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Title: Mr. Punch Awheel
The Humours of Motoring and Cycling
Editor: J. A. Hammerton
Release Date: June 1, 2009 [eBook #29022]
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MR. PUNCH AWHEEL***
|Note:||Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See http://www.archive.org/details/mrpunchawheelhum00londuoft|
Owner of violently palpitating motor car. "There's no need to be alarmed. It will be all right as soon as I've discovered the what-d'ye-call-it!"
|L. RAVEN HILL|
|A. S. BOYD|
|H. M. BROCK|
|C. E. BROCK|
|G. D. ARMOUR|
|G. H. JALLAND|
|F. H. TOWNSEND|
|G. L. STAMPA|
|LIFE IN LONDON||RAILWAY BOOK|
|COUNTRY LIFE||AT THE SEASIDE|
|IN THE HIGHLANDS||MR. PUNCH AFLOAT|
|SCOTTISH HUMOUR||IN THE HUNTING FIELD|
|IRISH HUMOUR||MR. PUNCH ON TOUR|
|COCKNEY HUMOUR||WITH ROD AND GUN|
|IN SOCIETY||MR. PUNCH AWHEEL|
|AFTER DINNER STORIES||BOOK OF SPORTS|
|IN BOHEMIA||GOLF STORIES|
|AT THE PLAY||IN WIG AND GOWN|
|MR. PUNCH AT HOME||ON THE WARPATH|
|ON THE CONTINONG||BOOK OF LOVE|
|WITH THE CHILDREN|
Among the characteristics which are essentially British, is the tendency to receive almost any innovation, be it a new style of dress or a new method of locomotion, with some degree of distrust which shows itself in satirical criticism; to be followed soon after by the acceptance of the accomplished fact and complete approval. In this trait of our national character, as in all others, Mr. Punch proves himself a true born Britisher. When the bicycle was first coming into popularity, he seemed rather to resent the innovation, and was more ready to see the less attractive side of cycling than its pleasures and its practical advantages. So, too, with the automobile. Only recently has Mr. Punch shown some tendency to become himself an enthusiast of the whirling wheel.[Pg 6]
This diffidence in joining the ranks of the cyclists or the motorists is due entirely to Mr. Punch's goodness of heart and his genuine British love of liberty. The cycling scorcher and the motoring road-hog are two abominations which he most naturally holds in the greatest contempt. Against them he is never tired of directing his most scathing satire; but while this is entirely praiseworthy it tends a little to give a false impression of his attitude towards two of the most delightful sports which modern ingenuity has invented. After all, the scorcher and the road-hog are the least representative followers of the sports which their conduct brings into question, and it is very easy to over-estimate their importance.
For that reason, in the compiling of the present volume the editor has endeavoured to make a selection which will show Mr. Punch in his real attitude towards motoring and cycling, in which, of course, it is but natural and all to our delight that he should see chiefly their humours, so largely the result of misadventure. But as he has long since ceased to jibe at the lady who cycles or to regard male cyclists as "cads on castors,"—in the phrase of Edmund Yates,—and ceased also to view the motor car as an ingenious device for public slaughter, his adverse views have not in the present volume been unduly emphasised.
One of our special correspondents started out to try the effect of taking notes from his motor-car whilst proceeding at top-speed. The experiment took place in June; but we have only just received the following account of the result.
"Started away and turned on full head of smell—steam, I mean. Over Southwark Bridge, fizz, kick, bang, rattle! Flew along Old Kent Road; knocked down two policemen on patrol duty ('Knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road'); fizzed on through New Cross and Lewisham at awful nerve-destroying, sobbing pace, 'toot toot-ing' horn all the way. No good, apparently, to some people, who would not, or possibly could not, get out of the way. Cannoned milk-cart entering Eltham village, ran into 'bus, but shot off it again, at a tangent, up on to the footpath, frightening old lady into[Pg 8] hysterics. Onwards we went, leaping and flying past everything on the road, into open country. Ran over dog and three chickens, and saw tandem horses take fright and bolt; dust flew, people yelled at us and we yelled at people. Came round sharp corner on to donkey standing in road. 'Boosted' him up into the air and saw him fall through roof of outhouse! Whirr-r-up! bang! rattle! fizz-izz—Bust!
"Where am I?—Oh, in hospital—oh, really?—Seems nice clean sort of place.—How long——? Oh, been here about six weeks—have I, really? And what——? Oh, both arms, you say?—and left leg? Ah—by the way, do you know anyone who wants to buy a motor——? What, no motor left?—By Jove! that's funny, isn't it?—Well, I think I'll go to sleep again now."
Ethel (with book). "What's an autocrat, Mabel?"
Mabel. "Person who drives an auto-car, of course, silly."
The Best Lubricant for Cycles.—Castor oil.
"Wouldn't yer like ter 'ave one o' them things, Liza Ann?"
"No. I wouldn't be seen on one. I don't think they're nice for lidies!"
What rushes through the crowded street
With whirring noise and throbbing beat,
Exhaling odours far from sweet?
Whose wheels o'er greasy asphalte skim,
Exacting toll of life and limb,
(What is a corpse or so to him)?
Who flies before the oily gust
Wafted his way through whirling dust,
And hopes the beastly thing will bust?
Who thinks that it is scarcely fair
To have to pay for road repair
While sudden death lies lurking there?
Who as the car goes whizzing past
At such law-breaking stands aghast,
(For forty miles an hour is fast)?
Who hears the case with bland surprise,
And over human frailty sighs,
The while he reads between the lies?
Fair Cyclist. "Is this the way to Wareham, please?"
Native. "Yes, miss, yew seem to me to ha' got 'em on all right!"
So Unselfish!—"Oh yes, I gave my husband a motor-car on his birthday."
"But I thought he didn't like motor-cars!"
"He doesn't. But I do!"
Q. Why is the lady bikist of an amorous disposition?
A. Because she is a sigh-cling creature.
Crowded Out.—Stage-struck Coster (to his dark-coloured donkey). "Othello, Othello, your occupation 'll soon be gone!"
1. Insure your life and limbs. The former will benefit your relations, the latter yourself.
2. Learn on a hired machine. The best plan is to borrow a machine from a friend. It saves hiring. Should the tyre become punctured, the brake be broken, the bell cracked, the lamp missing, and the gear out of gear, you will return it as soon as possible, advising your friend to provide himself with a stronger one next time.
3. Practise on some soft and smooth ground. For example, on a lawn; the one next door for choice. A muddy road, although sufficiently soft, is not recommended—the drawbacks are obvious.
4. Choose a secluded place for practising. It may at first sight appear somewhat selfish to deprive your neighbours of a gratuitous performance which would be certain to amuse them. Nevertheless, be firm.
5. Get someone to hold you on. Engage a friend in an interesting conversation while you[Pg 16] mount your bicycle. Do you remember Mr. Winkle's dialogue with Sam Weller when he attempted skating? You can model your conversation on this idea. Friend will support you while you ride and talk. Keep him at it. It will be excellent exercise for him, physically and morally. Also economical for you; as, otherwise, you would have to pay a runner.
6. Don't bike; trike.
A New Terror.—Johnson. Hullo, Thompson, you look peekish. What's wrong?
Thompson. The vibration of motor-carring has got on my liver.
Johnson. I see, automobilious!
On the Brighton Road.—Cyclist (to owner of dog over which he has nearly ridden). Take your beast out of my way! What right has he here?
Owner. Well, he pays seven and sixpence a year for the privilege of perambulation, and you pay nothing!
The Very Oldest Motor-Car.—The whirligig of time.
Adding Insult to Injury.—Tramp Photographer. "Now, sir, just as you are for a shillin'!" [And little Binks, who prides himself upon his motor driving, is trying his best to get his wife to promise not to tell anyone about the smash.]
Dear Mr. Punch,—Knowing you to be a past master in the art of courtesy, I venture to submit the following hard case to your judgment. The other morning, being a none too experienced cyclist, I ventured into the Park on my "wheel" at an early hour, thinking to have a little practice unobserved. Judge of my horror when, as I was wobbling along, I was suddenly confronted by the Duchess of Xminster and her daughters, all expert riders! Her Grace and the Ladies Wiseacre bowed to me in the most affable way, but, afraid to leave go of the handles of my machine, I could only NOD in return. And I have always been renowned for the elegance with which I remove my chapeau! These noble ladies have since cut me dead. I cannot blame them, but I venture to suggest, for your approval, that the raising of the right elbow, such as is practised by coachmen, gentle and simple, should be adopted by all cyclists. I think that I could manage the movement.
Yours in social despair,
Cow-boy (to young lady who has taken refuge). "Would you mind openin' the gate, miss? They're a-comin' in there."
An admirable improvement in motor-cars is about to be introduced by one of our leading firms. Cars are frequently overturned, and the occupants buried underneath. In future, on the bottom of every car made by the firm in question there will be engraved the words, "Here lies——," followed by a blank space, which can be filled up by the purchaser.
He. "Do you belong to the Psychical Society?"
She. "No; but I sometimes go out on my brother's machine!"
Brake, brake, brake
On my brand-new tyre, Marie!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.
O well for the fishmonger's boy
That his tricycle's mean and squalid;
O well for the butcher lad
That the tyres of his wheel are solid!
And the reckless scorchers scorch
With hanging purple heads,
But O for the tube that is busted up
And the tyre that is cut to shreds.
Brake, brake, brake—
Thou hast broken indeed, Marie,
And the rounded form of my new Dunlop
Will never come back to me.
A Suggestion in Nomenclature.—The old name of "Turnpike Roads" has, long ago, with the almost universal disappearance of the ancient turnpikes, become obsolete. Nowadays, bicycles being "always with us," why not for "Turnpike Roads" substitute "Turn-bike roads"? This ought to suit the "B. B. P.," or "Bicycling British Public."
"Oh, did you see a gentleman on a bicycle as you came up?"
"No; but I saw a man sitting at the bottom of the hill mending an old umbrella!"
