Transcriber's note: In the article "THE HELPMEET", various words and phrases have been struck through in the printed version. These passages are marked thus:- Maybe love was
PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
OCTOBER 7, 1914.
General VILLA has now declared war on President CARRANZA. Everybody's doing it.
* * *
Is there, we wonder, a single unfair weapon which the Germans have not used? It is now said that not infrequently a German band is made to play when the enemy's infantry advances to attack.
* * *
A regrettable mistake is reported from South London. A thoroughly patriotic man was sat upon by a Cockney crowd for declaring that the KAISER was a Nero.
* * *
Servia, The Times announces, will in future be called Serbia in our contemporary's columns. We would suggest that in the same way Bavaria might be called Babaria.
* * *
All German soldiers are close-cropped. To show, apparently, that they have the courage of the conviction they deserve.
* * *
The German officers in France are said to be extremely careful as to what they eat, betraying a great fear of being poisoned. It is, of course, a fact that one grain of vermin-killer would dispose of any one of them.
* * *
It has been suggested that the explanation of the KAISER may be that he is a "throw-back." His parents were gentlefolk, but his ancestor, FREDERICK WILLIAM I., was a well-known undesirable.
* * *
It is now stated that the reason why the German troops destroyed the historic edifices of Louvain and Rheims was the KAISER'S order that no stone was to be left unturned to prove that the Germans are the apostles of Culture.
* * *
It has been decided, after all, that SHAKSPEARE may be played in Germany; and the proposal that the name of the bard should be changed to Wilhelm Saebelschuettler has been dropped in deference to the wishes of the KAISER, who thought it might lead to confusion.
* * *
It has, we are glad to see, been denied that CARPENTIER, the famous boxer, has been wounded. This reminds us, by-the-by, of one more miscalculation that the German War Party made. In choosing their date for the outbreak of war they relied on the fact that CARPENTIER was not yet liable for service.
* * *
The Germans have had a bright new idea, and are calling us a nation of shopkeepers. Certainly we have been fairly successful so far in repelling their counter attacks.
* * *
"GERMAN PIES SHOT." Times.
Sound policy this. The enemy cannot fight without his commissariat.
* * *
A well-known Floor Polish firm has issued a notice declaring that it is entirely a British concern. However, we shall not complain of their dealing with an alien enemy if they care to supply a little of it for the benefit of German manners.
* * *
Dr. KARL VOLLMOeLLER, who is chiefly notable for his spectacle "The Miracle," has, The Express tells us, been acting for the past month as Germany's head Press agent in Rome, and has now sailed for New York. One would have thought that there was greater need for him in Germany, where only a miracle can save the situation.
* * *
Publishers seem to be realising that books, to sell nowadays, must have warlike titles. Mrs. KATE DOUGLAS WIGGIN'S new volume is, we note, called A Summer in a Canon.
* * *
By the way, The Price of Love is announced. It is six shillings.
* * * * *
Illustration: Hawker. "THIS AIN'T MY USUAL WAY O' GITTIN' A LIVIN', LIDY; BUT, OWIN' TO THE WAR, I——"
Housekeeper. "THAT'S ALL NONSENSE! WHY, TO MY KNOWLEDGE YOU HAVE BEEN ABOUT FOR THE PAST TEN YEARS."
Hawker. "YOU'LL PARDON ME, LIDY, BUT I'M REFERRIN' TO THE SOUF AFRIKIN WAR."
* * * * *
EPITHETS FOR ACTORS.
The dramatic critic of The Daily Chronicle, speaking of the first performance of Mameena, observes, "Mr. Oscar Asche, jutting, preponderant and softly corrugated, was a splendid Zulu chief."
Following this distinguished example, we have endeavoured to express the histrionic inwardness of some of our leading actors and actresses on similar lines:—
Sir GEORGE ALEXANDER, dolicocephalic, fimbriated and supra-lapsarian, interpreted the role of the archdeacon with consummate skill.
Sir HERBERT BEERBOHM TREE, goliardic, tarantulated and pontostomatous, invested the character of the great financier with a fluorescent charm.
Mr. AINLEY, prognathous, salicylic and partially oxydised, made a superb lover.
Miss GLADYS COOPER, lambent, pyramidal and turturine, fully realized the polyphonic cajoleries of Seraphina.
* * * * *
Thursday.—The Kaiser distributes 30,000 iron crosses.
Friday.—Great Britain declares pig-iron contraband of war.
* * * * *
"Members of the Tooloona Rifle Club have collected 1,000 fat sheep as a gift to the British troops. The price of butter has been reduced to L4 per ton, and the wheels of the export trade will be immediately set in motion."
How fortunate that the price of lubrication fell just in time.
* * * * *
ANOTHER "SCRAP OF PAPER."
["The Times" of October 1st vouches for the following Army Order issued by the German KAISER on August 19th: "It is my Royal and Imperial Command that you concentrate your energies, for the immediate present, upon one single purpose, and that is that you address all your skill and all the valour of my soldiers to exterminate first the treacherous English and walk over General French's contemptible little Army."]
WILHELM, I do not know your whereabouts. The gods elude us. When we would detect your Earthly address, 'tis veiled in misty doubts Of devious conjecture.
At Nancy, in a moist trench, I am told That you performed an unrehearsed lustration; That there you linger, having caught a cold, Followed by inflammation.
Others assert that your asbestos hut, Conveyed (with you inside) to Polish regions, Promises to afford a likely butt To Russia's winged legions.
But, whether this or that (or both) be true, Or merely tales of which we have the air full, In any case I say, "O WILHELM, do, Do, if you can, be careful!"
For if, by evil chance, upon your head, Your precious head, some impious shell alighted, I should regard my dearest hopes as dead, My occupation blighted.
I want to save you for another scene, Having perused a certain Manifesto That stimulates an itching, very keen, In every Briton's best toe—
An Order issued to your Army's flower, Giving instructions most precise and stringent For the immediate wiping out of our "Contemptible" contingent.
Well, that's a reason why I'd see you spared; So take no risks, but rather heed my warning, Because I have a little plan prepared For Potsdam, one fine morning.
I see you, ringed about with conquering foes— See you, in penitential robe (with taper), Invited to assume a bending pose And eat that scrap of paper!
* * * * *
UNWRITTEN LETTERS TO THE KAISER.
(From the EMPEROR-KING OF AUSTRIA-HUNGARY.)
MY VERY DEAR BROTHER AND BEST FRIEND,—I seize a few moments of leisure to write and congratulate you, as I congratulate myself, on this constant succession of almost incredible victories that have brought new laurels to your arms. Your presence in Paris at the head of the splendid troops whom you have conducted from triumph to triumph places the coping-stone on your life's work. Oh, that it had been possible for your dear old grandfather—I did not always value him as he deserved—to have lived to see this glory. But, then, I suppose your part in the work would have been less brilliant and prominent, so, perhaps, all is for the best as it is.
To have captured the whole French army; to have driven the English army into the sea and drowned them in what they call their own element (by the way, when are you going to make your triumphal entry into London?); to have brought the ungrateful Belgians to recognise you not merely as their conqueror but also as their benefactor—all this is really almost enough of honour for one man. But in addition you have made the plans which have kept so many of the disgraceful Russians cooped up in their own country, and you will soon, I am sure, lead your troops to Moscow and on to Petersburg. My own brave fellows shall march shoulder to shoulder with them. Nothing will be impossible to these armies thus united and thus led.
