Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 153, Sept. 5, 1917
PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
SEPTEMBER 5, 1917.
The Kaiser has again visited the High Seas Fleet in security at
Wilhelmshaven. Enthusiastic applause greeted the brief speech in which
he urged them "to stick to it."
There is no truth in the rumour that one of the recently escaped Huns
got away disguised as Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD.
Some commotion was caused in the Strand last week when a policeman
accused a man of whistling for a taxi-cab. Later, however, the
policeman accepted the gentleman's plea that he was not whistling, but
that was his natural face.
From the latest reports from Dover we gather that this year the
Channel has decided to swim Great Britain.
As a result of the excessive rain a nigger troupe at Margate were seen
to pale visibly.
Fortunately for the Americans there is one man who will stand by them
in their hour of trouble. According to a Spanish news message Mr. JACK
JOHNSON has decided not to return to America.
Owing to the scarcity of matches we understand that many smokers now
adopt the plan of waiting for the fire-engine to turn out and then
proceed to the conflagration to get a light.
A catfish has been caught at Hastings. It died worth a lady's gold
bracelet and a small pocket-knife.
The Norwegian explorer, ROALD AMUNDSEN, is preparing for a trip to the
North Pole in 1918. Additional interest now attaches to this spot as
being the only territory whose neutrality the Germans have omitted to
Russian tea is being sold in London at 12s. 7d. a pound. It is
remarkable that, with the country in its present disorganised
condition, the Russian merchants can still hold their own without the
assistance of a Food Controller.
A room for quick luncheons, not to cost more than 1s. 3d., has been
opened in Northumberland Avenue for busy Government officials. It is
hoped eventually to provide room to enable a few other people to join
the GEDDES family at their mid-day meal.
KING CONSTANTINE, says a despatch, has rented an expensive villa
overlooking Lake Zurich. Just the thing for an ex-pensive monarch.
We are requested to say that the man named Smith, charged at Bow
Police Court the other day, is in no way connected with the other Mr.
At a vegetable show at Godalming, 5,780 dead butterflies were
exhibited by children. It is understood that the pacifists are
protesting against this encouragement of the martial spirit among
Considerable annoyance has been caused in Government circles by the
announcement that "at last the War Office has been aroused." Officials
there, however, deny the accusation.
The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER has received four hundred pounds from
an anonymous donor towards the cost of the War. The donor, it appears,
omitted to specify which part of the War he would like to pay for.
Germany has at last addressed a reply to the Argentine Republic,
pointing out that strict orders have been issued to U-boat commanders
that ships flying the Argentine flag must always be torpedoed by
Mammoth marrows have been reported from several districts, and it is
now rumoured that Sir DOUGLAS HAIG is busy developing a giant squash.
An official report states that there are three hundred and forty-three
ice-cream shops in Wandsworth. Unfortunately this is not the only
indication of an early winter.
A potato closely resembling the German CROWN PRINCE has been dug up
at Reading. This is very good for a beginning, but our amateur
potato-growers must produce a HINDENBURG if we are to win the War.
A woman walked into a shop at Cuckfield and settled a bill sent to her
twenty-four years ago, but it is not stated whether she was really
able to obtain any sugar.
The R.S.P.C.A. grows more and more alert. A man who hid three and a
half pounds of stolen margarine in his horse's nose-bag has just been
fined five pounds.
"Dogs," says the Acton magistrate, "are not allowed to bite people
they dislike." All the same there have been times when we have felt
that it would have been an act of supererogation to explain to the
postman that our dog was really attached to him.
A taxi-cab driver has been fined two pounds for using abusive
language to a policeman. Only his explanation, that he thought he was
addressing a fare, saved him from a heavier penalty.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Doctor_. "YOUR THROAT IS IN A VERY BAD STATE. HAVE
YOU EVER TRIED GARGLING WITH SALT WATER?"
_Skipper_. "YUS, I'VE BEEN TORPEDOED SIX TIMES."]
