HotFreeBooks.com
Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 150, May 10, 1916
Author: Various
Home - Random Browse

PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI

VOL. 150

MAY 10, 1916



CHARIVARIA.

Many graphic tales have been told of the immense loads of plunder carried off during the fighting in Dublin; but there has been looting on a large scale elsewhere, if one may believe the headline of a contemporary:—"Man arrested with Colt in his pocket at Bloomsbury."

***

Says a writer in The Daily Chronicle: "In one neighbourhood within the Zeppelin zone there are hundreds of partridges who defy the Defence of the Realm Act. Two or three hours before anyone else is aware that the baby-killers are approaching these bold birds go chuckle, chuckle, chuckle, as if there were an army of the more human sort of poachers about." Personally we have always felt that the section of the Defence of the Realm Act which forbids one to go chuckle, chuckle, chuckle, when the Zeppelins are approaching is superfluous as well as in inferior taste.

***

Dr. WALFORD DAVIS, in a lecture on "Songs for Home Singing," recently told his hearers how Major Tom Bridges saved a couple of battalions at the Front with two penny whistles. We feel bound to point out however that any attempt to save the nation with the same exiguous weapons would be too hazardous to be encouraged.

***

Owing to a lack of the necessary dyes there will soon be no more red tape available for the War Office and elsewhere. It is to be hoped, however, that the familiar and picturesque salutation with which staff officers are in the habit of taking leave of one another, "So long, Old Tape!" will not be allowed to become obsolete.

***

Attention has recently been drawn to the number of strapping boys who are idling their time away in cinema houses in the absence of their fathers at the Front. Their strapping fathers, of course.

***

According to the President of the Baptist Union, "you must hit a Londoner at least six times before he smarts." We do not presume to dispute this statement, but what we want to know is, how was the Londoner occupied while the President of the Baptist Union was conducting his extremely interesting experiment?

***

Owing to the scarcity of tonnage, Denmark shipowners have put into commission two 18th-century sailing vessels. Meanwhile in the neighbourhood of Mount Ararat there is, we learn, some talk of organising an expedition for the recovery of the Ark with a view to her utilisation in the cattle-carrying trade.

***

The Recorder of Pontefract states that in a recent walk he followed for three miles three men who were smoking, and counted sixty-two matches struck by them. It is reported that the gentlemen concerned have since called upon the Recorder to explain that it was in a spirit of war economy that they had dispensed with the services of the torch-bearer who had hitherto attended their movements.

***

There will be no Bakers' Exhibition this year, it is announced. Many chic models however, both in gateaux and the new open-work confiserie, will be privately exhibited.

***

A contributor to The Observer draws our attention to the phenomenally early return of the swifts. But after all there must be something particularly soothing about England these days to a neurotic fowl like a swift.

***

It is rumoured that Mr. BIRRELL has lately thrown off one of his obiter dicta—to the effect that Mr. Asquith and his colleagues have expressed an ambition to go down in the pages of history as the "Ministry of All the Buried Talents."

***

It was a confirmed dyspeptic of our acquaintance who, on reading that in Paris they are serving a half-mourning salad consisting mainly of sliced potatoes, artichokes and pickled walnuts, expressed surprise at their failure to add a few radishes to the dish, so that they might be thoroughly miserable while they were about it.

***

According to a contemporary, Mr. H. B. IRVING'S Cassius "came very near to Shakespeare." A delightful change from the innumerable Cassii that are modelled, for instance, on Mr. W. W. JACOBS.

***

Sir THOMAS LIPTON'S yacht, the Erin, has been sunk in the Mediterranean, and no doubt the Germans think they have done something to go bragh about.

***

Italians are being invited by means of circulars dropped from balloons to desert to the Austrians, the sum of 5s. 8d. being offered to each deserter. This is no doubt what is technically known as a ballon d'essai.

***

The House of Commons is giving serious consideration to the Daylight Saving Scheme. But certain occupants of the Treasury Bench (we are careful not to "refer to" them as members of the Cabinet) are said to be withholding their support till they know what it is that the surplus daylight is to be let into.

* * * * *

PAY PARADE.



* * * * *

"London, April 6.—A Zeppelin airship attacked the north-east coast of England on Wednesday afternoon, but was driven off by our anti-Haircraft defences."

Daily Chronicle (Jamaica).

This subtle allusion to the former occupation of the Zeppelin crew has, we believe, caused much anxiety among the ex-barbers in the German Service, who fear that the A.A.C. will go for them bald-headed.

* * * * *

"April 23rd was ... the 300th anniversary of the birth of Shakespeare and of the death of Shakespeare."—Daily Paper.

And to think of all he accomplished in less than twenty-four hours!

* * * * *

At a Red Cross sale:—

"The exors. of the late Robert Dawson's calf made L6."—Eastern Daily Press.

We wonder if this generous gift came out of the pockets of the next-of-kine.

* * * * *

"For whoever was responsible for that blunder, which in most countries would certainly have evoked a cry of betrayal, the mainsheet of Nelson's Victory would be all too inadequate as a penitential white sheet and far too illustrious as a shroud."

The Leader (British East Africa).

We agree, but it would make a splendid halter.

* * * * *

THE WAY OF THOMAS.

Theory and Practice.

Scene.—Sand on the —— Frontier of —-. A Cavalry outpost recently arrived is sitting in a hollow in a vile temper, morosely gouging hunks of tepid bully beef out of red tins. Several thousand mosquitos are assiduously eating the outpost. There is nothing to do except to kill the beasts and watch the antics of the scavenger beetle, who extracts a precarious livelihood from the sand by rolling all refuse into little balls and burying them. It is very hot.

1st Trooper. Shoot the devils, I would. I can't understand their letting 'em go the way they do. The first one I meets I shoots. Killing our wounded the way they do.

2nd Trooper. Ay, and killing's not the worst they do, neither. You should ha' seen them, two poor fellows of ours wot was found. You wouldn't be taking no prisoners after that.

1st Trooper. If I 'ad my way I wouldn't take no prisoners. 'Tain't safe, for one thing. That was 'ow pore old Bill got done in; went to take a white-headed old devil prisoner as might have been his grandfather, and he up and strafed him in the stomach with a shot-gun. Don't care 'oo it is. They say the women's as bad as the men.

Corporal (darkly). Ah, shooting's too good for 'em, I say, after wot they done.

1st Trooper. They do say they're starving now. Living on grass, 'alf of 'em; specially after that lot of camels wot was captured.

Corporal (darkly). Ah, let 'em starve, I say. Starving's too good for 'em after wot they done.

2nd Trooper. That's just it. They won't let 'em starve. As soon as they've finished killing our wounded they comes into our camp with all their families, and we feeds 'em up with dates and biscuits and probably lets 'em go again.

