PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI
SEPTEMBER 30, 1914
The German troops which started out for a "pleasure trip" to Paris are now reported, owing, no doubt, to the influence of British environment, to be taking their pleasures sadly.
* * *
Several reasons have been given for the destruction of Rheims Cathedral. The real one is now said to be the following. Owing to the Red Cross Flag being flown from one of the towers the Germans thought the building was only a hospital.
* * *
A Scotsman gifted with much native humour wishes it to be known how glad he is to see that the Frenchmen have been getting their Aisne back.
* * *
It is reported that the KAISER is proceeding to East Prussia to assume the chief command there. In Petrograd the news is only credited by extreme optimists.
* * *
It does not say much for the enterprise of our English newspapers that we should have had to go all the way to India for a reference to what must have been an exceedingly clever capture of one of the enemy. "As the war progresses," says The Times of India of the 20th ult., "the stories of German brutality become more and more frequent. One instance is shown in a letter from a German soldier captured in a mail-bag in Lorraine."
* * *
We have always held that the Turkish sense of humour has been underrated. A leading Ottoman statesman has told Der Tag (the newspaper of that name: the real thing has not turned up yet): "We only fear for Germany one thing—her magnanimity towards the conquered, a quality which she shares with the great Turkish conquerors of the past."
* * *
There is reported to be an uneasy feeling among the poor in our big towns that, if hard times should come, an attempt will be made to foist on them many of the weirder garments which kind-hearted ladies have been making for the troops.
* * *
The attention of the public is being directed to the value of fish as a food, in contradistinction, we suppose, to its remarkable qualities as a perfume.
* * *
Mr. LLOYD GEORGE'S statement that "The Prussian Junker is the road-hog of modern Europe" has, we hear, had a curious and satisfactory sequel. Large numbers of adepts in the art of pig-sticking are joining the Sportsmans' Battalion which is now in process of formation.
* * *
Not the least encouraging result of the War would seem to be that it has put a stopper on decadent ideas as to dress. Mlle. GABY DESLYS, we read, found herself unable to begin her season at the Palace the week before last as her dresses were delayed in Paris.
* * *
A London-born Italian organ-grinder who was plying his trade in Wales has, The Express tells us, enlisted in Lord KITCHENER'S Army for foreign service, and has left his organ in charge of the recruiting officer at Barmouth. A pity. It should have made a powerful weapon to use against the enemy.
* * *
So much has been written about the brutality of the Germans that it seems only fair to draw attention to an act of humanity on their part. Steps have been taken at Stuttgart, at any rate, to protect prisoners against annoyance. "It is," runs a proclamation, "rigorously forbidden for any woman to cast amorous glances at British and French prisoners."
* * * * *
Illustration: TAKING NO RISKS.
* * * * *
A HAUNT OF ANCIENT PEACE.
The young man who had come into this quiet room looked round him with a sigh of relief at finding it empty. It was a large room, and he knew it well. Usually a little sombre and even oppressive of aspect, to-day it seemed filled only with an atmosphere of kindly security and benevolence. He noticed (being sensitive to such impressions) that in some strange way this restful atmosphere seemed to emanate from the large table, covered with illustrated papers and magazines, that stood in the centre. He approached it and, drawing up a chair, began to take the papers one after another into his hands.
Then he understood. Gradually, as he read, the nightmare that life had lately become faded away from him, and he saw himself once more surrounded by the sane and gentle interests that had been familiar to him from childhood. In one paper he read how such and such Duchesses were preparing yacht-parties for Cowes, and of the thrilling triumphs of the Russian ballet. Another told him that the Government was a collection of craven imbeciles, and that the price of rubber continued disappointing. He saw photographs of golf-champions and ladies in the chorus of musical comedies. One paper had a picture representing the state entry into somewhere or other of a—a German Royalty. The uniforms in this caused him a momentary uneasiness, as of a light sleeper who stirs in his dream and seems about to wake. Then he turned the page, and the dream closed upon him again as he contemplated an illustrated solution of the problem "Where shall we spend our summer holidays?"
He sighed contentedly and went on turning the pages, here reading a paragraph, here merely glancing at pictures or headlines. Thus the hours passed. How peaceful it was in this quiet room! And this table of literature, strange that never before had he appreciated its subtle charm....
Long afterwards, when they came to seek him, he was found asleep, a happy smile upon his face, and his weary head fallen forward amid the two-months-old newspapers of the dentist's waiting-room.
* * * * *
AN IMPERIAL OVERTURE.
[From notes taken by a British airman while engaged in hovering over the KAISER'S headquarters at ——. The name of the place is excised because the Press Bureau Authorities do not wish the KAISER to be informed of his own whereabouts.]
Now let an awful silence hold the field, And everybody else's mouth be sealed; For lo! your KAISER (sound the warning gong!) Prepares to loose his clarion lips in song.
In time of War the poet gets his chance, When even wingless Pegasi will prance; Yet We, whose pinions oft outsoared the crow's, Have hitherto confined Ourself to prose. But who shall doubt that We could sing as well as That Warrior-bard TYRTAEUS, late of Hellas, Who woke the Spartans up with words and chorus Twenty-six centuries B.U. (Before Us)? Also, since Truth is near allied to Beauty, We are convinced that We shall prove more fluty Than certain British scribes whom We have read (Recently published by The Bodley Head).
Well, then, it is Our purpose to inflame Our soldiers' arteries with lust of fame; To give them something in the lyric line That shall be tantamount to fumes of wine, Yet not too heady, like the champagne (sweet) That lately left them dormant in the street, So that the British, coming up just then, Took them for swine and not for gentlemen.
Rather we look to brace them, soul and limb, With something in the nature of a hymn, Which they may chant, assisted by the band, While working backwards to the Fatherland. Put to the air of Deutschland ueber alles Or else to one of Our own sacred ballets, The lilt of it should leave their hearts so fiery That at the finish they would make enquiry— "What would our ATTILA to-day have done?" And, crying "Havoc!" go and play the Hun. For there are some cathedrals standing yet, And heavy is the task to Culture set, Ere We may lay aside the holy rod Made to chastise the foes of Us and God.
And now that We are fairly in the vein Let Us proceed to build the lofty strain. Ho! bid the Muse to enter and salute The burnished toe of Our Imperial boot! Hush! guns! and, ye howitzers, cease your fire! We, WILLIAM, are about to sound the lyre!
Note.—Unfortunately the actual composition of which this is the preface has been censored, as likely to have a disintegrating effect upon the discipline of our forces at the front.
* * * * *
THE TWO VOICES.
"It was Mr. Will Crooks, the well-known Labour member, who asked the Chairman if the House might sing 'God Save the King,' and when Mr. Crooks started it in his deep bass voice everyone stood up and joined in the singing."—Westminster Gazette.
"Moreover, Mr. Crooks had pitched the tune a little too high, and it seemed for a moment that he with his rich high tenor voice would have to sing the anthem as a solo."—Daily Chronicle.
* * * * *
UNWRITTEN LETTERS TO THE KAISER.
(From the Rev. Dr. DRYANDER, Court Chaplain.)
