1. Passages in italics are surrounded by underscores.
2. Images have been moved from the middle of a paragraph to the closest paragraph break.
3. The word manoeuvre uses an oe ligature in the original.
4. Printer's inconsistencies in spelling, punctuation, hyphenation, and ligature usage have been retained.
PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
APRIL 26, 1916.
GENERAL VILLA, in pursuit of whom a United States army has already penetrated four hundred miles into Mexico, is alleged to have died. It is not considered likely, however, that he will escape as easily as all that.
"Germans net the Sound," says a recent issue of a contemporary. We don't know what profit they will get out of it, but we ourselves in these hard times are only too glad to net anything.
Bags of coffee taken from a Norwegian steamer and destined for German consumption have been found to contain rubber. Once more the immeasurable superiority of the German chemist as a deviser of synthetic substitutes for ordinary household commodities is clearly illustrated. What a contrast to our own scientists, whose use of this most valuable food substitute has never gone far beyond an occasional fowl or beefsteak.
It has been suggested that in honour of the tercentenary of SHAKSPEARE'S birth Barclay's brewery should be replaced by a new theatre, a replica of the old Globe Theatre, whose site it is supposed to occupy; and Mr. REGINALD MCKENNA is understood to have stated that it is quite immaterial to him.
"Horseflesh is on sale in the West End," says The Daily Telegraph, "and the public analyst at Westminster reports having examined a smoked horseflesh sausage and found it genuine." It is only fair to our readers, however, to point out that the method of testing sausages now in vogue, i.e. with a stethoscope, is only useful for ascertaining the identity of the animal (if any) contained therein, and is valueless in the case of sausages that are filled with sawdust, india-rubber shavings, horsehair and other vegetables.
Wandsworth Borough has refused the offer of a horse trough on the ground that there are not enough horses to use it. But there are always plenty of shirkers.
Colonel CHURCHILL was reported on Tuesday last as having been seen entering the side door of No. 11, Downing Street. It was, of course, the critical stage door.
The Austrian Government has issued an appeal for dogs "for sanitary purposes." The valuable properties of the dog for sterilising sausage casings have long been a secret of the Teuton.
* * * * *
"Real Harris Hand-Knitted Socks, 1s. 6d.: worth 2s. 6d.; unwearable."—Scotch Paper.
* * * * *
* * * * *
A Chance for the Illiterate.
"Wanted, a good, all-round Gardener; illegible."—Provincial Paper.
"Gardener.—Wanted at once, clever experienced man with good knowledge of toms., cucs., mums., &c., to work up small nursery." Provincial Paper.
One with a knowledge of nursery language preferred.
* * * * *
"MANCHESTER, ENG. The election of directors of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce resulted in the return of eighteen out of twenty-two directors who are definitely committed to the policy of no free trade with the 60th Canadian Battalion." Victoria Colonist (B.C.).
We hope the battalion will not retaliate by refusing protection to Manchester, Eng.
* * * * *
THE CURSE OF BABEL.
Let me tell you about the Baronne de Blanqueville and her grandson.
The Baronne is a Belgian lady who came to England in the early days of the refugee movement, and established herself here in our village.
With her came her younger daughter and Lou-lou, the infant son of an elder daughter, who had for some reason to be left behind in Belgium.
Lou-lou was a year old when, with his grandmother and his aunt, he settled in England as an emigre. He was then inarticulate; now he has gained the use of his tongue.
He has had a little English nursemaid to attend on him, and he has become a familiar object in many English families of the neighbourhood.
In fact, he has had a very English bringing up, and now that he is more than two years old and can talk, he insists on talking English with volubility and understanding it with completeness.
I may mention, by the way, that someone has taught him some expressions unusual in so young a mouth. The other day I met him in his perambulator. He said, "I take the air. I'm damn comfable;" whereupon the nursemaid blushed and chid him.
That, however, is not the point—at any rate, not the whole of it.
What I wish to make clear is this: the Baronne neither speaks nor understands English, whereas Lou-lou speaks a great deal of English and no French at all. He rejects that language with a violent shake of his curly head. He stamps his small foot and tells his adoring grandmother to speak English or leave him alone.
Thus a gulf has begun to yawn between the Baronne and her beloved Lou-lou. Communications are all but broken off. Lou-lou's aunt is in better case, for she is slowly acquiring English; but the Baronne, I think, will never learn any English.
What is to be done?
* * * * *
"The rage for flower-trimming is nothing short of an obeisance."—Evening Paper.
In spite of the War we still bow to the decrees of fashion.
* * * * *
THE JOY TAX.
[By one who is prepared to accept it like a patriot without further protest.]
Now Spring comes laughing down the sky To see her buds all busy hatching; With tender green the woods are gay, And birds, as is their April way, Chirp merrily on the bough, and I Chirp, too, because it's catching.
Full many a joy I must eschew And to the tempter's voice "No! No!" say; With taxes laid on all delights Must miss, with other mirthful sights, On Monday next my annual view Of England's Art Expose.
I must forgo (and bear the worst With what I can of noble calm) a Pure bliss from which I only part With horrid pain about the heart— I mean the humour unrehearsed Of serious British drama.
But, thank the Lord, I need not miss The birds that in their leafy nook coo; Young Spring is mine to taste at large, The Ministry has made no charge For earth that warms to April's kiss; They haven't taxed the cuckoo! O. S.
* * * * *
A VOLUNTEER CASUALTY.
We were "standing easy" prior to the assault on the undefended heights of Spanker's Hill when the voice of the platoon-commander disturbed our thoughts of home and loved ones, and particularly of our Sunday dinners, which would be very much out of season before we could get at them.
"Number 4," he said, in a tone that thrilled us to the bottom twist of our puttees, "these Body-Snatchers (thus coarsely he alluded to the Ambulance Section) have been following us all day and haven't had a single casualty so far. That is why, in the coming advance, I shall be wounded. Sergeant, you will take over the command, should the worst befall. Smith and Williams, as you are both big and heavy, you'd better be knocked out too."
It was with mingled feelings that I heard my name mentioned. In the first place, a feeling of annoyance was engendered at having my proportions thus publicly referred to. But other, and I trust worthier, thoughts came to me, and, turning to my neighbour, I gave him a few last messages of a suitably moving nature to be delivered to my friends. The kind-hearted fellow was deeply affected, and in a voice broken by emotion offered to take charge of my loose change, and asked for my watch as a keepsake. I thanked him with tears in my eyes, but said that the burial party would forward all my valuables to my relations.