1st Trooper. We're too soft-'earted, that's wot we are. Them Germans wouldn't carry on like that; they'd shoot 'em quick and no more said.

2nd Trooper. Ay, you're right there, and when we gets home the first thing we shall find is a relief fund to provide food for 'em.

Corporal. Well, they'd better not come near this post; they won't get no dates 'ere.

Sentry. Corporal, I can see 'alf-a-dozen of them blighters coming along about a mile away. Shall I give 'em one?

Corporal. No, you idiot. Let's 'ave a look at 'em first.

[Enter a middle-aged Arab, dressed in the most indescribable rags and in the last stage of exhaustion. He is followed at long intervals by his family to two generations, who watch his reception anxiously from afar.]

Arab (falling flat on his face at sight of the Corporal). Bimbashi, bimbashi, mongeries, mongeries.

Corporal. Yes, I'll bash yer all right. Grey-'eaded old reprobate, you ought to know better.

Arab (in an anguished voice). Mongeries, mongeries.

1st Trooper. Lord, he do look thin, por beggar. Mongeries—that means food, don't it? 'E looks as if 'e hadn't eaten nothing for weeks. 'Ere, 'ave a biscuit, old sport.

[Arab makes a spasmodic wriggle towards him.]

2nd Trooper. Look out, Bill, 'e's going to bite your leg.

1st Trooper (with dignity). No, 'e ain't; 'e's a-going to kiss my boots. Gorblimy, 'e's a rum old devil!

Corporal (suddenly remembering his duty). 'Ere you, take your clothes off. Efta aygry. Strip.

[The Arab undoes his rags, which slip to the ground.]

2nd Trooper. Blimy, Alf, look at 'em. I never see such a thing in my life. Look at that big one on his neck.

1st Trooper (suddenly). I say, old chap, don't you never 'ave a bath?

2nd Trooper. Lord, though, ain't he thin? 'E's a fair skeleton.

[The Arab puts on his clothes again and falls exhausted with the effort.]

Corporal. Pore old feller, 'e's fair done; give 'im a biscuit, Alf.

1st Trooper. Try 'im with some bully; they say they won't eat that, though.

2nd Trooper. Won't 'e! I never seen the stuff go so quick. 'Ere, old feller, don't eat the tin.

Corporal. Don't give 'im any more or 'e'll kill 'isself. Let's see if his family can do the disappearing trick as quick as 'e can. Poor devils, they've been through something. 'Ere, you family, mongeries. Tala henna.

[The family are brought up and fed on the day's rations.]

2nd Trooper. Lord, Alf, look at this kid; 'is legs ain't as thick as my finger; cries just like they do at 'ome too. 'Ere, 'ave a bit o' jam.

Corporal. Take 'em back to camp now and 'and 'em over. Come on, old boy; you're all right. Lord, ain't they pretty near done. Lucky they found us when they did.

* * * * *

The Better Half.

"Thames Ditton.—Attested man called up willing to let half house, or take another lady in similar position."—Daily Telegraph.

* * * * *

"WE GIVE OUR SONS."

Such our proud cry—a vain and empty boast; Love did not ask so great a sacrifice; The first reveille found you at your post; You knew the cost; clear-eyed you paid the price; Some far clear call we were too dull to hear Had caught your ear.

Not ours to urge you, or to know the voice; No stern decree you followed or obeyed; Nothing compelled your swift unerring choice, Except the stuff of which your dreams were made; To that high instinct passionately true, Your way you knew.

We did not give you—all unasked you went, Sons of a greater motherhood than ours; To our proud hearts your young brief lives were lent, Then swept beyond us by resistless powers. Only we hear, when we have lost our all, That far clear call.

* * * * *

A Non-Stop Service.

The following announcement was recently made at a Liverpool church:—

"The service to-night will be at six o'clock, and will be continued until further notice."

* * * * *

"Mr. Butcher expressed his thanks to Mr. Wood for his kind words, and said it was a great satisfaction to know that his efforts had been appreciated, and very gratifying to be thanked by one of the staff. He might reply in the words of Betsy Twigge, 'Changing the name, the same to you.'"

Ashbourne Telegraph.

We note, but do not approve, the change.

* * * * *

"Washington, Friday.

Sir Cecil Spring Rice has been instructed to apologise for the action of the British Governor at Trinidad in failing to return the call of the Secretary to the Treasury, Mr. McAdoo, on the latter's visit on board the American cruiser Tennessee."

Exchange Telegraph.

Much McAdoo about nothing.

* * * * *

The Evening News publishes an account of a conversation between "Prince Henry of Prussia (the Kaiser's brother) and Admiral Issimo, of Germany." The Issimos are a most distinguished fighting family (of Italian origin), and whenever they have adopted either a military or naval career have invariably come to the very top.

* * * * *

WAKE UP, ENGLAND!



* * * * *

THE WATCH DOGS.

XXXIX.

MY DEAR CHARLES,—There comes a time in the life of the military motor when, owing to one thing or another (but mostly another), it becomes a casualty and retires, on the ground of ill-health, to the Base. As such it is towed into the nearest workshops; but, before it departs to the Base there arrive, from all corners of the Army area, drivers of other similar motors, coming, as you might say, "for a purpose." These are the vultures who have got to hear of the affair, are sorry indeed that such mishaps should occur, but, stifling their sorrow, see their way to snaffle some little benefit for themselves.

One vulture will come to exchange old lamps for new, another to do a deal in magnetos, and a third, may be, to better himself in the matter of wheels. There will be some squabbling, and, when the work is done, the last state of that casualty will be worse than the first, and it will proceed to the Base a melancholy collection of all the most dilapidated parts in the area, for which even the most optimistic authority at the back of beyond will see no useful future.

Yesterday the following interview took place at my little office, which is also my little home and is very handsomely and elaborately furnished with a system of boxes, some to sit on, some to write on and some to go to sleep in.

"An officer to see you, Sir," said the orderly, and in there came a representative from Signals who was pleased to meet me. I put aside my work in order to deal with him politely, firmly and once and for all.

"If," I said haughtily, "you are the gentleman who rings me up on the telephone every morning at 7 A.M., goes on ringing me up till I creep to the instrument and murmur 'Hello!' and then tells me that is all and will I please ring off, then I too am glad we have met at last."

He denied the suggestion so hotly that I unbent a little. I asked him to be seated, and offered him a part of my bed for the purpose.

"It's like this," he began.

"Is it?" said I. "Then no doubt you want me to sign an Army Form and take all the responsibility?"

"For what?" he asked.

"I'm sure I don't know," I answered; "and it doesn't much matter, for I shall only pass it on to someone else, please."