What my noble soldiers have hitherto done has been tremendous and overwhelming. You have, of course, read the bulletins issued by our War Office. These, however, give an inadequate idea of what has taken place, and you will, I am sure, forgive me if with the natural pride of an old man I relate to you these matters in their true proportions. We have made a military promenade through Montenegro and Servia and have annexed both these troublesome countries. Only ten Servians and four Montenegrins have been left alive, so that in future, it may be hoped, we shall not be vexed by any of their conspiracies. In the Adriatic, we have made mincemeat of the combined British and French fleets, and have thus removed from the wretched Italians any temptation to join in the war against us. It was a magnificent victory, quite equal to that in which your grand fleet sunk the whole of the British fleet in the North Sea. Finally, as you know, we have driven the Russians before us like chaff before the wind. Many hundred thousand Russians, with guns, ammunition and battle flags, have been taken prisoners and are interned here in Vienna. All these mighty deeds have been performed by our soldiers and sailors at an infinitesimal cost. I doubt if we have had two hundred men killed and wounded. Surely it is a great thing to be alive in these glorious days.
What pleases me, I may say, as much as anything else, is the wonderful example of generosity and humanity which your army and mine have been able to offer to the world. I shudder to think what would have happened to Belgium, to Germany and to ourselves, had the French, the Russians and the English been victorious. Villages would have been burnt, civilians with their women and children would have been massacred, churches and cathedrals would have been laid in ruins, and whole countries would have been devastated. It is to our glory that nothing of this sort has happened; but, after all, we need not take credit for having acted as Christians and gentlemen. We could do no other.
I am arranging for a Te Deum in St. Stephen's church to thank God for all the blessings He has vouchsafed to our arms. I wonder if you would consent to attend. I would arrange the date to suit you. And I hope you will bring with you some of those fine upstanding fellows of yours who have fought through the war. Some foolish persons consider them stiff and hard, but, for myself, I like to see their soldierly pride. Pray give my regards to your gracious Empress, and my love to the little princes. But, of course, they must be quite grown up by now.
Your devoted Brother and Friend,
P.S.—I have just heard that a large number of Russians are approaching Vienna. No doubt they are sent to sue for peace.
* * * * *
How to be Useful in War Time.
"The usefulness of the map is increased by its giving weights in metres."—Morning Post.
* * * * *
Illustration: THE INCORRIGIBLES.
New Arrival at the Front. "WHAT'S THE PROGRAMME?"
Old Hand. "WELL, YOU LAY DOWN IN THIS WATER, AND YOU GET PEPPERED ALL DAY AND NIGHT, AND YOU HAVE THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE!"
New Arrival. "SOUNDS LIKE A BIT OF ALL RIGHT. I'M ON IT!"
* * * * *
Illustration: Very proper Cook (horrified at reports of German atrocities). "REALLY, MUM, IT SEEMS AS IF THE GERMANS ARE NOT AT ALL THE THING."
* * * * *
THE LAST LINE.
I HAVE said that our motto is "Soldier and Civilian Too." That is our strength and our weakness; our weakness because it leaves us a little uncertain as to how we stand in matters of discipline.
I happened to be Corporal of the Guard the other evening—a delightful position. For the first time I had a little authority. True I sometimes give the man next to me a prod in the wind and whisper, "Form fours, idiot," but it is an unofficial prod, designed to save him from the official fury. Now for the first time I was in power, with the whole strength of military law behind me. So of course I got busy. As soon as the first guard had been set, and the rest of them, with their distinguished corporal and commonplace sergeant, were in the guard tent, I let myself go.
"Now then, my lad," I said to one, "look alive. Just clear this tent a bit, and then fetch some straw for my bed to-night. When you've done that, I'll think of something else for you. We've all got to work these days. Bustle up."
Without looking up from the paper he was straining his eyes to read, he murmured lazily, "Oh, go and boil your head," and bent still lower over the news. The others sniggered.
For a moment I was taken aback. Then I saw that there was only one dignified thing to do. I went out and consulted my solicitor.
"James," I said, as soon as I had found him, "I desire your advice. Free," I added as an afterthought.
"Go on," said James, sitting up and putting the tips of his fingers together.
"It is like this. I am Corporal of the Guard." James looked impressed. "Corporal of the Guard," I repeated; "a responsible position. Practically the whole safety of the camp depends upon me. In the interests of that safety I found it necessary to give some orders just now. The reply I received was, 'Go and boil your head.' What ought I to do?"
James was thoughtful for a little.
"It depends," he said at last.
"How depends?" I asked indignantly. "He told me to go and boil my——"
"Exactly. So that it depends on who told you. If it was the Sergeant of the Guard whom you accidentally addressed——"
"Help!" I murmured, struck by a horrible fear.
"In that case," went on James, "it would be your duty to obey orders. Obtaining a large saucepan of fresh water, you would heat it to, approximately, 212 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point bubbles would begin to appear upon the surface of the pan. Then, immersing the head until the countenance assumed a ripe beetroot colour, you would return it to the Sergeant of the Guard, salute, and ask him if he had any further instructions to give you ... No," added James, "I think I am wrong there. It would not be necessary for you to salute. Only commissioned officers are saluted in the British Army."
I had been thinking furiously while James was speaking.
"It wasn't the sergeant," I said eagerly. "I'm sure it wasn't. I noticed him particularly when we were forming up. No, James, it was an ordinary private."
"In that case the position is more complicated. On the whole I think it would be your duty to convene a court-martial and have the fellow shot."
I looked at my watch.
"How long does it take to convene a court martial?" I asked. "I've never convened one before."
"What matter the time!" said James grandly. "The mills may grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small."
"Quite so. But in about an hour and a quarter the guard is changed; and if, as is probable, the man who insulted me is then on guard himself, he will have the rifle. And if he has the rifle, I don't quite see how we are going to shoot him."
"You mean he mightn't give it up?"
"Yes. It would be rank insubordination, I admit, but in the circumstances one would not be surprised at his attitude."
"That is a good point," said James. "It had escaped me." He was silent again. "There's another thing, too, I was forgetting," he added. "If he were shot, his wife might possibly object and make a fuss. The affair would very likely get into the papers—you know what the Press is. It might give the Corps a bad name."
We were both silent for a little.
"Suppose," I said, "the death penalty were not enforced, and he were merely given three days in cells?"
"But he has to get back to his work on Monday."
"True. Really, it's very hard to see how discipline can be maintained. I almost wish now that I wasn't a temporary non-commissioned officer. As a private one simply has the time of one's life, telling corporals all day long to go and boil their heads. I wish I were a private again."
"There's one thing you can do," said James. "You can report him to the Sergeant of the Guard."
"And what's the good of that?"
"Only that it's probably your duty," said James austerely. "And I should think it's also your duty to get back to the guard-tent as soon as possible."
I rose with dignity.
"I do not consult my solicitor simply to be told my duty," I said stiffly. "All I want to know is, can I bring an action against him?"
"No," said James.
"In that case I will return. Good evening."
I went back to the guard-tent. The mutineer was still reading, but now there was a light to read by. He looked up as I came in. I had had that uneasy feeling all along, and now I knew. It was the Sergeant.
I saluted. It may be wrong, as James says, but a salute or two thrown in can't do any harm.
"May I speak to you, Sergeant?" I said respectfully, yet with an air which implied that the Germans were upon us and that the news must be kept from the others.
We went outside together.
"Awfully sorry," I said; "it was rather dark. I'm an ass."
"My dear man, that's all right," he said. "By the way you'd better see about getting some straw in. I've got to see the Adjutant." He went off, and I returned to the tent.
