MORE JOTTINGS: AND HYDE PARK

Geneviève Ward’s stories are endless and amusing. To mention only two
of these.

“A man arrived to have a tooth out.

“‘Will it hurt much, sir?’

“‘Rather.’

“‘Real hurt?’

“‘Rather.’

“‘Well, I don’t think,’ began the man in a dither….

“‘Sit down, sir, sit down right there, and bear it like a woman!’”

* * * * *

Story number two.

“Another man asked the dentist his charge.

“‘Fifty cents.’

“‘Fifty cents, eh?’

“‘Yes.’

“‘But with gas?’

“‘Guess that’s fifty cents more.’

“‘Wa’al, I won’t have gas then.’

“‘You’re a brave man!’

“‘’Tisn’t for me, it’s for my wife!’”

* * * * *

Now a couple of child stories. Surely, the workings of a child’s mind
are too strange to be imagined.

My little nephew, aged four, was saying his prayers, kneeling on his
bed and resting against his nurse. Suddenly he stopped.

Nurse: “Go on, dear.”

Small Boy: “I can’t.”

Nurse: “Go on, dear.”

Small Boy: “I am switched off, Dod’s talking to someone else.”

Naturally, nurse’s breath was somewhat taken away, and she did not know
what to answer, when suddenly reassurance came from the small boy. “It
is all right. We are connected again now,” and he began again.

Here is another story about the same little man, though he was then
rather younger, to be exact.

He was sent, one hot summer’s day, with his baby sister and two nurses,
to Kensington Gardens as a treat. When he came back his mother asked
him if he had enjoyed it.

“Oh yes,” he replied. “And what did you do?” she asked, but instead of
replying in his usual bubbling fashion, he opened his eyes wide, and
looking at her, exclaimed:

“Do you know?”

“Know what?”

“Do you know?”

“Well, what?”

“Do you know?” he again repeated, his eyes nearly dropping out of his
head by this time, “we saw a lady smoking!”

Not being exactly sure what to reply to this remark, the fond mother
went on with her work.

Seeing her unresponsive, the young gentleman trotted into the next room
where his father was smoking.

“Dad, do you know?”

“Yes, I know, you went to tea in Kensington Gardens.”

“But DO YOU KNOW?” repeated the small boy, more earnestly than ever;
and then standing before his father with his hands behind his back, he
solemnly announced:

“WE SAW A LADY SMOKING!”

The father, like the mother, was a little nonplussed, and merely
exclaimed:

“Oh, really!” But the small boy stood firm to his ground, and with eyes
still wider than before, exclaimed:

“Dad, do you think _she was learning to be a gentleman_?”

Occasionally my eyes light upon some jotting worthy of almost
pigeon-hole dignity—too prized for the society of mere scraps, yet
too small for the space of a chapter. Here is one concerning a famous
lawyer.

Fate has often thrown me into the company of lawyers—the most excellent
of people when you don’t meet them in a professional, or fee-paying
sense. The really busy advocate is in most cases a delightful man, for
the very qualities which make him a social favourite go no little way
to establish his success at the Bar.

I once asked Sir Edward Clarke, K.C., what was his recipe for producing
a good barrister, and was a little surprised at the importance he
attached to the study of oratory.

“Every law student at the beginning of his work should study the art
of speaking, the most valuable and the most highly rewarded of all the
arts which can be acquired by man.

“The counsel needs the power of fluent and correct expression and of
the rhetorical arrangement of his argument of speech. He should have
an easy, clear, and well-modulated elocution which compels attention,
makes it pleasant to listen to him, and so predisposes in his favour
the judgment of his hearers.”

“Ah, but has everyone this gift?” I said.

“Perhaps not, but all these things must be acquired. Each one of them
requires a special study. Some men are, no doubt, more highly gifted
by nature than others in strength of intellect, tenacity of memory,
and the graces of oratory, but no one was ever so highly gifted as to
be able to dispense with the labour by which the natural powers are
trained and strengthened. The best books for the young law student are
_Whately’s Logic_ and _Whately’s Rhetoric_. They should be read and
re-read until he knows them from cover to cover.”

“You are a very warm advocate of speech,” I interposed. “Do you think
it a lost art, or an improving one?”