For once it wasn't an Army Form. Was I not, he ventured to ask, the proprietor of a small car?

"What was once a small car before it met what was once a large telegraph pole," I said thoughtlessly.

He was glad to hear this, as he too was the owner of a small car. We shook hands on that, though we knew all the time that H.M. Government was the owner of both. H.M. Government not being present, however, to insist on its rights, we were able to do a quiet swank. In the course of it he mentioned, quite by the way, the matter of shock-absorbers. He had reason to believe that my car could spare his car a couple of these.

I saw the need for hedging. "That telegraph pole I mentioned just now wasn't really very large," I explained, "and it came away quietly, offering no resistance."

He smiled knowingly at that.

"Were you," I continued, fixing a cold and relentless eye upon him—"were you equally lucky with your—your—?"

"Small lorry," he said, with a faint blush. "A tiny lorry, in fact."

"Not more than a dozen tons or so?" I suggested. "No doubt it passed quite gradually over you, frightening more than hurting you, and you were able to walk home with remainder of small motor in pocket of greatcoat?"

He didn't go into that subject. "By the way," he said, "I happened to be round at the workshops just now——"

"Did you, indeed?" I took him up. "Then let me tell you at once that the wreckage in the workshop's yard was not my small car, so you may abandon any hopes you had built upon that."

He appeared to be surprised at the attitude I adopted.

"No," he said slowly—"no, I knew that wasn't your car."

I thought rapidly. "It was yours," I hazarded, "and your idea was to re-equip that battered wreck at the expense of my very slightly injured property?"

He smiled shamelessly.

"You are a most unscrupulous officer," I said, "and I'm beginning to think you are the voice which gets me out of bed—I mean, interrupts my work—every morning at dawn."

"No, really," he replied, glad to have something to be honest about. "At that hour I am always in—at work myself."

We shook hands again on that and I offered him a cigarette.

"Have one of mine," said he.

"No, no," I pressed; "you have one of mine."

Again, if the truth had been admitted, H.M. Government was the rightful owner of both.

"Of course," he explained, "you saw my little 'bus from quite its worst aspect in that yard."

I was for getting to business. "I want," said I, "a back axle-shaft, a head-light, a wind-screen and some mud-guards. What's yours?"

"I could do with a spare wheel-holder, a horn, a couple of yards of foot-board," he said. "Two shock-absorbers and at least one wheel I must have."

A little discussion proved that between us we could put up a very decent car. The only difficulty arose from a doubt as to what was to happen when we went out in it. It would still be a two-seater, and neither of our chauffeurs was small enough to be carried in the tool-box. Who was going to drive, who was going to sit by and, when occasion demanded, step out and do the dirty work? Neither of us seeing his way to give in on these points, we had to think of some other solution.

"You mentioned the workshops just now," I said. "Were you going on to say that the officer in charge told you of another small car which was in trouble?"

"He did," said Signals.

"Same here," said I. "Did he then recommend you to get what you wanted off that other car?"

"He did," said Signals.

"Same here," said I. "And did you also ascertain that this officer in charge possesses a small car of his own rich in standard parts?"

"I did," said Signals.

"Same here," said I. "Let us go out and look for that——"

"Officer in charge," said Signals.

"No," said I, "his car." I felt that we were justified, in the circumstances, in dividing it between us.

But there is no limit to these officers in charge of workshops. We had the greatest difficulty in finding his car at all, and, when we did, it had the appearance of being deliberately concealed. Worse still; when we found the car we found also a sentry standing over it, with rifle and fixed bayonet. Though we took this to be a direct insult to ourselves, we were too proud to go and expostulate with the officer himself about it.

Yours ever, Henry.

* * * * *



* * * * *



* * * * *

A LETTER.

(From Captain Claude Seaforth to a novelist friend.)

MY DEAR MAN,—You asked me to tell you if anything very remarkable came my way. I think I have a story for you at last. If I could only write I would make something of it myself, but not being of Kitchener's Army I can't.

The other day, while I was clearing up papers and accounts and all over ink, as I always get, the Sergeant came to me, looking very rum. "Two young fellows want to see you," he said.

Of course I said I was too busy and that he must deal with them.

"I think you'd rather see them yourself," he said, with another odd look.

"What do they want?" I asked.

"They want to enlist," he said; "but they don't want to see the doctor."

We've had some of these before—consumptives of the bull-dog breed, you know. Full of pluck but no mortal use; "done in" on the first route march.

"Why don't you tell them that they must see the doctor and have done with it?" I asked the Sergeant.

Again he smiled queerly. "I made sure you'd rather do it yourself," he said. "Shall I send them in?"

So I wished them further and said "Yes;" and in they came.

They were the prettiest boys you ever saw in your life—too pretty. One had red hair and the other black, and they were dressed like navvies. They held their caps in their hands.

"What's this rubbish about not seeing a doctor?" I asked. You know my brutal way.

"We thought perhaps it could be dispensed with," Red Hair said, drawing nearer to Black Hair.

"Of course it can't," I told them. "What's the use to the Army of weaklings who can't stand the strain? They're just clogs in the machinery. Don't you see that?"

"We're very strong," Red Hair said, "only——"

"Only what?"

"Only——" Here they looked at each other, and Red Hair said, "Shall we?" and Black Hair said, "Yes;" and they both came closer to me.

"Will you promise," said Red Hair, "that you will treat as confidential anything we say to you?"

"So long as it is nothing dangerous to the State," I said, rather proud of myself for thinking of it.

"We want to fight for our country," Red Hair began.

"No one wants to fight more," Black Hair put in.

"And we're very strong," Red Hair continued.

"I won a cup for lawn-tennis at Devonshire Park," Black Hair added.

"But," said Red Hair.

"Yes?" I replied.

"Don't you believe in some women being as strong as men?"

"Certainly," I said.

"Well then," said Red Hair, "that's like us. We are as strong as lots of men and much keener, and we want you to be kind to us and let us enlist."

"We'll never do anything to give ourselves away," said Black Hair; but, bless her innocent heart, she was giving herself away all the time. Every moment was feminine.

"My dear young ladies," I said at last, "I think you are splendid and an example to the world; but what you ask is impossible. Have you thought for a moment what it would be like to find yourselves in barracks with the ordinary British soldier? He is a brave man and, when you meet him alone, he is nearly always a nice man; but collectively he might not do as company for you."

"But look at this," said Red Hair, showing me a newspaper-cutting about a group of Russian girls known as "The Twelve Friends," who have been through the campaign and were treated with the utmost respect by the soldiers.

"And there's a woman buried at Brighton," said Black Hair, "who fought as a man for years and lived to be a hundred."