"I want one of you to help me get some straw," I said mildly.
Three of them jumped up at once. "You stay here," they said, "we'll get it."
So there you are; there's nothing wrong with the discipline. At the same time if it were necessary to shoot anybody, I am not quite sure how we should proceed.
A. A. M.
* * * * *
A POSSIBLE SOURCE.
Dear Mr. Punch,—Having recently dropped into several London theatres and halls of variety I have been struck by the numerical strength, agility and apparently abounding vitality of the young men forming the chorus. These gallant fellows sing and caper with the utmost spirit throughout the whole evening, both in musical comedy or revue; and in London alone, where revues are now being postponed at many of the outlying halls, there must be more than a thousand of them. Now and then they even go so far as to impersonate recruits—the chorus to the recruiting songs which have crept into more than one programme—and they make, I can assure you, Sir, a very brave show with their rifles and their military paces, a little accelerated perhaps by the exigencies of the tune, but a marvel of discipline none the less.
Watching these brisk and efficient male choruses at work, the thought has come to me—in fact has often been forced upon me by the martial nature of the musical number which they were engaged in rendering with so much capability and cheerfulness—that at a time when England is particularly in need of her young men in the field, the audiences of London might consent to forgo a little of the pleasure that comes from watching athletic youths covered with grease-paint and gyrating in the limelight, and, by expressing their readiness to see those necessary evolutions carried out by older men, liberate so much good material to join the Army. Such is the power of the make-up (I am told) that a man of fifty could easily be arranged to look sufficiently like a man of half his age, at any rate without imperilling the success of the entertainment from the point of view of the spectator. And of course the girls will remain in all their charm, since girls cannot enlist.
The point may be worth considering. The decision, I feel sure, rests entirely with the public. If the public says: "Let the young men go, and give us more mature choristers for a while, and we will patriotically endeavour to endure the privation"—then all the young men will, of course, enlist as one. But unless the public says this they must remain in the choruses against the grain.
I am, Sir, Yours gratefully,
* * * * *
The Censor at Work.
Beneath a photograph of a naval officer The Daily Mirror says:—
"A daring raid has just been made by Commander Samson ... The small picture shows the commander."
Beneath the same photograph The Daily Mail says:—
"A famous British naval airman (nameless by order of the Censor)."
But the order of the Censor came too late. The Mirror had given the great secret away to the KAISER, and the whole course of the war was altered.
* * * * *
Illustration: Recruiting Officer. "WHAT'S THE GOOD OF COMING HERE AND SAYING YOU'RE ONLY SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD? GO AND WALK ROUND THAT YARD AND COME BACK AND SEE IF YOU'RE NOT NINETEEN."
* * * * *
Illustration: "I 'OPES YER MISTESS'LL 'SCUSE ME BEIN' SO LATE WITH THE WASHIN'. YER SEE, I DUSSENT COME IN DAYLIGHT FOR FEAR OF THE GOVERNMENT PINCHIN' MY 'ORSE FOR THE WAR."
* * * * *
THE SAVING OF STRATFORD.
[It has been decided, we gather, to go on playing SHAKSPEARE in Berlin, because SHAKSPEARE is so closely connected with the German race.]
This was so good of you, so like your grace, Ye on whose brows the brand of Rheims is graven, To spare the poet of our common race And find forgiveness for the Bard of Avon; And all the little lore he feebly guessed, Phantasy, rhetoric, and trope and sermon, To clasp politely to your mailed breast, Refine, transmute and render wholly German.
Seeing in Henry V. a Prussian King, Tracing in Hamlet a more moody KAISER, You put new might into the master's wing, He seems more wonderful to us, and wiser; Not as he dimly sang in ages gone He warbles to us now, but wild with culture, Exchanging for the mere parochial Swan The full-mouthed war notes of the Potsdam Vulture.
So shall he live, and live eternally (In humble homage to the War Lord's mitten) "This precious stone set in the silver sea," Heligoland, of course, and not Great Britain: A thousand carven saints are lain in dust In lands the Prussian Junker sets his boot on, But WILHELM SHAKSPEARE and his honoured bust Shall save themselves by being partly Teuton.
And when the hooves of those imperial swine Leap, as of course they will, the ocean's borders, And England's trampled down from Thames to Tyne, And Wells is burnt, and Winchester, by orders, It may be tears shall start into the eyes Of helmed colonels in our Midland valleys, And they shall spare the tomb where SHAKSPEARE lies; He was a German (Deutschland ueber alles).
Almost I seem to see the Uhlans stand, Paying their pious sixpences to enter That little homestead of the Fatherland That housed the dramatist in Stratford's centre; A trifle flushed, maybe, with English beer, But mutely reverent and not talking chattily, They write beneath their names: "A friend lives here; Not to be ransacked. Signed, The Modern ATTILAE."
A glorious scene. The voice of KRUPP is dumb; Not pining now for Frankfort or for Muenich, The sub-lieutenant slides with quivering thumb A picture-postcard underneath his tunic. Till then, if any dawn of doubt creeps in How best to judge the Bard and praise him rightly, Let me implore the actors of Berlin To play Macbeth to crowded houses nightly.
* * * * *
"May I go into the village to get my hair cut?" asked Sinclair of my wife. "I'll promise to be back for tea."
Upon her assurance that Madame Mercier was lying down and was not at all likely to appear, permission was granted. We do not generally allow Sinclair to go out of the grounds at present. He is acting as the central link which makes the continuance of the social life possible to us. For I do not think that we could have undertaken (with our deplorable ignorance of French) to entertain Belgian refugees at all had he not been staying with us. As it is, it works beautifully, though Madame Mercier and her two daughters speak no English, for Sinclair's French is perfectly adequate.
It was during his absence that we learned that my neighbour, Andrew Henderson, the dairy farmer, had also taken in a Belgian—a woman who was to work on the farm during the winter.
"Here's another chance for you, Sinclair," said I, as he appeared at the gate. "It looks as if you will have to call round every morning to interpret and give 'em a good start for the day."
Sinclair was full of zeal and set off next day after breakfast. From the drawing-room window we watched his triumphant entry into the farm-yard at the foot of the hill. But he came back in a dejected frame of mind.
"She's called Suzanne," he told us, "and she's quite a nice-looking sort of woman, and she handles a turnip-cutter like an expert; but she talks nothing but Flemish."
"We might have thought of that," said the Reverend Henry. "Still, I daresay they'll manage all right."
"On the contrary," said Sinclair. "Henderson sent Suzanne to get the letters last night. She was gone a long, long time, and at last came back with three live fowls in a sack. She had been chasing them round the hen-house for all she was worth. Things can't go on like that, you know."
The Reverend Henry had an idea. "The only way out of it," he said, "is for you and Madame Mercier both to go. She knows Flemish."
"Yes, that's it," said I. "Henderson tells you what he wants; you hand it on to Madame Mercier in French; she transmits it to Suzanne in Flemish—and there you are!"
"Right-o!" said Sinclair. "We'll have a shot to-morrow morning."
Madame Mercier, who is a kindly, gentle creature, was most anxious to help, and again we viewed the operations in the farm-yard. The Reverend Henry got out his field-glasses (which have since been sent to Lord ROBERTS) and we watched the little corps of interpreters getting to work, while Suzanne, eager and expectant, like a hound on the leash, waited, shovel in hand. But it all ended in confusion and head-shaking and a dreary retreat up the hill. Madame Mercier seemed to be much amused.
"We have decided to adjourn," said Sinclair. "The truth is, we were not getting on at all. It looks as if you will have to come too."
