PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI
JUNE 7, 1916
A correspondent writes to tell us of a painful experience which he has had in consequence of his efforts to practise war-time economy in the matter of dress. The other evening, after going to bed at dusk in order to save artificial light, he was rung up by the police at 1 A.M. and charged with showing a light. It appears that he had gone to bed with his blind up, after throwing his well-worn trousers over the back of a chair, and that the rays of a street lamp had caught the glossy sheen of this garment and been reflected into the eagle eye of the constable.
According to a Reuter's message the Greeks are "much preoccupied" at the seizure of strategic positions on Greek territory by Bulgarian troops. The preoccupation, it is thought, should have been done by the Allies.
While he was on his way to make a Memorial Day speech at Kansas City, Mo., an open knife was thrown at Ex-President ROOSEVELT. Some of his bitterest friends in the journalistic world allege that it was just a paper knife.
Last week a number of professional fortune-tellers were fined at Southend for having predicted Zeppelins. The fraudulent nature of their pretensions was sufficiently manifest, since even the authorities had been unable to foresee the coming of the Zeppelins until some time after they had arrived.
The export of sardines in oil from Sweden is prohibited. Some resentment is felt at the order by the Germans, who with their customary ingenuity have for some time been importing india-rubber sardines in petrol without detection.
A soldier at Salonika has sent a live tortoise home to his relatives at Streatham. The tortoise, it is understood, was too fidgety to bear up against its surroundings and was sent home for a little excitement.
If, on the other hand, the tortoise was just sent as a souvenir we should discourage the practice. The tendency on the part of our soldiers in India and Egypt to send home elephants and camels as mementos of the localities in which they are serving is already putting something of a strain upon the postal authorities.
From "The World of Letters" in The Observer: "Some day there will be a cheap edition of Captain Ian Hay's war book, The First Four Hundred, and the sale will be immense.... The Blackwoods are old-fashioned modest people, who do not parade figures...." In the present case, however, we do not think they would have objected to the reviewer parading a further 99,600 in the title of IAN HAY'S book.
"The question of alien waiters in London hotels rests with those who patronise the hotels," says a contemporary. In other words, the pernicious practice which had grown up before the War of ordering German waiters with one's dinner must be abandoned before the hotel managers will remove them permanently from their menus.
Sir FREDERICK BRIDGE has come out with a strong denunciation of "devilry" in German music. How little we suspected, before the War opened our deluded eyes, that it was no mere lack of skill but the fierce promptings of a demoniac hate that marred our evenings on the esplanade.
From The Northern Whig's account of a visit to the Cruiser Fleet:—"It was a proud moment when from the deck of a fast-moving destroyer the long lines of the mighty Armada, with here and there the neat little pinnacles darting in and out, were surveyed." Obviously a misprint for binnacles.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE AMUSED AND THE AMUSERS.
All the windows of the V.A.D. hospital were brilliantly lighted up, and through them floated the strains of a piano and occasional bursts of laughter. Number One Ward, however, was quite empty except for my friend, Private McPhee, stalking majestically up and down as if on sentry go, wearing a "fit of the blues" several sizes too large for him and an expression which would, I believe, be described by kailyard novelists as "dour."
"Bong jaw, Mademawselle," he exclaimed, bringing his stick smartly to the salute, "or rather bong saw, tae be correct."
McPhee has affected the Gallic tongue since his sojourn in France.
"Why, what are you doing all by yourself, McPhee?" I asked. "Are you on duty?"
"Na, na," he said, "ah'm pleasin' masel just."
He paused and emitted a fierce chuckle.
"Ah'm gettin' even," he announced; "they wantit me to gang oot wi' a wumman."
"But whatever made them want you to do that, McPhee?"
"One o' thae nurses," continued the patient smoulderingly. "Ah fought at Mons, an' Ah fought at New Chapelle, an' Ah fought at Wipers, that's what ignorant pairsons ca' Eepers; and they wantit me to gang oot wi' a wumman. Why for did they no send me oot to fight the Jairmans in a peerambulator?"
"Oh," I said, at last enlightened. "But surely, McPhee, the nurses are very nice. And think how hurt they will be if you won't go out with them."
"Ah'm no denyin' some o' them are a' recht," said McPhee grudgingly, "but it's a maitter o' preenciple. An' I'm gettin' even wi' them the noo!"
He chuckled again.
"But how are you getting even?"
"Ah'm no dressin' up for them," said the vengeful one; "ye ken thae nurses are havin' a kin' of a bairthday pairty or the like, an' a' the men's dressed up to please them. An' if Ah canna gang oot to please masel, Ah canna dress oop like a monkeyback to please them.
"They wantit me to dress up for CHAIRLIE CHAPLIN. Man, the nurse was argle-barglin' a clock hour tryin' to persuade me to put thae claes on. 'Oh, do' (he squeaked), 'to please me, McPhee.' ... But Ah wouldna. Ah turnit ma face to the wa' an' wouldna speak a wurrd.
"Ye ken, the ward that gets the maist votes gets a prize, an' thae nurses is awfu' set on their ward winnin' it. Ah could ha' won it for Number One. Fine cud I. Ah can turn masel oot so's my ain brither couldna tell me from HARRY LAUDER. But Ah wouldna. If I canna gang oot——"
At this point the door opened and a dejected apparition in a ruff and petticoats, like a rumpled remnant of a pre-war pageant, drifted in and sat down on a bed.
"Ah weel, Queen Elizabeth, hae they dune wi' ye yet?" inquired McPhee sardonically.
Gloriana shook his head. "They're playin' musical chairs," he said gloomily, "so I thought as I wouldn't be missed for a bit. This thing round my neck does tickle, but my nurse'd be awful 'urt if I took it off."
McPhee emitted an ejaculation—Gaelic, I believe—usually expressed in writing "Mphm."
"Sma' things," he said, "please sma' minds.... Wha won the prize?"
"Number Two Ward," said Queen Elizabeth indifferently, "sweets. They're eatin' 'em. They'll have stummick-aches to-morrer.... But there—it's the least as we can do to let the nurses 'ave their bit o' fun."
Nurse Robinson hurried up to me on my way out. I thought her looking a trifle anxious.
"I'm feeling rather worried about one of my men," she began, "Private McPhee. I wonder if you saw him just now?"
"Oh, yes," I said, "we had quite a long chat."
"Oh, I'm so glad," she exclaimed, "I was really quite afraid he was wrong in his head. Do you know, he simply refused to dress up for the party ... and you know how they love dressing up! Such a good dress, too—CHARLIE CHAPLIN.... And I couldn't get a word out of him! Wasn't it strange?"
"Very," I said; "convalescents get all kinds of fancies, don't they? And was the party a success?"
