Punch, 1917.07.04, Vol. 153, Issue No. 1
Produced by Jon Ingram, Punch, or the London Charivari,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
* * * * *
[Illustration: VOL. CLIII]
* * * * *
MENTIONED IN DESPATCHES.
The oldest inhabitant sat on a bench in the sun, the day's newspaper
spread across his knees, and the newest visitor sat beside him.
"He do be mentioned in despatches, do our Billy, by Sir DOUGLAS HAIG
himself. If it hadn't a-been for him, where'd the Army been? he says. I
knowed him ever since I come to these parts, and that weren't yesterday.
He'd come round that there bend a-whistling, not sort o' cockahoop, like
some does, but just a cheery sort o' 'Here I am again;' and he'd always
stop most anywhere, if so be as you held up your hand.
"I've seed ladies with their golf-clubs runnin' up from the club-house,
and he'd just sort of whistle to show as he seed them, and wait for them
as perlite as any gentleman. For it do be powerful hot to walk back home
with your golf-clubs after two rounds; I was a caddy, I was, 'fore I
went on the line, so I knows what I'm telling you.
"It didn't make no difference if they was champions or duffers what
couldn't carry the burn not if they tried all day. Or if it were an old
woman a-goin' back from market with all her cabbages and live ducks and
eggs and onions--it were all just the same to little Billy.
"Then I mind the day he was took. George he come up and tells me as they
have took Billy because the Army wants all it can get. I was fair
knocked over, and him so little and all.
"Then the Captain, what was the best golfer here, come back for leave.
"'Grandpa,' says he, same as he always call me--'Grandpa,' he says,
'I've been thinking about Billy all the time I've been out, and longing
to hear him whistle again, and now I'm home and he's gone. I shall have
to get back to France again to see him.'
"So he will, Sir, and if Billy was going up right under the German guns
it's my belief as Captain would get out of his trench to go and see him.
"What regiment is Billy in, did you say, Sir? Why, he got no regiment.
Ain't I been telling you, Sir, 'Puffing Billy' is what our golfers here
call the little train what used to run six times a day from the town to
the links. Just see what the paper says, Sir. I don't be much of a
reader, but hark ye to this: 'I wish also to place on record here the
fact that the successful solution of the problem of railway transport
would have been impossible had it not been for the patriotism of the
railway companies at home. They did not hesitate to give up their
locomotives and rolling stock.'
"That's 'Puffing Billy,' Sir, him what I've put the signal down for
hundreds an' hundreds of times. I miss him powerful bad, but the Army
wanted him, and we've been and got some thanks too. I'm proud to think
my Billy's in the paper."
* * * * *
["The municipality of Rothausen has decided to present to the collection
of metal which is being made in Germany its monument of Kaiser WILLIAM
Heavy is Armageddon's price
And loud the call to sacrifice;
All stuff composed of likely metals--
Door-knockers, hairpins, cans and kettles--
Into the War's insatiate melting-pot
Has to be shot.
That was a hard and bitter blow
When first your church-bells had to go--
Those saintly bells that rang carillons
While in the maw of happy millions
Pure joy and gratitude to Heaven thrilled
For babies killed.
It hurt your Christian hearts to melt
A source of faith so keenly felt;
And now (worse sacrilege than that) you
Propose to take yon regal statue,
That godlike effigy, and make a gun
Of WILLIAM ONE!
What will _He_ say when you reduce
His Relative to cannon-juice?
The prospect must be pretty rotten
If thus the Never-To-Be-Forgotten
Is treated, like the corpses of your friends,
For useful ends.
I hear the ALL-HIGHEST mutter, "Ha!
They're liquefying Grandpapa!
The nation's needs, that grow acuter,
Count sacred things as so much pewter;
Even my holy crown may go some day
Down the red way!"
* * * * *
Samedou Kieta sat up in bed with a child's primer open before him.
"M--A," he spelled. Then, after an incredibly long time of patient
puzzling, "M--A--MA. Oui, MA. Y a bon!" and embraced the whole ward in
one wide white grin before turning to the next syllable, "M--A--N." Once
more the puzzled frown on the black face, once more the whispered hints
from neighbouring beds, once more the triumph of perseverance,
"M--A--N--MAN!" He was just enjoying his success and chanting his
pidgin-French paean of happiness, "Y a bon! Y a bon!" when Soeur
Antoinette paused by his bed. "Tres bien, Sidi," she said, "mais il faut
les mettre ensemble," and with her white finger she guided his black one
back to the first syllable.
Here was difficulty indeed! He knew all right that M--A--N was MAN, but
what was M--A? And when, after intense effort, he re-discovered that
M--A spelled MA, it was only to find that he had forgotten what M--A--N
spelled. At last the other wounded could contain themselves no longer,
and the ward was filled with laughing shouts of "Maman!" in which
Samedou joined most happily.
Presently the English nurse passed the negro's bed, and he at once
turned to another branch of learning. "Good morning," he said, and, when
she smiled back a greeting to him, he added, "T'ank you," and looked
proudly round him at his fellow-patients as who should say, "See how we
understand one another, she and I!"
During a sojourn of many months in the hospital Samedou invariably met
the sufferings he was called upon to endure with an uncomplaining
fortitude, which might have seemed due to insensibility had not the
staff had ample proof that his silence was the silence of a fine
courage. On one occasion a set of photographs of the hospital was in
preparation, and when the _salle de pansements_ had to be taken the
photographer decided that the best lay figure for his _mise-en-scene_
would be a black man, as a striking contrast to the white raiment of the
staff. So Samedou was carried in on a stretcher and laid upon the table.
Unfortunately the surgeons and nurses were so occupied with the business
of placing things in the best light that no one realised that the poor
Senegalese did not understand the purpose of the preparations, and when
the English nurse was called to take up her position she noticed the
hands of Samedou Kieta clutching the sides of the table and his black
eyes rolling in a sea of white.
She at once ran to the nearest ward. "Quelqu'un voudrait bien me preter
une photographie?" she asked, and a dozen eager hands offered her the
treasured groups of _la famille_. Taking one at random she returned to
Samedou and held it before his eyes. "Nous aussi," she said, "toi, moi,
le Major, l'infirmier."
Samedou looked, and a heavenly relief chased the tension from his face.
"Y a bon," he said happily. "Toi, bon camarade!"
When his wounds began to be less painful the problem was how to keep the
Sidi in bed. No one cared to be very severe with him, so the staff
resorted to the usual weak method of confiscating all his clothes save a
shirt, and hoping for the best. But one day the English nurse, going
unexpectedly into a distant ward, came upon Samedou Kieta, simply
dressed in a single shirt and a bandage, visiting the freshly-arrived
wounded and scattering wide grins around him. At her horrified
exclamation he began to shrivel away towards the door, ushering himself
out with the propitiatory words, "Good morning. Good night. T'ank you.
Water!" A most effectual method of disarming reproof.
