OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
* * * * *
DECEMBER 2, 1914.
* * * * *
The KAISER, we hear, has had much pleasure in not bestowing the Iron Cross on Herr MAXIMILIEN HARDEN, the editor of Zukunft, who, in a recent article, suggested that the Germans should give up the pretence that they did not begin the War.
* * *
Mr. CECIL CHISHOLM, in his biography of our Commander-in-Chief, draws attention to the fact that both Sir JOHN FRENCH and General JOFFRE are square men. This, no doubt, accounts for the difficulty the enemy has in getting round them.
* * *
The author also mentions that the subject of his biography is known as "Lucky French," though few persons understand the full appropriateness of the epithet. It was Sir JOHN LUCK who first gave him a chance of distinguishing himself.
* * *
"Before Christmas," says a German journal, "Londoners will have become familiar with the spectacle of seeing their public buildings guarded by German blue-jackets." This, of course, must refer to the interior of our prisons.
* * *
We hear that as a result of the raid by British airmen on the Zeppelin base at Friedrichshaven, the place has now been placarded with notices announcing that foreign aeroplanes are verboten there.
* * *
It is announced that the proposal at Lewisham to change the name of Berlin Road has been rejected by the residents. This is unfortunate, as the only effect can be to put fresh heart into the Germans.
* * *
The Russians having objected to being called a steam roller, the London and North Western Railway have tactfully taken their fast engine "Teutonic" and re-christened her "The Tsar."
* * *
The Russians succeeded, a few days ago, in catching the Goeben napping. Apparently the motto of the Turkisch Navy is "Let lying dogs sleep."
* * *
A writer in The Daily Chronicle suggests that cats, with their marvellous homing instincts, might be used for the carriage of messages in the same way as pigeons. Not quite in the same way, perhaps; though cases of flying cats have occurred. We know one, for instance, that flew at a dog only the other day.
* * *
"EYE-WITNESS" has remarked that the Germans in France are now equipped with a gun which is quite silent. As a result of this statement a number of men who had hitherto held back as being subject to headaches are now rushing to enlist.
* * *
The advertisement of a new rifle gallery in Dublin runs as follows:—"Learn to shoot at the Dublin Rifle School. The object is to teach every man to shoot irrespective of political views." The old order changeth. Formerly, no doubt, the rifles were sighted in one way for Unionists and in another for Nationalists.
* * *
The watchmaking industry in Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, has, it is stated, already suffered a loss of L700,000 since the outbreak of the war. This is attributed entirely to the competition of the Watch on the Rhine.
* * *
With reference again to the Silent Guns which the Germans claim to have invented, it is only fair to point out that, before they were heard of, English artillery-men had silenced many of the noisy ones.
* * *
"FREE PASSES AND OVER-CROWNING."
There was some excuse for this misprint, for the offence complained of took place at the Coronation Picture Palace.
* * *
CAUTION.—The members of the Old Boys Corps simply hate being called "Old B.C.s."
* * * * *
Plucky little Wales again! Russia may have her Przemysl, but it transpired in certain police-court proceedings last week that Glamorgan has her Ynysybwl. We would suggest that the competition should now stop.
* * * * *
Illustration: Recruiting Sergeant. "WANT TO JOIN THE CAVALRY, DO YOU? KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HORSES?"
Applicant. "WOT—ME? THREE WINNERS AND A SECOND YESTERDAY! LUMME, GUV'NOR! WOT DO YOU THINK?"
* * * * *
THE RECRUITING PROBLEM SOLVED.
The recruiting problem would surely be solved easily if Lord KITCHENER would send for Captain Desmond, V.C., and his legions from Lahore. It will be remembered that in a polo tournament at that military station Captain Desmond and his team reached the final after "they had fought their way, inch by inch, through eight-and-twenty matches." (Ch. XVI., Captain Desmond, V.C., by MAUD DIVER.) If we generously assume that the hero's team played in the only tie in the first round the rest being byes—we arrive at the result that there were 268,435,457 teams or 1,073,741,828 men playing. Might not just a small percentage of these, if brought over to France, decide the issue at once in favour of the Allies? Some of the four or five billion ponies might also be utilised for remounts and for transport. Nor should the committee which successfully managed this tournament be lost sight of. They showed a power of organisation which could scarcely fail to be of use now at the War Office.
* * * * *
"Rosa pulled off her hat as she spoke, throwing it carelessly on the bed, and she laughed nosily."—Ottawa Citizen.
This is generally supposed to be an American habit.
* * * * *
A censored letter from a correspondent at the Front tells us that the most popular song with our Troops is the following:—
"It's a long way to ——, It's a long way to go; It's a long way to ——, To the sweetest —— I know, Goodbye ——, farewell ——; It's a long, long way to —— But my heart's right ——."
It will be interesting to hear further details as soon as they can be divulged without giving the position away to the Enemy.
* * * * *
TO THE NEUTRAL NATIONS.
If you elect to stay outside And run no risk, on shore or sea, Where men for all men's sake have died In this the War of Liberty (The same whose figure points the pilot's way, Larger than life, in New York Bay);—
If you prefer to fold your hands And watch us, at your guarded ease, Straining our strength to sweep the lands Clean of a deadly foul disease, Which must, unless our courage find a cure, Fall on your children, swift and sure;—
Stay out by all means; none shall ask The help that your free will declined; We'll bear as best we may the task That duty's call to us assigned; And you shall reap, ungrudged, in happier years The harvest of our blood and tears.
Only—when this long fight is done, And, breathing Freedom's purer air, You share the vantage we have won— Think not the honour, too, to share; The honour shall be theirs and theirs alone By whom the thrall was overthrown.
Meanwhile a boon: if not your swords, Give us your sympathy at need; Show us the friendship which affords At least to let its pockets bleed; And get your tradesmen kindly to forgo Their traffic with a common foe.
* * * * *
[It may be interesting to compare modern war items with some which have been culled from our own contemporary records of the past.]
From The Early British Weekly, circ. 50 B.C.:—
The Chief Druid's Fund to provide woad for our gallant troops at the Front continues to progress.
Tried yesterday for flint-and-steel signalling to the enemy, a Roman spy was convicted and axed.
News from Rome continues to show that the capital of the enemy is growing very uneasy. A force of special lictors has been enrolled to keep order in the event of a popular rising.
An account of the fighting by an Eye-Witness with the Headquarters of CASSIVELAUNUS appears on another page.
From The Saxon Chronicle, 878 A.D.:—
KING ALFRED has given his patronage to a scheme for sending comforts to our troops in the trenches. Contributions are already pouring in, and it is said that the KING was particularly touched by a gift of confectionery from the wife of a humble neatherd.
From The Saxon Standard, 1065 A.D.:—
The Norman Lie Factory continues to try to frighten us by means of invasion stories. The latest tale of terror is to the effect that a great army is to be landed at Hastings before we know where we are. We are to be crushed under the mailed fist of Normandy. The General Staff of KING HAROLD can, we think, be trusted to deal with such dangers—when they come.
* * * * *
UNWRITTEN LETTERS TO THE KAISER.
(From General VON BERNHARDI.)
ALL-HIGHEST WAR LORD,—To have received from you a letter written in your own gracious and weapon-bearing hand is an honourable privilege, under the weight of which many a General might have felt his knees tremble, and I confess that I too, though used to your Majesty's kindnesses, have not been unmoved.
Your Majesty asks me what I now think of this war of mine—I quote your words—and goes on to insinuate that in some measure the humble books that I have from time to time written, and the conversations I have held with your supreme self and with others, are responsible for what is now taking place in France, Flanders, and the Eastern seat of war. This insinuation I must with all my strength repudiate. It is true that I have been an advocate of war. For the Germans it was necessary that war should be the object of their policy in order that when the hour struck they might be able to attack their foes under the most favourable conditions and conquer them in the shortest possible time. But in saying this I made myself merely the echo of your Majesty's speeches and the faithful interpreter of your august mind. When you in words of matchless eloquence spoke of the mailed fist and bade your recruits shoot their parents rather than disobey their Kaiser, a humble General like myself could not go far wrong if he supposed that the thought of war was constantly in your Imperial mind. No other nation, I knew, had the purpose of attacking us, and I assumed therefore that if we were to gain the world-power at which we aimed we must be ready to attack other nations. Everything, however depended on the conditions and the moment.