"Splendid!" she said, brightening up. "Of course it's meant a lot of work. We've been toiling early and late at the costumes. But I'm sure it's worth it. It does please the poor fellows. Draws them out of themselves, don't you know."
* * * * *
From a Company notice-board at the Front:—
"Men must again be warned about matter they are putting in their letters. No places where we are or where we are going to are not to be divulged. Those having done so in their letters have been obliterated."
We had no notion that the Military Censorship was so drastic as that.
* * * * *
If you were a white rose Columbine And I were a Harlequin, I'd leap and sway on my spangled hips And blow you a kiss with my finger tips To woo a smile to your petal lips At every glittering spin.
If I were a pig-tailed Buccaneer And you were a Bristol Girl, A-rolling home from over the sea I'd give you a hug on the landing quay, A hook-nosed parrot that swore like me, And a brooch of mother-o'-pearl.
If you were a Donna of old Castile And a Troubadour were I, I'd sing at night beneath your room And weave you dreams in a minstrel's loom With rainbow tears and the roses' bloom And star-shine out of the sky.
If I were a powdered Exquisite And you were a fair Bellairs, I'd press your hand in the gay pavane; And whisper under your painted fan As I bowed you into your blue sedan At the old Assembly stairs.
If you were a WATTEAU Shepherdess And I were a gipsy lad, I'd teach you tunes that the blackbird trills And show you the dance of the daffodils, The white moon rising over the hills, And Night in her jewels clad.
If you were the Queen of Make-believe And I were a Prince o' Dream, We'd dress the world in a rich romance With Pans a-piping and Queens that dance, With plume and mantle and rapier glance And Beauty's eyes a-gleam.
If I were a Poet, sweet, my own, And you were my Lady true, I'd hymn your praise by night and morn With golden notes through a silver horn That unborn men in an age unborn Might glow with a dream of you!
* * * * *
Not Founder's Kin.
"The Archbishop of Perth has received news that he has been appointed an honorary Fellow of Cain's College, Cambridge."
Church Standard (Sydney, N.S.W.)
* * * * *
According to The Somerset and Wilts Journal the songs sung by the boys and girls of the Radstock National Schools on Empire Day included "Raise the Flagon High." We cannot but think this Bacchic theme a little unsuitable for our youthful songsters.
* * * * *
A WORKING HOLIDAY.
* * * * *
THE WATCH DOGS.
MY DEAR CHARLES,—They say we fight for money, do they? Well, so we do, and it's a long hard fight, and it's a good soldier who wins against that firmly entrenched enemy, the Command Paymaster.
When this War is over I shall take all my money out of the Bank of England and, putting it in a paper bag and not troubling to tie it up, I shall just hand it to the C.P.M. and say, "Hang on to this, will you, till I come back?" Mark my words: if I'm away for fifty years or so, every penny of it will be there when I return. It isn't his habit to part with other people's money entrusted to his keeping.
I have a sergeant, an honest upright man with no complications in his past, except that he is a Scot by birth and, happening to be there at the outbreak, enlisted in Canada. By reason of his uncertain movements he is unable to draw his food in the usual way, and yet insists, tiresomely, on being fed. So I said he'd better feed himself, and I claimed an authority for him to draw ration money in lieu of rations. Having weathered all the storms of an administrative correspondence, we eventually came by the authority itself. This was a great and happy day in the lives of myself and the forty-nine other officers who had by this time become involved in the affair. "Sgt. Blank is authorised to draw ration money in lieu of rations as from March 1st, 1916," I read to him, and sighed with relief. But it was a premature sigh. The trouble was only just beginning.
"One-and-eightpence a day, no less, you get, Sergeant," I said.
He was by now an old hand. "One-and-eightpence a day I am authorized to get, Sir," he corrected me.
A man not easily depressed, he took a cheerful view of the preliminary condition that he was paid monthly, in arrear. He proposed to spend his meal-times, during the rationless and moneyless days of March, reading the correspondence; quite enough to engage a man's whole attention during at least that period.
April 1st, 1916, duly arrived, and with it the renewal of the Sergeant's food question, "What, again?" I asked, irritably.
But the Field Cashier, who was first approached on April 3rd, wasn't in the least irritated. The subject interested him from the start. Moreover, argumentative by nature though he undoubtedly was, he was all anxiety to pay. First, however, there were one or two trifling formalities to be observed. "You see," he explained, "I can only pay out upon an authority."
With some confidence and no little pride we opened our despatch-case and produced our correspondence. He read every word of it; his pay corporal did the same, and very kindly explained it to us all as he went along. "This," they agreed, "is your authority to get the money. What I want is an authority to pay it." With expressions of mutual esteem we parted for the day, agreeing to give the matter our most earnest consideration during the week which must elapse before his return for the next pay-day.
We spent a busy week interviewing the forty-nine officers and anyone else we could get to listen. Only from the Camp Commandant did we get anything approaching enthusiasm. Camp Commandants are men of a patient disposition and a never-failing sympathy; what is better still, they invariably possess a Sergeant-Major of unscrupulous if altruistic cunning. We presented ourselves at the pay-office, on April 10th, armed with every possible form of literature, over the Camp Commandant's signature, which any reasonable Field Cashier could possibly want to read.
The Field Cashier was very pleased to see us; we were very pleased to see him. It was a most happy reunion. Only the Command Paymaster's presence was wanted to make the thing a success. The Field Cashier gave his address, dispensed with the Sergeant's presence at all future meetings, and postponed all further proceedings in the matter till April 17th.
If there was any lack of graciousness in the correspondence with the C.P.M., this was, I must at once say, on my side. He wanted to oblige, but, being human, he must have his authority.
I sent him the authority to get and the authority to pay. His reply was to the effect that both were perfectly delightful and in the very best taste, but what was wanted before he could authorize payment was an authority to have the account in England credited with the necessary fund.
For the first time in my life I positively loathed England.
Bit by bit, however, the C.P.M. softened; but he hadn't softened quite enough to satisfy our Field Cashier by April 24th. It was not till May 1st that he gave in altogether, and went so far as to send a chit to the Camp Commandant, authorising him to receive for me the Sergeant's money. Meanwhile we had discovered the private residence or funk-hole of our F.C., and conversations became daily.
The defect on May 2nd was that the Camp Commandant hadn't signed the right receipt.
The defect on May 3rd was that I hadn't got the right receipt to sign.
The defect on May 4th was—yes, hunger had got the better of the Sergeant. Though he had got the right receipt and signed it, he had signed it in the wrong place.
