PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
AUGUST 15, 1917.
"In the heroic days of 1914," says Count REVENTLOW, "God gave us our daily bread and our daily victory." We feel sure that, as regards the provision of victories, some recognition ought to be made of the able assistance of the WOLFF Bureau.
We read with some surprise that, in the motor collision in which he participated recently, Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL'S car was run into by another coming in the opposite direction. This is not the Antwerp spirit that the Munitions Department is waiting for.
A movement is on foot for the presentation of a suitable testimonial to the people of Dundee for returning Mr. CHURCHILL to Parliament, after being distinctly requested not to do so by a certain morning paper.
"What shall we do with the Allotment Harvest?" asks The Evening News. It seems only too probable that, unless a national effort is made to preserve them, some of the world's noblest vegetables will have to be eaten.
"Just as a soldier gives his valour or a captain of industry his talent," said Lord CURZON, speaking on the sale of titles, "so a wealthy man gives his wealth, which is very often his only asset, for the benefit of his country." Nothing like a delicate compliment or two to encourage him in the good work.
A lively correspondence has been filling the columns of a contemporary under the heading, "The Facts about Bacon." The discussion seems to have turned upon the famous line, "There's something rotten from the state of Denmark."
Sixpenny paper notes are now being issued in various parts of Germany. If you can't find anything to buy with them you can use them to patch the new paper trousers.
Judging by his recent speech, Herr VON BETHMANN-HOLLWEG has lost heart and found a liver.
At a recent inquest it was stated that a doctor had prepared a death certificate while deceased was still alive. The subsequent correct behaviour of the patient is regarded as a distinct feather in the medical profession's cap.
A nephew of Field-Marshal VON HINDENBUBG has just joined the United States Navy, but the rumour that upon hearing this HINDENBURG tried to look severe is of course an impossible story.
The sum of sixty pounds has been taken from the Ransom Lane Post Office, Hull, and burglars are reminded that withdrawals of money from the Post Office cannot in future be allowed unless application is first made on the prescribed form.
Baron SONNINO, the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, was accorded a truly British welcome on his arrival in this country. It rained all day.
It appears from a weekly paper that the KAISER is fond of nice quiet amusement. If this is so we cannot understand his refusal to have a Reichstag run on lines similar to the British Parliament.
Sir EDWARD CARSON'S physical recreations, says The Daily Mail, are officially stated to be riding, golf and cycling. Unofficially, we believe, he has occasionally done some drilling.
At a recent pacifist meeting in Bristol Councillor THOMPSON declared that he was with Mr. LLOYD GEORGE in the South African War, but was against him in the present campaign. The authorities are doing their best to keep the news from the PREMIER.
A man at Tottenham has been fined five pounds for feeding a horse with bread. We understand that action was taken on the initiative of the R.S.P.C.A.
The German Government is doing everything possible to curry favour with its people. It has now commandeered all stocks of soap.
A Bermondsey house of amusement has organised a competition, in which the competitors have to eat a pudding with their hands tied. This of course is a great improvement on the modern and more difficult game of trying to eat a lump of sugar in a restaurant with full use of the hands, and even legs.
An official notice in the British Museum Library states that readers will incur little risk during air raids, "except from a bomb that bursts in the room." It is the ability to think out things like this which raises the official mind so high above the ordinary.
The German Government, says the Gazette de Lausanne, is establishing a regular business base in Berne. We have no illusions as to the base business that will be conducted from it.
"When a German travels round the world," said Dr. MICHAELIS in a lecture delivered twenty-five years ago, "he cannot help being terribly envious of England." Funnily enough he is as envious as ever, even though the opportunities for travel are no longer available.
When the Folkestone raid syren goes off, a man told the Dover Council, it blows your hat off. On the other hand if it doesn't go off you may not have anywhere to wear a hat, so what are you to do?
Willesden allotment-holders are complaining of a shortage of male blooms on their vegetable-marrow plants. This is the first intimation we have had of the calling-up of this class.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THRILLS FROM THE TERMINI.
Mr. Punch, following the example of his daily contemporaries, despatched a representative to some of the great London termini to note the August exodus from town. The following thrilling report is to hand:—
At Waterton and Paddingloo great crowds continued to board the limited number of West-bound and South-west-bound trains. On being asked why they were leaving town, those of the travellers who answered at all said it was the regular time for their annual holiday and they wanted a change. They were mostly a jolly hearty lot, happily confident that at some time in the course of the next forty-eight hours they would be deposited in some part of the West or South-west of England. Those fortunate persons who had secured seats were sitting down, those who were unable to get seats were standing, and, in spite of the congested state of the carriages and corridors, almost all were smiling, the exceptions being those highly-strung and excitable passengers who had come to blows over corner seats and windows up or down. Many of the travellers carried baskets of food. Your representative, anxious to report on the quality and quantity of the provisions carried, ventured to peep into one of the baskets, and was in consequence involved in a rather unpleasant affair, being actually accused of having abstracted a sandwich!
The engine-driver, questioned as to whether he liked having passengers on the engine and whether he considered it safe for them, was understood to say that so long as they didn't get in his way it didn't matter to him, and as to its being safe for them, he jolly well didn't care whether it was safe for them or not. The guard, detained by the sleeve by your representative, who inquired how he felt about being almost crowded out of his brake by passengers, drew away his sleeve with some violence and his answer was quite unworthy to be reported. An elderly but strongly-built porter, with the luggage of fourteen families on his truck, and the fourteen families surrounding him and all talking at once, was approached by your representative for a little quiet chat, but he became so threatening that it was thought advisable to leave him alone.
At Ticvoria Station your representative found a seething mob intent on getting to those ever popular and already much overcrowded South-coast resorts, Paradeville, Shingleton-on-Sea, Promenade Bay, etc. The eleven-o'clock "Paradeville fast," due to start in half-an-hour, was at No. 20 platform. All sitting and standing room had been occupied for some hours, and the passengers were enjoying the sport of seeing the later arrivals running the whole length of the train and back again in the mad hope of finding places. Your representative managed to get a word with some of these later arrivals, and asked them how they liked running up and down, and whether they were much disappointed at not finding room; but the answers were mostly unsatisfactory and in some cases uncivil. The booking-clerk, questioned as to the phraseology employed by August holiday folk in asking for their tickets, whether it is "Third return, please," or "Third return," or "Third return and look sharp," showed by his answer that the expression "please" is falling into desuetude on these occasions, his exact words being "There's precious little 'please' knocking about, and anyone who has the cheek to tell me to 'look sharp' is jolly well kept waiting till the last!" Your representative, wishing to report at first-hand the experience of those who were travelling thirty in a compartment meant to accommodate ten in the "Paradeville fast," tried to get in and make a thirty-first, explaining that it was only for a minute and was with the object of getting local colour, but was forcibly expelled, and, falling on the platform and sustaining some slight contusions, decided to cease reporting on August scenes at the great termini for that day.
* * * * *
TWO DUMB WARRIORS.
When the Heatherdale Hussars received a two-hours' notice to "trek" they, of course, dumped their mascot, Hyldebrand, a six-months-old wild boar, at the Town Major's. They would have done the same with a baby or a full-grown hippopotamus. The harassed T.M. discovered Hyldebrand in the next stable to his slightly hysterical horse the morning after the H.H. had evacuated, and informed me (his village Sanitary Inspector) that "as I was fond of animals" (he had seen me distributing fly-traps and painting horse-trough notice-boards) I was henceforth in sole command of Hyldebrand until such time as his owners should reclaim him. A grant of five sous per diem had been left for the piglette's maintenance.
I took charge of Hyldebrand, provided an old dog-kennel for his shelter, an older dog-collar for his adornment and six yards of "flex" for his restraint. I further appointed the runner—a youth from Huddersfield, nicknamed "Isinglass," in playful sarcastic comment on his speed—second in command. He was to feed, groom and exercise Hyldebrand. I would inspect Hyldebrand twice a week.