Our conversation was interrupted by the command "Platoon—'SHUN. To the left, to six paces, ex-TEND." By an oversight the preliminary formation usually adopted as a precaution against artillery had been omitted, and in a moment we were advancing up the hill in open order.
Scarcely had we started when our officer, the pride of the platoon, threw up his hands and fell. A moment later, chancing on a piece of tempting grass, I decided to lie down, and with a choking gurgle collapsed. As I lay on my back in an appropriate attitude (copied from the cinema) I wondered when the stretcher-party would appear, for the grass was damp and the April wind was chilly; but it was not long before a bright boy, rather over than under military age, ran up and, after a brief glance at me, began to signal with great vigour. He meant well, and out of consideration for his feelings I restrained a desire to tell him that he was creating a beastly draught. However, I asked him if he had any brandy, and, on receiving an answer in the negative, groaned deeply.
"Are you very bad?" he asked.
"No," I replied; "but if I lie here much longer I'll catch cold. Tell your people to hurry up."
When the stretcher-party arrived they decided that I had been shot in the chest, and, to get at the wound, began to remove my garments, till arrested by some virile language thrown off from the part affected. Then they began to carry me towards the gate of the park, despite the fact that the stretcher had been meant to hold someone about six inches shorter than I. Almost immediately the rear man, tripping on a root, fell on top of me, and the front man, being brought to a sudden stop, sat on my feet. When we had sorted ourselves out, and I had stopped talking, more from lack of breath than of matter, we resumed our journey.
After a matter of some three hundred yards the bearers began to feel tired, and, suddenly rolling me off the stretcher, they informed me that I was discharged as cured. Thus rapidly does a soldier of the Volunteers recover. It speaks volumes not only for their high state of physical condition but for the resilience of their moral.
* * * * *
"Bucharest, 8.—The 'Universul' has opened a list of subscriptions in favour of the widows and victims of the coming Austro-Roumanian war."—Balkan News.
* * * * *
"'WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD' AT THE —— PICTURE THEATRE."—Hastings Observer.
The management doesn't mind so long as the fools rush in.
* * * * *
"The Smyth-Pigotts are the owners of Brockley Court and Brockley Hall, near Congresbury, a pretty village which—like Majoribanks—is pronounced Coomesbury."—Daily Sketch.
Just as, according to the old story, Cholmondeley is pronounced Marjoribanks.
* * * * *
"Monster Carnival! In aid of Returned Soldiers' Association. Novel Attractions!!! Realistic Egyptian Pillage, just as our soldiers saw it. Egyptian goods can be purchased here."—Adelaide Register.
We hope this does not mean that our gallant Anzacs have been spoiling the Egyptians.
* * * * *
"A LADY would like to let her beautifully furnished HOUSE or part, or three or four paying guests; from L2 10s. each." Bournemouth Daily Echo.
We have heard of paying guests whom their hosts would have been glad to part with at an even lower figure.
* * * * *
"Notice.—Found, a Broadwood Piano. Apply, Barrack Warden, No. 1, Barrack Store, —— Barracks."—Aldershot Command Orders.
We think some recent criticism of Army administration is undeserved. Care is evidently taken in regard to even little things carelessly left about by the soldier.
* * * * *
"When the election does come there will be no need to ask these useless M.P.'s to resign. They can be kicked out, and there are plenty of workmen in the country who are ready to lend a hand at the kicking. The genuine Labour M.P. is known now, so also is the impostor, who, like the party hack, hails from nowhere." Letter in "The Times."
We suppose the manual kick, as described above, is the non-party hack.
* * * * *
* * * * *
THE WATCH DOGS.
MY DEAR CHARLES,—One of these days I will tell you the more intimate history of the Corps to which I have the honour to belong, and this will give you some cause for mirth. Its members are of all sorts, ages and origins, and they have had between them some odd experiences since that first day when, parading hastily in Kensington Gardens, they wished they hadn't been quite so glib, in their anxiety to get to war, about professing full knowledge of the ways and wiles of the motor bicycle. One at least of them paid the price of inexactitude then and there; he still shudders to think how, put to the test, he unintentionally left the Park for a no less fashionable but much more crowded thoroughfare, to arrive eventually, in the prone position, in a byway of Piccadilly, where small fragments of the machine may still be collected by industrious seekers of curios.
Another, whom the low cunning of the Criminal Bar enabled to avoid the immediate test, paid the full price, with compound interest, later on. Casual observers of the retreat, had there been any, would have become familiar with the sight of him bringing up the rear—a very poor last. To see him arrive, perspiring, over the brow of a hill, with his faithful motor at his side, was to know that the Huns were at the bottom of it. On one occasion they even beat him in the day's march, but were too kind or too blind to seize their advantage. As usual he was taking his obsession along with him, though, if he had but known, he might have got it to do the work by the simple formality of turning the petrol tap from OFF to ON. His was ever a curious life, from the first moment of his joining the Army in tails, a bowler hat, and a large sword wrapped in a homely newspaper. But the inward fun of it all is not for the present, Charles; our clear old friends, the Exigencies, forbidding.
I am reminded of it all by having just crossed with one of the later-joined members. He came fresh from the line to a Head-quarters, and he was walking about in a lane, working off some of his awe of his new surroundings, when he was overtaken by a car containing a General, who stopped and asked him what he was. So imposing was the account he gave of himself that it was said to him, "No doubt, then, you'll know the way to ——," a village at the back of beyond, where a division was lying at rest. In the Army, at any rate at a Head-quarters, we all know everything. So he said, "No doubt, Sir," hoping, if the worst came to the worst, to give some vague directions and not to be present when they were found wanting. But it was his bad luck to have struck one of the more affable Generals. Could he spare the time to come along and direct the driver?
So on to the box he got (it was a closed car) and, with the General's eye always upon his back, he did his best as guide, a task for which his previous career of stockbroker had ill qualified him. The first thing to happen was that the car, proceeding down a narrow lane, got well into the middle of a battalion on the march, which, when the car was firmly jammed amongst the transport, ceased to be on the march, and took a generous ten minutes' halt.... The second thing to happen was a level crossing; which, as they approached it, changed its mind about being a road and became a railway. A nice long train duly arrived, and (this needs no exaggeration) stayed there, with a few restless movements, for twenty minutes by the clock.... The third thing to happen was that he lost himself (and the General); the fourth was the falling of dusk, and the fifth a ploughed field, with which my friend, alighting, had to confess that he was not so intimately acquainted as he could have wished.