"I was always afraid there were weak spots in you, after all, Sinclair," said the Reverend Henry. "It does not surprise me. You are all right in table French or even in domestic, railway or restaurant French, but as soon as we get outside of your beat into agricultural French——"
"It isn't that," said Sinclair. "I'm all right. It's that confounded fellow, Henderson. I'm hanged if I can understand a word of his Scotch. Never heard such a lingo in my life."
It is true that Henderson, who comes from some obscure district far North even of this, is a little difficult to understand. I have found him so myself.
"He said he wanted Suzanne to 'redd up the fauls,' as far as I could gather. Well, I have no idea what the fauls are, and I don't see how she is going to read them up in a language she doesn't understand. I had to give him up. We can't get on without your help."
That afternoon the Interpretation Committee, now increased to four active members, for Henry had insisted on coming too as referee, took up its position in the farm-yard in the form of a chain, along which communication was to pass from Henderson, through me, Sinclair and Madame Mercier to Suzanne. It was a little embarrassing for Suzanne, but she stood her ground well and waited in an admirably receptive mood, while the various items percolated through. Henderson gave me in careful detail the whole of his commands for her normal daily life, and everything seemed to go splendidly. But I am afraid the thing must have passed through too many hands before it reached its destination; for Suzanne, after many cheerful nods, suddenly broke off and turned on her heel. Then she secured an axe, which was lying against the bothy door, and walked with a steady and fixed purpose, never turning her head, out into the lane, through the gate and up the hill. We watched her spellbound till she reached the horizon, and there saw her pause, roll up her sleeves and furiously attack an old spruce tree.
It is impossible to say who was to blame. But it is clear that the instructions (as the Frenchman said of BRAHMS' Variations) had been diablement changes en route.
* * * * *
The job was for us, grin and bear; We'd lit on India's dust an' drought; We knew as we were planted there, But scarcely how it came about; And so, in rough and tumble style, And nothing much to make a shout, We set our backs to graft a while, And meant to stay and stick it out.
Ten hundred risky, frisky Kings, And on the whole a decent lot; And several hundred million things That trusted us with all they'd got; And so we blundered at it straight, And found the times was pretty hot; And so they smiled and called it Fate, And Fate it was, as like as not.
Our law was one for great and small— We heard 'em honest, claim for claim; We smooth'd their squabbles for 'em all, And let 'em pray by any name; And so we left enough alone, But learnt 'em plenty all the same; We show'd 'em what they should be shown, And tried to play the decent game.
For all our work we've not got much? P'r'aps not: but now there's come a scrap That's got us good with lies and such, And gave 'em just the chance to snap; And fools had thought they likely would (That's German-made and rattle-trap); They'd shout—the KAISER said they should— And, happen, wipe us off the map.
From snow to sand that shout has burst, And German lies are well belied; And flood calls field for who'll be first— They're proud to share the Empire-pride. It's them for Britain at the test; We knew they'd never stand aside; For when we tried and did our best The beggars must have known we tried.
* * * * *
The German Campaign of Lies.
From a book of reference:—
"'Berlin Work.' See 'Embroidery.'"
* * * * *
News of a serious character reaches us from The Toronto Daily Mail, which announces in its index of contents:—
"Austrian Fleet Bombards Montenegro's Only Teapot."
Another one of true Britannia metal is being sent to our gallant ally.
* * * * *
Illustration: "FARVER FINKS HE'S GOT A GERMAN SPY. 'E'S SITTIN' ON 'IS 'EAD. 'E'LL NEED 'ELP—MUVVER'S OUT!"
Illustration: "THAT'S THE CHAP—'IM WIVOUT A COLLAR!"
Illustration: "NO!—NOT 'IM—THAT'S FARVER!"
Illustration: "OH, LUMME! YOU'VE MIXED 'EM UP NOW. I DUNNO WHICH IS WHICH."
* * * * *
Illustration: UNREPORTED CASUALTY TO THE FOOTBALL OF THE 85TH INFANTRY REGIMENT OF THE ENEMY.
* * * * *
HOW TO BRIGHTEN WARFARE.
The contents of a poster of an esteemed contemporary (I confess that I got no further than the poster), which announced "Training Eagles to Fight Airships," have led me to speculate whether something further might not be achieved in similar directions.
Why, for instance, should not rabbits be trained to upset siege guns? The innocent and docile character of the creatures would be a valuable asset in work of this nature. Even if seen—and among grass or undergrowth on a dark night a rabbit of ordinary intelligence might reasonably hope to escape detection—their real purpose might be cleverly masked until it was too late. Leisurely approaching the object of attack, lulling the suspicions of a dull-witted sentinel or patrol by stopping now to cull a leaf, now to wash a whisker, the well-trained rabbit would have no difficulty in creeping to within striking distance. Then suddenly rushing forward and throwing its whole weight against the nearest wheel of the cannon it would tilt it from its foundation and fling it headlong to irretrievable destruction, very likely pinning several members of the gun company among its ruins.
If it is objected that the strength of an average rabbit would be unequal to the task, are there not, I would ask, strong rabbits among rabbits, just as there are strong men among men? None of the rabbits of my acquaintance could, I admit, overturn a mowing-machine; but then neither could I myself balance a coach-and-four upon my neck, yet I have seen men upon the stage who could and did. The first object of the efficient trainer would be, of course, to select suitable rabbits.
Surely something too might be done with white mice? By gnawing through the tent ropes of a sleeping enemy—especially on wet and stormy nights—they would engender a sense of strain and insecurity among our opponents that could not be without an appreciable influence on their temper and moral throughout the campaign. The tents of commanding officers of notoriously choleric nature should be the objects of persistent attention in this way.
The suitability of parrots for use in warfare is obvious. Their especial duty would be to give misleading words of command at points of critical importance during a battle. A stealthy night attack might be converted into a hasty "strategic retirement" by an observant parrot ingratiating itself among the enemy's ranks and raising the cry, "Up, Guards, and at 'em!"
It is perhaps late in the season to utilise the services of trained wasps to any extent, but the possibilities of other insect auxiliaries should not be overlooked.
* * * * *
The Prime Minister of New Zealand as reported in The Timaru Herald:—
"Just one word more. With regard to Canada's offer that is reported in this evening's paper, my opinion of it may be summed up in three words: Dibra, Jukova and Ipek."
This is one of the things we could have summed up more lucidly ourselves, though perhaps not so concisely.
* * * * *
"Will the Soldiers who saw Lady Thrown off Tramcar on Saturday evening, about 8 o'clock, please communicate."
Advt. in "Northampton Daily Chronicle."
Another lovers' tiff in the gloaming?
* * * * *
Illustration: THE ROAD TO RUSSIA.
* * * * *
Illustration: Cyclist (taking initiative on being caught without a light). "DOUSE YOUR GLIM, MATE; WE'LL BE HAVING THEM ZEPPELINS ALL OVER US."
* * * * *
Belgian soldiers, martial heroes, in a world of fire and flame, By their fortitude and daring have achieved immortal fame, But there's one, a mere civilian, who a vates sacer lacks— Burgomaster MAX!
Therefore let a sorry rhymer offer you his humble meed, And salute your priceless service to your country in her need, All unarmed yet undefeated, never turning in your tracks— Burgomaster MAX!
Athanasius contra mundum—you remind us of the tag, You whose fearless manifestoes never brooked the German gag; Bucking up your fellow-townsmen when their hearts were weak as wax— Burgomaster MAX!