MOST ALLGRACIOUS SIR,—Now that I have finished writing my sermon for next Sunday I can find time for a little quiet sound thinking by way of a change. I can say quite seriously that I am tired to death of writing and preaching sermons. It is not permitted, highly honoured EMPEROR, that in my sermon I say anything displeasing to your Imperial self. I must not remind you that you are a man like other men, a man liable to weakness and error, swayed by temper, capable, since your position gives you power, of trampling on the rights of others in a moment of passion, of confounding justice with your own desires and of mistaking the promptings of ambition or malice or envy for an inspiration from Heaven itself. No, I must not say all this or any of it, but, on the contrary, I must describe you to yourself and your family and the chosen intimates who flatter you beyond even my power to flatter, I must describe you, I say, as the Lord's, anointed, as the vice-gerent of God on earth, as being raised by God's favour above all human foibles, in short, as being supremely right and just whenever your faults and your injustice cry aloud for the divine punishment. Even if you were a thoroughly good and sensible man, totus teres atque rotundus, instead of being a bundle of caprice and prejudice, the task would be difficult. As it is, it is unpleasant and ought to be impossible. My sermons exist to prove that I have attempted it with such courage as I could command, although in these conditions courage is only another name for the cowardly compliance that causes a man to detest himself and to take a low view of human nature.
At any rate I have done my best for you. How many times have I not bidden the faithful to fall down before you and worship you? Have I not proved from Holy Scripture that your lightest word is spoken, not by you, but by the Almighty; that you, in fact, are something higher and better in bones and flesh and blood and brains than anything that mere ordinary mortals can pretend to be? I can see you nodding your head in Imperial approval when such phrases came from me, and all the time I knew in my heart that the God of whom you were thinking, and to whose intimacy you pretended, was not the God under whom a Christian minister takes service, but a being formed after the image of a Prussian drill-sergeant who wears a pointed helmet and a turned-up moustache.
Sir, I have my doubts as to this fearful war in which we are engaged. You entered upon it, you say, to carry out your treaty obligations to Austria. Treaties, no doubt, are sacred things. But why, then, was not the treaty obligation to Belgium as sacred as that with Austria? Was it because Belgium was weak and (as you thought) defenceless that you invaded her country, slaughtered her people, and sacked her towns? Was this the reason for the foul treatment of Louvain? And is it agreeable, do you think, to the Almighty that the glorious Cathedral of Rheims should be bombarded and ruined even by German shells?
When the years have rolled on and you shall have been called away to render an account of what you did on earth, for what reasons will you be remembered amongst men? Not because you established justice and did good deeds—or even great ones—for your people, but because you plunged the world in war in order to feed your vanity, and laid waste Belgium and shattered the Cathedral of Rheims. Truly a shining memory.
Yours, in all humility, DRYANDER.
* * * * *
Illustration: BOER AND BRITON TOO.
GENERAL BOTHA (composing telegram to the KAISER). "JUST OFF TO REPEL ANOTHER RAID. YOUR CUSTOMARY WIRE OF CONGRATULATION SHOULD BE ADDRESSED: 'BRITISH HEADQUARTERS—GERMAN SOUTH-WEST AFRICA.'"
* * * * *
Illustration: Incredulous friend (to soldier invalided home). "WHAT—YOU CAPTURED TEN GERMANS BY YOURSELF? GOOD GRACIOUS! HOW DID YOU DO IT?"
Tommy. "I JUST SHOUTED OUT 'WAITER!' AND THEY CAME ALONG."
* * * * *
THE LAST LINE.
We are the last line of defence. When the Regular Army and the Reserve Army and the new Million Army and the Indian Army and the Overseas Army and the Territorial Army are all entering Berlin together, then the defence of England (we hope) will rest entirely upon us. There are not many of us, as armies go nowadays, but there ought to be one apiece for all the towns round the coast, and what we lack in numbers we shall make up for in pride.
We are the last line of defence. We all have wives or defective retinas or birthdays previous to 1879, or something that binds us together unofficially. Our motto from Monday to Friday is, "Soldier and Civilian too," and in camp at week-ends, "Remember Przemysl." At present we have no uniforms, to the disgust of our wives; but they are coming. Opinion is divided as to whether we want them to come. Some say that, clad in khaki, we shall get admiring glances from the women and envious glances from the small boys which are not really our due; our proud spirit rebels against the idea of marching through London in false colours. James says that, seeing that a soldier is only a soldier, and that he himself (James) is a special constable from 4 A.M. to 8, a dashed hard-working solicitor from 9.30 to 5, and a soldier from 5.30 to 7, not to mention the whole week-end, he jolly well expects all the admiration he can get; and that, if any small boy cheers him under the impression that he is only a Territorial, he is doing him a confounded injustice. Perhaps a tail-coat and khaki breeches would best meet the case.
Then we come to the question of rifles. There are at this moment thousands of men in the Army who have no rifles. Whole battalions of new recruits are unarmed. Our battalion is not unarmed; it has a rifle. We have all seen it; those of us who have been on guard through the cold dark hours of Saturday-Sunday have even carried it—respectfully, as becomes a man who thanks Heaven that it is not loaded. Our pride in it is enormous. Were a sudden night attack by Zeppelins made upon our camp, the battalion would rally as one man round the old rifle, and fling boots at the invader until the last pair of ammunition gave out. Then, spiking the Lee-Enfield, so that it should be useless if it fell into the hands of the enemy, we should retire barefoot and in good order, James busily jotting down notes of our last testamentary dispositions....
But, of course, we know that the invaders will not come yet. Meanwhile much can be learnt without arms (cf. "Infantry Training" passim—a book we all carry in our pockets), and we have the promise of enough rifles for a company in three weeks. When the last lot of German prisoners begins to land we shall be ready for them.
We get plenty of encouragement; indeed we feel that the authorities have a special eye upon us. To give an example. We paraded the other night and were inspected by a General—tut-tut, a couple of Generals. One of them addressed us afterwards and gave us to understand that, having seen the flower of the Continental armies at work, he was, even so, hardly prepared for the extraordinary—and so on; which made James throw out his lower chest a couple of inches further than usual. Whereupon the Admiralty airship hurried up and, flying slowly over us, inspected us from the top. I say nothing of what James must have looked like from the top; what I say is that not many battalions are inspected by two Generals and an airship simultaneously. We are grateful to the authorities.
Just at present our fault is over-keenness. On our first Sunday in camp our company commander stood us to attention and asked for three volunteers—for some unnamed forlorn hope. The whole company advanced two paces. He took the first three in the first platoon and handed them over to a sergeant. They were marched off on their perilous mission with nine men from other companies. The dauntless twelve. We that were left behind composed explanations to our wives, making it quite clear that we had volunteered, but pointing out that, as only twelve could go, they had probably chosen the ugliest ones first. Our three heroes rejoined us during an "easy" an hour later. The forlorn hope, had been to dig a hole and bury all the unused fragments of last night's supper—the gristly bits.... And now, when three volunteers are called for, the whole company remains rooted to attention. It is our keenness again; we are here to drill; to form fours, to march, to wheel; we want to learn to be soldiers, not dustmen.
