30 MAY 1925, Page 19


The Editor has offered a prize of £5 for an original Warning in six lines of verse. The result will be announced in next week's issue.

IT was Dr. Isaac Watts who issued the most frequent and most gruesome warnings. Incredible agonies awaited the child who swore or lied or kept bad company :—

0 Lord, how terrible thou art To sinners e'er so young,

he exclaimed. But, though he was lavish with threats for children, he kept a good proportion of prospective torments for their elders. He took a true and poetic delight in hell :-

Hark, the shrill outcries of the guilty wretches ! Lively, bright horror and amazing anguish Stare through their eyelids, while the living worm lies Gnawing within them.

Thoughts, like old vultures, prey upon their heartstrings, And the smart twinges, when the eye beholds the Lofty Judge frowning, and a flood of vengeance Rolling before them.

Hopeless immortals ! how they scream and shiver, While devils push them to the pit wide-yawning, Hideous and gloomy to receive them headlong Down to the centre.

Or we may quote equally ingenious stanzas, which are more formally a warning, from The Atheist's Mistake :—

Laugh, ye profane, and swell and burst With bold impiety ; Yet ye shall live for ever curs'd, And seek in vain to die.

When iron slumbers bind your flesh, With strange surprise you'll find Immortal vigour spring afresh, And tortures wake the mind !

Yes, the reverend doctor had his heart in his work and few can have matched him in delighted savagery. There has been no such magnificence among the entries for our competition. Perhaps here and there we have had more subtlety of torture, as in the following :- Cursed be he that keeps the borrowed book :

On Kruschen posters only shall he look, His morning mail to circulars shall turn, And, if for other literature he yearn, To him shall shop or bookstall only sell

The D * * ly H * r * ld, and the works of D * U.


The trouble was that we got by no means as many quite serious warnings as we expected ; not that serious warnings were specially demanded—but they probably would have excelled the more light-hearted warnings in the rousing of terror. As it turned out, the best serious warning has been a most moderate and even-minded poem ; and its terrors arc more abstract than particular :-


Prize not your loneliness too much, Take heed in your declining days, For you may grow so out of touch With human nature and its ways You may discover in the end You have not even God for friend.


To introduce the great variety of more humorous warnings it will be best to quote the widest of them all :-

" Safety first," we say and sing— Best beware of everything!

Bed's a dangerous place, for there More have died than anywhere. The one safe rule for Great and Small, Is—Never to bs born at all.


As usual we had two outstanding entries from " Luscus." The first borders upon a " Ruthless Rhyme " :—

My son, the wisdom of our fathers said :

" Eat not asparagus with gingerbread " ; No doubt, your young interior may be tough, But is that simple confidence enough ? I ask, because 1 recollect the merriment Caused when your aunt attempted the experiment.

The second is in a kind of its own ; but perhaps it is written according to a justifiable interpretation of the conditions :—

Methought I went, as some poor cripple crawls, Slowly between interminable walls ;

Perhaps the passage, if it still is there, Connecting Curzon Street with Berkeley Square ; And voices warned me, musically humming : " Make haste, the big rhinoceros is coming."

We have space this week for only one more entry :-

Behold this dark and slimy pool ; Behold this ugly ducking-stool.

Behold these penalties that wait A prey deserving of their hate.

Behold these grim, voracious stocks For him who shoots a sitting fox.