22 MAY 1926, Page 26


The Money Box. By Robert Lynd. (Methuen. Cs. hell MR. LYND analyses with his characteristic humour those peculiar disabilities from which all men suffer, those occasional or habitual circumstances in which all men are reduced to an identical state of awkwardness or absurdity.

" On being Measured for a Suit of Clothes " is a recapitu- lation of all that unfortunate mankind has suffered in silence and as seldom as possible. " There is an iron law of shaving," says the author in " A Sermon on Shaving." " You must either not shave at all or you must shave every day. Here there is no room for the moderate man, the lover of compromise, the good-natured being who likes to make the best of both worlds. If you do not shave at all you will be respected. If you shave regularly every morning you will be respected. But if you attempt to strike a nice balance and shave one day and grow a beard another, both camps will combine to denounce you. There must be some powerful reason why moderation is praised in every other sphere of conduct but is anathematized in this. Shaving is my daily act. of hypocrisy. It enables me to feel a better man without being one." Certainly, we may add, shaving is postponed until evening in Italy, but it is notorious that foreigners are unreasonable. Gratis is a theme which shows the childlike sameness of humanity ; it proves, despite science, the magic of words : " it is extraordinary to what an expense of time and money people will go in order to get something for nothing " ; in the crush we lose cheerfully our heads and our bats.

To that earlier world of make-believe from which most people travel far after childhood, Mr. Lynd carefully retains a season ticket. One of his best and most characteristic essays is that on " Bed Knobs " in which he recalls mental expe- riences that we can all duplicate in memory. We remember those brass knobs in which a strange distortion of ourselves could be- seen, which could be unscrewed so delightfully, and which were so difficult to put on straight again. The modern child, sleeping in a wooden bed, as Mr. Lynd remarks, is not to be envied. In these days of distempered walls, what substitute can half-awakened children fmd for the fascinating floral wall- papers of our early years ?