But naturally we differ in our ideas upon the best way to learn—particularly in regard to night-work. What James says is, "Why be uncomfortable in camp? If I could do anything for my country between the hours of 10.30 P.M. and 5.30 A.M., I would do it gladly. But if my country, speaking through the gentleman who commands my platoon, tells me to retire to my tent with the fourteen loudest-breathers in Middlesex, I may at least try to get a little bit of sleep." So he brings with him two air-cushions, a pillow, three blankets and a pair of bed-socks, and does his best. On the other hand, John says, "When one is on active service one has to sleep anywhere. Unless I am preparing for that moment, what am I here for at all?" So he disdains the use of straw, selects the hardest brick he can find for his head, and wraps himself up in a single coat. And I doubt if he sleeps worse than James. Personally, I lie awake all night listening to the snores of the others and envying them their repose ... and I find that they all say they have been doing the same.
It was James, by the way, who created such a sensation the first time he appeared on parade with all his impedimenta. There was a shout of laughter from the company—and then a quiet voice behind me said reflectively, "He decided not to bring the parrot."
A. A. M.
* * * * *
"There is a story here of a reservist, arriving from the provinces, who saw on the Nevsky a brilliantly lighted picture palace, and took off his hat before it and crossed himself devoutly. The point of that story is that the man, when pointed out to me on the parade-ground, was working in rubber gloves upon the installation of field wireless apparatus."—Daily Chronicle.
Ha-ha! (Yes, just for a moment it escaped us). Ha-ha! HA-HA-HA!
* * * * *
(A vision and a protest.)
I saw in the night unbroken, In the land the daylight shuns, At their long tables oaken The Sea-kings and the Huns.
Strong arms had they for smiting, To them death only gave More feasting and more fighting, More plunder for the brave.
Scant use had they for pleaders, They boasted of their war, The pitiless bright-eyed leaders, And their battle-god was Thor.
And "When this right hand falters," Quoth one, "the soul is fled;" "And I made so many altars Ruinous," this one said.
And lo! as they sat and vaunted Across the mist of the years, There came to them one that flaunted The helm of the war-god's peers.
A little shape and a mightless, And the strong men laughed and roared: "Is our father Odin sightless That bade him share the board?
"From what realms spoilt and plundered, From what shrines burnt art come? Has thine hand hewed and thundered On the crosses of Christendom?"
And he said, "I too had legions, I fouled where ye defiled, I trod in the selfsame regions And warred on woman and child.
"Tricked out in my shining armour And riding behind my Huns, I harried the priest and farmer, I followed the smoking guns."
But the kings cried out and shouted As they drained the sweetened mead: "Was it thus that the Franks were routed, When we made Europe bleed?
"This king with a leaden rattle And death that comes from afar, What pride hath he of the battle? What lust to maim or mar?
"The loot and the red blood running Were the only signs we saw; But the gods that gave thee cunning Have also given thee law."
And a Northman spake: "With seven Fair churches when I died I had paved my path to heaven; Their pillage was my pride.
"I tore the saints from their niches With the red hands of my rage;" But what hast thou in thy ditches To do with a craftless age?
"Thou hast felt no Viking's starkness; Thou hast lost a Christian's throne." And they drove him forth in the darkness To find a place of his own.
* * * * *
THE SILENCE OF WAR.
I have a confession to make. Once in the happy far-off days—it seems ages since—I was bored by my fellow-passengers' conversation in the train. I daresay that they were equally bored by mine; but against that view there is the fact that this is my confession and not theirs. Well, I am punished now. I admit that I would give a good deal to hear Griffith's story of how he did the dog-leg hole in three again. There sits Griffith opposite to me, and no one would know that he had ever handled a club. He has become a golf-mute.
Or think of Purvis. The recital of the performances of Purvis's new car lent an additional terror to railway travelling. I have forgotten the very make of his car now. I cannot particularise the number of its cylinders or say if it is electrically started. Purvis is conversationally punctured.
There was, too, one recalls, an Insurance Act. Wilson felt a special grievance because he employed an aged gardener, out of charity, two days a week. He talked, if I remember correctly, about a cruel fourpence and a mythical ninepence. He read fierce letters he had composed for the Press, and when the papers published them, which was seldom, he read them to us all over again. As an anti-insurance agitator Wilson now comes under the unemployment section of the accursed Act.
And the strange people who intruded with third-class tickets, and trampled on our toes, and smoked shag, and talked repulsively about the Cockspurs and Chelsea's new purchase from Oldham Athletic, and gave each other "dead certs" of appalling incertitude, and passed remarks which to my mind showed a shocking lack of respect for the upper and middle classes! We were not one class in those times.
May it all come back to us soon—all the old chatter! Come back to us, Sir THOMAS LIPTON and the Cup! Come back to us, GLOOMY DEAN! Come back to us, Ninepence for Fourpence. Come back to us, "dead certs" and "also rans." Come back golf and motor-cars. Come back, Wicked Government and Wicked Opposition. Life is too painfully interesting now. I long to be bored again.
But it must be boredom with honour.
* * * * *
MR. PUNCH'S WAR CORRESPONDENCE.
Hearing that the German troops were advancing from the North-East along the line Malines—Mons—Mezieres—Soissons—Verdun—Belfort, I immediately made off due South-West for a reason I may not give. I managed with the utmost difficulty to find someone to carry my kit, but at length persuaded an old peasant whom I found weeding (probably the last weeds he would ever dig) to act as my courier, and even then I had to resort to the vulgar strategy of pretending to be a Uhlan.
We joined the throng boarding an old motor-bus (6-1/2 h.p.). There was nothing to show to outward appearance that the dreaded Germans were within 250 miles of the little townlet where I found myself (name suppressed). After booking my room at the only decent hotel in the place, I cast about for something to eat. Alas, the only eatables were roast duck and apple tart (the last probably we should ever see). I then unpacked my kit, and after folding my riding breeches I placed them under the mattress, wondering when I should take them out again. It is curious how even the simplest necessities of life mechanically assert themselves in the midst of the most strenuous and adventurous circumstances.
Troops, troops, troops, and yet again troops. And people still go on living their daily lives. I saw two men seated in a cafe playing draughts, and they quarrelled over a move as though they had never heard tell of the KAISER. Such is la guerre. I am rapidly polishing up my French which I learnt at ——, how many years ago I may not say.
We know little of the German plans, and that much it is useless for me to communicate as the Censor is stopping all news of any interest. But this we do know here in our little town of —— that the KAISER will undoubtedly defeat the English armies if he can. To-day I saw an officer who had been sent back to count the milk-cans on a large dairy-farm (probably the last cans he would ever count); as he clattered down the road, mounted on his charger, I stepped in front of him and held up my hand, in which was a recent copy of The Daily Cry and Echo. The officer with difficulty stopped, as his horse reared on seeing the paper in my hand. I then asked him where he would advise me to go, as I wanted to be where the fire was hottest. He at once told me to go to (name withheld). I often think of that gay young officer and wonder what he is doing.