Now, alas! we read the foemen have decided to deport And intern you for a season in some dismal German fort, For your presence was distasteful to the Hun who sacks and "hacks"— Burgomaster MAX!
Yet, whatever fate befalls you, as the ages onward roll You will live in deathless lustre on your country's Golden Roll, For you faced the German bullies with the stiffest of stiff backs— Burgomaster MAX!
* * * * *
There are German financiers who now allude to him as "Dishonoured BILL."
* * * * *
A SEA CHANGE.
Ponto in town is strictly comme il faut, A member of the most exclusive set (His pedigree and dwelling all may know Who read page 90 in the "Dogs' Debrett").
His mien is dignified, his gait is slow; If upstart strangers try to catch his eye He kicks the dust behind with scornful toe, Averts his lifted nose and passes by.
His friends he greets with careful etiquette, Permits his well-poised tail-tip to vibrate, Then treads with them the solemn minuet That antique custom and good form dictate.
But Ponto by the sea! ah, who would know This damp wild ragamuffin on the strand Who importunes the passers-by to throw Big stones across the opal-shining sand?
Ponto dishevelled, ears turned inside out, Has suffered some sea change; his social worth Is all forgot; he leads a Comus rout, Tykes of the shore and curs of lowly birth.
Yelping with joy he brings his wolfish pack About my legs, as, dripping from the sea, I pick my way thro' shingle and wet wrack Beleaguered by this bandit company.
But when the day comes round to leave the shore Ponto puts off this maniac Mr. Hyde; Becomes a Dr. Jekyll dog once more And homeward goes serene and dignified.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
Those who are not in the mood just now for a whole evening of exotic melodrama might look in at the Globe Theatre about 9.15, and derive a few moments' distraction from a Zulu wedding dance. I found it a better show than anything I have ever seen in the native compounds at Earl's Court. The company, of course, was mixed, but the white contingent had caught the local colour (coffee) and showed great aptitude in imitating the methods of the aborigines. Naturally there were conventions; the chiefs talked fluent English, while the Zulu supers employed their own vernacular, except in certain formal phrases, as when the "praisers" (my programme's name for a sort of universal claque) punctuated the speeches of their king with cries of "Yes, O Lion!" or "Yes, Great Beast!" No doubt our honoured visitors could perceive many technical points in which the ruling race exposed itself as having something yet to learn, but they tactfully concealed all signs of superior civilisation; and the British audience, well pleased with the novelty and picturesqueness of the scenes, were content to waive invidious distinctions.
The little brochure that was thrown in with the programme informs me that the martial spirit of the Zulus (at that time under their own regime) was "identical in many respects with 'Prussian Militarism.'" Certainly there was a savagery about the way in which they progged the air with their assegais that made one picture them as capables de tout. But any comparison, whether in point of costume or royal bearing, between King Mpande and the GERMAN KAISER must have been in favour of the latter. On the other hand, his son Umbuyazi was a far nobler figure than my conception of the CROWN PRINCE.
I may perhaps be excused if I do not dwell on the merits of the chief actors or of the plot—not too easy to grasp at the first, thanks to the difficulty we found in following the unfamiliar names of the characters. Both these interests were dominated by the attraction of the admirable setting. Fortunately the scenes were numerous and brief, but we still suffered considerable tedium from the affected and drawling delivery of the heroine. The frequent assurances which we received as to the exceptional quality of Mameena's beauty, and the fact that, to our knowledge, she had three husbands in the course of the play, never quite convinced us of the overwhelming character of her charms. Whether, with a fair chance, she would have worked them successfully on a fourth man, Allan Quatermain—the one white man who retained his native hue—I cannot say, for somehow a stage diversion always intervened just as they had begun to embrace. The reason, by the way, for Quatermain's existence was never made too clear. Sportsman and dealer in general stores, his habit of hanging vaguely about Zulu kraals and Zulu impis, on nodding terms with just anybody, did not greatly increase my pride of race, notwithstanding the statement made to him by Mameena: "I shall never love another man as I love you, however many I marry."
Mr. OSCAR ASCHE, who dramatised Sir RIDER HAGGARD'S Child of Storm, did not aim at subtlety. But a rather nice question arose over the rival immoralities of Mameena's second and third husbands. Prince Umbuyazi (No. 3) had expressed regret to his old friend and comrade, Saduka (No. 2), for appropriating his wife; but the apology was not received in the spirit in which it was tendered, and during the fight between Umbuyazi and his brother Cetshwayo the wronged husband went over with his impis to the camp of the enemy. Umbuyazi made a strong protest against this treachery, but he must have seen (for he had much intelligence) that his case was a bad one; and this reflection no doubt had something to do with the final act by which (in the old Roman way) he fell upon his own assegai and dropped backwards—an admirable gymnastic—off one of the high rocks above the Tugela.
I have already referred to the difficulties of Zulu nomenclature, and I would add that the native custom of addressing a man by his proper name in the course of every sentence materially extended the operation of the play. It must have made a difference—which I, for one, bitterly grudged—of nearly half-an-hour. How much more satisfactory the economy of a certain author of whom CHARLIE BROOKFIELD used to say: "He read his play to the company, and it took three solid hours, and even so he didn't put in any of the 'h's.'"
* * * * *
Illustration: SOME OF THE GREATEST FIGURES OF ALL AGES.
Recently discovered, by German research, to have been of Teutonic birth.
JOHANNA VON ARKSTEIN.
* * * * *
"An official telegram from Nish received in London states that the Servian commanders agree that the enemy all along the front is employing explosive bullets. Every soldier carries 20 per cent. of explosive cartridges."
The fact that 80 per cent. of Austrian cartridges refuse to explode may account for the Austrian "victories."
* * * * *
"Whelan replied: 'Yes, I sold the beef.' The military authorities pressed the case."
A case of pressed beef, we presume.
* * * * *
Illustration: Doctor (at Ambulance Class). "MY DEAR LADY, DO YOU REALISE THAT THIS LAD'S ANKLE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE BROKEN BEFORE YOU BANDAGED IT?"
* * * * *
THE WAR IN ACACIA AVENUE.
When we are not running out after "specials" we are absorbed in the mimic fight of Acacia Avenue—the desperate conflict between Mrs. Studholm-Brown, of The Hollies, and Mrs. Dawburn-Jones, of Dulce Domum. They have husbands, these amiable ladies, but the husbands are mainly concerned with the commissariat and supply department, and are neither allowed nor desired in the actual fighting line.
The very day the war began, a huge flagstaff with a Union Jack of proportionate size rose in the grounds of Dulce Domum. It must have been ordered in advance. I present this fact to the German Press Bureau as showing that, at any rate, Mrs. Dawburn-Jones always intended war. But the next day Mrs. Studholm-Brown went six feet better with a flagstaff and three square yards better with a Union Jack.
Then we knew that it was war to the death in our Avenue and waited for the next move in the campaign.
"The Hollies" broke out into Red Cross notices; "Dulce Domum" announced itself to be the office for the organisation of local relief.
One morning we rose with a sort of idea that there was an eruption in the air, and found the flags of Servia, France, Russia and Belgium waving over "Dulce Domum." That day Mrs. Studholm-Brown met me in the Avenue. She condescended to me. "Oh, could you tell me the colours of the Montenegrin flag?" I couldn't; but it was the first time the great lady had ever spoken to me. "Pink with green stripes," I replied tremblingly.
