PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI
MARCH 22, 1916
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Portugal is now officially at war with Germany, and the dogs of frightfulness are already toasting "der Tagus."
At first the report that ENVER PASHA had gone to pay a visit to the tomb of the PROPHET at Medina caused a feeling of profound depression in Constantinople; but it is now recognised that there was no other course open to him, as MAHOMET was not in a position to visit the Pasha.
SVEN HEDIN is reported to be at Constantinople, on his way to the Turkish Front. It is supposed that he will undertake the writing of the official despatches, a duty to which the innate modesty of the Osmanli prevents him from doing full justice.
A salmon containing a label marked "U 100" was recently caught in the Avon. No trace of the crew has been found.
It has been discovered in Germany that General HINDENBERG is descended from CHARLEMAGNE, and an attempt by certain admirers of the Prussian General to visit the scenes of his ancestor's exploits has only been abandoned as the result of an unaccountable opposition on the part of the French.
"Bigamy," declares Mr. Justice Low, "is as low a form of crime as drunkenness." On the other hand there is this to be said for it, that it is seldom found, like drunkenness, to develop into a habit.
A large number of German barbers, it is said, have become naturalized since the commencement of the War, and are now engaged in capturing the trade from the British barbers, many of whom have been taken for military service. Not for nothing, it seems, did the KAISER in one of his famous speeches, "The razor must be in our fist."
Mr. TENNANT told the House of Commons last week that the War Office had 3,000,000 goat skins. As the statement has given rise to a certain uneasiness it should be explained that all the goats have been safely extracted.
Notwithstanding reports to the contrary, says an official German telegram, the new submarine warfare is in full swing. It should only be a matter of time before those responsible for it find themselves in a similar situation.
A draughtsman of Babylonian and Assyrian antiquities has been discharged by the British Museum in the interests of economy. The artist, it is reported, has already had several attractive offers of employment as a Parliamentary cartoonist.
Onions, we are told, have reached the unprecedented price of thirty shillings a hundredweight, and several of the old established onion bars in the City may have to close their doors.
It is useless, Mr. HUGHES warns his English admirers, to defeat Germany in the field unless adequate steps are also taken to stop her inroads upon the Empire's trade. What is wanted is, of course, a counter-stroke.
A well-informed neutral states that the Grand Admiral TIRPITZ'S unexpected retirement was caused by a rush of blood to the hands.
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Another Bulgarian Atrocity.
"The position in Monastir is intolerable, owing to the orgies of the Bulgarian comitadjis. The Greek refugees are in a pitiable plight, especially now the Greek consul has 1 ft."—Balkan News.
Thus crippled he cannot, of course, display his usual activity.
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THE KAISER ON KILIMANJARO.
[Correspondence in The Times has recalled the fact that Kilimanjaro, from whose neighbourhood the enemy has just been expelled, was included in German East Africa at the special desire of the KAISER (then PRINCE WILLIAM OF PRUSSIA). It appears that he took a peculiar interest in the fauna and flora of that district. Incidentally, the highest peak of Kilimanjaro (19,000 feet) is named Kaiser Wilhelm Spitze. The author of these lines does not claim a close acquaintance with the natural history and botany of this region, and cannot therefore vouch for the accuracy of his details.]
O mountain of the sounding name, Kilimanjaro! Almost as loud as my own fame, Kilimanjaro! Plucked from my Empire's jewelled hem I deemed you once the fairest gem In my Colonial diadem, Kilimanjaro!
Not for your height, though you are high, Kilimanjaro! And practically scrape the sky, Kilimanjaro! But for the beasts and birds and flowers That nestle in your snowy bowers I loved you best of all my dowers, Kilimanjaro!
In one of my Imperial jaunts, Kilimanjaro! I looked to penetrate their haunts, Kilimanjaro! It was among my dearest hopes To slay canaries on your slopes Or trap elusive antelopes, Kilimanjaro!
I had a passionate wish to snare (Kilimanjaro!) Your local beetle in his lair, Kilimanjaro! O'er precipices stiff with ice (Perils for me are full of spice) To cull your starry edelweiss, Kilimanjaro!
Alas! the lovely vision fades, Kilimanjaro! Never amid your musky glades, Kilimanjaro— Never shall I (Gott strafe SMUTS!) Surprise your monkeys gathering nuts Or chase your wombats' flying scuts, Kilimanjaro!
And when, as I suppose it must, Kilimanjaro! My spirit sheds its mortal crust, Kilimanjaro! They'll find beneath my mailed vest Your name indelibly impressed (Along with Calais) on my chest, Kilimanjaro!
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"With the use of the various kinds of periscopes we could see quite clearly every movement on the German side, and even hear them talking."—Daily Chronicle.
Try our new periscope, with telephone-attachment.
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From a sale catalogue:—
"Remains of Summer Waistcoats, from 3/11."
Nothing doing. Our motto is Vestigia nulla retrorsum.
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UNWRITTEN LETTERS TO THE KAISER.
(From Herr WOLFGANG OFFENMAUL, an actor).
Most Gracious Majesty,—How strangely and uncomfortably the Fates sport with us! It is but two years ago, I remember, that it came into my head to look forward to the far-off day when I should shake off the stage and all its agitations, its triumphs, its disappointments and even its jealousies and its quarrels, and should be able to live my own life in the pleasant and happy world of reality. But I put the thought by, for much still remained to me to be endured and achieved in my profession, and I thought that some day, if matters turned out favourably, I might have the supreme glory of impersonating Hamlet or Macbeth under the very eye of your Imperial Majesty and of noting that you were not displeased with the performance of one of the most devoted of your subjects. This hope, springing up in my breast, gave me new strength and a fresh joy in the often dull round of my daily task, for in matters of the stage your Majesty, being, as we often say among ourselves, the greatest actor of us all and having from the earliest years imbibed the love of the footlights and the limelight, is an incomparable judge of the true histrionic art, and a word of praise from you is worth columns and columns in the newspapers. It is to us as when a cobbler's boots are praised by a rival cobbler.
And there is another point which then kept me from giving way any further to my dreams of retirement from the theatre. Real life, so calm for the most part and so regular, is but a dull thing to those who live a fictitious life on the boards, in the midst of excitements and honour and crimes, with murder and sudden death awaiting them, as it were, round the corner. After Hamlet has seen his mother's death, has killed Laertes and the King and has himself expired, what is it to him to come to life again and to sit down, without his royal trappings to a supper of sausage and potatoes, while his wife sits by and darns his stockings and the baby begins to cry in its cot? So thought I, and resolved to continue my career of acting, though I acknowledged that some day, perhaps, in the very distant future, retirement might have its attractions.
