it leads to mistaken notions.  There are French Darbys, French Joans,
many thousands of them.

"Believe me," said my old French friend, "your English way is wrong; our
way is not perfect, but it is the better, I am sure.  You leave it
entirely to the young people.  What do they know of life, of themselves,
even.  He falls in love with a pretty face.  She--he danced so well! he
was so agreeable that day of the picnic!  If marriage were only for a
month or so; could be ended without harm when the passion was burnt out.
Ah, yes! then perhaps you would be right.  I loved at eighteen,
madly--nearly broke my heart.  I meet him occasionally now.  My dear"--her
hair was silvery white, and I was only thirty-five; she always called me
"my dear"; it is pleasant at thirty-five to be talked to as a child.  "He
was a perfect brute, handsome he had been, yes, but all that was changed.
He was as stupid as an ox.  I never see his poor frightened-looking wife
without shuddering thinking of what I have escaped.  They told me all
that, but I looked only at his face, and did not believe them.  They
forced me into marriage with the kindest man that ever lived.  I did not
love him then, but I loved him for thirty years; was it not better?"

"But, my dear friend," I answered; "that poor, frightened-looking wife of
your first love!  Her marriage also was, I take it, the result of
parental choosing.  The love marriage, I admit, as often as not turns out
sadly.  The children choose ill.  Parents also choose ill.  I fear there
is no sure receipt for the happy marriage."

"You are arguing from bad examples," answered my silver-haired friend;
"it is the system that I am defending.  A young girl is no judge of
character.  She is easily deceived, is wishful to be deceived.  As I have
said, she does not even know herself.  She imagines the mood of the
moment will remain with her.  Only those who have watched over her with
loving insight from her infancy know her real temperament.

"The young man is blinded by his passion.  Nature knows nothing of
marriage, of companionship.  She has only one aim.  That accomplished,
she is indifferent to the future of those she has joined together.  I
would have parents think only of their children's happiness, giving to
worldly considerations their true value, but nothing beyond, choosing for
their children with loving care, with sense of their great

Which is it?

"I fear our young people would not be contented with our choosing," I

"Are they so contented with their own, the honeymoon over?" she responded
with a smile.

We agreed it was a difficult problem viewed from any point.

But I still think it would be better were we to heap less ridicule upon
the institution.  Matrimony cannot be "holy" and ridiculous at the same
time.  We have been familiar with it long enough to make up our minds in
which light to regard it.


Man and his Tailor.

What's wrong with the "Made-up Tie"?  I gather from the fashionable
novelist that no man can wear a made-up tie and be a gentleman.  He may
be a worthy man, clever, well-to-do, eligible from every other point of
view; but She, the refined heroine, can never get over the fact that he
wears a made-up tie.  It causes a shudder down her high-bred spine
whenever she thinks of it.  There is nothing else to be said against him.
There is nothing worse about him than this--he wears a made-up tie.  It
is all sufficient.  No true woman could ever care for him, no really
classy society ever open its doors to him.

I am worried about this thing because, to confess the horrid truth, I
wear a made-up tie myself.  On foggy afternoons I steal out of the house
disguised.  They ask me where I am going in a hat that comes down over my
ears, and why I am wearing blue spectacles and a false beard, but I will
not tell them.  I creep along the wall till I find a common hosier's
shop, and then, in an assumed voice, I tell the man what it is I want.
They come to fourpence halfpenny each; by taking the half-dozen I get
them for a trifle less.  They are put on in a moment, and, to my vulgar
eye, look neat and tasteful.