Hyldebrand rose fast in village popularity. One forgot that his parents had been shot for cattle maiming, body snatching, breaking into granaries and defying the gendarmerie on the public roads. But Hyldy was all docility. He ate his way through the grant, the office stationery, and the central tin dump with the most disarming naivete. He was the spoilt darling of every mess. The reflected glory which Isinglass and myself enjoyed was positively embarrassing.
But as the summer advanced so did Hyldebrand. He became (to quote his keeper) a "battle pig," with the head of a pantomime dragon, fore-quarters of a bison, the hind-legs of a deer and a back like an heraldic scrubbing-brush. In March I had inspected him as he sat upon my knee. In June I shook hands with him as he strained at his tether. In mid-September we nodded to each other from opposite sides of a barbed wire fence. Yet Isinglass retained the most complete mastery of his ferocious-looking protege, and beneath his skilful massage Hyldebrand would throw himself upon the ground and guggle in a porcine ecstacy.
One sunny afternoon, when there had come upon the little village street the inevitable hush which preceded Hyldebrand's hour for exercise, I espied the village cripple making for his home with the celerity of an A 1 man. He glared reproachfully at me, and, with an exclamation of "Sacre sanglier!" vanished in the open doorway of the local boulangerie, that being nearer than his cottage. Then came Hyldebrand, froth on his snout and murder in his little eyes, and after him Isinglass more than living up to his equine namesake. I joined him, and, following Hyldy in a cloud of dust, the runner informed me between gasps that it was "along of burning his snout-raking for a bully-beef tin in the insinuator."
A band outside B Mess was nearing the climax of GRIEG'S "Peer Gynt" suite. Hyldebrand just failed to perpetrate the time-worn gag of jumping through the big drum, but he contrived to make that final crashing chord sound like the last sneeze of a giant dying of hay-fever. The rest the crowd saw through a film of dust. Hyldebrand headed for the turning by the school, reached it as the gates opened to release young France, and comedy would have turned to tragedy but for the point duty M.P. and his revolver.
There was a note and a parcel for me a day or so after. The note, which was addressed to and had been opened by the T.M., stated that Hyldebrand was being sent for by the Heatherdale Hussars on the morrow. Outside the parcel was scrawled, above the initials of the G.H.Q. officers' cook, a friend of mine, "It's top hole—try it with a drop of sauce." Inside was a cold pork chop!
* * * * *
* * * * *
It so happened in a quiet part of the line that men were scarce and work abundant, so it was decided to use mules to carry the rations further than usual. All went well until one night when friend Fritz changed his habits and put some assorted fireworks rather near the mules.
Now the transport, being human and moreover unaccustomed to fireworks, disliked this entertainment. Therefore they sought what shelter they could. In a few minutes the Hun repented, but no mules and no rations could the transport see. Moreover it began to rain. So back they went and spoke at great length of the hundreds of seventeen-inch which had blown up all the mules.
The morning began to come and a machine-gun subaltern, looking at a black East in search of daylight, so that he might say, "It is now light; I may go to bed," was somewhat startled. "For," he said, "I have received shocks as the result of too much whisky of old, but from a split tea and chloride of lime—no! It must be the pork and beans." However, he collected eight puzzled but peaceful mules and handed them to a still more bewildered adjutant, who knew not if they were "trench stores" or "articles to be returned to salvage."
In the meanwhile the Transport Officer was making inquiries, and he recovered the eight mules. "All," he said, "are back, except Ermyntrude. I grieve for Ermyntrude, but still more for my driver's fate."
Where Ermyntrude spent the day no one knows. All that is known is of her conduct the next night. About eleven o'clock she stepped on a shelter, and, being a heavy mule, came into the trench abruptly. This worried but did not hurt her, and she proceeded down the trench at a steady trot, bumping into the traverses. She met a ration party, and for the first time in their lives they took refuge over the top, for Ermyntrude was angry.
Ermyntrude reached the end of the trench and somehow got out, heading, by chance, for Germany. That was her undoing. In a minute or so three machine-guns began firing, bombs and rifle shots were heard, and Verey lights innumerable flared. We never saw Ermyntrude again. But we heard of her—or rather we read of her—for the German official report wrote her epitaph, thus: "Near the village of —— hostile raiding detachments were repulsed by our machine-gun fire."
* * * * *
* * * * *
MOTTO FOR ALLOTMENT-HOLDERS.
"LET US SPRAY."
* * * * *
"We welcome back to a position he once filled so well, the Rev. ——, who is taking on the pork of the parish for the duration of the war."—Bath and Wilts Chronicle.
We trust it will agree with him.
* * * * *
"WANTED, a Very Plain Girl, very good references and photo asked, to care for three children and do housework."—Morning Paper.
You can almost see the green-eyed monster lurking in the background.
* * * * *
[Illustration: Soulful Soldier (carried away by red sunset). "BY JOVE! LOOK AT THAT! ISN'T IT GLORIOUS?"
His Tent Mate. "YUS. ANOTHER MUCKIN' 'OT DAY TO-MORRER."
* * * * *
THE WATCH DOGS.
MY DEAR CHARLES,—Since I last wrote to you I have enjoyed seeing again an officer with whom I had many curious dealings in the past, and who, if half the facts he divulges about himself were true, would certainly be the wickedest Colonel in the B.E.F., notwithstanding that he fought busily in the early stages and had the best part of himself knocked out in so doing. He has performed many strange duties since, and the steps he took to qualify for one of them will, I think, illustrate for you his wickedness.
It has been found, on experience, that modesty is out of place when you are being called upon to state your qualifications for a post. The knowing, upon being asked if they possess certain attributes, reply in an immediate affirmative and add others, just to be on the safe side. It is felt that what is really required in this War is thrust and ingenuity, things which adequately make up for the absence of any specialist knowledge. Accordingly my friend found himself described as possessing, among other things, "French, fluent." It was not until he was informed that the Official Interpreter would like to hear a little of this that he looked more closely into the matter and discovered that he knew no French at all. Undismayed, he spent the two days' interval before the viva-voce examination in learning some. You might suppose that two days is a short time in which to become so familiar with a strange language that you may be able to understand and answer any question which may be put to you in it. Sly friend, however, did not let this worry him. He learnt by heart a long and detailed narrative, embracing all the most impressive idioms and all the most popular slang, the subject of which was an accident which had occurred to him in the earlier days of the campaign, a long and a vivid story, which, once started, would last indefinitely and could not be interrupted meanwhile.
Armed with no other knowledge of the French language than this, my friend duly presented himself before the Official Interpreter, greeted him with a genial salute and waited throughout his opening speech, which was in French and contained many inquiries.
My friend made no endeavour to follow these simple questions. He knew he couldn't succeed and had no intention of giving himself away by an attempt. Advancing towards the Interpreter's table and putting his right hand to his ear, "Pardon, monsieur," he said, "mais je suis un peu sourd, depuis mon accident."
"Quel accident?" said the Interpreter; after which my friend did not stop talking until he was passed out with a "French, garrulous."
We met quite recently and talked over things in general, telling each other, in confidence and on the best authority, all those exciting details of the progress of the War which men go on saying and believing until they are officially contradicted. Getting down to realities, he told me that he has now the greatest difficulty in believing in the War at all, though he is within ear-shot of it all the time. His difficulty is due to the last thing he saw before he left his office: three men standing at his gate, in that attitude of contented and contemplative leisure which one associates with Saturday afternoons and village pumps, looking at nothing in particular and spitting thoughtfully as occasion required. One of them was a British soldier, one a French soldier and one a German soldier. The whole picture suggested anything but war; if there was a war on, which nation was fighting against which? My friend, however, is somewhat oddly situated in this respect, since he commands for the moment a detachment of German prisoners in our back area. Some of them, he tells me, are extraordinarily smart. One Prussian N.C.O. in particular was remarkable. Dressed in his impressive overcoat, hatted for all the world like our Staff and carrying under his arm his dapper cane, this N.C.O. went round from group to group of working prisoners, accompanying the English sergeant in charge of the party and interpreting the latter's orders to the men. So striking was his get-up that all paused to look at him.