Poor Samedou has since passed on to another hospital for electric
treatment, but the staff still treasures his first and only letter:--
"Moi, Samedou Kieta, arrive a l'autre hopital. Y a bon. Mais moi,
Samedou Kieta, toi pas oublie. Merci, Monsieur le Major deux
galons. Merci, Soeur Antoinette. Merci, Madame l'Anglaise. Y a bon.
Y a bon. Y a bon."
* * * * *
"The Germans have suffered 100,000 casualties in 10 days on the
western front, and their losses will increase rapidly. They must
shorten their lives wherever possible in order to save
men."--_Ceylon Morning Leader._
In this laudable endeavour they may count upon receiving the hearty
assistance of the Allies.
* * * * *
"Young gentleman (21), good family, strong, healthy, public school,
O.T.C., Varsity education, speaks English, French, Spanish
perfectly, engineering training, efficient car driver and mechanic,
horseman, is open to any sporting job connected with war; willing
undertake any risks; no salary, but expenses paid."
If the advertiser will apply to the nearest recruiting-station he will
hear of something that will just suit him.
* * * * *
"The inhabitants of the Peak district are in a state of great alarm
at the invasion of a great part of their beautiful country by what
some of them describe as a plague of locusts, and yesterday
considerable numbers of people visited the district where the hosts
are still advancing. Many from Sheffield and Manchester alighted at
Chinley, Edale, and Hope, among them some eminent etymologists,
anxious to be of assistance in ridding the country of a serious
menace to the field and garden crops."--_Yorkshire Paper_.
It is understood that the etymologists are chiefly concerned for
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE NATION DEMANDS.]
MR. PUNCH (_to the PRIME MINISTER_). "IF YOU _MUST_ HAVE DIRTY LINEN
WASHED IN PUBLIC DURING THE WAR, FOR GOD'S SAKE, SIR, WASH IT CLEAN."
* * * * *
_Civilian model (posing for latest war picture)_. "MUS' SAY I'LL BE GLAD
WHEN PEACE IS DECLARED. THIS CLEARING HUNS OUT OF TRENCHES IS FAIR
TELLIN' ON ME."
* * * * *
(_Embodying divers quotations from the poems of G.K.C._)
Methinks at last the time has come to speak ...
Since good old Russia up and revoluted
I have been waiting, week by weary week,
To hear the news--the obvious item--bruited;
But now I give it up; it will not come;
Or anyway I can no more be dumb.
Where were you, GILBERT, when the great release--
"Freedom in arms, the riding and the routing,"
Demos superbly potting at police,
And actual swords getting an actual outing--
Came at the last, the things wherein you shone,
Or let us think you'd shine in, CHESTERTON?
You were not there! Damme, you were not _there_!
Alas for us whose faith refused to doubt you!
"All that lost riot that you did not share"
Managed, somehow, to get along without you;
When Russia "went to battle for the creed"
GILBERT sat tight and did not even bleed!
CHESTERTON! Dash it all, my dear old chap!
Why, weren't you always eloquent on "Valmy,"
"Death and the splendour of the scarlet cap"?
Here were the days you looked upon as palmy.
Just think of all your poems! Why, good Lord,
There is no word you work so hard as "sword."
We looked to see you there, the stout and staunch,
"Red flag" in one hand and "ten swords" in t'other;
Saw the strong sword-belt bursting from your paunch;
Pitied the foes you'd fall upon and smother;
Heard you make droves of pale policemen bleat,
Running amok to "slay them in the street."
Strong athwart Heav'n ran the high barricades,
And giant Bastilles reeled, impossibly smitten,
And men with broken hands swung thunderous blades
In "Russia's wrath"--just as you've often written;
Yea, the terrific tyrants really reeled,
While CHESTERTON sat safe at Beaconsfield.
And yet--I understand; I don't impute
That only in your poems do you bicker;
You would abstain, when people revolute,
No more, I'm sure, than you'd abstain from liquor;
And here we have it--here's the reason why:
_This was a revolution that was "dry."_
* * * * *
The Eagle's Plume.
"The bride, who is an American by birth, was given away by her
feather."--_Liverpool Daily Post_.
* * * * *
"Mr., Mrs. and Miss ----, who were in their bungalow at Sidbar, had
a lucky escape from the earthquake recently, for no sooner had they
ot out than gpractically the whole house cae mdown."--_Pioneer
On this occasion, contrary to the usual rule, Nature appears to have
been more careful of the individual than of the type.
* * * * *
"You, too, reader, if you have not already visited ----'s, have a
pleasant, bright happy experience before you. Why not visit this
modern Forum to-morrow?"--_"Callisthenes" in the evening papers,
One of our reasons for not taking this well-meant advice was that June
24th was a Sunday.
* * * * *
"Great fires continue in Germany. The latest include gutting of the
Moabit Goods Station in Berlin wherein tanks of petrol, hydrogen,
_et cetera_, exploded, resulting in the destruction of a part of
Vilna and the township of Osjory near the Grodno conflagration
station and a basket factory at Happe."--_Ceylon Independent_.
The effect of this remarkably extensive explosion seems to have been
felt even in Colombo.
* * * * *
WOMAN AS USUAL.
(_In the manner of some of our own evening papers_.)
It was with a real pang that I tore myself away from the Frugality
Exhibition, where the culinary demonstrations were most enthralling.
Just before leaving, however, I watched a wonderfully tasty hash being
compounded with oddments of rabbit and banana flour. It exhaled an aroma
which I hated to leave--even for luncheon at the Fitz.
AT THE FITZ.
By a strange coincidence I made the acquaintance of an admirable rabbit
_goulash_, which was, I believe, identical with that which I saw being
prepared at the Frugality Exhibition. Thus extremes meet, and the fusion
of classes is happily illustrated in the common use of the same
There are always a number of people lunching in the great hotels in
these war-time days, and I was glad to see Lady Allchin, looking
remarkably well-nourished in a mauve Graeco-Roman dress and Gainsborough
hat; Lady Waterstock, Lord Hilary Sprockett and Sir Peter Frye-Smith.
Lady Carmilla Dunstable made a lovely bride at St. Mungo's, Belgravia,
yesterday, on her marriage to Prince Wurra-Wurra, of Tierra-del-Fuego.
The story of the engagement is wildly romantic. Lady Carmilla was
returning from Peru, where she had been hunting armadillos; the ship in
which she was travelling was wrecked in the Straits of Magellan, and she
was rescued by Prince Wurra-Wurra, who was casually cruising about in
his catamaran. Her family were for some time hostile to the match, but
all objections were soon removed, as the Prince has abjured cannibalism
and is now an uncompromising vegetarian. The bridegroom, who is a
fine-looking man of the prognathous type, was loudly cheered by the
crowd on leaving the church.
A CHARMING CONCERT.
All true melomaniacs will rejoice to hear that the Signora Balmi-Dotti
has decided to give another vocal recital at the Dorian Hall. Her
programme as usual reflects her catholic and cosmopolitan taste, for she
will sing not only Welsh and Cornish folk-songs, but works by
PALESTRINA, Gasolini, Larranaga, Sparafucile, and the young American
composer, Ploffskin Jee, so that both classical and modern masters will
TWO RECIPES FOR TEA CAKES.