On May 5th I procured a light lorry, packed into it the Camp Commandant, the Sergeant, myself, as many of the forty-nine officers as I could lure, pens, ink and paper, and, by mere weight of numbers, I overcame the Field Cashier. He scribbled his initials everywhere, inquired in notes of what value we would take the money, and undertook, on his personal honour, that upon his very next visit to our headquarters (where the payment should properly be made) the notes should be ours. I asked the Sergeant triumphantly what more he could want. He saluted emphatically at the prospect of receiving, on May 8th, the money wherewith to buy his food for the period March 1st to April 3rd (inclusive).
It was indeed an achievement. Not only were all authorities in existence and duly authorised, but the authorities who had authorised the authorities were themselves authorised in writing to do so—and that authoritatively. However, it was satisfactorily established in formal proof that all persons concerned, including the Camp Commandant, myself and the Sergeant, were in fact the persons we were represented to be. Indeed the last lingering doubt was removed from the mind of the Field Cashier as to his own identity, and (hats off, gentlemen!) England had done her Bit. It was a reluctant bit, but somehow or other it had been done. The money was there. The Command Paymaster could authorise its payment; the Field Cashier could pay it; the Camp Commandant could receive it; I could obtain it; and the Sergeant could get it. May the 8th was fast approaching but——
If a man (especially when he's right away in Canada) will be in such a hurry to enlist that he cannot spare the time to think out things carefully, what can he expect? Shortly after midnight of May 7th to 8th a telegram arrived: "Reference my A.B.C. 3535; your X.Y.Z. 97S; their decimal nine recurring. Please cancel all payment of rtn. allce. to Sergeant Blank, Akk. Akk. Akk. This N.C.O. belonging to a Canadian unit should apply direct to Paymaster, Overseas Contingent, Akk."
The Sergeant said nothing, except to ask me how long I thought the War was likely to last?
Yours ever, Henry.
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
What our V.T.C.'s have to put up with:—
"Horsham was reached by tea time, the Company having marched upwards of sixteen miles, apart from its droll work."
Sussex Daily News.
* * * * *
"The Forestry Department of the township of Berlin reports that in the Grunewald, the public park between Berlin and Potsdam, 1,600 trees had been planted, thus changing about 400 acres of barren land into a forest."
The statement, like the forest, seems a little thin.
* * * * *
NURSERY RHYMES OF LONDON TOWN.
Seven Black Friars sitting back to back Fished from the bridge for a pike or a jack. The first caught a tiddler, the second caught a crab, The third caught a winkle, the fourth caught a dab, The fifth caught a tadpole, the sixth caught an eel, And the seventh one caught an old cart-wheel.
XVIII.—The Stock Exchange.
There's a Bull and a Bear, and what do you think? They live in a Garden of white Stocks and pink. "I'll give you a pink Stock for one of your white," Says the Bear to the Bull; and the Bull says, "All right!" They never make answer if anyone knocks, They are always so busy exchanging their Stocks.
* * * * *
A PARTIAL PAT ON THE BACK.
(Another Little Lecture on the War, after the style of "The Spectator" (abbreviated).)
It is no time to waste words in praise of anybody. We want to give and mean to give—we may perhaps even say that we hope to give—the Cabinet our countenance and some measure of our approval, but neither adulation nor encomium. The Editor of this journal is quite ready to allot the laurels when they have been earned; he will be found at his post handing them out when the time arrives. But not now.
It will be said, no doubt ... (Deletion of what will no doubt be said).
You may ask a man to put his whole strength into drawing a cork, but unless you are a fool you do not, while the operation is going forward, keep nagging at him because the cork is too firmly jammed, nor do you jeer at him for his lack of prescience in not having selected a bottle with a wider neck. You do not ask him strings of useless questions as to why he doesn't grip the bottle between his feet or get a purchase on it with his teeth. Above all you do not keep handing him tools, such as a pair of scissors or a button-hook or a crowbar. No. You concentrate earnestly upon the provision of an efficient corkscrew, if you ever hope to taste the imprisoned liquor. And meanwhile, "Don't trip him up" should be the order of the day; "Don't catch his eye" should be your watchword; "Don't get into the bowler's arm" should be your motto.
We shall be told, of course ... (Deletion of what we shall of course be told).
But to discountenance nagging is not to encourage laudation, adulation, or encomium, or even praise. These can wait. The cow, to change the metaphor, will generally give her milk all the better if she is not in the act of being stroked or patted or wreathed with buttercups.
We shall perhaps evoke the retort ... (Deletion of the retort, which will perhaps be evoked).
So much for the exact attitude which the Public ought to maintain toward the Government during the War. Unfortunately the Public, or rather a section of them, have done nothing of the sort. And that is the reason why, in spite of good intentions about adulation and all that, it has become absolutely necessary for us to step forward and present the Ministry with this unsolicited testimonial. The Government is not what it appears to be to cross-grained critics seeking for a Rotation of suitable scapegoats. Ministers are full of glaring faults. Most of them before the War were wickedly engaged in doing all sorts of damage to the country, appalling to contemplate. But since the War began they are doing what they can to retrieve a lurid past, and we believe that History (our intimate colleague who waits to endorse at a later stage the views expressed in these columns) will pronounce that they have displayed great qualities.
But stay! We are in danger of adulation after all. Let us freely admit that they are a sorry lot. We have never been blind to the fact. All the same, they have shown the greatest of all qualities in a crisis—dispassion almost amounting to torpor. There has never been about them the slightest trace of hustle or helter-skelter. They have steered with the greatest deliberation a course which they thought was the right one for the ship of state to take. To change the metaphor, having fixed the route of the national 'bus they have refrained from diving down side-streets. (But there we go again, running off into laudation. This will not do at all.)
To speak frankly, all the political tenets of the majority of the Cabinet are such as can never receive anything but bitter hostility from this publication. We can't help it. There is a gulf fixed, that is how it comes about. But on the other hand we must not let this view prevent us—even though, after all, we are guilty of eulogy—from recognising their sterling worth. They are indispensable to the navigation of the ship of state. To change the metaphor, we must be content to let the train be driven by the engine-driver and not insist upon interference by the dining-car attendant.
We are well aware that we lay ourselves open to the charge ... (Deletion of the charge to which we lay ourselves open).
Let us then trust the Government, even blindly. Let our motto be the immortal words in the "Hunting of the Snark": "They had often, the Bellman said, saved them from wreck: though none of the sailors knew how."
* * * * *
THE HAPPY ERROR.
As a rule I am not one to peer over shoulders and read other people's letters or papers. But when one is in a queue waiting for one's passport to be vised, and when one has been there for an hour and still seems no nearer to the promised land, and when it is the second time in the day that one has been in a queue for the same purpose—once in France and once in England—why, some little deflection from the narrow path of perfect propriety may be forgiven.