All this was before the War broke out. When that happened I, like the rest, was seized and thrust into a uniform and made to remember my drill and was presented with a rifle and a bayonet. Finally, with my regiment I was marched off to the Front in France, where I still linger in daily expectation of death. Dreadful things have I seen, men blown into nothingness by shells, men pierced through and through by the steel, women murdered and worse than murdered, and children crushed under fallen walls—sights I cannot bear to think of, though they force themselves upon me and murder sleep. I was, perhaps, unduly contemptuous of real life, but now I abhor it and try in vain to put it away from me. I desire with a full-hearted longing to return to that life of imagination where the most dreadful bloodshed ends at about eleven o'clock every evening, without leaving any impression on those who take part. Yes, give me again the life of the theatre and remove far away this brutal scenery of trenches and shells and bombs and quick-firers and men summoned from peace and ease to cut one another's throats because a histrion KAISER has so willed it and none of his subjects dared to say him nay. To get away from this and never to return to it I would willingly consent to play the First Murderer in Macbeth for the remainder of my life. It would be an innocent and an honourable occupation compared with what I am forced day by day and night by night to endure.
Yours, in respectful despair, WOLFGANG OFFENMAUL.
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THE WATCH DOGS.
My dear Charles,—I am afraid you'll be worrying about me again, wondering why I'm lying doggo, what mischief I'm up to, or whether anything has happened to me. Something has happened, but I'm not quite sure myself what it is. Anyhow, I'll tell you all I know. It wasn't in the Gazette proper; it was in the "Memoranda." It referred to a Second Lieutenant (Temporary Lieutenant), intimating that he was to hold the acting rank of Captain while engaged in present duties, which looks to me as if they are giving nothing away but want to keep in with me till they have settled up matters with the Bosch. When the trouble shows signs of being about to end, they'll either make me a Temporary General and hand me over to the enemy as a sop, or else they will turn round on me and tell me that, being a Temporary Memorandum, I'm nothing at all; am I going quietly or must they put the handcuffs on me? As the saying is, "it ain't 'ardly safe"; at any moment one may find oneself in a bowler hat being jostled by the crowd and wholly estranged from Mr. Cox, of Charing Cross. Meanwhile I'm a Captain, or parading as such, and I carry in my pocket a leash of "crowns" and a yard of braid (with adhesive back) in case of further developments.
Talking of civilian hats, by the way, my particular class of soldier, never spoilt by over-fussing, has dismal expectations as to the finale. We feel that, when the other side sees light and is prepared to submit to judgment, with costs, we shall be the last to leave for home, and when we get there all the beer will be sold out.
Meanwhile I'm going along nicely, and by saying nothing but looking a lot I've created quite an air of importance around me, which induces all sorts of regimental officers to salute me at first sight and to wish they hadn't on further acquaintance. It's an ever-increasing difficulty, this matter of saluting: in a part of the world where there's a General round every other corner I can never make up my mind on the spur of the moment what to do about Majors and suchlike. Some like a salute, others don't. I have invented a gesture of my own which is entirely non-committal and gives satisfaction to both. Those who don't look for a salute put it down to an excess of geniality; those who do expect one put it down to ignorance combined with anxiety to please.
Only once has it got me into trouble so far. The occasion is worth mentioning, since I was at the time talking to a General in a public place. (Yes, there we were, talking away about nothing in particular, "conversing," I might say, just as it might have been you and myself passing the time of day. Very impressive). A Major, one of the expectant sort, came up from behind the General; when he was within distance of the august back he saluted it. It was one of those salutes which could be felt, but, as it happened, the General didn't feel it. The problem at once arose, what was I to do, with the Major's stony eye full upon me? The waggle, obviously, but in a modified degree, since it doesn't do to be fidgetting with your hands when you're being talked to by your elders and betters. I went through the motions, therefore, meaning them to mean that, though I was chatting with a General, yet I wasn't above saluting a Major. He mistook the movement, however, and thought that I thought that, because I was chatting with a General, therefore he'd saluted me! My goodness, we nearly lost the War that time!
But don't you believe all this talk about military discipline. Take the case of my own Colonel, for instance, a man who, before he took to staff work, had probably dug enough trenches, put out enough barbed wire and, generally, made enough mess of respectable agricultural land to earn for himself a special vote of censure from the United Association of French and Belgian Farmers. Now, there's a soldier, if ever there was one; but are his orders obeyed when they don't fit in with the convenience of his subordinates?
You shall judge for yourself. The other day he made up his mind, not casually or by the way, but in writing, duly signed, sealed and circulated, that "The moon will rise to-morrow at 4.43 A.M." Did the moon comply? No, Sir, it did not; I'm told it was absent from parade altogether. Did my Colonel put it under arrest? Did he even call for its reasons in writing? Again, no. On the contrary, he weakly gave in, saying that he'd got the time out of an almanack supplied by his Insurance Company, and that "the man from the Insurance" was to blame for sticking the pages together and getting him into an inappropriate month. What I say is an order's an order, and it is nothing to do with the moon where the Colonel gets his ideas from.
Call it fear or favour, I only know that when I'm informed that I am to rise at 5 A.M. to-morrow morning, and, with no intention of disobeying, I ask very quietly and very politely if they remember that this is March and not July, at the very least I shall be told that I ought to be ashamed of being a civilian instead of openly behaving as such. Yours ever, HENRY.
* * * * * ANOTHER INDISPENSABLE.
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"Any lady requiring Head of two Parlourmaids or Under Parlourmaid, we know of several."—Morning Paper.
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"Bombardier G. Dougherty, R.A.M.C. ... has been given the D.C.M. ... for twice repairing telephone wires under a terrific storm of fire."—Morning Paper.
Conscientious objectors will note the new rank and duty of R.A.M.C. men.
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"Two large jewel robberies in London, in which property to the value of several thousands of pounds has been stolen, are being invested by the police."—Morning Paper.
In Exchequer Bonds, no doubt. But we hope they have reserved a few pairs of bracelets for the thieves when they catch them.
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MR. JOHN'S PORTRAIT OF MR. GEORGE.
The generally favourable opinion of MR. AUGUSTUS JOHN'S striking portrait of MR. LLOYD GEORGE is not shared by everybody. The following criticism of the picture has reached us, and as it represents a point of view which, so far as we know, has not found sympathy in the Press opinions which have already appeared, we print it for the edification of the artist, the sitter and any others who may have a few moments to devote to the subject.
I should like to say (writes our correspondent) on behalf of myself and of many worthy members of my congregation that MR. AUGUSTUS JOHN has missed a great opportunity in painting his portrait of our greatest Welshman.
In the first place, surely it lacks dignity. In it Mr. LLOYD GEORGE, who is pre-eminently a man capable of looking you straight in the eye, is depicted as looking someone else obliquely in the eye. I would that his strong features had been accompanied by a direct and thoughtful gaze, instead of that petulant side-glance, which to all of us who know the smiling candour of the MINISTER OF MUNITIONS is so foreign an expression.
I cannot speak with authority about the sitter's raiment. At the same time I must register my dislike of these clothes, which appear to have the mud of the golf-links still fresh upon them. Surely the artist should have persuaded Mr. LLOYD GEORGE to wear his black coat and vest for the occasion.
