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ditions to be made to my signed articles without my authority.
Sir C. [quickly resenting the tone]. Additions-without your authority!
Macquoid [taking an illustrated paper from under his arm and opening it]. Yes, sir. I have gathered since seeing this that you do it to other contributors; but you won't do it to me. article on the matinée at the Prince's Theatre ended thus, as I wrote it: "Despite the strange excellence of the play -which has in a high degree the disturbing quality, the quality of being troublant-the interpretation did not amuse me. Mr. Percival Crocker, 'abounding,' as the French say, 'in his own sense,' showed pale gleams of comprehension; the rest of the company were as heaven made them." That's how I finished. But I find this added, above my signature [in a shocked tone]; "This performance is to in all probability be followed by three others." [Stands aghast.] Look at it! [hands paper to Sir C.].
Sir C. [stify]. Well, Mr. Macquoid, there's surely nothing very dreadful about that. I have no doubt we put it in to oblige the theatre. Moreover, I see that without it the page would have been two lines short.
Macquoid. Nothing very dreadful? "To-in-all-probability-be-followed." It's an enormity, sir, an enormity!
Sir C. [very stiffly]. I'm afraid I don't quite follow you.
Francis. Mr. Macquoid no doubt means the split infinitive.
Macquoid. I should think I did mean the split infinitive! I was staggered, positively staggered, when I looked at my article. Since then I've been glancing through your paper, and I find split infinitives all over it! Scarcely a page of the wretched sheet without a portrait of a chorus girl and a split infinitive! Monstrous!
Sir C. I regret the addition, but I'm
Macquoid [furious]. scrupulous, Sir Charles. Get another dramatic critic. I've done with you. Good-day. [Exit quickly.]
Sir C. [laughing in spite of himself]. Well, of all the infernal cheek! That's the worst of these cultured johnnies. They're mad, every one of 'em. [In a different tone.] I say, what is a split infinitive?
Francis. A split infinitive is a cardinal sin.
Sir C. Apparently. But what is it? Francis. In our beautiful English tongue, the infinitive mood of a verb begins with the particle "to."
Sir C. [thinking of Macquoid]. D-n the fellow!
Francis. Thus, "to swear." Now the "to" must never, never be separated from its verb, not even by a single word. If you write "To swear foolishly," you are correct. But if you write "To foolishly swear," you commit an infamy. And you didn't split your infinitive with one word, you split it with three. Imagine the crime.
Sir C. And do you mean to say that you cultured people care about that sort of thing?
Macquoid. You see it's worth thirty pounds a month to Macquoid.
Sir C. Ah! But he's in the Civil Service! Half of them are. [Sir Charles has rung a bell, and taken the
record out of the dictaphone. Enter Page-boy, to whom he hands the record in silence. Exit Page-boy.]
Francis [putting his two newspapers on his knee]. I suppose the question in Parliament that Mr. What's-hisname mentioned is about the AngloGerman crisis that I see in both these papers.
Sir C. You may depend it is. We're running that for all it's worth. If that two-column special telegram from Constantinople doesn't wake up the B.P. to what Germany is doing in the Near East, then nothing will. The fact is, no Government could ignore that telegram. And I may tell you, strictly between you and me-even Kendrick doesn't know it-I practically arranged for a question to be put. Francis [raising his eyebrows]. Really, you can do that sort of thing, eh?
Sir C. Can I do it! Ah, ah!
Francis. Well, I read both the "Times" and the "Manchester Guardian" this morning, and I hadn't the least idea that there was any war scare at all. Everything seemed calm. But now I've looked at your “Mercury" and "Courier," I feel as if the world was tumbling about my ears. I see that not merely is Germany mobilizing in secret, but the foundations of Westminster Abbey are in a highly dangerous condition, and according to seven bishops the sanctity of the English home is gravely threatened by the luxury of London restaurants. Also you give on page seven of the "Mercury"-I think it is-a very large portrait of a boy aged eleven who weighs two hundred pounds.
Sir C. No, the "Courier." Francis. It's all the same except for the difference in color.
Sir C. We paid five pounds for that photograph.
Francis. Well, as you say here, it's amazing. I've counted the word
"amazing" twenty-three times [glancing at papers]. "Whirlwinds of oratory. Bryan speaks ten million words. Amazing figures." "Gold despised by burglars. Amazing haul of diamonds." "Colonel as corespondent. Amazing letters." Child-cruelty in a vicarage. Amazing allegations." "Strange scene in a West-End flat. Amazing pranks." "Sudden crisis in Wall Street. Amazing rush." "Kidnapped at midnight. Amazing adventure." "The unwritten law. Husband's amazing coolness." "The freshegg industry. Amazing revelations." And so on, to say nothing of Germany. Do you keep it up to that pitch every day?