Thinking it might please you, my friend showed me an official memo., which he had just received from one of his officers in command of an outlying detachment, and of course of the odds and ends of British personnel adhering thereto: cooks, guards, etc. The memo. ran as follows, and it repays careful study and thinking out; I give you the whole of it:—
"To the Commanding Officer, Orderly Room, Hqrs."
The undermentioned is in my opinion entirely unfitted for the duty to which he has been detailed with this detachment. He shows no signs of either intelligence or industry, and I propose, with your approval, to take the necessary steps to get rid of him forthwith.
A. B. SMITH,
Capt. i.c. 'B' Detachment.
My friend was much concerned to hit upon exactly the right form of reply. Eventually we agreed:—
"To Capt. A. B. Smith, i.c. 'B' Detachment.
C. D. JONES,
Lt.-Col., O.C., etc., etc."
Finally, let me tell you a disgraceful tale of my same friend, which does not refer to his present command, and is, I hope, untrue of him in any command.
The crowd for which he was then responsible was suddenly threatened with inspection by the General who is charged with the welfare of such people, and who very properly desired to satisfy himself that they were both well disciplined and well tended. So that success might be assured my friend had a rehearsal parade. All inspections and manoeuvres being completed, my friend stood the crowd at ease and thus addressed them:—
"All ranks will take the utmost care to turn themselves out smartly for the inspection and to make the inspection a success. As the General passes along the lines inspecting you, you will stand rigidly to attention, eyes front. You will be asked if you have any complaints to make, and each of you will have an opportunity of making a complaint in the correct manner.
"In making his complaint the man should advance two paces forward, salute smartly, stand to attention and make his complaint.
"And, by Heavens, if anybody does...!"
* * * * *
A TRACT FOR GROUSERS.
Ernest and I were seated by the river. It was very pleasant there, and it seemed a small thing to us that we were both still disabled.
"Did you ever say to yourself, when you were out there, that if ever you got out of it alive you'd never grumble at anything again?'" said Ernest.
My reply was in the affirmative.
We were silent for a while, remorse weighing heavily upon us.
"The worst case," said Ernest at length, "was when I got my commission and came home for my kit."
I composed myself to listen, piously determined not to grumble however tedious I might find his recital.
"We'd been near a place called Ypres," he began.
"I seem to have heard the name," I murmured.
"I hadn't been sleeping really well for a week—we'd been in the trenches that time—and before that I had lain somewhat uneasily upon a concrete floor."
"Yes, concrete is hard, isn't it?" I said.
"We came out at three in the morning, and arrived at our billets about seven. I knew this commission was on the tapis—French word meaning carpet—so I hung round not daring to turn in. At eleven o'clock I had orders to push off home to get my kit. You'll guess I didn't want asking twice. I made my way to the railhead at once in case of any hitch, and had to wait some time for a train. It was a goods train when it came, but it did quite well and deposited me outside the port of embarkation about nine o'clock at night. I walked on into the port and found the ship that was crossing next morning. I went below in search of a cabin. There was a French sailor there to whom I explained my need."
"How?" I asked, for I do not share Ernest's opinion of his mastery of the French language, but he ignored this.
"It was dark down there," he went on, "too dark for him to see that I was in a private's uniform, so I put on a bit of side and he took me for an officer."
"A French officer?"
"Very likely. Anyway he found me a beautiful cabin with a lovely couch in it all covered with plush. You would have thought I should want nothing but to be left to sleep; but no, I saw that the officer in the next cabin had a candle, and there was no candle for me. Instantly my worst instincts were aroused. I felt I was being put upon. I demanded a candle. The sailor declared there wasn't one left."
"You're sure he understood what you were asking for?"
"Yes, I know that candle is boogy, thank you. I argued with him for ten minutes and then turned in, grumbling. Queer, wasn't it?"
"Yes," I said.
I sat there for a while, thinking over Ernest's story, which had, it seemed to me, something of the tract about it.
Later the midges began to attack us.
"Aren't these midges absolutely—" I began, and then stopped, remembering Ernest's tract. It only shows, as I said to Ernest, that we may learn something even from the most unlikely people.
* * * * *
"Wanted, a strong Boy, about 15 years old, for bottling, &c. The Brewery, Brixham."
The Western Guardian.
"Waiter, bring me a bottle of the boy."
* * * * *
"... contest the right of the Spanish authorities to intern damaged submarines seeking refuse in neutral ports."—Star.
The Spanish authorities are expected to reply that if that is what the U-boats are after there is no need for them to leave home.
* * * * *
* * * * *
(The GERMAN CROWN PRINCE and Fritz, his Valet.)
The Crown Prince (in bed and yawning). Is that you, Fritz?
Fritz. Yes, your Royal Highness. What uniform shall I lay out for his Royal Highness?
The C.P. You can lay out the best I have—the one of the Death's Head Hussars, with all my stars and medals. I am expecting an important visit.
Fritz (with a meaning smile). If I might venture so far, I would suggest to his Royal Highness that he should wear the Trench uniform, which I arranged with the bullet-holes and the mud-splashes. It creates a greater effect, especially if the visitor be a lady.
The C.P. Fritz, you dog, how dare you? Very well, have it your own way and let it be the Trench uniform.
Fritz. I am only anxious to promote his Royal Highness's interest in every possible way.
The C.P. I know, I know. Only we shall have old HINDENBURG growling and grunting and looking as black as a thundercloud. I cannot imagine what my revered father sees in that old wooden effigy, whose only idea of strategy is to retreat from strong positions. That, at any rate, is not the fashion in which I have learnt war. I'm thoroughly tired of hearing of all these HINDENBURG plans, which come to nothing.
Fritz. Your Royal Highness is, of course, right. But what I say to myself is that the ALL-HIGHEST, your Royal Highness's most gracious father, has in all this a deep-laid design to show conclusively that all these HINDENBURG plans mean nothing, so that in the end true skill and merit may have a chance, and the chief command may be placed in the only hands that are fit to exercise it. Oh, yes, I know what I'm talking about, and everyone I meet says the same.
The C.P. I have always felt that that must be so. No matter, a time will come. By the way, Fritz, have you packed up the Sevres dinner-service?
Fritz. I have already packed six from as many different French and Belgian houses, and have sent them to Berlin, according to your Royal Highness's directions. Which does your Royal Highness refer to?
The C.P. I mean the one with the simple pattern of pink flowers and the coat-of-arms.
Fritz. Yes, that I have packed like the rest and have sent off.
The C.P. And the silver dishes and the lace?
Fritz. Yes, they have all gone.
The C.P. Good. And the clocks?
Fritz. Yes, I did in every case what your Royal Highness ordered me to do.
The C.P. And you packed them, I hope, with the greatest care?
Fritz. I did; nothing, I am certain, will suffer damage.
The C.P. Excellent. War is, no doubt, a rough and brutal affair, but at least it cannot be said that we Prussians do not behave like gentlemen.
Fritz. Your Royal Highness speaks, as always, the plain truth. How different from the degenerate French and the intolerable English.
The C.P. Yes, Fritz; and now you can go. Stay; there was something I wanted to ask you. Dear me, I am losing my memory. Ah! I have it. How is my offensive getting on? Has any news come in from the Chemin des Dames?