Moreover in other ways I behaved better than many of my fellow-travellers, for I stood loyally behind the man in front of me in my due place, and did not, as others did, insinuate myself from the side into positions to which, by all the laws of precedence and decency, they were disentitled. Indeed I even caught myself wondering whether, had I any preferential opportunities of getting through first, as some Red Cross and otherwise influential people had, I should make use of them. To take any advantage of this weary waiting line of suspects, of which I was one, would have been almost monstrous.
So, standing there all patiently and dejected, moving forward a foot or so every four or five minutes, no wonder that I found myself reading the embarkation paper which the gentleman in front of me had filled up and was holding so legibly before him.
He was tall and solid and calm and French, with a better cut coat than most Frenchmen, even the aristocrats, trouble about. He was broad-shouldered and erect, and I was piqued to find him, for all his iron-grey hair, five years younger than myself. His name was—never mind; but I know it. His profession was given as publicist—as though he were Mr. ARNOLD WHITE or Sir HENRY NORMAN, although, for all I know, Sir HENRY NORMAN may by now be a Brigadier-General. His reasons for visiting England, given in English, were in connection with his profession. But after that his English broke down; for when it came to the question what was his sex, how do you think he had answered it? I consider that his solution of the difficulty was an ample reward to me—and to you, if you too have any taste in terminological exactitude—for my fracture of a social convention. The word he had wanted was either "male" or "masculine"; but they had evaded him. He had then cast about for English terminology associated with men, and had thought vaguely of master and mister. The result was that the line ran thus:—"Sex: Masterly."
And, looking at the publicist's soigne moustache and firm jaw and broad hands, I could believe it. But what an inspiration! And, dear me! what will the Panks, if there are any left, say?
* * * * *
"To Teachers and Business Ladies. Heathful Holiday in North Wales; brainy air."
Think what it has done for Mr. LLOYD GEORGE.
* * * * *
* * * * *
How often the kind of thing occurs that I am about to describe!
Four or five summers ago, before the world went mad, I was on one of DAVID MACBRAYNE'S steamers on the way to a Scotch island. Among the few passengers was an interesting man, with whom I fell into conversation. He was a vigorous, bulky, very tall man, with a pointed grey beard and a mass of grey hair under a panama, and he was bound, he told me, for a well-known fishing-lodge, whither he went every August. He had been a great traveller and knew Persia well; he had also been in Parliament, and one of his sons was in the siege of Mafeking. So much I remember of his affairs; but his name I did not learn. We talked much about books, and I put him on to DOUGHTY'S Arabia Deserta.
I have often thought of him since and wondered who he was, and whenever I have met fishermen or others likely to be acquainted with this attractive and outstanding personality I have asked about him; but never with success. And then last week I seemed really to be on the track, for I found that my new neighbour in the country has also had the annual custom of spending a fortnight or so in the same Scotch island, and he claims to know everyone who ever visits that retired spot.
So this is what happened.
"If you're so old an islander as that," I said, "you're the very person to solve the problem that I have carried about for four or five years. There's a man who fishes regularly up there"—and then I described my fellow-passenger. "Tell me," I said, "who he is."
He considered, knitting his brows.
"You're sure you're right in saying he is unusually tall?" he inquired at last.
"Absolutely," I replied.
"That's a pity," he said, "because otherwise it might be Sir GERALD ORPINGTON. Only he's short. Still, he was in Parliament right enough. But, of course, if it was a tall man it's not Orpington."
He considered again.
"You say," he remarked, "that he had been in Persia? Now old Jack Beresford is tall enough and has plenty of hair, but I swear he's never been to Persia, and of course he hasn't a son at all. It's very odd. Describe him again."
I described my man again, and he followed every point on his fingers.
"Well," he said, "I could have sworn I knew every man who ever fished at Blank, but this fellow—— Oh, wait a minute! You say he is tall and bulky and had travelled, and his son was in the Boer War, and he has been in Parliament? Why, it must be old Carstairs. And yet it can't be. Carstairs was never married and was never in Parliament."
He pondered again.
Then he said, "You're sure it wasn't a clean-shaven bald man with a single eyeglass?"
"Quite," I said.
"Because," he went on, "if he had been it would have been old Peterson to the life."
"He wasn't bald or clean-shaven," I said.
"You're sure he said Blank?" he inquired after another interval of profound thought.
"Absolutely," I replied.
"Tell me again what he was like. Tell me exactly. I know every one up there; I must know him."
"He was a vigorous, bulky, very tall man," I said, "with a pointed beard and a mass of grey hair under a panama; and he went to Blank every August. He had been a great traveller and knew Persia; he had been in Parliament, and one of his sons was in the siege of Mafeking."
"I don't know him," he said.
* * * * *
"Foreign gentleman desires English lady to correct him, during one hour every morning, from 9 to 10."—Bournemouth Daily Echo.
There is one foreigner whom innumerable English ladies would be delighted to correct; but he is no gentleman.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"BIOLOGY AT THE FRONT."
To the Editor of "The Times."
SIR,—I am encouraged by reading the very interesting letter which appeared in your issue of May 29th under the heading, "Biology at the Front," and dealt with the habit acquired by French poultry of imitating the sound of flying shells, to relate an experience which recently befell me. I was seated at breakfast "Somewhere in France," and had ordered, as is my custom, a boiled egg. When it was brought to me I proceeded to open it by giving it a smart tap. The egg immediately exploded with a loud report, and the contents were scattered in all directions. Those at table with me at once threw themselves prostrate on the ground, and one, whose olfactory nerves were excessively developed, exhibited every symptom of being gassed. On questioning the innkeeper we learnt that the egg had been laid some weeks before by a hen in the neighbourhood of the Front. I had previously noticed that it was elongated in shape, the small end being pointed and the base end nearly flat, while the whole was cased in a shell.
The continuance of this imitative habit would be a strange perpetual memorial of the Great War—particularly for Pacificist politicians.
Yours, &c., Darwinian.
The Ashpit, Egham.
* * * * *
My gifted nephew Eric Till just before the War Was steeped in esoteric And antinomian lore, Now verging on the mystic, Now darkly symbolistic, Now frankly Futuristic, And modern to the core.
Versed in the weird grivoiserie Affected by VERLAINE, And charmed by the chinoiserie Of MARINETTI'S strain, In all its multiplicity He worshipped eccentricity, And found his chief felicity In aping the insane.
And yet this freak ink-slinger, When England called for men, Straight ceased to be a singer And threw away his pen, Until, with twelve months' training And six months' hard campaigning, The lure of paper-staining Has vanished from his ken.
For now his former crazes He utterly eschews; The world on which he gazes Has lost its hectic hues; No more a bard crepuscular Who writes in script minuscular, He only woos the muscular And military Muse.
Transformed by contact hourly With heroes simple-souled, He looks no longer sourly On men of normal mould, But, purged of mental vanity And erudite inanity, The clay of his humanity Is turning fast to gold.
* * * * *
"THE ROAD TO RAGDAD."