As for a war begun, as this war was begun, in a sudden fit of temper, I must use frankness with your Majesty and say that I never contemplated it. War against France—yes; and war against Russia, if needs must be, though even then I deny that we ought to have made ourselves the mere instrument of Austrian ambitions and allowed ourselves to be dragged into danger for the beaux yeux of the Ballplatz. But to manage things so ill as to make it certain that England must declare against us and that Italy must refuse to help us—this, indeed, was the master-stroke of stupidity. Your Majesty will, no doubt, say that this was the fault of BETHMANN-HOLLWEG and VON JAGOW, but I am not sure that you yourself must not share with them the responsibility, for it was you who lost your head and gave the final word—which, of course, no one else could have given. You could have spared Belgium and kept England out of the war, so as to deal with her alone at a later date, but you took the bit between your autocratic teeth, and, alas, there was nobody who could stop you.
I say again, this is not my war. I never imagined it or planned it in this way, and I decline to be made responsible for it. I wanted a war that might be quickly prosperous and as safe for Germany as any war can be—a war of which we might keep the management in our own hands with great profit to ourselves. But now, though only four months have passed, we have lost the reins and Fate has taken them up and is directing the course of things. When that happens anything may happen. It is useless, therefore, to turn round and make accusations which are not founded in reason. My system was a good one and is still good, but it cannot now be used. There is nothing for it now except to continue hammering with our heads against a stone wall, which is not an agreeable occupation even when the heads are German.
Your Majesty's faithful subject,
* * * * *
Illustration: MEN OF FEW WORDS.
GRAND DUKE NICHOLAS. "CA MARCHE?"
GENERAL JOFFRE. "ASSEZ BIEN. ET CHEZ VOUS?"
GRAND DUKE. "PAS MAL."
* * * * *
Small Visitor. "AND HOW IS YOUR MOTHER, PENELOPE?"
Penelope. "THANK YOU, POOR MUMMIE'S A BIT BELOW HERSELF THIS MORNING—WHAT WITH THE COOK AND THE KAISER."
* * * * *
THE WATCH DOGS.
Dear Charles,—We have got a move on at last. We don't know where we are going or why we are going or even if we are really going at all. It may be that we are on our way to the Continent; it may be that we are on our way to the coast to assume the defensive; it may be that the authorities are pulling our legs and are watching from behind the hedges en route to see how we take it. We march on till we are told to stop. We stop till we are told to march on.
I was, as you know, in London on Sunday. Having had a trying week I sought a change of air to recuperate my health, I also sought to recover my self-respect by being saluted in my native parks. Full of the good things of this world I returned in the evening to ——
[Censor. Now then, don't you give it away.
Myself. But, dash it all, he knows where I'd come from.
Censor. That may be, but it's not to get about where you are.
Myself. But I'm not there now. I'm at——
I got to my little nest (anonymous) at 10.30 P.M. and found the following among other orders awaiting me: "Company Officers will hold their companies in readiness to move at short notice." "Will they?" I asked, and leapt lightly into my bed; never a wise thing to do when your bed consists of a stick or two and a bit of canvas ... I was collecting myself on the floor when a corporal came in, wearing that significant, nay sinister, look which corporals assume when they bring messages from orderly room. Having cursed him roundly for the collapse of my bed (in military life you may curse anybody for anything, provided he is an inferior) I told him to proceed and let me know the worst. "We move at 8 A.M., Sir," said he. "And what is it now?" I asked. "11.5 P.M., Sir," said he. "Then," said I, "I have under nine hours to pack up all my goods, dividing them into those which I shall carry myself on my for-light-articles-only back, those which the transport will carry and those which I shall leave here for Providence to send home; to inspect my half-company, its feet, its rifles, its packs, its kit-bags and the thousand-and-one other things which are its; to feed my men and myself and gather together a day's ration for both of us and to attend to all those little odds and ends which will inevitably crop up when one is about to leave one's headquarters and never see them again. All this must be done by 8 A.M. you say?" "The battalion will march to the rendezvous at 7.15, Sir," said he. "Reveille 5.30, breakfast at 6.30, and sick parade at 6.45," he concluded, adding, with sarcasm more effective than any of my own, "Good night, Sir."
I went straight to sleep. What else could I do? Obviously the suggested programme was impossible of completion in the time allotted; why then attempt it? I decided to obey orders: to reveille at 5.30, breakfast at 6.30, and then to start getting ready and continue doing so till called for. If the worst came to the worst, I should become a sick man and parade accordingly. It struck me as I dozed off that in civil life the very last thing an invalid would attempt would be to parade.
In supposing that I should at least be thorough about my sleep, I reckoned without my old though not always welcome friend, Banner. His view is that when a crisis arrives it is up to the people involved to be at least busy, if not worse. To him commotion is essential, and he has always distrusted our adjutant because the only thing he did on receiving telegraph orders to mobilize was to send out an orderly for a hundred cigarettes and a Daily Mirror. When Lieutenant Banner receives orders he at once puts his cap on, pushes it to the back of his head and passes a weary hand across a worried brow. When he has confused himself to the top of his bent he searches round for other victims. On this Sunday night ill luck directed his footsteps to my billet; seeing me in bed, he became positively aghast, though I firmly believe he was inwardly delighted to discover so depressing a sight.
You may imagine the colloquy that ensued; how he repeated to me, with a nice sense of climax, the news which I had already received from the corporal. "It is impossible to do it," said he. "Quite," said I, turning on my other side. "But good heavens, man, you're not going to sleep?" he asked. "I'm going to have a try," I told him. The result of the business was that Banner eventually did all my packing for me, feeling, no doubt, that I should be left behind if he didn't. Of course he was left behind himself. Really, I suppose, I ought to be very grateful to the dear old fellow; but I have the feeling that, if he had stayed away, I should have had my sleep and every thing would have arranged itself in the meantime, and would have arranged itself rightly.
We marched forth at break of day from that town where we have been stationed the last three months, and it shows how unavailing are these precautions for secrecy when I tell you that the local tailor was up and about before dawn collecting his unpaid accounts notwithstanding. Since then we have slept in hay-lofts, and sometimes in eligible villas, knowing the dignity and pleasure of the white sheet again. Our willy-nilly hosts are all firmly convinced that we want conversation confined to the more gruesome experiences of their friends and relations who have got mixed up in this war, but otherwise they are kindness itself. At the house I at present inhabit it is found absolutely essential that the father and the mother, three daughters, two maidservants, the nurse, and even, I believe, the infant son, should rise from their beds at 5 o'clock when reveille is, at the whim of the G.O.C., put at that unforgivable hour. It is only myself who may lie a-bed till six!
Well, Charles, I'll let you know in due course what becomes of me, that is if I ever know myself. I see little more of the business than the backs of the files marching ahead of me, and even if I discover the names of our resting-places I have generally forgotten them in the haste of our departure. I met a man who had returned from the Continent itself and I asked him where he had been and how he got his wound. He admitted frankly that he didn't know; in fact, he said, he'd been back in England for three weeks now and no one had ever let him know whether he had been at the front or not. If they don't inform you as to your present or your past, how can you expect to be informed as to your future? Thus I may at this moment be marching forward to Belgium, or I may be merely moving to another home station, or it may all be a test of my power and organization and I may be making a wide circle which will bring me back one fine morning to my original starting-place, Tiddilyumpton.
Drop it all, a soldier ought to be told whether he is going to war or not. It would make it so much easier to know what attitude to adopt to the schoolchildren who cheer him as he marches past.
* * * * *
Illustration: The Victor (after being admonished for un-scoutlike behaviour). "WELL, YOU MAY SAY WHAT YOU LIKE, SIR, BUT I CONSIDER IT DISTINCTLY SUBVERSIVE OF DISCIPLINE FOR AN ORDINARY PRIVATE TO CALL HIS PATROL-LEADER 'TOFFEE-NOSE.'"
* * * * *
"In its issue of 22nd instant our estimable contemporary, 'La Patria degli Italiani,' published a magnificent translation of the latest poem of Rudyard Kipling: 'Rule Britannia.'"—Buenos Aires Standard.
Wait till you read ROBERT BRIDGES' new work, "God Save the King."
* * * * *
A thoughtful and far-reaching suggestion toward the better regulation of the currency has been made by a Mr. JAMES INNES C. ROGER. He writes to the Press in the following terms:—"It has lately struck me that a silver 10s. piece might be introduced during the war instead of (or in addition to) the paper notes now current. Although these might be objected to on the ground of size and weight, they would be interesting as a memento of the great war, especially if the obverse side bore, say, a representation of the British Fleet in action."