The FOOD CONTROLLER looks askance at teas in these days, but in hot
weather, when luncheon is reduced to the lowest common denominator and
dinner resolves itself into a cold collation in the cool of the evening,
some refreshment between our second and third meals is indispensable. I
accordingly give two recipes which need no wheaten flour and are very
Take half-a-pound of sugar, a quarter of caviare, a quarter of calipash,
a quarter of millet and six peaches. Beat the caviare to a cream and
pound the peaches to a pulp; then add the sugar and millet and stir
vigorously with a mirliton. Put into patty-pans and bake gently for
about thirty minutes in an electric silo-oven. About thirty cakes should
result; but more will materialize if you increase the ingredients
Take two kilowatts of ammoniated quinine and beat up with one very large
egg--a swan's for choice. Add gradually ten ounces of piperazine, a pint
of Harrogate water and inhale leisurely through a zoetrope.
* * * * *
_Extract from Hun airman's report_. "WE DROPPED BOMBS ON A BRITISH
FORMATION, CAUSING THE TROOPS TO DISPERSE AND RUN ABOUT IN A
* * * * *
The New Plutocracy.
"Munition Lady wants to buy Piano and Wardrobe; cash."--_North
* * * * *
"Goats' cheese is tasty and nourishing and more easily made than
butter; and in winter time the humblest of sheds will suffice for
its sleeping place."--_Daily Mail._
The cheese should however be carefully tethered.
* * * * *
According to an Italian report the conviction of the master-spy, VON
GERLACH, was effected by the aid of "the two most notorious burglars in
Europe." Another slight for LITTLE WILLIE.
Reporting on a Glasgow subway railway accident, Colonel PRINGLE advises
that "the use of ambiguous phraseology on telephones should not be
permitted." Abbreviations now dear to the London subscriber, such as
"Grrrrrrr-kuk-kuk-kuk-bbbzzzzz--are you--ping! phut! grrrrr!" etc.,
etc., will no longer be allowed.
The Sinn Feiners are proposing to send a mission to the United States to
explain their attitude. An upward tendency in plate-glass insurance is
already manifesting itself in New York and elsewhere.
Owing, we understand, to other distractions, no actress last week
obtained a divorce.
A trade union for funeral workers has just been formed, the members of
which are pledged to oppose Sunday burials. It is considered very
unlucky to be buried on a Sunday.
No, "Thespian," it is no longer considered correct to wear a straw hat
with a fur coat. Why not run the lawnmower over the astrachan collar?
A medical correspondent points out that wasps, gnats and midges can
be kept at a distance by using preparations of certain obnoxious
plants. There is also much to be said for the plan of making a noise
like a German.
The death of the "Old Lady of Charing Cross" is announced. The Old Lady
of Threadneedle Street, on the other hand, is still able to sit up and
take a note or two.
Internal matters are not being neglected by the House of Commons. Lord
RHONDDA on Bread and High Military Officers on Toast were the features
"What is a copper's 'mark'?" asked a Metropolitan magistrate the other
day, just as if he were a High Court Judge.
An hotel fire occurred in Brook Street last week, and we are told that
the guests left the hotel and hurried into the street. Nothing is said
as to how this happy idea originated.
Mexico, it appears, has arranged that future revolutions shall be held
between Saturday and Monday, the week-end being selected as the most
suitable time for business men who are assisting America in war-work.
At a North of England police-court last week a seven-pound piece of
cheese was alleged to have made away with a conscientious objector.
We are informed that the fish landed in Great Britain in 1916 weighed
8,173,639 hundredweight. The angler who killed it still sticks to the
story that he thought it was much larger than this.
Two brass wedding-rings have been found inside a salmon caught on the
Wye. As the fish looked extremely worried it is thought that it must
have been leading a double, or even treble, life.
Some consternation has been caused among food-profiteers in this country
by a recent dictum of Mr. SCHWAB, the American millionaire, to the
effect that "Honesty is the best policy."
In connection with the food-economy campaign a notable example has been
set by the python at the Zoo, who has decided to give up his
Among the prisoners recently captured on the Carso is a Major who bears
a remarkable likeness to Marshal VON HINDENBURG. The unfortunate Major,
it appears, explains that it is no fault of his, being due to a terrible
accident he had when a boy.
A correspondent in _Folk Lore_ declares that the hedgehog is, after all,
a very lovable animal. We do not profess to be expert, but in any
comparison with other animals we imagine that the hedgehog ought to win
Lord NORTHCLIFFE has informed the Washington Red Cross Committee that
the War has only just begun. The United States regard it as a happy
coincidence that their entry into the War synchronises with the initial
The POSTMASTER-GENERAL has issued a recommendation that all eggs sent in
parcels to troops should be hard-boiled. Some difficulty has been
experienced, it is pointed out, in securing prompt delivery of portions
of uncooked eggs that may have escaped from the parcels in which they
"Two privates in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers," says a news item, "cannot
speak a word of English, and their platoon-commander knows no Welsh."
Probably the platoon-sergeant knows some words that sound sufficiently
The question of transport is officially stated to be one of the main
difficulties in connection with the beer supply. This however is
questioned by many patriotic consumers, who affirm that they are very
rarely able to get as much as they can carry.
The appointment of a Riot Controller for Cork and District is said to be
under consideration. Following the Indian Government's precedent as
exposed in the Mesopotamia Report, he will conduct his official business
from the Isle of Wight.
* * * * *
Through many a busy year of peace
I hoped some day, by way of beano,
To give myself a jaunt in Greece,
Famed land of HOMER (also TINO).
Full oft I dreamed how, blest by Fate,
I'd loll within some leafy hollow
With Aphrodite _tete-a-tete_
Or barter back-chat with Apollo.
Around Olympus' foot I'd roam
(Not being really fond of climbing),
Absorb romance and carry home
Increased facility at rhyming;
Those hallowed haunts of many a god
That nowadays we only read of
Would give my Pegasus the prod
He not unseldom stood in need of.
That was in Peace. And then the War
Sent me to learn within a hutment
What martial duties held in store
And what a sergeant-major's "Tut" meant;
Thence to the trenches, thence a rest,
A route-march to a wayside station,
With (every single soldier guessed)
Greece as our "unknown destination."
I saw Olympus wrapped in snow,
The clouds at rest upon its summit,
But did I thrill or long to throw
My hands athwart the lyre and strum it?
Gazing, I felt no soulful throb,
I only felt the body's inner
Cravings and said, "I 'll bet a bob
It's bully once again for dinner."
* * * * *
"Ex-King Constantino has bought a magnificent chateau called
Chartreuse, situated near Thun Castle. It belonged to Baron von
Zadlitz, a German officer, who is now in the field, and has been
empty since the beginning of the war."--_Evening Paper_.
Well, he will be able to fill himself up on the proceeds.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE LEAVE-WANGLER.]
* * * * *
_Father._ "WHAT CLASS DID THEY PUT YOU IN COMING ACROSS?"