Not even LITTLE WILLIE could think of a better way.
* * * * *
"SECOND-HAND HEARSE Wanted; body must be up to date and reasonable."
Bristol Times and Mirror.
And not insist on a brand-new outfit.
* * * * *
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
Monday, May 29th.—When Mr. ANDERSON alleged that a certain firm, desirous of getting its employes exempted, had "hospitably entertained" the members of the local tribunal at its works, we felt that we were on the fringe of a grave scandal. A picture of the tribunal replete with salmon and champagne rose before the mind's eye. But when we learned from the Ministerial reply that the refreshment alluded to consisted of "tea and bread-and-butter" the vision faded away. Those innocent viands could not connote corruption.
A propos of tribunals, the House learned with delight that the military representative at Middlesbrough is Mr. HUSTLER HUSTLER. Obviously the Government have at last discovered "the man of push and go" for whom they were looking a year ago.
Mr. MCKENNA was a little short-tempered this afternoon. He first descended heavily upon Mr. SAMUEL SAMUEL, who had suggested that it was time to issue another War Loan, instead of borrowing so heavily upon Treasury Bills. The hon. member, he declared, had no right to speak for that mysterious entity, "the City." When Sir F. BANBURY, who indubitably has that right, endorsed Mr. SAMUEL'S appeal, Mr. MCKENNA took refuge under a point of order—rather an exiguous form of shelter for a Minister of the Crown.
Tuesday, May 30th.—The uncertainty of the Volunteers as to whether they are regarded by the War Office as a very present help in time of trouble or as a confounded nuisance will hardly be removed by Lord KITCHENER'S speech. True he said many nice things about them, and particularly about the behaviour of the Dublin corps during the insurrection, but when it came to a tangible recognition of their usefulness he had very little to offer. All the money available was required for the Army. The Volunteers must be content with such part-worn equipment and old-fashioned weapons as he could find them.
On the Consolidated Fund Bill Mr. FELL and other Members for East Anglia represented very poignantly the woes inflicted upon their constituencies by the air and sea raids. Fishermen and lodging-house keepers were alike deprived of their livelihood. Could not the Government do something for them, either by billeting soldiers or by direct grants-in-aid?
Mr. HAYES FISHER in reply exuded sympathy at every pore. The previous speakers had, as he said, painted "a deplorable picture of gloom," and he laid on the colours from an even more opulent palette. But on the question of actual relief he was painfully indefinite. Billeting—that was a question for the War Office; grants—they were a matter for the Treasury. The East Anglers who thought their fish safely hooked had to go away empty.
Wednesday, May 31st.—Not content with having laid sacrilegious hands on the clock, the Government have now deranged the calendar and kicked Whit-Monday into August. But it is all in the good cause of piling up shells against the Bosches, so the House cheerfully approved the PRIME MINISTER'S announcement.
For some days there have been rumours of an impending attack upon Lord KITCHENER, to be led by Colonel CHURCHILL. Perhaps that was why Mr. TENNANT, who moved the Vote for the War Office, decided to get his blow in first. His short speech began with a jibe at his critic's strategical omniscience, though it is not true that he referred to him as "the right hon. and recently gallant gentleman"; proceeded with a denial of most of his assumptions, and ended with a high tribute to LORD KITCHENER'S prevision in raising a great army to cope with a long war.
Colonel CHURCHILL did not pick up the gage thus ostentatiously thrown down, but some of his friends were less discreet, and developed a close-range assault upon LORD KITCHENER. The PRIME MINISTER is never seen to greater advantage than when he is defending a colleague, and he declared that the WAR SECRETARY was personally entitled to the credit for the amazing expansion of the army.
Unofficial tributes were not wanting. Sir MARK SYKES asserted that in Germany the WAR SECRETARY was feared as a great organiser, while in the East his name was one to conjure with; and Sir GEORGE REID declared that his chief fault was that he was "not clever at circulating the cheap coin of calculated civilities which enable inferior men to rise to positions to which they are not entitled."
Thursday, June 1st.—In moving that the House should at its rising adjourn until June 20th, the PRIME MINISTER felt it necessary to remove any impression that the Government, while asking everybody else to sacrifice their Whitsun holiday, were themselves going junketing.
Like Old TOM MORRIS, who rebuked a would-be Sunday golfer by saying "if you don't want your Sabbath rest the links do," he pointed out that the continuous sittings of the House threw a double burden not only upon Ministers—one of whom, Mr. RUNCIMAN, has unhappily broken down—but also upon the permanent officials. Even Members of Parliament, he slily added, might be under a misapprehension in supposing that constant attendance at the House was the best way in which they could discharge their duty to their country in time of war.
The Nationalist Members are doing their best to "give LLOYD GEORGE a chance." True, they ask an inordinate number of questions arising out of the hot Easter week in Dublin—when, according to the local wit, it was "'98 in the shade"—but otherwise they have sternly repressed any tendency to factiousness. Yesterday, when a freelance sought to move the adjournment of the House in order to denounce the continuance of martial law in Ireland, not a single other Member rose to support him; and to-day, though Mr. DILLON could not resist the temptation to make a speech on the same subject, he showed a refreshing restraint.
Only once—when he declared that "if you can reach the hearts of the Irish people you can do anything with them; but they will not be driven, and you cannot crush them"—did his voice approach that painfully high pitch which irreverent critics have been known to describe as "Sister Mary Jane's top-note."
Mr. ASQUITH in reply was sympathetic but firm. The Government were not deaf to the plea for leniency which had been addressed to them by all Irish representatives, by Sir EDWARD CARSON as well as by Mr. REDMOND. But they could not give an undertaking that there should be an end of the courts-martial. As for the persons deported from Ireland, for whom Mr. DILLON had specially appealed, it would be more humane in their own interests not to bring them to trial at once, for that would mean a crop of convictions and sentences which would increase instead of allaying the alleged irritation in Ireland.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Mr. JOHN O'CONNOR developed a really ingenious argument. To show that martial law ought now to be dropped he mentioned that if he attempted to hold a recruiting meeting in his constituency his life would not be worth half-an-hour's purchase. Members who were thinking of spending the recess in Ireland were greatly impressed.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
Sir Geoffrey Pomfret, "that almighty man, the county god," claimed to exercise the same divine right over the souls of his village that he exercised, in the matter of breeding, over the bodies of his cattle and pigs. Nothing, I think, has brought the present War more closely home to my bosom than the humours of this feudal relic—taken in all seriousness by everyone, including the author. It seems almost inconceivable that Mr. VACHELL's play deals with conditions that still survived only a few years ago. Yet the Squire's devotion to the science of eugenics establishes its date as quite recent. It was his sole taint of modernity; and indeed where his own son's marriage was concerned he omitted to apply his scientific principles, and made a choice for him in which no regard was paid to eugenics, but only to established social traditions.