To-night I sat up late (how late we used to sit up in London!) sewing a button on my (word excised) and darning one of the legs. I am now dashing this off to catch the morning post (probably the last post that will ever leave for England). I could not sleep for thinking that in a few days' time I may hear the boom-boom-boom of the German 17.44 guns, the sound of which has been likened to a puppy yelping. Such is war.
I hope later on to send an important document dealing with the dispositions of the various armies engaged. I have been fortunate enough to get a glimpse of plans not more than a month old which a Colonel of Howitzers carelessly left in the pocket of his bathing-suit.
* * * * *
Illustration: Mabel. "MOTHER, DEAR! I DO HOPE THIS WAR WON'T BE OVER BEFORE I FINISH MY SOCK!"
* * * * *
BRITISH PRESS ON HEELS OF ENEMY."
At last the British Press is getting to the front.
* * * * *
We are officially informed that, when every cat and dog in the German Empire has been enrolled and armed, each cat will be allowed to provide its own kit.
* * * * *
"Physically, Mr. Owen is a fine type, and his height is almost double that of the originator of the Welsh Army Corps—the Chancellor of the Exchequer.—Western Mail."
If we allow Mr. OWEN a generous 8 feet, this would make Mr. LLOYD GEORGE about 4 ft. 2 in. He must be taller than that.
* * * * *
The scene was Maida Vale—in the home of Julius Blumenbach, an Englishman of one generation.
"Well, my dear," said Mr. Blumenbach on his return from his office, "it won't do. The time has come to take the plunge. We have often talked about it, but now we must act. Only this morning I received five letters closing the account—all because of the name."
"You know I have urged it on you often enough," said Mrs. Blumenbach. "And not only have I thought it necessary, but my relatives have urged it too."
Mr. Blumenbach repressed a gesture of impatience. "I know, I know," he said. "Well, we must do it. The Times has a dozen notices of changed names every day."
"The question is what shall the new one be?" his wife replied. "We must remember it's not only for ourselves and the business, but it will be so much better for the boys, too, when they go to Eton. A good name—but what?"
"That's it," said Mr. Blumenbach. "That's the difficulty. Now I've got a little list here. I have been jotting down names that took my fancy for some time past. Of course there are many people who merely translate their German names, but I think we ought to go farther than that. We ought to be thorough while we are about it."
"Yes, and let us be very careful," said Mrs. Blumenbach. "It's a great responsibility—a critical moment. It's almost as critical as—for a woman—marriage. Let us take a really nice name."
"Of course," said her husband. "That goes without saying."
"Yes," she continued, "but a name that goes well with 'Sir' or 'Lady.' You never know, you know."
"I don't see, myself, that 'Sir Julius Blumenbach' would sound so bad," said her husband; "I've heard worse."
"But 'Sir Julius Kitchener,' for example, would sound better," said Mrs. Blumenbach.
Mr. Blumenbach started. "You don't really suggest—" he began.
"No, I don't," she replied. "But I want you to see that while we're about it we may as well be thorough. If at the present moment we have a name which is disliked here, how much wiser, when taking another, to choose one which is popular!"
"True," Mr. Blumenbach said. "But 'Kitchener.' Isn't that——"
"Too far? Perhaps so," said his wife. "Then what about 'French'?"
"A little too short," said her husband. "I favour three syllables."
"Oh, let's be shy of hyphens," he replied.
"Why?" she asked. "I've always had rather a partiality for them. They're very classy in England, too, as you would know if you were as English as I am."
"I am English!" said Mr. Blumenbach fiercely.
"Yes, dear, but not quite so—— Still, let us pass that over. The point is——"
"No hyphens, anyway," said Mr. Blumenbach. "They're dangerous. They carry too much family history. No, a straightforward plain name is best. Like, say, 'Macdonald.'"
"Yes, why not?"
"I hadn't been thinking that way," said Mrs. Blumenbach, "but I agree—why not 'Sir Julius Macdonald'? Yes, that's all right."
"Or 'Mackenzie'?" said Mr. Blumenbach, consulting his list.
"I prefer 'Macdonald.'"
"No, I think not."
"He's very popular."
"I know; but the music-hall? No," said Mrs. Blumenbach, taking up a pen, "let it be 'Macdonald.'" She traced the name. "Good heavens!" she exclaimed suddenly, dropping the pen and pushing away the paper with a gesture of finality, "of course it can't be that."
"Why ever not?" Mr. Blumenbach insisted.
"Fancy you not knowing!" Mrs. Blumenbach replied. "You of all people! Why, think of the linen and the silver—all the monograms. Everything would have to be marked afresh. It must begin with B, of course."
"Of course," said Mr. Blumenbach, mopping his brow as the terrible truth broke on him, "of course! What an idiot I have been! Of course it must begin with B. The expense!"
"But fancy you not thinking of that!" Mrs. Blumenbach insisted.
"Yes, fancy. It's worry over the war. I'm not myself."
"Poor dear! You can't be," said his wife. "Well, what shall we do now?"
"It's all right," said Mr. Blumenbach. "I'll go to the British Museum to look out the B's in the Edinburgh Directory."
"Do, dear, do!" said his wife, and he hurried for his hat. "Just to think of you not thinking of that!" she repeated, as he bade her farewell.
"Yes, indeed!" he replied. "But it's the war, I'm sure. I'm sure it's the war."
Later in the day he returned, a potential Sir Julius Bannockburn.
* * * * *
Illustration: Enthusiast (explaining the situation). "LET THIS 'ERE MEAT-AXE BE THE RUSSIANS A-COMIN' IN ON THE EAST; THE CARVIN'-KNIFE'S THE FRENCHIES ALONG 'ERE; OUR BOYS IS THE MUSTARD-POT; AND 'ERE'S THE GERMANS—THIS 'ERE PLATE O' TRIPE."
* * * * *
One touch of NIETZSCHE makes the whole world sin.
* * * * *
SOUND AND FURY.
A double Dutch Agency circulates a report of a great patriotic concert recently held in Berlin. The programme, which is printed on a mere scrap of paper, was as follows:—
A GRAND PRUSSIAN PATRIOTIC CONCERT
IN AID OF THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT WAR FUND
Will be held in the DISMANTLED BRITISH EMBASSY.
* * *
SELECTION: "Hail, Smiling Marne." Band of the Imperial Prussian Guard.
SONG: "Father, dear Father, come Home with me now." Words and music by the GERMAN CROWN PRINCE.
BANJO RECITAL: "The Sally of our Ally." Words and music by the Emperor FRANCIS JOSEPH.
CHORUS: "Forty Years On." Setting arranged by Count VON MOLTKE the Second.
SONG: "Oft in the Stilly Night." Words and music by COUNT ZEPPELIN, composer of "What does little Birdie say?"
RECITAL: "The Blue Carpathian Mountains." The Viennese Orchestra.
HUMOROUS SONG: "The Bonny Bonny Banks." Arranged by the Imperial Minister of Finance.
SONG: "And Nobody cares for Me!" Respectfully dedicated to the GERMAN EMPEROR.
