One Spring day in London, long before the invention of freak verse and Freudism, I was standing in front of the Cafe Royal in Regent Street when there emerged from its portals the most famous young writer of the day, the Poet about whose latest work “The Book Bills of Narcissus” all literary London was then talking.
Richard Le Gallienne was the first real poet I had ever laid eyes upon in the flesh and it seemed to my rapt senses that this frock-coated young god, with the classic profile and the dark curls curving from the impeccable silk “tile” that surmounted them as curve the acanthus leaves of a Corinthian capital, could be none other than Anacreon’s self in modern shape.
I can see Le Gallienne now, as he steps across the sunlit sidewalk and with gesture Mercurian hails the passing Jehu. I can even hear the quick clud of the cab doors as the smartly turning hansome snatches from my view the glass-dimmed face I was not to behold again until years later at the house of a mutual friend in New York.
In another moment the swiftly moving vehicle was dissolved in the glitter of Regent Street and I fell to musing upon the curious interlacement of parts in this picture puzzle of life.
Here was a common Cabby, for the time being combining in himself the several functions of guide-book, chattel-mortgage and writ of habeas corpus on the person of the most popular literary idol of the hour and all for the matter of maybe no more than half a crown, including the pourboire!
Who would not have rejoiced to change places with that cabman! And how might not Pegasus have envied that cab-horse!
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Now after all these years it has come to pass that I am to change places with the cabman.
Perched aloft in the driver’s seat of the First Person Singular, it is my proud privilege to crack the prefatory whip and start this newest and best Le Gallienne Vehicle upon its course through the garlanded Via Laurea to the Sign of the Golden Sheaf.
Look at it well, Dear People, before it starts, this golden vehicle of Richard Le Gallienne.
Consider how it is built on the authentic lines of the best workmanship, made to last for generations, maybe for ever.
Take note of its springs so perfectly hung that the Muse may ride in luxurious ease, unjarred by metrical joltings as befits the Queen.
Mark the mirror smooth surface of the lacquer that only time and tireless labour can apply.
Before this Master Coach of Poesy the rattle-jointed Tin Lizzie of Free Verse and the painted jazz wagon of Futurism and the cheap imitation of the Chinese palanquin must turn aside, they have no right of way, these literary road-lice on the garlanded Via Laurea.
With angry thumb, the traffic cop Time will jerk them back to the side streets and byways where they belong, to make way for the Golden Coach of Richard Le Gallienne.