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AN eminent publicist, having attained a coveted distinction, was entertained by his disappointed competitors and other friends at a banquet. In responding to the toast of his health the hero of the occasion expressed a lively satisfaction at seeing himself surrounded by so many men of intellectual eminence, for, said he, it had always been his aim in life to associate with those who were intellectually his superiors. Whereupon Lord Houghton, who had been a little fatigued by the oratorical exercises of the evening, exclaimed in a stertorous undertone, ' By G-, it wasn't difficult to do that!'

Well, I am of the same mind as the Publicist, and my desire -not easily gratified in Stuccovia-has always been to rub shoulders with the learned and the literary.

It is one of the privileges of authorship, even on the humblest scale, that it may bring the author into correspondence with men of similar tastes and superior information. Thus Horace Walpole corresponded with Sir Horace Mann, and Gilbert White with Thomas Pennant, and Mr. Casaubon with Carp of Brasenose.

So, if I may compare small things with great, these humble extracts from my log-book have brought me a letter from the learned editor of Hiccadocius De Barbis Judæorum' (an author originally discovered, I believe, by the late Rev. F. E. Paget).

A minute and scrupulous exactness in the use of words—a verbal ȧkpíßɛia, if I may so express myself-has ever been the characteristic of true scholars; and a playful insistence on the precise shades of meaning has been the material of their mutual pleasantry. 'A dictionary, now!' exclaimed Dr. Strong's admirer. 'What a useful work a dictionary is! What a necessary work! The meanings of words! Without Doctor Johnson, or somebody of that sort, we might have been at this present moment calling an Italian-iron a bedstead.'

I am led to these reflections, which I feel have something in common with the Diversions of Purley, by the acute criticism of


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my learned correspondent. Last month I ventured to express dislike of the epithetwell groomed,' as applied by Pennialinus to the young Tories in the House of Commons; and I affirmed (or claimed,' as Pennialinus himself would say) that it meant nothing more than well dressed.' But the Editor of Hiccadocius,' in a letter which bears the Cambridge post-mark, takes me to task, and says, 'The odious expression, in my mind, implies also that particular neatness and glossiness of hair which you notice in A.D.C.'s, Guardsmen, 10th Hussars, and a few of the younger nobility, and Eton boys.'

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This criticism, proceeding from an authoritative quarter, set me, as Burke says, on thinking. Does well groomed' necessarily imply a certain quality or condition of the hair? And what is the characteristic which is common to the hair of A.D.C.'s, Guardsmen, 10th Hussars, young nobility, and Eton boys?

The moment I approached this quest I felt myself heavily handicapped by my insufficient familiarity with smart society. I hope my readers have long since inferred, even though a selfrespecting reticence forbade me to declare it, that both my wife and I are exceedingly well born. My wife was one of the Topham Sawyers, of The Sawpits. The head of my family is a baronet, and would have had a peerage long before this, only the Conservative Whip rudely said that if he desired that elevation he would have to put his Bloody Hand into his pocket. But stemmata quid faciunt? In these plutocratic days a long pedigree unsupported by a long purse gives no access to the circles where my critic is so terribly at ease. As to Eton boys, their rapacity in the matter of tips has long made me a stranger to their society. The younger nobility treats the dances of Stuccovia with the contempt they merit, and something more. As to the Guards and the 10th Hussars, we should be as likely to entertain the Crowned Heads of Europe and the College of Cardinals. Indeed, my wife thinks herself uncommonly lucky if she can induce a spring captain of the Loamshire Regiment-the 'old Blow Hards,' they are affectionately called-to 'fling his radiance' (as the late Mr. J. R. Green would say) over our smartest dinner-party of the season. There was, indeed, one instance out of all those cited by my critic with which I felt a kind of vague familiarity-the instance of the A.D.C.'s. But on reflection even that familiarity seems to resolve itself into a reminiscence of one of Mr. Surtees's sporting novels, where the

arrival of an A.D.C. at a watering-place causes a social flutter until it is discovered that he is an Assistant Drainage Commissioner.

I therefore retire from a conflict for which I am so imperfectly equipped, and concede my critic's proposition that 'well groomed ' involves a well-brushed head as well as a well-cut coat and wellcreased trousers and well-varnished boots.

I turn from the abstract to the concrete, and ask myself and my wife whether we can lay our finger on a well-groomed man in Stuccovia. My wife replies, a little inconsequently, 'Well, I always think Mr. Soulsby looks very nice.' And certainly he is effective in church. His beard is fair and neatly trimmed. His hair is parted in the middle. Pomatum adds its artful aid, and trains his hyacinthine locks over his thoughtful brow. His Oxford M.A. hood is so arranged as to display the maximum of crimson and the minimum of black. He wears an embroidered stole, red or white, green or violet, as the case may be. His surplice is very short, his cassock very long, and made of purple silk as a memorial of Queen Victoria's second jubilee-a piece of symbolism, not on the face of it obvious, which he borrowed from the Savoy Chapel, but which might have proceeded from the Savoy Theatre. Yes, I think Mr. Soulsby is well groomed,' though I certainly could not call him well dressed.