GRAND PATRIOTIC CHORUS (in which the audience is requested to join):
"PRUSSIA EXPECTS THAT EVERY MAN THIS DAY WILL GRAB HIS BOOTY."
* * * * *
Illustration: "GREAT SCOTT! I MUST DO SOMETHING. DASHED IF I DON'T GET SOME MORE FLAGS FOR THE OLD JIGGER!"
* * * * *
There's mist in the hollows, There's gold on the tree, And South go the swallows Away over sea.
They home in our steeple That climbs in the wind, And, parson and people, We welcome 'em kind.
The steeple was set here In 1266; If WILLIAM could get here He'd burn it to sticks.
He'd burn it for ever, Bells, belfry and vane, That swallows would never Come home there again.
He'd bang down their perches With cannon and gun, For churches is churches, And WILLIAM'S a Hun.
So—mist in the hollow And leaf falling brown— Ere home comes the swallow May WILLIAM be down!
And high stand the steeples From Lincoln to Wells, For parsons and peoples, For birds and for bells!
* * * * *
"It makes things clearer, for example, if one knows that a howitzer gun drops its shells, while an ordinary field gun fires them to all intents and purposes vertically."
* * * * *
Illustration: Youthful Patriot. "Oh, mummy, you must speak to baby: he's most awfully naughty. He won't let nurse take his vest off, and (in an awe-struck voice) he keeps on screaming and yelling that he likes the Germans! Anybody might hear him."
* * * * *
A WAR-HORSE OF THE KING.
I knew you in the first flight of the Quorn, One who never turned his gallant head aside From bank or ditch, from double rail or thorn, Or from any brook however deep and wide; I know the love your owner on you spent; I know the price he put upon your speed; And I know he gave you freely, well content, When his country called upon him in her need.
I have seen you in the bondage of the camp With a heel-rope on a pastern raw and red, Up and fighting at the stable-picket's tramp With the courage of the way that you were bred; I have seen you standing, broken, in the rain, Lone and fretting for a yesterday's caress; I have seen your valour spur you up again From the sorrow that your patient eyes express.
Now in dreams I see your squadron at the Front, You a war-horse with a hero on your back, Taking bugles for the horn-blast of the hunt, Taking musketry for music of the pack; Made and mannered to the pattern of the rest, Gathered foam—and maybe blood—upon your rein, You'll be up among the foremost and the best, Or we'll never trust in Leicestershire again!
* * * * *
IN A GOOD CAUSE.
War or no war, the children must have their Christmas presents, and they wouldn't look at the usual toys made in Germany, even if they could be had this year. The Women's Emergency Corps has the matter in hand. Some fascinating models have been designed and registered, and many women who were in need of work are engaged in copying them under skilled direction. Funds are needed badly at the start, though the scheme will eventually support itself. For the children's sake, and even more for the sake of the women-breadwinners to whom the war has brought distress, Mr. Punch begs his generous friends to help this work. Gifts should be sent to The Duchess of Marlborough, Old Bedford College, 8, York Place, Baker Street, W.
* * * * *
TO THOSE WHO DIED IN THE EARLY DAYS OF THE WAR.
Not theirs to triumph yet; but, where they stood, Falling, to dye the earth with brave men's blood For England's sake and duty. Be their name Sacred among us. Wouldst thou seek to frame Their fitting epitaph? Then let it be Simple, as that which marked Thermopylae:— "Tell it in England, thou that passest by, Here faithful to their charge her soldiers lie."
* * * * *
Illustration: THE GREAT GOTH.
DESIGN FOR A STAINED-GLASS WINDOW IN A NEO-GOTHIC CATHEDRAL AT POTSDAM.
* * * * *
Illustration: Newly-gazetted Subaltern. "GIRLS! GIRLS! YOU REALLY MUSTN'T CROWD ROUND ME LIKE THIS. I'VE MISSED TWO SALUTES ALREADY."
* * * * *
OUR DUMB ENEMIES.
Although the German army already owes much of its efficiency to useful hints garnered from the animal kingdom—such as the goose-step, which has been employed with such conspicuous success in the streets of Brussels—we were hardly prepared for the far-reaching mobilisation of the more familiar mammals which is now foreshadowed. It is true that we had already been much impressed by the KAISER'S threat to continue the war to the last breath of man and horse, but it is none the less startling to learn, on American authority, that the German Government would, at a pinch, be prepared to arm every cat and dog in the Empire. It will thus be open to the future historian to speak of "the cats of war."
There is another branch of the community which should not be overlooked—if the KAISER is willing to take a suggestion—in the form of the domestic cattle of the Fatherland. These, we believe, are admirably adapted to attack in close formation upon entrenched positions. And much might be done with the rats from the cellars of Munich—than which no finer natural warriors exist.
But the new menace must be met. Fortunately, if zoological warfare is to become an accomplished fact, the British Empire has great untapped resources. It is rumoured that a Camel Corps has been despatched from India already, and a squadron of elephants should be a match for a whole Army Corps of dachshunds.
On the whole we welcome the new departure. It may lead—who knows?—to the establishment of a higher standard in German civilized warfare.
An interesting light has been thrown on this new mobilisation by a letter concealed in the whiskers of the captured mascot (a Tortoiseshell) of a Bavarian regiment. It runs as follows:—
POTSDAM. (Can't divulge address.)
DEAR GRETCHEN,—Awful bad luck for poor Schneider. He went to enlist and was told to register! Of course he's got a streak of the Persian in him on his mother's side, and used to brag about it, as we all know; but now it's done him in the eye, and he's fairly mad. Carl is in the commissariat and tells me we've got three million tins of sardines; so that's all right as far as it goes; but, if there's any weakness in the victualling department, I shall be the first to leave the colours.
They're making one huge mistake. The dogs are called out too. You know what German dogs are—sausage-food, we call them. Of course they'll be cut up and give the show away. But, if they're in the first line with us behind them, they'll have to fight somebody.
Albrecht is in the Royal Blacks (Empress's own). Max has joined the 3rd Tabbies, and I've got a command in the 10th Tortoiseshells.
Your one and only PUSS IN PRUSSIANS.
P.S.—It's a joke with the Tabby regiments that they've got their stripes already.
* * * * *
"Ste. Menehould is 32 miles due west of Verdun. Montfaucon is 18 miles north-east of Ste. Menehould and a dozen miles north-west of Verdun."—Manchester Guardian.
The War has changed many things; among them the triangle's old habit of having two of its sides together greater than the third. But there; "necessity," as the IMPERIAL CHANCELLOR says, "knows no law."
* * * * *
Illustration: Humorist (to Cinema Commissionaire). "NOW VEN, WILHELM, GIVE US ONE OR TWO GOOSE-STEPS!"
* * * * *
THE WATCH DOGS.
Dear Charles,—Half-a-dozen officers of the battalion, including your own pet terrier, have got cut off from the main body, but are all alive and well, as you shall hear. We have come down from our war to our peace station in order to gather together the few hundred recruits who have been enrolled to bring up the brigade to its proper establishment, and fill the places of those luckless fellows whose flesh was too weak for Imperial service, however willing their spirit might have been. I must say I was more sorry for the "medically unfit" than I have ever been for anyone in this hard world, when we took affectionate leave of them.