"And think of JOAN OF ARC," said Red Hair.

"And BOADICEA," said Black Hair.

"Well," I said, "leaving JOAN OF ARC and BOADICEA aside, possibly those Russians and that Brighton woman looked like men, which it is certain you don't. But any way we must be serious. What would your people say?"

"We left word," said Red Hair, "that we were going off to do something for our country. They won't worry. Oh, please be kind and help us!"

Here all four of their beautiful eyes grow moist.

I could have hugged both of them, but I kept an iron hand on myself.

"You nice absurd creatures," I said, "do be reasonable. To begin with, passing the doctor is an absolute necessity. That shuts you out. But even if you got through how do you think you would be helping your country? All the men would be falling in love with you; and that's bad enough as it is after working hours; it would be the ruin of discipline. And you could not bear the fatigue. No, go back and learn to be nurses and let your lovely hair grow again."

They were very obstinate and very unwilling to entertain the thought of drudgery such as nursing after all their dreams of excitement; but at last they came to reason, and I sent for a cab and packed them off in it (I simply could not bear the idea of other people seeing them in that masquerade), and told them that the sooner they changed the better.

After they had gone the Sergeant came in about something.

I said nothing, and he said nothing, each of us waiting for the other.

He moved about absolutely silently, and I dared not meet his glance because I knew I should give myself away. The rascal has not been running his eye over young women all these years without being able to spot them in a moment, even in navvy's clothes.

At last I could stand it no longer. "Damn it," I said, "what are you doing? Why don't you go? I didn't send for you." But still I didn't dare look up.

"I thought perhaps you had something to say to me, Sir," he said.

"No, I haven't," I replied. "Why should I? What about?"

"Only about those two young men, Sir," he replied.

"Get out," I said; but before he could go I had burst into laughter.

"Better not mention it," I managed to say.

He promised.

There—won't you find that useful?

Yours, C. S.

* * * * *

A VERY RARE BIRD.

Brown lives next door but one to me. His speciality is birds, and he must be a frightful nuisance to them. I shouldn't care to be a bird if Brown knew where my nest was. It isn't that he takes their eggs. If he would merely rob them and go away it wouldn't matter so much. They could always begin again after a decent interval. But a naturalist of the modern school doesn't want a bird's eggs; he wants to watch her sitting on them. Now sitting is a business that demands concentration, a strong effort of the will and an undistracted mind. How on earth is a bird to concentrate when she knows perfectly well that Brown, disguised as a tree or a sheep or a haycock, is watching her day after day for hours at a stretch and snap-shotting her every five minutes or so for some confounded magazine? In nine cases out of ten she lets her thoughts wander and ends half unconsciously by posing, with the result that most of her eggs don't hatch out.

Brown has a highly-trained sense of hearing. You and I, of course, possess pretty good ears for ordinary purposes. We can catch as soon as anyone else that muffled midnight hum, as of a distant threshing-machine beneath a blanket, which advertises the approach of the roaming Zepp. From constant practice, too, we have learnt, sitting in our drawing room or study, to distinguish the crash of the overturned nursery table upstairs from the duller, less resonant thud of baby's head as it strikes the floor. But can we positively state from the note of the blackbird at the bottom of the garden whether it has three, four or five eggs in its nest, or indeed if it is a house-holder at all? No, we cannot; but Brown can.

Even specialists, however, occasionally make mistakes. A day or two ago, just as dusk was falling, Brown entered my house in a state of considerable excitement and informed me that a pair of reed-warblers were building in my orchard.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Quite," he replied. "I have not actually seen the birds yet, but I have heard them from my own garden, and of course the note of the nesting reed-warbler is unmistakable."

"Of course," I agreed.

"It is a most extraordinary occurrence," he continued, "most extraordinary."

"You mean because there are no reeds there?"

"Exactly."

I was quite certain in my own mind that there were no reed-warblers either, but I felt it would be impertinent for a layman like myself to argue with Brown.

"There!" he exclaimed, darting to the open window. "Can't you hear it?"

I listened. "Oh, that," I said; "that's——"

"The mating song of the male reed-warbler," interrupted Brown ecstatically. "Now, whatever happens, don't let them be disturbed. Don't even try to find the nest, or you may alarm them. Leave it all to me. I shan't have a free morning till Saturday, but there's no hurry. I'll bring my camera round then, and when I've located the spot they're building in I'll rig up a hiding-place and take some photos. Don't let anybody go near them; the great thing is to make them feel quite at home." He was gone before I could explain.

It is rather an awkward situation, because, when Brown comes on Saturday morning, I am afraid that if he secures any really successful photos they will prove a disappointment to him. They will represent my gardener, Williams, trundling a barrow, the wheel of which is badly in need of oil.

* * * * *

Tercentenarians.

"It is one of the most marvellous of doubles that William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes died on the very same day of the same year—on the 23rd day of April, 1916."

The Leader (B.E. Africa).

* * * * *

ROYAL ACADEMY-FIRST DEPRESSIONS.



* * * * *

"WHEN THE BOYS COME HOME."



* * * * *

THE SOLDIER'S SPRING.

On stormy days I get quite warlike; I find it easy to be fierce In winter, when the land is more like The Arctic Pole, with winds that pierce; With James for foe and all the meadows mired I feel in concord with the wildest plan, And grudge no effort that may be required To enfilade the man.

But now how hard, when Spring is active, To utter anything but purrs; With all the hillside so attractive How can one concentrate on "spurs"? And oh, I sympathise with that young scout Whom anxious folk sent forth to spy the foe, But he came back and cried, "The lilac's out! And that is all I know."

They ask me things about my picket, And whether I'm in touch with whom; I want to lie in yonder thicket, I only wish to touch the bloom; And when men agitate about their flanks And say their left is sadly in the air, I hear the missel-thrush and murmur, "Thanks, I wish that I was there."

When we extend and crawl in grim rows, I want to go and wander free; I deviate to pluck a primrose, I stay behind to watch a bee; Nor have the heart to keep the men in line, When some have lingered where the squirrels leap, And some are busy by the eglantine, And some are sound asleep.

And always I am filled with presage That, some fair noon of balmy airs, I shall indite a rude Field Message If Colonels pry in my affairs; Shall tell them simply, "It is early May, And here the daffodils are almost old; About that sentry-group I cannot say—— In fact it leaves me cold."

But, strange, I do not think the enemy In Spring-tide on the Chersonnese Was any whit less vile or venomy When all the heavens whispered Peace; Though wild birds babbled in the cypress dim, And through thick fern the drowsy lizards stole, It never had the least effect on him— He can't have had a soul.