* * * * *
A WAR BARGAIN.
"BRIGHTON.--A small General for Sale through old age. No
reasonable offer refused."--_West Sussex Gazette_.
* * * * *
"An enormous burden of detail is thus taken off the shareholders
of the Munitions Minister."--_Liverpool Daily Post_.
This will strengthen the belief that Mr. CHURCHILL is not a man but a
* * * * *
"From that successful German campaign sprang the United Terrific
Peoples--the Modern German Empire."--_Nigerian Pioneer_.
The author wrote "Teutonic Peoples," but the native compositor thought
he knew better--and perhaps he did.
* * * * *
Occasionally I receive letters from friends whom I have not seen
lately addressed to Lieutenant M---- and apologising prettily inside
in case I am by now a colonel; in drawing-rooms I am sometimes called
"Captain-er"; and up at the Fort the other day a sentry of the Royal
Defence Corps, wearing the Crecy medal, mistook me for a Major,
and presented crossbows to me. This is all wrong. As Mr. GARVIN
well points out, it is important that we should not have a false
perspective of the War. Let me, then, make it perfectly plain--I am a
When I first became a Second Lieutenant I was rather proud. I was a
Second Lieutenant "on probation." On my right sleeve I wore a single
(on probation, of course).
On my left sleeve I wore another star. So:
(also on probation).
They were good stars, none better in the service; and as we didn't
like the sound of "on probation" Celia put a few stitches in them to
make them more permanent. This proved effective. Six months later
I had a very pleasant note from the KING telling me that the days
of probation were now over, and making it clear that he and I were
I was now a real Second Lieutenant. On my right sleeve I had a single
(not on probation).
On my left sleeve I also had a single star. In this manner:
This star also was now a fixed one.
From that time forward my thoughts dwelt naturally on promotion. There
were exalted persons in the regiment called Lieutenants. They had two
stars on each sleeve. So:
I decided to become a Lieutenant.
Promotion in our regiment was difficult. After giving the matter every
consideration I came to the conclusion that the only way to win my
second star was to save the Colonel's life. I used to follow him about
affectionately in the hope that be would fall into the sea. He was a
big strong man and a powerful swimmer, but once in the water it would
not be difficult to cling round his neck and give an impression that I
was rescuing him. However, he refused to fall in. I fancy that he wore
somebody's Military Soles which prevent slipping.
Years rolled on. I used to look at my stars sometimes, one on each
sleeve; they seemed very lonely. At times they came close together;
but at other times, as, for instance, when I was semaphoring, they
were very far apart. To prevent these occasional separations Celia
took them off my sleeves and put them on my shoulders. One on each
There they stayed.
And more years rolled on.
One day Celia came to me in great excitement.
"Have you seen this in the paper about promotion?" she said eagerly.
"No; what is it?" I asked. "Are they making more generals?"
"I don't know about generals; it's Second Lieutenants being
"You're joking on a very grave subject," I said seriously. "You can't
expect to win the War if you go on like that."
"Well, you read it," she said, handing me the paper. "It's a committee
of Mr. WINSTON CHURCHILL'S."
I took the paper with a trembling hand, and read. She was right! If
the paper was to be believed, all Second Lieutenants were to become
Lieutenants after eighteen years' service. At last my chance had come.
"My dear, this is wonderful," I said. "In another fifteen years we
shall be nearly there. You might buy two more stars this afternoon and
practise sewing them on, in order to be ready. You mustn't be taken by
surprise when the actual moment comes."
"But you're a Lieutenant _now_," she said, "if that's true. It says
that 'after eighteen months--'"
I snatched up the paper again. Good Heavens! it was eighteen
"Then I _am_ a Lieutenant," I said.
We had a bottle of champagne for dinner that night, and Celia got the
paper and read it aloud to my tunic. And just for practice she took
the two stars off my other tunic and sewed them on this one--thus:
And we had a very happy evening.