The other Sunday afternoon I rode over on my bicycle to see the Robinsons. They live seven miles away. Tomkins and others were there. People who live in remote country places always seem pleased to see a fellow creature, but Robinson and his wife are unusually hospitable and good-natured. After I had had some tea, and thought of leaving, a hobnail was discovered in the tyre of Tomkin's bicycle. He, being very athletic, was playing croquet, a game which requires vast muscular strength. However, he said that his tyres were something quite new, and that in one minute one man, or even one child, could stick one postage-stamp, or anything of the sort, over that puncture and mend it. So all the rest of us and the butler, principally the butler, who is an expert in bicycles, went at it vigorously, and after we had all worked for nearly an hour the tyre was patched up, and Tomkins, having finished his game, rode coolly away. I was going to do the same, but Robinson wouldn't hear of it—I must[Pg 26] stay to dinner. I said I had no lamp for riding home in the dark. He would lend me his. I said I should have to dine in knickerbockers. That didn't matter in the country. So I stayed till 9.30.
The next Sunday I rode over again. I started directly after lunch, lest I should seem to have come to dinner, and I gave the butler that lamp directly I arrived. But it was all no good, for I stayed till 10, and had to borrow it again. "Bring it back to-morrow morning," said Robinson, "and help us with our hay-making." Again dined in knickerbockers.
On Monday I resolved to be firm. I would leave by daylight. Rode over early. After some indifferent hay-making and some excellent lunch, I tried to start. No good. Robinson carried me off to a neighbour's tennis-party. After we returned from that, he said I must have some dinner. Couldn't ride home all those seven miles starving. Knickerbockers didn't matter. Again dined there and rode home at 10.30.
So I still have Robinson's lamp. Now I want to know how I am going to get it back to his house.
If I have it taken by anybody else he will think I don't care to come, which would be quite a mistake. Have vowed that I will not dine there again except in proper clothes. If I cross his hospitable threshold, even before breakfast, I shall never get away before bedtime. Can't ride seven miles in evening dress before breakfast even in the country. Besides, whatever clothes I wore, I should never be able to leave by daylight. I should still have his lamp. Can't take a second lamp. Would look like inviting myself to dinner. So would the evening clothes at breakfast. What is to be done?
The Retort Curteous.—Motorist (cheerfully—to fellow-guest in house party). "What luck? Killed anything?"
Angler (bitterly). "No. Have you?"
Vicar's Daughter. "Oh, Withers, your mistress tells me you are saving up to take a little shop and look after your mother. I think it is such a sweet idea!"
Withers. "Well, yes, miss, I did think of it; but now I've got the money I've changed my mind, and I'm going to buy myself one of these 'ere bicycles instead!"
The Inference.—Giles (who has been rendering "first aid" to wrecked motor-cyclist). "Naw, marm, I doan't think as 'e be a married man, 'cos 'e says this be the worst thing wot 'as ever 'appened to un!"
Effie (to whom a motor-brougham is quite a novelty). "Oh, mummy dear, look! There's a footman and a big coachman on the box, and there isn't a horse or even a pony! What are they there for?"
Mummy dear (not well versed in electricity and motor-mechanism). "Well, you see, Effie dear—the—(by a happy inspiration) but, dear, you're not old enough to understand."
The Daily Mail has discovered that the "Motor-Cough" is "caused by the minute particles of dust raised by motor-cars which lodge themselves in the laryngeal passage." If people will use their gullets as garages, what can they expect?
Horsey Wag (to Mr. and Mrs. Tourey, who are walking up a hill). "And do you always take your cycles with you when you go for a walk?"
In East Dorsetshire.—Cyclist (to Native). How many miles am I from Wimborne?
Native. I dunno.
Cyclist. Am I near Blandford?
Native. I dunno.
Cyclist (angrily). Then what do you know?
Native. I dunno.
[Cyclist speeds to No Man's Land in the New Forest.
Bicycle.—Thoroughly heavy, lumbering, out-of-date machine, recently doctored up to look like new, for sale. Cost, second-hand, six years ago, £4. Will take £12 for it. Bargain. Would suit a dyspeptic giant, or a professional strong man in want of violent exercise.
Safety Cycle.—Pneumatic tyres. A real beauty. Makers well known in Bankruptcy Court. Owner giving up riding in consequence of the frame being thoroughly unsafe, and the tyres constantly bursting. Would exchange for one of Broadwood's grand pianos or a freehold house in the country.
The ? of the Day.—Should there be a speed (and dust) limit?
The Queen's Highway.—Infuriated Cyclist (after a collision with a fast-trotting dog-cart). I shall summon you to-morrow! I've as much right on the road as you, Jehu!
Irate Driver. And I shall summon you! This thoroughfare's mine as well as yours, let me tell you, Scorcher!
Pedestrian (who has been nearly killed by the collision, and is lying prostrate after being cannoned on to the path, very feebly). And what about me, gentlemen? Have I any right of way?
The constant strain of driving motor-cars is said to be responsible for a form of nervous break-down which shows a decided tendency to increase. One certainly comes across a number of cars afflicted in this way.
In years gone by our sires would try
To abrogate the highway "pikes."
No tolls to-day, can bar the way,
But freeing of the road brought "bikes";
And there are many Northern Tykes,
Who would prefer the "pikes" to "bikes."
Old Lady (describing a cycling accident). "'E 'elped me hup, an' brushed the dust orf on me, an' put five shillin' in my 'and, an' so I says, 'Well, sir, I'm sure you're hactin' like a gentleman,' I says, 'though I don't suppose you are one,' I says."
A motor-car, proceeding along the High Street the other evening, took fright, it is supposed, at a constable on point-to-point duty, and exploded, blowing the occupants in various directions over the adjoining buildings. The policeman is to be congratulated upon averting what might have been a serious accident.
A well-known motorist has been complaining of the campaign waged against motor-cars by humorous artists, who never seem to tire of depicting accidents. "One common and ludicrous error in many drawings," he said, "is the placing of the driver on the wrong side of the car." But surely, in an accident, that is just where he would find himself.
Sympathetic Lady. "I hope you had a good holiday, Miss Smith."
Overworked Dressmaker. "Oh yes, my lady. I took my machine with me, you know!"
S. L. "What a pity; you should give up needle and thread when you're out for a——"
O. D. "Oh, I don't mean my sewing machine! I refer to my bicycle!"
Driver of Motor-car (who has just pulled up in response to urgent summons from countrywoman). "Well, what's the matter? What is it?"
Countrywoman. "Hi, man, look! You've been an' left yer 'oss on the 'ill!"
I no longer teach my classes
Their Shakespeare and the glasses,
And the uses of the globes, as was my custom;
But all they'll learn from me
Is to ride the iron gee—
All other lessons utterly disgust 'em!
The girls no more will meddle
With the painful piano-pedal,
They'll only touch the pedal of their "Humber";
Like their grannies, they begin
At an early age to "spin,"
But the road it is their spinning-wheels encumber.
So wheeling now my trade is,
And finishing young ladies
In the proper kind of bicycling deportment;
I'm nearly finished, too,
And battered black and blue,
For of falls I've had a pretty large assortment!
There was a "scorching" girl, who came down an awful purl,
And scarified her nose, and scarred her forehead.
She thought, when first she rode, biking very, very good,
But now she considers it horrid!
The Favourite of the Motor-Cars.—Petroleum.
In England, says a French writer, motoring is not considered a sport because it does not involve killing anything. This is but one more example of Continental aspersion.
As a result of his trip over the Gordon-Bennett course, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin now recommends the motor-car for pastoral visits. This will be no new thing. For years past some people have looked on the motor-car in the light of a visitation.
Cycling Conundrum.—Q. What article of the cyclist girl's attire do a couple of careless barbers recall to mind?
A. A pair of nickers.
Motorists are still expressing their indignation at a recent disgraceful incident when one of their number, because he could not pay a fine at once, was taken to prison, and forced to don ugly convict garb in the place of his becoming goggles and motor coat.
Engineer. "There's certainly a screw loose somewhere."
Simple Simon (with gleeful satisfaction). "He-he! I knaws where 't be too!"
Car Owner (intensely interested). "What do you mean, boy?"
Simple Simon. "He-he! Why I've got 'un! All the folks say as 'ow I've got a screw loose somewheres!"
Dialogue between two Young Gentlemen, dressed in Knickerbocker Suits, Gaiters, and Golf caps. They have the indescribable air which proclaims the votary of the "Bike."
First Young Gentleman. Yes; I certainly agree with the French view of it. Cycling shouldn't be indulged in without care.
Second Y. G. They say in Paris that no one should become an habitual cyclist without "medical authorisation."
First Y. G. Yes. Quite right. Then, when you are permitted, you ought to travel at a moderate pace. About five miles an hour is quite enough for a beginner.
Second Y. G. Enough! Why, too much! You can't be too careful! Then, if you break off for a time, you ought to begin all over again. You should "gradually acquire speed"; not rush at it!
First Y. G. Certainly. I read in the Lancet only the other day that merely increasing the pace of a bike a couple of miles an hour was sufficient to send up the normal pulse to 150![Pg 44]
Second Y. G. Most alarming! And yet I can see from your costume you are a cyclist.
First Y. G. Not at all. I am pleased with the costume, and, like yourself, have adopted it. Now do not laugh at me. But, between ourselves, I have never been on a bicycle in my life!
Second Y. G. No more have I!
The provincial journal which, the other day, published the following paragraph:—"Private letters from Madagascar state that two cyclists have visited the island, causing the loss of 200 lives and immense damage to property," and followed it up with a leader virulently attacking motor-cyclists, now informs us that the word should have been "cyclones." The printer has been warned.
"Anti-Motor" writes to point out that one advantage of holding motor races like those that have just taken place in Ireland is that after each race there are fewer motors.
The Trail of the Motor.—"COLLECTOR.
Young man wants collecting."—Advt. in Provincial Paper.
"Enough is as good as a Feast."—Nervous Lady Cyclist. "I hope it isn't very deep here."
Ferryman. "Sax hunderd an' fefty-nine feet, Miss."
Old Farmer Jones (who has been to a local cattle-show, and seen a horseless carriage for the first time). "Mosher carsh may be all very well—(hic!)—but they can't find 'er way home by 'emshelves!"
["Plus de lunettes spéciales pour MM. les chauffeurs. Ils devront conduire comme les cochers ordinaires à yeux nus ou avec les lunettes ordinaires de myopes ou de presbytes. Nos sportsmen déclarent que ces lunettes de motoristes favorisent l'anonymat. Ces lunettes sont de véritables masques. On fait sous ce masque ce qu'on n'oserait pas faire à visage découvert. En France il est défendu de se masquer en dehors du temps de carnaval ... si le masque tombe, la vitesse des motors deviendra fatalement normale."—M. N. de Noduwez in the "Times."]
Mr. Punch has collected a few brief opinions upon the subject of the above-quoted letter.
Mr. Kipling writes: "Through dirt, sweat, burns, bursts, smells, bumps, breakdowns, and explosions I have attained to the perfect joy of the scorcher. I have suffered much on the southern British highways. My Tibetan devil-mask shall therefore add to their terrors. Besides, I wore gig-lamps at school. What do they know of Sussex who only Burwash know?"
Mr. Beerbohm Tree telephones: "The most beautiful of all arts is that of make-up. We cannot all resemble Caliban, but why should not the motorist aspire in that direction? [Pg 48] Life is but a masque, and all roads lead to 'His Majesty's.'"
Miss Marie Corelli telegraphs: "I am all for anonymity and everything that tends to the avoidance of advertisement. If people must ride in motors, let them have the decency to disguise themselves as effectually as possible, and shun all contact with their kind."
Mr. Jem Smith, cabdriver, in the course of an interview, said: "Masks? Not 'arf! Let 'em out on the Fifth of November, and throw a match in their oil-tanks—that's what I'd do! I'd anonymous the lot of 'em!"
Policeman XX. (in the rôle of a labourer behind a hedge on the Brighton road): "'Oo are you a-gettin' at? Do you see any mote in my eye? If you want to know the time, I've a stop-watch!"
Enthusiastic Motorist (to Perfect Stranger). I swear by petrol, sir; always use it myself. Now what, may I ask, do you use?
Perfect Stranger. Oats!
Division of Labour.—It is not the business of ducal footmen to clean the family bicycles. The ladies Ermyntrude and Adelgitha have to do it themselves.
Juggernautical.—Unfortunate Cyclist (who has been bowled over by motor-car). "Did you see the number?"
Jarge. "Yes, there was three on 'em. Two men and a woman."
EXPECTATION.—The Browns welcoming the Robinsons (awfully jolly people, don't you know,) from whom they have had a letter saying that they will arrive early in the day by motor.
REALISATION.—The Browns, when the arrivals have removed their motor glasses, etc., disclosing not the Robinsons, but those awful bores, the Smiths.
There was a New Woman, as I've heard tell,
And she rode a bike with a horrible bell,
She rode a bike in a masculine way,
And she had a spill on the Queen's highway.
While she lay stunned, up came Doctor Stout,
And he cast a petticoat her "knickers" about,
To hide the striped horrors which bagged at the knees.
When the New Woman woke, she felt strange and ill at ease;
She began to wonder those skirts for to spy,
And cried, "Oh, goodness gracious! I'm sure this isn't I!
But if it is I, as I hope it be,
I know a little vulgar boy, and he knows me;
And if it is I, he will jeer and rail,
But if it isn't I, why, to notice me he'll fail."
So off scorched the New Woman, all in the dark,
But as the little vulgar boy her knickers failed to mark,
He was quite polite, and she began to cry,
"Oh! Jimmy doesn't cheek me, so I'm sure this isn't I!"
Have a care how you speed!
Take the motorist's case:—
On his tomb you can read,
"Requiescat in pace."
Life's Little Ironies.—
Motorist. "Conductor! How can I strike the Harrow road?"
Conductor. "'Arrer road? Let's see. Second to right, third to—it's a good way, sir. I tell 'ee, sir. Just follow that green bus over there; that'll take you right to it!"
Wonder if my doctor was right in ordering me to take this sort of exercise.
Wonder whether I look very absurd while accepting the assistance of an attendant who walks by my side and keeps me from falling by clutches at my waistbelt.
Wonder whether it would have been better to go to Hyde Park instead of Battersea.
Wonder whether the policeman, the postman, the nurse with the perambulator, the young lady reading the novel, and the deck passengers on the passing steamboat are laughing at me.
Wonder whether I shall keep on now that my attendant has let go.
Wonder whether the leading wheel will keep straight on until we have passed that lamp-post.
Wonder whether the next spill I have will be less painful than the last.
Wonder why mats are not laid down by the[Pg 56] County Council in the roads for the comfort of falling cyclists.
Wonder why the cycle suddenly doubled up and landed me in the gutter.
Wonder whether the pretty girl in the hat, whose face is hidden by a novel, smiled at my misadventure.
Wonder whether the person who has just come to grief over yonder is using good language or words of an inferior quality.
Wonder whether my attendant is right in urging me to remount and have another try.
Wonder whether I look well wobbling.
Wonder whether the elderly spinster with the anxious manner and air of determination is really enjoying herself.
Wonder whether, when I have completed my first hour, I shall want another.
Wonder whether the imp of a boy will run with me.
Wonder whether my second fall in five minutes beats the record.
Wonder, considering the difficulty of progressing half a dozen paces in as many minutes, how those marvellous feats are performed at Olympia.
Wonder if I shall ever advance upon my present rate of speed, i.e., three-quarters of a mile an hour.
Wonder, finally, if the placards warning cyclists in Battersea Park against the dangers of "furious riding" can possibly be posted for my edification.
Unwilling to give up horses altogether, Captain Pelham effected a compromise. His first appearance in the park created quite a sensation.
Jocasta (with an axe of her own to grind, ingratiatingly). "Oh yes, papa, it does suit you. I never saw you look so nice in anything before!"
He travels along at the top of his speed,
You might think that his life was at stake;
To beauties of nature he never pays heed,
For the record he's trying to break.
He stiffens his muscles and arches his back
As if he were still on the cinder-path track.
He races regardless of life and of limb,
Caring naught for the folk in his way;
For chickens and children are nothing to him,
And his mad career nothing can stay;
So wildly he wheels as if urged by a goad;
By coachmen he's christened "the curse of the road."
He'll pass on the left and he'll ride on the right,
For the rules of the road caring naught;
His lamp he will not take the trouble to light
Till a pretty smart lesson he's taught.
But lecture and fine him as much as you will,
The trail of the scorcher is over him still.
Rattle-it, rattle-it, "Biking" man;
Make us a "record" as fast as you can;
Score it, and print it as large as life,
And someone will "cut" it ere you can say knife!
Mems for Motorists.—If your car suddenly appears to drag heavily, you may be sure there is something to account for it.
First Lesson.—Held on by instructor, a tall, muscular young man. Thought it was so easy. Cling for dear life to handle, as beginners in horsemanship cling to the reins. Instructor says I must not. Evidently cannot hold on by my knees. Ask him what I am to hold on by. "Nothing," he says. How awful! Feel suspended in the air. That is what I ought to be. At present am more on ground; anyway one foot down. Even when in movement position of feet uncertain. Go a few yards, supported. Muscular instructor rather hot and tired, but says civilly, "You're getting on nicely, sir." At this get off unexpectedly, and, when I am picked up, reply, "Very likely," only my feet were off the pedals all the time. Then rest, and watch little children riding easily. One pretty girl. Wonder whether she laughed at me. Probably. Shall have another try.
Second Lesson.—Held on by another instructor, who urges me "to put more life into it." Hope it won't be the death of me. Work in a manner which even the treadmill, I imagine,[Pg 64] could not necessitate, and get the wheel round a few times. Painful wobbling. Instructor says I must pedal more quickly. Can't. Rest a minute. Panting. Awfully hot. Observe little children going round comfortably. Pretty girl here again, looking as fresh and cool as possible. Suddenly manage to ride three yards unsupported. Then collapse. But am progressing. Shall come again soon.
Third Lesson.—Endeavour to get on alone. Immediately get off on other side. Nearly upset the pretty girl. Polite self-effacement impossible when one is at the mercy of a mere machine. After a time manage better. And at last get started and ride alone for short distances. Always tumble off ignominiously just as I meet the pretty girl. Instructor urges me to break the record. Hope I shan't break my neck. Finally go all round the ground. Triumph! Pretty girl seems less inclined to laugh. Delightful exercise, bicycle riding! Shall come again to-morrow.
Fourth Lesson.—High north-east wind. Hot sun. Regular May weather. Clouds of coal-dust from track. Pretty girl not there at all. Start confidently. Endeavour to knock down a wall. Wall does not suffer much. Start again. Faster this time. The pretty girl has just come. Will show what I can do now. Career over large hole. Bicycle sinks, and then takes a mighty leap. Unprepared for this. Am cast into the air. Picked up. Can't stand. Something broken. Doctor will say what. Anyhow, clothes torn, bruised, disheartened. Dare not catch the eye of pretty girl. Carried home. Shall give up bicycle riding. Awful fag, and no fun.
In its "Hints for Bicyclists," Home Chat says: "A little fuller's earth dusted inside the stockings, socks and gloves, keeps the feet cool." Nothing, however, is said of the use of rubber soles as a protection against sunstroke.
Overheard at a Motor Meeting.—
Inquirer. "I wonder what they call those large, long cars?"
Well-informed Friend. "Those? Oh, I believe those are the Flying Kilometres, a French make."
People who are in favour of increasing the rates—Motorists.
The Squire. "But I tell you, sir, this road is private, and you shall not pass except over my prostrate body!"
Cyclist. "All right, guv'nor, I'll go back. I've done enough hill climbing already!"
Truth has discovered that temperance is promoted, and character generally reformed, by the agency of the bicycle—in fact, the guilty class has taken to cycling.
That is so. Go into any police-court, and you will find culprits in the dock who have not only taken to cycling but have also taken other people's cycles.
Ask any burglar among your acquaintance, and he will tell you that the term Safety Bicycle has a deeper and truer meaning for him, when, in pursuit of his vocation, he is anxious not to come in collision with the police.
Look, too, at the Scorcher on his Saturday afternoon exodus. Where could you have a more salient and striking example of pushfulness and determination to "get there" over all obstacles? He is, in fact, an example of Nietzsche's "Ueber-mensch," the Over-man who rides over any elderly pedestrian or negligible infant that may cross his path.[Pg 70]
Then the Lady in Bloomers. She is a great reforming agent. She looks so unsightly, that if all her sisters were dressed like her flirtation would die out of the land and there would be no more cakes and ale.