Hanging from a cord is something in the nature of an aid to vision. I cannot determine whether it is a pince-nez or a monocle. The uncertainty is irritating. Is it possible that the MINISTER has taken to wearing a single eye-glass? If so, why has not the artist put it in the sitter's eye? And as to the hair—Heaven forbid that I should cast any reflection upon any man of Mr. LLOYD GEORGE's age possessing abundant locks; on the contrary, I congratulate him; but in all my experience I have never yet known a portrait to be taken without the sitter being requested first of all to brush his hair. Why has Mr. AUGUSTUS JOHN flown in the face of all precedent by neglecting this simple yet desirable precaution?
I feel very strongly that nothing in the portrait indicates the sitter's nationality, his profession, his love of home, his favourite recreation or his religious convictions. These, I venture to say, are grave omissions. The picture is sadly wanting in suitable accessories. If I had been painting it I should have put a simple yellow daffodil in the MINISTER'S buttonhole, and pictured through an open window a sunlit bed of leeks, with perhaps a goat gambolling among them. I should have represented the MINISTER OF MUNITIONS in his study practising putting with a small bomb. And on the wall should have been a life-size portrait of the Rev. Dr. CLIFFORD.
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"The elements so mixed" again.
"The air is the new element, and all the evidence suggests that we are at sea in it." Star.
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Le Mouton Enrage.
"Sheep, and also other wild animals, have a trying time in procuring their necessary food."
That's what makes them so wild.
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A Hero at Zero.
"Fish for the Canadian troops. The supply has been organised by Major Hughie Green, who is known as the 'Canadians' Fishmonger-General,' and has travelled in a frozen condition 2,000 miles across the Dominion."—Daily Mirror.
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"A young farm hand who appealed to the Coalville Tribunal for exemption yesterday, when asked whether an older brother could not take his place on the farm, replied that his brother's feet were too small for work on the land."—Morning Paper.
We hope that his own are not too cold for work in the trenches.
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"Mr. Mark Blow will be known henceforth as 'Mr. Mark.'"—Theatrical Paper.
The Blow may have fallen, but this British Mark shows no decline.
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THE NEW PATRIOTISM.
A public meeting, summoned under the auspices of the Candid Friends of England, has just been held at the Hall of the Grousers' Company, in Little Britain. The chair was taken by Mr. OUTHWAITE.
The Chairman, opening the meeting, said that the inception of the League was due to a number of public-spirited men who had come to the conclusion, very unwillingly, that the country was still insufficiently instructed as to the inherent and abysmal incapacity of every member of the Government. (Cheers.) It was true that certain sections of the Press did what they could to point this out, and there was also the noble, patriotic and self-sacrificing work carried on in the House at Question-time. (Loud cheers.) But he was sorry to say that there still remained a considerable and, alas! not wholly negligible number of persons in the country who hugged the quaint superstition that a Cabinet Minister could be earnest, capable and diligent. It was these benighted folk whom they desired to reach and convert. Not till every Englishman had been convinced that England was rotten could he (the speaker) and his friends rest content. (Frantic applause.) They were met to-day to listen to the views of various eminent gentlemen as to how best to spread this gospel.
Sir ARTHUR MARKHAM, who was received with cheers, said that no one who had followed his recent speeches could be in any doubt as to the turpitude and sloth of the men whom a mischievous caprice had set at the head of this country's affairs. He for one should never cease to clamour for their dismissal. He begged to move a resolution that in the opinion of that important and representative meeting a complete change of Government was instantly necessary. (A Voice: "Not only now, but always.") No doubt there was something in what that gentleman said, but for the present perhaps "always" had better be omitted. The essence of the truest patriotism was distrust of one's rulers and dissatisfaction with one's country. (Hear! Hear!).
Mr. AUSTIN HARRISON, in seconding, said that the finest heritage of an Englishman was freedom of speech, and the more that freedom became licence the finer the Englishman. (Cheers.) By freedom of speech he meant the right to say instantly whatever came into one's head, particularly if it appeared to belittle one's own country. Because one could not belittle England really. England was too great for that. But it was salutary to try. It was also valuable to our Allies, because it tended to prove to them how much in earnest and how united we must be.
A great sensation was now caused by the appearance of "An Englishman" from Carmelite Street. This gentleman, who, like the man who dined with the KAISER, desiring his anonymity to be respected, wore a John Bull mask and brandished an ebony cane, made the PRIME MINISTER the special mark of his attack. What, he asked, could be expected of a politician so crafty and lost to shame as to bid the House wait and see? Was it not the very essence of good statesmanship to blurt out everything at once? Only a craven time-server would say wait and see. Waiting was a contemptuous proceeding wherever practised, and seeing required eyes, which Heaven knows the PREMIER woefully lacked. (Cheers.) What right had an incorrigible hoodwinker such as Mr. ASQUITH to advise anyone to see? It was monstrous. Let the people get rid of this impostor without a twinge of compunction, and the sooner the better. As to swapping horses in mid-stream being unwise, perhaps it was, but it was not unwise in the way that waiting to see was. (Applause.)
Another masked gentleman, who was understood to be "Callisthenes" of Oxford Street, now rose to make a few useful suggestions. He said that as the only journalist who wrote what was practically the leading article in four evening papers every day, he surely was entitled to speak with some authority. The question was how to get it into the country's head that England's only chance for recovering her self-respect and winning the War was to cry stinking fish? (Loud cheers.) Well, the best way was to keep on saying it in and out of season. His experience had taught him that everything will bear saying not merely three times, but three thousand times and three.
Mr. AMERY said it was ridiculous to suppose that any Cabinet Minister wished the War to end or England to be victorious. The contrary was an axiom on which the whole future of his political creed was based. One had but to look at them to see how flabby and vacillating they were and how devoted to the pickings of office.
Mr. HOGGE said that the Chairman in his opening remarks had disregarded one of the most valuable media for spreading the blessed news that England was at her last gasp, throttled by place-hunters and parasites. That was the variety stage. It was wonderful what a good comic song could do. He had heard one only the night before, in which its singer had been vociferously applauded at the end of a verse which stated that there were now no German spies in England because they had all been naturalised and given War Office clerkships. That was the kind of home truth which the public appreciated and even paid their money to hear. There could not be too many songs of that kind.
Mr. BERNARD SHAW said that another way was to induce publishers to issue new and amended editions of those popular writers who had been betrayed by impulsiveness or short-sight into eulogies of England. He remembered several such unfortunate outbursts in the works of the national poet. There was, for example, that ill-balanced utterance of the dying JOHN OF GAUNT in praise of our little isle; but of course one could not expect the intellect to be at its best just before dissolution. Still, they would all agree that SHAKSPEARE would be the wholesomer without that passage. (Cheers.)