_Tommy._ "C 6."
* * * * *
That is the twenty-seventh time to-day!
What is the use of Nobbs's Nasal Spray?
What use my aunt's "unfailing" recipes?
There _is_ no anodyne for this disease--
Thirty, I think! Another hanky, please--
The world is gay; the bee bestrides the rose;
But I blaspheme and madly blow my nose.
For shame, O world! for shame, the heartless bee!
Your sweetest blooms are misery to me;
And as for that condemned acacia-tree--
Oh, could I roam, contented like the sheep,
In sunlit fields where, as it is, I weep;
Oh, to be fashioned like the lower classes,
Who simply revel in the longest grasses,
While I sit lachrymose with coloured glasses--
Fain would I spend my summers high in air;
At least there are no privet-hedges there.
But even then I have no doubt the smell
From slopes celestial of asphodel
Would fill the firmament and give me hell--
They tell me 'tis the man of intellect
The baneful seeds especially affect;
And I that sneeze one million times a year--
I ought to have a notable career,
Though, at the price, an earldom would be dear--
Gladly, indeed, to some less gifted swain
Would I concede my fine but fatal brain,
Could I like him but sniff the jasmine spray
Or couch unmoved within a mile of hay,
And not explode in this exhausting way--
* * * * *
Wanted, a Faith-healer.
Dear Madam,--We have received your enquiry for Sergeant ----, and
wish to inform you that he was transferred to ---- Hospital,
suffering from a slightly sceptic toe. Trusting this information
may be of some value,
Yours faithfully, ----
* * * * *
"It scarcely seems as if the Premiership of Graf Moritz Esterhazy,
with all his Oxford education and the vigour of his thirty-six
years, will be able to bruise the serpent's heel."--_Observer_.
The serpent is so beastly cunning; he always sits on it.
* * * * *
"MARRIAGES.--All contemplating Marriage consult Proprietors ----
Matrimonial Bureau, Melbourne, opposite Old Cemetery. Specially
erected for the purpose."--_The Age_ (_Melbourne_).
This recalls the description of a famous football-ground in Dublin,
"conveniently situated between the Mater Misericordiae Hospital and
* * * * *
"Margaret was clinging to Dick's arm as she walked, looking up
adoringly into his handsome, tanned face, with her blue eyes.
A week later Dick led Margaret into Suburban Garden, where he had
wooed and won her so long ago.
Dick's voice was very tender as he looked down into two grey
eyes."--_Manchester Evening Chronicle_.
If Margaret is not careful to be a little more consistent she will
finish with two black eyes.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE SAVING OF THE RACE.]
["National Baby Week" is being celebrated during the current week. The
object of the movement is to educate the Mothers of the Nation in the
care of their children's health and their own. Universal sympathy will
be felt for a cause to which our heavy losses in the War have given an
added urgency. Those who desire to give practical help towards the cost
of the scheme will kindly address their gifts to the Hon. Treasurer,
National Baby Week Council, 6, Holles Street, Oxford Street, W.I.]
* * * * *
ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.
_Monday, June 25th_.--Mr. LYNCH is beginning to pine for the return of
Lord ROBERT CECIL. He does not quite know what to make of Mr. BALFOUR,
who politely represses his honest endeavours to elucidate the situation
in Greece, and actually declared to-day that the difficulties of the
Allies would only be increased by the hon. Member's attempts to deal
with them piecemeal. Mr. LYNCH was not entirely done with, however. "Is
that reply," he asked in a "got-him-this-time" manner, "given by reason
of freedom of choice or ineludible necessity?" "Sir," replied the
apologist of philosophic doubt with Johnsonian authority, "questions of
freewill and necessity have perplexed mankind for ages."
The House will be delighted to welcome back to its fold Sir ROBERT
HERMAN-HODGE, whose flowing moustaches, once described as "the best
definition of infinity," have been, at intervals, its pride and joy for
over thirty years. But it will have to wait a while, for--strange lapse
on the part of a hero of half-a-dozen contests!--Sir ROBERT had omitted
to bring with him the returning-officer's certificate. Lord HALSBURY,
delayed by a similar accident on his first appearance in the House forty
years ago, systematically turned out the contents of seemingly endless
pockets and eventually discovered the missing document in his hat.
At this crisis in Ireland's affairs you might suppose that all good
Nationalists would remain in their country, doing their best to make the
Convention a success. Mr. DILLON prefers to attack the Government at
Westminster, because it proposes to set up a Conference to consider the
future composition and powers of the Second Chamber. Was it not, he
asked, a breach of privilege to do this without the express consent of
the House of Commons? The SPEAKER thought not, and referred his
questioner to the preamble of the Parliament Act of 1911, in which such
action was distinctly contemplated. Mr. DILLON, thus suddenly
transported to the dear dead days before the War, when he was
hand-in-glove with the present PRIME MINISTER, considers that Mr.
LOWTHER is open to censure for possessing a memory of such indecent
length and accuracy.
_Tuesday, June 26th_.--A gentle creature at ordinary times, Lord
STRACHIE has been roused to unexpected ferocity by the German air-raids,
and advocates a policy of unmitigated reprisals upon the enemy's cities.
Had his appeal been successful he would have been recorded in history as
the mildest-mannered man that ever bombed a German baby. But Lord DERBY
would have none of it. British aeroplanes--of which, like every nation
engaged in the War, we have none too many--shall only be employed in
bombing when some distinctly military object is to be achieved.
[Illustration: THE RIVALS. MR. BRACE. SIR ROBERT HERMAN-HODGE.]
After much consultation with the military authorities the Government has
decided that to issue general warnings on the occasion of an air-raid
would tend to do more harm than good; and the LORD MAYOR (_teste_ Mr.
CATHCART WASON) has announced that he will not ring the great bell of
St. Paul's. The DEAN and Chapter, while regretting that Sir WILLIAM DUNN
should be deprived of a health-giving exercise, had, as a point of fact,
declined to countenance his contemplated invasion of their belfry.
[Illustration: A FIRM CHIN IN ANNIE'S DEFENCE. COMMANDER WEDGWOOD.]
Commander WEDGWOOD, I am sorry to observe, has almost exhausted the
store of commonsense that he brought back with him from the trenches at
Gallipoli. Otherwise he would hardly have championed the cause of Mrs.
ANNIE BESANT, upon whose activities the Government of Madras have
imposed certain salutary restrictions. What India wants, I understand,
is less Besant and more Rice.
Now that young soldiers are to have votes as a reward for fighting there
is logically a strong argument for taking away the franchise from those
who have refused to fight. It was well expressed by Mr. RONALD MCNEILL
and others, but, apart from the objections urged on high religious
grounds by Lord HUGH CECIL, the Government was probably right in
resisting the proposal. Parliament made a mistake in ever giving a
statutory exemption to the conscientious objector. The most that person
could claim was that he should not be called upon to take other people's
lives; he had no right to be excused from risking his own. But having
deliberately provided a loophole it is hardly fair for Parliament to
inflict a penalty upon those who creep through it. And so the House
thought, for it rejected the proposal by a two-to-one majority.