Think also of all the virtues called into active exercise by one simple puncture: Patience, while you spend an hour by the wayside five miles from anywhere; Self-control, when "swears, idle swears, you know not what they mean, swears from the depth of some divine despair rise in the heart and gather to the lips," as Tennyson has so sympathetically put it; Fortitude, when you have to shoulder or push the Moral Agent home; and a lot of other copy-book qualities.
Lastly, the adventurer who proceeds without a light within curfew hours, the sportsman who steals a march on the side-walk, and the novice who tries a fall with the first omnibus encountered—are all bright instances of British independence, and witnesses to Truth.
Truly, the bike is an excellent substitute for the treadmill and the reformatory!
"As Others See Us."—
Obliging Motorist. "Shall I stop the engine?"
Groom. "Never mind that, sir. But if you gents wouldn't mind just gettin' out and 'idin' behind the car for a minute,—the 'orses think it's a menagery comin'."
["British lady motor-drivers," says Motoring Illustrated, "must look to their laurels. Miss Rosamund Dixey, of Boston, U.S.A., invariably has her sweet, pet, fat, white pig sitting up beside her in the front of her motor car."]
We are losing our great reputation
Our women are not up-to-date;
For a younger, more go-a-head nation
Has beaten us badly of late;
Is there nowhere some fair Englishwoman
Who'd think it not too infra dig.
To be seen with (and treat it as human)
There is no need to copy our Cousins,
A visit or two to the Zoo
Will convince you there must be some dozens
Of animal pets that would do,
With a "grizzly" perched up in your motor,
Just think how the people would stare,
Saying, "Is that a man in a coat or
Think how chic it would look in the paper
(Society's Doings, we'll say),
"Mrs. So-and-so drove with her tapir,
And daughter (the tapir's) to-day.
Mrs. Thingummy too and her sister
Drove out for an hour and a half,
And beside them (the image of Mr.)
"Did you get his number?"
"No; but I saw exactly what she was wearing and how much she paid for the things!"
A Pedestrians' Protection League is being formed to uphold the rights of foot-passengers on the highways. As no bane is without its antidote, an opposition union is to be organised, having in view the adoption of the following regulations:—
1. Every pedestrian must carry on his front and back a large and conspicuous number as a means of easy and rapid identification.
2. No foot passenger shall quit the side-walk, except at certain authorised crossings. In country lanes and places where there is no side-walk the ditch shall be considered equivalent to the same.
3. Each foot-passenger about to make use of such authorised crossings shall thrice sound a danger-signal on a hooter, fog-horn or megaphone; and, after due warning has thus been given, shall traverse the road at a speed of not less than twelve miles an hour. The penalty for infringement to be forty shillings or one month.
4. Any pedestrian obstructing a motor by being run over, causing a motor to slow down or stop, or[Pg 75] otherwise deranging the traffic, shall be summarily dealt with: the punishment for this offence to be five years' penal servitude, dating from arrest or release from hospital, as the case may be.
5. Should the pedestrian thus trespassing on the highway lose his life in an encounter with a motor-car, he shall not be liable to penal servitude; compensation for shock and loss of time, however, shall be paid from his estate to the driver of the car, such amount being taxed by the coroner.
6. All cattle, sheep, pigs, swine, hares, rabbits, conies, and other ground game, and every goose, duck, fowl, or any animal whatsoever with which the motor shall collide shall, ipso facto, be confiscated to the owner of the motor.
7. Any comment, remark, reflection, sneer or innuendo concerning the shape, speed, appearance, noise, smell, or other attribute of a motor-car, or of its occupants, shall be actionable; and every foot-passenger thus offending shall be bound over in the sum of £500 to keep the peace.
The Scotchman who tumbled off a bicycle says that in future he intends to "let wheel alone."
Mabel's three bosom Friends (all experts—who have run round to see the Christmas gift). "Hullo, Mab!. Why, what on earth are you doing?"
Mab (in gasps). "Oh—you see—it was awfully kind of the Pater to give it to me—but I have to look after it myself—and I knew I should never have breath enough to blow the tyres out!"
An Accommodating Party.—Lady Driver. "Can you show us the way to Great Missenden, please?"
Weary Willie. "Cert'nly, miss, cert'nly. We're agoin' that way. 'Op up, Joe. Anythink to oblige a lady!"
Among the correspondence in the Daily Mail on the subject of "The Motor Problem," there is a letter from a physician, who exposes very cynically a scheme for improving his practice.
"I am," he says, "a country doctor, and during the last five years have had not a single case of accident to pedestrians caused by motor car.... As soon as I can afford it I intend to buy a motor."
First Villager. "What's up, Bill?"
Second Villager. "Oh, only a gent awashin' the dust off his bike."
It is a bad workman who complains of his tools, yet even the best of them may be justly annoyed when his spanner goes completely off its nut.
"Motor cycle for sale, 2¾ h.-p., equal to 3¼ h.-p."
Discount of ½ h.-p. for cash?
I know I'm a "scorcher," I know I am torcher
To buffers and mivvies who're not up to date;
But grumpy old geesers, and wobbly old wheezers,
Ain't goin' to wipe me and my wheel orf the slate.
I mean to go spinning and 'owling and grinning
At twelve mile an hour through the thick of the throng.
And shout, without stopping, whilst, frightened and flopping,
My elderly victims like ninepins are dropping,—
The elderly bobby, who's stuffy and cobby,
Ain't got arf a chance with a scorcher on wheels;
Old buffers may bellow, and young gals turn yellow,
But what do I care for their grunts or their squeals?
No, when they go squiffy I'm off in a jiffy,
The much-abused "scorcher" is still going strong.
And when mugs would meddle, I shout as I pedal—
Wot are these fine capers perposed by the papers?
These 'ints about lassos and butterfly nets?
To turn scorcher-catchers the old pewter-snatchers
In 'elmets must take fewer stodges and wets!
Wot, treat hus like bufflers or beetles! The scufflers
In soft, silent shoes, turn Red Injins? You're wrong!
It's all bosh and bubble! I'm orf—at the double!—
Owner (as the car insists upon backing into a dike). "Don't be alarmed! Keep cool! Try and keep cool!"
[Friend thinks there is every probability of their keeping VERY cool, whether they try to or not!]
Village Constable (to villager who has been knocked down by passing motor cyclist). "You didn't see the number, but could you swear to the man?"
Villager. "I did; but I don't think 'e 'eard me."
The Joys of Motoring.—No, this is not a dreadful accident. He is simply tightening a nut or something, and she is hoping he won't be much longer.
|For every Motor Car||4||4||0|
|If with smell||5||5||0|
|Extra offensive ditto||6||6||0|
|Motor Car proceeding at over ten miles an hour,|
for each additional mile
|For every Bicycle used for "scorching"||0||10||0|
The Original Classical Bicyclist.—"Ixion; or, the Man on the Wheel."
(1) Monday.—I buy a beautiful steam motor-car. Am photographed. (2) Tuesday.—I take it out. Pull the wrong lever, and back into a shop window. A bad start. (3) Wednesday morning.—A few things I ran over. (4) Wednesday afternoon.—Took too sharp a turn. Narrowly escaped knocking down policeman at the corner. Ran over both his feet. (5) Thursday morning.—Got stuck in a ditch four miles from home. (6) Thursday evening.—Arrive home. Back the car into the shed. Miss the door and knock the shed down. (7) Friday.—Ran over my neighbour's dog. (8) Saturday.—Silly car breaks down three miles from home. Hire a horse to tow it back. (9) Sunday.—Filling up. Petrol tank caught fire. Wretched thing burnt. Thank goodness!
["It is said that the perpetrators of a recent burglary got clear away with their booty by the help of an automobile. At this rate we may expect to be attacked, ere long, by automobilist highwaymen."—Paris Correspondent of Daily Paper.]
It was midnight. The wind howled drearily over the lonely heath; the moon shone fitfully through the driving clouds. By its gleam an observer might have noted a solitary automobile painfully jolting along the rough road that lay across the common. Its speed, as carefully noted by an intelligent constable half-an-hour earlier, was 41.275 miles an hour. To the ordinary observer it would appear somewhat less. Two figures might have been descried on the machine; the one the gallant Hubert de Fitztompkyns, the other Lady Clarabella, his young and lovely bride. Clarabella shivered, and drew her sables more closely around her.
"I am frightened," she murmured. "It is so dark and cold, Hubert, and this is a well-known place for highwaymen! Suppose we should be attacked?"[Pg 88]
"Pooh!" replied her husband, deftly manipulating the oil-can. "Who should attack us when 'tis common talk that you pawned your diamonds a month ago? Besides, we have a swivel-mounted Maxim on our machine. Ill would it fare with the rogue who—Heavens! what was that?"
From the far distance sounded a weird, unearthly noise, growing clearer and louder even as Hubert and his wife listened. It was the whistle of another automobile!
In a moment Hubert had turned on the acetylene search-light, and gazed with straining eyes down the road behind him. Then he turned to his wife. "'Tis Cutthroat giving us chase," he said simply. "Pass the cordite cartridges, please."
Lady Clarabella grew deathly pale. "I don't know where they are!" she gasped. "I think—I think I must have left them on my dressing-table."
"Then we are lost. Cutthroat is mounted on his bony Black Jet, which covers a mile a minute—and he is the most blood-thirsty ruffian on the road. Shut off steam, Clarabella! We can but yield."
"Never!" cried his wife. "Here, give me the[Pg 90] lever; we are nearly at the top of this tremendously steep hill—we will foil him yet!"
Hubert was too much astonished to speak. By terrific efforts the gallant automobile arrived at the summit, when Clarabella applied the brake. Then she gazed down the narrow road behind her. "Take the starting-lever, Hubert," she said, "and do as I tell you."
Ever louder sounded the clatter of their pursuer's machine; at last its head-light showed in the distance, as with greatly diminished speed it began to climb the hill.
"Now!" shrieked Clarabella. "Full speed astern, Hubert! Let her go!"
The automobile went backwards down the hill like a flash of lightning. Cutthroat had barely time to realise what was happening before it was upon him. Too late he tried to steer Black Jet out of the way. There was a yell, a sound of crashing steel, a cloud of steam. When it cleared away, it revealed Hubert and Clarabella still seated on their machine, which was only slightly damaged, while Cutthroat and Black Jet were knocked into countless atoms!