The recruit is an excellent fellow, whose only fault is that he didn't start before. Now and then he is a plutocrat, as I have found to my cost. It was my first job to prearrange the lodging of two hundred of them in their temporary billet, an unoccupied mansion originally designed to house twenty persons at the outside. There was an overflow, as you may imagine, which had to be lodged in the outhouses. The garage I marked out for twenty-five, leaving it to themselves to decide whether or not the inspection-pit was the place of honour reserved for the N.C.O. in charge. Other business prevented my receiving them at the front gate and conducting them to their several rooms. When I did arrive on the scene it was my heartrending duty to explain to Privates Anstruther and Vernon that the reason why they couldn't find their bedroom was because they had filled it with their motor-cars. But it is wonderful how people can settle down to anything; an hour later I found the twenty-five of them comfortably tucked in for the night, crooning unanimously, "There's no place like home!" To-day they have chalked up on the wall, "The Ritz Private Boarding Establishment; well-aired beds; bring your own straw. Excellent cuisine. No garage."
This is the sort of remark which, as you go the rounds of the mess tables, you have to pretend you have not heard: "The officer wants to know if you have all got plenty of potatoes. Every man stand up and say 'I have';" and, to demonstrate the camaraderie which exists in the hard circumstances of military life, "George, lend me your slice of bacon to clean my knife with." The most moving reply I have personally received came from one of the less-educated section. I asked to what company he was attached, and he didn't know. "Who is your captain?" I said. "'Im with the scuppered 'at," was the descriptive reply. Captain Herne has since lectured his gang on the rudiments of military discipline, first, however, replenishing his neglected equipment.
And now let us turn from the domestic aspect to the infantry training, and let me tell you all about outposts, their duty and their manner of performing it. Outpost companies, it must be remembered, do their work at night. I don't know, Charles, whether you have ever sat under a hedge for hours on end in the dark, waiting the approach of the enemy. It must be bad enough in real warfare, where there is a chance of his turning up; but in practice it is worse, for there is the certainty that he must turn up. He left the camp an hour before you did yourself, and, if he does succeed in getting through your lines, he'll never let you hear the last of it.
Now you must remember that my fellows had spent many weary days "sloping arms," only to unslope them again almost immediately, and in other sufficiently bloodless pursuits. They are naturally of a pugilistic breed, and the attacking party comprised old-time opponents. Constant efforts to keep a watch in the dark are trying to the nerves, and when something substantial does emerge which one may get a grip on ... what use is it for an officer to say that no violence is required and enough is done for present purposes if the enemy is successfully observed and quietly apprehended? The first enemy to approach turned out, on arrest, to be just an innocuous cow; but this disappointment served only to make the aspect of my men even more menacing. The next arrival was a hapless scout of the attacking party: he had come to surprise, but was himself violently surprised. What advice and exhortations I had to give were lost in the hubbub. "Put up your fists, chaps, and let him have it!" was the order, which was obeyed. The necessity for silence was forgotten; here was something upon which to wreak all the pent-up feelings consequent upon a month's perusal of German atrocities. It was excusable, if unsporting, for the scout to bite the thumb of his nearest assailant—and a good thorough bite it was. It fell to my lot later to dress the wound; as I did so the casualty explained to me fully and often the exact circumstances of the case. But he was not angry about it; far from it. With an expression of feature combining interested enquiry with perfect readiness to accept whatever might be in the proper order of infantry training, he said, "And then 'e bit me thumb, Sir. Was that right?"
D'Arcy and I had an awkward moment the other day. We turned into a wayside golf club in an emergency, and begged to be allowed to buy our tea there. Even as we did so the Secretary himself arrived in a motor car, which, as we were not aware, had but a little while ago overtaken Major Danks and the half battalion under his charge. Even the Secretary himself, accustomed to ignore foot-passengers, did not appreciate that he had roused the Major's wrath by the haste of his overtaking. The Secretary was, to us, politeness itself—nay more, he insisted upon our being the guests of the club not only on that occasion but on every available opportunity. Other members gathered round and endorsed his view. We returned thanks in brief and soldierly speeches. There were, by way of reply, votes of confidence, and, in rejoinder, expressions of reciprocated esteem. The invitation was extended to every officer in the battalion, and then we withdrew to the wash-house to prepare to receive hospitality. Hardly had we departed when the Major arrived, and we returned from our ablutions, if not into the open, at least sufficiently near to hear him reprimanding the Secretary in the most violent terms, threatening arrest to the miscreant chauffeur, and, indeed, the annihilation of the whole clubhouse and links, and every man, woman and child in or about them. Old man, I have never less enjoyed a meal at others' expense than I did the tea which followed.
Acting temporarily as Quarter-Master I went to the butcher's to-day. "A nice morning, Sir," said he. What could he do for me? "What about some beef?" said I. "About ten pounds?" he suggested. "Nearer two hundred," I replied.... "Good day," he concluded, as he bowed me out of the shop. "A very nice morning, Sir."
I'll tell you my opinion of these soldiers, Charles, amateur or professional. Feed them like princes and pamper them like babies, and they'll complain all the time. But stand them up to be shot at and they'll take it as a joke, and rather a good joke, too.
Yours ever, HENRY.
* * * * *
Illustration: Scene: Playground of sand in a London park.
Kind-hearted Old Lady. "THAT LITTLE BOY LOOKS VERY LONELY. WHY DON'T YOU ASK HIM TO PLAY WITH YOU?"
Little Girl. "OW, DON'T TAKE NO NOTICE OF 'IM, LIDY. 'E'S SWANKIN' 'COS 'E'S BIN TO THE SEASIDE."
* * * * *
ONE OF THE SECRETS OF RUSSIAN SUCCESS.
(By our Military Expert.)
The brief statement from Headquarters at Petrograd that on the South-West front Wszlmysl has fallen and that the pursuit of the Austrians has reached Mlprknik has a significance that may easily be overlooked by those who are unfamiliar with the topography of the district and its pronunciation. Wszlmysl (pronounce Wozzle-mizzle) is a large fortified town in the district of Mprzt (pronounce Ha-djisha), at the junction of the rivers Ug (pronounce Oogh) and Odzwl (pronounce Odol), about ten miles to the N.E. of Ploschkin (pronounce as written), with which it is connected by an electric tramway. The information available shows that the garrison of Wszlmysl (pronounce Woolloomoolloo) deserted their guns and retreated in haste with the Russians in hot pursuit. Now, inasmuch as this fortress has been pronounced by the Russian expert, Colonel Shumsky (pronounce Sch-tchoomsky), to be stronger than either Namur or Liege, the precipitate retirement of the Austrians can only be accounted for by a complete breakdown of moral.
The cause of this breakdown may escape most observers, but it is in reality simple enough. It has long been known that the Austrians have found themselves terribly handicapped by their inability to deal faithfully with the consonantal difficulties presented by the names of towns and districts in which the ethnic basis is Slav and not Teutonic. Quite recently, on the capture of the town of Prtnkevichsvtntchiskow (unpronounceable, and only to be approximately rendered with the assistance of a powerful Claxon horn), the garrison were found to be in a deplorable condition of aphasia and suffering from chronic laryngitis. We have therefore the best grounds for believing that a similar cause operated in the case of the Austrian defenders of Wszlmysl. They fled because they were unable to cope with the vocal exigencies of the situation.
