EARLY PRESS OPINIONS
MORNING POST:—"It is entitled to be regarded as one of the clever books of the day."
MORNING LEADER:—"A brilliant book.... Evidently the work of a young, powerful, and subtle brain."
WORLD:—"The anonymous author is evidently young and clever. He paints with a firm, bold hand. The characters are life-like, and in many cases drawn from the life. The book will be found interesting and entertaining."
LONDON MORNING:—"A remarkable book.... Clever the book undoubtedly is. Its brutally frank analysis of the temperament of a man with brain and mind hopelessly diseased lifts the author out of the common rut of novelists, and stamps him as a writer of power."
LLOYD'S:—"The book sparkles with epigrammatic sayings and satirical allusions. The characters are all vividly drawn, some of them being undoubted and recognisable caricatures. The writing is that of a clever pessimist, with a vein of sardonic humour that keeps the reader amused. The author may wear a green carnation, but whether he does or not, it is the work of a skilful pen."
GREENING & CO.
(All rights reserved)
First Edition November, 1898
Reprinted December, 1898
YARDLY GOBION OPENS HIS LETTERS.
"I am thinking of writing my impressions, binding them in red leather, with a fleur-de-lys stamped in the corner, and distributing them among my friends," said the youth with the large tie.
"My good fool," said the President of the Union, who sat by the fire, "you must remember that most of us know you are a humbug."
"Quite so, but I'm not going to do it for the journalistic set. Don't you know that, owing to my youthful appearance and earnest eyes, I have an admiring circle of people who worship me as their god—good, healthy, red people, who like moonlight in the quad, and read leading articles? It is very amusing. I wear a great mass of hair, and look at them with far-away eyes instinct with intellectual pain; and sometimes when we get very solemn, the tears rise slowly, and I talk in clear tones of effort, of will—the toil, the struggle, the Glorious Reward! They absolutely love me, and I live on them, borrow their allowances, drink their whiskey—in short, rook them largely all round."
"It is a good thing," said a Merton man, whom they called the Prophet, "that you have an ark of refuge, where there is no necessity to pose, and where you can freely behave like the scoundrel you are; soul-scraping with earnest freshmen is doubtless profitable, but I should say it was wearing."
"That's the worst of it. I have to disguise the fact that I know you people, and write for The Dead Bird; it is horribly difficult. I find, though, that when I am just a little drunk I do it much better. One can look more spirituel, and play the game better all round. Unfortunately the entrances and exits require management. When one is leaning back in a padded armchair, it is easy to appear sober; but coming into a big room full of men, and picking one's way through them to get to the aforesaid chair, is very perilous work."
"'Where there's a swill there's a sway,' I suppose," said the Prophet.
"Exactly," said the youth, with a yawn; "you are becoming singularly apt at a certain sort of machine-made epigram. I will have a short drink—quite short. Yes, please—Scotch——" He splashed some soda-water into his tumbler from a syphon on the table, drank it off at a gulp, and got up.
"I really must go now; I am to speak third at the Wadham debate, so I mustn't be late."
He got his hat—a soft felt one—and arranging his tie in the glass over the mantelpiece, went out with a smile. The rooms belonged to the President of the Union, who was living out of college. They were rooms arranged with an eye to effect; the owner posed in his furniture as well as in his person, though there was no particular evidence of luxury or straining after cheap æstheticism.
A few armchairs, a sideboard covered with bottles, and two large bookshelves full of paper-backed novels of Heller and Maupassant, with a few portly historical treatises of the Taswell-Langmead type, were the most prominent objects.
It was evident, however, that a central idea influenced the arrangement. Sturtevant wrote little decadent studies for any London paper