Great Self-restraint.—Lady in pony-cart (who has made several unsuccessful attempts to pass persevering beginner occupying the whole road). "Unless you soon fall off, I'm afraid I shall miss my train!"
The Rival Forces.
(Scene—Lonely Yorkshire moor. Miles from anywhere.)
Passing Horse-dealer (who has been asked for a tow by owners of broken-down motor-car). "Is it easy to pull?"
Motorist. "Oh yes. Very light indeed!"
Horse-dealer. "Then supposin' you pull it yourselves!"
The Owner (after five breakdowns and a spill). "Are y-you k-keen on r-riding home?"
His Friend. "N-not very."
The Owner. "L-let's l-leave it a-and walk, s-shall we?"
Cyclist (to rural policeman). "Nice crowd out this morning!"
Rural Policeman (who has received a tip). "Yes, an' yer can't do with 'em! If yer 'ollers at 'em, they honly turns round and says, 'Pip, pip'!"
The Universal Juggernaut.—"Anyone," says the Daily Telegraph, "who has driven an automobile will know that it is quite impossible to run over a child and remain unconscious of the fact." Any one who has driven an automobile! Heavens! what a sweeping charge! Is there none innocent?
"'Tain't no use tellin' me you've broke down! Stands to reason a motor-caw goin' down 'ill's bound to be goin' too fast. So we'll put it down at about thirty mile an hour! Your name and address, sir, hif you please."
["When every one has a bicycle and flies to the suburban roads, the suburban dwellers will desert their houses and come back to crowded London to find quiet and freedom from dust."—Daily Paper.]
Time was desire for peace would still
My footsteps lure to Richmond Hill,
Or to the groves of Burnham I,
Much craving solitude, would fly;
Thence, through the Summer afternoon,
'Mid fragrant meads, knee-deep in June,
Lulled by the song of birds and bees,
I'd saunter idly at mine ease
To that still churchyard where, with Gray,
I'd dream a golden hour away,
Forgetful all of aught but this—
That peace was mine, and mine was bliss.
But now should my all-eager feet
Seek out some whilom calm retreat,
"Pip, pip!" resounds in every lane,
"Pip, pip!" the hedges ring again,
"Pip, pip!" the corn, "Pip, pip!" the rye,
"Pip, pip!" the woods and meadows cry,
As through the thirsty, fever'd day,
The red-hot scorchers scorch their way.
Peace is no longer, Rest is dead,
And sweetest Solitude hath fled;
And over all, the cycling lust
Hath spread its trail of noise and dust.[Pg 98]
So, would I woo the joys of Quiet,
I see no more the country's riot,
But the comparatively still
Environment of Ludgate Hill.
There, 'mongst the pigeons of St. Paul's,
I muse melodious madrigals,
Or loiter where the waters sport
'Mid the cool joys of Fountain Court,
Where, undisturbed by sharp "Pip, pip!"
My nimble numbers lightly trip,
And country peace I find again
In Chancery and Fetter Lane.
Vehicular Progression.—Mr. Ikey Motor (to customer). Want a machine, sir? Certainly, we've all sorts to suit your build.
Customer. It isn't for me, but for my mother-in-law.
Mr. Ikey Motor. For your mother-in-law! How would a steam roller suit her?
[Mr. I. M. is immediately made aware that the lady in question has overheard his ill-timed jest, while the customer vanishes in blue fire.
Experto Crede.—What is worse than raining cats and dogs?—Hailing motor omnibuses.
Comprehensive.—Owner (as the car starts backing down the hill). "Pull everything you can see, and put your foot on everything else!"
Farmer (in cart). "Hi, stop! Stop, you fool! Don't you see my horse is running away?"
Driver of Motor-car (hired by the hour). "Yes, it's all very well for you to say 'stop,' but I've forgotten how the blooming thing works!"
Yokel (in pursuit of escaped bull, to Timmins, who is "teaching himself"). "Hi, Mister! If yer catch hold of his leading-stick, he can't hurt yer!"
Motto for those who "Bike."—"And wheels rush in where horses fear to tread."
A Case of Mistaken Identity.—
Major Mustard (who has been changing several of his servants). "How dare you call yourself a chauffeur?"
Alfonsoe. "Mais non! Non, monsieur! Je ne suis pas 'chauffeur.' J'ai dit que je suis le chef. Mais monsieur comprehend not!"
All our bicycles are fitted with the Little Handle-Bar Spring, which, when pressed, causes the machine to fall into 114 pieces.
Anyone can press the spring, but it takes an expert three months to rebuild it, thus trebling the life of a bicycle.
We are offering this marvellous invention at the absurd price of
or 98 weekly instalments of 1 guinea. [Special reductions to company promoters and men with large families.]
We can't afford to do it for less, because when once you have bought one you will never want another.
Don't lose your head when the machine runs away with you down the hill; simply press the spring.
Don't wait for your rich uncle to die; just send him one of our cycles.[Pg 104]
Don't lock your cycle up at night; merely press the spring.
Don't be misled by other firms who say that their machines will also fall to pieces; they are only trying to sell their cycles; we want to sell YOU.
Note.—We can also fit this marvellous Little Spring to perambulators, bath-chairs, and bathing machines.
We append below some two out of our million testimonials. The other 999,998 are expected every post.
Dear Sirs,—I bought one of your cycles in May, 1895, and it is still as good as when I received it. I attribute this solely to the Little Handle-Bar Spring, which I pressed as soon as I received the machine.
P.S.—What do you charge for rebuilding a cycle?
Gentlemen,—Last month I started to ride to Barnet on one of your cycles. When ascending Muswell Hill, I lost control of the machine, but I simply pressed the spring, and now I feel that I cannot say enough about your bike. I shall never ride any other again.
P.S.—I should very much like to meet the inventor of the "Little Handle-Bar Spring."
Friend. "Going about thirty, are we? But don't you run some risk of being pulled up for exceeding the legal pace?"
Owner. "Not in a sober, respectable-looking car like this. Of course, if you go about in a blatant, brass-bound, scarlet-padded, snorting foreign affair, like that, you are bound to be dropped on, no matter how slow you go!"
AN AMBUSCADE.--Captain de Smythe insidiously beguiles the fair Laura and her sister to a certain secluded spot where, as he happens to know, his hated rival, Mr. Tomkyns, is in the habit of secretly practising on the bicycle. He (Captain de S.) calculates that a mere glimpse of Mr. T., as he wobbles wildly by on that instrument, will be sufficient to dispel any illusions that the fair Laura may cherish in her bosom respecting that worthy man.
Who is the happy road-deer? Who is he
That every motorist should want to be?
The Perfect Automobilist thinks only of others. He is an Auto-altruist.
He never wantonly kills anybody.
If he injures a fellow-creature (and this will always be the fellow-creature's fault) he voluntarily buys him a princely annuity. In the case of a woman, if she is irreparably disfigured by the accident, he will, supposing he has no other wife at the time, offer her the consolation of marriage with himself.
He regards the life of bird and beast as no less sacred than that of human beings. Should he inadvertently break a fowl or pig he will convey it to the nearest veterinary surgeon and have the broken limb set or amputated as the injury may require. In the event of death or permanent damage, he will seek out the owner of the dumb animal, and refund him fourfold.
To be on the safe side with respect to the legal limit, the Perfect Automobilist confines himself to[Pg 110] a speed of ten miles per hour. He will even dismount at the top of a steep descent, so as to lessen the impetus due to the force of gravity.
If he is compelled by the nature of his mission to exceed the legal limit (as when hurrying, for instance, to fetch a doctor in a matter of life or death, or to inform the Government of the landing of a hostile force) he is anxious not to shirk the penalty. He will, therefore, send on a swift messenger to warn the police to be on the lookout for him; and if he fails to run into any trap he will, on returning, report himself at all the police-stations on his route, or communicate by post with the constabularies of the various counties through which he may have passed.
At the back of his motor he carries a watering-cart attachment for the laying of dust before it has time to be raised.
Lest the noise of his motor should be a cause of distraction he slows down when passing military bands, barrel organs, churches (during the hours of worship), the Houses of Parliament (while sitting), motor-buses, the Stock Exchange, and open-air meetings of the unemployed.[Pg 112]
If he meets a restive horse he will turn back and go down a side road and wait till it has passed. If all the side roads are occupied by restive horses he will go back home; and if the way home is similarly barred he will turn into a field.
He encourages his motor to break down frequently; because this spectacle affords an innocent diversion to many whose existence would otherwise be colourless.
It is his greatest joy to give a timely lift to weary pedestrians, such as tramps, postmen, sweeps, and police-trap detectives; even though, the car being already full, he is himself compelled to get out and do the last fifty or sixty miles on foot.
He declines to wear goggles because they conceal the natural benevolence of the human eye divine, which he regards as the window of the soul; also (and for the same reason he never wears a fur overcoat) because they accentuate class distinctions.
Finally—on this very ground—the Perfect Automobilist will sell all his motor-stud and give the proceeds to found an almshouse for retired socialists.
Cyclist. "Why can't you look where you're going?"
Motorist. "How the dickens could I when I didn't know!"
Middle-aged Novice. "I'm just off for a tour in the country—'biking' all the way. It'll be four weeks before I'm back in my flat again."
Candid Friend. "Ah! Bet it won't be four hours before you're flat on your back again!"
Reading one day in our "Organ,"
I was happy and quite at ease.
A band was playing the "Lost Chord,"
Outside—in three several keys.
But I cared not how they were playing,
Those puffing Teutonic men;
For I'd "cut the record" at cycling,
And was ten-mile champion then!
It flooded my cheeks with crimson,
The praise of my pluck and calm;
Though that band seemed blending "Kafoozleum"
With a touch of the Hundredth Psalm.
But my joy soon turned into sorrow,
My calm into mental strife;
For my record was "cut" on the morrow,
And it cut me, like a knife.
A fellow had done the distance
In the tenth of a second less!
And henceforth my name in silence
Was dropt by the Cycling Press.
I have sought—but I seek it vainly—
With that record again to shine,
Midst crack names in our Cycling Organ,
But they never mention mine.
It may be some day at the Oval
I may cut that record again,
But at present the Cups are given
To better—or luckier—men!