It is sometimes easiest to illustrate one's meaning by negative examples; and our excellent M.P., Mr. Barrington-Bounderley, whom I have just met in Stucco Gardens, is neither well dressed nor even well groomed. He wears a turned-down collar of the new type, much too high for his short neck, and a red tie in a sailor's knot. He has celebrated the return of spring by putting on a white waistcoat and brown boots; but, as the air is still chilly, he wears a great coat with a fur collar, and thick trousers of a conspicuous check. I protest that I would rather be apparelled like our curate, young Bumpstead, whom I saw returning from his Easter Monday trip in a college blazer,' a Roman collar, grey knickerbockers, and a straw hat.

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The mention of Easter reminds me that before these poor words see the light May will be upon us. Ere long the asparagus will wave its feathery branches, and the voice of the plover will be heard in the land. To the jaded Londoner these symptoms of returning summer mean more, far more, than the dog-rose in the hedgerow, and the first note of the nightingale in the copse.

Nunc formosissimus annus.

Let us rise betimes, and go forth

to taste the freshness of the dawn.

Those who know Bond Street only in the blaze of fashionable hours can form but an imperfect conception of its matutinal charm when it is still shady and fresh; when there are no carriages, rarely a cart, and passers-by gliding about on real business. One feels as in some continental city. Then there are time and opportunity to look at the shops; and there is no street in the world that can furnish such a collection, filled with so many objects of beauty, curiosity, and interest. The jewellers and goldsmiths and dealers in rare furniture-porcelain, and cabinets, and French pictures-have long fixed upon Bond Street as their favourite quarter, and are not chary of displaying their treasures; though it may be a question whether some of the magazines of fancy food-delicacies culled from all the climes and regions of the globe-may not, in their picturesque variety, be the most attractive. The palm, perhaps, would be given to the fishmongers, with their exuberant exhibitions, grouped with skill, startling often with strange forms, dazzling with prismatic tints, and breathing the invigorating redolence of the sea.'

Those last words are remarkable. Lord Beaconsfield, who wrote them, was probably the only human being who ever enjoyed the smell of a fishmonger's shop on a summer morning; and yet in some sense and degree I share his rapture. I love that smell, not for what it is but for what it implies. The opulent profusion of the shop says that the austerity of March is over.

'Salmon is y-comen in.'

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Lent lies behind us, and High Tea' no longer slays its thousands. My wife is Ritualistic; and, in spite of her personal devotion to Mr. Soulsby, she sometimes craves for more substantial fare than is provided at St. Ursula's. All through the autumn and winter,

'Like cats in air-pumps, to subsist we strive

On joys too thin to keep the soul alive.'

But when Lent begins, my wife and her unmarried sister, who stays a good deal with us, long, like Chaucer's folk, to go on pilgrimages: and pilgrimages are fatally inconsistent with dinner. The experiences of more Lents than I care to enumerate have made me quick to recognise the earliest signs of this anti-prandial pietism. It begins like this, after Choral Mattins on Sunday. 'It is a pity you weren't in church this morning. Mr. Soulsby

was quite at his best. He preached on Street Music and Morals, showing how the one affects the other. It was so like him— wonderfully suggestive and all that. Still I feel in Lent that one wants something a little more dogmatic, and so does Bertha. So, if you don't mind very much, I think we will have High Tea on Fridays till Easter, and go to some really good church afterwards. This will not interfere with Mr. Soulsby's Wednesday lectures.'

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Thus the temptress. Man, weak man, yields to the fatal suggestion; and for six successive Fridays his evening meal consists of tea-cake, honey, sardines, and potted shrimps, washed down,' as Pennialinus would say, 'with copious draughts' of beverages which neither inebriate nor cheer. These vindictive viands despatched, we sally forth in a four-wheeler, my wife and her sister on the front seat and I with my back to the horse. Simple seekers after truth, we bump uncomplainingly through frost and fog to the Holy Places of orthodoxy. One night we rub shoulders with Duchesses at St. Barnabas, Pimlico; another, we are pelted with Holborn mud by the gutter-children of St. Alban's. On all alike we come back cold and cross and tired and dyspeptic, but sustained by the consciousness that we are 'keeping Lent.' Well, it is over now, and words fail to express the thankfulness with which I return to the easy-going attractions of the Church-round-the-Corner, even though qualified by Mr. Soulsby's unctuous rhetoric, and the ill-timed jocularity of Blazer' Bumpstead.

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But my happiness in the return of summer is this year not quite unalloyed. There is a fly in the ointment. At the best of times I am not as well off as I should like to be, or as I feel that I ought to be. Fortunately, we have no family, save in so far as my wife's brothers, sisters, nephews, and nieces supply that felt want. Stuccovia, though even excruciatingly genteel, is an inexpensive quarter; and, by the habitual practice of a scrupulous economy, we have hitherto maintained a decorous appearance. We are not, indeed, 'carriage-people,' as the phrase runs in Stuccovian circles; but our door is opened by a dingy retainer in a well-worn dress suit, who somehow reminds one of a visit to the dentist's. I belong to two clubs. My wife is always correctly, if not becomingly, dressed, and the head of my family sends us every summer a haunch of venison, which imparts something of a feudal air to our modest mode of entertaining.

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