* * * * *

"Mr. Lloyd George is taking over all the distilleries with patent stills for munition work. Bonded whisky is sufficient for two years' conviction."—Times of Ceylon.

Provided that you take enough of it.

* * * * *

"It was a delight to hear the voices of the children ring through the class-rooms in songs like 'Orpheus with his Lute' and 'Where is Sylvia?'"—Daily News.

We note an error in the latter title. It should, of course, have been, "Has anybody here seen Sylvia?"

* * * * *

THE NEW DAMOCLES.



* * * * *

ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.

Tuesday, May 2nd.—The House of Commons was unusually well attended this afternoon. Members filled the benches and overflowed into the galleries, and many Peers looked down upon the scene, among them Lord GRENFELL, formerly Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, and Lord MACDONNELL, once Under-Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant. All were curious to learn what the PRIME MINISTER would have to say about the painful events of the past week. Would he announce that the Government, conscious of failure, had decided to resign en bloc? Or would it be merely pruned and strengthened by the lopping of a few of the obviously weaker branches?

Nothing of the sort. Mr. ASQUITH made the barest allusion to the surrender of Kut—an incident which was "not one of serious military significance." As for the insurrection in Dublin, there would be a debate upon it as soon as the Government had completed its enquiries. The main purpose of his speech was to announce that the Government had decided to introduce a Bill for general compulsion, and to get rid of the piece-meal treatment of recruiting to which the House had objected. Members were, I think, hardly prepared for the vigour with which the PRIME MINISTER turned upon his critics, reminding them that just the same denunciation of "vacillating statesmen" was current in the days of PITT. No doubt there had been blunders both in policy and strategy, but nevertheless the contribution of this Kingdom and this Empire to the common cause was growing steadily, and the military situation of the Allies was never so good as it was to-day. If the Government no longer had the confidence of the people, he thundered out, "let the House say so."

While the immediate answer to this challenge was a volley of cheers, most of the speakers in the subsequent debate disguised their confidence in the Government so successfully that it almost appeared to be non-existent. From Sir EDWARD CARSON, who acidly remarked that it was unnecessary for him to praise the Government, as "they always do that for themselves," down to Sir JOHN SIMON, who declared that compulsion was being introduced from considerations of political expediency rather than military necessity, no one seemed to be convinced that the Government even now quite knew its own mind.

The House of Lords, after listening to a moving tribute to the memory of Lord ST. ALDWYN from his old colleague, Lord LANSDOWNE, settled down to a debate on the new Order in Council prohibiting references to Cabinet secrets. It met with equal condemnation from Lord PARMOOR as a constitutional lawyer and from Lord BURNHAM as a practical journalist. The Ministers who "blabbed" were the real criminals. Lord BURNHAM recommended to them the example of the gentleman in the French Revolution, who always wore a gag in order to retain his self-control.

Lord BUCKMASTER, that "most susceptible Chancellor," made a very ingenuous defence of his colleagues. They were the unconscious victims of adroit interviewers, who obtained information from them by a process of extraction so painless that they did not know the value of what they were giving away.

It is time that these innocents were protected against themselves. A gag must in future be issued to every Minister with his Windsor uniform. The discarded G.R. armlets of the V.T.C. might very well serve the purpose.

Wednesday, May 3rd.—When, some nine years ago, Mr. AUGUSTINE BIRRELL was appointed Chief Secretary to the Lord-Lieutenant a friend who had some knowledge of Irish affairs wrote to him: "I do not know whether to congratulate you or condole with you, but I think it is the latter."

It was an easy guess, but its confirmation took an unusually long time. Indeed, at one moment it looked as if Mr. BIRRELL would escape the almost invariable fate of Irish Secretaries, and leave Dublin with his political reputation enhanced. When he had placed the National University Act on the Statute-book, thus solving a problem that had baffled his predecessors since the Union, he might have sung his Nunc Dimittis in a halo.

Perhaps he was not sufficiently ambitious to demand release; perhaps none of his colleagues was anxious to take his job; perhaps the Nationalist leader insisted on keeping him in the silken fetters of office as a hostage for Home Rule. Anyhow, the opportunity was missed; and thenceforward Nemesis dogged his track.

Two years ago it seemed that Ulster would be his stumbling-block. The War saved him from that, but only to bring him down through more sinister instruments. In his pathetic apology this afternoon he confessed that he had failed to estimate accurately the strength of the Sinn Fein movement. He might have been wrong in not suppressing it before, but his omission to do so was due to a consuming desire to keep Ireland's front united in face of the common foe.

This frank admission of error would in any case have disarmed hostile criticism; but its effect was strengthened by the unseemly interjections with which Mr. GINNELL accompanied it. If the Member for Westmeath is a sample of the sort of persons with whom the CHIEF SECRETARY had to deal, no wonder that he failed to understand the lengths to which they would go.

Mr. REDMOND, obviously disgusted by the pranks of his nominal supporter, chivalrously shouldered part of the blame that Mr. BIRRELL had taken upon himself; and even Sir EDWARD CARSON, though a life-long and bitter opponent of his policy, was ready to admit that he had been well-intentioned and had done his best.

Later on, when the PRIME MINISTER had introduced the new Military Service Bill, establishing compulsion for all men married or single, Colonel CRAIG made a vain appeal to Mr. REDMOND to get the measure extended to Ireland. Nothing would do more to show the world that the recent rebellion was only the work of an insignificant section of the Irish people.



Thursday, May 4th.—Although Mr. GINNELL was one of the Members to whom the Government were ready a week ago to impart secrets of State with which the Press was not deemed fit to be trusted, I gather that he has other sources of information which he considers much more trustworthy. Among various tit-bits with which he regaled the House this afternoon was a suggested reason why British aircraft have not yet bombarded Essen. He has his suspicions that it is because members of the British Cabinet have shares in some of FRAU KRUPP'S subsidiary companies.

Most people know that all leave from the Front was stopped just before Easter, and have hitherto assumed that the stoppage was due to the exigencies of the military situation. To Mr. PETO, an earnest seeker after truth, as befits his name, Mr. TENNANT admitted that there was another reason. Last year, it seems, some returning warriors got so much mixed up in the congested Easter traffic that they never reached home at all, so this year the authorities resolved to keep them out of the danger-zone.

The Government welcomes any suggestion that may help to win the War. Mr. EUGENE WASON'S latest idea is that if the War Office and the Admiralty were to put their heads together they might make it easier for outdoor artists in Cornwall to obtain permits to pursue their studies, at present restricted, in military areas; and Mr. TENNANT assured him that this important matter was still "under consideration."