Of course, I know I am not a gentleman.  I have given up hopes of ever
being one.  Years ago, when life presented possibilities, I thought that
with pains and intelligence I might become one.  I never succeeded.  It
all depends on being able to tie a bow.  Round the bed-post, or the neck
of the water-jug, I could tie the wretched thing to perfection.  If only
the bed-post or the water-jug could have taken my place and gone to the
party instead of me, life would have been simpler.  The bed-post and the
water-jug, in its neat white bow, looked like a gentleman--the
fashionable novelist's idea of a gentleman.  Upon myself the result was
otherwise, suggesting always a feeble attempt at suicide by
strangulation.  I could never understand how it was done.  There were
moments when it flashed across me that the secret lay in being able to
turn one's self inside out, coming up with one's arms and legs the other
way round.  Standing on one's head might have surmounted the difficulty;
but the higher gymnastics Nature has denied to me.  "The Boneless Wonder"
or the "Man Serpent" could, I felt, be a gentleman so easily.  To one to
whom has been given only the common ordinary joints gentlemanliness is
apparently an impossible ideal.

It is not only the tie.  I never read the fashionable novel without
misgiving.  Some hopeless bounder is being described:

"If you want to know what he is like," says the Peer of the Realm,
throwing himself back in his deep easy-chair, and puffing lazily at his
cigar of delicate aroma, "he is the sort of man that wears three studs in
his shirt."

The difficulty of being a Gentleman.

Merciful heavens!  I myself wear three studs in my shirt.  I also am a
hopeless bounder, and I never knew it.  It comes upon me like a
thunderbolt.  I thought three studs were fashionable.  The idiot at the
shop told me three studs were all the rage, and I ordered two dozen.  I
can't afford to throw them away.  Till these two dozen shirts are worn
out, I shall have to remain a hopeless bounder.

Why have we not a Minister of the Fine Arts?  Why does not a paternal
Government fix notices at the street corners, telling the would-be
gentleman how many studs he ought to wear, what style of necktie now
distinguishes the noble-minded man from the base-hearted?  They are
prompt enough with their police regulations, their vaccination orders--the
higher things of life they neglect.

I select at random another masterpiece of English literature.

"My dear," says Lady Montresor, with her light aristocratic laugh, "you
surely cannot seriously think of marrying a man who wears socks with
yellow spots?"

Lady Emmelina sighs.

"He is very nice," she murmurs, "but I suppose you are right.  I suppose
that sort of man does get on your nerves after a time."

"My dear child," says Lady Montresor, "he is impossible."

In a cold sweat I rush upstairs into my bedroom.

I thought so: I am always wrong.  All my best socks have yellow spots.  I
rather fancied them.  They were expensive, too, now I come to think of

What am I to do?  If I sacrifice them and get red spots, then red spots,
for all I know, may be wrong.  I have no instinct.  The fashionable
novelist never helps one.  He tells us what is wrong, but he does not
tell us what is right.  It is creative criticism that I feel the need of.
Why does not the Lady Montresor go on?  Tell me what sort of socks the
ideal lover ought to wear.  There are so many varieties of socks.  What
is a would-be-gentleman to do?  Would it be of any use writing to the
fashionable novelist:--

How we might, all of us, be Gentlemen.

"Dear Mr. Fashionable Novelist (or should it be Miss?),--Before going to
my tailor, I venture to write to you on a subject of some importance.  I
am fairly well educated, of good family and address, and, so my friends
tell me, of passable appearance.  I yearn to become a gentleman.  If it
is not troubling you too much, would you mind telling me how to set about
the business?  What socks and ties ought I to wear?  Do I wear a flower
in my button-hole, or is that a sign of a coarse mind?  How many buttons
on a morning coat show a beautiful nature?  Does a stand-up collar with a
tennis shirt prove that you are of noble descent, or, on the contrary,
stamp you as a _parvenu_?  If answering these questions imposes too great
a tax on your time, perhaps you would not mind telling me how you
yourself know these things.  Who is your authority, and when is he at
home?  I should apologize for writing to you but that I feel you will
sympathize with my appeal.  It seems a pity there should be so many
vulgar, ill-bred people in the world when a little knowledge on these
trivial points would enable us all to become gentlemen.  Thanking you in
anticipation, I remain . . . "

Would he or she tell us?  Or would the fashionable novelist reply as I
once overheard a harassed mother retort upon one of her inquiring
children.  Most of the afternoon she had been rushing out into the
garden, where games were in progress, to tell the children what they must
not do:--"Tommy, you know you must not do that.  Haven't you got any
sense at all?"  "Johnny, you wicked boy, how dare you do that; how many
more times do you want me to tell you?"  "Jane, if you do that again you
will go straight to bed, my girl!" and so on.