Tinkle, twinkle, motor-car,
Just to tell us where you are,
While about the streets you fly
Like a comet in the sky.
When the blazing sun is "off,"
When the fog breeds wheeze and cough,
Round the corners as you scour
With your dozen miles an hour—
Then the traveller in the dark,
Growling some profane remark,
Would not know which way to go
While you're rushing to and fro.
On our fears, then, as you gloat
(Ours who neither "bike" nor "mote"),
Just to tell us where you are—
Tinkle, twinkle, motor-car.
"Motor Body."—"One man can change from a tonneau to a landaulette, shooting brake, or racing car in two minutes, and, when fixed, cannot be told from ANY fixed body."—Advt. in the "Autocar."
The disguise would certainly deceive one's nearest relations, but as likely as not one's dog would come up and give the whole show away by licking the sparking plug.
Chauffeur. "Pardon, monsieur. This way, conducts she straight to Hele?"
Major Chili Pepper (a rabid anti-motorist and slightly deaf). "Certainly it will, sir if you continue to drive on the wrong side of the road!"
Should Motors carry Maxims?—Under the title "Murderous Magistrate," the Daily Mail printed some observations made by a barrister who reproves Canon Greenwell for remarking from the Durham County Bench that if a few motorists were shot no great harm would be done. The same paper subsequently published an article headed, "Maxims for Motorists." Retaliation in kind is natural, and a maxim is an excellent retort to a canon. But why abuse the canon first?
So many accidents have occurred lately through the ignition of petrol that a wealthy motorist, we hear, is making arrangements for his car to be followed, wherever it may go, by a fully-equipped fire-engine, and, if this example be followed widely, our roads will become more interesting than ever.
Are there motor-cars in the celestial regions? Professor Schaer, of Geneva, has discovered what he describes as a new comet plunging due south at a rate of almost 8 degrees a day, and careering across the Milky Way regardless of all other traffic.
I am he: goggled and unashamed. Furred also am I, stop-watched and horse-powerful. Millions admit my sway—on both sides of the road. The Plutocrat has money: I have motors. The Democrat has the rates; so have I—two—one for use and one for County Courts. The Autocrat is dead, but I—I increase and multiply. I have taken his place.
I blow my horn and the people scatter. I stand still and everything trembles. I move and kill dogs. I skid and chickens die. I pass swiftly from place to place, and horses bolt in dust storms which cover the land. I make the dust storms. For I am Omnipotent; I make everything. I make dust, I make smell, I make noise. And I go forward, ever forward, and pass through or over almost everything. "Over or Through" is my motto.
The roads were made for me; years ago they were made. Wise rulers saw me coming and made roads. Now that I am come, they go on[Pg 124] making roads—making them up. For I break things. Roads I break and Rules of the Road. Statutory limits were made for me. I break them. I break the dull silence of the country. Sometimes I break down, and thousands flock round me, so that I dislocate the traffic. But I am the Traffic.
I am I and She is She—the rest get out of the way. Truly, the hand which rules the motor rocks the world.
Jerking and jolting,
Bursting and bolting,
Smelling and steaming,
Shrieking and screaming,
Snorting and shaking,
Skidding and slipping,
Twisting and tripping,
Bumping and bounding,
Puffing and pounding,
Rolling and rumbling,
Thumping and tumbling.
Such I've a notion,
Cyclist (to Foxhunter, thrown out), "Oi say, Squoire, 'ave you seen the 'ounds?"
True Philosophy.—Ploughman. "Ah, things be different like wi' them an' us. They've got a trap wi' no 'osses, an' we 'm got 'osses wi' no trap."
Wife of Injured Cyclist (who, having found considerable difficulty in getting on his bicycle, and none whatever in coming off, has never ventured to attempt more than three miles in the hour). "Well, I do believe he's had a lesson at last! I warned him about 'scorching.' I said to him, what have you got to do with the 'record'?"
Jones, while motoring to town to fulfil an important engagement, has the misfortune to get stuck up on the road, and has sent his chauffeur to the village for assistance. In the meantime several village children gather around and sing, "God rest you, merry gentleman, let nothing you dismay," etc.
The Great Motor Mystery.—At Lancaster two motorists were fined, according to the Manchester Evening News, "for driving a motor-car over a trap near Carnforth, at twenty-nine and thirty-four miles per hour respectively." We are of the opinion that the action of the second gentleman in driving at so high a speed over the poor trap when it was already down was not quite in accordance with the best traditions of English sport.
Breaking it Gently.—
Passer-by. "Is that your pork down there on the road, guv'nor?"
Farmer. "Pork! What d'ye mean? There's a pig o' mine out there."
Passer-by. "Ah, but there's a motor-car just been by."
Fair Driver. "Will you stand by the pony for a few minutes, my good man?"
The Good Man. "Pony, mum? No, I'm a motor-minder, I am. 'Ere, Bill! 'Orse."
The Duchess of Pomposet was writhing, poor thing, on the horns of a dilemma. Painful position, very. She was the greatest of great ladies, full of fire and fashion, and with a purple blush (she was born that colour) flung bangly arms round the neck of her lord and master. The unfortunate man was a shocking sufferer, having a bad unearned increment, and enduring constant pain on account of his back being broader than his views.
"Pomposet," she cried, resolutely. "Duky darling!"
(When first married she had ventured to apostrophise him as "ducky," but His Grace thought it infra dig., and they compromised by omitting the vulgar "c.")
"Duky," she said, raising pale distinguished eyes to a Chippendale mirror, "I have made up my mind."
"Don't," expostulated the trembling peer. "You are so rash!"
"What is more, I have made up yours."
"To make up the mind of an English Duke," [Pg 132] he remarked, with dignity, "requires no ordinary intellect; yet I believe with your feminine hydraulics you are capable of anything, Jane."
(That this aristocratic rib of his rib should have been named plain Jane was a chronic sorrow.)
"Don't keep me in suspense," he continued; "in fact, to descend to a colloquialism, I insist on Your Grace letting the cat out of the bag with the least possible delay."
"As you will," she replied. "Your blood be on your own coronet. Prepare for a shock—a revelation. I have fallen! Not once—but many times."
"Wretched woman!—I beg pardon!—wretched Grande Dame! call upon Debrett to cover you!"
"I am madly in love with——"
"By my taffeta and ermine, I swear——"
"Peace, peace!" said Jane. "Compose yourself, ducky—that is Plantagenet. Forgive the slip. I am agitated. My mind runs on slips."
The Duke groaned.
"Horrid, awful slips!"
With a countenance of alabaster he tore at his sandy top-knot.[Pg 134]
"I have deceived you. I admit it. Stooped to folly."
A supercilious cry rent the air as the Duke staggered on his patrician limbs.
With womanly impulse—flinging caste to the winds—Jane caught the majestic form to her palpitating alpaca, and, watering his beloved features with Duchessy drops, cried in passionate accents, "My King! My Sensitive Plant! Heavens! It's his unlucky back! Be calm, Plantagenet. I have—been—learning—to—bike! There! On the sly!"
The Duke flapped a reviving toe, and squeezed the august fingers.
"I am madly enamoured of—my machine."
The peer smoothed a ruffled top-knot with ineffable grace.
"Likewise am determined you shall take lessons. Now it is no use, duky. I mean to be tender but firm with you."
The Potentate gave a stertorous chortle, and, stretching out his arms, fell in a strawberry-leaf swoon on the parquet floor, his ducal head on the lap of his adored Jane.
Fair Cyclist. "Is that the incumbent of this parish?"
Parishioner. "Well, 'e's the Vicar. But, wotever some of us thinks, we never calls 'im a hencumbrance!"
Gipsy Fortune-teller (seriously). "Let me warn you. Somebody's going to cross your path."
Motorist. "Don't you think you'd better warn the other chap?"
I do not, in the crowded street
Of cab and "'bus" and mire,
Nor in the country lane so sweet,
Hope to escape thy tyre.
One boon, oh, scorcher, I implore,
With one petition kneel,
At least abuse me not before
Thou break me on thy wheel.
A motorist wishes to point out the very grave danger this balloon-scorching may become, and suggests a speed limit be made before things go too far.
As light as fairies, if not altogether as brisk as bees, did the four Pickwickian shades assemble on a winter morning in the year of grace, 1896. Christmas was nigh at hand, in all its fin-de-siècle inwardness; it was the season of pictorial too-previousness and artistic anticipation, of plethoric periodicals, all shocker-sensationalism sandwiched with startling advertisements; of cynical new-humour and flamboyantly sentimental chromo-lithography.
But we are so taken up by the genial delights of the New Christmas that we are keeping Mr. Pickwick and his phantom friends waiting in the cold on the chilly outside of the Muggleton Motor-car, which they had just mounted, well wrapped up in antiquated great coats, shawls, and comforters.
Mr. Weller, Senior, had, all unconsciously, brought his well-loved whip with him, and was greatly embarrassed thereby.[Pg 140]
"Votever shall I do vith it, Sammy?" he whispered, hoarsely.
"Purtend it's a new, patent, jointless fishing-rod, guv'nor," rejoined Sam, in a Stygian aside. "Nobody 'ere'll 'ave the slightest notion vot it really is."
"When are they—eh—going to—ahem—put the horses to?" murmured Mr. Pickwick, emerging from his coat collar, and looking about him with great perplexity.
"'Osses?" cried the coachman, turning round upon Mr. Pickwick, with sharp suspicion in his eye. "'Osses? d'ye say. Oh, who are you a-gettin' at?"
Mr. Pickwick withdrew promptly into his coat-collar.
The irrepressible Sam came immediately to the aid of his beloved master, whom he would never see snubbed if he knew it.
"There's vheels vithin vheels, as the bicyclist said vhen he vos pitched head foremost into the vatchmaker's vinder," remarked Mr. Weller, Junior, with the air of a Solomon in smalls. "But vot sort of a vheel do you call that thing in front[Pg 142] of you, and vot's its pertikler objeck? a top of a coach instead o' under it?"
"This yer wheel means Revolution," said the driver.
"It do, Samivel, it do," interjected his father dolorously. "And in my opinion it's a worse Revolution than that there French one itself. A coach vithout 'osses, vheels instead of vheelers, and a driver vithout a vhip! Oh Sammy, Sammy, to think it should come to this!!!"