Fritz. Your Royal Highness's offensive has not advanced to any great extent. The French last night recaptured all their positions and even penetrated into ours.
The C.P. Did they? How very annoying. Somebody bungled, of course. Well, well, I shall have to put it right when I have time. Have you finished laying out my uniform? Yes. Then you can go.
* * * * *
THE HUMILIATION OF THE PALFREY.
Where is she now, the pride of the battalion, That ambled always at the Colonel's side, A fair white steed, like some majestic galleon Which takes deliberate the harbour tide, So soft, so slow, she scarcely seems to stir? And that, indeed, was very true of her Who was till late, so kind her character, The only horse the Adjutant could ride.
Ever she led the regiment on its journeys, And held sweet converse with the Colonel's gee: Of knights, no doubt, and old heroic tourneys, And how she bare great ladies o'er the lea; And on high hill-sides, when the men felt dead, Far up the height they viewed her at the head, A star of hope, and shook themselves, and said, "If she can do it, dammit, so can we!"
But where is now my Adjutantial palfrey? In front no longer but in rear to-day, Behind the bicycles, and not at all free To be familiar with the General's gray, She walks in shame with all those misanthropes, The sad pack-animals who have no hopes But must by men be led about on ropes, Condemned till death to carry S.A.A.,
And bombs, and beef, and officers' valises; And I at eve have marked my wistful mare By thronging dumps where cursing never ceases And rations come, for oft she brings them there, Patient, aloof; and when the shrapnel dropp'd And the young mules complained and kicked and hopp'd, She only stood unmoved, with one leg propp'd, As if she heard it not or did not care;
Or heard, maybe, but hoped to get a Blighty; For on her past she lately seemed to brood And dreamed herself once more among the mighty, By grooms beloved and reverently shoed; But now she has no standing in the corps, And Death itself would hardly be a bore, Save that, although she carries me no more, 'Tis something still to carry up my food.
* * * * *
THE WAR-NOTE IN EXAMINATIONS.
Extract from Smith Minor's Scripture paper:—
"And when Jephthah saw his daughter coming to meet him he was very much upset. But he had to keep to his vow, so he gave her two months' leave and then he killed her."
* * * * * Quoting a European statesman, saying the war would be won by the last 500,000 bushels of what, Mr. Hoover said."—New York Times.
We trust Mr. HOOVER will hurry up with his peroration.
* * * * *
"I feel that I might claim almost a special kinship with Baron Sonnino, because I believe his mother was a Welsh lady."
"Weekly Dispatch" Report of Premier's Speech.
"Baron Sonnino, by the way, who is of half-Scottish extraction, speaks English perfectly. How many of the master minds at our Foreign Office speak Italian perfectly?"
"Weekly Dispatch" Secret History of the Week.
But in fairness to the "master minds" it should be remembered that few of them have the advantage of a Scotch father and a Welsh mother.
* * * * *
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
"THE BETTER 'OLE."
I must congratulate Mr. CHARLES COCHRAN on his courage in transforming the Oxford Music-hall into a home of "the legitimate," and still more on his good fortune in securing for the initiation of his new venture the play which Captain BRUCE BAIRNSFATHER and Captain ARTHUR ELIOT have written round the adventures of "Old Bill." In form it resembles a revue, but I prefer to call it a play, because it possesses a plot, distinct if slight—an encumbrance banned by most revue producers; and because it contains an abundance of honest spontaneous fun. The authors start with the advantage, if it be an advantage, that the principal characters are already familiar to the audience through the medium of Captain BAIRNSFATHER's popular drawings; but they have not been content with reproducing their well-known, now almost hackneyed, adventures, but have added many others which are new and yet "come into the picture."
Their greatest piece of luck was in finding a comedian exactly fitted to fill the part of the humble hero. Mr. ARTHUR BOURCHIER as Old Bill is absolutely "it." His make-up is perfect; he might have stepped out of the drawing, or sat for it, whichever you please. But, much more than that, he seems to have exactly realised the sort of man Old Bill probably is in real life—slow-speaking and stolid in manner, yet with a vein of common-sense underlying his apparent stupidity; much addicted to beer and other liquids, but not brutalized thereby; and, while often grousing and grumbling, nevertheless possessed almost unconsciously of a strong sense of duty and an undaunted determination to see it through. It is a tribute to the essential truthfulness of Captain BAIRNSFATHER'S conception and Mr. BOURCHIER'S acting that one comes away from The Better 'Ole feeling that there must be thousands of Old Bills at the Front fighting for our freedom.
Admirable work is done, too, by Mr. TOM WOOTTWELL as Bert, the incorrigible amorist, for whom each new girl is "the only girl," and who has an apparently inexhaustible supply of identity-discs to leave with them as "sooveneers"; and by Mr. SINCLAIR COTTER as Alf, the cynical humourist—"Where were you eddicated, Eton or Harrod's?" is one of his best mots—who spends most of his time in wrestling with an automatic cigar-lighter. I think it would be only poetical justice if in the concluding scene, when Old Bill comes into his own, the authors were for once to allow Alf to succeed in lighting his "fag."
Of the many ladies who add charm to the entertainment I can only mention Miss EDMEE DORMEUIL, who as Victoire has an important share in the plot and saves Old Bill's life; Miss GOODIE REEVE, who sings some capital songs; and Miss PEGGY DORAN, who looks bewitching as an officer of the Woman Workers' Corps. The music, arranged by Mr. HERMAN DAREWSKI, is catchy and not uncomfortably original: and the scenery, designed by Captain BAIRNSFATHER, gives one, I should say, as good an idea of the trenches as one can get without going there. In fine I would parody Old Bill and say, "If you knows of a better show, go to it!"
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
TO A MODERN MUSE.
O Metaphasia, peerless maid, How can I fitly sing The priceless decorative aid To dialogue you bring, Enabling serious folk, whose brains Are commonplace and crude, To soar to unimagined planes Of sweet ineptitude.
Changed by your magic, common-sense Nonsensical appears, And stars of sober influence Shoot madly from their spheres. You lure us from the beaten track, From minding P.'s and Q.'s, To paths where white is always black And pies resemble pews.
Strange beasts, more strange than the giraffe, You conjure up to view, The flue-box and the forking-calf, Unknown at any Zoo; And new vocations you unfold, Wonder on wonder heaping, Hell-banging for the over-bold, And toffee-cavern keeping.
With you we hatch the pasty snipe, And all undaunted face Huge fish of unfamiliar type— Bush-pike and bubble-dace; Or, fired by hopes of lyric fame, We deviate from prose, And make it our especial aim Bun-sonnets to compose.
I wonder did the ancients prove Responsive to your spell, Or, riveted to Reason's groove, Against your charms rebel. And yet some senator obese, In Rome long years ago, May have misnamed a masterpiece De Gallo bellico.
We know there were heroic men Ere AGAMEMNON'S days, Who passed forgotten from our ken, Lacking a poet's praise; But, though great Metaphasiarchs Have doubtless flourished sooner, I'm sure their raciest remarks Have been eclipsed by S——-r.
* * * * *
"The daily cost of the war has shown an alarming tendency to mount, and has gone beyond the 700 millions which some folk thought must be the limit a few months ago."
Sussex Daily News.
* * * * *
"Junior Assistant wanted to Grocery, Spirit and Provision business; send copy references and salary expected."—Irish Paper.
Quite a promising idea for getting more capital into a business.
* * * * *
"Amongst a number of new inventions," says the Frankfischer Tagwacht, "is an imitation of the smell of Limburger cheese." This has caused some alarm and not a little interest in this country, as the following extracts will show:—
"Berlin Resident" states that he has too long been fed up with imitation meals, and for weeks past has had nothing to eat but holes from Limburger.