"I suppose it will be a few days before it's officially announced," I
"Bother, I suppose it will," said Celia, and very reluctantly she took
one star off each shoulder, leaving the matter--so:
And the months rolled on.
And I am still a Second Lieutenant ...
I do not complain; indeed I am even rather proud of it. If I am not
gaining on my original one star, at least I am keeping pace with it. I
might so easily have been a corporal by now.
But I should like to have seen a little more notice taken of me in the
_Gazette_. I scan it every day, hoping for some such announcement as
"_Second Lieutenant M---- to remain a Second Lieutenant._"
"_Second Lieutenant M---- to be seconded and to retain his present
rank of Second Lieutenant._"
Or even this:
"_Second Lieutenant M---- relinquishes the rank of Acting Second
Lieutenant on ceasing to command a Battalion, and reverts to the rank
of Second Lieutenant._"
Failing this, I have thought sometimes of making an announcement in
the Personal Column of _The Times_:
"Second Lieutenant M---- regrets that his duties as a Second
Lieutenant prevent him from replying personally to the many kind
inquiries he has received, and begs to take this opportunity of
announcing that he still retains a star on each shoulder. Both doing
But perhaps that is unnecessary now. I think that by this time I have
made it clear just how many stars I possess.
One on the right shoulder. So:
And one on the left shoulder. So:
That is all.
* * * * *
Upon the terrace where I play
A little fountain sings all day
A tiny tune:
It leaps and prances in the air--
I saw a little fairy there
The jumping fountain never stops--
He sat upon the highest drops
And bobbed about.
His legs were waving in the sun,
He seemed to think it splendid fun,
I heard him shout.
The sparrows watched him from a tree,
A robin bustled up to see
Along the path:
I thought my wishing-bone would break,
I wished so much that I could take
A fairy bath.
* * * * *
"Mr. Buttling Sees It Thru, H.G. Wells."
--_Citronelle Call_ (_Alabama, U.S.A._).
Rumours that Mr. WELLS is a convert to the "nu speling" may now be
* * * * *
[Illustration: "KEEP THE HOME FIRES BURNING."
SOLO BY OUR OPTIMISTIC PREMIER.]
* * * * *
THE MUD LARKS.
I am living at present in one of those villages in which the
retreating Hun has left no stone unturned. With characteristic
thoroughness he fired it first, then blew it up, and has been shelling
it ever since. What with one thing and another, it is in an advanced
state of dilapidation; in fact, if it were not that one has the map's
word for it, and a notice perched on a heap of brick-dust saying that
the Town Major may be found within, the casual wayfarer might imagine
himself in the Sahara, Kalahari, or the south end of Kingsway.
Some of these French towns are very difficult to recognise as such;
only the trained detective can do it. A certain Irish Regiment was
presented with the job of capturing one. The scheme was roughly this.
They were to climb the parapet at 5.25 A.M. and rush a quarry some one
hundred yards distant. After half-an-hour's breather they were to go
on to some machine-gun emplacements, dispose of these, wait a further
twenty minutes, and then take the town. Distance barely one thousand
yards in all. Promptly at zero the whole field spilled over the bags,
as the field spills over the big double at Punchestown, paused at the
quarry only long enough to change feet on the top, and charged yelling
at the machine guns. Then being still full of fun and _joie de vivre_,
and having no officers left to hamper their fine flowing style, they
ducked through their own barrage and raced all out for the final
objective. Twenty minutes later, two miles further on, one perspiring
private turned to his panting chum, "For the love of God, Mike, aren't
we getting in the near of this damn town yet?"