At first the play opened up prospects of a pleasant gaiety. A love scene, conducted in a rich Western brogue, between the Squire's footman and his still-room maid, and the embarrassment caused by her eagerness to learn the philosophy of "eujanics," were full of promise. It was confirmed by the appearance of Mr. AINLEY, whose manner reminded us of his many triumphs in the art of eccentric detachment. His part—the title-role—was that of Sir Geoffrey's faithful butler, on such familiar, though respectful, terms with his master that the two sipped port together in the former's room in broad daylight while discussing family matters. They took an unconscionable time about it, but, as I said, it promised well. However, Mr. VACHELL had other designs than our mere amusement. We were not to have our comedy without paying for it with our heart's blood. Very soon the shadow of melodramatic pathos and mystery crept over the sunny scene. Fishpingle takes a box from a cupboard and glances at a miniature and a bundle of letters. There is illegitimacy in the air, and a lady near me in the stalls confides to her neighbour that "he's the Squire's half-brother." I can't think where she got her information, for the rest of us never learned the facts of the mystery till the very end of the evening, and even then the details of Fishpingle's origin only transpired (as they say) under extreme pressure arising out of his dismissal by his master on the strength of a violent disagreement about fundamentals.
Sir Geoffrey's father, it seems, had before his marriage run away with a girl not of his own rank, who had generously refused to spoil the family tree by marrying him; and Fishpingle was the result. You might judge from the peculiarity of his surname that the matter was taken lightly by his parents. But you would be wrong. His mother died when he was born, and his first name (for I cannot call it a Christian name) was Benoni, which, being interpreted, means "the child of sorrow." Sir Geoffrey's grandmother, who had discouraged the legal adjustment of the relationship between the lovers, had tried to repair matters by educating Fishpingle above the obscurity of his irregular birth; hence his comparative erudition, rare in a butler.
Now the opening of the play had put me into a mood which was not the right one for the reception of this extract from a deplorable past. Some comedies would be all the better for a little tragic relief; but this was too much. Mr. VACHELL had no business to give his play a title like Fishpingle. He should have called it "Nature's Nobleman, or The Tragical Romance of a Faithful Butler's Birth," and then I might have known what to expect. As it was I felt aggrieved. It was not, of course, a question of asking for my money back at the doors (critics, to be just to them, never do this in the case of a complimentary seat), but I felt I had a right to protest against this attempt to harrow my heart-strings, attuned as they were to the key of comedy, with a painful drama dating back to more than half a century before the rise of the curtain, and with its chief actors all dead. And the irritating mystery in which it was wrapped only made things worse. Further, I suffered a considerable strain on both my head and my heart in consequence of obscure hints (vaguely involving a photograph on his mantelpiece) as to the reason why Fishpingle remained a bachelor to the bitter end.
But I am ashamed to appear flippant, for Mr. AINLEY played with exquisite feeling and a fine sincerity. And I have to thank Mr. VACHELL for giving us some excellent studies of character—not character developed before our eyes by circumstance (except perhaps a little at the last), but admirably observed as a kind of fixture to be taken with the house.
And if the play is not quite on the high level of Mr. GALSWORTHY'S The Eldest Son, which it faintly recalls, it is much more worthy of Mr. VACHELL'S gifts than the poor thing, Penn, which died so young. Also he is very much more fortunate this time in his cast. Miss MARION TERRY, as Lady Pomfret, was a pattern of sweet graciousness; and Mr. ALLAN AYNESWORTH was at his happiest as Sir Geoffrey. And the two pairs of lovers, Mr. CYRIL RAYMOND and Miss MAUD BELL above stairs, and Mr. REGINALD BACH and Miss DORIS LYTTON below (they were really all of them on the ground floor, the butler's room being the common trysting-place), served as delightful examples of natural selection—both on their own part and that of the management—and were as fresh and healthy as the most eugenical could desire.
* * * * *
Daddy Long-Legs is a pleasant American sentimental comedy made by JEAN WEBSTER out of her very jolly book, and not so sticky as some of our importations of the same general type. The four Acts are phases in the development of Judy (or Jerusha) Abbott, orphan; and, as normally happens in book-plays, development is extremely abrupt. Act I. shows us Judy as the drudge of the orphanage breaking into flame of rebellion on the day of the visit of the trustees. Naturally the trustees are all trustees pour rire, except one real good rich man, Jervis Pendleton, who admires the orphan's spirit, and decides that she is to have her chance at his charges; but is on no account to know her benefactor.
In Act II., a year later, Judy is not merely the most popular but the best dressed girl in her college. She still dreams about her unknown benefactor, whom she calls Daddy Long-Legs, and assumes to be a hoary old man. Pendleton comes to Commem., or its equivalent, to have a peep at his ward, and loses his heart. In the Third Act, three years later, our heroine is a famous author, and Pendleton, coming (still incog.) to propose, is refused by a Judy who has taken to worrying unduly (and not altogether convincingly, if you ask me) about her lack of family. And, of course, in Act IV., wedding bells.
Miss RENEE KELLY has a charming personality, and a smile which alone is worth going to see. She trounced the matron and the incredible trustees with a fierce fury, and seemed to have easy command of the changes of mood and tense which her fast-moving circumstances required. A pretty twinkling star. Mr. CHARLES WALDRON is a skilful actor. If he, perhaps, grimaced a little too much by way of not letting us miss the obvious points of the little mystery, he made as admirable a proposal of marriage as I have ever heard on the stage (or off it for that matter, with perhaps one exception); but to suppose that so accomplished a lover would accept a mere mournful shake of the head as a final refusal is simply too absurd. Miss FAY DAVIS made quite a little triumph of gentle gracious kindliness out of one of those potentially tiresome explanatory parts without which no mystifications can be contrived. Miss KATE JEPSON is a comedienne of rich grain, and gave a very amusing study of the hero's old nurse. Miss JEAN GADELL, that clever specialist in dour unpleasant stage women, made a properly repulsive thing out of the matron of the orphanage. Mr. HYLTON ALLEN scored his points as a comic lover with droll effect. If the distinctly clever children of the home (Judy excepted) had been effectively put on the contraband list I should not have worried. They were unduly noisy (for art, not for life perhaps), and they overdid their parts, being not only rowdy in the absence, and abject in the presence, of authority, but different kinds of children—not merely the same children in two moods.
Altogether a pleasant play pleasantly and competently performed.
* * * * *
"CABINET LEEKAGE."—Daily Paper.
Now why, we wonder, do they spell it that way?
* * * * *
Alleged Cannibalism in the German Navy.
"The prisoners got the same food as the submarine crew. Here is the bill of fare: Breakfast consisted of coffee, black bread, submarine commander and he pilot."