“The ancients were the best teachers. Aristotle’s _Rhetoric_ (the best
of all), Cicero’s _De Oratore_, Quintilian’s _Institutes of Oratory_,
are the books of study; Blair and Campbell should be read, but are of
no great merit, while of Whately I have already spoken. But the study
of good models—and when I speak of study I do not mean simply reading a
speech, but the examination and analysis of it, applying the rules of
the art which these treatises contain: the attentive hearing of great
speeches in Parliament or the courts, or of great sermons, is the only
way by which the capacity for really good speaking can be acquired.

“Then every man who wishes to speak well should study elocution as an
art. He should practise singing to give variety of tone to the voice.
He should habitually see and study the best actors of his time, and so
learn the ease and yet the moderation of gesture which helps so much
even the best-constructed and most clearly delivered speech. If any one
of these studies and exercises is neglected, the man who fails at the
Bar must put some part of the blame upon himself.”

Sir Edward Clarke has fulfilled his own theories, even to witnessing
the drama. He is a well-known first-nighter, and is often to be seen in
the stalls of a theatre.

He sat in Parliament and listened to great speeches. He has himself
built a church at Staines, wherein he has heard many sermons. And he
has climbed to the very top of his profession.

It would be doing him an injustice to suggest that he places speech as
the first and most essential quality in the lawyer’s training. The most
brilliant speaker must have something to say. A capacity for logical
and scientific reasoning and knowledge of the principles and rules of
the law come before all.

“All success in every calling comes from hard work; there is no better
secret,” he said decisively.

For years Sir Edward Clarke journeyed up to town from his charming home
at Staines every morning, during the legal terms. His companion in the
nine o’clock train was invariably the famous Orientalist and brilliant
scholar, Dr. Ginsburg, who had made a home for himself and his unique
collection of Bibles, and marvellous assortment of prints and etchings,
at Virginia Water. Many and interesting were the conversations which
these two celebrated men enjoyed during their little railway journey
together. The one went off to the British Museum to work among the dead
languages, and the completion of his life-work, the _Massorah_, and
the other to the Law Courts, where, in wig and gown, he soon appeared
from out his private room in the building, to the consolation of his
own clients and the anxiety of his opponents.

Sir Edward Clarke declares the best speech he ever made in his life was
addressed to one person—namely, the late Mr. Justice Kekewich. There
was no jury, and the judge was alone on the bench. It was the case
of Allcard and Skinner, a question of the plaintiff being allowed to
recover from an Anglican sisterhood the money she gave while herself a
member of it. Sir Edward managed to keep the money for the sisterhood,
and Lord Russell of Killowen always declared it was his friend’s
greatest stroke of oratory.

* * * * *

One of the events of the year at Leeds is the Lifeboat Celebration,
when some thousands of pounds are collected. In these days when women
are to the fore, the Committee decided to ask a woman to take the
chair, and I was chosen for that position. They have the biggest of
halls, which holds five thousand persons, with Members of Parliament,
Lord Mayors, and other dignitaries on the platform.




The London editor of the _Yorkshire Post_ came personally to ask
me. I refused, funking the speech. Two days later, the Yorkshire
Editor-in-chief arrived, flattered me to the skies, and begged me to
go. But I persisted in excusing myself, and suggested his asking Sir
Ernest Shackleton, promising that if they could not get him, I would do
it.

Thank Heaven! Shackleton accepted, in spite of all his engagements,
consequent on having just returned from the South Pole.

What an escape, but still it was a great compliment.

* * * * *

Here is a jotting that was pencilled down warm from the heart. As it
stands, I give it, with its date, May 14th, 1909:

I do not know when I have been so pleased as at a little episode which
happened yesterday.

It chanced a couple of years ago that I was able to help, encourage,
and sympathise with a young man at a very trying time, and I
laughingly told him I should not be satisfied till he had started
again, and put by a thousand pounds. He scoffed at the idea of a
thousand pounds as impossible, and wondered if he ever could begin life
afresh.

Yesterday he walked in and said, “I have come to tell you that through
your encouragement I have worked hard for the last two years, and have
done what I thought then impossible. I have not only lived, but saved a
thousand pounds, and in remembrance of this success, which is entirely
due to you, I have brought you a little souvenir. It has taken me
months to find anything quaint and old, such as I thought would really
give you pleasure.”

Now, was not that perfectly delightful? He has, indeed, given me
pleasure, and added to that his gift is quite charming. It is an
old-fashioned pendant, set with beryls, that formerly prized pale blue
stone.