Had there been a scene, he could, he says, have endured the worst bravely, standing to attention and taking it as it came. Not so, however; his was the wrong sort of General for the purpose. As does the partner at the dance, over whose priceless gown you have upset the indelible ice, he said it didn't matter. He said he'd give the division a miss, and return whence they had come. This they began to do, when they had got the car out of the ploughed field, and this they went on doing until the sixth thing happened, which was a burst tyre.
Again, had there been a scene, my man could have explained that this wasn't his fault; but no one said it was his fault. Equally it was never openly alleged that he was to blame for the driver's not being prepared with a spare wheel ready for use. But his embarrassment was such that my man was grateful to heaven for reminding him at this juncture of the existence of R.F.C. Head-quarters, about a kilometre away. He said he'd run and borrow a wheel off them, and before the General could say him nay he'd started.... He ran all the way, and burst, panting, into the officers' mess, where he had the misfortune to strike another itinerant General.
It never rains but it pours, and the area seemed to be infested with Generals of quite the wrong sort. He couldn't have hit upon a more kind and genial and inappropriate one than this. No, he wouldn't allow a word of apology or explanation from this exhausted lieutenant until the latter had rested and refreshed himself with a cup of tea. No, not out of that pot; it had been standing too long. Tea which had stood should not be drunk, for reasons detailed at length. No doubt the Colonel, whose guest he was, would order some more to be made. It would take two minutes—it did take twenty. No, no; there was nothing to say and nothing need be said. It was this General's particular wish that he should be at peace and make himself at home. Let him make his explanations and apologies later.
Whatever you would have done, my overwhelmed friend temporized. He was just edging the conversation round to the other General, waiting alone in the dark wet road, when the General in the nice warm room rose to go, commanding my friend not to disturb himself on that account. Being a man of some years he was a slow goer; being a General, he was not to be interrupted in his going....
I don't know exactly how it all ended, nor, you may not be surprised to learn, does my friend, though he is always expecting to hear.
There was also on our boat a subaltern, coming to France for the first time. He wanted me to tell him all about it. How well I know these subalterns who want to know all about it. I was one myself once. Does he ask you what it's like in the mud? Does he listen if you give him details of bloodshed? Does he inquire about the food, the washing facilities, parapet or parados; what a time-fuse does when its time has expired, or even as to the use and abuse of the entrenching tool? No, he's for war only, and there's only one question in war: Do you or do you not need a Sam Browne belt in the trenches?
It is an old question; there is no solution. I told him that some say one thing and some say another, and, as both are authorities with whom you are not in a position to argue, the only way to get out of the difficulty is to keep out of the trenches.
Yours ever, HENRY.
* * * * *
* * * * *
From a hotel advertisement:—
"EXCELLENT CUISINE. SEPARATE STABLES." West-Country Paper.
The WISE KING must have had a presentiment of this arrangement when he wrote: "Better a dinner of herbs, where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith."
* * * * *
"The Premier (Sir Alexander Peacock) said that many years ago, when the world rang with the atrocities of Turks, Rev. Dr. Parker startled the whole world when, in a fiery address on those awful atrocities which were visited on the Christians, he cried, 'Dod damn the Sultan.' Now, when they heard of the cruelties and indescribable sufferings which had been visited upon the innocent people in order to satisfy the ideas of one man they could say, 'Kod damn the Kaiser.' (Great cheers)."—Sydney Daily Telegraph.
Strong language for a Premier! But the printer has done his best to tone it down.
* * * * *
NURSERY RHYMES OF LONDON TOWN.
The fruit hangs ripe, the fruit hangs sweet, High and low in my Orchard Street, Apples and pears, cherries and plums, Something for everyone who comes. If you're a Pedlar I'll give you a medlar; If you're a Prince I'll give you a quince; If you're a Queen, A nectarine; If you're the King Take anything, Apricots, mulberries, melons or red and white Currants like rubies and pearls on a string! Little girls each Shall have a peach, Boys shall have grapes that hang just out of reach— Nothing's to pay, whatever you eat Of the fruit that grows in my Orchard Street.
* * * * *
"USEFL. hlp. ckng. no wshg. fam. 2." Morning Paper.
Th. is rl. wd. plp. ecnmy.
* * * * *
A NIGHT OUT WITH A ZEPPELIN.
BY KARL VON WEEKEND
Beneath us—beneath, in a manner of speaking, the iron heel of the all-conquering Fatherland—lay perfidious England. I, as a mere layman, had, of course, not the vaguest idea as to precisely what vital portion of the doomed island was immediately below us. Not so my host, the Captain Sigismund von Muenchhausen, who suddenly snapped together the stethoscope through which he had been gazing and rapped out a monosyllabic order down the speaking tube at his right hand.
"We are now," he said, turning courteously to me, "diametrically above the entrenched camp of Little Tillingham-under-Hill." A fearful crash sounded from the depths below and a voice muttered something through the speaking tube. "A hit!" cried the Captain without emotion. "Ober-Leutnant von Dachswurst reports that the Arsenal, three munitions factories and two infant schools are in flames. Ah! Now we have reached Birmingham!" Another crash rent the abysm. "Now Glasgow!" A third terrific explosion was audible.
"But," I cried, "we can't have got from Birmingham to Glasgow in thirty-five seconds." For a moment the Captain's eyes flashed angrily. He clenched his feet, and, remembering the horrible fate of the seasick sailor, I crouched against the bulwark. With an effort, however, the man mastered himself. I was relieved to see an enigmatic smile overspread his countenance.
"It is plain," he said, in the voice of one patiently rebuking a child, "that you do not know what a German airship can do. Ah! ha! There goes Bristol!" he added, as further detonations smote upon our ears.
And so the hideous carnage proceeded. Grasmere, Aberystwith, Stratford-on-Avon, Freshwater Bay and the Lizard—with dreadful precision these teeming hives of English industry were laid waste, incinerated, scattered to the winds in fine impalpable dust. I thought sadly of the brave men in khaki that were being cut off by the thousand in their prime (for the gallant Captain had taken the utmost precaution not to drop any of his bombs in the neighbourhood of non-combatants). But, after all, I mused, they will soon be replaced by intelligent Germans, a blessing that civilization will not be slow to appreciate.