"Cynic" remarks that it is impossible for the German scientists to defeat the WOLFF wireless at inventions.
Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL is anxious to know whether they have yet discovered a substitute for The Morning Post.
The Times Greenwich correspondent wires: "If they have invented a method whereby a news report will make a noise like 'Passed by Censor' will they wire terms?"
* * * * *
Inscription on a French picture post-card:—
"Une locomotive abandonee devant Thiepval. One locomotive a profligate woman forepart Thiepval."
Smith minor is avenged.
* * * * *
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
Monday, August 6th.—This being Bank Holiday and the first fine day after a week's downpour, Members for the most part stayed away from Westminster. Some, it is charitably supposed, have gone to look after their allotments. Others, it is believed, have been kept away by a different reason. The taxicab-drivers, men constitutionally averse from extortion, have refused to enter the railway-station yards so long as the companies persist in exacting from them a whole penny for the privilege. Consequently some of our week-ending legislators are reported to be interned at Waterloo and Paddington, sitting disconsolately upon their portmanteaux. As an appeal to the Board of Trade elicited nothing more from Mr. G. ROBERTS than a disclaimer of personal responsibility, it is expected that redress will be sought from the Taxi-cabinet.
Mr. HENDERSON'S dual personality continues to arouse curiosity. There was some justification for Mr. KING'S inquiry whether he went to Petrograd as a Ministerial Jekyll or a Labourist Hyde. Mr. BONAR LAW assured the House that on this occasion at least Mr. HENDERSON went purely as a Cabinet Minister, guiltless of any duplicity.
Mr. PROTHERO enlivened the discussion on the Corn Production Bill by a new clause providing that where a farmer failed to destroy the rabbits on his land the Board of Agriculture should have power to do it for him and recover the expenses incurred. Sir JOHN SPEAR expected that in some cases the rabbits secured would more than defray the cost of the capture, and declared that unless the farmer was allowed to keep the rabbits the Government would be guilty of "profiteering." As other agricultural Members appeared to share this view, Mr. PROTHERO, most obliging of Ministers, agreed to alter the word "cost" to "net cost." I hope no litigious farmer will seek to evade his liabilities on the ground that, as the Act only says "net cost," he need not pay for the ferrets.
Tuesday, August 7th.—Those peers who were supposed to be shaking in their shoes at the thought of Lord SELBORNE'S impending revelations as to the means by which they acquired their honours might have spared their tremors. He opened his bag to-day, but no cat jumped out, not even the smallest kitten. If he had given a single concrete example of a peer who, having notoriously no public services at his back, must be presumed to have purchased his title, he would have created some effect. But the admission that all his information on the subject was confidential cut the ground from under his feet; and needless to say none of the Peers whom he hypothetically accused of buying their coronets responded to his appeal by standing forth in a white sheet and making open confession of his crime.
Lord SELBORNE was one of three heirs to peerages who a generation ago banded themselves together to resist elevation to the House of Lords. Another of them is Lord CURZON, who answered him to-night, and whose contempt for the Chamber which he now adorns seems to have grown with the years that he has spent in it. Reading between the lines of his speech a cynic could only infer that the Upper House, as at present constituted, is such a useless and superfluous assembly that it does not much matter who gets into it or by what venal ladder he climbs.
The only peers who ventured to get to close quarters with the scandal were Lord KNUTSFORD, who told a moving tale of how a potential baronet diverted L25,000 from the London Hospital to a certain party fund, and thereby achieved his purpose; and Lord SALISBURY, who declared from his knowledge of Prime Ministers that they were sick of administering the system of which Lord CURZON was so ostentatiously ignorant.
Many reasons have been assigned for Mr. CHURCHILL'S reinclusion in the Ministry, but I am inclined to think that the real one has only just been discovered. Mr. MACCALLUM SCOTT is one of the most pertinacious inquisitors of the Treasury Bench; he is also a whole-souled admirer of the Member for DUNDEE, and has written a book in eulogy of his achievements by sea and land. Mr. CHURCHILL has rewarded this devotion by appointing Mr. SCOTT his private secretary, and, as it is contrary to Parliamentary etiquette for a Member holding this position to interrogate other Ministers, has thereby conferred a distinct benefit upon his new colleagues. Mr. LLOYD GEORGE is now reported to be on the look-out for other statesmen in whom Mr. HOGGE and Mr. PRINGLE repose a similar trust, but so far without success; and it is thought that his only chance is to make Mr. PRINGLE an Under-Secretary on condition that he takes Mr. HOGGE as his ame damnee, or vice versa.
Wednesday, August 8th.—Lord BURNHAM shocked some of the more ancient peers by his skittish references to the coming Conference on the Second Chamber. When he expressed the hope that Lord CURZON would make an explicit statement, on the ground that their Lordships' House was in no need of a soporific, I fully expected one of the occupants of the mausoleum to rise and reprove him in the words of Dr. JOHNSON, "Sir, in order to be facetious it is not necessary to be indecent."
The advent of the feminine lawyer was rendered a little nearer when her champions successfully held up a Bill promoted by the Incorporated Law Society until the Government undertook to find time for the discussion of a measure enabling women to become solicitors. Already Shylock is trembling at the prospect.
Thursday, August 9th.—When the House on two successive occasions rejected Proportional Representation it was generally thought that nothing more would be heard of the other proposals for securing minority representation. To-night, however, after a brisk debate, the "Alternative vote" in three-cornered contests was saved in a free division by a single vote; and it was further decided that "P.R." itself should be adopted at University elections, despite the unanimous opposition of the University Representatives.
* * * * *
The bright August sun certainly made the dining-room paper look dingy. It was a plain, self-coloured paper, but we were rather attached to it, and didn't like the idea of a change.
But there seemed no help for it, so I arranged to leave my office early on Friday afternoon, meet Alison at the Marble Arch tube station and go with her to choose a new paper.
When we reached the wall-paperer's lair we were ushered by an immaculate personage into a room that looked more like the dining-room of a private house than a part of business premises.
"Perhaps," I said, in an awed whisper, "you don't care to have anything to do with such trifling things as—er—wall-paper?"
"Indeed we do," said the nobleman. "Most important things, wall-papers. Where did you want it for?"
"For a room in my house, of course," I said. "Not for the garden."
"Oh, not for the garden. And what sort of house is yours?" he asked.
"A very nice house," I said.
"I meant what was the style of the house—Jacobean, Georgian?"
"Brixtonian rococo outwardly," I said, "as far as I can judge; but very snug inside. No doubt you could show us something we should like which would also satisfy your sense of propriety."
"I think it might be managed," he said, waving his hand towards two or three giant books of patterns.
"What we want," I said, "is something meaty."
"Ah, for the dining-room," he said.
"Well, it's a courtesy title," I said, "but really in these hard times we have reduced economy to such a fine art that I thought a wall-paper with body in it might help matters."
"I think I catch the idea," said the marquis. "Something that would make you feel more satisfied after dinner than you otherwise would feel, as it were."
"My dear Sir," I said, "you have hit it exactly. Yours is a sympathetic nature. How readily you have divined my thoughts! No doubt you too are suffering."
He sighed almost audibly. "How is the room furnished?" he said.
"Leading features," I said, "a Welsh dresser, rush-bottomed chairs, gate-legged table, bookcases—"
"Saxe-blue carpet," said Alison.
"A most important detail," Lord Bayswater said. "Don't you think something of a chintzy nature would ... etc."
Both Alison and I agreed that a prescription of that kind might possibly ... etc.
I don't know what is comprised under the term chintzy, but it appeared to be a comprehensive one, for the nobleman descanted on the merits of the following patterns among others:—
(1) Cockatoos on trees, cockatooing.
(2) Pheasants on trees, eating blackberries.
(3) Other birds on trees, doing nothing in particular.