The Second Reading of the Military Service Bill brought forth some rather trite arguments from Mr. HOLT and other opponents of compulsion, and a lively defence from Mr. LLOYD GEORGE, who thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity, after a long silence, of being able to speak his mind without fear of complications with his colleagues. With examples drawn from France and the American Civil War he argued that compulsory service was an essential incident of true democracy. But an even more effective backing for the Bill came from Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON. Hitherto, according to his own description, "the heaviest drag-weight of the Cabinet," he now lent it increased momentum, and carried with him into the Lobby all but nine of his colleagues of the Labour Party. Altogether, Sir JOHN SIMON and his friends mustered just three dozen, and the Second Reading was carried against them by a majority of 292.

* * * * *



* * * * *

Another Impending Apology.

"Pigs.—Live Stock Mem of Mark. No. 10.—Alderman ——."

Live Stock Journal.

* * * * *

"God be with Lord Hardinge wherever he may be, whatever may be his sphere of service, for we fear we shall not look upon his like again."

"It is in this atmosphere of hope and confidence that Lord Chelmsford takes up the mantle of the Viceroyalty."—Times of India.

Not for the first time the attempt to welcome the coming and speed the parting guest in the same breath has failed to turn out quite happily.

* * * * *

"Evidence was given that the pig, which was introduced in a revue at the Metropolitan Music Hall, was kept at the back of the stage in a crate in which it could not turn or stretch itself ... Mr. Paul Taylor said he was glad the case had been ventilated."

The Times.

So, no doubt, was the pig.

* * * * *



* * * * *

FASHION-PLATE PATRIOTS.

Since our ranks, Mr. Punch, you've seen fit to upbraid (These lines are to show that you're hard on us), When you hear the defence of the fashion-plate maid I'm perfectly certain you'll pardon us; Though our heels and our hose and our frills and our frocks, Regardless of taste and expense, Your notion of war-time economy shocks; We're doing our bit, in a sense.

Now take, for example, Irene and me; She's thin and I'm rather—voluminous; Our skirts, full and frilly, just cover the knee, And our hose-play discourages gloominess; We've a bent for a boot with a soul-stirring spat, Gilt-buttoned and stubbily toed, And a top-gallant plume on a tip-tilted hat When we're ripe for the Park and the road.

The public each week, Mr. Punch, you impress With your cool-headed wit and ability, So I wonder you've not had the gumption to guess There's method in our imbecility; Read on, and your premature chiding deplore, For our merciful mission, in brief, Is to brighten the tragical drama of war By providing the comic relief.

* * * * *

If I were like a man I know and Billing were my name, I wouldn't waste my precious time in striving after fame; I'd let it come to me unsought, unstruggled for, and then I'd just go on existing as a perfect specimen.

No care would line my marble brow; I'd take no thought of pelf; I'd lie the long day through at ease a-thinking of myself; For when a man's mere presence lends to any scene delight He needn't worry what he does—whate'er he does is right.

If I could bloom as blooms the rose, and BILLING were a bee, With all my pink and petalled force I'd coax him unto me; I'd open out my honeyed store, and he might linger on, Or cut and cut and come again until the whole were gone.

Such heaps of charm our BILLING has, such tons of savoir faire, It irks me much to see him spend his treasures on the air; And, still to hint a further fault, he cultivates the pose Of knowing all of everything, and lets you know he knows.

* * * * *

Reproductions of Mr. Punch's picture "Haven" are to be sold for the benefit of the Star and Garter Building Fund, and may be obtained from the Secretary of the Fund, at 21, Old Bond Street, W. They are to be had in two sizes, at 2s. 6d. and 1s., or, with Postage and Packing, 2s. 10d. and 1s. 2d.

* * * * *

THE LUCKIEST MAN.

We were talking, the other night, about lucky people. Barmer declared that he knew the man (of whom we had all of us heard) who was left a large fortune by an eccentric old gentleman whose hat he had picked up on a windy day at Brighton. A better and more original contribution to the discussion was that of Bastable, a retired Anglo-Indian. I give it as nearly as I can in his own words. "The luckiest man I ever met," he said, "is my groom-gardener, Andrews. I don't mean to say in respect of prosperity or health, for he is a delicate man, and I can only afford to give him a modest wage. But he has a charmed life, as you will admit when you hear of his three escapes.

"Number 1 was when he was employed in repairing the roof of one of the big London stations. He was slung up in a cradle when he lost his balance and fell to the ground—a distance of about 80 feet. The odds were about a million to one that he would be killed, but he managed to light on precisely the one spot in the whole station area which secured him a soft fall—a barrel of butter which was standing on the platform, and from which, for some reason or other, the lid had been removed. The butter was ruined, but Andrews escaped with a bad shaking. I believe the butter-merchant brought an action against the Company, but I forget what happened.

"Number 2 grew out of Andrews's weakness for parrots. He had bought a parrot from a sailor, who told him that the best way to teach it to speak was to hang the cage in a well and repeat the words or phrases to it at 3 A.M. in the morning, so as to secure the greatest freedom from disturbance. Andrews was then employed in a brewery at Watford, and lived in a cottage with a strip of garden at the back. There was also a well, so that he could carry out the sailor's instructions on the spot. The cage, which was a large one and nearly filled the well, was made fast to the bucket apparatus, and the first two lessons passed off without any incident. But on the third night, when Andrews was hard at work, he was hailed by a policeman, who came along the lane at the side of the garden—it was an end house—and asked him what he was doing. When Andrews said that he was teaching his parrot to talk, the policeman, naturally suspecting that he was there for some felonious purpose, climbed over the wall and made a grab at him. It was a dark night, and, in trying to dodge the policeman, Andrews stepped into the well, which, according to his account, was ninety feet deep. But, as good luck would have it, he got jammed between the cage and the side of the well, and remained hung up until the policeman hauled him out with the aid of the bucket rope. He was badly bruised, but got all right in a few days.

"Andrews's third and last escape was in the War. He was a reservist, went out early, saw a lot of fighting and came through without a scratch till last November, when his trench was rushed and he was taken prisoner. The front trenches at that point were only about forty yards apart, and before he was removed to the rear a British shell lit close to him and blew him back into his own lines. He was badly hurt and, after some months in hospital, was invalided out of the Army, but manages to do the light work I want all right."

We all subscribed to Bastable's view of Andrews's luck—all at least except Barmer, who was a little nettled at having his story eclipsed. "I can believe the yarn about the shell," he said, "but the butter story is a bit thick, and all tales about parrots are suspect."

* * * * *



* * * * *

Toujours la Politesse.

"The officer and a man ran in and respectfully shot with a revolver and bayoneted two other men each."—Englishman (Calcutta).

* * * * *

"Washington, Monday.

A representative from Mr. Gerard on his visit to the Kaiser at Headquarters has been received at the State Department, and is now being decoded."—Manchester Daily Dispatch.