_Wednesday, June 27th_.--There is a general impression that
membership of the House of Commons is in itself a sufficient excuse
for the avoidance of military service. This, it appears, is
erroneous. Only those are exempt whom a Medical Board has declared
unfit for general service; and even these, according to Mr. FORSTER,
may now be re-examined. This ought to prove a great comfort to
certain potential heroes.
_Thursday, June 28th_.--Mr. JOSEPH KING'S chief concern at the moment is
to get Lord HARDINGE removed from the Foreign Office, where he suspects
him of concocting the devastating answers with which Mr. BALFOUR
represses impertinent curiosity. Accordingly he raked up the old story
of Lord HARDINGE'S letter to Sir G. BUCHANAN, and inquired what action
the FOREIGN SECRETARY proposed to take. Mr. BALFOUR proposed to take no
action. The letter was a private communication, which would never have
been heard of but for its capture by a German submarine. Even Mr. KING'S
own correspondence, he suggested, could hardly be so dull that
everything in it would bear publication.
Mr. KING justly resented this imputation. Dull? Why, only this week his
letter-bag brought him news of the great reception accorded in Petrograd
to one TROTSKY, on his release from internment; and would the HOME
SECRETARY be more careful, please, about interning alien friends without
trial? Sir George Cave was sorry, but he had never heard of TROTSKY.
There was a certain KAUTSKY, who had been interned--by the Germans.
Perhaps Mr. King would address himself to them.
The MINISTER OF MUNITIONS had a good audience for his review of the
wonderful work of his department. Who could refuse the chance of
listening to ADDISON on Steel? I cannot honestly say that the result of
this combination was quite so sparkling as it should have been, for the
orator stuck closely to his manuscript and allowed himself few flights
of fancy. But the facts spoke for themselves, and the House readily
endorsed the verdict already given by Vimy Ridge and Messines.
* * * * *
"DOES GOD MAKE LIONS, MOTHER?"
"BUT ISN'T HE FRIGHTENED TO?"
* * * * *
"You remember that lachrymose elegiac of Tom Moore, The
'I'm sitting on the stile, Mary,
Where we sat side by side.'"
No, frankly, we don't. But we seem to have a dim recollection that Lady
DUFFERIN wrote something very like it.
* * * * *
I'll tell you what I mean to do
When these our wars shall cease to rage:
I'll go where Summer skies are blue
And Spring enjoys her heritage;
I shall not work for fame or wage,
But wear a large black silk cravat,
A velvet coat that's grey with age
Beneath a high-crowned broad-brimmed hat.
I'll journey to some Tuscan town
And rent a palace for a song,
And all the walls I'll whitewash down
Some day when I am feeling strong;
And there I'll pass my days among
My books, and, when my reading palls
And Summer days are overlong,
I'll daub up frescoes on the walls.
The world may go her divers ways
The while I draw or write or smoke,
Happy to live laborious days
There among simple painter folk;
To wed the olive and the oak,
Most patiently to woo the Muse,
And wear a great big Tuscan cloak
To guard against the heavy dews.
Between the olive and the vine
I'll make heroic mock of Mars,
And drink at even golden wine
Kept cool in terra-cotta jars;
And afterwards harangue the stars
In little gems of fervid speech,
And smoke impossible cigars
Which cost at least three _soldi_ each.
Let more ambitious spirits spin
The web of life for weal or woe,
Whilst I above my violin
Shall sit and watch the vale below
All crimson in the afterglow;
And when the patient stars grow bright
I'll draw across the strings my bow
Till Chopin ushers in the night.
Such things as these I mean to do
When Peace once more resumes her sway;
To walk barefooted through the dew
And while the sunlit hours away,
If haply I may find some gay
Conceit to light a sombre mind,
As gracious as a Summer day,
As wayward as an April wind.
* * * * *
A Legitimate Inference.
"FOUND, Brown Dog, very clever begging, great pet, believed property
clergyman."--_Belfast Evening Telegraph_.
* * * * *
"The Molahiz of the district ordered to arrest the criminals and
hand them to the Dilitary Authorities for trial has been able to
seize the materials stolen. Enquiry is still going
The authorities seem to be living up to their title.
* * * * *
THE TWO MISSING NUMBERS.
My friend X. is normally the mildest of men. His temper is under perfect
control; and in his favourite part of the angels' advocate he finds
palliations and makes allowances for all those defections in the
servants of the public which goad men to fury and which, since the War
came in to supply incompetence with a cloak and a pretext, have been
exasperatingly on the increase. Thus, serene and considerate, has X.
gone his uncomplaining way for years.
But yesterday I found him on the kerb in the Strand inarticulate and
purple with rage. His face was hardly recognisable, so distorted
were those ordinarily placid features. His eyes were fixed on a
Fearing that he might be ill I took his arm; but he flung himself free.
"Don't touch me," he said; "I can't bear it." Having reached a point in
life when tact is second nature, I waited silently near him until the
storm should have passed.
His eyes were still fixed.
After a short time he recovered sufficiently to turn to me and explain.
"I could have killed that fellow," he said.
"That taxi-driver. He went by slowly with his flag up and wouldn't look
at me. I hailed him, and I know he heard, but he wouldn't look at me.
Now I don't mind when they point, or make any kind of sign that they
don't want to be hired, or say that they have no petrol, even if I don't
believe it; but when they won't turn their heads or pay any attention
whatever I could kill them. And there's such a lot of them like that. I
swear," he went on, beginning to go purple again--"I swear that, if I
had had a revolver just now, I should have shot him. When one man hails
another, the man who is hailed must give some kind of an indication.
It's only human. Society would fall to pieces if we all behaved like
that chap. It's awful, awful! If I'd only thought of taking his number
I'd run him in, and I'd carry it to the House of Lords if necessary.
He broke down, smothered by righteous anger.
"Good heavens!" he exclaimed as I was leaving, "if I'd only taken
The same night a miracle happened. It was very late, and the _debris_ of
a little charity performance at an assembly-room had to be cleared away.
The last guests had gone--in this or that conveyance, or on our best
friends in war-time, the feet--and that hunt for a taxi, which has now
taken the place of all other sport, was being prosecuted with more or
less energy by a policeman, a loafer and two or three amateurs, all of
whom returned at intervals while the packing-up was in progress, to say
how hopeless the case was and how independent the men had become.
One passing cab I hailed myself, but he did no more than laugh a loud
laugh of mere incivility and ironically remark, "Ter-morrer!"
signifying, as I understood it, that nothing on earth should interfere
with his homeward journey that night, since he had done enough and was
tired, but that on the succeeding day, if I still required his services,
he was at my disposal.