At this moment the Captain approached me with an object in his hand. "You neutrals," he said, "have been deceived before now by the ridiculous reports disseminated by our enemies as to the results of these raids. But here is the proof." He then explained to me that to every Zeppelin was attached a large sinker or plummet, which was covered with grease and lowered from a drum to a few yards above the spot where the bomb was destined to fall. To this plummet adhered fragments of various objects, animate or other, which the explosion of the missile hurled into the air. Such a fragment the Captain was now extending for my observation. I admitted that to my uninitiated eye it closely resembled a portion of the outer surface of a cow or some kindred animal. "You are indeed ignorant," said my host, smiling in the same enigmatic way. "The object is undoubtedly a fragment of the propeller shaft of a large vessel, which satisfies me that at Swanage, where our last bomb was dropped, a portion of the High Seas Fleet was anchored. And as a matter of fact," he added, producing a small dark object from his pocket, "here is a part of Sir JOHN JELLICOE'S necktie. Notice how precisely it tallies with the descriptions furnished by our secret agents, one of whom is actually engaged about the Admiral's person disguised as a pastry-cook."
Here, then, was the proof. One could not doubt the evidence of one's senses. But mine had been subjected to an unusual test that night, and when the Captain, well satisfied with his night's work, courteously invited me to have another glass of schnapps with him I accepted with alacrity. The glass was hardly at my lips when an orderly announced that we were at anchor in the shed. Thanking the brave Captain for the most wonderful experience of a not uninteresting lifetime, I hurried away to my hotel and fell into a deep slumber. When I awoke late that afternoon my manservant placed in my hand the last edition of the London Times. It stated that there had been a Zeppelin raid, and that 19 civilians, three cows, four churches, two rows of cottages, one omnibus, and no soldiers had been destroyed.
* * * * *
"Socialist Working Man, aged 25, would welcome companionship of Socialist exempted conscientious objector, chiefly for week-end cycling; or athletic lady holding similar views would suit, residing North Kent area." Socialist Paper.
It would be much better for him to meet an athletic lady not holding similar views.
* * * * *
THE OCC. POET'S APOLOGIA.
Where the moon's unmitigated crescent, Sailing through the amethystine deeps, With a smile sardonic and senescent Down upon our Armageddon peeps; Thither, drawn by sympathy ecstatic, Like a shooting star my spirit flies From the company of gross, lymphatic Souls entangled by terrestrial ties.
Where the sombre azimuths are booming, Flecked with argent elemental foam, And the stately colocynths are blooming In a salicylic monochrome; There, transported on pellucid pinions, Sick of common sense I seek repose, Far from the disconsolate dominions Tainted by the tyranny of prose.
O'er the whole translunar gamut ranging. There my astral body slides and skims, Choriambic melodies exchanging With the apolaustic cherubims; Weaving in a polyphonic pattern Harmonies that mock at clefs and bars; Toying with the shining rings of Saturn, Throwing star-dust in the eyes of Mars.
There, suspended in a sumptuous limbo, Like a happier version of the boy Drawn by Mr. BLACKWOOD in his Jimbo, I shall taste of bliss without alloy; Other minstrels may indulge in fighting, I myself cannot so far forget As to shun the raptures of inditing Occ. verse for the Bestspinster Gazette.
* * * * *
For our "Glimpses of the Obvious":
"An interesting feature in the prone trees was that they all fell in one direction, showing the direction from which the blast came." Morning Paper.
* * * * *
"So soft and loose was the earth that the trench walls had to be rivetted." Daily Sketch.
A very curious treatment. Personally we always use a safety-pin.
* * * * *
"Inquiries are being received at Lloyds for insurance to pay total loss in case of peace being declared during the present war." Montreal Gazette.
We ourselves should take our chance of this contingency.
* * * * *
"The total import value of matches is less than L1,000,000 per annum, and if L2,000,000 is to be collected, it will make matches 6d. or even more per dozen."—Daily Chronicle.
Mr. MCKENNA surely cannot have realized this.
* * * * *
MR. PUNCH'S POTTED FILMS. THE SENTIMENTAL DRAMA.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Whene'er I see some high brass-hatted man Inspect the Depot with his ribboned train, When all seems spick and absolutely span And no man spits and nothing gives him pain, I think what blissful ignorance is theirs Who only see us on inspection days, And wonder, could they catch us unawares, Would they be still so eloquent of praise?
They think the soldiers are a cleanly type, For all their brass is bright with elbow-fat, Burnished their bayonets and oiled their hyp; Do they suppose they always look like that? They see the quarters beautiful and gay, Yet never realise, with all their lore, Those bright new beds were issued yesterday And will to-morrow be returned to store.
They doubtless say, "Was ever drill so deft? Were ever rifles so precisely sloped? Observe that section change direction left So much, much better than the best we hoped;" But little know with what grim enterprise For week on week that clever-looking crew Have practised up for their especial eyes The sole manoeuvre they can safely do.
And I could tell where many a canker gnaws Within the walls they fancy free from sin; I know how officers infringe their laws, I know the corners where the men climb in; I know who broke the woodland fence to bits And what platoon attacked the Shirley cow, While the dull Staff, for all their frantic chits, Know not the truth of that distressing row.
These are the things I think they should be taught, But, since I know what ages must elapse, What forms be filled, what signatures be sought, Ere I have speech with such exalted chaps, I here announce that they are much misled, That they should see us when we think them far, Should steal upon us, all unheralded, And find what frauds, what awful frauds we are.
* * * * *
"I was astonished that not a Londoner raised a cheer for the fine Bankers' Battalion of the Fusiliers which marched through the City to-day. We are really absurdly shy." "Quex Junior" in "Evening News," April 15.
"The older comrades, who are keeping banks going in the absence of the younger patriots, turned out to cheer their comrades." "Evening News," same date.
The older bankers, we must presume, are all from the provinces, and not so shy.
* * * * *
[With Mr. Punch's apologies to a noble animal.]]
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
Monday, April 17th.—The hon. Member who described the present Parliamentary situation as "a cabal every afternoon and a crisis every second day" is justified of his epigram. The lobbies this afternoon were full of agitated whisperers, with much talk of a divided Cabinet and this and that Minister on the brink of resignation, because they cannot agree upon the number of men they want for the Army or the best method of obtaining them. All of which must be very comforting to our enemies.