The very next day seven Allied flags (including a pseudo-Montenegrin) flew over "The Hollies." Mrs. Studholm-Brown had added Japan before the MIKADO'S ultimatum had expired—which will prove to the German Press Bureau that there was a secret understanding between our Far-Eastern Ally and Mrs. Studholm-Brown.
But flags were not the only things that were flaunted. "Dulce Domum" opened fire with an array of flannel shirts hung on clothes-lines across the tennis-court. "The Hollies" replied with a deadly line of pyjamas.
Then the proprietress of the latter threw open her grounds—a croquet court and a drying ground—as a place of rest for Territorials off duty. Mrs. Dawburn-Jones promptly enlisted her husband as a special constable and had squads drilled on her tennis lawn.
So the fight went on—with slight successes on both sides, but nothing decisive—till one day when Mrs. Dawburn-Jones went to town in a taxi and returned with a family of negroes from the Congo. It was a splendid sight to see her leading them through the grounds and discoursing to them in her best Boulognese. Mrs. Studholm-Brown wriggled with mortification.
Then her chance of a counter-attack arrived. She had, or her husband had, or her husband's brother-in-law had, a second cousin who was an officer, and, what was more, a wounded officer. He was persuaded to spend a week-end of his convalescence at "The Hollies." His hostess walked him proudly up and down all the paths which were in full view of "Dulce Domum." It was magnificent to see her adjust his sling. At that moment I dare not have trusted Mrs. Dawburn-Jones with a gun or the officer would have been in as great peril as in the trenches. How it will end I can scarcely imagine. I like to picture a great day of victory. Then, if the CROWN PRINCE be allowed to take up his abode on parole, in some quiet suburban home, I am sure "The Hollies" will snap him up. And if "The Hollies" secures the CROWN PRINCE no power in this world can prevent Mrs. Dawburn-Jones from securing the KAISER.
* * * * *
"May I come in?" said Cecily, knocking at my study door.
"If you insist," said I.
"I only want to use the telephone," she explained, as if that made it any better.
"You couldn't take it away and use it somewhere else?" I asked.
She was unmoved. "It needn't disturb you," she said. "I'll be as quiet as a mouse."
"Won't that be rather dull for the people at the other end of the line?" I ventured.
"Now, you go on with your writing," she said severely. So I went on.
Herbert closed the door softly behind him and went out, leaving Ermyntrude alone. She had let him go. He had gone. He had left her alone. Her—Ermyntrude—alone. It has been truly said that women are queer creatures. They do not like being left alone.
Herbert picked up his hat and stick and passed out of the spacious hall into the street, closing the door softly behind him. It was his habit when angry to close doors softly behind him. He was frequently angry; men often are, and with reason.
"There's something I want to ask you," said Cecily.
"Ask away," I said brusquely.
"Not you," said Cecily, frowning at me and then smiling at the receiver.
And so Herbert found himself in the street. Where should he go? What should he do ... say ... think ... feel...? He was quite unable to decide. Somehow he couldn't bring his mind to bear on the subject. He could hardly recall the name of the lady with whom he had been conversing, let alone what all the trouble was about. He paused and lit a cigarette. Absolutely there was nothing else for it.
"How are you getting on?" I asked Cecily a little peevishly.
"Nicely, thanks," she answered. "And you?"
"Oh, nicely, too," said I, with a sigh.
As for Whatshername Ermyntrude, she was in little better case. She felt as if nothing was ever going to happen to her again; almost, she thought, things had given up happening for good. She felt ... but she hardly knew what she felt. After all, love wasn't Maybe love was She could not bear to think of love. Engaged? That is what she had been but wasn't any longer. Who was to blame? Was it Herbert? Was it she? Was it Exchange Providence? The more thought she gave to the matter the further she seemed to be from a definite conclusion. At times it seemed as if At one time it appeared as though At one time At times At 2284 Mayfair Mayfair 2248 2248 Mayfair Twice two is four, twice four is eight.
"Are you coming to the end of your friends?" I asked Cecily.
"If I'm not wanted I'll go," said she snappily.
"You're always wanted, of course," I apologised.
"Then I'll stay," said she brightly.
As Herbert turned his back on Kensington and walked towards Gerrard Piccadilly, he would, had he looked behind him, have seen a malevolent, sinister man emerge from the shadow and follow him stealthily. But Herbert did not look behind him. And why not? It is impossible to say. Suffice it that he didn't. Nay, that is exactly what Herbert did see when he looked behind him. "My God," said he, turning pale....
"Can we dine with the Monroes on Tuesday?" asked Cecily.
"That depends a good deal on whether they invite us," I answered.
"It's only Jack trying to be funny," Cecily told the receiver.
"As I was saying," continued Herbert, "it's James MacClure."
"No less," said the other, with a fiendish smile.
It is necessary to go back a little in order to property properly to appreciate the momentous importance of the arrival of this man at this juncture. He was destined to play a large part in Herbert's future; the manner of their acquaintance was this.
Many years ago McClure had James was the son of rich but Jas, as his college friends used to call McClure James Producing a revolver from his hip pocket, Herbert shot James McClure through the heart.
Cecily flapped about with the Directory.
"Trying to find a number that you haven't used already?" I enquired.
On the whole it must be agreed that Herbert was well rid of this Ermyntrude person. There was nothing particular against her except that she was a woman, but surely to goodness that is enough. When Eve arrived the trouble began; when telephones were invented it came to a head. Think what literature might have achieved had it not always been obsessed by its desire to find some brief definition good enough for woman! I think it is our chief difficulty in appreciating the supposed greatness of VERGIL that he couldn't do any better than "Varium et mutabile semper." If VERGIL had been a butcher or a grocer or any other unhappy shopkeeper liable to the daily insult of receiving household orders, he must have expressed it more thoroughly. For my own part, sitting here in my study and thinking the matter over to myself, I cannot do better than adopt the phraseology of the telephone instructions: "Intermittent Buzz."
And so Herbert didn't marry, but lived happily ever afterwards. After all, Ermyntrude was essentially a woman; they all are, confound them, but some of us are not so lucky as was Herbert in finding out in time.
And that, of course, was the chapter that Cecily suddenly chose to read ... nor was it less than an hour before peace was declared again. The terms, however, were not unfavourable. I was partially forgiven, and, what was better still, Cecily wholly departed. I then wrote a revised version of
Ermyntrude was still where we left her, but was beginning to collect her scattered thoughts when Herbert re-entered. He closed the door behind him, neither softly nor loudly, but just ordinarily, and without more ado took Ermyntrude in his arms.
"We will never again think of all that came between us," he murmured.
She smiled up at him.
"It shall be as nothing," he added.
"It shall," said she.
"It shall indeed," say I.
* * * * *
(Children in the Midlands give this name to the disc shaped fruit of Honesty.)
My garden is a beggar's pitch That Heaven throws its coins upon; And in the Summer I am rich, And in the Winter all is gone; Yet as the long days hurry by I keep my pitch, content and free, Where in a sweet profusion lie Fair Marigolds and Honesty; And oft I turn and count for fun My largess from the night and noon— The golden tokens of the sun, The silver pennies of the moon!
* * * * *
Illustration: "I'M SORRY TO 'AVE TO SAY, MUM, 'E'S BIN A VERY BAD DOG WHILST YOU WAS HOUT. 'E'S BIN AN' EAT UP 'IS PATRIOTIC RIBBON."
* * * * *
(Thus the War Party designates the rank and file of the German army.)