It seems to us that this would provide a delightful little game for the Government, which probably has not much else to do at present, and we do not see how the proposed coins could possibly be objected to on the grounds mentioned above. On the contrary they would be most useful in a variety of ways in which the sixpence and threepenny bit are of no service whatever. In thoroughly honest households they could be employed as letter-weights or for practising the discus-throw for the next Olympic Games (if any), or for keeping open a swing door while a tea-tray is carried through. We hope the idea will be vigorously followed up. A 15/-piece representing the British Army crossing the Aisne River under fire would be certain to be popular, as also would a 17/6 piece showing the arrival of the Indian Troops at Marseilles.
Something, too, might be done with our stamps. Concrete gun emplacements would look very well on the five-shilling stamp, and the desired effect of secrecy could be obtained by printing them on the back; while we would suggest for the penny stamp a design of a muffler or a mitten with crossed knitting needles in each corner. At the same time an important step could be taken toward popularizing the postal order, by printing on the obverse side of it in red the whole of the first verse of "It's a long way to Tipperary."
We only throw out these suggestions for what they are worth. Like Mr. ROGER himself our sole idea is to contribute something really useful to the pregnant deliberations of the hour.
* * * * *
Illustration: Officer (commanding skirmishing party). "VERY SORRY TO PUT YOU OFF YOUR GAME, SIR; BUT WE HAD TO COME ACROSS HERE."
Golfer. "DON'T MENTION IT, SIR. IT MAKES ME FEEL I'VE DONE MY BIT."
* * * * *
BOOK TRADE GOSSIP.
(The following communication has been submitted to our own Special Censor, who takes the responsibility of contradicting it in every particular. Subject to this, he has no objection to publication.)
In spite of the drastic regulations against dealing with the enemy it is to be feared that books from British publishing houses continue to find their way into German hands. During the early days of the invasion of Belgium an unprecedented demand for How to Collect Old Furniture arose in neutral countries, accompanied by enquiries for similar works dealing with silver plate, pictures and bijoutry. Suspicion respecting the ultimate destination of these books is strengthened by the fact that of late the demand has given place to urgent requests for stilts, wading-boots, and "water-wings"—a class of goods in which Paternoster Row is not keenly interested.
* * *
The esteemed Berliner Tageblatt has recently set itself to discover the most suitable reading for civilians during the war. One of its correspondents recommends Gulliver's Travels, "in order to learn to know the English." That weighty point may therefore be regarded as finally settled. Meanwhile from other sources no less authentic some interesting particulars have come to light of the literary relaxations prevailing among our enemy in the field. From these it would appear that early in September General VON KLUCK received, apparently from an anonymous admirer, a copy of The Mysteries of Paris, in which he has been thoughtfully absorbed ever since. His Imperial master's pocket-companion takes the form of a copy of Mr. FRANK RICHARDSON'S There and Back, which we learn is already beginning to show signs of hard wear. Many of the gunners stationed about French and Belgian cathedral cities are reported as being seriously interested in MAX MUeLLER'S Chips from a German Workshop, while Mr. H. G. WELLS' Twelve Stories and a Dream has become almost a book of reference to the officials disseminating German wireless news.
* * *
A work of timely importance, especially to Londoners during the present lighting regulations, is promised in the course of the next few weeks. The novelty is to take the form of a brochure from the pen of Dean INGE, and will court popularity under the arresting title, How to be Cheerful though Gloomy.
* * * * *
THE ARCHBISHOP'S APOLOGIA.
["I resent exceedingly the gross and vulgar way in which the German Emperor has been treated in the newspapers.... I have a personal memory of the Emperor very sacred to me."—The Archbishop of York.]
HIS GRACE OF YORK maintains the KAISER'S Merely the dupe of bad advisers, And, simply to avoid a fuss, Reluctantly made war on us.
One marvels what his Grace will say When, peradventure, some fine day, Thanks to his German friend, he hears York Minster crashing round his ears!
* * * * *
"It was stated in Dover last night that an aircraft was seen over Dungeness this evening."—Central News.
"The Press Bureau, while permitting publication, cannot vouch for the accuracy of this statement."—Cardiff Evening Express.
* * * * *
A QUESTION OF LIGHT.
As soon as Celia had got a chequebook of her own (and I had explained the mysteries of "—— & Co." to her), she looked round for a safe investment of her balance, which amounted to several pounds. My offers, first of an old stocking and afterwards of mines, mortgages and aerated breads, were rejected at once.
"I'll leave a little in the bank in case of accidents," she said, "and the rest must go somewhere absolutely safe and earn me five per cent. Otherwise they shan't have it."
We did what we could for her; we offered the money to archdeacons and other men of pronounced probity; and finally we invested it in the Blanktown Electric Light Company. Blanktown is not its real name, of course; but I do not like to let out any information which may be of value to Celia's enemies—the wicked ones who are trying to snatch her little fortune from her. The world, we feel, is a dangerous place for a young woman with money.
"Can't I possibly lose it now?" she asked.
"Only in two ways," I said. "Blanktown might disappear in the night, or the inhabitants might give up using electric light."
It seemed safe enough. At the same time we watched the newspapers anxiously for details of the latest inventions; and anybody who happened to mention when dining with us that he was experimenting with a new and powerful illuminant was handed his hat at once.
You have Blanktown, then, as the depository of Celia's fortune. Now it comes on the scene in another guise. I made the announcement with some pride at breakfast yesterday.
"My dear," I said, "I have been asked to deliver a lecture."
"What ever on?" asked Celia.
"Anything I like. The last person lectured on 'The Minor Satellites of Jupiter,' and the one who comes after me is doing 'The Architecture of the Byzantine Period,' so I can take something in between."
"Like 'Frostbites,'" said Celia helpfully. "But I don't quite understand. Where is it, and why?"
"The Blanktown Literary and Philosophical Society ask me to lecture to them at Blanktown. The man who was coming is ill."
"But why you particularly?"
"One comes down to me in the end," I said modestly.
"I expect it's because of my electric lights. Do they give you any money for it?"
"They ask me to name my fee."
"Then say a thousand pounds, and lecture on the need for more electric light. Fancy if I got six per cent.!"
"This is a very sordid conversation," I said. "If I agree to lecture at all, it will be simply because I feel that I have a message to deliver ... I will now retire into the library and consider what that message is to be."
I placed the Encyclopaedia handy and sat down at my desk. I had already grasped the fact that the title of my discourse was the important thing. In the list of the Society's lectures sent to me there was hardly one whose title did not impress the imagination in advance. I must be equally impressive....
After a little thought I began to write.
"WASPS AND THEIR YOUNG.
"Lecture delivered before the Blanktown Literary and Philosophical Society, Tuesday, December 8th.
"Ladies and Gentlemen——"
"Well," said Celia, drifting in, "how's it going?"
I showed her how far I had got.
"I thought you always began, 'My Lord Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen,'" she said.
"Only if the Lord Mayor's there."
"But how will you know?"
"Yes, that's rather awkward. I shall have to ask the Secretary beforehand."
I began again.
"WASPS AND THEIR YOUNG.
"Lecture delivered, etc. ...
"My Lord Mayor, my Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen——"
It looked much better.
"What about Baronets?" said Celia. "There's sure to be lots."
"Yes, this is going to be difficult. I shall have to have a long talk with the Secretary.... How's this?—'My Lord Mayor, Lords, Baronets, Ladies and Gentlemen and Sundries.' That's got in everybody."
"That's all right. And I wanted to ask you: Have you got any lantern slides?"
"They're not necessary."
"But they're much more fun. Perhaps they'll have some old ones of Vesuvius you can work in. Well, goodbye." And she drifted out.
I went on thinking.
"No," I said to myself, "I'm on the wrong tack." So I began again:—
"SOME YORKSHIRE POT-HOLES.
"Lecture delivered before the Blanktown Literary and Philosophical Society, Tuesday, December 8th.
"My Lord Mayor, my Lords——"
"I don't want to interrupt," said Celia coming in suddenly, "but—oh, what's a pot-hole?"
"A curious underground cavern sometimes found in the North."
"Aren't caverns always underground? But you're busy. Will you be in for lunch?"
"I shall be writing my lecture all day," I said busily.
At lunch I decided to have a little financial talk with Celia.
"What I feel is this," I said. "At most I can ask ten guineas for my lecture. Now my expenses all the way to the North, with a night at an hotel, will be at least five pounds."
"Five-pounds-ten profit," said Celia. "Not bad."
"Ah, but wait. I have never spoken in public before. In an immense hall, whose acoustics——"
"Who are they?"
"Well, never mind. What I mean is that I shall want some elocution lessons. Say five, at a guinea each."