Some anxiety is felt on the Treasury Bench owing to the marked shortage of Members from Ireland. Hitherto, whenever the Government has seemed to be in danger, Mr. REDMOND'S followers have trooped over from Dublin to the rescue. But to-day most of them are absent. Some attribute their defection to chagrin at their shortsightedness in resisting the appointment of Mr. CAMPBELL as Lord Chancellor of Ireland. As Attorney-General they fear he will exert a much more potent influence in Irish affairs.
Faithful among the faithless, Mr. GINNELL was in his place. He is not interested in the troubles of the British Government. His present obsession is the alleged over-taxation of his own beloved country. In order that he might have due verge and scope to expatiate upon that grievance be pressed the PRIME MINISTER to arrange an early sitting on Wednesday and also to suspend the eleven o'clock rule. At this naive suggestion the House relieved its tension with a hearty laugh.
How much truth there may be in the stories of Ministerial dissension I do not know; but there is undoubtedly a CAVE on the Treasury Bench. In the absence of the CHANCELLOR he took charge of the Report Stage of the Finance Bill, and very well he acquitted himself. Incidentally the SOLICITOR-GENERAL had the honour of bringing about a notable reconciliation. Among the few occupants of the Nationalist benches were Mr. DILLON and Mr. TIMOTHY HEALY, who for some years past have rarely met without a collision. Accordingly when Mr. DILLON had resisted a proposal to fine any visitor to an entertainment who did not pay the Amusements-tax, it was confidently expected that Mr. HEALY would find excellent reasons for asserting that this was the best clause in the whole Bill, and that only a melancholy humbug would oppose it. Instead he vigorously supported his former foe with an argument that I am sure Mr. DILLON would never have thought of. "Was it not a weird proposal," he asked, "that a child who had unwittingly walked; through a turnstile should forthwith become a convict and lose its Old-Age Pension?"
Tuesday, April 18th.—When one has at last screwed up one's courage to have a tooth out, there is nothing more unnerving than to be told by the dentist that he cannot operate to-day and that one must come again to-morrow. The House of Commons felt like that this afternoon. Members had flocked from all parts of the kingdom—Nationalist Ireland excepted—to hear the PRIME MINISTER'S promised statement. Col. CHURCHILL, Lord HUGH CECIL (with a patch on his lofty brow denoting a recent casualty), and other warrior-statesmen had reluctantly torn themselves from the attractions of the trenches to do their duty at Westminster. The Ladies' Gallery was filled to overflowing.
Then the ominous word went round, "No statement to-day." Sure enough, when the PRIME MINISTER rose and hushed the buzz of conversation that had rendered Questions inaudible, it was merely to observe that there were still some points outstanding, that no statement would be adequate without their adjustment, and that he would therefore postpone his motion for the Easter adjournment until to-morrow. Sir EDWARD CARSON'S motion demanding compulsory service for all men of military age would, if necessary, be discussed on Thursday.
Members hastened out into the Lobby to chatter about the new phase of the crisis and to speculate as to what were the points outstanding, and whether the MINISTER OF MUNITIONS was or was not the prickliest of them. To the noise and flurry created by their exit Mr. MCKENNA owes it that his Finance Bill will appear in the Journals of the House as having been passed without a dissenting voice. Mr. WHITLEY, who was in the Chair, has not the commanding tones of Mr. LOWTHER, and when he put the question, "That this Bill be now read a Third time," nobody rose to speak. Accordingly he declared that the "Ays" had it; and though several Members then protested that they had not heard the question put, and urged that it should be put again, he politely but firmly declined to oblige them.
In an incautious moment yesterday Mr. TENNANT advised Mr. SNOWDEN to use his imagination. I should have thought the advice was superfluous, for, to judge by some of the stories that the Member for Blackburn is in the habit of retailing to the House regarding the persecution of conscientious objectors by callous N.C.O.'s, his imagination is working overtime. On the motion for the adjournment Mr. TENNANT had to listen to several more of them. He was rewarded for his patience by obtaining an unexpected testimonial from Mr. KING, who in his most patronising tones declared that he was sorry for the UNDER SECRETARY, who was really "a great deal better than the average man in the street."
In readiness for the PRIME MINISTER'S anticipated statement, Lord MILNER had put down a motion in the House of Lords in favour of compulsory service for all men of military age; and, despite the changed circumstances, he persisted in moving it, and made an admirable speech in its support. Lord CREWE, indeed, found it unanswerable for the time being, as Downing Street was "still thinking." He could not say when its thoughts would be resolved into decision, but hoped it might be to-morrow—or, if not to-morrow, Thursday—or, if not Thursday, then perhaps Monday. Lord CREWE has not sat at Mr. ASQUITH'S feet all these years without catching something of his methods.
Wednesday, April 19th.—The House was even more crowded and anxious than yesterday. In the Peers' Gallery a dim figure, carrying a bunch of primroses and looking astonishingly like Mr. DENNIS EADIE, was heard to murmur, "I wonder whether England loves Coalitions any more than she did in my time." The present PRIME MINISTER appears to think that she does, for, after remarking that continued disagreement on material points threatened a breakup of the Government, he ventured to describe that contingency as a national disaster. The Liberals thought so too, and cheered loudly; the Unionists were not quite so sure, and Sir EDWARD CARSON, beside whom sat Col. CHURCHILL, looking as if he had never heard of Ulster, indicated that, while he would be the last man to refuse the Government time for repentance and reformation, he would in the meantime keep his Resolution on the Paper for use if necessary when the House met again.
* * * * *
* * * * *
"WANTED. Reliable Woman to Wash Mondays, 2s. 6d. daily."—Llanelly Star.
Some Mondays are so black.
* * * * *
"War Work for capable open-air Woman of leisure. Wanted to help sister of man called up to run sole grocery shop in lovely country."—Advt. in "The Times."
Why wasn't he called up to fight?
* * * * *
The Observer rebuked The Daily News for unkindness in remarking that at a certain point in the recent "Poets' Reading," Mr. BIRRELL, "who had been sitting with his head in his hands, looked up delighted." But was it quite nice of The Observer itself to say in its account of the same function that "the Prime Minister looked in when the readings were in progress, and remained for some time talking with many friends"?