Amongst the many disappointments one has in life, such success as this
inspires one to fresh efforts.

* * * * *

Here is a tiny stray wanderer in the jotting heap. Such a little one,
no one can object to it. Plainly it refers to some of my proof. Also
that a review in “T. P.’s” familiar weekly had unkindly referred to me
as an elderly sort of scribe, or something “previous” of the kind.

“P.S.—Just looked over proof. Feeling very sad at the prospect of
settling down to contemplate middle age and anticipating senile
decay, ordered hansom, gave man address.

“‘Yes, miss.’

“Hurrah! Nice man! Extra sixpence in prospect for the ‘miss’!

“Went to shop, ‘young gentleman’ behind the counter enquired:

“‘Your pleasure, miss?’

“Charming young man! Buy more than I really want.

“‘T. P.’ may be wrong; senile decay may be further off than he so
ardently hopes!”

With this farewell to jottings.

* * * * *

And now I come to the publication of a big and serious book, _Hyde
Park_, which made its appearance to the public in April, 1908, but
took me eighteen months to write and rewrite, while as to the works
consulted, seventy-three are duly acknowledged in the opening pages as
sources of help, besides which there were, of course, others.

“What put it into your head to write about Hyde Park?” asked a friend
the other day.

Well, partly because of my sons. When in search of data across an
ocean and thousands of miles of land besides, my endeavour to return
for the boys’ holidays entailed trying and often too rapid and arduous
travelling. Hyde Park was nearer my own door, so “homeward bound fancy
ran its barque ashore.”

Besides in anticipation the task seemed invitingly easy. From early
childhood had I not ridden with my father every morning over the tan of
the old Park, under its trees, or past its sunlit or steel-grey water?
In later days, when friends whose hospitality had been warmly shown me
overseas, arrived in London, it had become usual with me to drive them
round “the ’Ide Park” until I felt a sort of London _Baedeker_.

Once, however, the work begun, it proved serious and engrossing, and
meant study: study at the British Museum: study of many, many books:
search for pictures of old London. Three or four times the amount of
material actually used was assiduously gathered. Then began the task of
sorting out what was needful. The real difficulty of writing a book is
to know what to leave out.

Well, it was a great subject, and deserved the toil spent upon it.
Reward came in the praise of the Press, and—this was specially sweet—at
once. Within three days, thirteen kind, warm, even enthusiastic
reviews! And yet how often the contrary has been the case, and will be
with many works which the public slowly learn to value only after their
writers have obscurely passed away, embittered, maybe, by the lack of
appreciation.

Yes, I am grateful that my history of London’s great playground was
called one of “deep research” by the _Morning Post_, of “bright, cheery
entertainment” by the _Pall Mall_, a “thrilling and true romance which
Londoners will have to read” by the _Observer_. The _Westminster_
_Gazette_ and the _Sunday Sun_ agreed that the book made universal
appeal to all lovers of London and lovers of England.

[Illustration:

WITH
Mʳˢ ALEC TWEEDIE’S
BEST
WISHES

30 YORK TERRACE
LONDON N.W.
]

Perhaps not one among the many columns of flattering reviews, however,
gave me so much pleasure as the following letter, from an old friend,
well known to fame.

Love and friendship are the finest assets in the Bank of Life.

“_April, 1908._

“MY DEAR MRS. TWEEDIE,

“I warmly congratulate you on what is certain to prove a most
successful book. I have read it through with great interest—and
old Londoner and old Hyde Parker as I am—for I can remember it
_seventy_ years ago! I find very many facts and stories new to me.
And yet I am a bit of a London antiquary and have written on London
and have helped to _make_ London (when I designed Kingsway for
L.C.C.).

“The book will go, and has come to stay.

“We are still very chilly down in the Weald, though daffodils and
hyacinths have begun to show and chestnuts are breaking. It is the
latest spring I ever knew. The only consolation is—there are hardly
any primroses this year to celebrate the Orgy of Evil.

“Yours sincerely,

“FREDERIC HARRISON.”

From generation to generation, Hyde Park has been the wide theatre upon
which many tragedies and comedies of London have been enacted, the
forum where many liberties have been demanded, the scene where national
triumphs have been celebrated.

* * * * *

Yes, the book was a success; but every success in life brings a
would-be friend, and a dozen enemies.

True friendship is not influenced by success or failure.

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