The various bags and parcels being now all ready, we waited patiently in
the hall, and from time to time received reports as to the progress of
At last, when things seemed really hopeless, a taxi arrived, driven by a
young man in spectacles, which were, I am convinced, part of a disguise
covering one of the noblest personalities in the land--some Haroun al
Raschid, filled with pity for lost Londoners, who is devoting his life
to redressing the wrongs inflicted upon poor humanity by taxi
tyrants--for he said nothing about having no petrol, nothing about the
lateness of the hour, nothing about the direction in which we wished to
go, but quietly and efficiently helped to get the things in and on the
cab; and then drove swiftly away, and when we got to the other end
insisted on carrying some of the bundles up three flights of stairs, and
had no objection to make when asked to wait a little longer and go on
All this time I was, I need hardly say, in a dream. Could it be
true? Could it?
And when he was at last paid off he said both "Good night" and "Thank
you," although it was I in whom gratitude should have thus vocally
burned. Perhaps it did; I was too dazed to remember.
How I wish I had taken his number, that all the world might know it and
look for it, assured of a gentleman on the box!
So you see there are both kinds of taxi-drivers still--only the bad ones
are more difficult to get hold of.
* * * * *
"SMART GIRL, THAT NEW GOVERNESS--GOT ME TO LOOK AT THE
TAPESTRY WHILE SHE PINCHED MY BREAD!"
* * * * *
"Leopard for Sale.--A full grown animal, about 6-1/2 feet.
Purchaser will have to make his own arrangements for
removal."--_The Statesman (India)._
This species of animal being notoriously unable of its own accord to
change its spot.
* * * * *
"There are ninety million tons of tea in bond in the United Kingdom.
This is sufficient to supply our needs for about fifteen
May we suggest that our contemporary should spare a few tons for the
staffs of other journals?
* * * * *
"One Royal Family Member, who has rendered services to 4 big
states as also the Government (and yet in service) and obtained a
great deal of experience is entirely willing to accept a
respectable post either of a Companion or a Household Controller
or A.D.C."--_Indian Paper._
Can this be TINO?
* * * * *
"Mr. Herbert Samuel asked if the Government would give an
undertaking that nothing would be done to expend public money in
this connection before the House had had the opportunity of
discussing the question?"--_Provincial Paper._
Fie, fie, Mr. SAMUEL.
* * * * *
"It is the new magistrates who have broken the ice, and the
supporters of both camps are curiously watching to see if they will
now find themselves in hot water."--_Liverpool Echo._
We thought this sort of thing only happened in the geyser-region.
* * * * *
"Home offered delicate person on small farm; partner pig, poultry,
This ought to cure any delicacy he might start with.
* * * * *
TO LORD RHONDDA.
DEAR LORD RHONDDA,--When you were an unassuming undergraduate at Caius
College, spending your leisure-time in an eight-or a pair-oar, and
stirring up the muddy shallows of the Cam, as you did to some purpose, I
cannot believe that any premonitions of the heights of celebrity to
which you would some day attain disturbed your mind. And yet here you
are, a survivor from the foul and murderous shattering of the
_Lusitania_, a coal-owner, a member of the Government, a peer, and the
Food-Controller of a whole nation at war.
Your predecessor, Lord DEVONPORT, had no very happy experience of the
post you now hold, and I can well understand that his life during his
tenure of it cannot have been a pleasant one. Every crank with an
infallible recipe for catching sunbeams in cucumber-frames and turning
them into potatoes, or whatever might be the fashionable food at the
moment; every grumbler who imagined that every rise in prices must be
entirely due to the malignity of men and not to the scarcity of the
article; every politician with a grudge to satisfy or an axe to
grind--all these pounced upon Lord DEVONPORT as a victim made ready to
their hands, and gave him a time which can only be described as a very
bad one. Add to this the mistakes almost necessarily made by an office
which was entirely new and dealt with unexampled conditions, and it is
not on the whole surprising that difficulties were encountered and that
the right way for overcoming them was not always taken. Indeed there was
or there seemed to be at one time a lively controversy between Lord
DEVONPORT and Mr. PROTHERO about the true meaning of the words _maximum_
and _minimum_ as applied to prices, and we were left to infer that these
Latin monsters are virtually indistinguishable from one another.
However, all that is now over; Lord RHONDDA reigns in Lord DEVONPORT'S
place and can profit by his experience. I don't want to delude you into
the belief that all is plain sailing for you. You couldn't be made to
believe that if I tried for a month of Sundays, and I don't mean to
spend my time to no purpose. But I think the great body of the nation is
determined that you shall have fair play and will support you through
thick and thin in any policy, no matter how drastic, that you may
recommend to their reason and their patriotism. This business of
food-controlling is new to us as well as to you, but we are willing to
be led, we are even willing to be driven, and we are grateful to you for
having engaged your reputation and your skill and your firmness in the
task of leading or driving us. And if in the course of your duty you
encounter any genuine rascal endeavouring to grind the faces of the poor
or to find his own profit in the misery of his fellow-men we look to you
to give him short shrift.
I am, my Lord, with all goodwill, your Lordship's obliged and
THE GATE OF HUMILITY.
* * * * *
_Officer (having pulled up recruit for not saluting)._ "NOW THEN, MY
MAN, DON'T THEY TAKE ANY NOTICE OF OFFICERS IN YOUR BATTALION?"
_Recruit_. "WELL, SIR, IT AIN'T THAT EXACTLY; BUT I'VE ALWAYS BEEN ONE,
AS YOU MIGHT SAY, TO KEEP MESELF TO MESELF."
* * * * *
"WANTED, Second-hand Invalid's Chair (tired
Just the thing for a second-hand invalid; even the wheels show a
* * * * *
The Kaiser, prodigal of verbal boons,
Congratulates his brave Bayreuth Dragoons
Upon their prowess, which, he tells them, yields
Joy "to old Fritz up in Elysian fields."
Perhaps; but what if he is down below?
In any case what we should like to know
Is how his modern namesake, Private Fritz,
Enjoys the fun of being blown to bits
Because his Emperor has lost his wits.
* * * * *
One of the "Illuminate."
"Unfurnished room wanted by elderly lady with gas
connections."--_Montreal Daily Star_.
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
THE ROYALTY TRIPLE BILL.
First a quite charming and, what is not so usual, a quite intelligible
fantasy in mime--_The Magic Pipe_: Pierrot, faithless mistress, despair,
sympathetic friend, adoring midinette, and so on. But Mr. JULES DELACRE,
who played his own part, _Pierrot_, with a fine sincerity and a sense of
the great tradition in this _genre_, got his effect across to us with an
admirable directness. Miss PHYLLIS PINSON looking charming in a
mid-Victorian Latin-Quarterly sort of way (which is a very nice way),
danced seriously, fantastically, delightfully, and with quite
astonishing command of her technique--the sort of thing that nine
infallible managers out of ten who know what the public wants would
condemn out of hand as impossible. The intelligent tenth must have been
consoled by the enthusiastic applause which greeted the little piece. I
have a fancy that mime would go far to restore sanity and tradition to
the English stage, and every creditable essay in a delightful art
deserves the fullest support.