* * * * *
* * * * *
This was the day appointed, after considerable discussion, for our visit to London, and at an early hour Frederick and I were ready for the journey. Frederick, who is tending slowly, as it seems to me, towards an as yet sufficiently remote ninth birthday, had been vigorously and successfully scrubbed till he shone with an unwonted absence of grime; his hair had been temporarily battened down; his Eton collar was speckless, and his knickerbocker suit, while not aggressively new, was appropriate and free from visible rents. I cannot say he was impressed with the solemnity of the occasion, but he was eager and fully determined to purchase as many stamps as could be secured for the generous prize of money bestowed upon him by a lady who had observed his progress in the study of Nature—beetles, moths, tadpoles and the like—and had noted his ever-growing passion for postage-stamps.
London he looked upon as one gigantic repository of stamps. I spoke to him of Trafalgar Square and the Nelson Column and the Landseer Lions. He replied by informing me that there was a certain issue of Mauritius which was valued at L1,200. "If," he said, "I could get that some day I shouldn't want to collect any more."
"It seems," I said, "a lot of money to pay for a small piece of paper."
"Yes," he agreed, "it is; but perhaps I could get it cheap in some old shop which didn't know much about it."
I then tried to divert his attention to the prospect of having luncheon with me at the Rhadamanthus Club, but he begged me not to interrupt him, as he was endeavouring to calculate how many years it would take him to get together the sum if he could manage to save two-pence a week out of his pocket-money. After a short mental struggle, however, he gave it up and banished the blue Mauritius, or whatever it is, from his ambitions and his conversation.
Before we started Francesca addressed a few earnest words to me about the proper care of a boy in London.
"Be sure," she said, "to see that he keeps his hands clean. I should hate to think that he was wandering about Piccadilly and Pall Mall with dirty hands."
"He'll have to wander," I said, "with such hands as Nature provides for him. No little boy can ever keep his hands clean anywhere for more than half a minute at a stretch."
"But you might give him an occasional wash, you know."
"I will do everything," I said, "that may become a father, short of carrying about a wash-hand basin and a jug of water and a piece of soap and a towel through Piccadilly and Pall Mall."
"And his hair," she said,—"you'll not let it got too untidy, will you?"
"I'll brush it when I can," I said; "but you must remember that a little boy without a Catherine-wheel of hair on the back of his head is only fit for a museum. I must insist on his keeping his Catherine-wheel substantially intact."
Well, at last we got off in the train on our adventure, I with a morning paper, and Frederick deep in a stamp-catalogue, from which he occasionally brought forth things old and new. In due time we reached our destination and stood triumphant in the stamp-shop. It was not a large shop, but it was a rich shop, owning countless valuable varieties, and Frederick, whose hands were now of the subfuse hue which Cambridge insists on for the garments of her candidates, was soon engaged in an animated discussion with the affable and amused proprietor. At last the five shillings were exhausted and the deal was complete, the last item consisting of a perfectly terrific set of Gaboon stamps, each decorated with the fuzzy head of a spear-bearing native warrior. It speaks volumes for the power and courage of our French allies that they should have been able to overcome these savage and formidable tribesmen, and reduce them to the order that is implied by the existence of a post-office and the possession of stamps.
We now found that we had about forty minutes to spare. It is hardly necessary to say that, being in the immediate neighbourhood of the Strand, we devoted the time to a Cinema. The change from the Gaboon and its truculent inhabitants to a highly sentimentalised fishing-village was something of a wrench, but Frederick, clutching his purchases and his catalogue as if his life depended on stamps, was equal to it. He bore without flinching the storms and the wrecks, and the bodies of drowned men tossed upon the shore. Nor did he audibly disapprove when one fisherman, rescued from death, lost his memory for many years, and eventually regained it in extreme old age amid the rejoicings of his relatives and neighbours.
Thence we passed by a happy change to the detached and melancholy malice of Mr. CHARLES CHAPLIN, of whom I can now say, Vidi tantum. Mr. CHAPLIN'S victim on this occasion was a well-dressed foreign gentleman of perfect manners but fiery temper, who was compelled to suffer a series of dreadful indignities. We left him struggling silently but furiously against an adhesive lobster salad which Mr. CHAPLIN had, in an absent-minded moment, plastered over his face.
We now went on to the Rhadamanthus. Here the rite of washing and brushing was duly performed, Frederick remarking with obvious regret that if it had only been on the Cinema he would have had to throw the soap at me and splash the water in my face. "But," he added, "I shall be able to do it to Alice when I get home." He was not at all overwhelmed by the marble and gilded splendours of our palace, but sat himself down to luncheon as if he had an immemorial right to be there. General Wilbraham (in khaki), Mr. Justice Black, and Mr. Trevor, the eminent publisher, kind old gentlemen, my friends and contemporaries, came up to us and were introduced to the little boy and smiled at him and patted his head, where the indomitable Catherine-wheel still whirled in triumph, and all declared that it was hardly tolerable in another to be so young, and asked him what it felt like, and said that growing up was the great mistake.
And then a strange thing happened. The luncheon-room suddenly became a hall filled with boys. The General and the Judge and the Publisher dwindled and changed. The long-lost hair came back to their heads in great untidy tufts; they put on Eton jackets and collars and grubby hands. In fact, they were little boys again; and Master Wilbraham said he was keeping Cave, and Master Black said something was a regular chouse, and Master Trevor declared violently that somebody was a sneak and that somebody else must have tweaks for new clothes. It lasted for a moment, and then, as with a puff of air, it all changed back, and we were again in the luncheon-room of the club, four time-worn veterans and one eager little boy tightly grasping a catalogue of stamps. R. C. L.
* * * * *
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
"THE SHOW SHOP."
The drama is almost the only religion I know that can expose the mysteries of its ritual to the vulgar gaze and yet retain the devotion of its worshippers. There is nothing a British audience so loves as to be taken behind the scenes and shown how it is done—or not done; and then it will attend the next play and go on adoring with the blindest infatuation. Were it not for this astounding gift of resilience one might deplore the prurient curiosity that wants to peep into the hollow image of Isis and get at the machinery of the priesthood.
