MIND AND MATTER.
" What is Mind ?—No matter. What is Matter ?—Never Mind." (By "Akay.") It is, I understand, a causa for debate among Pressmen as to which regular features .of newspapers are favoured by most readers witri priority of attention. Next to their individual contributions, journalists would, perhaps, give pride of place to the sporting column for male readers, and, for women, either the Personals or the daily announce.ments;. of''Births, Marriages, or Deaths; or. as the flippant-term these advertise-' ments. the hatches, matches, and despatches. There is little scope for variety in such notices, and obviously fehe interest is more as to who, than as to what. Occasionally the Births' column contains departures from convention, as was instanced by the advertisement in a Christchurch contemporary last week, announcing the arrival of twins, and concluding, " Father delighted."
Such frankness prevents misunderstandings, for it is easy/to make blunders where new arrivals are concerned. • One of the best stories of this nature is that told of an elderly and childless clergyman, who was putting up a visiting delegate for the night! This stranger. arrived late, after the clergyman's wife had retired. When the guest came down the next morning to the breakfast room he found his host there. The latter, to make conversation, said, referring to the weather conditions, " Delightful to be able to welcome a little sun and air this morning." "Congratulations," came the response; " I hope Mrs is doing as well as can be expected."
Birbh announcements are not so remunerative here as they were, in pre-war times, in the Motherland. Certain London firms used to watch for such-notices/ and, when, practicable, .forward samples of their specialties in baby-foods, toilette requisites, etc., etc. The collection of ten' met the cost of the advertisement. Some of the more enterprising kept a list of the birth-dates, and just before the first anniversary arrived would forward congratulations to the happy parents, also detailing the advantages of buying birthday presents at the particular establishments. This practice, however, was checked by the' lamentable fact that some of the little strangers did not survive the twelve months, and the firms' canvassing re-opened tlie parental wounds. , .
There'is, an,. Eg-stern proverb which declares f '" Matrimony is like containing one eel and 999 serpents; it is possible to get the eel," but love laughs at cynics as well as locksmiths; and the popularity of matrimony, especially among those who have never tried it. will never decrease. Would-be humorists declare that where there is a bachelor with money to burn, there is always a girl willing to striko a. match; or tii.at when a girl loves a man for himself alone, she usually has an income of her own. These slanders on the fair sex. however, can be ignored, especially as callow youths or veteran Benedicts are the chief offenders. Matrimony has inspired much activity among wits, but the results are too often reminiscent of the Scottish peer of whom it was declared that a joke in his mouth was no laughing matter.
No traces of lovers' laughter, how : ever, are allowed to appear m marriage advertisements. It is taken for granted that the couple are happy, and there is no need for them to confess delight — at least, not in the newspapers. Marriage notices keep in familiar grooves, the chief cause for complaint being that so much is, as a rule, told of the parents and ancestors of the principals, the clergymen who officiate, and the place where the ceremony takes place, that little space is left for information as to who was the b-rido and who the groom. In connection with marriage advertisements, why is it fcliat in England, for instance, such notices are inserted a day or so after the ceremony, whereas in Australasia it seems customary to allow several weeks to elapse before publishing the news to the bridegroom's rivals ? Incidentally, seeing that divorce is said to be largely increasing, will the day arrive when ah enterprising Press will initiate a " Divorces" column ? If such a development does arise, it will be well for etiauette-experts to decide beforehand if friends who have received this only intimation of a dissolution of a matrimonial partnership should forward their congratulations, or' condolences, or both.
Death announcements are not fit subiects for comment, except to express wonder the belief still prevails that British and foreign newspapers are eager, or willing, to re-publish such notices. The request "English, Canadian, and South American papers please copy," or some similar demand, is rarely, if: ever, granted. Unless- the» circumstances were unusual, or the career of the dead of public English newspapers, particularly, would not copy, except at the usual rates. The chances are, apart from the vigilance of a news-cutting agency, the outside newspapers never learn of the intimation they are invited .to."repeat. This is just as well, perhaps, (or some of the advertisers, who could be called upon to pay a heavy bill if the request to copy were generally acceded. to.
In Memoriam notices are allied with tlio Deaths column, and here, again, intrusion of an outsider would bo unwarranted ; but perhaps it is pardonable to-plead for a higher standard of verse. The sentiments expressed are invariably excellent, but their literary form. is often deplorable. The grammar is involved, the rhymes have -little in common, and it is difficult- to read many of« the notices in a jserious iind appropriate spirit. With so many- of the Dominion's best and bravest sleeping iv far-off lands, it is certain that" In Meinoriam notices will be frequent in years to come. Such honoured dead are worthy of the best the. national literature can provide, and there is a sunor-abundance of choice of real poetic tre-ms which would convey the sentiments of the bereaved; and in a fashion really worthy 'of the great purpose. Some people declare that many of the In Memoriam notices published in the Press seem less designed to honour the dead as to publish the virtues of the living, especially of those who are payinrr for the advertisement; and, certainly. some of the matter inserted does hint at family dissensions. Mare care ■in the selection of In Memoriam verse is a real need.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9612, 17 May 1919
MIND AND MATTER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9612, 17 May 1919
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