The Chairman then put the resolution to the meeting and it was carried unanimously. In bidding the gathering farewell the Chairman impressed upon them that their rule of life should be a constant and voluble mistrust of our leaders. It should be a point of honour with them to deny that the FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY could possibly know anything about the Navy, or wish it to succeed; that the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER could possibly know anything about finance; or the PRIME MINISTER have the elements even of common intelligence. (Loud cheers.)
The meeting then broke up singing either "For they (the Cabinet) are wholly bad fellows," or "Fool Britannia, Britannia's fooled and slaved."
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Fashions for Fathers.
"The bride was given away by her father, who was daintily gowned in a pale blue silk dress, with veil and orange blossoms lent by the bride's eldest sister."—Provincial Paper.
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"Very often it happens that a blank space is seen in the press, especially in the Sheung Po, the organ of the Seventy-two Guilds. It is surprising to see to-day's issue of that paper. A space, about one and a half feet long and six feet wide, is vacant. Only five words remain in that space, namely, 'Taken away by the Censor.'"—South China Morning Post.
Some of our censors should go to China. They would have real scope there.
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"The French Government emphatically and categorically denounce as lies many statements made in the German official reports on the fighting in the Verdun theatre. Although, they say, the Germans usually travesty the truth, they have not before issued such fragrant lies."—Provincial Paper.
Their offence is rank; it smells to heaven.
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DRESS "AS USUAL."
(A Protest from Mr. Punch.)
[The National Organising Committee for War Savings has issued an appeal against extravagance in women's dress.]
Certain ladies—just a section Of our spindle side— Swerving in a wrong direction, Dress have deified; And, as incomes grow more slender, Bring discredit on their gender By refusing to surrender Fashion for their guide.
Most of England's wives and daughters Play a noble part, In the very deepest waters Never losing heart; Danger and privation braving, Nursing, helping, toiling, slaving, Thinking vastly more of saving Than of looking smart.
Highly-paid officials slate us, Dwelling on the ills Which infallibly await us In our empty tills; But these frenzied fair ones, furious in the quest of the luxurious, Still pursue a most injurious Cult of frocks and frills.
True, our Ministerial teachers Fail us in the fight, For the practice of the preachers Sins against the light; Still "Two Wrongs"—for so the sages Crystallize the lore of ages Gathered at successive stages— "Do not make a Right."
Birds of Paradise are grateful Under skies serene; But the human type is hateful On a tragic scene; When the outlook's drear and cloudy Punch would rather see you dowdy Than extravagant and rowdy In your dress and mien.
True simplicity is tasteful; Think before you spend; Woeful want attends the wasteful In the bitter end; You who, when the world is mourning, All remonstrance lightly scorning, Only think of self-adorning, Sadden Punch, your friend.
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Let Sleeping Birds Lie.
"Someone had said it was 'far better to have the birds driven over one than to have to wake them up.'"—Scottish Paper.
* * * * *
"The Council of the Poetry Society has confirmed the appointment of Mr. Galloway Kyle as acting editor of the 'Poultry Review.'"
Now that official action has been taken we may expect an increase in the number of lays.
* * * * *
* * * * *
(A Military Episode in Two Scenes.)
Scene I.—The outskirts of a wood. Time, during an inspection of our Battalion "at its duties."
Second-Lieutenant Wood and his platoon are erecting a wire entanglement. To them enter Second-Lieutenant Brown in great excitement.
S.-L. Brown. I say——
S.-L. Wood. Run away, dear. No time for you. Brass hats expected in large numbers.
S.-L. B. I've lost my platoon.
S.-L. W. Have you looked in all your pockets, Freddy?
S.-L. B. I sent it up under the Sergeant, and he must have mistaken the place, strafe him! And I told the Adjutant I'd be the other side of this wood, doing Visual Training, when the General came round.
S.-L. W. (impressed at last). My hat, you're in for it! Look out, here they come.
Second-Lieutenant Brown fades into the landscape.
Enter the General and the C.O., with Staff-Captain, Adjutant and Sergeant-Major. The Platoon labours on and takes no notice. Second-Lieutenant Wood comes to attention and salutes. The General remarks on the fine physique of the men, inspects the wire entanglement and explains how he used to do it when he was a subaltern. Private Hogg, a recruit unused to Generals, stands gazing awestruck, but catches the Adjutant's eye and, gets on feverishly with his work. The cortege passes on, and the platoon heaves a sigh of relief and stands easy.
Re-enter Second-Lieutenant Brown.
S.-L. W. Go away, my good man; we've nothing for you.
S.-L. B. I say, like a good chap——They confer earnestly. Curtain.
Scene II.—The other side of the wood. Time, two minutes later.
Enter Second-Lieutenant Brown at the double with Second-Lieutenant Wood's platoon. He hurriedly gets it to work at Visual Training.
Enter General, with suite as before. The platoon carries on, taking no notice. Second-Lieutenant Brown comes to attention and salutes. The General praises the appearance of the men and explains how Visual Training was taught before the Crimean War. The Adjutant suddenly recognises Private Hogg and develops a nasty cough.
The General (to C.O. as they move away). But do you think, Colonel, that either of those smart young officers of yours would keep their heads in a sudden emergency?
The Adjutant restrains a natural desire to wink at the Sergeant-Major.
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* * * * *
NURSERY RHYMES OF LONDON TOWN.
Walking on the King's Way, lady, my lady, Walking on the King's Way, will you go in red? With a silken wimple, and a ruby on your finger, And a furry mantle trailing where you tread? Neither red nor ruby I'll wear upon the King's Way; I will go in duffle grey with nothing on my head.
Walking on the King's Way, lady, my lady, Walking on the King's Way, will you go in blue? With an ermine border, and a plume of peacock feathers, And a silver circlet, and a sapphire on your shoe? Neither blue nor sapphire I'll wear upon the King's Way; I will go in duffle grey, and barefoot too.
Walking on the King's Way, lady, my lady, Walking on the King's Way, will you go in green? With a golden girdle, and a pointed velvet slipper, And a crown of emeralds fit for a queen? Neither green nor emerald I'll wear upon the King's Way; I will go in duffle grey so lovely to be seen, And Somebody will kiss me and call me his queen.
* * * * *
"The depression in northern India has continued to travel eastwards and is to-day affecting north-east India.
Forecast: Some rain in the submarine districts of north-east India."
Amrita Bazar Patrika.
It's a wet life anyhow, and submarines were made to be depressed.
* * * * *
ARMLETS AND THE MAN.
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
Tuesday, March 14th.—Ministers as they passed through Palace Yard on their way to the House shuddered as they observed a long, black, wicked-looking motor-car, shaped like a torpedo. In this machine Mr. PEMBERTON-BILLING, the new Air-Member for East Herts, had done most of his electioneering. Now he had arrived to take his seat and, rumour said, to make his maiden speech. Would the Front Bench survive it?