"That still leaves five shillings."
"If only it left that, it might be worth it. But there's the new white waistcoat. An audience soon gets tired of a lecture, and then there's nothing for the wakeful ones to concentrate on but the white waistcoat of the lecturer. It must be of a virgin whiteness. Say thirty-five shillings. So I lose thirty shillings by it. Can I afford so much?"
"But you gain the acoustics and the waistcoat."
"True. Of course, if you insist——"
"Oh, you must," said Celia.
So I returned to the library. By tea-time I had got as far as this:—
"ADVENTURES WITH A CAMERA IN SOMALILAND.
"Lecture delivered before the Blanktown Literary and Philo—— "
And then I had an idea. This time a brilliant one.
"Celia," I said at tea, "I have been wondering whether I ought to take advantage of your generosity."
"In letting me deliver this lecture."
"It isn't generosity, it's swank. I want to be able to tell everybody."
"Ah, but the sacrifices you are making."
"Am I?" said Celia, with interest.
"Of course you are. Consider. I ask a fee of ten guineas. They cannot possibly charge more than a shilling a head to listen to me. It would be robbery. So that if there is to be a profit at all, as presumably they anticipate, I shall have a gate of at least two hundred and fifty."
"I should hope so."
"Two hundred and fifty. And what does that mean? It means that at seven-thirty o'clock on the night of December the 8th two hundred and fifty residents of Blanktown will turn out the electric lights in their drawing-rooms ... PERHAPS EVEN IN THEIR HALLS ... and proceed to the lecture-room. True, the lecture-room will be lit up—a small compensation—but not for long. When the slides of Vesuvius are thrown upon the screen——"
Celia was going pale.
"But if it's not you," she faltered, "it will be somebody else."
"No; if I refuse, it will be too late then to get a substitute. Besides they must have tried everybody else before they got down to me.... Celia, already the Zeppelin scare has shaken your stock severely; this will be the final blow. It is noble of you to sacrifice——"
"Don't go!" she cried in anguish.
I gave a deep sigh.
"For your sake," I said, "I won't."
So that settles it. If my lecture on "First Principles in Homeopathy" is ever to be delivered, it must be delivered elsewhere.
A. A. M.
* * * * *
Slightly soiled Urchin, "PLEASE, MR. GENERAL, IF YER WOULDN'T MIND BENDIN' DAHN A BIT, ME AN' EMMA'D LIKE TO GIVE YER A KISS."
* * * * *
A LA RUSSE.
Every November, just as I am beginning to look sadly down the long vista of apple—apple-tart, apple-pudding, stewed apple and custard, apple-charlotte and apple-dumpling—that stretches all the way from now to rhubarb, come cranberries.
I had forgotten them, as I do every year, and the pinky-red that tinged the knife yesterday, as soon as it entered what I feared was an apple-tart, ran right up my arm and spread in a glow to my face. Dear cranberries!
And doubly dear just now. How did you manage it? All the way from Archangel, was it—threading your way through mines and submarines, and not a keg broken, not a cranberry exploded? Thank you, JELLICOE.
Or are you a Southern Slav, a Crim-Tartar? And did you dare the Dardanelles, give the Goeben the slip, and disappoint the German ganders of their sauce? Artful ally!
Where is your home, bright berry? What are your habits? Do you push through the snow on the steppes? Do you flower in the first thaw of spring, set in full summer and ripen when the snow falls again? I think so; you have the savour of snow. I hope so; I picture the snowfields stained with your blood when you burst.
We've known too little of you, but we shall want to know more now. The Vicar said the war would do good in more ways than one. It does it now; it sets me thinking.
Learning, too. My landlady, for whom I had composed a simple object-lesson on the value of a strong Navy, pricked all my bubbles with, "Russian, Sir? Did you say Russian? I wouldn't have a bit o' foreign fruit in the house. Them berries was picked in my sister's garden on the moors."
"Helmets galore strew the fields. Rifles, motor lorries, and field kitchens are common finds. Some day they will be collected, and—such is the scandalous heartlessness of mankind—distributed as souvenirs of the great Armageddon of 1914."—Daily Chronicle.
In case anybody wishes to bring us home a souvenir, we are keeping a little place on our writing-desk for a field-kitchen.
* * * * *
Illustration: Vicar (his mind full of the recruiting posters). "WILT THOU TAKE THIS WOMAN TO THY WEDDED WIFE—FOR THREE YEARS OR THE DURATION OF THE WAR?"
* * * * *
PEACE WITH HONOUR.
(Being a slight amplification, from another quarter, of the lines addressed to "Mr. Bernard Jaw" in last week's "Punch.")
Oft as I've wondered with a weary sigh At MR. SHAW'S incorrigible habit Of always seeing England with an eye That knows the armour's joint and where to stab it, And, sometimes taken by his style, Have half believed his taunts of guile, But oftener set them down to bile And eating too much green-stuff, like a rabbit;
I've dreamed a dream that, when the drums are still And stern Bellona, from her steel unbodiced, Regrets the overthrow of KAISER BILL (Of all strange cranks, excepting one, the oddest), Disarmament and gentleness May also come to G. B. S., And, turned from wrath, he shall confess Britain in triumph was supremely modest.
A newer, better Poland shall arise, And Schleswig-Holstein be extremely perky; Alsace-Lorraine shall look with loving eyes To a clear dawn, where now the mists are murky, And messengers of peace shall stray On Balkan mounts, and my Aunt May Has frequently been heard to say That she intends to give the Belgians Turkey.
But what of England? Shall she not bestow Quiet upon the world, and ordered measure, And take no vantage of the fallen foe In land (which is but dust) and sordid treasure? But rather of her kindness yield The balm whereby hurt wounds are healed, That couchant in the selfsame field Lion and lamb may masticate at leisure.
Let it be written in the terms of peace, And evermore on brassy tablets graven, That England shall demand no right nor lease Of frontier nor of town, nor armoured haven, But cede with unreluctant paw To Germans and to German law The whole of this egregious SHAW, And only re-annex the BARD OF AVON.
* * * * *
"The commission is also empowered to order the removal of advertising on existing marquises if it is deemed objectionable."
Los Angeles Times.
Who are these marquises who are large enough for a really telling poster on the waistcoat?
* * * * *
"Here Colonel Hoffmann remarked: 'We have a feeling of absolute superiority over the Russians. We must win; we will win.'"
Look out for our new opera, "Fairy Tales of HOFFMANN."
* * * * *
Illustration: A CHRONIC COMPLAINT.
AIDE-DE-CAMP. "'THE ENGLISH FORCE, SO PLEASE YOU.'"
KAISER. "'TAKE THY FACE HENCE.... I AM SICK AT HEART.'"
(MACBETH, Act V., Sc. 3.)
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
(EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.)
House of Commons, Monday, 23rd November.—Dull sitting suddenly stirred to excitement by Apparition in Khaki starting up from below Gangway on Ministerial Side. It was WEDGEWOOD (sans BENN). Wanted to know what advice Government are prepared to give civil population as to how they ought to behave in event of German invasion.
"Are they," asked the warlike WEDGEWOOD, "to take it lying down and let the Germans walk over them? or shall they make the best possible stand for their country?"
From above Gangway in neighbourhood of LEIF JONES' seat came tremulous voice exclaiming, "Fight!"
Thus encouraged, PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to War Office, who day by day grows more martial in figure and manner, pointed out that "the first duty we [meaning the Army] and the Navy have to perform is to prevent invasion. That failing, our duty is to drive the invader into the sea as fast as ever we can."
Illustration: Mr. Tennant. "OUR DUTY IS TO DRIVE THE INVADER INTO THE SEA."
As to action of civil population emergency committees are being formed in counties where there is danger of invasion, and instructions are being issued by them. What those instructions are TENNANT strategically declined to disclose.
After this reassuring statement Consolidated Fund Bill immediately passed second reading.
Later fresh protest, led off by Lord BOB and emphasised by BONAR LAW, against arbitrary conduct of Censor in dealing with the Press.
"We ought to stick to this till K. caves in," says the MEMBER FOR SARK. "The Press Bureau has about it stamp of things 'made in Germany.' Importation of other classes of these goods is prohibited. Let us either get rid of the Press Bureau or have it remodelled on principles of common sense, in accord with public feeling and concern for best interests of the Army."
Business done.—Stout bundle of Bills advanced a stage.
House of Lords, Tuesday.—The ways of the Press Censor are past finding out.