At length the door was opened from without, and a little face peeped in:

"Now, what is it? can't I ever get a moment's peace?"

"Mother, please would you mind telling us something we might do?"

The lady almost fell back on the floor in her astonishment.  The idea had
never occurred to her.

"What may you do!  Don't ask me.  I am tired enough of telling you what
not to do."

Things a Gentleman should never do.

I remember when a young man, wishful to conform to the rules of good
society, I bought a book of etiquette for gentlemen.  Its fault was just
this.  It told me through many pages what not to do.  Beyond that it
seemed to have no idea.  I made a list of things it said a gentleman
should _never_ do: it was a lengthy list.

Determined to do the job completely while I was about it, I bought other
books of etiquette and added on their list of "Nevers."  What one book
left out another supplied.  There did not seem much left for a gentleman
to do.

I concluded by the time I had come to the end of my books, that to be a
true gentleman my safest course would be to stop in bed for the rest of
my life.  By this means only could I hope to avoid every possible _faux
pas_, every solecism.  I should have lived and died a gentleman.  I could
have had it engraved upon my tombstone:

"He never in his life committed a single act unbecoming to a gentleman."

To be a gentleman is not so easy, perhaps, as a fashionable novelist
imagines.  One is forced to the conclusion that it is not a question
entirely for the outfitter.  My attention was attracted once by a notice
in the window of a West-End emporium, "Gentlemen supplied."

It is to such like Universal Providers that the fashionable novelist goes
for his gentleman.  The gentleman is supplied to him complete in every
detail.  If the reader be not satisfied, that is the reader's fault.  He
is one of those tiresome, discontented customers who does not know a good
article when he has got it.

I was told the other day of the writer of a musical farce (or is it
comedy?) who was most desirous that his leading character should be a
perfect gentleman.  During the dress rehearsal, the actor representing
the part had to open his cigarette case and request another perfect
gentleman to help himself.  The actor drew forth his case.  It caught the
critical eye of the author.

"Good heavens!" he cried, "what do you call that?"

"A cigarette case," answered the actor.

"But, my dear boy," exclaimed the author, "surely it is silver?"

"I know," admitted the actor, "it does perhaps suggest that I am living
beyond my means, but the truth is I picked it up cheap."

The author turned to the manager.

"This won't do," he explained, "a real gentleman always carries a gold
cigarette case.  He must be a gentleman, or there's no point in the

"Don't let us endanger any point the plot may happen to possess, for
goodness sake," agreed the manager, "let him by all means have a gold
cigarette case."

How one may know the perfect Gentleman.

So, regardless of expense, a gold cigarette case was obtained and put
down to expenses.  And yet on the first night of that musical play, when
that leading personage smashed a tray over a waiter's head, and, after a
row with the police, came home drunk to his wife, even that gold
cigarette case failed to convince one that the man was a gentleman beyond
all doubt.

The old writers appear to have been singularly unaware of the importance
attaching to these socks, and ties, and cigarette-cases.  They told us
merely what the man felt and thought.  What reliance can we place upon
them?  How could they possibly have known what sort of man he was
underneath his clothes?  Tweed or broadcloth is not transparent.  Even
could they have got rid of his clothes there would have remained his
flesh and bones.  It was pure guess-work.  They did not observe.

The modern writer goes to work scientifically.  He tells us that the
creature wore a made-up tie.  From that we know he was not a gentleman;
it follows as the night the day.  The fashionable novelist notices the
young man's socks.  It reveals to us whether the marriage would have been
successful or a failure.  It is necessary to convince us that the hero is
a perfect gentleman: the author gives him a gold cigarette case.