* * * * *
"Jimmy Wilde, the fly-weight champion, took part in two contests at Woolwich on Saturday, winning them both with great ease. Darkey Saunders, Camberwell, was beaten in three months."—Burton Daily Mail.
The reporter also seems to have been knocked out of time.
* * * * *
"If the area of the garden cannot be increased, the quantity and quality of the crops should be improved by the extra hour of daylight."—The Times.
For this discovery our contemporary is hereby recommended for the famous Chinese Order of the Excellent Crop.
* * * * *
"A letter sent on Friday saying, 'We are starting a central mess for 1,200 men on Monday,' and asking: 'Can you send cooks?' brings as a reply 24 trained women cooks, who roll up their sleeves and cook breakfast for the number stated inside 12 hours!"
What was breakfast to some must have been supper to others.
* * * * *
MUSINGS ON MILK-CANS.
When I travel up to London by an early morning train Or return into the country when the day is on the wane, At the smallest railway station There's a dreadful demonstration Which causes me unmitigated pain.
I'm aware that milk is needed for our infant girls and boys; That it aids adult dyspeptics to regain "digestive poise"; But I've never comprehended Why its transport is attended By the maximum of diabolic noise.
I admit the railway porter who can deftly twirl a can In each hand along the platform is no ordinary man; But what kills me is the banging And the clashing and the clanging As he hurls them in or hauls them from the van.
Now if some new material for these vessels could be found— Non-metallic and in consequence a silencer of sound— There would be within our borders Fewer nerve and brain disorders And more of moral uplift to go round.
I know a dashing journalist, a credit to his trade, Who's always in the thick of it whenever there's a raid. Bombs of various sorts and sizes He describes and analyses, But he can't endure a long milk-cannonade.
I've written to our Member, Dr. Philadelphus Snell, To ask a question in the House—I think he'd do it well— If our cows' nerves should be mangled By the way their milk is jangled; And, if he doesn't play, I'll try GINNELL.
* * * * *
(The German Emperor and the Crown Prince.)
The German Emperor. Sit down, won't you?
The Crown Prince. Oh, thanks, I rather prefer standing. One's legs get so cramped in a motor-car.
The G. E. Sit down!
The C. P. Really, I——
The G. E. SIT DOWN!!
The C. P. Oh, if you're going to take it like that, I'll—yes, yes, there I am. Are you happy now?
The G. E. I don't know why I tolerate this impertinence from a whipper-snapper like you. If I did my duty——
The C. P. I know what you're going to say: if you did your duty you'd have me arrested and packed off to prison. Isn't that it? Yes, I thought so. You want to be like old FREDERICK WILLIAM. He had FREDERICK THE GREAT sentenced to death, and, by Jove, he all but had the sentence carried out too. It was a deuced near thing. FREDERICK WILLIAM was mad, you know—as mad as a hatter, and——
The G. E. Stop it. I will not have you add to your other misdeeds the crime of irreverence against one of the greatest and worthiest members of our royal House.
The C. P. Well, it's my House as well as yours. I dare say you regret that, but there it is, and you won't alter it by glaring at me and threatening me with your moustache. I'm glare-proof and moustache-proof by this time.
The G. E. What have I done to deserve such a son?
The C. P. If it comes to that there's another way of putting it. What have I done to deserve such a father?—that's what I might ask; but I'm too respectful, too careful of your feelings. And what's my reward? You're always nag-nag-nagging at me, morning, noon and night. Why can't you give it a rest?
The G. E. This is beyond endurance. But it has always been the same from the time you cut your teeth until now—no filial piety, no consideration for your mother and me; only a cross-grained selfishness and bad temper. What happened in India?
The C. P. Oh, if you're going over that old story again, I'm off.
The G. E. Donnerwetter noch einmal! Sit still, I tell you. I say again, what happened in India? You never thought of ingratiating yourself with the native chiefs. You couldn't even keep your engagements or be punctual. All you thought of was running after some girl whose face happened to take your fancy. I might as well have kept you at home or sent you to London. What a creature to be a Crown Prince!
The C. P. (wearily). There you go again. But I protest against such treatment. I'd far rather be back before Verdun with old VON HAeSELER grandmothering me all over the place.
The G. E. I wonder you dare to mention the word Verdun in my presence.
The C. P. Why shouldn't I? I didn't appoint myself Commander of the Verdun armies. You did that, and I've done my best to obey your orders and those of the High Command. If the French fight well, and if we lose thousands upon thousands of men, how am I responsible? Do be reasonable, my respected father. It was you who wanted Verdun. You won't be happy till you get it, and if you do get it now it won't be as useful as an old shoe without a sole. Anyhow, I'm bearing the burden, and if we succeed in breaking through it's you that will have the credit of it. If Verdun falls you'll be there in double quick time to take the salute in your shining——
The G. E. Silence, jackanapes!
The C. P. And if we don't get through poor old VON HAeSELER will have to retire. You'll send him your photograph in a gold frame to console him, just as you consoled BISMARCK. Pity there's no BISMARCK now. However, we can't have everything, can we?
* * * * *
"A damaged Zeppelin was observed to descend in the Thames Estuary, and it surrendered on the approach of patrol goat."
The Journal (Calcutta).
This incident is believed to be unique, but German submarines have no doubt before now been accounted for by our naval rams.
* * * * *
"We give these things long words. We talk of the 'triumph of organisation.' Is it not simpler to say—that when a man knows exactly what he wants done, exactly how every part of it should be done, and can pick a man for each task, and apportion his requirements to what is possible; and then, by far the most important thing of all, can so deal with the many under his command that each is most furiously anxious to do what the leader wants—why then, things go right."—Westminster Gazette.
The answer is in the negative.
* * * * *
"There is much matter for thinking over in the observations of this 'Student' who was at Sandhurst twelve years ago, and at Oxford later on, and seems to have got the best out of both forms of training—the unhasting and unresting labour of 'the Shop,' which aims only at making competent gunners and sappers, and the easy-going round of University life which enlarges one's sympathy and stimulates the imagination."—Morning Paper.
Judging by his description of Sandhurst we think that the writer of the above extract must also have been at Oxford, where the imagination gets stimulated.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE GREAT NEUTRAL.
I am the Neutral Journalist who wanders round Europe. I am absolutely impartial. I am absolutely trustworthy. My perfect integrity is vouched for at the head of all my articles. Pleasant it is to come over to London, sell one set of articles to the Boom Press and another to the Gloom Press, and then sit down with smiling face and begin an article for Germany: "I sit in a hovel amongst the ruins of Fleet Street, with the wreck of the armoured fort of St. Paul's in view. I hear a stir outside. A wild mob of conscientious objectors is beating a recruiting officer to death. Such things happen hourly in defeated Albion." My series of London, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham—all in ashes—has proved so successful that I propose to cover all the large towns and construct a Baedeker of ruins.