Sir C. [not altogether pleased]. They like it.
Francis. You ought to serve a liqueur brandy with every copy of these papers.
Sir C. Of course, superior people may laugh—but that's what the public wants. I've proved it.
Francis. I'll only say this, Charlie: if that's what the public wants-how clever you were to find it out! I should never have thought of it!
Sir C. [rising and taking up the “Mercury" which Francis has dropped on the floor]. See here, my boy, you think yourself devilish funny, but look at that front-page ad. Look at it! Francis [reading]. "Uric acid. Life's misery.
All chemists. A shilling and a halfpenny." What about it?
Sir C. Nothing. Only we get three hundred pounds for that ad.-one insertion. I'm a business man, and that's what I call business. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Francis. I suppose the "Mercury" must appeal specially to the uric acid classes.
Sir C. [sitting down to dictaphone]. You may laugh-you may laugh! [Into dictaphone.] Mr. Ricketts. Macquoid
has ceased to be the dramatic critic of "M. and W." Before definitely making another appointment you might submit names to me. We want something superior, of course. I notice a number of split infinitives in this week's issue. They are out of place in a high-class illustrated. Watch this. Francis. I say, Charlie.
Sir C. Well?
Francis. What do you say to giving me a trial as dramatic critic of "Men and Women”?
Sir C. [after a pause]. Can you
Francis. Can you?
Sir C. [taken aback and recovering himself]. Writing is no part of my job. [Reflectively]. But I suppose you can write. In fact [as if studying him] you ought to be able to turn out something pretty smart. You might even be a "find" in journalism.
Francis. There's no knowing. Anyhow, one could try. You may take it from me I can write. I've got an idea that the English theatre must be a great joke.
Sir C. I never go myself. But they say it's a most frantic bore.
Francis. Yes. That's what I meant. I gather that on the whole it must be frantic enough to be worth studying. By the way, I went to a matinée at the Prince's Theatre yesterday.
Sir C. Sort of freak theatre, isn't it? Queer?
Francis. It's one of the most artistic shows I ever saw in my life.
Sir C. [seriously]. Artistic! Yes, I was told it was queer.
Francis. Who d'ye think I saw there -on the stage? Little Emily Nixonyou know, from Bursley.
Don't you remember she used to call you "Tarlie"?
Sir C. Oh! That child! Nice kid, she used to be.
Francis. Nice! She's delightful. I went round to the stage-door after, and took here out to tea. She's a widow. Hasn't a friend in the world, and must be deuced hard up, I should think. But she's charming. And as clever as they make 'em.
Sir C. What's she doing on the stage?
Francis. Oh! St. John took her on. She reads plays for him.
Sir C. St. John? Who's St. John? Francis. He's the man that's running the Prince's Theatre. There's an artist if you like. In spite of weak acting, the way that chap got what they call the Celtic glamor over the footlights was amazing!—[laughing at himself, half aside]. Yes, "amazing," since I'm in the "Mercury" building. By the way, she's coming to see you this afternoon.
Sir C. Who? Emily Nixon? ButFrancis. Now don't be a martyr. It's like this. She's been wanting to come and see you for some time. But she thought it would be no use-she'd heard so much about your being invisible.
Sir C. me for?
What does she want to see
Some business, I suppose.
I told her that of course you'd see her -like a shot. Or any one from Bursley. She asked when. So I said I should be here this afternoon and she'd better come then, and I'd arrange it. You might send word downstairs that when she comes she's to be shown up here at once.
Sir C. [looking at him]. No, you've not altered. Dispose of me, my boy. I am yours. The entire staff is yours. Your wish is law. [Into dictaphone.] Mr. Ricketts.
of "M. and W." I have appointed Mr. Francis Worgan, 11 Hamilton Place. Francis. 11 Hamilton Place? I'm at the Golden Cross Hotel.
Sir C. You must leave it then, and come to my flat. I want you to see my flat. Look here, about screw?
Francis. Oh! that doesn't matter. Sir C. [into dictaphone]. Salary fifteen pounds a month. [To Francis.] That's quite fair. You aren't a Macquoid yet. [Enter Page-boy with letters to sign, on a salver.]
Sir C. [taking letters, to Boy]. Tell the Sergeant that if-[To Francis.] What name does she go by, Frank? Francis. Her husband was Vernon. Mrs. Vernon.
Sir C. [to Boy]. Tell the Sergeant that if a Mrs. Vernon calls to see me she is to be shown up at once. [Exit Page-boy.] Just let me sign these letters. [Begins to sign them. Re-enter Page-boy]. Hello! Oh! it's the tape. Give it to that gentleman. Look at it, Frank. [Francis takes the slips from the boy. Exit Boy. Sir Charles continues to sign letters.]