A well-known dramatist has left it on record that comedy cannot exist
nowadays, for the simple reason that gentlemen have given up taking snuff
and wearing swords.  How can one have comedy in company with
frock-coats--without its "Las" and its "Odds Bobs."

The sword may have been helpful.  I have been told that at _levees_ City
men, unaccustomed to the thing, have, with its help, provided comedy for
the rest of the company.

But I take it this is not the comedy our dramatist had in mind.

Why not an Exhibition of Gentlemen?

It seems a pity that comedy should disappear from among us.  If it depend
entirely on swords and snuff-boxes, would it not be worth the while of
the Society of Authors to keep a few gentlemen specially trained?  Maybe
some sympathetic theatrical manager would lend us costumes of the
eighteenth century.  We might provide them with swords and snuff-boxes.
They might meet, say, once a week, in a Queen Anne drawing-room,
especially prepared by Gillow, and go through their tricks.  Authors
seeking high-class comedy might be admitted to a gallery.

Perhaps this explains why old-fashioned readers complain that we do not
give them human nature.  How can we?  Ladies and gentlemen nowadays don't
wear the proper clothes.  Evidently it all depends upon the clothes.


Woman and her behaviour.

Should women smoke?

The question, in four-inch letters, exhibited on a placard outside a
small newsvendor's shop, caught recently my eye.  The wanderer through
London streets is familiar with such-like appeals to his decision:
"Should short men marry tall wives?"  "Ought we to cut our hair?"  "Should
second cousins kiss?"  Life's problems appear to be endless.

Personally, I am not worrying myself whether women should smoke or not.
It seems to me a question for the individual woman to decide for herself.
I like women who smoke; I can see no objection to their smoking.  Smoking
soothes the nerves.  Women's nerves occasionally want soothing.  The
tiresome idiot who argues that smoking is unwomanly denounces the
drinking of tea as unmanly.  He is a wooden-headed person who derives all
his ideas from cheap fiction.  The manly man of cheap fiction smokes a
pipe and drinks whisky.  That is how we know he is a man.  The womanly
woman--well, I always feel I could make a better woman myself out of an
old clothes shop and a hair-dresser's block.

But, as I have said, the question does not impress me as one demanding my
particular attention.  I also like the woman who does not smoke.  I have
met in my time some very charming women who do not smoke.  It may be a
sign of degeneracy, but I am prepared to abdicate my position of woman's
god, leaving her free to lead her own life.

Woman's God.

Candidly, the responsibility of feeling myself answerable for all a woman
does or does not do would weigh upon me.  There are men who are willing
to take this burden upon themselves, and a large number of women are
still anxious that they should continue to bear it.  I spoke quite
seriously to a young lady not long ago on the subject of tight lacing;
undoubtedly she was injuring her health.  She admitted it herself.

"I know all you can say," she wailed; "I daresay a lot of it is true.
Those awful pictures where one sees--well, all the things one does not
want to think about.  If they are correct, it must be bad, squeezing it
all up together."

"Then why continue to do so?" I argued.

"Oh, it's easy enough to talk," she explained; "a few old fogies like
you"--I had been speaking very plainly to her, and she was cross with
me--"may pretend you don't like small waists, but _the average man

Poor girl!  She was quite prepared to injure herself for life, to damage
her children's future, to be uncomfortable for fifteen hours a day, all
to oblige the average man.

It is a compliment to our sex.  What man would suffer injury and torture
to please the average woman?  This frenzied desire of woman to conform to
our ideals is touching.  A few daring spirits of late years have
exhibited a tendency to seek for other gods--for ideals of their own.  We
call them the unsexed women.  The womanly women lift up their hands in
horror of such blasphemy.