They are coming like a tempest, in their endless ranks of grey, While the world throws up a cloud of dust along their awful way; They're the glorious cannon fodder of the mighty Fatherland, Who shall make the kingdoms tremble and the nations understand. Tramp! tramp! tramp! the cannon fodder comes. God help the old; God help the young; God help the hearths and homes. They'll do his will that taught them, on the earth and on the waves, Then, like faithful cannon fodder, still salute him from their graves.
From the barrack and the fortress they are pouring in a flood; They sweep, a herd of winter wolves, upon the scent of blood; For all their deeds of horror they are told that death atones And their master's harvest cannot spring till he has sowed their bones.
Into beasts of prey he's turned them; when they show their teeth and growl The lash is buried in their cheeks; they're slaughtered if they howl; To their bloody Lord of Battles must they only bend the knee, For hard as steel and fierce as hell should cannon fodder be.
Scourge and curses are their portion, pain and hunger without end, Till they hail the yell of shrapnel as the welcome of a friend; They rape and burn and laugh to hear the frantic women cry And do the devil's work to-day, but on the morrow die.
A million souls, a million hearts, a million hopes and fears, A million million memories of partings and of tears March along with cannon fodder to the agony of war. Have they lost their human birthright? Are they fellow-men no more? Tramp! tramp! tramp! the cannon fodder comes. God help the old; God help the young; God help the hearths and homes. They'll do his will that taught them, on the earth and on the waves, Then, like faithful cannon fodder, still salute him from their graves.
* * * * *
The War and Physical Development.
"Here some words have been exercised by the Censor."
Manchester Evening News.
* * * * *
"Kiel is very delightful in its own way, but it misses in toto the charm and originality of Cowes."
So said The Tatler in the very early days of the war, and yet the Germans still seem to prefer the waters of Kiel to the superior attractions of the Solent.
* * * * *
A NUT'S VIEWS ON THE WAR.
INTERESTING CHAT WITH MR. REGINALD FITZJENKINS.
He was manicuring himself when I called, and I was asked whether I would see him now, or wait two hours till he had finished. I said I would see him now; so I was shown into his dressing-room.
"I am sorry," said Mr. FitzJenkins, "but if you will call at such an early hour——" It was twelve o'clock, but I apologised. "And what can I do for you?" asked my host.
"My paper," I said, "would like to have your views on the War."
"Well, if you ask me what I think of the War," said Mr. FitzJenkins, "it's a noosance—an unmitigated noosance. No one talks anything but War nowadays—and the papers contain nothing but War news. Even the Men's Dress Columns have disappeared. I can tell you it has caused the greatest inconvenience to me personally. You may wonder why I am manicuring myself. I'll tell you why. My manicurist—the only man in London who knew how to manicure—turned out to be a beastly German or Austrian or something, and has gone off to his beastly War. I even offered to double the man's fees—at which the fellow, instead of being grateful, was grossly impertinent. If he hadn't been such a great hulking brute I'd have knocked him down.... So I have to do the business myself. Couldn't trust it to anyone else.... And then look here. You see this little pot of pink paste, which has to be used to give the nails the necessary blush? Do you know that the price of that has doubled since the War?"
I expressed my horror by a suitable gesture.
"Of course," said Mr. FitzJenkins, "I don't want to be hard on the Government—I know they have a lot to think of—but I do consider they ought to have prevented this somehow. They regulate the price of food, but forget that there are other necessities.... Again, some of my dividends have not been paid. A nice thing if one is to be forced to earn one's own living!"
"You haven't volunteered to fight, then?" I said.
"Good lor, no! That might suit some people, but not me. It's not a job for anyone of any refinement. Why, I am told that, when they are fighting, for days together even the officers don't shave or change their linen. I'm not that sort, thank you. There are plenty of rough fellows to do it, I suppose. And in any event I could not fight alongside of French soldiers. Have you seen the cut of their trousers?"
Mr. FitzJenkins laughed outright.
"And are you doing anything to help in the crisis?" I asked.
"Oh yes, oh yes," said Mr. FitzJenkins. "You mustn't imagine that it is only those who fight who are helping. What about the women who are left behind? I help amuse 'em—keep 'em bright. I'm 'carrying on.' I'm not of your panicky sort. It's just as well that there should be a few men like me left in town. We give it a tone."
"I trust, Mr. FitzJenkins," I said, "that you are not opposed to the War."
"Oh, dear, no. Please don't imagine that. It had to be fought, I suppose. And, although I am not taking an active part in it myself, I wish the War well, and hope that the KING and KITCHENER will pull it off all right."
"May I publish that? I think it would encourage them."
"Certainly. And you might say this. I am convinced we are going to win. No good could ever come to a man who wears an out-of-date moustache like the KAISER.... Oh, certainly I am in favour of the War. Why, I have just ordered several pairs of khaki spats.... Believe me, I wish our soldier-fellows well, and in my opinion they ought to be encouraged. I met a lot of 'em trudging along in Pall Mall yesterday, poor devils of Territorials, I fancy, and I waved my stick to 'em. Nothing would please me more than to see the country to which that impudent manicurist has returned receive a thrashing."
Just then the young man who had opened the door to me came in and asked his master if he could see him privately for a minute. Mr. FitzJenkins begged me to excuse him, and I did so. When he came back his face was flushed and almost animated.
"Atrocious! Infamous! I shall write to the papers about it," he said. "How dare he leave me helpless like this? Off to enlist, indeed!"
"Who?" I asked.
"My man," said Mr. FitzJenkins.
* * * * *
Illustration: ENTERPRISE ON OUR EAST COAST.
THE ANTI-ZEPPELIN BATH-CHAIR.
* * * * *
TO A JADED GERMAN PRESSMAN.
["One cannot receive news of victories every day."—German Official Newspaper.]
True, as you say, there is no cause for grieving, When in your pages no triumphs appear, But, gentle Sir, when you talk of "receiving," Are you not wandering out of your sphere? Yours not to wait for a foe's retrogression, Yours not to heed the belligerents' fate; You're higher up in the writer's profession; Perish "receiving," 'tis yours to create.
What though you dabble in newspaper diction, Common reporters deserve your disdain; You should be ranked with the masters of fiction, Weaving your victories out of your brain. Stories are needed, and you must supply 'em; That should be easy; so gifted a man Surely can compass a triumph per diem, Seeing the truth is no part of your plan.
Even although inspiration is flagging, Let not your output grow markedly less; Fiction gives precedents (plenty) for dragging Out an old yarn in a different dress. But, if your brain is too weary for spinning Words to re-tell our habitual rout, Don't blame the army that hasn't been winning; Frankly confess that you feel written out.
* * * * *
"London Lady (twenties) well-educated, fair linguist, deeply interested in psychology and the things that matter in life, considered clever by inmates, but not brilliant, would greatly appreciate broadminded and friendly companion to share walks."
T. P.'s Weekly.
We must remember that the inmates' standard would not be a very high one.
* * * * *
Illustration: First Native. "WE'RE DOIN' FINE AT THE WAR, JARGE."
Second Native. "YES, JAHN; AND SO BE THEY FRENCHIES."
First Native. "AY; AN' SO BE THEY BELGIANS AN' ROOSHIANS."
Second Native. "AY; AN' SO BE THEY ALLYS. OI DUNNO WHERE THEY COME FROM, JAHN, BUT THEY BE DEVILS FOR FIGHTIN'."
