Articles and Advertisements

Last Wednesday, the Spectator published a soothing and well-balanced article called “Our English Weather.”  The weather, it seems, is temperate; so was the article.  On the whole, however, it maintained that the English climate was mild and required little artificial help for any Londoner inheriting the Viking blood.  As a result of this, the head of a famous firm selling asbestos stoves withdrew all its advertisements from the Spectator, saying that it grieved his logical mind that artificial warmth should be called needful in one part of the paper and needless in another.

In the Clarion, which is probably the most solidly popular and prosperous of Socialist papers, a hearty old leveller uttered the opinion: “Dirt often means Work; and there are better men among the Great Unwashed than among the Great Unworking.”  Blink’s Soap, which had previously advertised in the paper, withdrew its advertisements, after making the editor the fair offer that he should cease to be a Socialist.

In the Art Journal the President of the Royal Academy wrote to the following effect: “Whatever other disadvantages it may have entailed, there can be little doubt that the early Greek practice of going without clothes in early youth and on ceremonial occasions did much to perfect that exquisite knowledge of the poise and changes of the body which have made the art of Hellas immortal.”  Several West-End tailors immediately withdrew their advertisements.

The English Review, which pays special attention to poetry, included lately a poem by Mr. W.B. Yeats, beginning with the two lines —

Let there be nought for the night, Kil Cronach,
Between my head and the good grey rain.

The advertisers of Parkinson’s Patent Umbrella entered into a long and painful correspondence with the proprietors of the magazine, which ended in the disappearance of their old and familiar advertisement.

The Westminster Gazette, criticising the lighter drama in the ordinary course of its journalistic duty, remarked that one particular play, produced by Mr. George Edwardes, had not a very good libretto.  Mr. George Edwardes was suddenly torn and racked with a degrading sense of inconsistency.  He could not bear the Westminster Gazette to be so disconnected in its ideas.  Somebody else said his play was bad in the very same paper in which he, with a more detached judgment, said it was good.  He withdrew his advertisement from the paper.

Now among those six utterly and ravingly nonsensical anecdotes, one actually happened.  But, upon my honour, I do not think that a rational person, unread in the English papers, could tell me which.  The whole proposition belongs, not to topsy-turvydom (for topsy-turvydom is logical), but to some sphere inconceivable to the ordinary human intellect.  We all knew that there were advertisements in papers; and some of us, when exhausted by the articles, have got much amusement out of them.  But it never crossed the brain of any man in his five wits that the articles had to square with the advertisements.  We never supposed that the prose articles by biologists and physicians were to be modelled on those sombre paragraphs which begin with a young man feeling worn and nervous in Glasgow and end with Tompkinson’s Tonic.  We did not suppose that the poetry of a paper existed permanently, as it were, under the eye of the fluent poet of Bungay’s Saving Salts…  On occasions like this one has the sense of the universe being in travail.  Something seems ready to burst.  I rather think it must be laughter.

The Illustrated London News, 13 November 1909.

Published in: on March 10, 2010 at 9:09 am  Leave a Comment  

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