When I was a boy no womanly woman rode a bicycle--tricycles were
permitted.  On three wheels you could still be womanly, but on two you
were "a creature"!  The womanly woman, seeing her approach, would draw
down the parlour blind with a jerk, lest the children looking out might
catch a glimpse of her, and their young souls be smirched for all

No womanly woman rode inside a hansom or outside a 'bus.  I remember the
day my own dear mother climbed outside a 'bus for the first time in her
life.  She was excited, and cried a little; but nobody--heaven be
praised!--saw us--that is, nobody of importance.  And afterwards she
confessed the air was pleasant.

"Be not the first by whom the new is tried, Nor yet the last to lay the
old aside," is a safe rule for those who would always retain the good
opinion of that all-powerful, but somewhat unintelligent, incubus, "the
average person," but the pioneer, the guide, is necessary.  That is, if
the world is to move forward.

The freedom-loving girl of to-day, who can enjoy a walk by herself
without losing her reputation, who can ride down the street on her "bike"
without being hooted at, who can play a mixed double at tennis without
being compelled by public opinion to marry her partner, who can, in
short, lead a human creature's life, and not that of a lap-dog led about
at the end of a string, might pause to think what she owes to the
"unsexed creatures" who fought her battle for her fifty years ago.

Those unsexed Creatures.

Can the working woman of to-day, who may earn her own living, if she
will, without loss of the elementary rights of womanhood, think of the
bachelor girl of a short generation ago without admiration of her pluck?
There were ladies in those day too "unwomanly" to remain helpless burdens
on overworked fathers and mothers, too "unsexed" to marry the first man
that came along for the sake of their bread and butter.  They fought
their way into journalism, into the office, into the shop.  The reformer
is not always the pleasantest man to invite to a tea-party.  Maybe these
women who went forward with the flag were not the most charming of their
sex.  The "Dora Copperfield" type will for some time remain the young
man's ideal, the model the young girl puts before herself.  Myself, I
think Dora Copperfield charming, but a world of Dora Copperfields!

The working woman is a new development in sociology.  She has many
lessons to learn, but one has hopes of her.  It is said that she is
unfitting herself to be a wife and mother.  If the ideal helpmeet for a
man be an animated Dresden china shepherdess--something that looks pretty
on the table, something to be shown round to one's friends, something
that can be locked up safely in a cupboard, that asks no questions, and,
therefore, need be told no lies--then a woman who has learnt something of
the world, who has formed ideas of her own, will not be the ideal wife.

References given--and required.

Maybe the average man will not be her ideal husband.  Each Michaelmas at
a little town in the Thames Valley with which I am acquainted there is
held a hiring fair.  A farmer one year laid his hand on a lively-looking
lad, and asked him if he wanted a job.  It was what the boy was looking

"Got a character?" asked the farmer.  The boy replied that he had for the
last two years been working for Mr. Muggs, the ironmonger--felt sure that
Mr. Muggs would give him a good character.

"Well, go and ask Mr. Muggs to come across and speak to me, I will wait
here," directed the would-be employer.  Five minutes went by--ten
minutes.  No Mr. Muggs appeared.  Later in the afternoon the farmer met
the boy again.

"Mr. Muggs never came near me with that character of yours," said the

"No, sir," answered the boy, "I didn't ask him to."

"Why not?" inquired the farmer.

"Well, I told him who it was that wanted it"--the boy hesitated.

"Well?" demanded the farmer, impatiently.

"Well, then, he told me yours," explained the boy.

Maybe the working woman, looking for a husband, and not merely a
livelihood, may end by formulating standards of her own.  She may end by
demanding the manly man and moving about the world, knowing something of
life, may arrive at the conclusion that something more is needed than the
smoking of pipes and the drinking of whiskies and sodas.  We must be
prepared for this.  The sheltered woman who learnt her life from fairy
stories is a dream of the past.  Woman has escaped from her "shelter"--she
is on the loose.  For the future we men have got to accept the
emancipated woman as an accomplished fact.

The ideal World.