The driver—if it be not desecration to a noble old name so to designate him—gave a turn to his wheel and the autocar started. Mr. Winkle, who sat at the extreme edge, waggled his shadowy legs forlornly in the air; Mr. Snodgrass, who sat next to him, snorted lugubriously; Mr. Tupman turned paler than even a Stygian shade has a right to do. Mr. Pickwick took off his glasses and wiped them furtively.
"Sam," he whispered hysterically in the ear of his faithful servitor, "Sam, this is dreadful! A—ahem!—vehicle with no visible means of propulsion pounding along like—eh—Saint Denis without his head, is more uncanny than Charon's boat."[Pg 144]
"Let's get down, Sammy, let's get down at once," groaned Mr. Weller the elder. "I can't stand it, Samivel, I really can't. Think o' the poor 'osses, Sammy, think o' the poor 'osses as ain't there, and vot they must feel to find theirselves sooperseeded by a hugly vheel and a pennorth o' peteroleum, &c.!"
"Hold on, old Nobs!" cried the son, with frank filial sympathy. "Think of the guv'nor, father, and vait for the first stoppage. Never again vith the Muggleton Motor! Vhy, it vorse than a hortomatic vheelbarrow, ain't it, Mr. Pickwick?"
"Ah, Sammy," assented Mr. Weller, Senior, hugging his whip, affectionately. "Vorse even than vidders, Sammy, the red-nosed shepherd, or the Mulberry One hisself!"
A bear in a motor-car attracted much attention in the City last week. It had four legs this time.
The Motor Car declares, on high medical authority, that motoring is a cure for insanity. We would therefore recommend several motorists we know to persevere.
The Poet (deprecatingly). "They say she gives more attention to her motor-cars than to her children."
The Butterfly. "Of course. How absurd you are! Motor-cars require more attention than children."
First Scorcher. "Call that exercise?"
Second Scorcher. "No. I call it sitting in a draught!"
Not to be Caught.—
Motorist (whose motor has thrown elderly villager into horse-pond). "Come along, my man, I'll take you home to get dry."
Elderly Villager. "No, yer don't. I've got yer number, and 'ere I stays till a hindependent witness comes along!"
Pedestrian. "I hear Brown has taken to cycling, and is very enthusiastic about it!"
Cyclist. "Enthusiastic! Not a bit of it. Why, he never rides before breakfast!"
Words wanted to express feelings
When your motor refuses to move, twenty miles from the nearest town.
Round the bend of a sudden came Z 1 3,
And I shot into his front wheel's rim;
And straight was a fine of gold for him,
And the need of a brand-new bike for me.
"Mamma! Mr. White says he is longing to give you your first bicycle lesson!"
Mine be a "scorch" without a spill,
A loud "bike" bell to please mine ear;
A chance to maim, if not to kill,
Pedestrian parties pottering near.
My holloa, e'er my prey I catch,
Shall raise wild terror in each breast;
If luck or skill that prey shall snatch
From my wild wheel, the shock will test.
On to the bike beside my porch
I'll spring, like falcon on its prey,
And Lucy, on her wheel shall "scorch,"
And "coast" with me the livelong day.
To make old women's marrow freeze
Is the best sport the bike has given.
To chase them as they puff and wheeze,
On rubber tyre—by Jove, 'tis heaven!
Henpeck'd he was. He learnt to bike.
"Now I can go just where I like,"
He chuckled to himself. But she
Had learnt to bike as well as he,
And, what was more, had bought a new
Machine to sweetly carry two.
Ever together now they go,
He sighing, "This is wheel and woe."
He (alarmed by the erratic steering). "Er—and have you driven much?"
She (quite pleased with herself). "Oh, no—this is only my second attempt. But then, you see, I have been used to a bicycle for years!"
Donald (who has picked up fair cyclist's handkerchief). "Hi! Woman! Woman!"
Fair Cyclist (indignantly). "'Woman'! How dare you——"
Donald (out of breath). "I beg your pardon, sir! I thought you was a woman. I didna see your trews."
Automobile dust-carts, says the Matin, are to be used in Paris henceforth. We had thought every motor-car was this.
English Dictionary Illustrated.—"Coincidence." The falling or meeting of two or more lines or bodies at the same point.
Two A.M.! Time to get up, if I'm to be ready for the great Paris-Berlin race at 3.30. Feel very cold and sleepy. Pitch dark morning, of course. Moon been down hours. Must get into clothes, I suppose. Oilskins feel very clammy and heavy at this hour in the morning. Button up tunic and tuck trousers into top boots. Put on peaked cap and fasten veil tightly over face, after covering eyes with iron goggles and protecting mouth with respirator. Wind woollen muffler round neck and case hands in thick dogskin gloves with gauntlets. Look like Nansen going to discover North Pole. Or Tweedledum about to join battle with Tweedledee. Effect on the whole unpleasing.
Great crowds to see us off. Nearly ran over several in effort to reach starting post. Very careless. People ought not to get in the way on these occasions. Noise appalling. Cheers, snatches of Marseillaise, snorts of motors, curses of competitors, cries of bystanders knocked down by[Pg 156] enthusiastic chauffeurs, shouts of gendarmes clearing the course. Spectators seem to find glare of acetylene lamps very confusing. Several more or less injured through not getting out of the way sufficiently quickly. At last the flag drops. We are off.
Pull lever, and car leaps forward. Wonder if wiser to start full speed or begin gently? Decide on latter. Result, nearly blinded by dust of competitors in front, and suffocated by stench of petroleum. Fellow just ahead particularly objectionable in both respects. Decide to quicken up and pass him. Can't see a foot before me on account of his dust. Suddenly run into the stern of his car. Apologise. Can't I look where I'm going? Of course I can. Not my fault at all. Surly fellow! Proceed to go slower. Fellow behind runs into me. Confound him, can't he be more careful? Says he couldn't see me. Idiot!
Put on speed again. Car in front just visible through haze of dust. Hear distant crash. Confound the man, he's run into a dray! Just time to swerve to the right, and miss wreck of his car by an inch. Clumsy fellow, blocking my road in that way. At last clear space before me. Go up with[Pg 158] a rush. Wind whistles past my ears. Glorious! What's that? Run over an old woman? Very annoying. Almost upset my car. Awkward for next chap. Body right across the road. Spill him to a certainty.
Morning growing light, but dust thicker than ever. Scarcely see a yard in front of me. Must trust to luck. Fortunately road pretty straight here. Just missed big tree. Collided with small one. Knocked it over like a ninepin. Lucky I was going so fast. Car uninjured, but tree done for. Man in car just ahead very much in my way. Shout to him to get out of the light. Turns round and grins malevolently. Movement fatal. He forgets to steer and goes crash into ditch. What's that he says? Help? Silly fellow, does he think I can stop at this pace? Curious how ignorant people seem to be of simplest mechanical laws.
Magnificent piece of road here. Nothing in sight but a dog. Run over it. Put on full speed. Seventy miles an hour at least. Can no longer see or hear anything. Trees, villages, fields rush by in lightning succession. Fancy a child is knocked down. Am vaguely conscious of upsetting old [Pg 160] gentleman in gig. Seem to notice a bump on part of car, indicating that it has passed over prostrate fellow citizen, but not sure. Sensation most exhilarating. Immolate another child. Really most careless of parents leaving children loose like this in the country. Some day there will be an accident. Might have punctured my tyre.
Chap in front of me comes in sight. Catching him up fast. He puts on full speed. Still gaining on him. Pace terrific. Sudden flash just ahead, followed by loud explosion. Fellow's benzine reservoir blown up apparently. Pass over smoking ruins of car. Driver nowhere to be seen. Probably lying in neighbouring field. That puts him out of the race.
Eh? What's that? Aix in sight? Gallop, says Browning. Better not, perhaps. Road ahead crowded with spectators. Great temptation to charge through them in style. Mightn't be popular, though. Slow down to fifteen miles an hour, and enter town amid frantic cheering. Most interesting. Wonderfully few casualties. Dismount at door of hotel dusty but triumphant.
First Cyclist (cross-eyed). "Why the dickens don't you look where you're going?"
Second Cyclist (cross-eyed). "Why don't you go where you're looking?"
Quite Impossible.—Motorist. "What! Exceeding the legal limit? Do we look as if we would do such a thing?"
Custodian. "This 'ere's a private road, miss! Didn't yer see the notice-board at the gate, sayin' 'No thoroughfare'?"
Placida. "Oh yes, of course. Why, that's how I knew there was a way through!"
Cottager. "What's wrong, Biker? Have you had a spill?"
Biker. "Oh, no. I'm having a rest!"
Old Gent (lately bitten with the craze). "And that confounded man sold me the thing for a safety!"
Motoring Illustrated suggests the institution of a Motor Museum. If we were sure that most of the motor omnibuses at present in our streets would find their way there, we would gladly subscribe.
Sir,—I recently read with interest a letter in the Times from "A Cyclist since 1868." In it he announced his intention of carrying a tail-light in order to avoid being run into from behind. The idea is admirable, and my wife and I, as Pedestrians since 1826 and 1823 respectively, propose to wear two lamps each in future, a white and a red.
We are, however, a little exercised to know whether we should carry the white in front and the red behind, or vice versâ. For in walking along the right side of a road we shall appear on the wrong side to an approaching motor-car. Would it not therefore be better for us to have the tail-light in front. Your most humble and obedient servant,
P.S.—Would such an arrangement make us "carriages" in the eye of the law? At present we appear to be merely a sub-division of the class "unlighted objects."
Cure for Motor-Scorchers (suggested as being even more humane than the proposal of Sir R. Payne-Gallwey).—Give them Automobile Beans!
John. "I've noticed, miss, as when you 'as a motor, you catches a train, not the train!"
Mr. W. Fine start!
Miss A. Horrid hill!
Mr. W. Going strong!
Miss A. Road quite even!
Mr. W. Goal in view!
Miss A. Make it faster!
Spur your caster!
Mr. W. Fairly done!
Miss A. Match is won!
[They dismount. Pause.
Mr. W. What! Confess!
Miss A. Well then—yes!
In the spring of 1913 St. John Skinner came back from Africa, after spending nine or ten years somewhere near the Zambesi. He travelled up to Waterloo by the electric train, and the three very stout men who were in the same first-class compartment seemed to look at him with surprise. On arriving at his hotel he pushed his way through a crowd of fat persons in the hall. Then he changed his clothes, and went round to his Club to dine.