If the new Member could have jumped straight from the steering-wheel into the Chamber, and with his eloquence still at white-heat have got his fulminating message off his chest, strange things might have happened. But fortunately or unfortunately the procedure of the House discourages these dramatic effects. For nearly an hour he had to wait and listen to Ministerial replies to questions which he must have found painfully trivial.
Even when the weary catechism was at last over there was a further delay. With great lack of consideration for the dignity of East Herts the PRIME MINISTER had been so careless as to catch a bad cold, and was not in his place. On his behalf, therefore, Sir EDWARD GREY made a statement regarding the entry of Portugal into the War. The gist of it was that the most ancient of our Allies has acquired a good-sized Fleet at no expense to herself, and that Germany is confronted by a new enemy in Africa.
At last the new Member was called upon to take his seat. Belonging to no party he could not, of course, enjoy the usual official escort to the Table. But, like another young man in a hurry who in somewhat similar circumstances preferred scorpions to whips, Mr. PEMBERTON-BILLING seemed quite satisfied with the ministrations of Mr. RONALD MCNEILL and Sir HENRY DALZIEL.
Dispensing with the usual period of rest and refreshment, he assumed his seat immediately after shaking hands with the SPEAKER. Who knew but that Mr. LOWTHER, recognising the anxiety of Members to hear the latest War news from East Herts, might call him at once?
Routine, however, was too much for romance. For an hour or more Mr. TENNANT rambled over the wide field provided for him, but without stumbling upon anything very fresh or startling, unless indeed it was the discovery that "Intelligence is a very delicate matter." This occurred in the course of a protracted description of what was being done to protect the country against air raids. The organisation of the anti-aircraft defences was now complete for London and was approaching completion for the country. But Mr. TENNANT hastened to add for Mr. BILLING'S benefit—the standard would be still further raised when more material was available.
When he was in the Government Mr. HOBHOUSE was not less economical of information in his official utterances than any of his Ministerial colleagues. Now that he is out of it he is all for full disclosure. Why had Mr. TENNANT said nothing of Gallipoli or Salonika, Loos and Neuve Chapelle? Why, if we were allowed to know that three million goatskins had been provided for the Army, might we not know how many men were going to wear them? In his view the result of the East Herts election was due to the Government having kept Parliament in the dark.
At last the stage was clear for Mr. PEMBERTON-BILLING, who, considering how long he had been kept waiting, made a creditable debut. He had, it is true, no startling revelations to make, or, at any rate, did not make them. His principal point was that we must exterminate the Zeppelins, and that we had aeroplanes enough and pilots enough to do it now. He would be delighted to introduce Mr. TENNANT to the men and the machines, while as for bombs he was prepared to lay them on the Table of the House. For a first performance it was quite good, even if not entirely equal to the advance-billing.
Wednesday, March 15.—I am rather surprised that none of the evening papers had the enterprise to come out to-night with a contents bill bearing the words—
"Great Attack on Portsmouth,"
for the legend would have been not only startling but unusually accurate. The House of Lords assembled this afternoon in the expectation of hearing important statements from the Earl of DERBY and Earl KITCHENER on the recruiting crisis. What it was at first compelled to listen to was the Earl of PORTSMOUTH giving his views on the Anglo-Danish Agreement. With dogmatic ponderosity he declared that the Agreement was losing us the friendship of the other Scandinavian countries, that it was not preventing goods getting into Germany, and that it ought to be abrogated forthwith.
I doubt if any of the Peers present had ever heard anything like the castigation which the Marquis of LANSDOWNE administered. Where did the noble Earl collect the kind of information that he had seen fit to pour forth? He seemed to have swallowed a lot of stories purveyed by people who were no friends to this country. There was not a word of truth in the suggestions he had made, and the Government, far from abrogating the Agreement, intended to maintain and develop the policy on which it was based. It was a great pity that the noble earl should have identified himself with an agitation that was neither wise nor patriotic.
Lord PORTSMOUTH'S family name is WALLOP; this afternoon he lived up to it.
At the present moment Lord DERBY is perhaps the most prominent man in the country next to the Prime MINISTER. Yet he is not a member of the Government. When to-day he rose from the Opposition benches to defend his conduct as Director-General of Recruiting and inspirer of the PRIME MINISTER'S famous pledge to married men, he illustrated the anomaly by the remark that, while he was doing his best to get that pledge fulfilled, Lord SELBORNE, who was a member of the Government, had been telling the farmers that he (Lord DERBY) did not speak with authority.
Later he did a second turn—this time in his capacity as Chairman of the Joint Air Committee. Quite the most satisfactory part of his reply was the announcement that Lord MONTAGU himself had consented to become a member of the Committee. It is, of course, contrary to all the traditions of the British Government to give a man a job which he understands already. But in war-time even the most sensational experiments must not be ruled out.
Thursday, March 16th.—The House of Commons is so constructed that no matter how often the party-system is expelled it will always return. In spite of the Coalition, or perhaps because of it, the old strife of Whigs and Tories has revived, though the lines of cleavage are quite different from what they were.
The new Tories are the men who believe that the War is going to be decided by battles in Flanders and the North Sea, and would sacrifice everything for victory, even the privilege of abusing the Government. The new Whigs are the men who consider that the House of Commons is the decisive arena, and that even the defeat of the Germans would be dearly purchased at the cost of the individual's right to say and do what he pleased.
Naturally these latter object to the shortening of the Parliamentary week, and to-day they took a division on the subject. Into the "No" Lobby flocked a motley crew—the champions of the single men who don't want to fight at all, the upholders of the married men who protest against being called upon to fulfil their engagement until every single "embusque" has been dragged out of his lair, and, paradoxically enough, the universal conscriptionists who would force everyone to serve, but are opposed to piecemeal compulsion. The Government carried their point easily enough by 128 votes to 67, but evidently have to reckon with a new concentration of forces which may be more dangerous in the future.
When the House of Commons passed the Bill prohibiting duelling it ought to have made an exception in favour of its own members. Nothing would have done more to raise the tone of debate, for offenders against decorum would gradually have eliminated one another. This afternoon, for example, Sir HAMAR GREENWOOD twitted Mr. HOGGE with sheltering himself under the patriotism of a soldier stepson, and Mr. HOGGE retaliated with the suggestion that Sir HAMAR ought to be with his regiment. A hundred years ago this would have meant a meeting in Hyde Park and a possible vacancy at Sunderland or East Edinburgh. To-day it merely brought a rebuke from the CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES.
Again, in the days of our rude fore-fathers Sir JOHN SIMON would have felt constrained to send a challenge to Mr. WALTER LONG. The late HOME SECRETARY had delivered an attack upon the Government which Mr. LONG declared would be heartily welcomed in Berlin. For a much less serious accusation than that the Duke of WELLINGTON called out Lord WINCHELSEA. Sir JOHN SIMON has no such resource, and must continue to suffer under the imputation—a little consoled, no doubt, by the companionship of Mr. HOGGE.