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
Why is it that novels with scamp-heroes are so much more interesting than the conventional kind? Bellamy (METHUEN) is a case in point, for the central character, who gives his name to it, is about as worthless an object, rightly-considered, as one need wish to meet. He steals and lies and poses; he betrays most of his friends; and throughout a varied life he only really cares for one person—himself. Yet Miss ELINOR MORDAUNT never seems to have any difficulty in making us share Bellamy's delight in his own conscienceless career. Perhaps it is this very delight that does the trick. Charlatan as he is, and worse, Bellamy is always so attractively amused at the success of his impostures that it becomes impossible to avoid an answering grin. It was not a little courageous of Miss MORDAUNT to write a story about a hero from the Five Towns district; but, though this may look like trespass upon the preserves of a brother novelist, Bellamy is Miss MORDAUNT'S very own. I have the feeling that she enjoyed writing about him—a feeling that always makes for pleasure in reading. Perhaps of all his manifold phases I liked best his role of assistant necromancer at a kind of psychical beauty parlour. There is some shrewd hitting here, which is vastly well done. But none of the adventures of Bellamy should be skipped. I am sorry to add that the copy supplied me for review did not apparently credit me with this view, as it ruthlessly omitted some forty of what I am persuaded were most agreeable pages. The fact that it so far relented as to go back about ten, and repeat a chapter I had already read, did little to console me. I could have better spared part of a duller book.
* * * * *
A story by Mr. DION CLAYTON CALTHROP, with the title Wonderful Woman (HODDER AND STOUGHTON), may almost be regarded as a work of expert reference. Because what he does not know about The Sex, and has not already written in a galaxy of engaging romances, is hardly worth the bother of remembering. So that his views on the matter naturally command respect. Wonderful Woman is perhaps less a novel than an analysis—painfully close, with a kind of regretful brutality in it—of one special type of femininity, and a glance at several others. Perhaps its realistic quality may astonish you a little. You may have been delighting in Mr. CALTHROP'S fantastic work (as I do myself) and yet have cherished the suspicion that his Columbines and Chelsea fairies and Moonbeam folk generally were the creations of a sentimentalist who would have little taste for handling unsympathetic things. Well, if so, Philippina is the answer to that. Here is the most masterly portraiture of a woman utterly without imagination or heart or anything except a kind of futile and worthless attraction, that I remember to have met for some time. As I say, it is all rather astonishing from Mr. CALTHROP. The men who love Flip, and whose lives are ruined by her, are easier to understand. About Sir Timothy Swift, for example, there is a touch of the Harlequin, or rather Pierrot, that betrays his origin. I will not tell you the story, for one reason because its charm is too elusive to retrieve. I content myself by saying that it seems to me the best work we have yet had from Mr. CALTHROP, combining his special and expected graces with an unusual and moving sincerity.
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A month or two ago I have no doubt that the England of CHARLES II.'S declining years would have seemed to me a monstrously exciting country to live in; at the present moment (unfairly enough) I feel more like congratulating the hero of Monsignor BENSON'S Oddsfish! (HUTCHINSON) on the mildness of his adventures for the furtherance of the Catholic faith. It is true that Mr. Roger Mallock beheld some notable executions after the TITUS OATES affair, and on the night of the Rye House Plot had a large meat chopper thrown at his head by one of the conspirators; but, emissary of the Vatican as he was, he was actually only once compelled to whip out his sword in self-defence, though on that occasion he had the extreme bad luck to lose his fiancee through a misdirected dagger-thrust. Even this tragedy, sufficiently overwhelming in an ordinary romance, is not, of course, wholly disastrous in Monsignor BENSON'S eyes, since it enabled Mr. Mallock to resume the religious life and habit for which he had been originally intended. For the rest the book is written in a most captivating manner, and with a plausibility of incident and dialogue only too rare in novels of the Restoration period. Evidently the author has studied his authorities (and more particularly Mr. PEPYS) with a praiseworthy diligence. But in view of the anti-Protestant bias which he naturally exhibits I feel bound to bid him have a care. If he intends to pursue his historical researches any further, and discover (let us say) virtue in the Spanish Inquisition and villainy in Sir FRANCIS DRAKE, I shall load my arquebus to the muzzle.
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The hero of King Jack (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) "made sport," as his creator, Mr. KEIGHLEY SNOWDEN, says, "nearly a hundred years ago" in Yorkshire, and incidentally he also made records. For instance, he cleared four-and-twenty feet at a "run-jump," and with this in my mind I find it satisfactory to think that he lived in another century, or I might find myself regretting the eclipse of the Olympic Games. As an upholder of law and order I ought to be (I am not) ashamed to admire a man who, to say the least of it, was a very prickly thorn in the side of the police. My excuse is that Jack Sincler and his brother Lishe were kindly men withal. The game-laws were their trouble, but as far as I could make out they did not poach for the sake of pelf but from sheer love of sport. Among poachers they ought, anyhow, to be placed in Class I., for they loved the open air and the freshness of the morning and all the things that make for a clean mind in a clean body. Jack, though a shade arrogant at times, is a stimulating figure, human both in his weakness and his strength; and Mr. SNOWDEN deserves more than a little gratitude for the care with which he has reproduced the atmosphere of times that were conspicuously lawless and exciting.
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When Dicky Furlong, the brilliant and aspiring artist of The Achievement (CHAPMAN AND HALL) who was in love with Diana Charteris, sloshed her husband, Lord Freddy, over the head with his own decanter (vide Chap. XXI.) he rather overdid it. For "the jagged thing fell with a sullen thud behind his (Lord Freddy's) ear," and that discourteous nobleman collapsed to rise no more. When the detective arrived the following noon he convinced himself that there was no necessity to detain any of the guests, even though no windows had been found open or doors unlocked, and though Dicky had a contused lip from the conflict overnight and everybody had coupled his name with Diana's. However, the methodical sleuthhound ran his quarry to earth a year or two later, just as he had put the finishing touches to his great (seventeen-foot) canvas. And Dicky took a little bottle out of his pocket. In fact, our old friend the novelette, with its unexacting canons of plausibility; tacked on, as it happens, to twenty chapters of meandering incident, a long way after the well-known Five-Towns formula, garnished with pleasantly romantic little notices of Dicky's pictures and Dicky's love affairs. But you don't begin to see the Dicky of the decanter phase (even though a fight about an ill-treated dog is lugged in for the purpose), or indeed any other Dicky of real flesh and blood, in this haphazard selection of episodes and comments. The truth is there is more in that difficult and dangerous formula than Mr. TEMPLE THURSTON is aware of. He has wandered into the wrong galley. A pity. For Mrs. Flint is a dear, if a stupid dear, and Dicky himself has his points.
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Illustration: The Old Man. "I SEE BY THE PAPER HERE THAT THE ROOSHIANS ARE ATTACKING A TOWN THEY SPELL P-R-Z-E-M-Y-S-L. D'YE THINK, NOW, WUD THAT BE A MISTAKE OF THE PRINTER'S OR WUD THE LETTERS OF IT BE MIXED UP, LIKE, WI' THE BOMBARDMENT?"
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OUR DAILY BREAD.
[The London correspondent of a German paper announces that London is on the verge of starvation, his own diet being "reduced to bread and rancid dripping."]
"There is a languor in this alien air; We are reduced, in fact, to famine fare; Mine, I may say, is dripping based on bread (Ugh!), and I gather I shall soon be dead. It is the same all over, East or West; Hungry each hollow just below the chest. Daily, I'm told, they rake the very dust, Hoping in vain to come across a crust. And, when our God-born WILHELM brings his Huns Here, he will find a few odd skeletons." Such is the tale a Teuton lately writ. How, then, I ask, does London look so fit? This is the reason, mainly, I surmise— We are fed up, of course, with German Lies.
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