Arcadians At Bay
I have said that Jimmy spent much of his time in contributing to various
leading waste-paper baskets, and that of an evening he was usually to
be found prone on my hearth-rug. When he entered my room he was ever
willing to tell us what he thought of editors, but his meerschaum with
the cherry-wood stem gradually drove all passion from his breast, and
instead of upbraiding more successful men than himself, he then lazily
scribbled letters to them on my wall-paper. The wall to the right of the
fireplace was thick with these epistles, which seemed to give Jimmy
relief, though William John had to scrape and scrub at them next morning
with india-rubber. Jimmy's sarcasm--to which that wall-paper can probably
still speak--generally took this form:
_To G. Buckle, Esq., Columbia Road, Shoreditch_.
SIR:--I am requested by Mr. James Moggridge, editor of the _Times_,
to return you the inclosed seven manuscripts, and to express his regret
that there is at present no vacancy in the sub-editorial department of
the _Times_ such as Mr. Buckle kindly offers to fill.
P. R. (for J. Moggridge, Ed. _Times_).
_To Mr. James Knowles, Brick Lane, Spitalfields_.
DEAR SIR:--I regret to have to return the inclosed paper, which is
not quite suitable for the _Nineteenth Century_. I find that articles
by unknown men, however good in themselves, attract little attention.
I inclose list of contributors for next month, including, as you will
observe, seven members of upper circles, and remain your obedient
J. MOGGRIDGE, Ed. _Nineteenth Century_.
_To Mr. W Pollock, Mile-End Road, Stepney_.
SIR:--I have on two previous occasions begged you to cease sending daily
articles to the _Saturday_. Should this continue we shall be reluctantly
compelled to take proceedings against you. Why don't you try the _Sporting
Times?_ Yours faithfully,
J. MOGGRIDGE, Ed. _Saturday Review._
_To Messrs. Sampson, Low & Co., Peabody Buildings, Islington._
DEAR SIRS:--The manuscript which you forwarded for our consideration
has received careful attention; but we do not think it would prove a
success, and it is therefore returned to you herewith. We do not care
to publish third-rate books. We remain yours obediently,
J. MOGGRIDGE & CO.
(late Sampson, Low & Co.).
_To H. Quilter, Esq., P.O. Bethnal Green._
SIR:--I have to return your paper on Universal Art. It is not without
merit; but I consider art such an important subject that I mean to deal
with it exclusively myself. With thanks for kindly appreciation of my
new venture, I am yours faithfully,
J. MOGGRIDGE, Ed. _Universal Review._
_To John Morley, Esq., Smith Street, Blackwall._
SIR:--Yes, I distinctly remember meeting you on the occasion to which
you refer, and it is naturally gratifying to me to hear that you enjoy
my writing so much. Unfortunately, however, I am unable to accept your
generous offer to do Lord Beaconsfield for the English Men of Letters
series, as the volume has been already arranged for. Yours sincerely,
Ed. English Men of Letters series.
_To F. C. Burnand, Esq., Peebles, N.B._
SIR:--The jokes which you forwarded to _Punch_ on Monday last are
so good that we used them three years ago. Yours faithfully,
J. MOGGRIDGE, Ed. _Punch_.
_To Mr. D'Oyley Carte, Cross Stone Buildings, Westminster Bridge Road._
DEAR SIR:--The comic opera by your friends Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan,
which you have submitted to me, as sole lessee and manager of the Savoy
Theatre, is now returned to you unread. The little piece, judged from
its title-page, is bright and pleasing, but I have arranged with two
other gentlemen to write my operas for the next twenty-one years.
Sole Lessee and Manager Savoy Theatre.
_To James Ruskin, Esq., Railway Station Hotel, Willisden._
SIR:--I warn you that I will not accept any more copies of your books.
I do not know the individual named Tennyson to whom you refer; but if
he is the scribbler who is perpetually sending me copies of his verses,
please tell him that I read no poetry except my own. Why can't you leave
J. MOGGRIDGE, Poet Laureate.
These letters of Jimmy's remind me of our famous competition, which took
place on the night of the Jubilee celebrations. When all the rest of
London (including William John) was in the streets, the Arcadians met as
usual, and Scrymgeour, at my request, put on the shutters to keep out
the din. It so happened that Jimmy and Gilray were that night in wicked
moods, for Jimmy, who was so anxious to be a journalist, had just had
his seventeenth article returned from the _St. John's Gazette_, and
Gilray had been slated for his acting of a new part, in all the
leading papers. They were now disgracing the tobacco they smoked by
quarrelling about whether critics or editors were the more disreputable
class, when in walked Pettigrew, who had not visited us for months.
Pettigrew is as successful a journalist as Jimmy is unfortunate, and
the pallor of his face showed how many Jubilee articles he had written
during the past two months. Pettigrew offered each of us a Splendidad
(his wife's new brand), which we dropped into the fireplace. Then he
filled my little Remus with Arcadia, and sinking weariedly into a chair,
My dear Jimmy, the curse of journalism is not that editors won't accept
our articles, but that they want too many from us.
This seemed such monstrous nonsense to Jimmy that he turned his back on
Pettigrew, and Gilray broke in with a diatribe against critics.
Critics, said Pettigrew, are to be pitied rather than reviled.
Then Gilray and Jimmy had a common foe. Whether it was Pettigrew's
appearance among us or the fireworks outside that made us unusually
talkative that night I cannot say, but we became quite brilliant, and
when Jimmy began to give us his dream about killing an editor, Gilray
said that he had a dream about criticising critics; and Pettigrew, not
to be outdone, said that he had a dream of what would become of him if
he had to write any more Jubilee articles. Then it was that Marriot
suggested a competition. Let each of the grumblers, he said, describe
his dream, and the man whose dream seems the most exhilarating will
get from the judges a Jubilee pound-tin of the Arcadia. The grumblers
agreed, but each wanted the others to dream first. At last Jimmy began
Next: Jimmy's Dream
Previous: A Face That Haunted Marriot