25 OCTOBER 1930, Page 36

Sweet are the Uses of Advertisement

The Dickens' Advertiser. Edited by Bernard Darwin. (Elkin Mathews and Marrot. 7s. 6d.) The Dickens' Advertiser. Edited by Bernard Darwin. (Elkin Mathews and Marrot. 7s. 6d.) IT was a very happy thought of some friend of Mr. Bernard Darwin's when he suggested to him that he should write a thesis on the advertisements which appeared in the monthly parts of Charles Dickens's novels. The idea was quite new : nothing of the sort had ever been done before, and nobody could tell how it would turn out. There were the materials certainly, a basket of excellent eggs ; all depended on who was to make the omelette. No better cook could have been found, for Mr. Darwin is so fervent a Dickensian that even when he is writing on such grave matters as open golf championships he cannot keep his favourite author out of it any more than Mr. Dick could keep King Charles I out of the Memorial. He brings to his task a perfectly illimitable gusto because Dickens is connected with it. Flint strikes steel, and a bouquet of delightful sparks is the entertaining result.

The object of advertisements from the merchant's point of view is to get people to purchase his goods : if they do that, they have served his purpose. But a collection of such belong. ing to a past age and properly arranged, conjures up for us an exceedingly vivid picture of the habits of those days. It also shows us what was the sort of advertisement which was likely in 1864 or thereabouts to make the public greedy for the goods. We are apt to think of those remote Victorians as is very dull folk, prim and pompou, but the study of these advertisements as presented by Mr. Darwin proves to us that they were the most poetically-minded people. For who, in a prosaic age, who wanted to buy a hat or a pair, of trousers would select the vendor who advertised his wares in verse ? But such a method was clearly a remunerative one, for Mr. Moses, tailor and hatter, of Aldgate, habitually took Pegasus from his stall when he wanted to attract customers. And it was no flashy, ingenious stuff that caused the public to hurry to Aldgate. It was philosophical verse, Wordsworthian in style, that so strongly attracted them. For instance :

" What is a gentleman ? A fellow man, Who tries to be as perfect as ho can."

Surely Mr. Moses, who, I hope, wrote his advertisements himself, roust have been reading " The Happy Warrior." Mrs. Farley, as Mr. Darwin points out, did not believe in poetry as a vehicle for advertisement. She also found that it " came expensive," but evidently there were two opinions about that, and Mr. Moses disagreed with her. One wonders whether it might not succeed to-day. Some of our eminent but underpaid poets might go into partnership with hatters whose business is dwindling.

This rescue of ancient advertisement from these rare books brings up, like pearls from deep water, all sorts of entrancing details about the paraphernalia of daily life which must else have remained in their ocean caves for ever. A gentleman adjusted his Invisible Peruke (surely cheap at a guinea) and proposed to a lady that they should stroll in the garden. She had but to take out of a box only two inches deep her Caspiato, or Folding Bonnet, and she was ready. She Was wearing her Sansflectum Crinoline, or her Ondina (Waved Jupon), and could thus sit down on a rustic bench without inconvenience to herself or others. (Less ingenious jupons caused regrettable exposures.) Her swain was equally fortu- nate: he was wearing his Versatio, or Reversible Coat, graceful and elegant garment." When their stroll was over if he wanted to go shooting, he need only turn his Ver.:alio inside out, and there he was in a sportsman's coat with loud checks and large pockets. He had his Siphonia in one of these, and, if it began to min, out it came, and being completely waterproof it kept his Versatio dry, and he could observe his miserable friends getting soaked through, because their

inferior umbrellas (see illustration) blew inside out. Should he be troubled with toothache, instead of going to the dentist he had but to adjust Mr. Lock's fumigating apparatus, inhale from it for three seconds, and the nerve was painlessly destroyed and the tooth good for another fifteen years. Indeed it is matter for surprise that dentistry did not become a lost art in the reign of Mr. Lock. The mid-Victorians, in fact, were vastly ahead of us in the conveniences of life and the mitigation of its pains. There was Mr. Morison, the Hygieist, in whose honour on March 31st, 1856, a monument consisting of a lion on a pedestal was un- veiled at the British College of Health, which was Mr. Morison's He protested against the use of poisons in medicine, and his vegetable pills revolutionized the art of healing. No disease could resist them : smallpox, epilepsy, apoplexy withered in their kindly light, and probably also, hydrophobia. Sometimes a disease was obstinate ; one patient took five pills a day for five months, but grew worse. He gradually increased the dose to twenty a day, all to no purpose. Then, by a sublime act of faith he raised it to thirty a day : something " went snap " in his inside and he was cured. So lion-hearted a patient ought to have had a monument like that of Mr. Morison himself. Then there was " Beauty's Benefactor," Mr Rowland, who showered on the world Macassar for the hair, Kalydor for the skin and Odonto for the teeth. He was the forerunner of modern advertising methods, that is to say he started on some apparently irrelevant subject such as Christmas. " The Tule Log will soon be burning ruddily on the hearth; the tables will be spread with luxurious cheer ; many guests will assemble ; the toasts go round ; the songs enchant all hearers ; the cheek of beauty will glow ; the heart of youth will palpitate with love and joy ; and finally

' A measure—a measure

For fair dames a gentlemen!'

will resound through the glorious halls." Then Mr. Rowland unmasks his batteries. " It is at this period of festivity and mirth that the fair and youthful are more than usually desirous of shining in Personal Attraction," and then he slings Macassar, Kalydor and Odonto at them. . . . Such are but random plums picked from Mr. Darwin's delightful pudding. To those who are jaded with the perusal of works of genius so plentifully discovered week by week and want a tonic, The Dickens' Advertiser, set forth with such unfailing gusto, is confidently