He worries the British Press day and night. He stands in the way of recognition of exceptionally gallant deeds on the battle-field by particular men or regiments. He arbitrarily strikes out passages from the letters of War Correspondents who, forbidden to approach the fighting line, laboriously pick up such scraps of information as may filter through its outskirts. He holds over for days, sometimes for weeks, official despatches from the Front, for which the Public are eagerly waiting. Occasionally, by way of exhibiting his desire that not a moment shall be lost in communicating important information, he, about midnight, by preference an hour later, dumps down upon hapless newspapers just going to press the material for whole columns of print.
This conscientiously and painstakingly done, he permits certain journals published in Ireland to circulate seditious garbage designed to stop the flow of recruiting which CARSON and JOHN REDMOND, representatives of contending national parties, have loyally united in encouraging.
In the Commons the other night attention of SOLICITOR-GENERAL, head of this new department, called to notorious matter. Protested that he knew nothing of these Irish papers. General impression in both Houses that it is time he made the acquaintance of the particular organs alluded to and took action accordingly.
* * * * *
Illustration: THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL KNOWS NOTHING OF SEDITIOUS IRISH NEWSPAPERS.
* * * * *
MIDLETON to-night in spirited speech asked what the Government proposed to do? CREWE pleaded that he must have notice of the question. CURZON, ever ready to oblige, promptly undertook to place one on notice-paper.
Business done.—In Commons Budget Bill passed Report stage, CHANCELLOR smoothing the passage by concessions to the brewers and publicans by way of easing burden of additional taxation.
House of Commons, Wednesday.—For some time there has been rumour, generally discredited, that Prince ALBERT, son of Prince and Princess CHRISTIAN, had taken active service with the enemy in struggle with whom the best blood of the nation is being daily outpoured. To-day YOUNG asked whether story was true? PREMIER curtly admitted it.
"Is it considered just and expedient," inquired the Member for Perthshire, amid ominous cheering, "that the British taxpayer should be called upon to pay L6,000 a year for the maintenance of a family which includes this German officer?"
"The Question," replied the PREMIER, with something less than his accustomed point in dealing with Supplementary Queries, "relates to a particular individual."
House gladly got rid of disagreeable subject. But SARK tells me that, when in due course the pension comes up in Committee of Supply, more will be heard of the matter.
Business done.—Several War Emergency Bills advanced a stage.
House of Lords, Thursday.—K. of K. read brief paper on Military Situation in Flanders. In matter of picturesque detail it did not quite come up to pitch of "EYE-WITNESS'S" despatches from the Front, which in the main it resembled. But it was as comforting as it was concise. Summed up in sentence the position to-day of Expeditionary Force: "Reinforcements have replaced our casualties, and the troops under Sir JOHN FRENCH, now re-fitted, are in the best of spirits, confident of success under their Leader."
Touched lightly on rout of Germans in Poland with which the world is ringing; but said nothing about capture of KAISER'S cloak. SARK suggests that this interesting robe should be put up for sale to highest bidder (as if it were the First L1 note), proceeds to be contributed to Fund for Relief of Belgians. This would give opportunity for remarking that having taken off his coat to devastate the homes of the Belgians, WILHELM gave them his cloak also.
Suggestion worth thinking about. Certainly something attractive about it in way of poetic justice.
Business done.—In the Commons UNDER-SECRETARY FOR INDIA gave glowing account of the gallant deeds of Indian troops fighting in three continents.
Friday.—After heartening speeches by CHANCELLOR and FIRST LORD, together going to show that "we've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the money too," Parliament adjourned till Tuesday, February 2nd, with promise that, if necessary, it can be specially summoned at any time on six days' notice.
* * * * *
"The Germans did not even hesitate to bring up heavy artillery which quickly became embedded in the mud, some of which has since been found by our troops."
Press Association War Special.
From what we hear, our troops have found all the mud they want.
* * * * *
"In reply to Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS, Mr. MCKENNA said:—Germans cannot land in the United Kingdom without the express permission of the Secretary of State."
New motto for Great Britain: "MCKENNA and the Navy our shield."
* * * * *
Illustration: Shopkeeper. "CANDLES ARE UP IN PRICE TO-DAY, Y'KNOW, MRS. O'FLYNN—ON ACCOUNT OF THE WAR."
Mrs. O'Flynn. "OCH! BAD CESS TO THEM GERMANS! WHY CAN'T THEY BE FIGHTING BY DAYLIGHT?"
* * * * *
A SERVANT OF THE KING.
"Your King and country need YOU."
Tilda Perkins, her cap awry and a smudge on her diminutive nose, came to a sudden halt, arrested by the staring blue type.
"Your King and country need YOU."
That personal appeal drove straight home. Tilda's heart swelled; a flush of excitement invaded her cheeks.
"Bless 'em! They shall 'ave me," she vowed in a fervour of self-immolation.
Tightly clutching the newspaper containing her master's breakfast haddock she scudded off, ablaze with patriotic fire.
"There 'tis, Ma'am," she gasped breathlessly, plumping down her burden on the kitchen table. "An' now I'm goin'."
"To KING GEORGE, God bless 'im. The poster ses 'e wants me."
Her mistress shook a regretful head.
"No, Tilda. It's not you and I he wants."
Gloom unutterable descended upon Tilda as her mistress expounded the situation.
"Men 'as all the luck," she jerked out. "I ain't surprised them Sufferajettes got sick o' things."
"Still, I s'pose it ain't KING GEORGE'S fault. I'll 'elp 'im out as well as I can," she announced.
It was a resolute Tilda who awaited her swain at the kitchen door that night.
"Take off yer shoes," she said abruptly.
"'Old up yer 'ead. Don't loll," came the sharp command.
Jem drew himself up to attention, and Tilda manipulated an inch tape.
"Sixty-three inches an' a bit. Twelves into sixty go five. Five feet three an' a scrap. You'll jest do," she said with a complacent nod.
Jem, motionless, but turning a fine blush-rose under the touch of the busy fingers, levelled an enquiring gaze at the preoccupied face.
"I'm giving you to KING GEORGE," remarked Tilda. "I'm sorry you ain't taller, but he'll understand I've done the best I can for 'im," she added with a little sigh.
"But—but—" faltered Jem.
"There ain't no buts about it," broke in Tilda with swift asperity. "Think what you'd feel like if you was me."
"Why, it's you a-sendin' me," protested Jem. "I won't go if you don't want me to leave yer."
Tilda flung back her head with an impatient snort at man's obtuseness.
"You don't s'pose I'm whinin' cos you're goin', do you?" she demanded.
An abashed Jem diminished perceptibly.
"Well, why then?" he asked humbly.
"Cos I can't go, stoopid. It ain't fair."
* * * * *
Their blazon flashed across the sky Or ever the War began; In divers spots it struck the eye Of every passing man. Aloft the flickering words would run, Curtly commanding me To use the Soap of Such a One, Or swallow Someone's Tea.
But oh, in London's sky to-day Such legends no man meets, And, as I go my cautious way By dark but decent streets, I think of him who bade depart These beacons' blatant din, And almost find it in my heart To bless Count ZEPPELIN.
* * * * *
"FIVE HOLES IN HULL.
GLASGOW BEING REPAIRED IN RIO DE JANEIRO."—Star.
More news for Germans: "Successful bombardment of British towns."
* * * * *
Illustration: Cavalry Instructor. "FROM WHERE DID YOU RECEIVE INSTRUCTIONS TO DISMOUNT, SIR?"
Raw Recruit. "FROM HINDQUARTERS, SIR."
* * * * *
A SOLDIER'S SERVANT.
Dear Mr. Punch,—I am only a dog, but as you have a dog of your own you will be able to sympathise with me and understand my feelings. If you don't, ask him and he will explain.
My master tells me he is going to a place called The Front, and he seems awfully pleased with the idea. But my mistress is not pleased at all, though she tries to smile and look happy when he talks about it. All the same, I have found her several times crying quietly by herself, and have had to lick her face thoroughly all over in order to cheer her up.
At first, when my master told me he was going to this mysterious place, I simply barked and wagged my tail and jumped about, because, of course, I thought I was going there too, and it doesn't matter to me where he goes as long as I go with him. Imagine therefore my feelings when it gradually leaked out that I was to be left behind. When the truth dawned upon me I was so upset that I lay for a whole day on the doorstep in a dazed condition, whilst several cats who knew me well came and washed themselves carefully right under my nose. I hardly saw them, though of course I couldn't help smelling them.
You see, Mr. Punch, what made me feel so very bad was that I had found out something about The Front from other dogs. It appears that it is a very dangerous place, full of what they call Germans, where he would need me to look after him much more than he does at home. Why then not take me? I cannot understand it at all. I can fight. Ask the dog at the house at the corner of our road what he thinks, and just take a look at his ears. They speak for themselves.