Yet I pride myself more on my work for England's Press. My German articles have all to be in the same vein. Only the Boom Press exists in Germany. But in England one can vary one's view and do artistic work. You must have read my story of the struggle for the last sausage in a Frankfort butcher's shop—how the troops intervened and the crowd attacked them, and how ultimately 1,400 civilians were mown down with machine guns—and the sausage was eaten by the General Officer commanding the Army Corps that suppressed the rising. You must also have seen my description of the KAISER—his white hair, bent shoulders, deathlike look as he passed, protected by his Guards from the wild fury of the Berlin mob. Of course I have another KAISER, the bright smiling man whose youth seems to have been renewed by the War, who waves his hand to the madly enthusiastic crowds waiting round the Palace for a glimpse of their divinity.
You must have read my secret interviews with distinguished Germans, who whispered to me that HINDENBURG had thrown down his sword and declared that if the useless slaughter did not cease he would march on Berlin. I have told you their promises of bloody revolutions and fierce risings. Also I have given you interviews with other distinguished Germans, who confided to me that now Germany could turn out one submarine and one Zeppelin every week-day and two on Sundays, and I have thrilled you with the details of the great trade war which will come directly peace is declared, when Germany will win back all her wealth by selling everything fifty per cent. below cost.
How my dinners vary in that strange Teutonic land! I pay twenty marks for two tiny slices of fish, a thin piece of indigestible potato bread, and a section of rancid sausage. At other times I spend two marks and get a delightful meal which could not be procured in a London restaurant for five shillings. I walk through Berlin and see scarcely a cripple or a wounded man. I let you know that ninety-five per cent. of German wounded, owing to the skill of German doctors, go back to the Front in a week. To other English readers I confide that all the maimed, wounded and blind are sent into the very centre of Germany. There are huge districts without a whole man in them.
Did you ask for the actual facts? I will give you one—and it is this: the only persons in Germany whose waist-measurements have increased in the War are the neutral journalists.
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
In Hearts of Alsace (SMITH, ELDER) your interest will be held less by the actual story than by the profoundly moving and poignant picture that Miss BETHAM-EDWARDS has drawn of life in the Reichsland under the increasing burden of Prussian tyranny. It is a picture that one feels to be absolutely true. The author writes of what she knows. This Alsatian family—old Jean Barthelemy, the city father, crushed and embittered by the fate of his loved Mulhouse; his two daughters and the circle of their friends within the town—all live and move and look longingly towards the West, as so many others must have done these forty and odd years past. The plot, what there is of it, concerns the clandestine love of Claire, the petted younger daughter of the Gley house, for an officer in the conqueror's host, whom she had met during a visit to Strasburg. Claire marries her Kurt, a shady worthless knave, and, as the book ends with the outbreak of war, is left to an unknown fate. Very stirring are the chapters that tell of the tumult of emotion that broke loose when the French guns were heard in Mulhouse; though here—as in all those war stories whose only satisfactory end is the final confusion of Kaiserdom—one feels that there is a chapter yet to be added. Miss BETHAM-EDWARDS writes with all the vigour (I might add all the garrulity) of intense personal feeling. Her book, as a race study, is a real contribution to the literature of the War.
* * * * *
These are days in which some measure of sacrifice is rightly considered the common duty of everyone, so long as it is sacrifice with an object. Perhaps this consideration gives me less patience with the preposterous kind, which, as a motive in fiction, usually consists in the hero inviting all and sundry to trample upon his prospects and reputation. This is what the chief character in Proud Peter (HUTCHINSON) did. He began by allowing it to be supposed that he was the father of his brother's illegitimate child, the bright peculiar fatuousness of which pretence was that thereby the said brother was enabled to marry, and break the heart of, the heroine, whom, of course, Peter himself adored. Also, many years after, when the child, now an objectionable young man, nay more, an actor, was pursuing another heroine with his unwelcome attentions, he very nearly spiked Peter's guns, on being threatened, by exclaiming, "I am thy son"—or words to that effect. Fortunately, however, there existed, as I had somehow known would be the case, a signed photograph that put all that right. Why, I wonder, is Mr. W. E. NORRIS always so sharp with the dramatic profession? Was it not in one of his earlier stories that somebody quite seriously questions whether a good actor can also be a good man? On the whole, as you may have gathered, while I should call Proud Peter a comfortable tale of the eupeptic type, I enjoyed it rather less than other stories from the same facile pen.
* * * * *
ARTHUR GREEN'S The Story of a Prisoner of War (CHATTO AND WINDUS) can be recommended to all who can still digest the uncooked facts. "I can swear," he says, "that all that is written is Gospel truth," but without any such assurance it would be impossible for even the most sceptical to doubt the writer's honesty. Wounded and taken prisoner in August, 1914, he suffered severely at the hands of the Germans, and his account of the camp at Wittenburg does nothing to decrease one's loathing for that pestilential spot. For many reasons it gives that a civilized race can sink to such depths of cruelty and cowardice. Perhaps the only people to whom it will give any comfort are those who have sent food and clothing to our prisoners. But I am glad that this book came my way, because I would choose to read facts of the War baldly written by a soldier rather than any war fiction composed by imaginative civilians. "Of course I'm not an author," he writes, and as far as grammar and spelling go it is not for me to contradict him, but he has seen and suffered, and in these days no one who has handled a bayonet need apologise for taking a turn with a pen.
* * * * *
Encouraged, no doubt, by the reception accorded to that cheery little volume, Minor Horrors of War, its author, Dr. A. E. SHIPLEY, has now followed it with an equally entertaining sequel in More Minor Horrors (SMITH, ELDER). This deals more especially with the pests attached to the Senior Service, and familiar to those who go down to the sea in ships—the Cockroach, the Mosquito, the Rat, the Biscuit-Weevil and others. Of each Dr. SHIPLEY has some pleasant word of instruction or comment to say, in his own highly entertaining manner. I like, for example, his remark about the mosquito (whose infinite variety is recognised in no fewer than five chapters), that, if he could talk, the burden of his song would be that of the guests at the dinner-party in David Copperfield—"Give us blood!" And I found good omen in the cockroach world on learning that Periplaneta Orientalis, or the common English sort, has P. Germanica thoroughly beat in the matter of empire-building. In short, Dr. SHIPLEY'S second volume, like his first, combines instruction with amusement, and is well worth its modest eighteen-pence to those on land who may wish to learn about the intimate associates of their dear ones who are defending them upon the sea.
* * * * *
"In the Midst of Life——"
"Good Greengrocer and Mixed Business, sure living; death cause of leaving."—Provincial Paper.
* * * * *