We cannot believe that any American diplomatist could be a mere cipher.

* * * * *

MEDICALLY UNFIT.

For weight of years some men must stay And some must pause for lack, And some there are would be away But duty holds them back, Driving the jobs at home that must be done To smash the Hun.

And others, whether old or young, Refuse to wait behind; And some with scarcely half a lung Have found the doctors kind; Yet never once did any listen to my tick But barred me quick.

And some whose place should be the van Are doing nothing much; By all the blood that beats in Man I would that any such Could loan me, while he plays the skulker's part, His coward heart.

* * * * *

A JUST MAN.

There were four on each side. At the last moment a short round man came running up and got in. Hurry had not improved his mood, and one glance of his eye was enough to make me move along two inches to give him room. He stood arranging his luggage on the rack, pulled his coat straight, and sat down—on the other side. The suddenness of his assault was terrific. I quickly recovered my two inches, and the journey to the next station was quite pleasant, so far as I was concerned.

He and I were then left alone.

"I am much obliged to you for moving to make room for me, Sir," he said politely. "But when I get into a compartment with four a side I make it a practice to sit down on the side on which nobody has moved—on principle, Sir, on principle."

* * * * *

Very Still Life.

From a notice of Mr. BRANGWYN'S Academy picture, "The Poulterer's Shop":—

"Everything lies in its place as if it had been there for centuries."—Morning Post.

* * * * *

A Sinecure.

"GENERAL; L20; fam 2; every Sunday and wk-day off."—Daily Paper.

* * * * *

"The rebels barricaded St. Stephen's Green with motor-cars and tramcars, as in the French Revolution."—Northampton Chronicle.

The 1789 models of motor-cars and tramcars are of course out of date by now.

* * * * *

AT THE PLAY.

"Pen."

During one of the intervals which served so well to eke out the brief two hours of Mr. VACHELL's new "comedy," and were quite as good as many things in the play, I allowed my mind—an absolute blank—to dwell upon certain arresting features in the stage curtain of the St. James's Theatre. In the centre, imposed upon a design whose significance I do not pretend to penetrate, is a gigantic wreath encircling a monogram of the magic initials, G. A., which are surmounted by something which I took to be an heraldic top-hat. This headpiece is in turn surmounted by an heraldic eagle—the ordinary arrangement by which the helmet appears above the coat-of-arms being thus reversed. The central design is flanked on each side by two other wreaths, massive but subordinate. Within the sinister wreath is enshrined in Greek capitals the letters ALEX, and within the dexter wreath the letters ANDROS. "Reading from left to right" we have here the historic name of the Macedonian monarch.

I cannot account for the Greek form of the name on the ground that the St. James's Theatre is the home of the Classical Drama, for the themes of its plays seldom go back beyond the later decades of the 19th century A.D., and I can only conclude that it is meant to indicate that the conquests of Sir GEORGE ALEXANDER'S company resemble those of the famous phalanx of his namesake, the Great.

Most theatres have an atmosphere of their own, and it would be hard to recall any play at the St. James's that has been less in keeping with the local climate than this comedy, so described, of Mr. VACHELL'S. On the score of impropriety and improbability it might in the old days have appealed to the Criterion management; but its lack of broad humour must have negatived these advantages. In any case Sir GEORGE ALEXANDER'S house was no place for a farce so out of harmony with Macedonian methods.

Almost its solitary interest lay in the doubt, maintained to the last moment, as to which of its many fatuous males would turn out to be the hero—meaning by hero the chosen husband of the heroine, for none of them had any personal claim to the title. Indeed, the choice ultimately fell upon the one that had the least distinctive personality of all, his disguise being kept up by a kind of protective colourlessness.

But for Miss ELLIS JEFFREYS, who played the aunt of the preposterous Lady Pen with a courage worthy of a better cause, and extracted from the play such humour as it held for her, matters would have gone badly for those of us who have been accustomed to look to Mr. VACHELL for entertainment. Mr. ALLAN AYNESWORTH, as the heroine's guardian, had no difficulty in transmitting pleasantly enough his mild share of the fun. Miss MARIE HEMINGWAY needed all her prettiness to make up for the futility of her part. And I was really sorry that so sound an actor as Mr. DAWSON MILWARD should have had such ineffective stuff put into his mouth.

Far the funniest thing about the play was the fact that so clever and experienced a writer should have made it. Perhaps the compliments I have paid to my friend Mr. VACHELL in these columns have given me the right to beg him not to take advantage of his many recent successes and palm off on the public just any kind of banality, For these are days when pens (with or without a big P) must be pretty good if they are to compete with the sword.

With this appeal (and with a silent prayer that the play may not come by a natural death in time for my homily to serve as a funeral appreciation) I hasten to conclude, hoping that it will find, him in the pink (as they say) of a blushful remorse; and, anyhow, I remain,

His sincerely, O. S.

* * * * *

NURSERY RHYMES OF LONDON TOWN.

XI.—Saint John's Wood.

Saint John walked in a Wood Where elm-trees spread their branches And Squirrels climbed and Pigeons cooed. And Hares sat on their haunches. He built him willow huts Wherever he might settle; His meat was chiefly hazel-nuts, His drink the honey-nettle. His Wood that grew so green Is now as grey as stone; His Wood may any day be seen, But where's the good Saint John?

* * * * *

"On all faces was the defiant scowl of hatred as we looked at them."—Daily Chronicle.

What had our genial contemporary done to deserve this?

* * * * *

"Turkish newspapers received in Copenhagen contain long lists of names of prominent Arabs who have been hanged for treason or for absenting themselves from military service. Overleaf is another list of well-known Arabs living in Great Britain and the British Colonies, who are cordially invited to return without delay."—Morning Paper.

Dilly ducks, dilly ducks, come and be killed.

* * * * *

JUSTIFICATION.



* * * * *

OUR BOOKING-OFFICE.

(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)

It is pleasant to find that even in these days the revival of interest in volumes of short stories still continues. But of course the stories must have a certain quality. I am glad to think that Traveller's Samples (MILLS AND BOON) will help forward the movement. Mrs. HENRY DUDENEY has a quite excellent touch for this sort of thing; her tales are both atmospheric and, for their length, astonishingly full of character. Also she has an engaging habit of avoiding the expected. Take one of the best in this present book, called "John," for instance. It is the slightest possible thing, just a picture of a schoolboy's hopeless love for a shallow cruel-brained girl eight years older than himself, who is in process of getting engaged to an eligible bachelor. But every figure in the little group lives. And the second part, which tells the return of the boy-lover twelve years later, shows you what I mean about Mrs. DUDENEY'S refreshing originality. I doubt if there are many writers who would have finished off the story in her very satisfactory way. There is one quality characteristic of most of the tales—a feeling for middle-age in men and women; many of them seem to be variations upon the same theme of a love that comes by waiting. Mrs. DUDENEY can handle this situation with unfailing charm. Her confessed comedies are by far the weakest things in the book; there is one of them indeed that seemed to me amazingly pointless. But with this exception I can commend her volume whole-heartedly, and only hope that the author will continue to send out goods of such excellent workmanship, "as per" (whatever that means) these attractive samples.