To sum up, we have in our Eastern ally a nation not only great in numbers, in warlike prowess, and in enthusiasm for their cause, but also fortified by the possession of a language so rich in phonetic variety and so formidable in consonantal concentration as to strike terror into opponents of lesser linguistic capacity.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
"THOSE WHO SIT IN JUDGMENT."
In days of great national tension the public needs some coaxing to be got into the theatre at all. Our managers should either, at the risk of appearing callous, offer us a pure distraction from the strain of things or else provide something in harmony with the emotions of the time. But frankly I cannot find in the programme at the St. James's any apparent sign of consideration for present conditions. It is true that it supplies excellent entertainment for Mr. GEORGE ALEXANDER, who has plenty of occupation in a part that suits him well. But I was thinking, selfishly enough, of my own needs and those of other non-combatants.
I admit that the scene in West Africa was a diverting novelty. I had never before, to my recollection, met a native monarch from the Gold Coast, and I have pleasure in accepting the assurance of Mr. CROWTHER, Secretary for Native Affairs in this district, that they are like that. But it was impossible to feel any very deep concern as to what might happen to the damaged hero (Michael Trent) on his return to England after the failure of his rubber schemes. The best he could hope for, by way of consolation for being misunderstood, was to become a co-respondent in a suit brought by the chief sitter-in-judgment. Even so we might have contrived a little sympathy if the woman's fifth-rate environment had not made any community of tastes hopelessly improbable. For her, too, it seemed to us a poor business that the only encouragement she could offer him in the undeserved ruin of his career was to get it blasted all over again—and this time on a true charge—by running away with him.
But the rubber-man in the play was never a hero. There in his Gold Coast shanty we see his lover's young brother dying of fever under his eyes. Yet from the moment when he himself gets a touch of the same complaint he takes to brandy, and practically loses all further interest—at any rate of a coherent kind—in the fate of his protege. And at the end—though he seems to take a good deal of personal pride in the prospect—the only heroism that lies before him is the living-down of a sordid scandal in the divorce-court.
As Michael Trent, Mr. GEORGE ALEXANDER played excellently, and I have nothing to say against either the quality or the quantity of his work, except that in the First Act the tale of his experience in the Beresu forest, which began with a very natural air, developed into something like a recitation. He might almost have been Mr. ROOSEVELT, in a mood of exaltation, describing his river to the Geographical Society. That clever actress, Miss HENRIETTA WATSON, had to play a difficult part as Trent's lover, in a vein that, I think, is new to her. She did it well, though she seemed to start on a note of intensity which left her too little margin for the time when she really needed it; her appeal, too, was rather to our intelligence than our hearts. Mr. NIGEL PLAYFAIR, waiving his gift of deliberate humour, showed himself a master of the petty meannesses of a certain phase of suburban banality. Mr. VOLPE presided, with the right rotundity of a rubber company's chairman, over a very spirited meeting of indignant share-holders. And, finally, nothing became Mr. REGINALD OWEN so well as the manner of his dying.
* * * * *
Victoria was very young and very, very wise. She knew all about the slavery of the marriage-tie, the liberty of the female subject, and high-sounding things of that sort, and kept books of advanced thinking secretly under her mattress—where her little brother found them and thought them dull, and her mother found them and thought them rather funny. Victoria's theory was that all marriages ought to be preceded by a trial trip, but it was her sister Gail who had the pluck to put this theory into practice. She insisted on her young man, Peter, eloping with her on the night before their wedding. Peter, a simple gentleman with a mouth permanently open, was reluctantly persuaded. Whereupon Christopher, the best man, engaged to Victoria, insisted upon Victoria also living up to her theory and eloping without clerical assistance—which she did almost as unwillingly as Peter. The two couples meet at midnight in an old moorland cottage rented by an artist called Max (no, not the one you think), whereupon two important things happen:—
(1) Gail decides in about twenty minutes that she loves Max, not Peter. (2) Victoria decides that she hates trial trips. So they all five go back together, and, after a lot of "Tut-tut-what-the-blank-upon-my-souls" from the military stage-father, they sort themselves out again and get married properly—Peter being left over with a cold in the head.
The author, Miss RACHEL CROTHERS, has not strained herself severely in writing Young Wisdom, and the result is a pleasantly innocent little play, which, thanks to the Misses MARGERY MAUDE and MADGE TITHERADGE as the two sisters, and Mr. JOHN DEVERELL as Peter, gave us all a good deal of pleasure. Miss MAUDE had a part with a little comedy in it for once, and she played it delightfully.
* * * * *
MEDITATIONS ON MUSHROOMS.
We were playing the ancient and honourable game of acrostics and we had to think of and describe a word bounded on the West by the initial E, and on the East by the final H.
"That which you can never have of mushrooms," was one of the descriptions. It was, of course, guessed at once—"Enough;" and could there be a truer compliment to this strange exotic delicacy, which costs nothing but a walk in an early autumnal morning and is more choice than the rarest flavours ever designed by the most inspired of chefs? For certainly there has never been enough of them. I, at any rate, have never had enough. The thought of mushrooms missed must add pathos to many a death-bed.
It is a terrible moment when the dish comes in and one rapidly notes the disparity between the paucity of its contents and the vast and eager anticipation of the company. For it is useless to attempt to conceal greed when mushrooms arrive. A certain amount of dissimulation has mercifully been given by a wise Providence to all of us for the lubrication of the cogs of daily life; but it does not extend so far as this. And particularly so if the mushrooms have been fried in butter. Stewed they are not of course to be undervalued, especially if one dares to soak one's bread in the juice; nor even reposing in tragic isolation on Juan Fernandezes of toast; but the real way is to fry them in butter. As I say, it is a terrible moment when the dish arrives and the faces of the guests are studied; but should there be one present, or—more ecstatic moment still—two, who confess to a dislike of this perilous fungus, then what an access of rapture by way of compensation! Truly wise hostesses have been known to murmur something about toadstools and risk, as an encouragement to the doubters; or if they don't their husbands do. It is however no real good! Even with two defaulters the dish does no more than stimulate desire; whilst such is its power of fascination that consummate gourmets have been known to express no dismay at the possibility of poison being there, a death so won being worth dying.
Mushrooms, to win such homage as this, must be picked in the fields and cooked at home. The forced mushrooms which grow under the shelf in the greenhouse or in a corner of the cellar lack something of divinity; while there is not a restaurant chef in the world who has not a long record of ruined mushrooms to his name. No sooner does a public cook get at a mushroom than it begins to deteriorate. When the chef comes in at the door the savour flies out of the window. It is a point of honour with him. When therefore I said that one can never have enough mushrooms I meant at home.