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"Young Lady, competent, wishes drive taxi, commercial or private car; preferably a doctor; advertiser has had three years' surgical training."—Provincial Paper.
She should be useful, whatever happens.
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AT THE PLAY.
"Kultur at Home."
Each of the authors—Mr. RUDOLF BESIER and Mrs. JOHN SPOTTISWOODE—has personal knowledge of the home-life of the Bosch; and their excellent sketch of Prussian manners might have served usefully as a warning to us if we could have seen it a few years ago. But at this time of day, after nineteen months' experience of the enemy, I doubt its utility as a source of illumination.
It would be futile to represent the Prussian officer as an angel in the house, for we have long since learned to know him as a devil in the field. And it is almost as futile to picture his prodigious self-conceit, his vile taste in dress and furniture, his conjugal infidelity, his habit of treating his women-folk as menials, since these vices are human and venial in comparison with what the War has revealed. Anyone might easily hazard the conjecture that the murderers of Belgium had never entertained too fastidious a respect for womanhood; and after the destruction of Louvain and Ypres it is mere bathos to insist that the perpetrators of these outrages against art had previously cherished a Philistine affection for antimacassars and plush sofas.
A common difficulty with me when I witness stage tragedies arising out of a marriage of uncongenial types is to understand how the couple ever came together. And so here, when the English girl, Margaret Tinworth, in face of poverty and parental disapproval, marries a Prussian officer in a small garrison town, and then finds all sorts of unbearable conditions in her surroundings, one asks oneself, and fails to discover, what kind of glamour he had cast over her that most of these conditions, already patent enough in the society in which she had moved, had contrived either to escape her notice or to appear tolerable. True, she had gone to Germany to find release from the solitude of a motherless home, where an unsympathetic father had no attention to spare from his art treasures; but, with so admirable an aunt as Lady Lushington to chaperon her in her own country, it was not easy to see why she must needs resort to exotic consolation.
However, I do not propose to set my judgment up against that of the authors, male and female, in regard to the credibility of her taste in men, since, after all, the heart of a woman is a thing past finding out. But I do venture to dispute the reasonableness of her ultimate attitude in conditions where this enigmatic organ was not directly concerned. For you are to understand that in the Third Act the brutality of her husband and the insults hurled at England, which she was expected, as a Prussianised wife, to approve, had become more than she could bear; and in the last Act we find her in a Luxembourg hotel on her way home to England under the care of Lord and Lady Lushington. It is the 4th of August, 1914; Germany has declared war; German regiments are marching through the town; England has not yet spoken. The girl is in grievous doubt as to whether she ought not, in the changed circumstances, to return to her Prussian home. One could easily appreciate her attitude if she had argued, "I am German by marriage; though I have lost my love for my husband it is my duty, when he is risking his life for his country, the country of my adoption, to go back and watch over his home for him." But that was not her argument; her argument was that England—the England that she had so stoutly defended against German ridicule and contempt—had been false to her honour as the sworn friend of France, and that it was her business to go back to Germany and eat humble pie. Whatever the audience may have felt about these reflections on the conduct of England, they must at least have been irritated by the fantastic improbability of the girl's motive. Very fortunately at this juncture the voice of the paper-boy is heard in the street conveying the thrilling news of our tardy entry into the quarrel; and a glad Margaret, having recovered her respect for her native land, consents to return home to it.
Miss ROSALIE TOLLER played the part with great charm and sympathy, and with a lightly-worn grace and dignity that were pure English. Serving as a foil to her in taste and deportment and social tradition, the Elsa Kolbeck of Miss DOLLY HOLMES-GORE was extraordinarily German—a quite remarkable performance.
Miss MARIANNE CALDWELL as Frau Major Kolbeck, the hostess of Margaret, made a most lovable drudge; and Miss DORA GREGORY had no difficulty in showing how the wife of a Prussian Colonel, though in her husband's eyes her main purpose in life may be to minister to his inner man, can wield an authority little less than that of the All-Highest over the wives of the regiment. Female society in the little garrison town was further represented by Miss MAY HAYSACK and Miss UNA VENNING, who played, with more than enough vivacity, a brace of giggling flappers, very curious about the more private portion of the bride's trousseau.
Miss VANE FEATHERSTON, as Lady Lushington, had too little to do, and did it most humanly; and Mr. OTHO STUART illustrated with a very natural ease the kind of simple friendship, as between a man and a woman, which it takes an Anglo-Saxon intelligence to understand.
The officers, though there might have been more of the blond beast about them, were sufficiently Prussian, and Mr. MALCOLM CHERRY, as Margaret's husband, indicated with much precision the change in the behaviour of a German gentleman, after marriage, towards the lady he has consented to honour with the thing he calls his heart.
Apart from the one or two doubtful points which I have referred to, the play went well, though it seems a pity that so much insistence should have been laid upon the lack of culture (English sense) in households where the strictest economy was essential. One was conscious of a rather painful note of vulgarity in the attitude of Margaret's father, where he sniffs at the sordid environment of her German home. Impecuniosity is of course a prevalent trouble among German officers in small garrison towns; but one would have preferred that if bad taste in dress and furniture had to be ridiculed the laugh should have been at the expense of a richer society. Finally, I wonder a little that the authors, who must have known better, should have helped to perpetuate the popular misconception by which the German word "Kultur" is regarded as the equivalent of our "culture."
"A Kiss for Cinderella."
No well-fed person need ever quite expect to understand one of Sir J. M. BARRIE'S mystery plays at a single sitting. That's one of his best trumps, of course. But it always seems to me that, like so many writers of genius, he never quite knows what are his best and what his poorest things, and just tosses them to us to sort out for ourselves. In this new instance, to work off a piece of strictly professional criticism, it is clear that both prologue and epilogue are much too protracted. It is a sound dramatic canon, which not even our most brilliant chartered libertine of stage-land can flout with impunity, not to keep your audience in too long a suspense while preparing your salient theme, nor, after quickening their interest and firing their imagination, to chill with the obvious or distract with the irrelevant.
Sir JAMES'S Cinderella is maid-of-all-work to the housekeeper of a retired humourist turned painter (Mr. O. B. CLARENCE), a vague peppery sentimental old bachelor with an ideal of which a full-sized cast of the "Venus di Milo" stands for symbol in his studio. Cinderella is dumpy and plain (that is the idea which Miss HILDA TREVELYAN tries loyally but without much success to suggest to us), but she has the tiniest possible feet. Regretfully admitting the superiority of Venus's "uppers" she takes heart of grace, knowing from history how important in princely eyes is her own particular endowment. She is always asking odd questions, such as "why doctors ask you to say ninety-nine" and tailors measuring gentlemen's legs call out "42-6; 38-7." She also has a queer penchant for stealing boards, betrays some connection with a firm, Celeste et Cie. of Bond Street, and knows some German words. Which concatenation of facts justifies the old bachelor in consulting a friendly policeman (Mr. GERALD DU MAURIER). Bond Street turns out to be a mean street, Celeste et Cie the name under which Cinderella trades, dealing in medical treatment, shaves, friendly counsel or dressmaking all at a penny fee. Also she keeps in a Wendyish sort of way a creche for orphan babes in boxes evidently made of the borrowed boards.