Then, again, I can hear and smell a great deal better than my master, and could keep watch while he is asleep (I am told he will have to sleep in a ditch!), and after one or two sniffs and bites I should soon learn to tell a German.
In time of danger the place of every English dog is by his master's side, and he doesn't mind dying there either. Can't you help us to get to The Front with our masters?
A VERY SAD DOG.
P.S.—I enclose untouched one of the most delicious bones I have ever smelt—not necessarily for publication but as a guarantee of good faith.
* * * * *
The Men from Blankley's.
"MATES GIVEN FOR
Dinner Parties. Dance Suppers. Wedding Receptions. At Homes."
Advt. in "Clifton Society."
A boon for the harassed hostess.
* * * * *
'Tis a strange portent of the war That every advertiser Desires to be indebted for His income to the KAISER; At all events He's got the goods for military gents.
"Pypp's Playing-cards," we learn, "dispel The longest siege's tedium." "Tin of Tobacco turns a shell— Great feat by Mascot (medium)." "No ally feels Hungry or tired who carries Ponk's Pastilles."
"The nicest present you can get To soothe the soldier's nerve is Our Black Maria cigarette— The best for active service!" "All haversacks Should carry lumps of Entente sealing-wax."
"Ask for our French equivalent Of British Oaths. The French is More chic. A pretty compliment To Piou-Piou in the trenches! A boon untold To Indian colonels suffering from the cold!"
* * * * *
"Both persons have been taken prisoners and sent to Medan, where they will be fried for having broken Holland's neutrality."
Provinciale Groninger Courant.
A severe, but perhaps necessary, lesson.
* * * * *
A SPORTING DESPATCH.
[From William Wheezle, K.G. (Keeper of Game), addressed to our own Subaltern at the Front, and describing the operations of the Allied Forces in and round the West Wood and the Middle Planting, November, 1914.]
Sir,—I have the honour to report that on Saturday last the Allied Forces advanced, as soon as they could be got out of bed, in the direction of the West Wood. The troops under my command, or supposed to be under my command, were drawn chiefly from the Old Fogey Division. In addition to the Household Extremely Heavy Infantry, there were two battalions of the 160th London Potterers (the "Puff Hards"), specially summoned from Pall Mall to act with us. These battalions, under the command of Colonel Bowindow, D.S.O., fully maintained the noble traditions that attach to their name. There were also two regiments of unmounted cavalry, the 210th (Flannel Feet) and the 306th Purple Lancers (Buster's Own). These sections declined to co-operate unless provided with shooting ponies.
Circumstances unfortunately deprived me of the assistance of other contingents, such as the Dog-potters, upon which I had in previous years been able to depend. At Westwood our troops deployed, and a hostile demonstration on the part of the enemy, signalled by loud von clucks, kept us thoroughly on the alert. They found our range very quickly, a good deal more quickly, indeed, than we found theirs; but as they advanced closer their casualties became more numerous. On the whole the result of this action was not unsatisfactory. After a short march through the bracken we occupied a well-chosen position in open country, our troops availing themselves of such cover as offered, though some of them took a good deal of concealing. A violent general engagement ensued, and for some time the firing was continuous. The enemy's losses were serious, a frontal attack in close formation and at a moderate pace being attended with great disaster. The Potterers, after taking some time to bring their guns into action, kept up a constant and, as they assured me, effective fire.
Reports having been received that the enemy were holding the Middle Planting in strength, I decided to manoeuvre in that direction. There was an affair of outposts in the course of the march, Colonel Bowindow bravely engaging a strongly entrenched rabbit. There was no actual loss of life, the rabbit retiring in good order, but its moral is, I understand, seriously shaken if not completely shattered. It subsequently succeeded in digging itself deeper in, and took no further part in the day's operations.
Before attempting to dislodge the main body of the enemy our forces took cover in open order under an adjacent hedge. With scarcely any delay large numbers of the enemy appeared above the top of the wire entanglements, the rapidity of their movements taking our artillery by surprise. Our gunners, however, served their pieces with regularity and determination until the enemy were reported to be in full retreat. Their casualties were few, chiefly owing to the speed at which their movements were conducted, and only amounted to one wounded, or said to be. Two more were alleged to be missing, but have probably by this time rejoined their regiments. The expenditure of ammunition during this skirmish was great.
At the battle of Middle Planting, which followed, the enemy suffered severely. Our encircling movement was capably carried out and our high-angle fire was very effective. On our left flank Colonel Buster found himself at one time almost completely enveloped by hares, but in this critical situation he handled his guns promptly, and in repulsing the adversary suffered no loss except that of his temper. That he did not inflict more damage was, according to his own statement, due to the fact that the opposing forces, when they saw him preparing to develop his attack, kept at a prudent distance. During this engagement numerous wood-taubes were sighted flying over our position, but at such a height that it was impossible, or appeared to be impossible, to bring them down.
Rations were then served out, the commissariat being under the able direction of Major Domo. The quality of the supplies was satisfactory, nor was there any real shortage, if I may judge from the report (received by me after lunch from General Torpor, in temporary command) that our troops were incapable of advancing, or indeed of any movement at all.
Later.—On waking up we made a forced march in the direction of Mudford Village and occupied a wide front, the considerable spaces between units rendering our operations less hazardous to each other. A flanking movement upon the line Stubblefield-Tenacre-Turniptops was attended with some success, though several entire Army Corps of the enemy succeeded in extricating themselves without disaster. Nor were we able to come in touch with them again before darkness set in, and the Allied Forces retired, highly pleased with themselves, to their base, in the immediate neighbourhood of Auction Bridge.
I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient Servant, WILLIAM WHEEZLE.
* * * * *
(A True Story.)
This War has done many wonderful things; It has altered our views of Kaisers and Kings, And quite discounted the stern rebukes Of those who anathematized Grand Dukes. It has hurled from many a lofty pinnacle The self-sufficient and the cynical; And revised the judgments we once held true In various ways that are strange and new. For instance, the other day there came To see me, the same yet not the same, A former office boy, whom once I wholly misread as a Cockney dunce, Who only cared for music-hall tunes— And who went and 'listed in the Dragoons. His khaki was much the worse for wear, Soiled and crumpled and needing repair, And he hadn't unlearned since his office days His gruff laconic turn of phrase. So I had to drag it out by degrees That he hadn't been in the lap of ease, But from Mons to Ypres, out at the Front, Had helped to bear the battle's brunt. Rest? Well, they had to do without it; But he didn't make a song about it. Last three weeks he'd never been dry; A sniper had shot him through the thigh; But his wound had healed, he was right as rain And anxious to get to the Front again. So there he stood, erect, serene, Unshaken by all he had suffered and seen, And ready once more at his Country's call To leave his wife, his home, his all. And I, as I thought of what he had done, And the arm-chair band (of which I am one), Elderly scribblers, who can't even drill, And are only good at driving a quill— Humbled and shamed to my inmost core I wished I could drop clean through the floor. For the tables were turned; I stood at zero, And the office boy was a full-blown hero.
* * * * *
Illustration: Inspector. "WELL, WHAT'S YOUR LITTLE GRUMBLE?"
Constable. "BEG PARDON, SIR, BUT JUST BECAUSE I LOOK A BIT LIKE A GERMAN ME LIFE 'AS BECOME A BURDEN. PEOPLE SAY, 'I SHOULDN'T WONDER IF 'E WASN'T A SHEEP IN LION'S CLOTHES.'"
* * * * *
ANOTHER MISJUDGED ALIEN.
Clarence (who pulls the path roller) says there's a Society for the Maintenance of Horses' Rights. I wish there was one for the Abolition of Eagles' Wrongs. I am an eagle, the handsomest eagle in the Zoo, and I sometimes wish I were a sparrow. Moult me, but I've even wished I were stuffed. And all because the authorities won't change my label. It's true the notice they've put on my cage telling people to keep their children from the bars has stopped the young brutes from shooting me with peas and monkey nuts, but it can't save my feelings, and all because—but there! this is how my own particular official label runs:—
IMPERIAL EAGLE. SCHODDERSTOGHARDTMEISSEN. DEPOSITED.