(4) Roses, in full bloom, half bloom, fading, falling.
(5) Forget-me-nots in bunches, ready for sale.
(6) Grapes doing whatever it is that grapes do.
(7) Other flowers and fruits, also acting after the manner of their kind.
Many other patterns were shown us and we spent an hour or two looking at them. Our host tried hard to push the cockatoos on to us. His idea was that the pattern would act as wallpaper and pictures combined. Alison's idea was that there would be too many portraits of cockatoos round the room, and I maintained that the wretched birds looked so realistic that I should certainly feel I ought to be giving them some food, and this would of course hardly assist my idea. The noes had it.
In the end we came away with four patterns (fruits and flowers) and a promise to let Lord Bayswater know which one we preferred. One of them I chose really to show my tailor, as it was a top-hole scheme for a winter waistcoat.
Alison and I spent the evening hanging the patterns up one after the other on one wall of the dining-room, and tried to paper the rest of the walls in the mind's eye, but at eleven o'clock we knocked off for the night and went to bed with headaches.
I fancy Alison must have had a disturbed night. As I was leaving the house after breakfast she said, "Have you made up your mind about those patterns?"
"No, I haven't," I said. "I'm going to leave it to you. Choose which you like."
"I've chosen," she said with an air of finality.
"Well," said Alison, when I reached home that evening, "it's up."
"Up?" I said. "The new paper, already?"
"Come and see," Alison said.
"By Jove, how well it looks!" I said. "You've chosen well. There's something familiar about it, though it looks almost new."
"Yes," said Alison, "Ellen and I cleaned it all over with bread-crumbs."
"Poor Lord Bayswater," I said. "But you've done the right thing. Wall-paper as usual during the War."
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
"The annual agricultural returns show that the increased area in England and Wales of corn and potatoes for the present harvest amount to no less than 347,0000 acres. This result exceeds all expectations."
Bradford Daily Argus.
We can well believe it.
* * * * *
From a sale advertisement:—
Ladies' Overalls and Breeches for the farm, garden, or home use, reduced in Price."
Cooler and cooler.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Prior to "Skilly" being taken on the regimental strength, our canteen was the paradise of a battalion of mice, from whose nightly raids nothing was sacred. But from the day "Skilly" enlisted the marauders became less and less obtrusive. And "Skilly" grew sleek.
Then came a time of scarcity. Mice fought shy of the canteen, and "Skilly" visibly suffered from lack of nourishment. A sergeant's wife provided welcome hospitality; but no sooner was "Skilly" billeted outside the canteen than the plague returned, and so she was recalled urgently to active service. Again was the enemy routed; but again came the wilting-time of dire want. Virtue, however, did not go unrewarded a second time. "Skilly" had earned honourable mention, and representations to the proper quarters resulted in an order that she should be rationed so long as she remained on canteen duty.
With times of ease came time for love. In due course "Skilly" presented an absentee and unidentifiable spouse with five bouncing baby kittens. Throughout their extreme infancy the family throve; but the time came when the devoted mother was no longer able to supply sufficient nutriment for five lusty youngsters. Clearly something must be done, and the canteen sergeant was the man to do it. He sent in a proper formal application to the regimental powers, requesting that increased feline rations be ordered as "subsistence for Canteen Skilly and family of five."
Time passed, and—let this be read and remembered by all carping critics who accuse our army of want of method and business sense—in due course the application was returned, properly entered, checked, signed and counter-signed. The verdict run thus: "Application on behalf of Canteen Skilly refused, as apparently she married off the strength of the regiment."
* * * * *
"No youth should be regarded educationally as a finished article at 1 years of age." Yorkshire Post.
Mr. Fisher will be pleased.
* * * * *
"A MERRY HEART GOES ALL THE DAY."
I jogged along the footpath way And leant against the stile; "A merry heart goes all the day," Stoutly I sang the old refrain; My own heart mocked me back again, "Yet tire you in a mile!"
Well may I tire, that stand alone And turn a wistful glance On each remembered tree and stone, Familiar landmarks of a road Where once so light of heart I strode With one who sleeps in France.
Heavily on the stile I lean, Not as we leant of yore, To drink the beauty of the scene, Glory of green and blue and gold, Shadow and gleam on wood and wold That he will see no more.
Then came from somewhere far afield A song of thrush unseen, And suddenly there stood revealed (Oh heart so merry, song so true!) A day when we shall walk, we two, Where other worlds are green.
* * * * *
THE REVIEWS FOR ——.
(A specimen article for the use of those editors who have come to the realisation that the contents of our heavier periodicals never change. All that is needed is the insertion of the right month and the survey can be used as a serial.)
In The Umteenth Century and Forever, which is, as usual, alert and interesting, the place of honour is given to an article by Sir Vincent Stodge, M.P., on "Proportional Representation in New Patagonia." Sir Vincent's argument may or may not convince, but it is succinctly stated. Sir ERNEST CASSEL writes usefully on "Economy for Cottagers," and Lord Sopwith, in a paper on "Air Raids and Glowworms," shows how important it is that on dark nights there should be some compulsory extinction of the light of these dangerous and, he fears, pro-German, insects. Mr. HARRY DE WINDT describes "Galicia as I Knew It," and there are suggestive papers on "The Probable Course of History for the next Three Centuries," by the Dean of LINCOLN; "Potatoes as Food," by Sir WALTER RALEIGH; and "Hair in Relation to Eminence," by Dr. SALEEBY, in which all the strong men in history famous for their locks, from SAMSON to Mr. LLOYD GEORGE, are passed in review. An excellent number, full of mental nutriment, is brought to a close by a symposium of Bishops on the petrol restrictions.
* * * * *
By a strange coincidence The Shortsightly also has a valuable paper on "Proportional Representation," by Mr. and Mrs. C.N. WILLIAMSON, who thus make their bow for the first time among what might be called our thinking novelists, their effort being in some degree balanced by an essay in the same number from so inveterate a politician as Mr. J.M. HOGGE, M.P., on the "Wit and Humour of WILLIAM LE QUEUX." There is also an anonymous article of great power on "Conscientious Objectors as Food for Racehorses," which should cause discussion, both by reason of its arguments and also through the secret of its authorship, which to the initiated is only of course a secret de Polichinelle. For the rest we content ourselves with drawing attention to "The Small Holding," by Lord PIRRIE; "Women and Tobacco," by the Manager of the Piccadilly Hotel; "Feud Control," by Mr. PHILIP SNOWDEN, M.P.; "Russia as I knew it," by Mr. HARRY DE WINDT; and "The Spirit of Ireland," by Sir JOHN POWER.
* * * * *
The Peremptory Review opens with Lord CURZON'S well-reasoned appeal to Labour to relinquish its attitude of criticism and trust the powers that be. Other notable articles deal with the possible effect of woman's franchise on the cult of Pekinese spaniels, the case pro and con. for a tunnel under St. George's Channel, and the philosophy of E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM. Mr. HARRY DE WINDT writes of "Serbia as I Knew It." A spirited attack on the MINISTER of MUNITIONS by the Editor of The Morning Post brings an excellent number to a close.
* * * * *
Backwood's is, as usual, strong in the martial element, and is further proof that in the present conflict there is no excluding rivalry between pen and sword, but plenty of room for both. The article wittily entitled, "Mess-up-otamia" should be read by everyone who is not tired of that theme. The trenchant author of "Reflections without Rancour" displays his customary vigilance as a censor of betes noires, not sparing the whip even when some of the animals are dead.