More human and wholesome is the satisfaction derived from the revelation of amateur foibles, for here we are laughing at ourselves, as in A Pantomime Rehearsal. In The Show Shop this element was supplied by a young plutocrat who took a small part with a travelling company in order to be near his fiancee, the leading lady; and continued in it as jeune premier because she refused to be made love to on the stage by anybody else. In assuming a role for which he was incredibly ill-qualified he seemed likely to facilitate the achievement of his purpose, namely to make the play a hopeless failure and so secure the deliverance of his lady from the thraldom of her mother's ambitions and set her free to marry him.
However, the failure failed to come off, and although he forgot to remove his overcoat (containing the stolen bonds) at a critical juncture on which the Great Situation turned—the error was so deadly that the mother, who had stage-managed the thing and was witnessing the first performance from a box, actually rose in her seat to correct it—the play was a roaring success; and there was nothing for it but a secret marriage, marred by the prospect of a two years' run "on Broadway."
Mr. A. E. MATTHEWS, as the amateur, made extraordinarily good fun for us; and there was something fresh in the idea of following up the dress rehearsal with a first night. It not only gave the amateur his chance of making the big mistake against which he had been thoroughly warned, but our own applause allowed the company to put into practice the lessons they had learned in those sacred conventions which regulate the taking of a call.
There are those who say that Transatlantic humour should be interpreted exclusively by a native cast, and that an Anglo-American alliance is a mistake. I trust President WILSON'S recent policy will not be affected by this view. Certainly, though the combination was responsible for the noisiest fun of the farce, the purely American performance of Miss MARGARET MOFFATT at the opening of the First Act was as good as anything in the play. But happily this is not one of those imported creations that overwhelm my uninstructed intelligence with exotic colour and exotic slang.
Mr. EDMUND GWENN, as Max Rosenbaum, impresario, was in irresistible form. Miss MARIE LOeHR, in the part of the leading lady, was at her lightest and therefore her best; but Lady TREE (her designing mother), though she played very hard and incisively, could scarcely have satisfied her own very nice sense of humour with what was to be got out of a character that resembled nothing on earth (or the Eastern hemisphere anyhow).
In the midst of all the mirth there was a pathetic passage between a couple of impecunious players, Johnny Brinkley (played by Mr. GEORGE ELTON, who had many good things to say and said them well) and Effie, his wife, on the theme of the precariousness of their career. It must have melted the cynical heart of many a critic in the audience, and I for one was almost persuaded to confine myself for the future to encomium in these columns.
However, there is no flattery in the compliments I beg to offer to Mr. JAMES FORBES for a very diverting evening. Perhaps the last Act dragged a little, but in any case after the orgy he had given us we were ripe for reaction. With most imported plays one is apt to doubt whether the humour is novel in its essence or merely a matter of unfamiliar form, common enough in its place of origin. But the humour of Mr. FORBES, or at least the best of it, is something more than American. O. S.
* * * * *
"She heard him blowing his nose on the hall mat, and she understood the major sufficiently to know that this portended something."—Home Chat.
We have always regarded this behaviour as ominous, even in the case of civilians.
* * * * *
"Once you have a wife and are tied down to the world, she creates the necessity of a house and saves you from being a wanderer on the face of the earth. No wife, no house. Hence, say our Shastras, it is not the building called the house that is the wife, it is the wife who is the house. And even now, both among the high and the low, it is usual for a Hindu to speak of his wife as his house." N. G. CHANDAVARKARIN "The Times of India."
We foresee domestic trouble when the Flat system reaches India.
* * * * *
Having alighted on strange ground at Chiswick Park Station, I was lost. My destination was HOGARTH'S House—one of the few homes of the illustrious which are preserved for pious pilgrims, but whether to go this way or that I had no notion, nor was there anyone to ask. I therefore turned to the left and, just after being half-blinded by a dusty whirlwind, stopped an errand-boy and was told by him I had done right, and had but to keep on.
I therefore continued, but with so little confidence that a hundred yards further on I stopped another wayfarer, who, however, had no knowledge of any Hogarth but a local laundry of that name, and could not say where it was.
It was then that I fell into the arms of as admirable although peculiar a man as I ever hope to meet, and communicative too. He was one of those elderly men who keep their youth, largely by virtue of cheerful spirits. He was short and active and he wore a cap. He had sandy-grey hair and a touch of sandy-grey whisker; his eye was bright and his cheeks were ruddy. He beamed with contentment. He may not have been, as the diverting Mr. BERRY says in Tina, "fearfully crisp," but he was crisp enough.
Did he know Chiswick? Why, he had known it for nearly sixty years. Then he knew HOGARTH'S House? No, he couldn't say he did, but, anyhow, it must be in the other direction, because this, strictly speaking, was Acton Green and not Chiswick at all. To get to Chiswick I ought to have gone the other way. "But a depraved errand-boy——" I began to say, and then realising that the recapitulation of other people's errors is perhaps the idlest form of speech, where nearly all lack necessity, I said instead that the natives did not seem to specialise much in knowledge of their locality; to which he replied that they ought to, for there was no more beautiful place in the world.
"I'm going in the direction you want, myself," he added. "The fact is we're moving, and I've got to get some new blinds, and the shop's on your way."
So we fell into step, I with great difficulty keeping up with his happy buoyancy.
Yes, he admitted, moving was a trial, but his new house was far more comfortable than the old one, and, after all, what's a little trouble?
This was a revolutionary enough remark, but when he went on to ask, Wasn't it a lovely spring morning? I felt shamed completely, for I was still angry with the gusts under the scudding sky. And it had been a lovely night, too, he added. Not a cloud all night. And a moon! such a moon! He never remembered a lovelier night. How did he know so much about the night? Why, he was a night watchman. In the General Omnibus Company. Had been for years. When then did he sleep? Oh, he would soon be in bed, but he liked a walk in the morning. Especially such a morning as this. In two hours' time he'd be fast asleep. Oh no, he didn't mind being on duty at night, and then, being in the General, he could have rides for nothing, and only the other day he'd been to Bushy Park to see the fallen trees. My, what a grand sight! He'd never seen so many fine trees on their sides. Wonderful it was.
Didn't Chiswick look grand in the Spring? he asked me. Such lovely blossom in the gardens. Chiswick had once been famous for its fruit orchards, and many trees still remained. Didn't I think it pretty?
As a matter of fact it was looking to me exactly like other suburbs; but I hadn't the heart to dash so enthusiastic and friendly a creature; so I said I thought Chiswick charming.
And healthy, he went on: there wasn't a healthier place anywhere—all sand. Wherever you dug you'd find sand.