The dining-room was filled with members of extraordinary obesity, all eating heartily. In the fat features of one of them he thought he recognised a once familiar face. "Round," said he, "how are you?"
The stout man stopped eating, and gazed at him anxiously. "Why," he murmured, after a while, in the soft voice that comes from folds of fat, "it must be Skinner. My dear fellow, what is the matter with you? Have you had a fever?"[Pg 170]
"I'm all right," answered the other; "what makes you think I've been ill?"
"Ill, man!" said Round, "why you've wasted away to nothing. You're a perfect skeleton."
"If it's a question of bulk," remarked Skinner, "I'm much more surprised. You've grown so stout, every fellow in the Club seems so stout, everyone I've seen is as fat as—as—as you are."
"Heavens!" exclaimed Round, "you don't mean to say I've been putting on more flesh? I'm the light weight of the Club. I only weigh sixteen stone. No, no, you're chaffing, or you judge by your own figure."
"Not a bit," said the other; "you and I used to weigh about the same. What on earth has happened to you all?"
"Well," said Round, "perhaps you're right. It's very much what the doctors say. It's the fashionable complaint, motorobesity. Sit down, and dine with me, and I'll tell you what the idea is. You see, it's like this. For ten years or so everybody who could afford a motor of some sort has had one. We've all had one. Not to have a motor has been simply ridiculous, if not disreputable. So[Pg 172] everybody has ridden about all day in the fresh air, never had any exercise, and got an enormous appetite. Besides, in the summer we've always been drinking beer to wash down the dust, and in the winter soup, or spirits, or something to warm us. My dear fellow, you can't think what an appetite motoring gives you. I had an enormous steak for my lunch at Winchester to-day, and a great lump of plum cake with my tea at Aldershot, and my aunt, the General's wife, made me bring a bag of biscuits to eat on the way up, and yet I'm so hungry now that I should feel quite uncomfortable if the thirst those biscuits, and the dust, gave me didn't make me almost forget it. I suppose everyone is really getting fat. One notices it when one does happen to see a thin fellow like you. Why, in all the Clubs they've had to have new arm-chairs, because the old ones were too narrow. However, I've talked enough about motoring. So glad to see you again, old chap. Of course you'll get a motor as soon as possible."
"Well," said Skinner, "I rather think I shall buy a horse."
"My dear fellow," cried Round, "what an idea! [Pg 174] Horse-riding is such awfully bad form. Besides, you can't go any pace. Look at me. I wouldn't get on a horse, and be shaken to pieces."
"I should think not," said Skinner, "but I think I should prefer that to motorobesity."
An advertisement in The Motor quotes the testimony of a gentleman from Moreton-in-the-Marsh, who states that he has run a certain car "nearly 412,500 miles in four months, and is more than pleased with it." As this works out (on a basis of twenty-four hours' running per diem) at about 143 miles per hour, we have pleasure in asking what the police are doing in Moreton-in-the-Marsh and its vicinity.
Noticing an advertisement of a book entitled "The Complete Motorist," an angry opponent of the new method of locomotion writes to suggest that the companion volume, "The Complete Pedestrian," had better be written at once before it becomes impossible to find an entire specimen.
Maxim for Cyclists.—"Try-cycle before you Buy-cycle."
Motorist (a novice) has been giving chairman of local urban council a practical demonstration of the ease with which a motor-car can be controlled when travelling at a high speed.
Miss Dolly (to her fiancé). "Oh, Jack, this is delightful! If you'll only keep up the pace, I'm sure I shall soon gain confidence!"
[Poor Jack has already run a mile or more, and is very short of condition.]
Tu Quoque.—Cyclist (a beginner who has just collided with freshly-painted fence). "Confound your filthy paint! Now, just look at my coat!" Painter. "'Ang yer bloomin' coat! 'Ow about my paint?"
"W'y, I remembers the time w'en I'd 'ave stopped that for furious drivin', an' I reckon it's only goin' about a paltry fifteen mile an hour!"
"Ar! Now them cyclists is puttin' on a fairish pace! Summat about twenty mile an hour, I s'pose. But 'tain't no business o' mine. I'm 'ere to stop motor-caws. Wot ho!"
["I have personal knowledge of marriages resulting from motor-car courtships."—The Hon. C. S. Rolls.—Daily Express.]
When Reginald asked me to drive in his car
I knew what it meant for us both,
For peril to love-making offers no bar,
But fosters the plighting of troth.
To the tender occasion I hastened to rise,
So bought a new frock on the strength of it,
Some china-blue chiffon—to go with my eyes—
And wrapped up my head with a length of it.
"Get in," said my lover, "as quick as you can!"
He wore a black smear on his face,
And held out the hand of a rough artisan
To pilot me into my place.
Like the engine my frock somehow seemed to mis-fire,
For Reginald's manner was querulous,
But after some fuss with the near hind-wheel tyre
We were off at a pace that was perilous.
"There's Brown just behind, on his second-hand brute,
He thinks it can move, silly ass!"
Said Reggie with venom, "Ha! Ha! let him hoot,
I'll give him some trouble to pass."
My service thenceforth was by Reggie confined
(He showed small compunction in suing it)
To turning to see how far Brown was behind,
But not to let Brown see me doing it.[Pg 180]
Brown passed us. We dined off his dust for a league—
It really was very poor fun—
Till, our car showed symptoms of heat and fatigue,
Reggie had to admit he was done.
To my soft consolation scant heed did he pay,
But with taps was continually juggling,
And his words, "Will you keep your dress further away?"
Put a stop to this incipient smuggling.
"He'd never have passed me alone," Reggie sighed,
"The car's extra heavy with you."
"Why ask me to come?" I remarked. He replied,
"I thought she'd go better with two."
When I touched other topics, forbearingly meek,
From his goggles the lightnings came scattering,
"What chance do you give me of placing this squeak,"
He hissed, "when you keep up that chattering?"
At that, I insisted on being set down
And returning to London by train,
And I vowed fifty times on my way back to town
That I never would see him again.
Next week he appeared and implored me to wed,
With a fondly adoring humility.
"The car stands between us," I rigidly said.
"I've sold it!" he cried with agility.
His temples were sunken, enfeebled his frame,
There was white in the curls on his crest;
When he spoke of our ride in a whisper of shame
I flew to my home on his breast.
By running sedately I'm certain that Love
To such passion would never have carried us,
Which settles the truth of the legend above—
It was really the motor-car married us.
Miller (looking after cyclist, who has a slight touch of motor mania). "Well, to be sure! There do be some main ignorant chaps out o' London. 'E comes 'ere askin' me 'ow many 'orse power the old mill ad got."
Cyclist (whose tyre has become deflated). "Have you such a thing as a pump?"
Yokel. "'Ees, miss, there's one i' the yard."
Cyclist. "I should be much obliged if you would let me use it."
Yokel. "That depends 'ow much you want. Watter be main scarce wi' us this year! Oi'll ask feyther."
Smart Girl (to keen motorist). "My sister has bought a beautiful motor-car." Keen Motorist. "Really! What kind?" Smart Girl. "Oh, a lovely sage green, to go with her frocks."
Mrs. Binks (who has lost control of her machine). "Oh, oh, Harry! Please get into a bank soon. I must have something soft to fall on!"
Miss Heavytopp. "I'm afraid I'm giving you a lot of bother, but then, it's only my first lesson!"
Exhausted Instructor (sotto voce). "I only hope it won't be my last!"
Ancient Dame. "What d'ye say? They call he a 'shuvver,' do they? I see. They put he to walk behind and shove 'em up the hills, I reckon."
A Cycle of Cathay.—The Yorkshire Evening Post, in reporting the case of a motor-cyclist charged with travelling at excessive speed on the highway at Selby, represents a police-sergeant as stating that "he timed defendant over a distance of 633 years, which was covered in 64 secs. The contention of the defendant that he had been "very imperfectly timed" has an air of captiousness.
"Many roads in the district are unfit for motorists," is the report of the Tadcaster surveyor to his council. We understand the inhabitants have resolved to leave well alone.
At a meeting of the Four Wheeler's Association, a speaker boasted, with some justification, that a charge which is brought every day against drivers of motor-cars has never been brought against members of their Association, namely, that of driving at an excessive speed.
Rumour is again busy with the promised appearance of a motor-bus which is to be so quiet that you will not know that there is one on the road until you have been run over.
Sporting Constable (with stop-watch—on "police trap" duty, running excitedly out from his ambush, to motorist just nearing the finish of the measured furlong). "For 'evin's sake, guv'nor, let 'er rip, and ye'll do the 220 in seven and a 'arf!"
[Motor-caps, we are informed, have created such a vogue in the Provinces, that ladies, women and factory girls may be seen wearing them on every occasion, though unconnected, in other respects, with modern methods of locomotion.]
A motor car I shall never afford
With a gay vermilion bonnet,
Of course I might happen to marry a lord,
But it's no good counting on it.
I have never reclined on the seat behind,
And hurtled across the map,
But my days are blest with a mind at rest,
For I wear a motor cap.
I am done with Gainsborough, straw and toque,
My dresses are bound with leather,
I turn up my collar like auto-folk,
And stride through the pitiless weather;
With a pound of scrag in an old string bag,
In a tram with a child on my lap,
Wherever I go, to shop or a show,
I wear a motor cap.
I don't know a silencer from a clutch,
A sparking-plug from a bearing,
But no one, I think, is in closer touch
With the caps the women are wearing;
I'm au fait with the trim of the tailor-made brim,
The crown and machine-stitched strap;
Though I've neither the motor, the sable-lined coat, nor
The goggles—I wear the cap.
No, this isn't a collection of tubercular microbes escaping from the congress; but merely the Montgomery-Smiths in their motor-car, enjoying the beauties of the country.
You do not at this juncture
Feel, as I, the dreadful smart,
And you scorn the cruel puncture
Of the tyre of my heart!
But mayhap, at some Life-turning,
When the wheel has run untrue,
You will know why I was burning,
And was scorched alone, by you!
***END OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MR. PUNCH AWHEEL***
******* This file should be named 29022-h.txt or 29022-h.zip *******
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