George Bernard Shaw: Man of the Century

By Archibald Henderson | Go to book overview

Music Criticism1

ONE OF HIS FRIENDS AND ADMIRERS TOLD ME THAT SHAW'S FINEST TRAIT WAS revealed in the following incident. When an enthusiastic but ignorant young Socialist asked Shaw what he should do to help the cause, Shaw replied: "Do your particular job, whatever it is, as wel as it can be done; and let everyone know that you are a Socialist," This was his own principle and philosophy; and it kep pushing him to the fore. He never sough jovs or asked his friends to get them for him. He so impressed them by his brilliance, cleverness, and gay temperament, that, as we have seen, his friends went about hunting berths for him.

In 1888, the late T.P.O'Connor, a leading advocate of Home Rule, actually succeeded in raising £ 40,000 to establish a newspaper, The Star, to express the views of himself and his political friends and associates. Massingham, then editor of the National Press Agency, went along as assistant editor; and in consequences of his "rapturous" praise of the wholly unknown Shaw, O'Connor engaged him as assistant leader writer at a salary of £2:10s. per week.2 Other writers on the staff, afterwards famous in London journalism, were A.B. Walkley, who wrote over the signature "Spectator," and Clement Shorter.

At this time, Shaw was supersaturated with the philosophy of Fabian per-

____________________
1
For enalargement on certain points treated in this chapter consult Archibald Henderson , George Bernard Shaw: His Life and Work ( Cincinnati, 1911), Chapter VIII.
2

In speaking of his acquaintance with Massingham, Shaw says: "Of our first meeting I have no recollection. I was certainly not introduced to him: he arises in my memory as a person known to me quite intimately, and often called The Boy.... We occasionally made Sunday morning excurcions of a kind then in vogue among journalists. They had a double object: first, to walk four miles from home and thus become bona fide travellers in the legal sense, entitled to obtain drinks as such, and, second, to buy a copy of The Observer." From Bernard Shaw's essay, "H.W. Massingham," in H.J. Massingham, H.W.M. ( London, 1925). I found Massingham one of the most interesting and genial of companions, with a keen seen of humor and a very pronounced personal dignity. I used to meet him at Shaw's quarters. I recall a delightful excursion-Massingham, Clement Shorter and I-to attend the production at Dorchester of Thomas Hardy's The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall, a memorable experience, although the acting, by local brewers, butchers, and seamstress, verged towards the execrable. Consult Archibald Henderson , "Mr. Hardy Achieves a Second Immortality," International Book Review, April, 1924.

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