It is amusing to see our solemn Mr. JOHN GALSWORTHY in labour for three
Acts over a rude joke. I frankly confess I enjoyed the joke. Cisterns
(its theme) have no terrors for me even in mixed company. But the joke
was not the really serious thing about _The Foundations_, a play that
starts (some years hence) with a mob of starving people yelling outside
the house--dear, stupid, kindly _Lord William Dromondy's_ house. _Lord
William_ was a god of an infantry captain in the great War, and his four
footmen--particularly _James_, the first of them--though revolutionaries
at heart, are ready to stand between their master and any other
revolutionaries in London town. Well, a bomb is found in the foundations
of _Lord William's_ Park Lane palace, and explodes to embarrassed
laughter of shocked stall-holders in the Third Act.
The plot's nothing, and the main joke, as I say, nothing to get excited
over. But the whole effect of the tremendous trifle, admirably cast as
it was, was diverting in the extreme.
Of course it is like our Mr. GALSWORTHY to assume that things will be as
black as ever a few years hence. 'Tis, no doubt, what encourages us to
keep our end up in the great War. But we know the customs of leopards,
and can forgive our pessimist for his creations (for all the world as if
he were a milliner) of _Poulder, Lord William's_ butler, rounded pillar
of the eternal old order of things; of _James_, revolutionary but
faithful (of course _James_ never would in fact have kept this absurd
job); of a light yellow pressman; of a feckless, torrentially eloquent
plumber, whose solution of the class war was loving-kindness and the
letting of the blood of all who were not kind.
Mr. EADIE was a beloved vagabond of a plumber doing a fine part on his
head, as is his way nowadays. But the thing is so good that it is
perhaps ungracious to remind him he could make it better. Mr. SIDNEY
PAXTON'S triumph with _Poulder_ was his admirable restraint--rarest of
accomplishments among comic stage butlers. The effect of everything was
heightened by this excellent economy. It was a lesson in artistic
reticence. An even more notable feat in the same kind was _The Press_
of Mr. LAWRENCE HANRAY. Obviously he could have collected a good deal
more of the laughter of the house if he had played less subtly. I
should put it as quite the best piece of playing in a well-played
piece. Mr. DAWSON MILWARD has made a deserved reputation as the strong
silly ass. He sustained it--with something in hand. Mr. STEPHEN EWART'S
_James_ was a quite excellent performance, not very coherent and
consistent in conception on the author's part, perhaps, and on that
account all the more difficult. Miss ESME HUBBARD gave us pathos
skilfully reserved in her clever study of an old, old countrywoman
turned trousers-maker; and little DINKA STARACE showed quite
astonishing aptitude (or the most wonderful training) in the part of
her granddaughter. Miss BABS FARREN also did well with her rather
intrusive part of _Lord William's_ daughter.
_Box B_, by Mr. COSMO GORDON LENNOX, was just a gay trifle to send us
home easy-minded to bed. _Bobby Stroud_, Zepp-strafer, kisses a pretty
(oh, ever such a pretty!) widow by mistake. And continues by
arrangement. Miss IRIS HOEY was really perfectly irresistible--something
ought to be done about it. She would have reduced the whole Flying Corps
to dereliction of duty. Mr. FRANK BAYLY had just that air of awkward
modesty which is so much more effective than plain swank as an
advertisement of gallantry, and Miss MURIEL POPE played a programme-girl
with all the skill that an artist thinks is worth putting into little
The best evening that I've had in the stalls since the War began ever
so long ago.
[Illustration: The Press (Mr. LAWRENCE HANRAY) invites The Nobility (Mr.
DAWSON MILWARD) to give its views on things in general.]
* * * * *
THERE USED TO BE--
There used to be fairies in Germany--
I know, for I've seen them there
In a great cool wood where the tall trees stood
With their heads high up in the air;
They scrambled about in the forest
And nobody seemed to mind;
They were dear little things (tho' they didn't have wings)
And they smiled and their eyes were kind.
What, and oh what were they doing
To let things happen like this?
How could it be? And didn't they see
That folk were going amiss?
Were they too busy playing,
Or can they perhaps have slept,
That never they heard an ominous word
That stealthily crept and crept?
There used to be fairies in Germany--
The children will look for them still;
They will search all about till the sunlight slips out
And the trees stand frowning and chill.
"The flowers," they will say, "have all vanished,
And where can the fairies be fled
That played in the fern?"--The flowers will return,
But I fear that the fairies are dead.
* * * * *
The Kaiser Lands in England.
"A disturbance of rates (when it tends to raise them) is never
popular. Father Barry remarked yesterday that Mr. Underhill, as
chairman of the Assessment Committee, was the most unpopular man in
Plymouth except one, and the other one was the Kaiser."--_Western
* * * * *
Letter addressed to local Tribunal:--
"Dear Sirs,--The reason for my exemption has been removed and I
shall be glad to join your army if there is still a vacancy."
* * * * *
Lady (to doctor, who has volunteered to treat her pet). "AND IF YOU FIND
YOU CAN'T CURE HIM, DOCTOR, WILL YOU PLEASE PUT HIM OUT OF PAIN?--AND OF
COURSE YOU MUST CHARGE ME JUST AS FOR AN ORDINARY PATIENT."
* * * * *
(_By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks_.)
I should like to commend with extraordinarily little reserve Mr.
FIELDING-HALL'S _The Way of Peace_ (HURST AND BLACKETT) to the kind of
reader that is drawing plans in his head for a New England. No wonder
that in these great days the impatient idealist rushes forth with his
bag of dreams. The author of _The Soul of a People_ is extreme but
sane--an extremist in common sense, say. He stakes on the fact of human
solidarity as the cure for the bitternesses and crookednesses of
politics; declares life and men to be good, not evil (how right he is!);
wants an England rescued from the Puritans on the one hand and the mere
musical comedians on the other; an England chaste because freer, less
ignorant; good beer in easeful inns; the village or township as the unit
of government and of fellowship; a return to music and the dance, not as
a plasmon-fed high-brow proposition but as the natural expression of a
joy of life returned; a clear fount of honour; a representative House of
Commons; justice, respect, common sense and responsibility instead of
charity; some place other than the streets for our young men and maidens
to make love in; a recognition of crime as mainly a social, not an
individual, disease; a law simplified and scales of justice not weighted
against the poor; and a host of other good and wise and nearly possible
things. Here is not the barren politics of manipulation but an ideal of
living citizenship. I commend it to all believers in new days and all
honourable disgruntlers; not perhaps as a programme but as a tonic.
* * * * *
Do not, please, run away with the idea that _The Nursery_ (HEINEMANN)
presents us with Mr. EDEN PHILLPOTTS' views on baby culture. The
background of his story, the scenes of which are laid in and around
Colchester a year or so ago, is composed of gardens and oyster-beds. On
these he gives a lot of information, and, as he could not be pedantic
even if he tried to be, I browsed pleasantly upon the store of knowledge
set before me. Also I liked the restraint he shows in dealing with the
War, and commend his exemplary method to some of our more blatant
novelists. When, however, I came to the inhabitants of _The Nursery_ I
failed to find in them that rare and delightful quality with which Mr.