Francis [after looking at the slips]. The Foreign Secretary seems to have guessed your ideal pretty closely.
Sir C. What do you mean? Francis. Only instead of the boy of twelve he said the errand-boy.
Sir C. What on earth
Francis [reading]. "In reply Foreign Secretary said no particle of truth in statements of newspaper in question. Our relations with Germany perfectly harmonious. Every one ought to be aware that, after Hong-Kong, Constantinople was the worst manufactory of false news in the world. Every one ought also to be aware that journal referred to was written by errand-boys for errand-boys. Cheers!"
Sir C. [rising]. Give it here. [Takes slip, reads it, drops it on desk; then goes up to the disk signal and changes it from red to green then comes slowly
down stage. With a sudden furious outburst.] The cursed swine!
Francis [tranquilly]. But you said yourself
Sir C. [savagely]. Oh! go to h-l! Francis [tranquilly]. Very well! Very well! Who is the Foreign Secretary, by the way?
Sir C. Who is he? Lord Henry Godwin!
Francis. Oh, yes. Wrote a book on Dryden.
Sir C. I'd Dryden him if I had him here! [still savagely]. If I had him here I'd-! Whenever he meets me you'd think butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. When his idiotic daughter was married to that braying ass of a duke, he wrote me to say how pleased she had been with the "Mercury's" special description of the wedding.
Sir C. Considering that I was specially elected by the Committee under Rule 9, I should say I did! Errandboys! I sent Teddy Marriott specially out to Constantinople. I suppose nobody will deny he's the showiest of the whole gang of specials. Do you know what I pay him? Two thousand a year, all his expenses, and a pension of five hundred a year to his widow if he's killed on duty. What price that? Not much errand-boy about that! Look at his copy. Is it readable, or isn't it?
Francis. But after all, supposing what he says isn't true?
Sir C. Isn't true! Nobody ever said it was! Look at the thing! Francis [looking at paper]. [Reads.]
"England and her enemy.
Grave situation. Is the Government my circulation. I'm told I want a war. asleep?" All across two columns.
Sir C. Yes, yes. But what does he say at the end? [looking over Francis's shoulder]. "The above facts, which I have no wish to unduly emphasize, and which I give with due reserve, are the staple of current conversation in certain circles here, and I should be failing in my duty if I did not bring them to the attention of the British public.
Francis. Why didn't he begin by saying that?
Sir C. Oh, rot! You don't know what journalism is. He said it, and that's enough. We've got to give all the news there is going about, and we've got to sell the paper. And by G- we do sell it! We spend money like water, and we have the largest circulation in the country. We please the largest public. We pay the highest prices. We make the largest profits. You may or may not like the paper, but nine hundred thousand of Lord Henry Godwin's esteemed fellow-citizens like it. And it's a national institution, let me tell you. It's a national institution! The swine might just as well say at once that the British nation is a nation of errand-boys.
Francis. You may bet he does do, in private.
Sir C. Let him say it in public, then! He daren't. None of 'em dare. I'm the only one that makes no pretences about the British nation. I know what they want and I give it 'em. And what then? Am I to be insulted? Are they to be insulted? What's the matter with the British nation, anyhow? From the way some of you superior people talk, one might think the British nation ought to be thankful it's alive.
Sir C. [carried away] I'm told I'm unscrupulous because I "fan the war fever," as it's called, so as to send up
D-d nonsense! Nothing but d-d nonsense! All I want is for the public to have what it wants. It's the public that would like a war, not me. The public enjoys the mere thought of a war. Proof: my circulations. I'm told I pander to the passions of the public. Call it that, if you like. It's what everybody is trying to do. Only I succeed. . . . Mind you, I don't call it that. I call it supplying a legitimate demand. When you've been to the barber to be shaved, do you round on him for pandering to your passions? You superior people make me sick! Sick! Errandboys, indeed! Cheers! There's a lot of chaps in the House that would like to be errand-boys of my sort. Cheers, eh! I could have scores of the swine to lick my boots clean every morning if I wanted! Scores! I don't make out to be anything except a business man, but that's no reason why I should stand the infernal insolence of a pack of preposterous hypocrites.
Sir C. If I couldn't organize some of their departments better than they do, I'd go out and sell my own papers in the Strand! Let 'em come here, let 'em see my counting-house, and my composing-rooms, and my special trains-I'd show 'em.
Sir C. And I'll tell you another thing. [Francis gets up and approaches the door.] Where are you going to? Francis. I'm going to h-l! I'll come back later, after the monologue. Sir C. Hold on. What were you going to say?
Francis. I was merely going to ask why, if you're only a business man, you should worry yourself about these superior people. Why not leave them alone? You mentioned flannel; or was it soap? Supposing they do accuse you of having persuaded nine hundred thousand errand-boys to buy soap