* * * * *
In the ever iconoclastic and live Gnashing All Review Mr. Smacksy is, as usual, at his most vigorous. Among the statesmen who come in for his attacks are Mr. ASQUITH and Lord HALDANE, both of whom are probably by now quite inured to his blows. Nothing could be more amusing than the renewed play which is made with the phrase, "spiritual home." Mr. Smacksy has also something to say to members of what might be called his own Party. Other articles deal with "The Psychology of the Pacifist," a trenchant exposure; "The Teeth of American Presidents," which contains a number of curious statistics; "The Film and the Future," by Viscount CHAPLIN; "The Honours List," in which the anonymous writer makes the revolutionary suggestion that the KING'S birthday should in future be marked by the withdrawal of old titles instead of the conferring of new. Mr. HARRY DE WINDT descries "Roumania as I Knew It"; "A Suggestion for the Settlement of the Irish Problem" is offered by Mr. GINNELL, M.P.; and Mr. C.B. COCHRAN utters a disinterested plea for "The Small Theatre."
* * * * *
The Jinglish Review, also famous for the activity of its fighting editor, has no fewer than four articles from his pen, of which the least negligible is perhaps that of "The Partition of Europe after the War." The others deal with "The Real Germany," "Sunday Journalism as a World Asset," and "HORATIO BOTTOMLEY the Prophet." Other contributions in a varied number include a series of votive verses to Mr. EDWARD MARSH, C.B., by a band of Georgian poets, on the occasion of his resumption of his duties as private secretary to Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL. A charming study of leprosy, translated from the Russian of Lugubriski, brings the number to a close.
* * * * *
Upon a lily-laden tide, Where galleons rocked with sails blown wide And white swans gleamed, there was a city Whose citizens called "London Pride" The flower that some call "None-so-Pretty."
It grew beside the frowning tower, By RALEGH'S walk and BOLEYN'S bower, As frail as joy, as sweet as pity; And "London Pride" they called that flower Which country folk call "None-so-Pretty."
When London lads made holiday In dewy hours o' th' month o' May, And footed it with Moll and Kitty, Among the maypole garlands gay Be sure they plaited "None-so-Pretty."
When London lads in battle bent Their bows beside the bows of Kent ('Tis told in many a gallant ditty) Their caps were tufted as they went With "London Pride" or "None-so-Pretty."
Oh, London is what London was, And mighty food for pride she has; Her saints are wise, her sinners witty, And Picard clay and Flemish grass Are sweet with stars of "None-so-Pretty."
* * * * *
A propos of the note in our issue of August 1st, a Correspondent suggests that the Americans might go into action to the tune of "Tommy make room for your Uncle."
* * * * *
"A Leghorn pullet, belonging to Mrs. G.R. Bell, of Coxhoe, Durham, has laid an egg 3-1/4 oz. in weight, 7-1/2 in. in diameter, and 6-1/4 in. in circumference."—Scotch Paper.
Most interesting and novel, but very disconcerting to the mathematicians.
* * * * *
"The procession was headed by the choristers and songmen, and included the surplus clergy and the Very Rev. the Dean."
No support here, you will note, for the recent suggestion that Deans are superfluous.
* * * * *
* * * * *
The contemplated single-stick encounter between Colonel ARCHER-SHEE and Mr. PEMBERTON-BILLING recalls to mind a ludicrous affair which actually happened some years ago in a foreign city which I will here call Killemalivo.
Mr. Alec McTavish, a Briton many years resident in that fair capital and editor of the only English newspaper, had taken up stout verbal cudgels on behalf of the Americans, who had been viciously attacked in the columns of a local "daily." The United States of the North, in its capacity of "special" to the entire American continent, comes in for plenty of abuse when a new revolution is about to be perpetrated.
The strife had waxed fast and furious and eventually had taken on a personal tone, the editor of La Muera accusing the editor of the English paper of being "that lowest of all living things—a Texan." It will be remembered that in times gone by the State of Texas decided to desert its Latin parents and roost under the shadow of the eagle's wing, thereby earning for itself prosperity and an evil reputation—in certain quarters.
McTavish's editorial reply was a gem of satire and displayed an intimate knowledge of the antecedents of the rival editor.
At that time duelling was still prevalent, and it was not many days before the editorial sanctum of The Tribune was honoured by the visit of two officers in full-dress uniform.
The eventual outcome of their visit was that Mr. McTavish found himself pledged to fight a duel with a man who was, among other things, a first-class pistol shot and exceptionally expert with the "florette," all of which McTavish was not.
The affair looked particularly unpleasant—to McTavish, who was short, fat, and by no means young. But the dignity of the foreign population as represented by the editor of The Killemalivo Tribune must of necessity be upheld.
Faced by this quite unusual difficulty, McTavish bethought him of his old and tried friend, General O'Flynnone, an Irish-American of many years' residence in the Latin Americas. No one seemed to know his real name, and the title of General had come to him from his last place.
The General was delighted at the turn of events, agreed to be McTavish's second, and promised to get him through the affair with a whole skin and no loss of honour.
As the challenged party McTavish had choice of weapons, which was the crux of the situation, as the General pointed out.
Among the Killemalivo aristocracy the favourite weapons were the duelling pistol and the "florette," or rapier. The "pelado," or lower orders, preferred the "lingua de vaca," which means literally "cow's tongue," a nasty-looking knife of no mean proportions.
As O'Flynnone explained, the duel would have to be fought with "killing weapons"; nothing else would satisfy the bloodthirsty editor. Meanwhile he would think on the matter, and he advised McTavish to do likewise.
The following were the most unpleasant days of his life, as McTavish confessed afterwards. He was not a "conscientious objector," but he had no pressing wish to exterminate his opponent, as that would have necessitated a sudden and forcible exile from the land of his adoption; still less did he fancy an early demise in the interests of his paper.
Meanwhile the General visited the rival editor's seconds and arranged for a meeting in his own rooms to discuss final conditions.
O'Flynnone's rooms contained, among other things, a collection of curious and ancient weapons. The walls were decorated with all sorts and conditions of strange and barbarous instruments of slaughter; Zulu assegais, Afghan knives and Burmese swords hung in savage array.
The meeting took place on the following Sunday afternoon. The officers greeted the General agreeably enough, but saluted McTavish with the stiffness that the occasion called for.
"Well, Senores," commenced the General, after depositing his visitors in the most comfortable chairs, "to business. Mr. McTavish, as you will admit, has the choice of weapons."
The officers nodded assent.
"This gentleman," continued O'Flynnone, "comes of that most noble and warlike race—the Scotch. Fiercest of fighters, although they do not sometimes look it, the warriors of Scotland alone among all nations withstood the ravages of the conquering English. I feel sorry, very sorry for the 'caballero' whom you have the honour to represent."
The pause which followed was most impressive. The General's air was suggestive of dire things, as with dramatic suddenness he produced from beneath the sideboard two enormous double-edged battle-axes, which careful polishing had made to shine as new.
"These," said he, "are the weapons which Mr. McTavish has chosen—weapons of men, such as they use in his own country," he continued, brandishing one of them savagely. "And the fight will be on barebacked horses, for such is the custom of the Scotch."
The duel did not occur.
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THE GAME OF HIS LIFE.