Those who search for minor compensations have affected to find one in the idea that the actual happening of the World War has removed from us the old fictional scares, novels of German super-spies, and unsuspecting islanders taken unprepared. But to think this is to reckon without the ingenuity of such writers as Mr. RIDGWELL CULLUM. He, for example, has but to postulate that worst nightmare of all, an inconclusive peace, and we are back in the former terrors, blacker than ever. Suppose the Polish inventor of German undersea craft to have been so stricken with remorse at the frightful results thereof that he determines to hand all his secrets to the English Government, in the person of a young gentleman who combines the positions of Cabinet Minister, son and heir to a great shipbuilder, and hero of the story; suppose, moreover, that the said inventor was blessed with an only daughter, of radiant beauty and the rather conspicuous name of Vita Vladimir; suppose the inevitable romance, a secret submarine expedition to the island where Germany is maturing her felonious little plans, the destruction of the latest frightfulness, retaliation by Prussian myrmidons, abductions, murders, and I don't know what besides—and you will have some faint idea of the tumultuous episodes of The Men Who Wrought (CHAPMAN AND HALL). To say that the story moves is vastly to understate its headlong rapidity of action. And, while I hardly fancy that the characters themselves will carry overwhelming conviction, there remains, in the theory of the submersible liner and application to political facts, enough genuine wisdom to lift the tale out of the company of six-shilling shockers. To this extent at least The Men Who Wrought combines instruction with entertainment.

* * * * *

Inter-Arma (HEINEMANN) is the title that Mr. EDMUND GOSSE has given to his latest volume of essays, reprinted from The Edinburgh Review. No one who loves clarity of style will need assurance about the quality of these studies, which, with one exception, are concerned with some or other aspect of the world-struggle. In "War and Literature," a paper dated during the black days of October, 1914, the author attempts to realise what will be the probable literary effect of the catastrophe by recounting the various ways in which French writers suffered from that of 1870. An interesting prediction, too, as recalling what many of us believed at the beginning of the war, is this about the future of English letters: "What we must really face is the fact that this harvest of volumes [the autumn publishings of 1914] will mark the end of what is called 'current literature' for the remaining duration of the war. There can be no aftermath, we can aspire to no revival. The book which does not deal directly and crudely with the complexities of warfare and the various branches of strategy will, from Christmas onwards, not be published at all." As they stand, these words might well serve as a mild tonic for "current pessimism"; not even the paper famine has brought them to fulfilment. Elsewhere in the volume is an instructive paper on "The Neutrality of Sweden" (valuable but vexatious, as are all the indictments of our insular apathy in the matter of influencing foreign opinion), and two or three interesting studies of French life and letters under the conditions of war. In fine, a book full of scholarly grace, such as may well achieve the writer's hope, expressed in his preface, of renewing the friendship he has already made with those readers "whose minds have become attuned to his," though they are now "separated from him by leagues of sea and occupied in noble and unprecedented service."

* * * * *

The author of The Dop Doctor, with her expansive style, always seems cramped in any story of under a couple of hundred thousand words or so. Perhaps the best things in her new book of short stories, Earth to Earth (HEINEMANN), concern The Macwaugh, a shocking bad artist with an immense thirst and the heftiest of Scotch accents. I don't think that there ever was or could be anybody like Macwaugh, or indeed that people talk or act like the majority of the characters in this book; but that's where, perhaps, "RICHARD DEHAN" scores a point or two off those realists who mistake accuracy of detail for art. This amiable drunkard, though absurd, lives and moves. The author is evidently attached to him, and that helps. She has, indeed, something of the Dickensian exuberance which carries off absurdities and crudities that would otherwise be intolerably tiresome. She even seems to get some fun out of this kind of thing:—"'Write,' commanded the Zanouka with a double-barrelled flash of her great eyes;" or, again, "It's all poppycock and bumblepuppy," meaning, just, it isn't true.

* * * * *

If you are writing or intending to write a book about boys let me beg you not to follow the prevailing fashion and call your hero David. Within the last few weeks I have read DAVID PENSTEPHEN, DAVID BLAISE, and now it is Miss ELEANOR PORTER'S Just David (CONSTABLE) and I am beginning to want a rest from the name. David III., if he may be called so, has saved me from utter confusion of mind by being an American product and having a charm that is peculiarly his own. Cynics indeed may find his perfection a little cloying, and may say with some justification that no human child ever radiated so much joy and happiness. All the same, this simple tale of childhood will appeal irresistibly to those who do not draw too fine a distinction between sentiment and sentimentality. On the whole Miss PORTER, although hovering near the border, does not pass into the swamps of sloppiness, and as an antidote to War fiction I can recommend Just David without any further qualification.

* * * * *

RICHARD HARDING DAVIS will, alas, entertain us no more with his easy-flowing pen. These short stories, Somewhere in France (DUCKWORTH), must be his farewell to us. And it is good to feel that his sympathies are so whole-heartedly on the right side. The first of the stories (the only one that has anything to do with the War) is a spirited yarn of the turning of the tables on a German secret service agent, with plenty of atmosphere and hurrying action. The rest are light studies of American life, of which I chiefly commend an extravaganza set in Hayti with a resourceful Yankee electrician, as hero, in conflict with the President in the matter of overdue wages; and the final item of a tussle between a stern and upright District Attorney and the might of Tammany, in which the author seems to have a rather whimsical mistrust of both sides. I always like to think of Tammany when our croakers are holding up everything in this poor little island to obloquy.

* * * * *

The God in the Car.

"Rumania asked permission for the passage through Bulgaria of several wagons of grain bought from Greece. Bulgaria agreed on condition that Rumania should release over 200 wagons of Bulgarian gods detained in Rumania."

* * * * *

"An extract of squills, which has been used by the French Government in the trenches for two or three months, is to be used in a Berwickshire County Council experiment to exterminate rates."

Provincial Paper.

We should like to hear of something equally deadly to taxes.

* * * * *

"Miss Ruby Miller is in gorgeous green, to match her gorgeous red hair."—Sunday Pictorial.

It is perhaps just as well that some people, notably engine-drivers, do not see things in this way.

* * * * *

THE END

Home - Random Browse