You can imagine the situation. How in the firmament am I to tell the public that Schodderstoghardtmeissen is a craggy headland on the coast of Norway, and not in the least associated with Germany or Austria—places I never heard of till but recently. But ever since the men in khaki first made their appearance in the Gardens some four months ago a most extraordinary undercurrent of opprobrious criticism has crept into the public's conversation, that public once so full of admiration for my noble bearing—unless it saw me walk; for which reason I don't come off my pedestal in public hours if I can help it. But now the mildest visitors seem to hold themselves under a moral obligation to connect me in some manner with what Clarence calls the "present crisis."
Sixpenny days are my worst. "There's the German eagle!" says the crowd. I can't even sit in my water trough without being told I'm "entrenching" myself.
Only last chicken's-neck day (we dine alternately on poultry and—er—the joint) an old lady paused before my quarters and, her head on one side, murmured musingly: "Yet I always thought the Austrian eagle had two heads, but perhaps I'm thinking of the unicorn." Half an hour later a party stopped in front of me, and one of them says: "Them Jermins didn't deserve a noble-looking bird like 'im to represent 'em, did they, Hemelie? Something with scales and bat's wings 'ud be more appropriate, I don't think." "Yes, an' a drunkard's liver," chimes in another, and then they all laughed. Scr-e-e-e-e-e-ak!!
Even the regular visitors are no better. The stout old gentleman—an editor and an F.Z.S., if you please—who used to get Michael, my valet, to let him see me from the private window, just glares at me over the top of his newspaper and mutters, "Hah! my fine bird, you're coming off your perch head-first before many months are over." And the newspaper cameraman, who used to take my portrait whilst Michael fed me with tit-bits—last week he caught me warming my spread wings in a little patch of sunlight. "Just the stuff," he twittered, as he struggled with his camera. "Great wheeze! Splendid snap for a full-page—'HIS PLACE IN THE SUN.'" It wasn't my fault if I didn't spoil the photograph.
The very latest is a rumour that my right wing is likely to be crumpled up. And the griffin vulture next door, who saw something of the sanatorium when he swallowed a lighted cigar-end in mistake for a glow-worm, hopes they'll give me chloroform. It's also whispered that I'm moulting, but that, I know, isn't true.
Well, I suppose it must all end one day. As it is, I find myself looking back longingly to the time when to the public I was just an eagle and a king of birds. I can even remember with toleration the two simple souls who once perched upon a garden-seat before my apartments. Said one, "There y' are, M'ria. There's one of them armerdillers young Bert was tellin' us about." And the other replied: "Why, don't you know no more nat'ral 'ist'ry than that, Elfrid? That ain't a armadiller; that's a 'ummin'-bird!"
* * * * *
TOMMY BROWN, AUCTIONEER.
Tommy Brown knows all about India. You see his father served out there, and that is how Tommy knows so much. He says that everybody in India has to have a bath once a year in the Ganges, and that there is a delta at the mouth of the Ganges as big as Ireland.
Tommy says it is very hot in the shade in India, but you needn't walk in the shade unless you like. He showed me how an idol looked—it is like when you come to the castor oil under the ginger wine.
But it is about the Indian troops that I want to tell you. Tommy was very pleased when they came, because he knows all about them. He likes the Gherkins best, he says, because they are so hardy. Tommy says the Gherkins can hold their breath for five minutes without going red in the face, and that's why they can fight so well.
He says they never want anything to eat, because they have a kind of a twig that they chew, and then all they have to do is to keep tightening their belts. Tommy gave me some of the twig they chew; it tasted like cabbage. I didn't want anything more to eat all that day. Tommy had some himself; he says now he doesn't think it was the right kind of twig. Tommy told me that the Gherkins' mothers teach them to prowl when they are very young, and that they are always prowling. Tommy showed me how to prowl. You have to lie flat on your stomach, and wriggle about as if you were swimming. He says it makes the Gherkins very hardy. They always do it, Tommy says, even when they have a half-holiday. To do it properly you have to breathe through the back of your throat and move your ears.
When the KING went to India, Tommy says he was surprised at the Gherkins. They used to prowl before him, and he was very glad. He said they were very hardy.
Tommy says they are very brave because they don't know what fear is; his father told him that. He says no one has ever seen a Gherkin blub; if they have to, they go and do it somewhere else.
There is only one way you can kill them. Tommy knows the way, but he daren't tell anyone.
Tommy says that when they want to kill a man they prowl after him for five miles, and then come back as silently as they went. He says it is no good shooting at them, because they are not there.
He showed me how they killed people. They come up behind you and catch you round the neck, and it's no good saying, "Shut up," because they don't understand English; then you make a noise like gargling for sore throats, and that's how they know you are dead. It makes the people very angry, Tommy says.
If they take a dislike to anyone, you are sure to get killed, because they prowl after you until they do. And when you come to look at the dead man, you can see he has died a horrible death, and if you turn him over there isn't a mark on him. You see he didn't hear them coming. That's what Tommy Brown told me.
Tommy says a Gherkin once saved his father's life by killing a snake. Tommy's father gave the Gherkin a lot of money to put in his pocket, but he wouldn't take it. The Gherkins don't have pockets, Tommy says.
Tommy says, that if two Germans stood back to back to see who was the taller, a Gherkin could cut through both of them with his two-handled knife, and it would be done so quickly that neither of the Germans would know which was killed first. They do it by practice, Tommy told me. They always use two-handled knives, so that when they are tired with using one handle they can use the other.
You can never catch a Gherkin because on the slightest movement in the bushes they throw a rope up into the air and climb up it, then they pull the rope up after them.
Tommy says that Gherkins wear turbots on their heads. He says that they wear very few clothes, but they don't catch rheumatism because it is not known there.
When Tommy's mother told him that people were sending presents to the Indian troops we had a meeting about it. We dug a deep trench in Tommy's garden and held the meeting there; Tommy didn't want the Germans to know.
When we had dug the trench Tommy stood at one end, and I had to come up to him and give him the sign we had arranged. You had to move your ears and say "Gherkin," then you were admitted to the trench. It was because of the German spies.
We decided to get money for the Indian troops by selling Tommy's white rats, and I was to lend Tommy my Jew's harp for a week as my share.
Tommy sold the white rats in the playground after school. He stood on a box near the fence. The man who lives next door thought Tommy was going to climb over into his garden after a ball, and he said to Tommy, "My steemy friend, you stay where you are."
Tommy took no notice because his mother said the man had been to India and brought back his liver and Tommy wasn't to listen.
I bid fourpence for the two white rats; we had arranged that in the trench.
Tommy Brown said with lots of scorn, "Fourpence!!"—just like that. Then he said the money was to go to buy things for the Indian troops, and what would they think of fourpence? Old Jones minimus said sixpence when he got his pocket-money on Saturday; then the Head came out to see what the row was about. When Tommy Brown told him all about it, the Head bid half-a-crown in a loud voice. We cheered, and just then the man who lives next door and who brought his liver home from India shouted out five shillings. Then the Headmaster said ten shillings. Tommy Brown had to clutch hold of the rails. The man who lives next door went red in the neck and bid a sovereign. Jones minimus began to blub when the Head bid two pounds.
The man who had been to India said: "My steemy Sir, it is no use; I bid four pounds." I could see old Tommy Brown moving his ears like anything. The Headmaster said: "The Gurkhas are some of the finest troops in the world"—he meant Gherkins, but he was excited; then he said: "Five Pounds, Tommy White, for the brown rats." The man who likes liver said something we haven't got to listen to, and then Tommy fell off the box.
"Knocked down at six pounds!" said the Headmaster, laughing; "we will have one each." They both gave Tommy Brown three pounds and then shook hands over the fence. Tommy says I needn't lend him my Jew's harp now.
* * * * *
"The House of Commons was seen at its best to-day. The benches, it is true, were more than all empty."—Cork Constitution.
* * * * *
From a letter to a school-teacher:—
"I think as Eliza as the mumps. Pleas look at her throte and if she as rub her jor well to tak away the stif feeling and oblig."
* * * * *
From War News in The Peshawur Daily News:—
"The 'Langford' knocked out the gunboat 'Smith' in three rounds."
How like a German gunboat (obviously "Schmidt") to disguise itself with an English name.
* * * * *
"MISS JEFFERSON RECALLED IN BREACH SUIT."
"Evening News" Headline.
Although the defendant in this case was a cycle-dealer, we think that these sudden changes of costume are liable to lead to confusion and should, therefore, be forbidden.
* * * * *
Illustration: Officer (on rounds near revolving light). "ANYTHING TO REPORT?"
Sentry. "NO, SIR; THERE'S NO MUCKLE TA RIPORRT; BUT YON FOLKS HAE BEEN HAVIN' A HEAP O' TROUBLE WI' THEIR LIGHT: IT'S GONE OOT TWENTY TIMES IN THE LAST OOR."