I met the mercurial Gosling at the club a few days ago. As I hadn't seen him for some time I asked if he had been on a holiday. "Yes," he said, "down at Shinglestrand. Golfing? No—yes. I did play one game, the first since the War, and rather a remarkable game it was. I'm a member of the golf-club there, and was down at the clubhouse one morning looking at the papers when a fat middle-aged man, about my age, asked me if I cared for a game. I didn't, but in a spirit of self-sacrifice said that I should be very glad. 'I think I ought to tell you,' he went on, 'that I don't care about playing with a 18-handicap man, and that I always like to have a sovereign on the match.' Now I never was much of a player—too erratic, I suppose. My handicap has gone up from 12 to 18, and the last time I played it was about 24. But, exasperated by his swank, I suddenly found myself saying, 'My handicap is 12.' 'Very well,' replied the fat man, 'I'll give you 4 strokes.' We went out to the first tee, and after he had made a moderate shot I hit the drive of my life. My second landed on the green and I ran down a long putt—this for a 4-bogey hole. I'm not going to bore you with details. I won the second and third holes, and then the fat man went to pieces. I never wanted any of my strokes and downed him by 5 and 3. As we re-entered the club-house my partner, who had become strangely silent, walked up to the board which gives the list of handicaps and looked at them. There was my name with 18 opposite it. 'I thought you said your handicap was 12,' he observed. 'Well,' I answered, 'it wasn't more than that this morning.' The fat man was very angry. He said he would report me to the committee, and he did. But the secretary (who happens to be my brother) played up nobly. He communicated with the secretary of the fat man's club, whom he happened to know, and, having found out that the fat man's handicap was not 6 but 12, he wrote to him to say that in view of the fact that 'the lies had been equally bad on both sides' the committee did not propose to take any action. The fat man got no change out of my brother and I kept my sovereign."
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The Globe Trotters.
"Mr. and Mrs. ——, of Knysna, are on a visit to Knysna."—South African Paper.
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There's an angel in our ward as keeps a-flittin' to and fro With fifty eyes upon 'er wherever she may go; She's as pretty as a picture and as bright as mercury, And she wears the cap and apron of a V.A.D.
The Matron she is gracious and the Sister she is kind, But they wasn't born just yesterday and lets you know their mind; The M.O. and the Padre is as thoughtful as can be, But they ain't so good to look at as our V.A.D.
She's a honourable miss because 'er father is a dook, But, Lord, you'd never guess it and it ain't no good to look For 'er portrait in the illustrated papers, for you see She ain't an advertiser, not our V.A.D.
Not like them that wash a tea-cup in an orficer's canteen And then "Engaged in War Work" in the weekly Press is seen; She's on the trot from morn to night and busy as a bee, And there's 'eaps of wounded Tommies bless that V.A.D.
She's the lightest 'and at dressin's and she polishes the floor, She feeds Bill Smith who'll never never use 'is 'ands no more; And we're all of us supporters of the harristocracy 'Cos our weary days are lightened by that V.A.D.
And when the War is over, some knight or belted earl, What's survived from killin' Germans, will take 'er for 'is girl; They'll go and see the pictures and then 'ave shrimps and tea; 'E's a lucky man as gets 'er—and don't I wish 'twas me!
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(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
In No Man's Land (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) is revealed a breadth of vision which may astonish some of us who have been inclined to regard SAPPER as merely a talented story-teller. Among the writers on the War I place him first, for the simple reason that I like him best; and I am not at all sure that I should like him any better if he cured himself of his cardinal fault. With his tongue in his cheek he dashes away from his story to give us either a long or short digression; no more confirmed digressionist ever put pen to paper, and the wonderful thing is that these wanton excursions are worth following. True he often apologises for them, but I do not think that we need take these apologies seriously. This book is divided into four parts, "The Way to the Land," "The Land," "Seed Time," and "Harvest," and in "Seed Time," at any rate, we have a series of chapters which require not only to be read but to be thought over. But whether he is out for fun, as in "Bendigo Jones—His Tree," or for pathos, as in "Morphia," he obtains his effects without the smallest appearance of effort. And I reserve a special word of praise for "My Lady of the Jasmine," and commend it to the notice of those pessimists who hold that only the French and the Americans can write a good short story. Thank the powers that be for SAPPER.
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The Loom of Youth (GRANT RICHARDS) is yet another school story, but with a difference, the difference being, partly at least, that it is written by one who has so lately ceased to belong himself to the life described that his account must carry an authority altogether unusual. Here, one feels, is that strange and so-soon-forgotten country revealed for us from within, and by a native denizen. For this alone Mr. ALEC WAUGH'S book merits the epithet remarkable; indeed, considered as the work of "a lad of seventeen," its vitality, discretion and general maturity of tone seem little short of amazing. Realism is the note of it. The modern schoolboy, as Mr. WAUGH paints him, employs, for example, a vocabulary whose frequency, and freedom may possibly startle the parental reader. Apart from this one might call the book an indictment of hero-worship, as heroism is understood in a society where (still!) athletic eminence places its possessor above all laws. This in itself is so old an educational problem that it is interesting to find it handled afresh in a study of ultra-modern boyhood. The actual matter of the tale, individual character in its reaction to system, is naturally common to most school stories; but even here Mr. WAUGH has contrived to give an ending both original and sincere. Prophecy is dangerous; but from a writer who has proved so brilliantly that, for once, jeunesse peut, one seems justified in hoping that enlarged experience will result in work of the highest quality.
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Quite a host of moral reflections, none of them very original, flock to one's mind in considering by what devious ways our Italian allies came to range themselves on the side of that freedom which they have always loved as well and bravely as any of the rest of us. For instance—a very stale reflection—one sees Germany overdoing her own cleverness and under-rating that of her neighbours—this more especially in her arrogant dominance of Italy's commerce; further, one notices the Hun's Belgian brutalities costing him dear in a quarter least expected; and again one realises Italy's decision as a thing mainly dependent, in spite of all Germany's taking little ways, on a righteous hatred of Austria—a consideration which brings one surprisingly near to gratitude towards the big-bully Government of Vienna. Our southern ally's loyalty to her beautiful "unredeemed" provinces, and her claim, which all right-minded Englishmen (I include myself) most heartily endorse, to dominate the historically Italian waters of the Adriatic, happily proved too strong for a machine-made sympathy for Berlin based on nothing better than a superficial resemblance between the histories of Piedmont and Prussia, and a record of nominal alliance with powers whose respect for paper treaties was always fairly apparent. All the same, in reading Mr. W. KAY WALLACE'S essay in recent history, Greater Italy (CONSTABLE), a volume which I cannot too strongly commend for its admirable way of telling these and similar things, I am struck most of all by the super-incumbent mass of Germanism that had to be burst asunder before the true Italy broke free. The story of that liberation is romance of an amazing order, for in it one sees the very soul of a great and ancient people struggling to renewal of life. It is more than good to have such an ally, it is an inspiration.
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If you wish to complete your knowledge of the working of our new armies and learn something of the business of the A.S.C. you can do so without being bored in L. of C. (CONSTABLE), by Captain JAMES AGATE. The author is one of that bright band of Mancunians which The Manchester Guardian has attached to its august fringes. He writes of the business in hand, the vagaries of stores and indents and mere men and brass hats, on this and the other side of the Channel, all with a very light and engaging pen, and then spreads himself on any old far-off thing that interests him, such as the theatre, perhaps a little self-consciously and with a pleasant air of swagger most forgivable and, indeed, enjoyable. His chief preoccupation is with art and letters, it is clear; but, turning from them to the handling of urgent things and difficult men, he faces the business manfully. Of the men in particular he has illuminating things to say, redounding to their credit and, by implication, to his. To those who appreciate form in penwork this book may be safely recommended.
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"Mr. F.H. ——, the newly co-opted member of the Hampstead Board of Guardians, attended his first meeting of the Board on Thursday, and lost his umbrella."—Hampstead and Highgate Express.
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"BEET COMMISSION CONCLUDES BUSINESS.
Petrograd, July 9.—Except for a few final conferences with the members of the Russian Government, the work here of the Root Commission virtually has been concluded."
The Daily Gleaner (Jamaica).
How headlines jump to conclusions! The Hon. ELIHU ROOT is, we feel confident, anything but beet.
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From a Parish Magazine:—
"BOY SCOUTS.—The troop held their annual sports on Saturday.... The burden of arrangements for all fell upon the Scoutmaster (Rev. ——), and showed how great is the need for him to have some capable assistants."
Still, was it quite tactful to say so?