Our policeman, coming to work up his case, loses his heart. But Cinderella's mind is preoccupied with her ball. Ill from overwork and underfeeding, she wanders into the street, falls faint—and dreams her ball. Whereupon our authentic magician, coming to his own, lifts a curtain of her queer little mind and gives us an all too short glimpse of the state function, with an h-dropping, strap-hanging King and Queen out of a pack of cards; their disdainful Prince, who is none other, of course, than our policeman done into a bewigged Monsieur Beaucaire; a moody and peremptory Peer, Lord Times; the Censor (black-visored, with an axe); a grotesquely informal Lord Mayor; a bevy of preposterous revue beauties with their caps set at the Prince, against an all-gold background with the orphans babbling in a royal box above the throne. Of course you have the heroine's belated entry, her triumph and her abrupt flight, and the voice of the distraught Prince crying after her, which is of course the voice of her own policeman, who finds her and takes her to hospital. Then convalescence in a cottage (alleged, really a palace) by the sea and the final declaration of "romantical" policeman's love.
Sir JAMES banked heavily on Miss HILDA TREVELYAN as his Cinderella. The English tradition of manufacturing parts to fit your players, instead of training players to create your parts, was never more shrewdly followed. She was most adorable in the exquisite business of arranging the offer of her policeman's hand. Mr. DU MAURIER'S bobby was as delightfully honest, plain-witted, heavy-booted and friendly a fellow as ever held up a bus or convoyed a covey of children across a street. But as the Prince, who was "so blasted particular," he had a chance of showing that rare talent for the grotesque which no part has given him since his inimitable Captain Hook, I wish indeed we could see more of him in this rich vein. Mr. Clarence was the vague old gentleman (or the vague old gentleman, Mr. Clarence) to the life. Miss HENRIETTA WATSON, as the hospital doctor, bullied her patients and probationers in the approved manner of medical autocrats of the gentler sex. An excellent Lord Mayor (Mr. LISTON LYLE), an irrepressible wounded Tommy by Mr. A. E. GEORGE and an aristocratic probationer by Miss ELIZABETH POLLOCK, were notable performances. Many others also ran—and ran well. The piece should do the same.
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"Lady wishes join another in dogs' boarding home; trial first as paying guest."
Bournemouth Daily Echo.
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"The wedding was a quiet one. The bridegroom's party, who motored from Colombo, were met some distance away from the Walauwa by a procession of forty-five elephants, dancers, etc., and was conducted to the bride's residence, where they were welcomed. Shortly after the arrival of the bridegroom's party, a wedding breakfast was served, seventy-five sitting down to a sumptuous repast."—Ceylon Observer.
We wonder how many elephants, dancers and guests are required for a noisy wedding, This, we note, was a quiet one.
* * * * *
THE GREAT PETITION.
["A notice has been received by parents whose sons are at Rugby School that, owing to increased cost of living, an extra week's holiday is to be given in the Easter vacation so that boarding-house masters should not feel the strain."—Letter to "The Daily Mail."]
Chapman major put down The Daily Mail and looked round No. 11 study. "Think of those Rugby blighters having all the luck," he protested.
"These prices will ruin old Dabs, and a jolly good job. The old beast needs ruining." This from Dyson, occupied in writing out two hundred Greek lines (with accents).
"The Head," said Chapman major, "may be a beast, but he's a bally patriot. He swishes twice as hard on a day when the War news is bad. I felt the fall of Namur more than anyone in England. What do you chaps say to getting up a petition to him stating that under the distressing circumstances we are ready to make sacrifices and give up two weeks' school?"
"Rot," cried Dyson. "Hundred-and-seventy more to do before call-over. I'd rather go on ruining Dabs."
But even Dyson, when once his lines were finished, caught the infectious spirit of patriotism, and, like the rest, appended his signature to the following prose composition from the laborious pen of Chapman major:—
"To the Rev. the Head Master,—Whereas the Great War for the liberties of Europe involves sacrifices from all, and the rise in prices must cause considerable difficulties, hitherto endured with noble self-effacement, to house-masters, We, the undersigned, feel that a corresponding sacrifice on our part is necessary, and respectfully pray that we may be permitted to give up two weeks of the Easter term, thus allowing ourselves more time for war-work in our respective homes and relieving our house-masters from an overwhelming burden."
The petition was formally handed to the Head.
For two days he gave no sign. Then on the morning of the third day he arose to address the school:
"In the dark days through which we are passing, when the liberties of Europe tremble in the balance ("Hear, hear," from Chapman), it gratifies me very much to receive a petition from the school suggesting that in consequence of the financial strain there should be a prolongation of the customary Easter vacation. It pleases me to see that the financial responsibilities of the house-masters are appreciated by their charges. Would that our Government had the same patriotic horror of extravagance! However we must consider the post-bellum conditions. All the intellect of England will be needed after the War ("Double holiday task," prophesied Dyson). Yet I feel that steps must be taken on the lines of your petition (an enthusiastic friend here patted Chapman on the back). So, after consultation with the house-masters, I have arranged that in future only two courses will be served at dinner, and that there will be a reduction in the number of breakfast dishes. Thus without your being handicapped in the intellectual contest your laudable and patriotic desire to reduce expenses will be met. I may repeat that your consideration for your house-masters, who perform useful and necessary functions, has gratified me."
Number 11 study that night was barricaded against all comers. A howling crowd in the corridor was demanding the blood of Chapman major.
"Didn't I tell you to keep on ruining Dabs?" said Dyson. "Now the old beast will be wallowing in Exchequer Bonds bought out of our sausages and suet."
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"Cook-General Wanted ... Comfortable home ... No washing or windows."
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(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
Even those who have overloaded their shelves with books about the War must, I think, find a place for From Mons to Ypres with French, by FREDERIC COLEMAN (SAMPSON LOW). It is a most remarkably vivid and varied record of the writer's experiences, set down in a very simple and direct style, without the least effort at flummery and high-falutin. I can speak for one reader at any rate on whom it made a very deep impression. Mr. COLEMAN is, by his own account, an American and an automobilist. Those who get his book will judge him, by the unadorned account of what he did, to be a man of great courage and modesty, with an imperturbable shrewdness and a humour proof against all dangers and disappointments. Driving, as he did, a motor-car for the British Headquarters, and in particular for General DE LISLE, he saw as much fighting as any man need wish for and had magnificent opportunities of forming a judgment on the effects of German shell-fire. There is a pathetic photograph of his car hit by a shell outside Messines. I have spoken of the simplicity and directness of Mr. COLEMAN'S style; he himself describes his book as a plain tale. It has, indeed, that kind of plainness which in dealing with enterprises of great pith and moment has a peculiar brilliancy of its own. The account, for instance, of the Cambrai—Le Cateau battle, with all its vicissitudes, is extraordinarily graphic and interesting, and the story of the charge of some fifty men of the 9th Lancers against more than twice their number of German Dragoons of the Guard stirs the blood as with the sound of a trumpet. Delightful too is the narrative of how Major BRIDGES found two hundred completely exhausted stragglers seated despairingly upon the pavement of the square at St. Quentin, and how by means of a penny whistle and a toy drum he got them to move and brought them eventually to Roye and safety. Altogether a capital book.