Many of us are worried about her.  What is going to become of the home?  I
admit there is a more ideal existence where the working woman would find
no place; it is in a world that exists only on the comic opera stage.
There every picturesque village contains an equal number of ladies and
gentlemen nearly all the same height and weight, to all appearance of the
same age.  Each Jack has his Jill, and does not want anybody else's.
There are no complications: one presumes they draw lots and fall in love
the moment they unscrew the paper.  They dance for awhile on grass which
is never damp, and then into the conveniently situated ivy-covered church
they troop in pairs and are wedded off hand by a white-haired clergyman,
who is a married man himself.

Ah, if the world were but a comic opera stage, there would be no need for
working women!  As a matter of fact, so far as one can judge from the
front of the house, there are no working men either.

But outside the opera house in the muddy street Jack goes home to his
third floor back, or his chambers in the Albany, according to his caste,
and wonders when the time will come when he will be able to support a
wife.  And Jill climbs on a penny 'bus, or steps into the family
brougham, and dreams with regret of a lost garden, where there was just
one man and just one woman, and clothes grew on a fig tree.

With the progress of civilization--utterly opposed as it is to all
Nature's intentions--the number of working women will increase.  With
some friends the other day I was discussing motor-cars, and one gentleman
with sorrow in his voice--he is the type of Conservative who would have
regretted the passing away of the glacial period--opined that motor-cars
had come to stay.

"You mean," said another, "they have come to go."  The working woman,
however much we may regret it, has come to go, and she is going it.  We
shall have to accept her and see what can be done with her.  One thing is
certain, we shall not solve the problem of the twentieth century by
regretting the simple sociology of the Stone Age.

A Lover's View.

Speaking as a lover, I welcome the openings that are being given to women
to earn their own livelihood.  I can conceive of no more degrading
profession for a woman--no profession more calculated to unfit her for
being that wife and mother we talk so much about than the profession that
up to a few years ago was the only one open to her--the profession of

As a man, I object to being regarded as woman's last refuge, her one and
only alternative to the workhouse.  I cannot myself see why the woman who
has faced the difficulties of existence, learnt the lesson of life,
should not make as good a wife and mother as the ignorant girl taken
direct, one might almost say, from the nursery, and, without the
slightest preparation, put in a position of responsibility that to a
thinking person must be almost appalling.

It has been said that the difference between men and women is this: That
the man goes about the world making it ready for the children, that the
woman stops at home making the children ready for the world.  Will not
she do it much better for knowing something of the world, for knowing
something of the temptations, the difficulties, her own children will
have to face, for having learnt by her own experience to sympathize with
the struggles, the sordid heart-breaking cares that man has daily to
contend with?

Civilization is ever undergoing transformation, but human nature remains.
The bachelor girl, in her bed-sitting room, in her studio, in her flat,
will still see in the shadows the vision of the home, will still hear in
the silence the sound of children's voices, will still dream of the
lover's kiss that is to open up new life to her.  She is not quite so
unsexed as you may think, my dear womanly madame.  A male friend of mine
was telling me of a catastrophe that once occurred at a station in the
East Indies.

No time to think of Husbands.

A fire broke out at night, and everybody was in terror lest it should
reach the magazine.  The women and children were being hurried to the
ships, and two ladies were hastening past my friend.  One of them paused,
and, clasping her hands, demanded of him if he knew what had become of
her husband.  Her companion was indignant.

"For goodness' sake, don't dawdle, Maria," she cried; "this is no time to
think of husbands."

There is no reason to fear that the working woman will ever cease to
think of husbands.  Maybe, as I have said, she will demand a better
article than the mere husband-hunter has been able to stand out for.
Maybe she herself will have something more to give; maybe she will bring
to him broader sympathies, higher ideals.  The woman who has herself been
down among the people, who has faced life in the open, will know that the
home is but one cell of the vast hive.

We shall, perhaps, hear less of the woman who "has her own home and
children to think of--really takes no interest in these matters"--these
matters of right and wrong, these matters that spell the happiness or
misery of millions.

The Wife of the Future.

Maybe the bridegroom of the future will not say, "I have married a wife,
and therefore I cannot come," but "I have married a wife; we will both

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