It is an injustice to the mushroom to eat it as an adjunct to other food; while there is one meat which in alliance it renders unwholesome. The odd thing is that every one differs as to what this meat is; but my own hazy recollection says mutton. Still that prohibition is not for us, who know the only way in which mushrooms should be eaten: fried, with bread and butter, and the butter spread too thick.
* * * * *
It is rumoured that the freedom of Hunstanton is to be conferred on the KAISER.
* * * * *
Illustration: THE BULL-DOG BREED.
Officer. "NOW, MY LAD, DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE PLACED HERE FOR?"
Recruit. "TO PREVENT THE HENEMY FROM LANDIN', SIR."
Officer. "AND DO YOU THINK THAT YOU COULD PREVENT HIM LANDING ALL BY YOURSELF?"
Recruit. "DON'T KNOW, SIR, I'M SURE. BUT I'D HAVE A DAM GOOD TRY!"
* * * * *
"BUSINESS AS USUAL."
Corkey is the School Attendance Officer and a terror to every boy in the neighbourhood. He looks at the truant and says fiercely, "Where was you?" Then he wags a savage finger at him. "Yes, you was," he says, "you was, you know you was. I caught you in the hact." No boy has ever been known to withstand him.
Yet Corkey has a heart.
William Frederick Wright is our chief boy scout. In the first great days of the war, William was on duty at a railway bridge up the line. Local fame placed him somewhere between FRENCH and KITCHENER. Sent to round up the truant, Corkey reported in glowing words, "Guarding his country."
A second week's absence produced the same report. Then business instinct began to war with patriotism in the breast of Corkey. During the third week he once more looked the culprit up.
His report was grim and terse. "Warned him," he wrote.
On the following Monday William sadly returned.
* * * * *
Ere our lesson to the KAISER, Self-anointed Lord of Earth, Left that furious monarch wiser Re our troops' intrinsic worth, Frankly, I had thought you flighty, Callous to the very core; Lovely?—yes, like Aphrodite; Nothing more.
Later, when you slaked your thirsting For an apron, cuffs and cap, Long before the war-cloud, bursting, Made a mess of Europe's map, Though your mind showed some improvement, Lady, I conceived you had Joined a purely social movement For a fad.
Now the scales at length uplifted From my eyes in you reveal, Verily, a woman gifted With the power to help and heal. So I send, for shame, these verses Where you brave the battle's brunt, One of England's noble Nurses At the front.
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
I always open a new book by GERTRUDE ATHERTON with a pleasant grace-before-meat sensation of being already truly thankful for what I am about to receive. And it is hardly ever that I am disappointed. I do not mean to tell you that her latest story, which bears the attractive title Perch of the Devil (MURRAY), will eclipse the record of all that has gone before; but it need not do that to be well worth reading. It is a tale of mining life, set against a background of claims and veins and drifts and ores—things that I for one delight to read about because of their infinite possibilities, the romance of the gamble that is in them. There is plenty of this gamble in Perch of the Devil (the mountain township where the miners lived). Gregory Compton, the hero, makes his pile all right, and has some rare moments in doing it. He would have been happier if he could have enjoyed prosperity, when it came, for its own sake and for that of his pretty wife. But, though he bestowed upon her all the luxuries that successful mining commands—frocks and cars and European travel—it was another woman, Ora, who had his heart. And unfortunately she was the wife of his partner. It is with this quartette of characters that Mrs. ATHERTON works out her tale, an unusually small cast for a story of 373 pages; but you will hardly need to be told with what sympathetic and subtle skill she depicts them. Her art is, as always, extraordinarily minute and close. The two women especially are made to live before us with a great effect of actuality. She has wit, too, of a dry, rather grim, kind. I liked her comparison of Gregory's emotion on finding himself in love with Ora to that of a small boy despising himself for a second attack of measles before he discovers the later complaint to be scarlet fever. You must read this book.
* * * * *
In no industrial survey of the present situation have I seen any reliable estimate of the probable output of patriotic romance. Yet the figures seem likely to be impressive. One of the earliest samples is before me now. It is called The Gate of England (HODDER AND STOUGHTON), with the sub-title, A Romance of the Days of Drake, and is in every way true to its admirable type. What I mean by this is that it contains everything that you expect and are glad to find—a Virgin Queen, imperious and quick of retort, with a generous eye for the claims of gallantry; a hero who simply could not be more heroic; villains (of Spanish name, priests, murderers, all a regular bad lot), and the right proportion of female interest and humorous relief. Need I give you the details? How the hero, Captain of the Queen's body-guard, saves Her Majesty's life (a scene with a genuine thrill in it) and is rewarded by her. How he goes in command of an expedition against Channel freebooters, and finally ends up as an agent of the British Intelligence Department, finding out things about the army of His Grace of Parma, then at Dunkirk awaiting conveyance by the Spanish fleet. He seems, however, to have been something of a failure in the way of intelligence, as by lack of this the hero managed to get himself and his companion imprisoned for spies (which indeed they were), and was only rescued by the intervention of DRAKE as the god from the machine. A pleasant, if undistinguished, tale that will be enjoyed by the young of all ages. It is a minor point, but when one finds the hero called Christopher Stone, and another character rejoicing in the name of Gabriel Ray, it is hard to acquit the author of some poverty of invention. His own name (I had almost forgotten to mention) is MORICE GERARD; and he has done better work.
* * * * *
Pan-Germanism (CONSTABLE) is a seasonable cheap reprint of a study of that egregious creed by ROLAND G. USHER, an American Professor of History. With an almost cynical candour and detachment the author analyses the origins, assumptions, justifications and pretensions, and foreshadows with some insight the miscalculations, of those who have essayed to direct the destinies of modern Germany. It is as well that this essay comes from a neutral pen; it would else be discredited as a freak of prejudice. Pan-Germanism, as here seen, is the reductio ad absurdum of the doctrine that all is fair in war—and peace. It is no less than blank anarchy, philosophic and practical, and indefinitely less workable as a theory of international life than that of the so long discredited Sermon on the Mount. The honest Briton can find here solid justification of his cause. Perhaps it is not altogether unwholesome that our national withers don't entirely escape wringing. We are a little guilty, but much less guilty than our arch-opponent; so thinks this sober and wide-eyed critic.... Certainly, and the more significantly since it is without direction or intention of the writer, one sees behind all the tragedy of these dark weeks and of the long months and years to come the sinister picture of a man of no more than common earthly wisdom saddled with responsibilities that might well break the nerve of a council of the gods. Is it well, if the matches must be kept in the powder-magazine, to let the children in to play with them?
* * * * *
Illustration: PERHAPS THE LONDON PUBLIC WOULD FEEL MORE SECURE IF OUR GUARDIAN AIRSHIP WERE MADE IN THIS PATTERN.
* * * * *
That he will arm the German cat and dog The KAISER swears in language hot and heady; He leaves the swine out of his catalogue Because the swine, it seems, are armed already.
* * * * *
THE HORRORS OF WAR.
"Another German officer prays for a decisive engagement which will put an end to bloody encounters. One evening he and his fellow-officers had to share between themselves a meal prepared for their men."—Times.
The records of the war have furnished many instances of physical hardship, but none more terrible than this.