PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI
November 18, 1914.
Contrary to the usual custom there were no official dinners on the eve of the opening of Parliament. The explanation of this is clear to the German Press. It was due to scarcity of food.
* * *
Upon receipt of the Japanese ultimatum, the KAISER, it may be remembered, cabled to the commander of his Chinese fortress:—"Bear in mind that it would shame me more to surrender Kiaochau to the Japanese than Berlin to the Russians." The kind-hearted Russians will now, we feel sure, have less compunction in taking Berlin, seeing that the blow will have been softened to an anticlimax.
* * *
The KAISER'S hair, it is said, is now bleached: but this attempt to look like a white man will deceive no one.
* * *
Just as we go to press a report reaches us which certainly bears the impress of truth on the face of it. It declares that the CROWN PRINCE has been shot for looting by a short-sighted brother-officer who did not recognise the son of God's Vice-regent on Earth.
* * *
"The British Navy is in hiding," says the Koelnische Zeitung. We beg our fragrant contemporary not to worry. In due course the Germans shall have the hiding.
* * *
It is so frequently stated that the leaders of the German Army attach no importance to the lives of their men that it seems only fair to point out that last week Brussels was fined L200,000 for wounding a couple of German policemen.
* * *
Neither the French, Russian, Belgian, nor British troops like the idea of fighting against the mere youths whom a paternal KAISER is now sending into the firing line, and a humane suggestion has been put forward for correcting this embarrassment. Would it not be possible, it is asked, to arrange Boys' Own Battles, in which the German little ones would be opposed by the young of the Allies?
* * *
"Klopstock, one of our greatest geniuses," says the Hamburger Fremdenblatt, "taught us, 'Be not excessively just.' We shall endeavour now to follow that teaching." We should say that there is no great danger of the German nation breaking down under the strain of this effort.
* * *
"How ever do the Teutons manage to produce so many lies about us?" asks "A Lover of Truth." Our correspondent is evidently not much of a gardener or he would have heard of "Intensive Culture."
* * *
The reply published by the Vossische Zeitung to the protest of French clergymen against the destruction of Louvain and the shelling of Rheims Cathedral contained at least one unfortunate expression. It asserted that the GERMAN EMPEROR and the German People are both permeated with a burning love of peace.
* * *
The Rev. Mr. EDWARDS has resigned his assistant curacy at Tettenhall under somewhat peculiar circumstances, but we are sure the case is not so bad as The Wolverhampton Express would have us believe. According to our contemporary this gentleman exhorted his congregation "not to hate the Germans, but rather to pay for them."
* * *
A wounded Tommy in one of our London hospitals, on being asked, the other day, by a lady visitor what he thought of the French soldiers, replied that he very much admired the French Curacaos.
* * *
When in Breslau, The Evening News tells us, the KAISER promised that the Russian Army should be crushed. Fortunately in this case the undertaking was not even written on a scrap of paper.
* * *
"For thirty-two years," says the Vossische Zeitung, "Egypt has had to endure British rule." Curiously enough this bright little sheet does not go on to point out that during the same period the poor Egyptians have also had to put up with a good deal of prosperity.
* * * * *
Illustration: "WOT'S THE USE OF THIS 'ERE EARLIER CLOSING?"
"WY IN CASE OF A ZEPPELIN RAID. IF THE 'UN SMELLS BEER 'E'LL 'AVE IT!"
* * * * *
A BEAUTY SPOT.
"This photograph of the town of Pervyse, on the road from Nieuport to Dixmude, has been taken and retaken by both sides several times. Our photograph was taken just after it had again come into the possession of the Allies."—Daily Chronicle.
It is now the German photographer's turn again.
* * * * *
Another song for the KAISER:—
"COME TSING TAU ME."
* * * * *
Translation of a letter received by The Morning Post:—
"By spring-time of the 6,000,000 German soldiers there will remain only three capable of fighting."
The CROWN PRINCE and two privates.
* * * * *
"PATRIOTISM FOR PAUPER CHILDREN.—The Lambeth Guardians yesterday decided that in order that the Poor-law school children may have an opportunity of appreciating the position of national affairs the usual practice of allowing each child an egg for breakfast on Christmas morning be suspended this year."—Times.
If this doesn't learn them to love their country, it ought, at any rate, to encourage them to honour and respect the patriotic Lambeth Guardians.
* * * * *
"Pending operations for her capture, or destruction, effective steps have been taken to block the Koenigsberg in by inking colliers in the only navigable channel."
Birmingham Daily Mail.
Aren't they black enough already?
* * * * *
Examples of official enthusiasm are always welcome, and we therefore give further publicity to the following:—
"The Cossacks who have been mobilised in the Amur district have sent the following telegram to the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian forces:
'Your children are coming to your aid, father commander. They come shouting "Hurrah!"'
The Grand Duke Nicholas replied:
'I shall be very pleased to see you.'—Reuter."
* * * * *
TO THE BITTER END.
(A word with the War-Lord.)
A rumour comes from Rome (where rumours breed) That you are sick of taking blow on blow, And would inter with all convenient speed The hatchet wielded by your largest foe.
Is it the shadow Christmas casts before That makes the iron of your soul unbend, And melt in prayer for this unholy war (Meaning the part that pinches most) to end?
Is it your fear to mark at that high feast The writing on the wall that seals your fate, And, where the Christ-star watches in the East, To hear the guns that thunder at your gate?
For on your heart no Christmas Peace can fall. The chimes shall be a tocsin, and the red Glow of the Yule-wood embers shall recall A myriad smouldering pyres of murdered dead.
And anguish, wailing to the wintry skies, Shall with its dirges drown the sacred hymn, And round your royal hearth the curse shall rise Of lowly hearths laid waste to suit your whim.
And you shall think on altars left forlorn, On temple-aisles made desolate at your nod, Where never a white-robed choir this holy morn Shall chant their greeting to the Birth of God.
Peace? There is none for you, nor can be none; For still shall Memory, like a fetid breath, Poison your life-days while the slow hours run, Till it be stifled in the dust of Death.
* * * * *
WHY I DON'T ENLIST.
[Curiosity is often expressed regarding the causes which have prevented young men from enlisting. Considerable interest, therefore, should attach to the following replies to enquiries, an inspection of which has been permitted us by the Secretary of the Patriotic League, an organisation which seeks to stimulate recruiting by writing to young healthy and unmarried men and asking them why they do not join the colours.]
My Dear Sir,—I fully understand your views—in fact I am in cordial agreement with them. It would be quite fair to say of most young unmarried men that they could and should be spared. But this cannot be said of all young men. There is a small section of literary and other artists whose lives must continue to be immeasurably precious to the nation which has given them birth. From this company it is impossible for me to exclude myself. There is a higher patriotism, to the dictates of which I must respond. With infinite regrets, and thanks for what is doubtless a well-meant endeavour,
I am, dear Sir, yours sincerely, ENDYMION BROWNE.
P.S.—If you should be in town on the 24th, I am giving a reading from my own works at the United Intensities Club—"A Night with Endymion Browne."
Dear Sir,—What you say is O.K. KITCHENER must have men and all that sort of thing. Show the KAISER who's boss, and so on. But there are some men who can't possibly go. And I'm one. It's all very well to say "Go," but if I go—let me ask you quite seriously—how on earth is Smoketown Tuesday F.C. to lift the English pot? I don't want to shout about myself, but it is a known fact that I'm positively the only centre forward they've got. I'm worth L200 a week to the gate alone. If you don't care to accept my word, that it is absolutely impossible for me to go, I'll refer you to what our secretary says at foot.
Yours, ALF BOOTER.
Note by Secretary—What Booter says is quite true. He is indispensable. We paid L1,000 for his transfer, and could not possibly sanction his leaving us. Besides, some of his many thousand admirers might want to follow his example, and where would our gate be then?
Dear Sir,—If I was to go and enlist, how could I follow the Occident and help 'em to win the League Championship? There it is, quite short—how? And if I didn't follow, and if others like me didn't follow, how'd the club stick it? How'd it keep going? What price duty of staying at home?
I am, yours truly, BERT SOCKSLEY.
Sir,—I snatch a moment to answer your letter, "Why don't I go to fight the Germans?" I am fighting them. I cleared L500 this morning which, before the war, would have gone into a German pocket. My motto is "Business as usual," and I have no complaints whatever against the Germans so long as I can go on fighting them some more in my own way.
Yours faithfully, GEORGE CRABBE.
My Dear Sir,—Your letter for my brother, John Halton, has reached me by mistake, but I'll answer it. "Why don't I go?" Just send me a recipe for turning me into a boy, and you'll not have to ask me twice.
Yours very sincerely, JOAN HALTON.
Dear Sir,—I know what my job is, so don't you come poking your nose in where it isn't wanted. I'm for England, I am. And I'm doing my bit. The Evening Wiper said only the other day that a Britisher's duty was to keep cheerful, and that the man who did that was serving his country. Well, I am cheerful—I didn't turn a hair even over Mons—slept exactly the same, and had bacon and tomato for my breakfast. Then they say, "Carry on." And I do carry on. I go out as usual, dress just as carefully—spats, fancy waistcoat, buttonhole, etc. One night it's the Imperial and another it's the Cinema. Men are wanted to cheer the patriotic songs and to sing the chorus of "Tipperary." I help here. Then I spend my money freely—freely, I tell you. Any Tommy I meet can have a drink—half a dozen at my expense, and no return expected. I got two quite blind last night, and never asked 'em for a sou. Then again, I've spent quite a lot on flags. I always wear six on the front of my bike when I scorch through the crowds coming out of church on Sundays. I've got portrait buttons, too, of JOFFRE and KITCH., and I'm never ashamed to wear 'em. And I'm always urging chaps to go and enlist. So you see I am doing my bit.
Yours truly, ALBERT SPOTTLE.
* * * * *
In a Good Cause.
A Matinee will be given at the Empire on Thursday, the 26th, in aid of The Daily Telegraph's Belgian Relief Fund. Among the patrons are The JAPANESE AMBASSADOR, the BELGIAN MINISTER and the Grand Duke MICHAEL.
Many popular artistes have offered their services, including Miss PHYLLIS BEDELLS, Miss GLADYS COOPER, Miss ETHEL LEVEY, Miss IRENE VANBRUGH, Miss WISH WYNNE, Mr. WILKIE BARD, Mr. WILL EVANS, Mr. ALFRED LESTER, Mr. JAMES TATE, Mr. LEWIS WALLER and Mr. JAMES WELCH.
Mr. Punch very heartily commends the cause and its advocates to his gentle readers.
* * * * *
Illustration: GOOD HUNTING.
A CHIP OF THE OLD BLOCK.
* * * * *
Illustration: "MOTHER, LOOK AT THAT POOR SOLDIER: WOUNDED IN BOTH FEET."
* * * * *
WITH ALL RESERVE.
Departing from the time-honoured custom of believing everything they see in print, the British people are learning in these times that one should only run the risk of believing printed news that has passed the Censor. By the time the war is over the new habit will have become established, and we may look for items like the following in our daily papers:—
The right hon. gentleman went on to say that so long as the people of this country permitted the present Government to remain in power, so long would this country be governed in a manner which could never win the approval of the Opposition.
[The above having been passed by the Censor may be accepted as correct.—ED.]
The weather yesterday varied throughout the country. While in the extreme north it was warm and sunny, in the south snow fell. A violent hailstorm swept Battersea from end to end; yet in Stornoway the day was marked by a sky of cloudless blue. Once more the climate of these islands showed itself to be a fickle and unstable thing.
[The above has been submitted to the Censor, who sees no reason why it should be withheld from the public; and it may therefore be taken that in the main it is moderately accurate.—ED.]
Lady A.'s dinner-party at the Ritz Hotel last evening was not a great success. The decorations of pink carnations were but moderately admired by her undistinguished guests. The Blue Petrogradese Orchestra played without particular brilliance. Among those absent without reason assigned were the Duke and Duchess of W., the Earl and Countess X., the Bishop of Y., and Mr. Z., the unknown poet.
[The above has been submitted to the Censor, who possessed no official knowledge of the facts, but considered that the report had an air of sufficient probability.—ED.]
* * * * *
TO THE UNDYING HONOUR OF A SUPER-PATRIOT.
Commemorate, ye gods, the noble mind Of Brown (A. J.), a youth of classic parts, Whose soul was ever faultlessly inclined To music, verse, and all the gracious arts; At things of taste, in fact, Augustus John Was always, and is yet, a perfect don.
But lately I have fathomed deeps unknown Before in my incomparable friend; No mere artistic trifler, he has shown A patriot heart of high heroic trend, And showered sacrifice with fearless hand Upon the altar of his Motherland.
I haled him to a "music" hall to hear The Great Recruiting Song, and watched him wince And writhe throughout, as though his end were near; But now I learn that, every evening since, Brown has been there, in England's sacred cause, To greet that patriot song with loud applause!
* * * * *
AUNT LOUISA'S SONG SCENA.
Just as adversity sometimes brings out men's strongest characteristics, hitherto unsuspected, so can amateur theatricals lead to surprising discoveries of humour and resource. Everyone must have noticed it.
No one had ever credited Aunt Louisa with any dramatic sense whatever. She is so gentle and so placid. She was always something of a knitter, and, like all essential knitters, given to sitting a little outside of life; but since the war broke out she has knitted practically without ceasing; and who would dream of going to a knitter for stage effects?
Therefore we were astonished when, in talking over the projected Saturday night's entertainment, Aunt Louisa ventured the statement that she had thought out a scheme for a little interlude, and might she be permitted to carry it out? Just a mere fill up, but topical, or possibly even more than topical—prophetic.
Of course she might.
"Is it a tableau?" our stage manager inquired.
"No, I shouldn't call it a tableau," said Aunt Louisa; "I should call it a song scena."
How on earth did she hear that phrase? She never goes to music-halls. I would as soon expect to hear her speak of "featuring."
"A song scena," she went on, "the hero of which is the KAISER; and I shall want half-a-dozen gentlemen to assist."
The busy fingers knitted away and the gold spectacles were fixed on us with bland benignity. Aunt Louisa writing a song scena and ordering a chorus, just like Mr. GEORGE EDWARDES, was not the least of the miracles produced by this war.
A company of six of us volunteered, of whom I was one. Another was Mr. Herbert Foley, who has made private theatricals his life study.
"Anything I can do to help you in coaching the performers and so on," he said, "I shall be only too pleased to do. You know I'm no chicken at this sort of thing."
"Thank you," said Aunt Louisa, "but I think I can manage."
"All right," replied Mr. Foley, "but, of course——. Want of experience——"
"First of all," said Aunt Louisa, "I must choose a Kaiser. Someone who can act."
We all became very self-conscious. Our expressions said severally, "No one can act as well as I, but it's rotten form to push oneself forward."
Aunt Louisa scanned us narrowly and, much to everybody else's surprise, picked out Tommy Thurlow. To my mind she could not have made a worse choice; but, as it happened, her judgment was sound.
Foley seemed piqued. "Then what do we do?" he asked.
"You are chorus men," said she.
"Chorus!" said Foley.
"Isn't that the right word? I know so little about these things. Perhaps I ought to have said 'supers.'"
She then told us what to do, knitting all the while.
On the evening Aunt Louisa's song scena was the success of the show. It was called "The Haunted Kaiser," and it began with a distracted demented Tommy Thurlow, with the familiar Potsdam moustache and an excellent wig from London, rushing on with his fingers in his ears. No doubt as to who it was—the WAR LORD in a state bordering on delirium. Having calmed down a little, he began to sing:—
For years and years I'd waited, Preparing for The Day—— The day that meant for Germany A universal sway. Alas, alack, For my set back!
At this point a number of tea-trays were smitten resonantly "off." Tommy dramatically heard them and sang:—
What's that that smites upon my ear, The sound of cruel guns I hear, That sound of fear?
The British, French and Russians They are murdering my Prussians: Why did I make this war? They're in my way by day, by night: In vain, in vain I take to flight, I'll hear them evermore—— Those guns! Those guns!
Tremendous applause, while Tommy prepared for the second verse and Aunt Louisa's great effect.
Alas! for my ambition, My glory passed away! What is there left of Germany But misery to-day? Alack, alas, For such a pass!
Here on several concertinas in different parts of the hall, as well as upstairs, was heard, "It's a long way to Tipperary." Tommy began to behave like a maniac. He rushed about more wildly than before. He stopped his ears. He tried to hide. Then he began to sing again:—
What's that that bursts upon my ear, That overwhelming song I hear, That sound of fear? Though brave my men and wary, They've been done by "Tipperary;" Why did I make this war? It's in my brain by day, by night, In vain, in vain I take to flight, I'll hear it evermore— That song! That song!
Now came the great dramatic effect. On to the stage climbed, in the latest revue manner, from all parts of the house, the army of which I had the honour to be one, all pointing the finger of doom at the cringing Tommy Thurlow. Having got him well into our midst and broken to the world, we sang at him these stirring lines to a too familiar tune:—
It's a long way to get to Paree, It's a long way to go; It's the wrong way through little Belgium, The wrongest way we know. Good-bye, KAISER BILLY; Farewell, O mein Herr; It's a long, long way to St. Helena, But your home's right there!
Terrific success; and, after some moments of reluctance, Aunt Louisa, still knitting a sock, was induced to bow.
But it wasn't a bad first effort at drama by an old lady in gold spectacles, was it? I have seen worse by professional writers.
* * * * *
Illustration: Patriotic Wife. "NOW, RICHARD, BEFORE YOU GO, LET ME HEAR YOU REPEAT MY INSTRUCTIONS."
Richard. "I MUST REMEMBER I'M THE HUSBAND OF AN ENGLISHWOMAN, AND I'M NOT TO COME BACK WITHOUT THE KAISER!"
* * * * *
Illustration: MR. THESPIAN JONES, THE FAMOUS ANIMAL IMPERSONATOR, OFFERS HIS SERVICES AS "COLLECTING DOG" UNDER THE AUSPICES OF A RELIEF COMMITTEE—
—BUT SUDDENLY FORGETS HIMSELF ON THE ARRIVAL OF GOOD NEWS FROM THE FRONT.
* * * * *
THE KAISER'S "HATE."
[The feeling in Germany, it appears, is now quite friendly towards France and Russia, and all the fury of the Press is concentrated on England.]
When first the champions were listed, When first the shells began to fall, Some trace of animus existed Between the Teuton and the Gaul; King WILLIAM was extremely callous, Nay, even found a certain zest In riding from his Potsdam palace To show his purple to the West.
But what a charm the Frenchman carries! His compliments how wide they range! Before King WILLIAM got to Paris His feelings underwent a change: "Our ancient feud against the Latin," He said, "has sensibly decreased;" And rising from the trench he sat in He moved his umbrage to the East.
He trampled on the Polish border; He cried that Russia was the foe; The German Press received the order And answered meekly, "That is so;" But when King WILLIAM met the Tartar His soul sustained another wrench, He found the Slavs were even smarter At entertainments than the French.
They gave him such a royal greeting With Cossack horsemen making curves That WILLIAM asked them, on retreating, To try his Prussian game preserves; "Duke NICHOLAS is not the canker," He told his German scribblers then; "His treatment has disarmed my rancour" (It certainly disarmed his men).
"Out yonder in the circling billows There lies the object of my scorn, We hate these English armadilloes, We wish they never had been born; Their name to us is rank and fetid, And on their sins our rage is fed;" And all the German Press repeated Precisely what the KAISER said.
Eh well. That water is a worry! And doubtless, if the iron glove Should meet us here in Kent or Surrey, Its clasp might soften into love; We might despatch him with a grey grin, And all the German Scribes would vow "Our bugbear is the Montenegrin; We do not hate the English now."
But better still to cool his dudgeon Where week by week our nobler sons Have proved Britannia's no curmudgeon By salvoes of applauding guns; To save him toil without his landing, To meet him with more warm advance, And help to share that "understanding" He has with Russia and with France.
* * * * *
THE LAST LINE.
We progress. The days when the whole art of war consisted of "On the left, form platoons.... On the left, blanket," are over. Skirmishing, signalling, musketry, Swedish drill—a variety of entertainment is now open to us; there is even a class for buglers. To give you an idea of the Corps at work, I offer you a picture of James and myself semaphoring to each other.
James is in the middle distance, a couple of flags draped over his person. I am going to send him a message. I signal to him that I am about to begin; he waves back that he is ready. Now then....
My mind becomes a complete blank. I find that I have absolutely nothing to say to James.
"Go on," says my instructor.
"Yes, but what?" I ask. All desire to interchange thought with James has left me.
"Anything. Ask him, if a herring and a half costs three ha'pence, how much——"
"Yes, but that's too long. It would take me at least a week, and by that time the herring would be censored. No, I've got it."
It has occurred to me suddenly that it would annoy James if I reminded him of his professional life. He looks so military in his puttees and khaki shirt.
"Do—you—want—a—nice—mortgage?" I signal.
James takes it up to "nice," and then breaks down. The "m-o" he reads as "s-w" (an easy mistake to make), and he imagines that I am offering him a nice sword—a fitting offer to one of his martial appearance. When the third letter turns out to be not the "o" which he expected, he loses his head and signals "Repeat."
I give it him again slowly. He reads the first five letters as s-w-r-t-g and assumes this time that I am offering him a nice town in Poland. It is five minutes before we get the mortgage properly established, and by then James is utterly disgusted.
He is now going to send a message to me. There is nothing half-hearted about James when he has his khaki shirt on.
"Why the devil don't you send up those guns?" he signals.
General James is hard pressed. The enemy is advancing in echelon against his left wing; cavalry beat themselves against the hollow square on his right; his centre has formed platoon after platoon unavailingly. Still the enemy comes on. Where the devil are those guns?
I signalled back:
"Sorry, but B Company is using the bullet."
It was a blow to James. Reluctantly he came to his decision.
"Must fall back," he said, and he caught a flag between his legs and did so....
Well, there you have us signalling. To show you us skirmishing I cannot do better than describe the fierce engagement between A and C Companies, which resulted in the entire annihilation of A. But perhaps that would not be fair. I am a prejudiced recorder; let one of A Company speak.
He was annoyed.
"We worked round their flank," he said, "and we'd got quite close up to them under cover of a wood when we came on one of them smoking a pipe. He said he was an outpost, and that he'd decimated us all long ago."
"What did you do?" asked his friend.
"We scragged him."
Personally I had a safer position among the supports. A decimated enemy in the first flush of annoyance can be dangerous. I merely lay in a ditch and counted ants.... But I was very glad to hear we'd won.
Rifle exercises go on apace. We have a curious collection of weapons ("weapons of precision" as they are called by those who have never seen my targets), an order for six hundred of one family having fallen through, owing to a clerical error. "We can offer you 600 rifles, 1900 pattern," the firm wrote; but an inspection of them showed that the "6" and the "9" had got mixed up.
But even with more modern weapons than these we are not very formidable as yet, and for some weeks we must rely on other methods of striking terror into the hearts of the enemy. Luckily we are acquiring an excellent substitute for lead. As an example of "frightfulness" nothing can exceed the appearance of one of our really mixed platoons lying on its backs and waving its legs in the air. This is one of the Swedish drill movements ... and, as I think I have mentioned before, we are all ages and shapes....
Let me conclude with a little story to show the dangers to which we are subject and the fearlessness with which we face them. I cite the case of Reginald Arbuthnot Wilkins.
R. A. Wilkins is just as keen as they make them, and it is his great sorrow that, being in an important Government office, he is not allowed to enlist. For my liking he is too smart; when he does a "right-turn" he does it with a jerk that you can almost hear. The click of the heels is all very well, but Reginald Arbuthnot makes his neck click too. An "eyes-right" nearly takes his head off.
A dozen of them, including Reginald, were being taught saluting the other day. There was an imaginary Field-Marshal or somebody on the left, and they were told to turn the head smartly to the left, at the same time bringing the right hand up to the salute.... "Sa-lute!" Reginald Arbuthnot Wilkins whizzed his head round to the left, but accidentally brought the wrong hand up. There was a crash as his left thumb met his left eye-ball, and Reginald was in hospital for a week.
The remarkable thing is that the other eleven, quite undismayed, went on practising the salute. That gives you some idea of our spirit.
A. A. M.
* * * * *
[Some of the German military authorities having explained that their retreat from Paris was due to the spread of cholera in that city, we may perhaps expect to have something like the following further "explanations" elsewhere.]
Our recent rather smart retreat From Warsaw need not cause disquiet; Our army met with no defeat Nor suffered from defective diet; We marched away because we knew Warsaw was reeking with the 'Flu.
Our move from Calais was, of course, A great strategic retrogression, We were compelled, though not by force, To leave another in possession; But that's no ground for doleful dumps, Calais was chucked because of Mumps.
Soon we shall see, though scarce as yet, Huns and howitzers hustled over Yon nauseous streak of heaving wet Which still divides our arms from Dover; And should "high failure" then occur Lay the whole blame on Mal-de-mer.
* * * * *
LE MOT JUSTE.
"Reports of military movements behind the Germans' front in Belgium are contradictory and too bragmentary to be worth much."
* * * * *
"Mr. Churchill: Six, nine, twelve months hence you will begin to see results that will spell the domm of Germany."
We could spell it better than that in three months.
* * * * *
"The smallness of the members present was due in large measure to the war."
Edinburgh Evening Despatch.
The shortage of food, due to the German blockade, is at last making itself felt.—[Wireless from Berlin.]
* * * * *
Illustration: THE HISTORY OF A PAIR OF MITTENS.
* * * * *
Illustration: "WAAL, IT'S THIS WAY. WE AMURRICANS DON'T TAKE NO SIDES—WE'RE AB-SO-LOOTLY NOOTRAL. WE DON' GIVE A ROW O' BEANS WHICH OF YOU KNOCKS THE KAISER OUT."
* * * * *
It was the special terms to Special Constables that tempted me—and I fell.
I don't just remember how many times I fell, but it was pretty nearly as often as the "Professor" of the wily art took hold of me. Before the first lesson was over, falling became more than a mere pastime with me, it grew into a serious occupation.
So I left the jiu-jitsu school at the end of the second lesson with a nodding acquaintance with some very pretty holds and a very firm determination to practise them on Alfred when he got back to the office next day from Birmingham.
* * *
I suppose I ought to have persevered with my lessons a little longer, but I was losing my self-respect, and felt that nothing would help me to gain it better than to cause somebody else to do the falling for a bit.
Alfred is six-foot-two, but a trifle weedy-looking, and so good-tempered that I knew he wouldn't resent being practised on.
As he came in I advanced with outstretched hand to meet him.
"How goes it?" he said cheerily, holding out his hand.
"Like this," I said, as I gripped his right wrist instead of his fingers, turned to the left till I was abreast of him, inserted my left arm under his right, gripped the lapel of his coat with my left hand and turning his wrist downward with my right, pressed his arm back. To attack unexpectedly is the great thing.
"Don't be a funny ass," said Alfred, as I lifted myself out of the waste-paper basket.
How I got there I wasn't quite sure, but concluded that I had muffed the business with my left arm by not inserting it well above his elbow for the leverage.
"Sorry," I said; "the new handshake. Everybody's doing it."
"Are they?" said Alfred. "Well, I've been having some lessons in etiquette myself the last few days from a naval man I met down at Hythe. Seen the new embrace?"
"Er—no," I said, putting a chair between us, "I don't think I have; but I'm not feeling affectionate this morning. I'm going to lunch."
Thank goodness, if I do meet a spy, I've got a truncheon and a whistle.
* * * * *
MAKING THE BEST OF IT.
"Now that supplies of German chemicals and drugs are not procurable, sufferers from nervous dyspepsia, etc., should give a trial to nervous dispepsia, etc."
Bristol Evening Times.
Sufferer (after trial). "No, it's just as painful spelt with an 'i'."
* * * * *
"Other Petrograd despatches state that an increase in taxation by one-half is expected.... It is believed the increase will produce a milliard of troubles."—The Mirror (Trinidad).
We think better of Russian patriotism.
* * * * *
"Four or five had been landed at Ramsgate. It was a comparatively fine, peaceful morning. People were resting on the promenade enjoying the sea, and the fresh air anglers of both sexes were calmly fishing from the pier."
A hardy race, these South Coast fresh-air anglers. Our idea of November sport with the rod is sniggling for goldfish in the conservatory.
* * * * *
Illustration: THE EAGLE COMIQUE.
KAISER (reviving old Music-hall refrain). "HAS ANYBODY HERE SEEN CALAIS?"
* * * * *
Illustration: THE RULING PASSION.
"'TEN-SHUN! FORM FOURS!"
* * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
(EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.)
House of Commons, Wednesday, 11th November.—Both Houses met for what will be last Session of ever-memorable Parliament. Usual ceremony at State Opening by KING, but atmosphere distinctly different from that familiar on such occasions. No crowd talking and gesticulating in Lobby before SPEAKER takes the Chair. That done, Benches seemed strangely empty. In Commons, as in Lords, most men wore mourning, the gloom a little lightened here and there by khaki uniform. Whilst LEADER OF OPPOSITION and PRIME MINISTER spoke Members sat silently attentive. Only now and then subdued cheer indicated approval of a statement or a sentiment. There was sign neither of depression nor elation. The country, fitly represented within these four walls, has undertaken a great task, its performance making heavy demand of blood and money. At whatever cost mean to see it through. Meanwhile are grimly silent.
In course of brief proceedings curious instance forthcoming of prevalence of martial spirit even in unexpected quarters. Did not witness it myself, being at the moment engaged in showing a constituent the House of Lords at historic moment when, in absence of LEADER OF CONSERVATIVE PARTY, GEORGE CURZON rose temporarily to assume functions he will surely inherit. Story told me by the MEMBER FOR SARK, whom I find a (more or less) trustworthy recorder.
Seems that two new Members were in attendance prepared to take oath and their seat. In accordance with custom they were ranged at the Bar awaiting SPEAKER'S summons. Observing one of them between his introducers, SPEAKER stiffly drew himself up to full height, and called out in ringing tones—
"'Ten-shun! Form Fours!"
House stared in amazement. Nothing disconcerts Mr. LOWTHER. Recognizing slip, he quietly ignored it; made fresh start.
"Order! Order! Members desiring to take their seats will please come to the Table."
Thereupon PRESIDENT OF BOARD OF AGRICULTURE, assisted by Mr. BURT, the revered Father of the House, affably conducted towards the Table his parent, Sir WALTER RUNCIMAN, newly elected Member for Hartlepool. Having seen him duly sign roll of Parliament he stood him tea on the Terrace, made him free of the smoking-room, and invited him to partake to-morrow night of famous House shilling dinner.
These filial amenities pleasantly vary the austerity of Parliamentary life.
Business done.—Parliament reassembled. Address in reply to Speech from the Throne moved in both Houses.
House of Lords, Thursday.—A new-comer to Ministerial Bench. It is LORD FISHER OF KILVERSTONE, commonly and affectionately known as "Jack." Three years ago, fatal age limit being reached, Admiralty regretfully but compulsorily dropped the Pilot. Now, three years older as the almanack counts, actually as young as ever, the Pilot is picked up again. His appearance at the helm greeted with hearty cheer resounding from shore to shore.
* * *
Illustration: "THE PILOT IS PICKED UP AGAIN."
[LORD FISHER COMES ABOARD.]
* * *
Everyone knows that present condition of Navy, making it dominant on all seas, is mainly due to him. Recognized as fitting thing that he should be placed in charge of weapon that with patient endeavour, supreme skill, unerring foresight he had forged. Never yet in time of war have these Islands been in such safe keeping. With K. K. at the War Office and JACK FISHER at the Admiralty British householder may sleep in his bed o' nights unafraid.
By another happy concatenation of circumstance Admiralty is represented in both Houses. With WINSOME WINSTON in the Commons and JACK FISHER in the Lords, the Navy will have a good show. Only doubt is whether FIRST SEA LORD will think it worth while to devote to Parliamentary duties the measure of time exacted from FIRST LORD OF ADMIRALTY. Essentially a man of action, he has little patience with custom of talking round a matter. Nevertheless well to know that, if occasion serve, he can make a speech far beyond average in respect of power and originality. Discovery made when, six or seven years ago, he fluttered the decorous dovecotes of the Royal Academy by delivering at its annual banquet a memorable speech on condition and prospects of Navy.
Unlikely, too, that JACK FISHER will take part in perfunctory performances, as when the House, meeting at 4.15, sits twiddling its noble thumbs till 4.30, the hour on stroke of which public business commences. There being none, or not any that occupies more than five minutes, they straight-way adjourn. But, if serious debate on Naval affairs arises, FIRST SEA LORD may be counted upon to be at his post.
Business done:—Address agreed to. House adjourned till Monday.
* * * * *
Illustration: A PROMISING SLEUTH-PUP.
Nurse. "I WONDER IF THAT MAN'S A GERMAN SPY?"
Young Briton. "OH, NO, NURSE! HE CAN'T BE. HE HASN'T GOT A GUN!"
* * * * * A DEBT OF HONOUR.
[The author would be very proud if his lines might bring in any subscriptions to the Belgian Relief Fund. Cheques, payable to "Belgian Relief Fund," should be sent to the Belgian Minister, 15 West Halkin Street, S. W.]
Old England's dark o' nights and short Of 'buses; still she's much the sort Of place we always used to know. There's women lonely—hid away, But mills at work and kids at play, And docks alive with come and go.
But Belgium's homes is blasted down; Her shops is ash-heaps, town by town; There's harvests soaked and full of dead; There's Prussians prowling after loot And choosing who they'd better shoot; There's kids gone lost; there's fights for bread.
It's thanks to that there strip of sea, And what floats on it, you and me And things we love aren't going shares In German culture. They'd 'a' tried To spare us some, but we're this side. It's so arranged—no fault of theirs.
Them Belgians had the chance to shirk, And watch, instead of do, the work; But no! They chose a bigger thing And blocked the bully; gave us breath To get our coats off. Sure as death They're Men—a King of Men for King.
Don't think they're beat with what they've got, And begging pennies, 'cos they're not. It's this—their job is good and done; They're fighting-pals; they're hungry, cold; We owe for blood that's more than gold— A debt of honour, or we've none.
They've stood for us; for them we'll stand Right through; and so we'll lend a hand Until the foe's account is quit. That happy day is working through; But, meanwhiles, it's for me and you— Well, dash it, pass along your bit.
* * * * *
Illustration: "WHY, JACOB, WE THOUGHT A STURDY CHAP LIKE YOU WOULD HAVE ENLISTED. THERE'S NOT A SOUL GONE FROM THE VILLAGE."
"BAIN'T THERE, THEN? THEY'VE GOT VOWER O' MAISTER'S 'ORSES!"
* * * * *
A TRAGIC MISTAKE AT POTSDAM.
(In the manner of the Spy Books.)
At about half-past ten this morning I took my little black bag and walked to the Palace. Presenting my pass, I was about to enter by the side door reserved for civilians when I felt a heavy blow on my shoulder and, turning, beheld an officer. Forbidding me to apologise he led me into the palace by another door, and, placing me in a small room and enjoining strict silence upon me, he left me alone. This was so different from the procedure adopted on former occasions that I took stock of my surroundings. The room was obviously a waiting-room, containing as it did a pianola, a gramophone and a photograph album of German generals. I was aroused from my slumbers about two and a-half hours later and beheld before me an elderly bespectacled officer. I knew him at once from the picture postcards as Bluteisen, head of the secret service. He examined me minutely, omitting, however, to look into my little black bag, which clearly escaped his notice. I began to explain, but he ordered silence and beckoned me to follow. He led me up three flights of stairs, along a corridor, down four flights, and so on for about three-quarters of an hour, his idea, I suppose, being completely to mystify me. At length we arrived at a door deep under-ground, upon which Bluteisen knocked mysteriously. Receiving no answer he turned to me and said, "Push." I leaned hard upon the door, fell suddenly forward and stepped briskly into the room.
We were in total darkness save for a circle of green light at the further end of the apartment. In this circle was a desk, at which was seated a man writing. One glance at him and I trembled with excitement. I was in the Presence.
For fully thirty minutes he kept me standing. Nothing was heard but an occasional graunch, graunch, as he devoured the end of his pen. At last he spoke. "Number?" he said.
I was about to stammer an explanation, but Bluteisen cut me short with a warning look, saluted and said, "Three nine double nine."
"How long have you been here?" the Personage asked.
"About three hours," I replied.
He seemed pleased. Then he gave me a paper. "Read that," he said.
I read it. My hair, usually complacent, rose with fear and astonishment. What I read was this:—"You will blow up the British Albert Memorial at your earliest convenience. Telegraph when completed, if still alive."
"Have you got it?" he asked. I could only nod. He then held the paper in the flame of a candle till he scorched his finger and thumb.
"You will never see that again," he said. And I never did. Then he thrust his face at me. "You will succeed?" he snapped. "Sire," I ventured, my head swimming with apprehension, "I—I humbly apologise, but I—I have never yet blown up anything."
"What!" he shrieked, giving to his moustaches an upward direction, "what! you are Number three nine double nine, from the Ammunition section, are you not?"
"No, Sire," I replied, "I'm sorry, but I'm not in any section at all."
There was a terrible silence. With one eye he annihilated me, with the other he detained Bluteisen, who was sneaking off into the darkness. Then in a fury he hissed, "What are you? What are you doing here?"
With choking voice I blurted out the simple truth. "Sire," I said, "I have the honour to inform you that I am here to tune the Imperial piano."
I understand that I am to be shot at dawn to-morrow. So, thank heaven, is Bluteisen.
* * * * *
THE DOCTHOR'S WAR SPEECH.
Martin Cassidy told it to me. He was there, and he saw the boys form fours when they marched to the station the next day. There were seventeen of them, and he said he'd never forget it.
"'Twas the Docthor's war speech that did ut," said Martin. "He had thim all in Micky's shebeen—sure they'd have been there annyhow—and the Docthor had volunteeerd himself; why not?
"Yes, the women and childer were admitted. Wouldn't they be wantin' to know the way of it? Av coorse.
"You'd not keep them out annyway. 'Tis the whole of Ballymurky that was there that night.
"'Twas an o-ration the Docthor gave thim. Ye could have heard a pin drop. Isn't it mesilf that would be away there now, if they'd let me? Didn't Patsy Doolan have to sit on me head to keep me from gettin' into the thrain with thim?
"'Sure the KING knows ye've been drawin' the ould-age pension this two years,' sez he. 'Won't he have it down in his note-book?' sez he; 'and you wanten to pass for thirty. Gwan,' sez he."
Old Martin applied a piece of glowing turf to his pipe and sucked audibly before continuing.
"Don't I remimber ivery wurrd the Docthor shpoke," said Martin slowly—"och, the way he had with him.
"'The KAISER is it?' sez he. 'What would ye be askin' for betther?' sez he. ''Tis this way and that way wid the KAISER,' sez he, 'and he'll not be aisy till he's wiped Ballymurky off the map, so he would. And the GERMAN EMPEROR is as bad,' sez he. 'It's Bairrlin or Ballymurky, boys, so it is,' sez he; 'just that.
"'Is ut have the Germans over here in Ballymurky ye would?' sez he. 'Sure 'tis not butthermilk and praties they'd be contint with, Doolan, me boy,' sez he; 'faith 'tis your pig they'd be afther atin. And 'tis not you the KAISER would be decoratin' with an iron cross; 'tis more like a lick of his shtick ye'd be afther gettin, Doolan—and the thrubble ye've taken with the rarin' of the crayther. Och, ye could nivver look the pig in the face again if ye shtayed.'"
Martin subsided a while to show me Doolan's pig, which was taking the air outside. "And that," he remarked, "is corrosive ividence of what I'm tellin' ye." The pig grunted his compliments, and Martin continued.
"'Wait till I tell ye what they did at Louvain,' sez the Doc. 'Whist now, till ye hear this,' sez he.
"'Och, 'twas black murther they did there, the villians! The currse of CRUMMLE seize thim,' sez he. 'Arrah! hould yoursilf in, you there, Conlan,' sez he; 'go aisy, now,' sez he; 'sure they'll do worse here. 'Tis not satisfied with Louvain they'll be, Shamus; 'tis knockin' your cabin about your ears ye'll have them—and what will hersilf say to that?' sez he; 'sure, 'twill be the best vintilated cabin in Ireland, so it will.'
"'Is ut the GERMAN EMPEROR ye would have sittin' shmokin' his pipe in your cabin and fryin' sausages in your best pan, without so much as by your lave, and you waitin' on him, Mrs. Murphy?'
"'Sure, ye know it is not, Docthor dear,' sez she.
"'Drivin up and down the street in your side-car he'd be, Patsy Burrke, him and his ginerals, till your horse dropped dead on him, and divil a bit he'd care.
"'I'm lookin' at you there, Larry,' sez the Docthor. ''Tis waitin' for Molly to say the wurrd ye are, Larry, me boy: but sure 'tis yourself that'll say the wurrd now. Och, 'tis fallin' over herself Molly will be to see ye in your rigimintals.
"'Ballymurky, is ut? Arrah ye'll not know Ballymurky afther the KAISER has done with it. Isn't it changing the name of the dear ould place that he'll be afther?
"'First-class he'd be thravellin', no less, with the boots of him on the sate, and him without a ticket; and 'tis Rothenberg would be the name on the station, bad cess to him!
"'Rothenberg! d'ye hear that, Casey? And you a railway porther. Isn't KITCHENER an Irishman, good luck to him, and isn't he lookin' for ye all to go? Isn't the TSAR of Russia himself goin' to Berlin, and won't he be lookin' for ye there, Micky? What'll he think if ye are not there to meet him? "So Micky didn't come," he'll say; "what's come over him?" he'll say. "Sure he's not the boy I thought he was," he'll say. Just that. And you there, Micky, ye divil, all the time. Ye'd have the laugh on him thin, Micky, so ye would.
"'"Begorra!" he'll say, looking round, "sure the whole of Ballymurky's here." And why not? Bedad 'tis not the first time that Ballymurky's been on the spree.
"'The KAISER is ut, boys,' sez the Docthor. 'Arrah have done with ye,' sez he. 'Sure there won't be anny KAISER worth mintioning afther Ballymurky's finished wid him...."
"Be this and be that I'm thinkin' the same too," said Old Martin Cassidy, as he relighted his pipe.
* * * * *
THE LIMIT OF IGNORANCE.
(Mr. ARNOLD BENNETT in one of his recent works speaks of having met a Town Clerk who had never heard of H. G. WELLS.)
As in a Midland city park Great BENNETT latterly was walking, He came across a live Town Clerk, Who, as they stopped and fell a-talking, Confessed—so truthful ARNOLD tells— He'd never heard of H. G. WELLS!
This ghastly ignorance, alas! Of that renowned investigator, Whom every age and every class Hails as its only educator, Is no experience isolated, But can be promptly duplicated.
The only Mayor I know—at least I know by sight—a splendid creature, Whose presence at a civic feast Is always a conspicuous feature, Has lately in his favourite organ Proclaimed his ignorance of DE MORGAN.
Again, the other day I ran Against a friend ('twas in Long Acre), A simple estimable man— He plies the trade of undertaker— Who filled me with dismay and awe By asking, "Who is BERNARD SHAW?"
My hatter, too, who ranks among The leaders of his useful calling, Shows in regard to FILSON YOUNG An apathy that's quite appalling, For this benighted, blighted hatter Has never read The Things that Matter!
Saddest of all, a Don I know, A man of curious futile learning, Studied JANE AUSTEN long ago With admiration undiscerning, Till Mr. Bennett, thanks to JANE, Ousted all others from his brain.
* * * * *
THE OLD BULLDOG BREED.
The Wavecrest Hydro, Hastings.
To the Editor of "Punch."
Dear Sir,—I have on several previous occasions communicated to you some instructive and illuminating examples of the extraordinary intelligence of my dog Boanerges, but so far (doubtless owing to extreme pressure on your space) you have not been able to publish them.
In view of the present grave national emergency, however, I feel confident that you will be able to find space for the latest instance.
Boanerges is of the old bulldog breed; that is to say, he is not precisely a bulldog, but inherits the breed from one of his grandfathers. Superficially he presents more the appearance of a wire-haired retriever pom, and it has been difficult to classify him at Dog Shows. Indeed, I have claimed for him (though unsuccessfully up to the present) a new class, viz., Pom-Poms. The Canine Chronicle lent me the weight of its editorial support, suggesting as an alternative name: Dum-Dums, or Soft-Nosed Bullettes, but I fear me it was scarcely dignified enough to carry weight with the authorities.
However, all that is by the way. His heart is in the right place. No WILHELM shall land upon Hastings soil while Boanerges guards the beach.
To resume, it is my custom to take Boanerges with me on my weekly visit to a local picture palace. He enjoys it; it stimulates his already keen intelligence; and there is no charge made for dogs. He stands on my knees with his fore-paws on the stall in front, and follows the films with rapt attention. Occasionally he will express his approval or disapproval by barking, but always in a thoroughly gentlemanly way. He is critical, but not captious; laudatory, but not fulsome. He makes allowances for the limitations of the camera. He usually cheers at what, I believe, are technically known as "the chases," and his hearty bark of approval is welcomed by the manager of the theatre and by the regular patrons. Indeed, I firmly believe that Boanerges attracts extra patronage to the Thursday matinees. He also enjoys lions and tigers, but not crocodiles or snakes. As I have said, he is of the old bulldog breed.
On Thursday last I took Boanerges with me as usual. It was a dull programme at first, being chiefly devoted to imaginative drama in a Red Indian reservation. Boanerges growled the old bulldog growl once or twice, and I could see that he was disappointed with the performance.
Then came the film of topical events. A heading appeared on the screen: "The Germans in Louvain." I could feel Boanerges stiffen all over his wiry bristles.
The stark ruins were shown, with Prussian soldiers on arrogant sentry-go. Somebody, no doubt a refugee, hissed out: "A bas les Bosches!" Boanerges growled a deep menace.
Then came a picture of the main square of Louvain, with a group of generals waiting for the march-past and the salute. The soldiers marched towards us, victorious and triumphant, at the goose-step.
That was the breaking-point. Flesh and blood could stand it no longer. All the bulldog strain pounded in his veins. With a roar of anger such as I have never before heard from him, Boanerges leapt from my restraining hands and made for the picture.
He dashed straight at the screen and through it! He devoured a whole company of goose-stepping Prussians at, so to speak, one mouthful.
I also, unwontedly moved, rose in my seat and shouted, "Up and at 'em!"
Boanerges hit the boarding behind the screen, and I think that his nose, now in bandages, is permanently damaged. Still, his brave deed echoes through Hastings, and recruiting in the town is brisker than it has ever been before.
This time, Sir, I feel confident that you will not refuse Boanerges his well-deserved place in your columns.
Yours, etc., ANTONY MCWHIRTER.
* * * * *
Illustration: Daughter (whose husband is at the front), "OH, MOTHER, ISN'T IT SPLENDID? HARRY'S SENT ME THIS PAPER WITH A MARKED PASSAGE ABOUT WHAT HE'S BEEN DOING. IT SAYS, 'CAPTAIN —— OF THE —— FUSILIERS, UNDER HEAVY ——, RESCUED —— FROM THE ——.' NOW EVERYBODY WILL KNOW HOW BRAVE HE IS!"
* * * * *
Big blue overcoat and breeches red as red, And a queer quaint kepi at an angle on his head; And he sang as he was marching, and in the Tuilleries You could meet him en permission with Margot on his knee. At the little cafe tables by the dusty palms in tubs, In the Garden of the Luxembourg, among the scented shrubs, On the old Boul. Mich. of student days, you saw his red and blue; Did you come to love the fantassin, le p'tit piou-piou?
He has gone, gone, vanished, like a dream of yesternight; He is out amongst the hedges where the shrapnel smoke is white; And some of him are singing still and some of him are dead, And blood and mud and sweat and smoke have stained his blue and red. He is out amongst the hedges and the ditches in the rain, But, when the soixante-quinzes are hushed, just hark!—the old refrain, "Si tu veux faire mon bonheur, Marguerite, O Marguerite," Ringing clear above the rifles and the trampling of the feet!
Ah, may le bon Dieu send him back again in blue and red, With his queer quaint kepi at an angle on his head! So the Seine shall laugh again beneath the sunlight's quick caress; So the Meudon woods shall echo once again to "La Jeunesse"; And all along the Luxembourg and in the Tuilleries, We shall meet him en permission with Margot on his knee.
* * * * *
UNWRITTEN LETTERS TO THE KAISER.
(From Richard Dickson, generally known as Cock-eyed Dick, Private in the South Loamshire Light Infantry.)
I suppose I ought to beg your Majesty's humble pardon for using a pencil for this letter, but it's a good pencil, and, anyhow, we don't run to ink in the trenches. I don't want to be disrespectful to your Majesty's Highness. Fact is I'm just a bit fond of you; you're doing our chaps such a world of good, keeping our hearts up in a manner of speaking and making us all so angry. When your regiments come out against us, the word goes round, and it's "Steady, boys; remember we're a contemptible little army; let's show 'em a bit of contemptible shooting at 800 yards," or "Fix your contemptible bayonets and go for 'em;" and I warrant there's many a German chap out of the fighting line for good and all just on account of that nasty word.
There's another word, too, that some of your chaps have slung at us. They say we're a "mercenary" lot, meaning that we took up with soldiering just because we're paid to do it. Well, we are paid a shilling or two now and then, but don't you go and make no mistake; we don't stick it out in the trenches, with Black Marias playing bowls with us, and the machine-guns crackling at us and the snipers picking us off just because of getting a few shillings, which very often we don't get regular. We're in for this job, ah, and we're going to see it through, too, because we think it's the right thing to do and because we wanted to do a turn of fighting. We ain't bloodthirsty, and I'm not going to say we shall be miserable when it's all over, but while it's going on we like it. There's risks everywhere, even with the quietest jobs. I knew a chap once as drove a goat-cart for children at the seaside, and one day when the wind was strong it blew off his hat, and he got to chasing it, and before he knew where he was he'd gone over the cliff. A careful man he was, too, but he hadn't reckoned up that particular chance when he put his savings into a goat and a two-wheeled cart. You can't think of everything, even if you happen to be a Kaiser. I've heard, by the way, that you ain't paid so badly for your job of Kaisering; and old Uncle Franky over in Austria, he rakes 'em in, too, but we don't call you a mercenary pair, though what drove you to take up the business is more than I can make out.
I don't want you to go and make no mistake. You've stirred us up a bit with all your talk, but we've got no grudge against your soldiers. We don't hate 'em. They're good fighting men, though I'm not saying that we ain't better, and good fighting men don't hate one another. We got one of your blokes the other day. He came on with the attack, and when we'd beaten it off, there he was still coming on. He'd dropped his rifle and his helmet was off, and he was groping about with his hands, and he wasn't shouting "Hock! Hock!" but he didn't stop. We didn't loose off at him, there was something so funny about him, and in another minute he tumbled in right atop of us and we took him. He told us afterwards he'd lost his spectacles and couldn't see a yard in front of him, and that was the reason for his being so brave. He talked English, too, but in a funny way, slow and particular and like as if he'd got a bit of suet pudding in his mouth. Well, we soon made him snug and tidy and then we started to pull his leg and fill him up, and he swallowed it all down. We told him something had gone wrong with the beefsteak pie and the jam tartlets and the orange jelly, and he'd have to satisfy himself with his own rations; but to-morrow there'd be a prime cut of mutton and an apple-tart; and he believed all our fairy tales and said he'd write the story of the English army's food if ever he got home alive. He was a learned man too, but his lost spectacles gave him a lot of trouble. The end of it was we made quite a pet of him, and we were quite sorry when we got relieved and took him to the rear and handed him over as a prisoner. There wasn't any hatred about it.
Yours, COCK-EYED DICK.
* * * * *
An interesting alien, he charmed our hours of ease, Being either Blue Hungarian or Purple Viennese, And he cut a gorgeous figure in his blue (or purple) suit As he coaxed enticing noises from (I think it was) the flute.
If his name upon the programme ever chanced to be defined, It was Otto Heinrich Ollendorf, or something of the kind, But his casual conversation served surprisingly to show That the accent of Vienna much resembled that of Bow.
When the rumour ran that battle was a-going to begin, He was heard to say his country would inevitably win (Had it chanced that in my presence such an insult had been said, As he wasn't able-bodied, I'd have punched the beggar's head).
He declined in public favour; it was rumoured he was sent To keep watch upon our doings as he puffed his instrument, And we said, "Eject this alien, let him soothe the savage breast In a beer-house at Vienna or a band at Budapest."
But the way was not so lengthy to his own, his native land; And where British flautists whistle in a wholly British band He performs as well as ever, and confesses to the town (With no fear of unemployment) that his proper name is Brown.
* * * * *
Illustration: Tommy (reaching flooded trench lately occupied by the enemy). "WELL, THEY SAY THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE 'OME; BUT IT'S A BLOOMIN' UNCOMFORTABLE PLACE TO MAKE SUCH A FUSS ABOUT LEAVIN'!"
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(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
Sinister Street, Vol. II. (SECKER) is a book for which I have been waiting impatiently this great while, and I welcomed it with eagerness. The first volume left off, you may remember, with Michael just about to go up to Oxford. Knowing what Mr. COMPTON MACKENZIE could do with such a theme, I have anticipated all these months that to watch his hero at the university would be to renew my own youth. The book has appeared now, and I am justified of my faith. I say without hesitation that the first half of this second volume (which, by the way, to show that it is a second volume and not a sequel, starts at page 499) is the most complete and truest picture of modern Oxford that has been or is likely to be written. For those who, like myself, have their most cherished memories bound up with the life of which it treats, the actuality of the whole thing would make criticism impossible. But as a matter of fact these seventeen chapters seem to me to show Mr. MACKENZIE'S art at its best. They display just that strange combination of realism and aloofness that gives to his writing its special charm. No one has ever (for example) reproduced more perfectly the talk of young men; and this scattered speech, in what Mr. MACKENZIE himself might call its infinitely fugacious quality, contrasts effectively with the deliberate, somewhat mannered beauty of the setting. Mr. MACKENZIE is an overlord of words, old and new, bending them to strange and unexpected uses, yet always avoiding affectation by the sheer vitality of his strength. As for the matter of these first chapters, one might say that nothing whatever happens in them. They are an epic of adolescence wherein growth is the only movement. Events are for the second half of the volume. Here Michael has come down from Oxford, and has set himself to find and rescue by marriage the girl Lily, whom (you remember) he loved as a boy, and who has since drifted into the underworld. About this part of the story I will only say that, though the art is still there and the same haunting melody of style, Mr. MACKENZIE has too strong a sense of atmosphere to allow him to treat squalor in a fashion that will be agreeable to the universe. Frankly, the over-nice will be prudent to take leave of Michael on the Oxford platform. The others, following to the end, will agree with me that he has placed his creator definitely at the head of the younger school of English fiction.
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For me, the pleasure of travelling consists less in the sight of museums, cathedrals, picture galleries and landscapes, than in the study of the native man in the street and his peculiar ways. When abroad, "I am content to note my little facts," and so is Mr. GEO. A. BIRMINGHAM; in fact, it was he who first thought of mentioning the matter. The reverend canon tours in the U.S.A., which is, when you come to think of it, about the only safe area for the purpose nowadays; he observes the manners and oddities of the Americans, whether as politicians, pressmen, hustlers, holiday-makers, hosts, undergraduates, husbands or wives, and remarks upon them, in Connaught to Chicago (NISBET), with just that quiet and unboisterous humour which his public has come to demand of him as of right. His first chapter shows that he has ever in mind the multitude of his fellow-countrymen who have, in the past, made the same journey but for good and all. This memory leads him at times into excessive praise of his subjects, especially the ladies, and so to apparent disparagement of his people at home. For my part I vastly prefer the Irish, men, women and children, in Ireland to all or any of their relatives and friends elsewhere; for when they leave their island their humour runs to seed and loses that detachment and delicacy which constitute its unique charm. That Mr. BIRMINGHAM, however, was not nearly long enough abroad to suffer this deterioration, must be patent to all who linger over this happy book.
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If Miss JESSIE POPE receives her just reward, she will soon have to put a notice in the daily papers to the effect that she is grateful for kind enquiries, but is unable at present to answer them. For I think that any enterprising boy who reads The Shy Age (GRANT RICHARDS) will forthwith make it his business to find out the name of the school at which Jack Venables amused himself, and that even if unavoidable circumstances prevent him from going there he will, at any rate, remain disgruntled until he can place his finger upon it on the map. After reading those tales of school and holiday life, I can only say that the school which harboured me must have been a dull place, and that I should now like to return there for a term at least—I doubt if I should be allowed to stay longer—and liven things up. Miss POPE starts with one great advantage over men who write of boys' schools, because the critics cannot say that her work is autobiographical, and then proceed to "recognise" most of her characters. That is the terror lurking by day and night for any man who dares to write a school-tale. On the other hand, although Miss POPE has fitted herself remarkably well into the skin of Jack Venables, who tells these stories but is not (thank goodness) the hero of most of them, she has not been able entirely to avoid what I must call Papal touches. For instance, I do not believe that a boy of Jack's age and character would use the word "feasible," and a special society would have to be started for the prevention of cruelty to any boy who ventured to talk of his "aunties." On the whole, however, she has a fine understanding of boy-nature, and if there are some improbabilities in these ingenious stories, she is armed with the crushing retort that the chief characteristic of any properly equipped boy is his improbability.
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Possibly owing to some personal disinclination towards violent bodily exertion on the part of his creator, Father Brown, the criminal investigator of Mr. G. K. CHESTERTON'S fancy, is not a fellow of panther-like physique. For him no sudden pouncing on the frayed carpet-edge, or the broken collar-stud dyed with gore. He carries no lens and no revolver. Flashes of psychological insight are more to him than a meticulous examination of the window-sill. When the motive is instantly transparent, why bother about the murderer's boots? In the circumstances it is perhaps fortunate for the reverend sleuth that he nearly always happens to be in either at the death or immediately after it, instead of being summoned a day or two later when the grotesque circumstances of the crime have baffled the panting ingenuity of Scotland Yard. You find him now in this part of England, and now in that, now in America, and now in Italy. He is, in fact, a hedge-priest and has not even a cure of souls in Baker Street. But wherever he goes with his flapping hat and his umbrella he chances on some fantasy of guilt. Yet any pangs we may feel for the absence of the familiar setting—the pale-faced butler in the guarded dining-room of the country-house and the staggered minions of the local constabulary—are assuaged by the brilliant narrative manner in which The Wisdom of Father Brown (CASSELL) is set forth. Here is the paradoxical world of Mr. CHESTERTON'S imagination described in his own verbiage and proved by actual and grisly events. In that starry dream of a detective story which I sometimes have, where sleuth-hounds are pattering along the Milky Way and pursue at last the Great Bear to his den, Father Brown and Sherlock Holmes, the one spectacled, the other lynx-eyed, are following the prey in leash.
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Should you, among wild by-ways of Donegal or Connemara, meet a procession composed of Patsy McCann the Tinker and the Ass and Mary with Finaun the Archangel, Caeltia the Seraph, Art the Cherub, Eileen ni Cooley (a savage lady of easy morals), Billy the Music, the Seraph Cuchulain and Brien O'Brien, a lost soul who had a threepenny-bit stolen on him by Cuchulain that same, you would guess there's only one living man could be behind it—to wit JAMES STEPHENS, Crock-of-Gold STEPHENS. Fantastic things indeed happen in The Demi-Gods (MACMILLAN), which is a kind of inspired nightmare, a sort of Chestertonian inconsequence done into Gaelic, a little less violent and with a little less malt, but even less coherent. At the risk of being reckoned among the egregiously imperceptive I would ask Mr. STEPHENS solemnly whether he is not in danger of letting his fancy take bit between teeth and land him in some bog of sheer literary chaos. The most distant of the futurists notwithstanding, there must be some rules to the game or you don't get your work of art. When those modern wizards of the halls set themselves to a piece of bizarre juggling, say, with a string of pearls, a dumb-bell and a rose-petal, they do toss and catch—don't merely let everything just drop. Mr. STEPHENS will know what I mean without caring overmuch. There's something in it all the same. Anyway, there really are in The Demi-Gods delicate shy pearls and gleams of the authentic gold of the original Crock. And after all it wasn't written for middle-aged gentlemen of the Saxon tribe.
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Illustration: GERMAN SPIES TAKING LESSONS FROM CONJURER IN THE ART OF CONCEALING PIGEONS.
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Another Impending Apology.
"The Shipton family were too well known for anything to be said in their praise."—Buxton Advertiser.