PHILLPOTTS usually succeeds in endowing his characters. Readers of his
novels must know by this time that he is not exactly in love with _Mrs.
Grundy_, but here he seems to be insurgent against something, and for
the life of me I don't know quite what it is. Perhaps it is insincerity,
which is a very good thing to be in rebellion against. There is one very
amusing and delightful character, a bibulous old sinner who defied law
and order and almost at the last gasp ladled out what he considered
justice in a most dramatic manner. His name is _William Ambrose_, and it
is worth your while to make his disreputable acqaintance.
* * * * *
One fact at once awakened in me a fellow-feeling for Mr. BERTRAM
SMITH--the discovery of his appreciation (shared by myself, the elder
STEVENSON, and other persons of discernment) for the romantic
possibilities of the map. There is an excellent map in the beginning of
Days of Discovery (CONSTABLE), showing the peculiar domain of
childhood, the garden, in terms that will hardly fail to win your
sympathy. But not in this alone does Mr. SMITH show that he has the
heart of the matter in him; every page of these reminiscences of
nursery life proclaims a genuine memory, not a make-believe childhood
faked up for literary ends. Who that has once been young can read
unstirred by envy the chapter on "Devices and Contrivances," with its
entrancing triumph of the chain of mirrors arranged (during the
providential absence of those in authority) from the night nursery,
down two flights of stairs, to the store-room in the basement? I know a
reviewer whom nothing, but moral cowardice restrained from testing the
possibility of this delightful plan by personal experiment. Fireworks
too--Mr. SMITH has remembered them with a proper regard that is, of
course, wholly different from that of those who understand them only in
their pyrotechnic aspect, not as objects loved for themselves alone,
for their shape and feel, and the glamour of weeks of hoarding and
barter. In short, a real nursery book for the study; not one perhaps
that actual children would care for (quite possibly they might resent
it as betrayal), but one that for the less fortunate will reopen a door
of which too many of us have long lost the key.
* * * * *
What I found strangest in the _Transactions of Lord Louis Lewis_
(MURRAY) is that it is a story, or rather series of stories, about
rogues, in which trickery is invariably vanquished--a refreshing
contrast to the methods of most of our romanticists, who are given to a
certain courtier-like attitude towards the lawbreaker. Certainly that
various artist, Mr. ROLAND PERTWEE, has contrived to put together a
highly entertaining collection of diamond-cut-diamond yarns, adventure
tales that have the great advantage (for these days) of being concerned,
not with bloodshed and mysterious murders, but with the wiles of dealers
in the spurious antique and the exploits of _Lord Louis_ in defeating
them. This _Lord Louis_ is indeed a very pleasant as well as a very
ingenious gentleman. From the rotundity of his conversational periods
and a certain general suavity of demeanour I suspect him of having made
a careful study of the methods of his distinguished predecessor in
rogue-reducing, _Prince Florizel of Bohemia._ But he is, of course, none
the worse company for that. Once, however, he shocked me badly, when, in
perusing an eighteenth-century MS., he--I can hardly bring myself to
quote the passage!--he "moistened his fingers and turned over three
pages." And this of a nobleman and a connoisseur! Oh, Mr. PERTWEE!
Having said so much, it is only fair that I should call your special
attention to one of the stories, "The House in Bath," an exquisite
little gem of considerably higher art than is usually associated with
such "Exploits of the Event."
* * * * *
You might perhaps allow yourself to be put off by such a title as _Home
Truths about the War_ (ALLEN), because it, or something like it, has so
often been used as the preliminary to alarming or disagreeable
statements that we have grown excusably suspicious. But to avoid on this
account the letters that the Rev. HUGH CHAPMAN has here brought together
would be to miss a very original and inspiring little book. Let me say
once that Mr. CHAPMAN (whom you may know is energetic and popular
chaplain of the Savoy; also as already, under a pseudonym, an author)
has deliberately essayed the impossible. Self-revelation, especially in
letters, can hardly ever be made convincing. But putting this on one
side, and accepting these, not as the letters that would be written from
one man to another, but rather (to speak without irreverence) such as
the human heart might address to its Creator, you will find them full of
interest and encouragement. All sorts and conditions of men and women
are here shown, in their varied reaction to the great acid that for
these three years past has been biting into the life of the world. The
priest, the actor, the profiteer, the society-woman, even the
conscientious objector, are all touched lightly, tactfully, and with a
kindly humour that saves the book from its very obvious danger of
becoming pedantic. In his brief preface Mr. CHAPMAN has crystallised
very happily into a couple of words his ideal for the British attitude
towards the War--buoyant sternness. It is the reflection of that quality
in its pages that gives this little book its tonic value.
* * * * *
Mr. ARNOLD WRIGHT'S main work in _Early English Adventurers in the East_
(MELROSE) has been that of making good. Most of us know something, at
any rate, of the men who brought our Eastern Empire into actual
existence, but I tell myself hopefully that my ignorance of those daring
pioneers, whom Mr. WRIGHT describes as humble adventurers of the
seventeenth century, is not exceptional. It has now been satisfactorily
removed, and, after reading this excellently written history of stirring
deeds, I must believe that even men of learning will thank him for
rescuing many good names from the oblivion which threatened them. And
Mr. WRIGHT is not only to be congratulated on this act of salvage, but
also on the admirable way in which he has performed it. A restrained
style and a temperate judgment are equally at his command. I cannot
better commend his book to Imperialists than by saying that all Little
Englanders will detest it.
* * * * *
On internal evidence I had set down _Root and Branch_ (ALLEN AND UNWIN),
by R. ALLATINI, as the very clever first book of a very clever and
observant writer of the (alleged) weaker sex. But I find the title-page
gives two previous novels to her pen--I still guess a woman's hand. And
I by no means withdraw the "clever." The characterisation of the various
members of the _Arenski_ family--the branches are better done than the
root, old _Paul Arenski, K.C._, idealist and orator--is uncannily good.
There's wit and humour and diversity of gifts. What suggested the "first
book" idea was an uncertainty of method, a hesitation between the new
realism and the older romanticism. In both moods the author is
successful, but the joints show something clumsily. This, however, is
technical merely. I commend the book to all who are interested,
approvingly or critically, in the Jew. A dramatic theme runs through the
book, the ethical question as to whether a man may be justified in
killing, at her passionate request, a woman dearly loved who is slowly
dying of a terrible disease.
* * * * *
_Angry Customer (who has been induced by an advertisement to purchase a
portrait enlargement)._ "YOUR ADVERTISEMENT SAYS, 'MONEY RETURNED IF NOT
SATISFIED.' I'M _NOT_ SATISFIED, AND I WANT MY MONEY BACK."
_The Eureka Portrait Company (placidly)_ "I'M SORRY YOU DON'T LIKE
IT, MADAM; BUT IF YOU WILL READ THE ADVERTISEMENT CAREFULLY YOU WILL
NOTE THAT IT DOES NOT SPECIFY _WHO_ IS TO BE SATISFIED--AND I ASSURE
YOU I _AM_."
Back to Full Books