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.

Yours faithfully,

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,


(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.

Faithfully yours,


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

me alone?

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

as follows: