PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
November 25, 1914.
ENVER PASHA, in a proclamation to the Turkish troops, says: "The army will destroy all our enemies with the aid of Allah and the assistance of the Prophet." It is rumoured that the KAISER is a little bit piqued about it.
We learn from a German paper that, since the brave Ottomans have discovered that their Culture and that of the Germans are one, many Englishmen who live in Crescents are crying out in fury for an alteration of their addresses.
According to a Berlin journal, about 2,000 players of orchestral instruments have been thrown out of employment by the war. It is suggested that, with a view to providing them with more employment, reverses as well as victories should be musically celebrated in the capital.
We are glad to see that the names of battles in Belgium show a tendency to become more cheery. The other day, for instance, we had the battle of the Yperlee—and we may yet have a battle of Yip-i-yaddy-i-yay.
It is rumoured that a compromise has been arrived at in regard to the proposal, emanating from America, that the war shall be stopped for twenty-four hours on Christmas Day. The combatants, it is said, have agreed to fire plum-puddings instead of cannon-balls.
Among the promotions which we do not remember seeing gazetted is that of KARL GUSTAV ERNST, a German barber-spy. At the Old Bailey, the other day, Mr. Justice COLERIDGE promoted him to be a Steinhauer or stone-hacker.
"'MIRACLE' PRODUCER KILLED."—Daily Chronicle.
This is unfortunate for the Germans, for if ever they needed a miracle it is now.
"Information that has come into our possession," says The Grocer, "proves to our satisfaction that Germany has been receiving plentiful supplies of tea from our shores through neutral countries since the outbreak of hostilities." The italics are ours: the satisfaction appears to be our contemporary's.
A cynic sends us a tip for the recruiting department of our army. "Why go for the single man?" he asks. "We may expect just as much courage from the married man. He has already proved his pluck."
"HOW DE WET ESCAPED. A MISSING LINK IN THE CORDON."—Observer.
The Germans, who have already been calling the Allied forces "The Menagerie," should appreciate this item.
Angry newspaper men are now calling a certain institution the Suppress Bureau.
A solicitor having announced that he is prepared to make the wills of the men of a certain regiment free of charge, another enterprising legal gentleman, not to be outdone, would like it to be known that he is willing to act as residuary legatee without a fee.
In his interesting sketch, in The Times, of the PRINCE OF WALES' career at the University, the PRESIDENT of Magdalen mentions that His Royal Highness "shot at various country houses round Oxford." We hope that this will not be quoted against the PRINCE by a spiteful German Press, should any bullet marks be found one day on the walls of some castle on the Rhine.
It came as quite an unpleasant surprise to many persons to learn from Mr. ASQUITH that the War is costing us a million pounds a day, that being more than some of us spend in a year.
* * * * *
* * * * *
The End of the Press Bureau.
"Members of several guilds carried their banners in the procession which went round the church to the accompaniment of impressive music and the swinging of censors."—South Western Star.
If this had got about, there would have been a bigger crowd at the ceremony. As it was, Fleet Street was taken by surprise, and only had time to prepare a few fireworks for the evening.
* * * * *
"Among other public buildings in a certain town which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning ... on a day and date which I need not trouble to repeat...."
No, this is not from our Special Representative behind the Front; it is the opening passage of Oliver Twist, and shows what a splendid War Correspondent DICKENS would have made.
* * * * *
"The clay feet of Germany will be revealed when we take off the gloves."—Mr. ARNOLD WHITE in "The Sunday Chronicle."
So that's where they wear them.
* * * * *
"Questioned with reference to a letter written by him to Steinhauer, in which he said, 'The name of the gentleman in Woolwich Arsenal is ——,' the prisoner said that was a false name."—Times.
It's a very silly name anyway.
* * * * *
"The announcement issued by the Press Bureau that carrier pigeons are to be used officially for certain purposes is an extremely interesting reversion to what we had regarded as almost premature ways of carrying news."—Westminster Gazette.
Not so premature as the WOLFF method.
* * * * *
More Information for the Enemy.
"BRITAIN'S SUGAR SUPPLY. SUFFICIENT FOR EIGHT MOUTHS."—Aberdeen Evening Gazette.
We insist on providing one of them.
* * * * *
"Now came the drums and fifes, and now the blare of the brass instruments, and continuously the singing of the soldiers of 'Die Wacht am goose step, while the good lieges of Brus-Rhein.'"—Adelaide Advertiser.
A good song, but (so it has always struck us) a clumsy title.
* * * * *
Extract from Army Routine Orders, Expeditionary Force, Nov. 9th:—
"It is notified for information that shooting in the Forest of Clairmarais and certain portions of the adjacent country is preserved."
Clever Germans are now disguising themselves as pheasants.
* * * * *
THE PRICE OF PATRIOTISM.
Helen and I are economising; so the other evening we dined at the Rococo.
"That's no economy," you cry; so let me explain.
In common with most other folk who are not engaged in the manufacture of khaki, or rifles, or Army woollens, or heavy siege-guns (to which I had not the foresight to turn my attention before the war came along), we have found it necessary to adopt a policy of retrenchment and reform; and one of our first moves in this direction was to convert Evangeline from a daily into a half-daily. Evangeline is not a newspaper but a domestic servant, and before the new order was issued she had been in the habit of arriving at our miniature flat at 7.30 in the morning (when it wasn't 8.15), and retiring at 9 in the evening.
Now, however, Evangeline goes after lunch, and Helen, who has bought a shilling cookery book, prepares the dinner herself.
On the day in question Helen suddenly decided to spend the afternoon repairing a week's omissions on the part of Evangeline. It proved a veritable labour of Hercules, the flat being, as Helen with near enough accuracy gave me to understand, an "Aegaean stable." Tea-time came, but brought no tea. Shortly before seven Helen struck, and declared (this time without any classical metaphor) that she wasn't going to cook any dinner that evening. Not to be outdone, I affirmed in reply that even if she did cook it I wasn't going to clear it away. So we cleaned and adorned ourselves and groped our way to the Rococo.
We were both too tired to go to the trouble of choosing our dinner, and it was therefore that we elected to make our way through the table-d'hote, to which we felt that our appetite, unimpaired by tea, could do full justice. Luxuriously we toyed with hors-d'oeuvre, while the orchestra patriotically intimated that ours is a Land of Hope and Glory; blissfully we consumed our soup, undeterred by repeated reminders of the distance to Tipperary. It was with the fish that the trouble started.
At the second mouthful it began to dawn upon me that what the band was playing was the Brabanconne. I looked around, and gathered that I was not alone in the realisation of that fact; for one by one my fellow-diners struggled hesitatingly to their feet, and stood in awkward reverence while the National Anthem of our brave Belgian Allies was in course of execution. I looked at Helen, and Helen looked at me, and we both tried not to look too regretfully at our plates as we also adopted the prevailing pose. Not one note of that light-hearted anthem did the orchestra miss, and when it was over the warmth in our hearts almost compensated for the coldness of our fish. We decided to jump at once to the entree.
Whatever else may be said of the Marseillaise, there can be no mistaking its identity. The first bar sufficed to bring the whole room to attention, and a promising dish of sweetbreads shared the fate of its predecessor. Before the final crash had ceased to reverberate we sat down with a thump, resigning ourselves to the prospect of doing double justice to the joint. But the orchestra was not so lightly to be cheated of its prey. True, we held out as long as possible while the Russian Hymn began to unfold its majestic length, and Helen actually managed to convey a considerable piece of saddle of mutton to her mouth while she was in the very act of rising. That joint, however, was soon but a memory of anticipation, and our hunger was still keen upon us when the funereal strains of the Japanese Anthem coincided with the arrival of a wild duck. I had always harboured secret doubts of the advisability of Japan's joining in the War, and now they were intensified many times. Cold wild duck is an impossibility even to a hungry man.
Ice-pudding, though scarcely satisfying, seemed to warrant the expectation that it would at least survive whatever further ordeal the band had in store for us. But that hope too was doomed to extinction. When God Save the King smote the air the growing lethargy of the company of diners vanished, and all joined with a will in the recital of all its verses. In the glow of loyal enthusiasm that filled the room the ice gradually melted, and as we surveyed the fluid mess upon our plates we knew that our dinner was gone beyond recall.
Weary and unappeased we crept home through the City of Dreadful Night. I found a remnant of cold beef and some pickles in the kitchen, and on this we went to bed. I slept but little, and on five occasions watched Helen, who has dreams, get out of bed and stand to attention.
Of course it might have been worse; for the musicians of the Rococo evidently had not learnt the national airs of Serbia and Montenegro; and Portugal had not then been drawn into the War. But until the trouble is over I shall avoid restaurants which harbour an orchestra. As you say, it is no economy.
* * * * *
TO MR. BERNARD JAW.
Illustrious Jester, who in happier days Amused us with your Prefaces and Plays, Acquiring a precarious renown By turning laws and morals upside down, Sticking perpetual pins in Mrs. Grundy, Railing at marriage or the British Sunday, And lavishing your acid ridicule On the foundations of imperial rule;— 'Twas well enough in normal times to sit And watch the workings of your wayward wit, But in these bitter days of storm and stress, When souls are shown in all their nakedness, Your devastating egotism stands out Denuded of the last remaining clout. You own our cause is just, yet can't refrain From libelling those who made its justice plain; You chide the Prussian Junkers, yet proclaim Our statesmen beat them at their own vile game.
Thus, bent on getting back at any cost Into the limelight you have lately lost, And, high above war's trumpets loudly blown On land and sea, eager to sound your own, We find you faithful to your ancient plan Of disagreeing with the average man, And all because you think yourself undone Unless in a minority of one.
Vain to the core, thus in the nation's need You carp and cavil while your brothers bleed, And while on England vitriol you bestow You offer balsam to her deadliest foe.
* * * * *
Extract from a commercial traveller's letter to his chief:—
"DEAR SIR,—On Wednesday next I want you to allow me the day off. My wife having lost her mother is being buried on that date and I should like to attend the funeral."
* * * * *
Extract from a child's essay on CROMWELL:—
"In his last years, Cromwell grew very much afraid of plots, and it is said that he even wore underclothes to protect himself."
We wonder if the KAISER knows of this.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
"Here no howitzers speak in stern styles, Light and gay is the leathern bomb, We pay our sixpences down at the turnstiles, And that is our centre, name of Tom; Wild thunder rolls When he scores his goals, And up in the air go Alf and Ern's tiles; But what is this rumour of war? Whence cometh it from?"
So said Bottlesham, best of cities Watching the ball from seats above. "Belgium ruined? A thousand pities! Bother the KAISER'S mailed glove!" But it left no stings When they heard these things, Though they wept as the brown bird weeps for Itys On the day that the Wanderers whacked them two to love.
Suddenly then the news came flying, "English mariners meet the Dutch, Tars interned, with the neutrals vieing, Beaten at Groeningen." Wild hands clutch At the evening sheets And the swift pulse beats; Is the fame of HAWKE and FROBISHER dying? The heart of the town is stirred by the NELSON touch.
Six—five. It's true. And the tears bedizen The smoke-stained cheeks, and there comes a scream, "If our English lads in a far-off prison Are matched one day with a German team And the Germans win, They will say in Berlin That a brighter than all our stars has risen; Will even the Bottlesham Rovers stand supreme?
"Infantry, cavalry, guard and lancer— Who on that day will bear the brunt, With twinkling feet like a tip-toe dancer Dribbling about while the half-backs grunt? There is only one Who can vanquish the Hun!" And Bottlesham town with a cry made answer, "There is only one; we must send our Tom to the front."
* * * * *
A RIVAL OF "TIPPERARY."
While much has been written of the songs that inspire our own brave troops on the march, little is heard of those affected by our Allies.
Happily Mr. Punch's Special Eye-witness with General Headquarters in the Eastern Area has been enabled to send us the words of a song which, set to an old Slav air, is rendered with immense elan by the gallant Russians as they go into battle. It is as follows:—
It's a hard nut is Cracow, It's a hard nut to crack, But it's not so hard to crack, oh! When once you've got the knack. Good-bye, Przemysl; Farewell, Lemberg (Lwow); It's a hard, hard nut to crack is Cracow, But we'll soon crack it now.
By the more cultured Russian regiments, i.e., those recruited in the neighbourhood of the German frontier, the last line is rendered:—
But we'll crack it right off,
to rhyme with Lvoff—the correct pronunciation of Lwow, according to a contemporary.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
KING HENRY IV., PART I.
I commend Sir HERBERT TREE'S obvious desire to do his duty as an actor-manager and a patriot. His true intent is all for our good; and he supports his choice of a play in which Falstaff is the central obsession by a printed quotation from the words of "That Wise Ruler Queen Elizabeth of England," where she says: "'Tis simple mirth keepeth high courage alive." But yet he does not convince me that he has chosen wisely here. For in the first place we are not closely interested in civil war, as we came near to being in the dim Ulster period; and patriotism, which it is his object to encourage, is like to remain unaffected by a play in which our sympathies are fairly distributed between rebel and royalist. In the second place I cannot believe that the glorification of drunkenness and braggadocio in the person of Falstaff can directly assist the cause (which at this moment needs all the help it can get) of sobriety and self-respect.
Having made this protest I have little but praise for the performance itself, though I think Sir HERBERT TREE'S own lethargy was not wholly to be excused by the hampering rotundity of his girth; and that all this deliberate sword-play, where you wait till your enemy has got his right guard before you arrange a concussion between your weapon and his, fails to impose itself as an image of War. But it was no fault of the actors if we suffered a further loss of actuality by the incredible amount of fine poetry and rhetoric thrown off by military men at junctures calling for immediate action.
I also venture to make my complaint to the author that the Falstaff scenes are given too great a dominance, diverting us from the main issue so long that at one time we almost lost count of it; and that the picture of that fat impostor lying supine in a simulation of death within a few feet of the fallen body of the heroic Hotspur was repellent to one's sense of the proprieties.
Mr. MATHESON LANG was a brave figure as Hotspur; but, after lately seeing that other keen actor, Mr. OWEN NARES, in the part of a modern intellectual discussing the ethics of War, I could not quite get myself to believe in him as Prince Hal. He spoke some of his lines with a fine ardour, but he was too high-browed and slight of body, and it was unthinkable that he could ever have persuaded Hotspur to die at his hands.
Sir HERBERT TREE affected an almost proprietary interest in the bibulous humours of Falstaff, presenting them with an easy and leisurely restraint; and Mr. BASIL GILL both in form and manner made a quite good King. The minor parts upheld the standard of His Majesty's; and a pleasant rattling of steel and shimmer of mail ran through the scenes of active service. Mr. PERCY MACQUOID had seen to it that the period was there, and Mr. JOSEPH HARKER had taken good care that the jewelry of SHAKSPEARE'S verse should have the right setting, though I could easily have mistaken his Gadshill scene for a section of the Lake Country.
* * * * *
Nothing is too good for our fighting men. Let my subscription to that axiom be complete; and yet——
Well, it is like this. A man who is only a year or so too old for active service, but feels as fit and keen as a boy, has so many opportunities for regretting his enforced civilism and absence from the arena that it is hard when additional ones are thrust upon him.
He may do his best at home. He may guard gasworks, or organise funds, or campaign as an enlister, or visit the hospitals; but all the time he is conscious that being here is so different from being there. It galls him day and night, and the only thing that can help him at all is the society of lovely women, and now he has lost that!
I hate to grumble, and I have, I believe, shouldered my share of the new taxes like a man, but I am not made of such stern stuff as to be superior to all human aid, and in my own case the mortification of non-combating, which now and then becomes depressingly acute, is to be alleviated only in this way. Nice women must do their part.
But do they? No. They did at first, but no longer.
Let me tell you. The other evening I found myself one of the complacent hosts of a party of merry chattering young women, who seemed to be quite satisfied with our attention. All of us were just beginning to be very jolly, and I had actually forgotten my hard destiny of inactivity, when who should come into the room but an officer on crutches, who happened to be an acquaintance of each of our guests but was unknown both to me and my other just too elderly male friends. In an instant we were alone, and alone we remained for certainly half an hour, while every attention was being paid by our guests to that other. When at last they tore themselves away and returned, their conversation was wholly confined to their wounded friend's adventures, and we need not have been there at all, except to pay the bill.
Now it is no fun to me to deceive anyone but myself, and hence I shall not go about with my arm in a sling and win sympathy and attention to which I am not entitled; but I do appeal to all the young women to have a little pity on some of us compulsory stay-at-homes. Nothing is too good for our fighting men. I repeat it. But just a tiny spark of animation might be retained in the feminine eye when it alights upon an old friend who is debarred from taking arms. Just a spark, otherwise we shall go into a melancholy decline.
* * * * *
"Owner gone to the front, friend offers his Wolseley ... L165, an extraordinary opportunity."—Advt. in "Autocar."
If we were not confident that we should be wrong in putting upon these words the sinister interpretation which they invite, we shouldn't envy the advertiser when the owner returns.
* * * * *
From verses in Punch, October 21st:—
"We have made progress near to Berry au Bac, And on our right wing there is nothing new."
From the French official report, November 12th:—
"We have also made some progress around Berry au Bac."
And on the right wing there was nothing new.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Fan, the hunt terrier, runs with the pack, A little white bitch with a patch on her back; She runs with the pack as her ancestors ran— We're an old-fashioned lot here and breed 'em like Fan; Round of skull, harsh of coat, game and little and low, The same as we bred sixty seasons ago.
So she's harder than nails, and she's nothing to learn From her scarred little snout to her cropped little stern, And she hops along gaily, in spite of her size, With twenty-four couples of big badger-pyes: 'Tis slow, but 'tis sure is the old white and grey, And 'twill sing to a fox for a whole winter day.
Last year at Rook's Rough, just as Ben put 'em in, 'Twas Fan found the rogue who was curled in the whin; She pounced at his brush with a drive and a snap, "Yip-Yap, boys," she told 'em, "I've found him, Yip-Yap;" And they put down their noses and sung to his line Away down the valley most tuneful and fine.
'Twas a point of ten miles and a kill in the dark That scared the cock pheasants in Fallowfield Park, And into the worry flew Fan like a shot And snatched the tit-bit that old Rummage had got; Eloop, little Fan with the patch on her back, She broke up the fox with the best of the pack.
* * * * *
FOR THE CHILDREN.
[The Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street, where many Belgian children are now being cared for, is in very urgent need of funds to enable it to maintain its beneficent work. The Treasurer will gladly receive and acknowledge any subscriptions that may be sent.]
O generous hearts that freely give, Nor heed the lessening of your store, So but our well-loved land may live, Much have you given—give once more!
For little children spent with toil, For little children worn with pain, I ask a gift of healing oil— Say, shall I ask for it in vain?
For, since our days are filled with woe, And all the paths are dark and chill, This thought may cheer us as we go, And bring us light and comfort still;
This, this may stay our faltering feet, And this our mournful minds beguile:— We helped some little heart to beat And taught some little face to smile.
R. C. L.
* * * * *
"MONITORS AT WORK OFF KNOCKE," says The Daily Mail, and by way of reply the Germans knocked off work.
* * * * *
This is a true story. Unless you promise to believe me, it is not much good my going on.... You promise? Very well.
Years ago I bought a pianola. I went into the shop to buy a gramophone record, and I came out with a pianola—so golden-tongued was the manager. You would think that one could then retire into private life for a little, but it is only the beginning. There is the music-stool to be purchased, the library subscription, the tuner's fee (four visits a year, if you please), the cabinet for the rolls, the man to oil the pedals, the——however, one gets out of the shop at last. Nor do I regret my venture. It is common talk that my pianola was the chief thing about me which attracted Celia. "I must marry a man with a pianola," she said ... and there was I ... and here, in fact, we are. My blessings, then, on the golden tongue of the manager.
Now there is something very charming in a proper modesty about one's attainments, but it is necessary that the attainments should be generally recognized first. It was admirable in STEPHENSON to have said (as I am sure he did), when they congratulated him on his first steam-engine, "Tut-tut, it's nothing;" but he could only say this so long as the others were in a position to offer the congratulations. In order to place you in that position I must let you know how extraordinarily well I played the pianola. I brought to my interpretation of different Ops an elan, a verve, a je ne sais quoi—and several other French words—which were the astonishment of all who listened to me. But chiefly I was famous for my playing of one piece: "The Charge of the Uhlans," by KARL BOHM. Others may have seen Venice by moonlight, or heard the Vicar's daughter recite Little Jim, but the favoured few who have been present when BOHM and I were collaborating are the ones who have really lived. Indeed, even the coldest professional critic would have spoken of it as "a noteworthy rendition."
"The Charge of the Uhlans." If you came to see me, you had to hear it. As arranged for the pianola, it was marked to be played throughout at a lightning pace and with the loudest pedal on. So one would play it if one wished to annoy the man in the flat below; but a true musician has, I take it, a higher aim. I disregarded the "FF.'s" and the other sign-posts on the way, and gave it my own interpretation. As played by me, "The Charge of the Uhlans" became a whole battle scene. Indeed, it was necessary, before I began, that I should turn to my audience and describe the scene to them—in the manner, but not in the words, of a Queen's Hall programme:—
"Er—first of all you hear the cavalry galloping past, and then there's a short hymn before action while they form up, and then comes the charge, and then there's a slow bit while they—er—pick up the wounded, and then they trot slowly back again. And if you listen carefully to the last bit you'll actually hear the horses limping."
Something like that I would say; and it might happen that an insufferable guest (who never got asked again) would object that the hymn part was unusual in real warfare.
"They sang it in this piece anyhow," I would say stiffly, and turn my back on him and begin.
But the war put a stop to music as to many other things. For three months the pianola has not been played by either of us. There are two reasons for this: first, that we simply haven't the time now; and secondly, that we are getting all the music we want from the flat below. The flat below is learning "Tipperary" on one finger. He gets as far as the farewell to Leicester Square, and then he breaks down; the parting is too much for him.
I was not, then, surprised at the beginning of this month to find Celia looking darkly at the pianola.
"It's very ugly," she began.
"We can't help our looks," I said in my grandmother's voice.
"A bookcase would be much prettier there."
"But not so tuneful."
"A pianola isn't tuneful if you never play it."
"True," I said.
Celia then became very alluring, and suggested that I might find somebody who would like to be lent a delightful pianola for a year or so by somebody whose delightful wife had her eye on a delightful bookcase.
"I might," I said.
"Somebody," said Celia, "who isn't supplied with music from below."
I found John. He was quite pleased about it, and promised to return the pianola when the war was over.
So on Wednesday it went. I was not sorry, because in its silence it was far from beautiful, and we wanted another bookcase badly. But on Tuesday evening—its last hours with us—I had to confess to a certain melancholy. It is sad to part with an old and well-tried friend, particularly when that friend is almost entirely responsible for your marriage. I looked at the pianola and then I said to Celia, "I must play it once again."
"Please," said Celia.
"The old masterpiece, I suppose?" I said, as I got it out.
"Do you think you ought to—now? I don't think I want to hear a charge of the Uhlans—beasts; I want a charge of our own men."
"Art," I said grandly, "knows no frontiers." I suppose this has been said by several people several times already, but for the moment both Celia and I thought it was rather clever.
So I placed the roll in the pianola, sat down and began to play....
Ah, the dear old tune....
Dash it all!
"What's happened?" said Celia, breaking a silence which had become alarming.
"I must have put it in wrong," I said.
I wound the roll off, put it in again, and tried a second time, pedalling vigorously.
Hush! A note ... another silence ... and then another note....
I pedalled through to the end. About five notes sounded.
"Celia," I said, "this is wonderful."
It really was wonderful. For the first time in its life my pianola refused to play "The Charge of the Uhlans." It had played it a hundred times while we were at peace with Germany, but when we were at war—no!
We had to have a farewell piece. I put in a waltz, and it played it perfectly. Then we said good-bye to our pianola, feeling a reverence for it which we had never felt before.
* * * * *
You don't believe this? Yet you promised you would ... and I still assure you that it is true. But I admit that the truth is sometimes hard to believe, and the first six persons to whom I told the story assured me frankly that I was a liar. If one is to be called a liar, one may as well make an effort to deserve the name. I made an effort, therefore, with the seventh person.
"I put in 'The Charge of the Uhlans,'" I said, "and it played 'God Save the King.'"
Unfortunately he was a very patriotic man indeed, and he believed it. So that is how the story is now going about. But you who read this know the real truth of the matter.
A. A. M.
* * * * *
Things worth waiting for.
"Other pictures are announced, among them 'Trilby,' with Sir H. Beerbohm Tree in the title-role."—Blackheath Local Guide.
* * * * *
THE TRUTH ABOUT ——.
FACSIMILE SKETCHES BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT AT ——.
* * * * *
To the Memory of Field-Marshal Earl Roberts of Kandahar and Pretoria.
BORN, 1832. DIED, ON SERVICE AT THE FRONT, NOV. 14TH, 1914.
He died, as soldiers die, amid the strife, Mindful of England in his latest prayer; God, of His love, would have so fair a life Crowned with a death as fair.
He might not lead the battle as of old, But, as of old, among his own he went, Breathing a faith that never once grew cold, A courage still unspent.
So was his end; and, in that hour, across The face of War a wind of silence blew, And bitterest foes paid tribute to the loss Of a great heart and true.
But we who loved him, what have we to lay For sign of worship on his warrior-bier? What homage, could his lips but speak to-day, Would he have held most dear?
Not grief, as for a life untimely reft; Not vain regret for counsel given in vain; Not pride of that high record he has left, Peerless and pure of stain;
But service of our lives to keep her free, The land he served; a pledge above his grave To give her even such a gift as he, The soul of loyalty, gave.
That oath we plight, as now the trumpets swell His requiem, and the men-at-arms stand mute, And through the mist the guns he loved so well Thunder a last salute!
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
(EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.)
House of Commons, Monday, 16th November.—"Let us think imperially," said DON JOSE in a famous phrase. Just now we are thinking in millions. Suppose it's somewhere about the same thing. Anyhow PREMIER to-day announced with pardonable pride that we are spending a trifle under a million a day in the war forced upon mankind by the Man Forsworn. To meet necessities of case he asked for further Vote of Credit for 225 millions and an addition of a million men to Regular Army.
Here was a chance for a great speech. Never before had English Minister submitted such stupendous propositions. Some of us remember how, thirty-six years ago, DIZZY, by way of threat to Russia, then at war with Turkey, created profound sensation in town and country by asking for Vote of Credit for six millions. At close of Boer War HICKS-BEACH, then Chancellor of Exchequer, launched a War Loan of 30 millions. 'Twas thought at the time that we were going it, taking a long stride towards national Bankruptcy Court. Now it is 225 millions in supplement of a hundred millions voted in August. Moreover, the two together do not carry us further than end of financial year, 31st of March. Then we shall begin again with another trifle of same dimensions or probably increased.
How Mr. G., had he still been with us, would have revelled in opportunity for delivering an oration planned to scale! How his eloquence would have glowed over these fantastic figures! HERBERT HENRY ASQUITH (had he been consulted at the font, he would certainly have objected to useless waste of time involved in a second baptismal name) spoke for less than quarter of an hour, submitting proposals in baldest, most business-like fashion. He wanted the men and he wanted the money too. Fewer words spoken the sooner he would get them. So, avoiding tropes and flights of eloquence, he just stood at Table, a sort of humanized ledger, briefly set forth items of his account, totalled them up and sat down.
WALTER LONG, following, voiced general dislike for prohibition that keeps War Correspondents out of fighting line in Flanders. Deprecated risk of circulating information useful to the enemy, but insisted, amid cheers from both sides, that there might be published letters from the front free from such danger "that would bring comfort and solace to the people and would do more to attract recruits than bands and flag-parading throughout the country."
Speaking later in reply, Mr. Spenlow ASQUITH, while sympathising with WALTER LONG'S desire, explained that state of things complained of is entirely due to Monsieur Jorkins Poincare.
"We are not free agents in this matter," he said. "We must regulate our proceedings by the proceedings of our Allies."
Business done.—Vote of Credit for 225 million and authority to raise another million men for Army agreed to without dissent.
Tuesday.—Lords and Commons united in paying tribute to the life, lamenting the death, of Lord ROBERTS—"BOBS," beloved of the Army, revered in India, mourned throughout the wide range of Empire. Even in Germany, where hatred of all that is English has become a monomania, exception is made in his favour. "There are moments," writes a sportsman in the German Press, "when the warrior salutes the enemy with his sword instead of striking with it. Such a moment came with the death of Lord Roberts."
Speeches in both Houses worthy of the occasion. Brief, simple, genuine in emotion, they were well attuned to the theme. One of the happiest things said was uttered by BONAR LAW: "In his simplicity, in his modesty, in his high-minded uprightness, and in his stern detestation of everything mean and base, Lord ROBERTS was in real life all, and more than all, that Colonel Newcome was in fiction."
PREMIER proposed that on Monday House shall authorise erection of monument at the public charge to the memory of the Great Soldier. When motion formally put from Chair heads were bared in farewell salute of the warrior taking his rest.
Not the least touching note of eloquence was supplied during proceedings in House of Lords. It was the empty seat at the corner of the Front Cross Bench where on rare occasions stood the lithe erect figure, in stature not quite so high as NAPOLEON, modestly offering words of counsel.
Business done.—CHANCELLOR OF EXCHEQUER, presenting himself to favourable consideration of crowded House in homely character of coalheaver filling bunkers of a battleship, introduced second Budget of the year. Upon consideration House comes to conclusion that one is quite enough, thank you. Proposals in Supplementary Budget are what Dominic Sampson might, with more than customary appropriateness and emphasis, describe as "Prodigious!" Faced by deficiency of something over three-hundred-and-thirty-nine-and-a-half millions, CHANCELLOR launches War Loan of two hundred and thirty millions and levies additional fifteen-and-a-half millions in taxation.
Items: Income Tax doubled; threepence a pound added to tea; a halfpenny clapped on price of every modest half-pint of beer consumed.
Wednesday.—Monotony of truce in respect of Party politics varied by wholesome heartening game. It consists of hunting down the German spies and chivying the HOME SECRETARY. Played in both Houses to-night. In the Lords HALSBURY attempted to make Lord CHANCELLOR'S flesh creep by disclosure of existence of "ingenious system of correspondence" carried on between alien spies and their paymaster in Berlin. HALDANE replied that the matter had been closely investigated; turned out there was "nothing in it." CRAWFORD fared no better. Imperturbable LORD CHANCELLOR assured House that the military and civil authorities in Scotland were cognisant of rumours reported by noble Lord. Every case that seemed to warrant investigation had been looked into. Was found that many were based on hearsay. Impossible to find evidence to establish charges made.
Nevertheless, LONDONDERRY, having dispassionately thought the matter over, came to conclusion that conduct of HOME SECRETARY was "contemptible."
This opinion, phrased in differing form, shared on Opposition Benches in Commons. PREMIER explained that business of dealing with aliens is not concentrated in Home Office; is shared with the War Office and the Admiralty. Of late, on suggestion of Committee of Imperial Defence, there has been established at War Office an Intelligence Department in correspondence with the Admiralty and assured of assistance of the Home Office wherever necessary.
That all very well. Hon. Members and noble Lords in Opposition not to be disturbed in their honest conviction that MCKENNA is at the bottom of the bad business.
Business done.—On suggestion of BONAR LAW and on motion of PREMIER Select Committee appointed to consider scheme of pensions and grants for men wounded in the war, and for the widows and orphans of those who have lost their lives.
Friday.—Like MARLBROOK, WEDGWOOD BENN s'en va-t-en guerre. Has sallied out with a troop of Middlesex Hussars to "join our army in Flanders," where, according to contemporary testimony, once upon a time it "swore terribly." His Parliamentary services, supplemented by the Chairmanship of Committee controlling disposition of National Relief Fund, might seem sufficient to keep him at home. But valour, like murder, will out. So, as old John Willett, landlord of the Maypole Inn, Chigwell, used to say when asked of the whereabouts of his son, "he has gone to the Salwanners, where the war is," carrying with him the good wishes of all sections of House and an exceptionally full knowledge of the intricacies of the Insurance Act.
Many gaps on Benches on both sides. SARK tells me there are seven-score Members on active service at the Front. One of the first to go was SEELY, at brief interval stepping from position of Head of British Army to that of a unit in its ranks.
News of him came the other day from Private JAMES WHITE, of the Inniskilling Fusiliers, now in hospital at Belfast. Wounded by fragments of a shell, WHITE lay for an hour where he fell. Then he felt a friendly hand on his shoulder and a cheery voice asked how he was getting on.
It was Colonel SEELY bending over him, regardless of heavy shell fire directed on the spot by German batteries. He gave the wounded Fusilier a cigarette, helped him to get up and assisted him to his motor-car, in which he had all day been engaged in conveying wounded to French hospital in the rear.
"He is the bravest man I ever met," said Private JAMES WHITE. "He was as cool as the morning under fire, cheering us all up with smiles and little jokes."
Business done:—Report of Supply.
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* * * * *
A RECRUITING BALLAD.
[Recruiting in country districts is languishing because the folk hear nothing of their regiments, and local attachment is very strong. Unfortunately this ballad had to be founded on material supplied by the C——r. However, the permitted references to Germans ought at any rate to convince the public that the ballad has no connection whatever with the late Boer War.]
This is the tale of the Blankshires bold, the famous charge they made; This is the tale of the deeds they did whose glory never will fade; They only numbered X hundred men and the German were thousands (Y), Yet on the battlefield of Z they made the foeman fly.
Calm and cool on the field they stood (near a town—I can't say where); Some of them hugged their rifles close but none of them turned a hair; The Colonel (I must suppress his name) looked out on the stubborn foe, And said, "My lads, we must drive them hence, else A + B will go."
Then each man looked in his neighbour's face and laughed with sudden glee (The Briton fights his very best for algebra's formulae); The hostile guns barked loud and sharp (their number I cannot give), And no one deemed the Blankety Blanks could face that fire and live.
For Colonel O. was struck by a shell and wounded was Major Q., And half a hostile army corps came suddenly into view; And hidden guns spat death at them and airmen hovered to kill, But the Blankety Blanks just opened their ranks and charged an (unnamed) hill.
Half of their number fell on the hill ere they reached the German trench; General J—— cried out: "Tres bon"; "Not half," said Marshal F——; An angry Emperor shook his fist and at his legions raved, And then (the C——r lets me say) the cheery Blankshires shaved.
Rally, O rally, ye Blankshire men, rally to fill the gaps; Seek victories (all unknown to us), bear (well-suppressed) mishaps; And when you've made a gallant charge and pierced the angry foe Your names won't get to your people at home, but BUCKMASTER will know.
* * * * *
OUR NATIONAL GUESTS.
The truth is that the Belgians in Crashie Howe are enjoying a succes fou. There is the enterprising Marie, who thinks nothing of going off on her own, on the strength of an English vocabulary only a fortnight old, overwhelming the stationmaster and boarding an ambulance train full of wounded Belgians at the local station to ask for news of her brothers. (We were all delighted when an adventurous letter miraculously arrived from the Pas de Calais on Saturday and reported that both brothers were well and unwounded.) There is Victor, who, although only thirteen, is already a pupille d'armee and has a uniform quite as good as any fighting man. I can tell you he has put our Boy Scouts in the shade. But Victor is afraid the war will be over before he is old enough to get at it.
Then, again, there is the small Juliette, who is dark, with a comfortable little face constructed almost entirely of dimples, and, at the age of eight, has been discovered knitting stockings at a prodigious pace while she looked the other way. I am afraid Juliette is being held up as an example to other children of the neighbourhood, but I think her great popularity may well survive even that. And there is Louis, who is a marvel at making bird-cages, and Rosalie, whose pride is in the shine of her pots and pans. They are all doing well.
Rosalie, it is true, has had a fearful bout of toothache, so bad that she had to retire to bed for a day. When Dr. Anderson, whose French is very good, had successfully diagnosed the trouble and told her that the only cure was to have the tooth out, she plaintively replied that she had thought of that herself, but, alas, it was impossible, for "it was too firmly implanted." For my part I sympathised with Rosalie—I have often felt like that.
The grandmother rather likes to sit apart, beaming, far from the general throng, and it was for that reason that I selected her at the very outset to practise on in private. I tried her more than once in my sadly broken French; I even went further and tried her in rapidly-improvised Flemish. Whenever I felt I was at my best I used to go and have a turn at her, and, although she smiled at me like anything and was awfully pleased, I never elicited the slightest response. Now I know that she is almost stone deaf and hasn't heard a word I have said. As I came sadly away after this discovery there occurred to my mind the story of him who undertook to train a savage in the arts of civilization, only to learn, after some years of disappointing, unrequited toil, that his victim was not only a savage but also a lunatic. I don't mean that to be disrespectful to Grandmere—it is only a parallel instance of good work thrown away.
We are learning a good deal that is new about the art of knitting. One thing is that the Flemish knitter cannot get on at all comfortably unless the needles are long enough to tuck under her arms. I may safely say that I never dreamt of that. At first they fumbled about unhappily with our miserable little needles, but the ship's carpenter—who makes the bird-cages—has found quite an ingenious way out. He has mounted all the needles at the end of a sort of stilt or leg of cane (like a bayonet), and since this innovation they are working at a speed which, even in these days of universal knitting, would be pretty hard to beat.
The children are really getting on famously at school. A very touching little romance was enacted there one day. Eugene and Pierre, belonging to different families, arrived in our midst on different days and did not chance to meet each other at first. At school they happened to be put, away from their compatriots, in the same room. Eugene is eight and Pierre seven. It was, you may well guess, pretty lonely work for a small Belgian in a roomful of Scotch boys, but both bore up bravely. The subject, as I understand, was simple addition (which knows no frontiers and looks the same in any language), and there is no whispering or secret conversation in our school, I can tell you. There they sat side by side for two hours, each contemplating the other as an alien, each smothering pent-up feelings of home-sickness. And then suddenly, at a single Flemish word from the schoolmaster, the moment of revelation came; it dawned on both of them at once that they were not alone, and, rising to their feet, they embraced with tears of joy.
"Broeder!" cried Eugene.
"Broeder!" echoed Pierre.
That was nearly a week ago. By now Pierre is beginning to treat Eugene in a slightly off-hand manner. He has hardly time for him. He has so many Scotch friends.
* * * * *
"During the night a terrific gale raged in Manchester and surrounding districts, hail and sleet being accompanied by a torrential rainfall varied by Pendleton, Eccles, Seedley and other lightning."—People.
"Eccles lightning is the best."—(Advt.).
* * * * *
THE IMMORTAL LEGEND.
In the House of Commons on November 18, Mr. KING asked the UNDER-SECRETARY FOR WAR whether he could state, without injury to the military interests of the Allies, whether any Russian troops had been conveyed through Great Britain to the Western area of the European War.
Mr. TENNANT'S reply:—"I am uncertain whether it will gratify or displease my hon. friend to know that no Russian troops have been conveyed through Great Britain to the Western area of the European War."
The firm and faithful believers in this beautiful tale are not to be put off so easily as that, and there are so many thousands of faces to be saved, and such numbers of ear- (if not eye-) witnesses of the undying exploit, that we really must see if there is not after all some loophole in the official pronouncement. Let us pause for further scrutiny and meditations.
Why, of course, here it is. The UNDER-SECRETARY merely states his imperfect knowledge of the bias of Mr. KING. He does not know whether his questioner is one of the ardent souls who are ready to pass along and adorn the latest legend from the Clubs, or a cold-blooded sceptic fit only to be a Censor.
No, we are not to be done out of our Russians by any mere UNDER-SECRETARY FOR WAR; certainly not one who is capable of such prevarication. And anyhow, why should the Germans do all the story-telling?
* * * * *
THE WILD AND WOOLLY WEST END.
"A PROTEST.—Is there any reason why the War should be made an excuse for the abandonment of the niceties of life? Dining at a West-End restaurant nowadays one might well imagine oneself in America, from the variety and incongruity of the dress of the male patrons."—Advt. in "The Times."
We fear that the protest is only too well justified. Indeed, much more might be revealed were it not for the heavy hand of the C——r. Our special representative reports:—
To the O.C., Punch Battalion, Bouverie Brigade, Fleet Division, E.C., of London Reserves.
A City on the river T——s. Nov. the —teenth.
Carrying out your order No. 69A, I made a night reconnaissance in force. I have the honour to report that at dinner at a certain hotel two hundred yards east by north of railway base C——g X, I counted only five boiled shirts. Have reason to suspect that they were subsidised by the management, and were worn by Stock Exchange members thrown out of employment by the War and endeavouring to supplement their private incomes.
The rest of the male costumes were mainly khaki. One man entered dining-room with Buffalo Bill hat decorated with maple-leaf and A.M.S. (Athabasca Mounted Scalpers), which he deposited on chair next to him. The only nut present endeavoured to remove this object. The A.M.S. man touched his hip-pocket significantly, and said: "The drinks are on you."
At the table next to him was a group of South American magnates in tweed suits decorated with large buttons reading: "No me habla de la guerra!" If the man from Athabasca should start conversation with them about the war, it seemed probable that gun-fighting would ensue. I therefore enfiladed the position and took cover. However, the sergeant-waiter tactfully shifted a palm into screening position between the two tables, and thus averted the spreading of the War to Latin America.
Similar state of affairs existed in stalls of certain theatre within outpost distance of P——y C——s. Ladies were openly knitting socks and intimate woollen garments between the Acts. Management seemed powerless to restore the conventions of peace-time.
At the C——n Tavern the bar-tender had pasted notice on mirror behind him: "This Saloon closes at ten sharp. Gents are kindly requested not to start nothing here." The announcement seemed to have been effective, for very few bullet-marks were to be noted.
By midnight, L——r S——e and R——t S——t were comparatively clear of dagos. This was due to efforts of street-cleaning corps (3rd County of L——n Light Hose).
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE NEW ANAESTHETIC.
REMARKABLE DISCOVERY. MEDICAL SCIENCE SUPERSEDED.
A correspondent in whose accuracy we place the highest trust informs us of very remarkable results which have been achieved by the adoption of a new means of alleviating pain and suffering invented by a lady in London. This lady being suddenly taken with lumbago was in great agony until she remembered our soldiers at the front, and thought how much worse was a wound, and instantly, our correspondent is informed, some of her own distress left her. The case has been investigated by several eminent inquirers and they are satisfied with her story.
Meanwhile evidence of a similar nature comes from other parts of the country, in every case recording a sense of personal well-being, though only comparative, and an increased disinclination to complain, upon the realisation of what it must be to be a soldier just now—whether up to his knees in a flooded trench, or sleeping on the wet ground, or lying in agony waiting to be picked up and taken to a hospital, or being taken to a hospital over jolting roads, or going without meals, or having to boil tea over a candle-flame, or awakening from the operation and finding himself maimed for life.
Nor is the lenitive of this little effort of imagination confined to bodily ills; for a well-authenticated case reaches us of a notoriously mean man of wealth who was not heard to utter a single word of grumbling over the new war taxes after realising what the soldier's burden was too. Hence Mr. Punch is only too happy to give publicity to the discovery.
* * * * *
The Spy Danger.
Extract from a letter written by an East Coast resident:—
"The authorities are now looking for a grey motor-car, driven by a woman, who is thought to have a wireless apparatus inside."
R.A.M.C. forward, please.
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* * * * *
THE LAST BOTTLE.
I had been drilling all the morning, and had spent the whole of the afternoon squirming face downwards on the moist turf of Richmond Park in an endeavour to advance, as commanded, in extended order. In the morning—that is during compressed drill—I had been twice wounded. Owing to lack of education a famous novelist had confused his left hand with his right, with the result that when we were right-turned he had dealt me a terrific blow on the ear with the barrel of his rifle. It soon ceased to be an ear, and became of the size and consistency of a muffin. My second casualty was brought about by a well-known orchestral conductor, who however confidently he could pilot his players through the most complicated Symphonic Poem was invariably out of his depth whenever, the ranks being turned about, he was required to form fours. His manoeuvre that morning had been a wild and undisciplined fugue, culminating in an unconventional stretto upon an exceedingly dominant pedal-point, that is to say, his heel on my toe.
Consequently when I arrived home in the evening, wet, soiled, hungry and maimed, I felt that I needed a little artificial invigoration. A bright idea occurred to me as I was waiting for the bath to fill.
"Joan," I cried, "don't you think I might open Johann to-night?" Joan, who had been trying to decide whether it would not be more advisable to have my sweater dyed a permanent shot-green and brown, demurred.
"I thought your anti-German conscience would not permit you to open Johann until after the war's over," she called back.
"My anti-German conscience has been severely wounded," I replied. "It hasn't sufficient strength to hold out much longer. In a few seconds it will surrender unconditionally."
"Be brave," urged Joan. "Just think how proud you will be in days to come when you look back to this evening and realise how, in the face of the most terrible temptations, you triumphed!"
"That's all very fine," I remarked, "but to-night I feel I need Johann medicinally. If I don't have him, there may be no days to come. Do be reasonable. Do you suppose that if the KAISER, for instance, were bitten by a mad dog—a real one, I mean—that his anti-Ally conscience would forbid his adoption of the Pasteur treatment?"
"Then if you really feel the need of a special refresher," said Joan, "at least let me send Phoebe out for a bottle of some friendly or neutral substitute."
A vivid recollection of Phoebe's being despatched once before in an emergency for mustard and returning with custard flashed through my mind.
"She's much too unreliable," I cried. "She'd get bay rum, or something equally futile. It must be Johann or nothing."
"Then," said Joan, "let us say nothing"—an ambiguity of which I determined to take full advantage.
Johann, I must now explain, was the sole survivor of six small bottles of the genuine Rhine brand which Joan's uncle (who is in the trade) had given her last Christmas. Number Five had been opened on the evening of August Bank Holiday after a strenuous day on the tennis courts. Later, when hostilities had started all round I had taken a terrible oath that nothing of German or Austrian origin should be used in our household until Peace broke out. This necessitated the sacrifice of at least four inches of breakfast sausage and the better part of a box of Carlsbad plums. Johann, being intact, was merely interned. But at that time I had not anticipated that some three months later I should be exhausted by long and tiring drills and manoeuvres.
However, on this night my body cried aloud for Johann's refreshing contents. I did not care two pins that he had been manufactured on the banks of the Rhine, or that he was the product of alien and hostile hands. After all, it wasn't Johann's fault; and besides, surely he had been long enough in England to become naturalised. At any rate it was both prejudiced and illogical to assume that Johann was my enemy solely because he happened to be born in Germany.
The bath took some time to fill. The taps, I think, wanted sweeping. But during the time that elapsed I made up my mind. Johann should be opened. I slipped on my dressing-gown and went in search of him. When I had secured him I met Joan on the landing; she was just going down to dinner.
"Haven't you had your bath yet?" she asked. "Hurry up and—oh! you've got Johann!"
"Yes," I said. "I have decided that there is no evidence to prove that he is not a naturalised British bottle. I am going to open him."
"You renegade!" Joan cried. "If you dare so much as to loosen his cork I'll—I'll give you an Iron Cross."
"I'm desperate," I answered. "I would still open Johann even if you threatened me with the Iron Cross of both the first and the second class."
"Coward!" said Joan. "Still, if you're really determined to open him, remember half belongs to me."
A moment later I had poured half the contents of Johann—his full name is Johann Maria Farina—into my bath.
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(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
In The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman (MACMILLAN) that impenitent pamphleteer, H. G. WELLS, returns yet again to the intriguing subject of marriage, and in a vein something nearer orthodoxy. Not, certainly, that worthy stubborn orthodoxy of accepted unquestioned doctrine, or that sleeker variety of middle-aged souls that were once young, now too tired or bored to go on asking questions, but an orthodoxy rather that is honest enough to revise on the evidence earlier judgments as too cocksure and hasty. Sir Isaac Harman was a tea-shop magnate, and a very pestilent and primitive cad who caught his wife young and poor and battered her into reluctant surrender by a stormy wooing, whose very sincerity and abandonment were but a frantic expression of his dominating egotism and acquisitiveness. Wooing and winning, thinks this simple ignoble knight, is a thing done once and for all. Remains merely obedience in very plain and absolute terms on the part of lady to lord, obedience which, in the last resort, can be exacted by withholding supplies—not so uncommon a form of blackmail as it suits the dominant sex to imagine. Lady Harman's emancipation does not take the conventionally unconventional form, for some deeper reason, I think, than that her sententious friend and would-be lover, George Brumley, could not altogether escape her gentle contempt; indeed, she recognises Sir Isaac's claims upon her for duty and gratitude in a way which modern high-spirited priestesses of progress would scarcely approve. She fights merely for a limit to the proprietorship, for the right to a separate individuality, the right to be useful in a wider sphere (a phrase that stands for so much that is good and less good). Mr. WELLS has realised this gracious, shy and beautiful personality with a fine skill. It is no mean feat. He might so easily have made a dear mild ghost. And oh! if ladies of influence who regiment their inferiors in orderly philanthropic schemes had some of the wisdom and tolerance of Lady Harman in her dealings with the tea-shop girls. You see one instinctively pays Mr. WELLS the serious compliment of assuming that he has something material to say about the things which matter.
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As a demonstration of the irony of history, I can hardly imagine a better subject for romance at the present moment than the fortunes of WILLIAM OF ORANGE, and if Miss MARJORIE BOWEN'S Prince and Heretic (METHUEN) shows some traces of having been rather hastily finished it is easy to pardon this defect. The alchemist's assistant, part seer and part quack, whom she introduces into the earlier part of the story foretells the violent deaths of the young princes of the house of Nassau and the ravaging and looting of the Netherlands by ALVA, Defender of the Catholic Faith and servant of the House of Hapsburg; but he cannot conjure up out of his crystal the sight of a Catholic Belgium suffering these things, three hundred and fifty years later, at the hands of a Lutheran King allied with a Hapsburg and fighting for the sake of no cause but his own vanity. Most of the action takes place in Brussels—a Brussels placarded with squibs against CARDINAL GRANVILLE; and the final retreat of WILLIAM, ruined in everything except his spirit, to join the army of the PRINCE DE CONDE, has a pathetic significance to-day that not many historical romances can claim. Miss MARJORIE BOWEN has a remarkable gift for the presentation of a number of lifelike portraits against a vivid and gorgeous background, and the successive pictures of the Dutch and Flemish Schools which she creates in Prince and Heretic, make it, if not quite so successful as I Will Maintain, at least a book which no lover of the Lowlands can afford to miss.
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Our Sentimental Garden (HEINEMANN) is one of the very pleasantest garden-books I have encountered. One reason for this is that it is about such a lot of other things besides gardens. Volumes that are exclusively devoted to what I might call horticultural hortation are apt to become oppressive. But AGNES and EGERTON CASTLE are persons far too sympathetic not to avoid this danger. Instead of lecturing, they talk with an engaging discursiveness that lures you from page to page, as it might from bed to border, were you an actual visitor in the exquisite Surrey garden that is their ostensible subject. One thing with them leads to another. "Lilacs," they say. "Ah, lilacs—" and immediately one of them is started upon a whole series of rambling, DU MAURIERISH recollections of school-days in Second Empire Paris. Kittens and Pekinese puppies, village types, politics (just a little) and Roman villas—all these are the themes of their happy talk. "The Garden Garrulous" they might have called the book; and I for one have found it infinitely charming. Not that shrewd hints upon the choice of roses, the marshalling of bulbs, and other such aspects of the theme proper are wanting. Moreover, what they tell of garden triumphs is at once realised for you by a prodigality of drawings scattered among the text, some glowing in a full page of colour, others in line alone, from the pencil and brush of Mr. CHARLES ROBINSON. Altogether a very gentle book, of which one may echo the hope expressed by the writers in their graceful preface that "some unquiet heart, labouring under the strain of long-drawn suspense," may find in it "a passing relaxation, a forgotten smile."
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Ernest students of military history should be grateful to Mr. EDWARD FOORD for the patient labour and perseverance he has spent on the compilation of Napoleon's Russian Campaign of 1812 (HUTCHINSON). The book appears at a most opportune date, for most of us nowadays are military critics, and here we can, if we like, compare the Russian methods of 1812 with those of 1914. On the other hand, in these strenuous days we may not have the time, even if we have the inclination, to devote ourselves to campaigns a hundred years old. For my own part, while frankly admitting the value of this book, I confess that I had sometimes to skip in an endeavour to avoid being bewildered by names and numbers. Using this desultory mode of progression I was still abundantly informed and profoundly interested. Mr. FOORD is out to give facts, however tedious, and I agree with him that it is the business of an historian to be accurate before he is entertaining. Yet I could have wished that he had been less parsimonious with his human appeals, for whenever he unbends he can be at once interesting and informing. The struggles of BARCLAY DE TOLLY against jealousy and intrigues are vividly told, and nothing could be more graceful than the tribute Mr. FOORD pays to the memory of that great soldier, General EBLE. It is impossible to read the history of this disastrous campaign without being impressed by the terrible penalties of overweening arrogance and ambition, and without realising the flaming spirit of patriotism that has glorified, and will always glorify, the Russians in time of national peril.
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In A Morning In My Library ("TIMES" BOOK CLUB), Mr. STEPHEN COLERIDGE has put together an anthology of English prose which has some high advantages to recommend it to popular favour even in what the compiler calls "these tumultuous times." It is a small book and fits easily into a coat pocket; it is well and clearly printed, and, best of all, the selection is admirably made and does credit to Mr. COLERIDGE'S taste. Every extract bears the stamp of inspiration, a quality difficult to define but unmistakable. RALEIGH'S invocation to Death; JOHNSON'S preface to the Dictionary; NAPIER'S description of the battle of Albuera; RICHARD SHIEL'S appeal on behalf of his fellow-countrymen, and ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S immortal speech at Gettysburg—all these are to be found, and many more; and all go to show the might, majesty, dominion and power of that great language which it is our privilege to speak. I think we shall value that privilege a little more highly and shall endeavour to place a more careful restraint on our tongues and our pens after we have dipped through Mr. COLERIDGE'S little book. He is a judicious guide, and such explanations as he adds are always short and never tiresome. Yet it must in fairness be added that KING CHARLES'S head, in the shape of an anti-vivisection footnote, has once, but only once, crept into the "memorial." However the fault is such a little one that those who love noble English prose will easily forgive it.
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Typographical inconsistencies have been changed and are listed below.
Archaic and variable spelling is preserved.
Editors' punctuation style is preserved.
Passages in italics indicated by underscores.
Passages in bold indicated by equal signs.
The following changes were made to the original text:
Page 429: Added comma after University (In his interesting sketch, in The Times, of the PRINCE OF WALES' career at the University, the PRESIDENT of Magdalen mentions that His Royal Highness "shot at various country houses round Oxford.")
Page 429: Removed repeated 'of' (the singing of the soldiers of 'Die Wacht am goose step, while the good lieges of Brus-Rhein.')
Page 444: Was 'reconnaisance' (Carrying out your order No. 69A, I made a night reconnaissance in force.)