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A Great Success (SMITH, ELDER) is about a new-risen literary star, Arthur Meadows, his loving, unbrilliant wife, and a coruscating society lion-huntress, Lady Dunstable. Having heard this much, you will hardly need to be told that Lady D. takes up the author violently, that he is dazzled by the glitter of her conversational snares, and that the story resolves itself into a duel between her ladyship and (I quote the publishers) "the wife whom she despises and tries to set down." Nor are you likely to be in any uncertainty about the final victory. This is brought about, with the assistance of the long arm of coincidence, by Doris, the neglected wife, finding herself in a position to prevent her rival's unsatisfactory son from contracting matrimony with a very undesirable alien. Doris indeed, and another female victim of Lady Dunstable (also deposited on the scene by the same obliging arm), get busy unearthing so various a past for the undesirable one that she retires baffled, epigrammatic brilliance bites the dust, and domesticity is left triumphant. It is a jolly little story, very short, refreshingly simple, and constructed throughout on the most approved library lines. If the writer's name were not Mrs. HUMPHRY WARD, I should say that she ought to be encouraged to persevere, and even recommended to try her hand next time at something a little more substantial.
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Let me recommend Mr. ROTHAY REYNOLDS' My Slav Friends (MILLS AND BOON) as a corrective to Mr. STEPHEN GRAHAM's Holy Russia, which I prescribed some while ago with faint reservations. Both writers set out to interpret our mysterious ally to us. Mr. GRAHAM always looks through a rosy-tinted monocle. Mr. REYNOLDS takes the road of balanced appreciations, candour and kindly humour—unquestionably more effective in the matter of making sincere proselytes. He has produced a fascinating book, discreetly discursive—a book that seems to let you into the real secrets of a people's soul. He believes in the sincerity of Russian promises to Poland, and claims that the Poles share his belief, but he does not pretend that this most unfortunate of nations has no grievances against its suzerain. I wonder whether our perverse Intelligences are capable of making the deduction that, if the progressives in Russia can forget their quarrel with reaction for sake of our great common cause, they themselves might mitigate some of the severity of their anti-tsarism. Mr. REYNOLDS has much that is to the point to say about the good old British legends of darkest Russia now chiefly kept going by third-rate novelists and unscrupulous journalists. He makes it clear that, though there is much to change, changes are coming as fast as they can be assimilated, indeed even a little faster. Finally I wish that those who control the destinies of our theatre might read what is written here of the traditions of the stage in a country where the drama is an art, not a mere speculation.
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Despite its name there is a simple directness about the theme of Mr. WARWICK DEEPING'S Unrest (CASSELL) that I found refreshing. Martin Frensham was a dramatist, and the fortunate possessor of an adoring wife, a charming home and a successful reputation. So quite naturally he grew bored with all three. Then there came on the scene one Judith Ruddiger, a widow, with red lips, who drove a great touring-car with abandon, played masculine golf and generally appealed in Frensham to the elemental what-d'you-call-'ems. So these two decided to plunge into the freer life by the process of elopement. I was a little disappointed here. There had been so much chat about the Big Things that I had expected a rather more expansive setting to their adventure than Monte Carlo, followed by a round of first-class hotels. Moreover Judith, had a way of addressing her companion as "partner," which emphasised her wild Western personality to a degree that must have been almost painful at a winter-sports' resort full of schoolmasters. So I was hardly at all astonished when before long Frensham grew more bored than ever. Meanwhile the adoring wife (whom the author has sketched very sympathetically and well) had refused to divorce him; and so in the long run—well, you can see from the start where the long-run is destined to end. But you will probably not like a pleasant tale the less for this. Mr. DEEPING certainly has courage. There is a scene or two in which he takes his amazonian Judith to the very edge of bathos. "She could shoot straight with a pistol, and proved it by bringing a revolver to the summer-house, and making Frensham hang his hat on the rail-fence that ran along the wood." Rough wooing for timid dramatists! I couldn't resist picturing how the late Mr. PELISSIER would have handled this situation.
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I wonder whether EVELYN BRAXSCOMBE PETTER just decided that her novel could not be up to date without a German spy and so forth, or whether she really set out to do her bit for the War by commenting on the Teutonic idea of honour. Anyhow, one must admit that her Gretchen Meyer is drawn with rather uncommon skill, even if her subterranean mental processes are never exactly elucidated in Miss Velanty's Disclosure (CHAPMAN AND HALL). Though educated in England and dependent, to their misfortune, on English friends for maintenance, there always lurked in Gretchen's attitude of impartial selfishness a certain muffled hostility to the ways of this country, and particularly to an objectionable habit she found in us of placing an exaggerated value on straightforward dealing. This culminated in a quite gratuitous, and indeed even insane, demand on the man who for his sins was in love with her that he should surrender either his English ideal or her. That he did as wisely as honestly in letting her go and be d——d to her, I for one had no doubt, nor I think had the authoress, for, although she could never quite forget that Gretchen was her heroine, endowing her with a kind of beauty and even baldly labelling her attractive, it is really, on the whole, a designedly repulsive person she has presented to us. Though an interesting study in Teuton perfidy and certainly better written than the columns of most evening papers, I can hardly recommend the book as a restful change from that class of literature.
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Mr. H. B. MARRIOTT WATSON has invented a gentleman of the road, Dick Ryder, of whom his publishers, METHUEN, confess themselves very proud in that nice way they have. Armed with a bodkin and a barker he rushes and tushes his way through life, slitting weasands and dubbing every cully he meets a muckworm in the pleasant idiom current (so I take it on faith) in the time of our second JAMES. I should have been more impressed with this hero's feats in the first few tales of As it Chanced if they had been in the very faintest degree plausible. Never surely were such preposterous fights, in which the whole action of a score of desperate opponents is completely suspended while the redoubtable one brings off his splendid stunts. I gratefully remember once having been helped through a dull day by The House on the Downs. Unless memory gilds my judgment the author put some reasonable amount of invention into that. But these collected tales are rather indifferent pot-boiling if you are to take any other standard but that of the gallery's formula for yarns of adventure. Perhaps, "as it chanced," my war lunch did not agree with me. But anyway I really cannot quite honestly commend this volume to any but the most stalwart of Mr. MARRIOTT WATSON'S many loyal friends.