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
STEVENSON, in one of his Fables, imagines a court presided over by the Great White Magistrate. It was a very brief session, and the novelist did not again use the idea. Mr. HUGH CARTON, whose name, we are informed by the wrapper of the book, that new and most trustworthy medium of communication between the candid publisher (unwilling that merit should shine unobserved) and the hesitating purchaser (who needs only the truth to send his hand to his purse) is a pseudonym covering the identity of "one of the leading clerics of our day," has however made a whole book of it. In The Grand Assize (HEINEMANN) Mr. CARTON imagines a Day of Judgment, on which the careers and influences of a number of social types are weighed and punishment inflicted—for all are guilty. The Plutocrat, the Daughter of Joy, the Bookmaker, the Party Politician, the Musical Comedy entrepreneur, the Agitator, even the Cleric (although not, I am sure, he of the wrapper) are called to justice. Everything for and against them is then said, either by themselves or the advocate, and sentence is passed. The result is a book curiously rich in sympathy, fearless and fine, and provocative of much thought. That it is in essence a tract is nothing against it; for many of the best novels belong to that genus, and HOGARTH, of whom now and then the reader is forced to think, was a tractarian to the core. I take off my hat to "HUGH CARTON" and wish that more parsons were as humane and understanding as he.
* * *
Mr. ALGERNON BLACKWOOD seems as a writer to possess two quite distinct literary methods. There is his style high-fantastical, which at its best touches a kind of fairylike inspiration, unique and charming—the style, for example, of Jimbo. Then, on a lower plane, there is the frankly bogie creepiness of John Silence. Between the two he has created a position for himself, half trickster, half wizard, that none else in modern literature could fill. His new book, Incredible Adventures (MACMILLAN), is a combination of both methods. Four of the five adventures are of the mystically gruesome kind, removed however from being commonplace ghost-stories by a certain dignity of conception. It is to be admitted that but for this dignity two at least would fall into some peril of bathos. Take the first, The Regeneration of Lord Ernie, in which a young tutor, bear-leading a spiritless scion of nobility through Europe, brings his bored charge to a strange mountain village where the inhabitants worship the forces of fire and wind. If you know Mr. BLACKWOOD'S work, as you surely do, I need not detail to you what happens. Told as he tells it, at considerable, even undue, length, but with a wonderful sense of the mysterious, of the feeling of the wind-swept mountain and its roaring fires, the thing is undeniably impressive. But in other less expert hands it would become ludicrous. There is one tale of finer texture than the others. It is called Wayfarers, and is a quite beautiful little fantasy on the old theme that love is longer than life. This is what Mr. BLACKWOOD can do to perfection. It redeems a volume that, for all its originality, does not otherwise display his art quite at its best.
* * *
Antarctic Adventure (FISHER UNWIN), by RAYMOND E. PRIESTLEY, tells the story of SCOTT'S Northern party. That party, as you probably remember, spent an unexpected winter underground, owing to the failure of the ship to relieve it. Its story was shortly told by its leader, Lieutenant CAMPBELL, in Scott's Last Expedition—the official report of a sailor to his commanding officer. Mr. PRIESTLEY is more communicative. As one of the famous six who went through it, he gives us, from his comfortable rooms in Cambridge, the full tale of that extraordinary adventure. He had a good angle of observation in the igloo, for it was he who doled out the eight birthday lumps of sugar and the other few ridiculous luxuries which relieved the monotony of seal. He was, in fact, the commissariat officer. How he must have been loved—and hated! To what a large extent also (one begins to realise) the ultimate safety of the party must have been due to his management. I recommend to boys and grown-ups a story as absorbing as Robinson Crusoe, and as heartening to the pride of Englishmen as the other stories which we are hearing now from places less remote. For boys in particular The Voyages of Captain Scott (SMITH ELDER) has been written by CHARLES TURLEY, a compilation excellently made from the original diaries; to which Sir J. M. BARRIE has written a true BARRIE preface describing the boyhood of SCOTT. I can think of no better present for a nephew.
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The Woman in the Bazaar (CASSELL), by Mrs. PERRIN, is a story of the Anglo-Indian life in which she always moves at ease. It is Captain George Coventry's first wife, the golden-haired and "phenomenally" (as the newspaper-men will go on saying) innocent Rafella of the high-perched Cotswold vicarage, who eventually finds her deplorable way down to the Bazaar. If George (that beastly prig) at the psychological moment of their first serious quarrel, instead of threatening and laughing like a drunken man and reeling back into the room, had reeled forward and gone into the matter quietly, the entirely virtuous, if idiotic, Rafella would not have flown into the practised arms of that unscrupulous barrister, Kennard, who, as everybody knew, had left a mournful trail of dishonoured wives all over India, his legal knowledge presumably saving him at once from the inconvenience of marrying his victims and from the physical violence of outraged Anglo-Indian chivalry. And when George, now a colonel and on the verge of a quarrel with the second Mrs. Coventry about a young ass of a tertium quid, caught sight of poor Rafella at a window in the Bazaar, he was so genuinely upset that he rushed back to his wife, forgave her (nothing in particular) and lived happily ever after. Which, of course, is just one of those things that thrusts the avenging hatchet into the hand of the Militant.
* * *
I suppose that the "culture" (using this word in the strictly English sense) of Streatham Hill may perhaps be a trifle thinner than that of certain other suburbs, and, keeping this well in mind, I must try to believe that Candytuft—I mean Veronica (HUTCHINSON) is meant for romantic comedy and is not a one-Act farce hastily expanded by its author into three-hundred-page fiction form. The plot turns on a not very serious marital estrangement. C. I. M. V. (she had called herself Veronica suddenly one day after reading RUSKIN) decided that she must have an intellectual companion and (rather daringly) that he must be of the male sex. So her husband's best friend dressed himself up as a fantastic and extremely repulsive-looking poet with a red wig and padded waistcoat and indulged in fantastic rhodomantades in order to disillusionise her. Well enough on the knock-about stage, of course. But, if I am to treat C. I. M. V. from the mildly satiric standpoint, which I fancy that MABEL BARNES-GRUNDY would prefer me to adopt, Mr. Shakespeare Waddilove is rather a big mouthful to swallow, even if I can accommodate my throat to the supposition that the lady would have allowed her husband to choose her Platonic friend for her and promise beforehand to give him a two months' trial. She did come from Streatham, I know, before she went to live in the country; but still the trams run all the way from Streatham to Charing Cross—and that padded waistcoat! However there are some amusing passages in Candytuft—I mean Veronica, and so I shut both eyes and gulped as hard as I could.
* * *
Do you know Mrs. Shovell? Violet Ashwin she was, and married young Charlie Shovell, some sort of a publisher and really rather a nice fool. She is an absolute dear. Gay and loyal and adorably kind. No, not a bit sentimental. Shy and yet has a way with her, and, thank Heaven, not the least bit of a scalp-hunter. We did think that Master Charles, who was distinctly by way of being a philanderer, mightn't perhaps run quite straight. But she's done wonders with him. Might I introduce you? Certainly? Then get Duke Jones (SIDGWICK AND JACKSON), by ETHEL SIDGWICK. She's entirely responsible for these nice people, and for Lady Ashwin, Violet's utter beast of a mother, and Sir Claude, that brick of a man and doctor, and insufferable Honoria and naughty bewitching Lisette, who came badly to grief and was pulled out of a really rotten hole by Jones. E. M. Jones (M for Marmaduke) was the fellow who worshipped Violet at sight and was ever after her faithful dog.... I've put down this book with real regret. I can't help worrying as to whether there really is such a person as Violet because I might have the fortune to meet her. Really, Miss SIDGWICK has an extraordinary power of making you feel friends (or bitter enemies) with her puppets, who aren't puppets at all. I've had the bad luck to miss A Lady of Leisure, to which Duke Jones is a sequel, but I'll readily take the responsibility of advising you to get it first.
* * *
Those who do not accept Archbishop LANG'S view that the KAISER is too sacred a subject for mirth should spend sixpence and a quarter of an hour on Keep Smiling (NASH). In dealing with the inexhaustible theme of WILLIAM'S Lie Factory, Messrs. WALTER EMANUEL and JOHN HASSALL are at their best.
* * * * *
Sergeant Instructor. "WHAT'S YER NAME?"
Sir Angelo Frampington, R.A. "FRAMPINGTON."
Sergeant. "WELL, 'OLD YER 'EAD UP, FRAMPINGTON."
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