I had a sudden vision of myself, spade in hand, testing this statement; but he allowed no time for such diversions of thought. The goodness of Chiswick and the importance of praising it were too urgent with him.
After passing the station we came to a block of peculiarly hideous flats on the right. There, he said, pointing to them, wasn't that convenient? What could a clerk want better than that? For himself he couldn't ask a better fate than to live at Chiswick. Such a fine High Street, and the biggest music-hall in the suburbs. The picture palaces too. But he was sorry to say that some Chiswick people had taken to going to a new one at Hammersmith. That was a pity, he thought. Had I ever seen such a nice Green?
By this time I was becoming stunned. I pinched myself to discover whether or not I dreamed. A Londoner, or Greater Londoner, pleased with his home; an Englishman of any description satisfied with anything English, and especially just now, when the rule is to cry stinking fish! What could be the matter?
I would try him, I thought, in his most sensitive spot, his pocket; and the opportunity came naturally enough for we were passing the shops in the High Street and he began to extol their merits.
"But isn't everything horribly dear nowadays?" I said.
"Yes," he replied, gaily "it is; but I can remember when it was dearer."
What is one to do with a man like that? Had we not now come to my turning, Duke's Avenue, where he bade me good-bye, I might have discovered that he did not think Lord KITCHENER an imbecile, Mr. BALFOUR a mere salary-hunter, and Mr. ASQUITH a traitor. To such an oddly constructed mind even those things were possible.
* * * * *
* * * * *
(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)
Mr. BELLOC can, I am sure, write entertainingly about any phase of the French Revolution on his head, and in The Last Days of the French Monarchy (CHAPMAN AND HALL) he has apparently done so. I cannot think it will add to his reputation. It will be something if it doesn't hurt it. He has taken a short story, and by a process of dextrous padding and the practice of a method, which is becoming an obsession with him, of going deep into the obvious with much industry and circumstance, he has contrived, with the addition of a number of plates—some of singular irrelevance—a fattish book. Even ignorant persons like this Learned Clerk are apt to be chagrined by being so obviously written down to. On the other hand, naturally, an author who knows his intriguing subject so well and drives so forceful a pen cannot fail to be interesting. The historian seems most concerned to prove, by his familiar and plausible method of going over the ground "in the same season, in the same weather, after the same rains, in the same mist," that the Prussian charge by Valmy Mill miscarried only because the infantry got bogged in marsh that looked like stubble. So now we know!
* * * * *
From the list of books already published by Mr. CECIL HEADLAM it is easy to see that he is by choice a topographer rather than a novelist. Indeed the fact is made sufficiently obvious to the reader of Red Screes (SMITH, ELDER). Its sub-title is A Romance of Lakeland, and so strongly developed is the place-spirit in its author that he is constantly breaking the rather tenuous thread of his story to introduce long descriptions of Cumberland scenery and people, and as this is most easily done by sending his chief characters for walks in the districts that Mr. HEADLAM wishes to talk about the result is that I seldom read a novel in which the protagonists were kept so sternly on the move. But I am far from saying that the result is not happy enough, especially for those readers who already know and love the neighbourhood that the author handles so well. As for the tale, that, as I have hinted, is nothing to keep you awake o' nights. There is a millionaire in it, with one daughter (whom he hates) and a very unpleasant secretary, who loves the daughter for her prospects and a country lass for her looks; and there is a great deal of the most unconvincing finance that ever I read, even in fiction. As for the secretary's end, it wouldn't be fair to give that away, as it is really the only point at which the plot quickens into sufficient vigour to hold its own with the setting. Mr. HEADLAM obviously both knows and loves the land of red screes; I am doubtful whether he is as much at home with the stock-manipulators of Wall Street or their emotional offspring. And I don't like his introduction of the second heroine—"The girl's head was bare, save for the crowning glory of womanhood." What I mean is, if it hadn't had that much covering——
* * * * *
The King's Men (SECKER) are just our friends, yours and mine and Mr. JOHN PALMER'S, who have exchanged their tools and toys, their pens, wigs, brushes, books, spats and dreams for stars (one, two or three) and scars; all drawn into the Great Adventure which began on that 4th of August so many long years ago. Dilettante Pelham, prig and pacificist not from passion but from detachment, always so unbeatable in argument and always so wrong; sportsman Rivers, seeing simply and straight; crank Smith; comfortable Baddeley in his snug Government berth; poser Ponsonby, always doing the thing that's the thing to do; exquisite Graham, with his fair lodge in the wilderness—all hallowed by the great consecration. There are, too, the King's women and an unhappy necessary stay-at-home or two, and a big and rather crude contractor, who will be master in his own works. But the young men are the folk Mr. PALMER best understands and presents in turns of clever and vehement talk. I beg you to read this book for these good things and for a tender love of England which shines nobly between the lines of it.
* * * * *
Perhaps Fauvette, the heroine of The Green Orchard (CASSELL), was too modern to have much acquaintance with the works of the late WILLIAM BLACK. Which was a pity, as a recollection of A Daughter of Heth might have withheld her from her impulsive marriage with Martin Wilderspin, or from feeling so much like a gold-fish out of water when he took her away from Paris to share a life that was a dreary contrast to all her previous experience. In any case I cannot hold her blameless for the resulting shipwreck. A bride who comes down late for a most critical little dinner to her husband's family, and attires herself (see cover) like a circus-rider, simply is not giving matrimony a fair chance. Moreover I seem to observe that Mr. ANDREW SOUTAR thinks this was rather sporting in his heroine. He certainly loads the dice in her favour, for, when the inevitable had happened and Martin and Fauvette had separated, the lady sought the consolations of literature and became (as heroines will) the sensation of the hour. Though The Green Orchard is a brisk easy-running tale fidelity to life is hardly its strong point. Of course it was not to be expected that Fauvette would escape being adored by Martin's best friend; the real touch of originality is the final reward of this kind gentleman. For my own part I certainly expected—but to tell you that would be to betray what doesn't happen. The whole affair is a pleasant respite from actuality: more, I fear, it would be impossible to say.
* * * * *
* * * * *
From the description of a polar-bear's escapade in the Edinburgh "Zoo":—
"The keepers now appeared, and with the assistance of of gun-firing and much noise the animal was quietly shepherded back to its accustomed place of confinement." North British Agriculturist.
"Quietly" was a happy thought.