I have a vast respect for HINDENBURG (a man who can drink the mixtures
he does, and still sit up and smile sunnily into the jaws of a
camera ten times a day, is worthy of anybody's veneration) but if he
thought that by blowing these poor little French villages into small
smithereens he would deprive the B.E.F. of headcover and cause it to
catch cold and trot home to mother, he will have to sit up late and
do some more thinking. For Atkins of to-day is a knowing bird; he
can make a little go the whole distance and conjure plenty out of
nothingness. As for cover, two bricks and his shrapnel hat make a
very passable pavilion. Goodness knows it would puzzle a guinea-pig
to render itself inconspicuous in our village, yet I have watched
battalion after battalion march into it and be halted and dismissed.
Half an hour later there is not a soul to be seen. They have all gone
to ground. My groom and countryman went in search of wherewithal to
build a shelter for the horses. He saw a respectable plank sticking
out of a heap of debris, laid hold on it and pulled. Then--to quote
him _verbatim_--"there came a great roarin' from in undernath of it,
Sor, an' a black divil of an infantryman shoved his head up through
the bricks an' drew down sivin curses on me for pullin' the roof off
his house. Then he's afther throwin' a bomb at me, Sor, so I came
away. Ye wouldn't be knowin' where to put your fut down in this place,
Sor, for the dhread of treadin' in the belly of an officer an' him
Some people have the bungalow mania and build them _bijoux
maisonettes_ out of biscuit tins, sacking and what-not, but the
majority go to ground. I am one of the majority; I go to ground like
a badger, for experience has taught me that a dug-out--cramped, damp,
dark though it maybe--cannot be stolen from you while you sleep; that
is to say, thieves cannot come along in the middle of the night, dig
it up bodily by the roots and cart it away in a G.S. waggon without
you, the occupant, being aware that some irregularity is occurring to
the home. On the other hand, in this country, where the warrior, when
he falls on sleep suffers a sort of temporary death, bungalows can be
easily purloined from round about him without his knowledge; and what
is more, frequently are.
For instance, a certain bungalow in our village was stolen as
frequently as three times in one night. This was the way of it. One
Todd, a foot-slogging Lieutenant, foot-slogged into our midst one
day, borrowed a hole from a local rabbit, and took up his residence
therein. Now this mud-pushing Todd had a cousin in the same division,
one of those highly trained specialists who trickles about the country
shedding coils of barbed wire and calling them "dumps"--a sapper, in
short. One afternoon the sapping Todd, finding some old sheets of
corrugated iron that he had neglected to dump, sent them over to his
gravel-grinding cousin with his love and the request of a loan of a
dozen of soda. The earth-pounding Todd came out of his hole, gazed
on the corrugated iron and saw visions, dreamed dreams. He handed
the hole back to the rabbit and set to work to evolve a bungalow. By
evening it was complete. He crawled within and went to sleep, slept
like a drugged dormouse. At 10 P.M. a squadron of the Shetland Ponies
(for the purpose of deceiving the enemy all names in this article are
entirely fictitious) made our village. It was drizzling at the time,
and the Field Officer in charge was getting most of it in the neck.
He howled for his batman, and told the varlet that if there wasn't a
drizzle-proof bivouac ready to enfold him by the time he had put the
ponies to bye-byes there would be no leave for ten years. The batman
scratched his head, then slid softly away into the night. By the time
the ponies were tilting the last drops out of their nosebags the
faithful servant had scratched together a few sheets of corrugated,
and piled them into a rough shelter. The Major wriggled beneath it
and was presently putting up a barrage of snores terrible to hear. At
midnight a battalion of the Loamshire Light Infantry trudged into the
village. It was raining in solid chunks, and the Colonel Commanding
looked like Victoria Falls and felt like a submarine. He gave
expression to his sentiments in a series of spluttering bellows. His
batman trembled and faded into the darkness _a pas de loup_. By the
time the old gentleman had halted his command and cursed them "good
night" his resourceful retainer had found a sheet or two of corrugated
iron somewhere and assembled them into some sort of bivouac for the
reception of his lord. His lord fell inside, kicked off his boots and
slept instantly, slept like a wintering bear.
At 2 A.M. three Canadian privates blundered against our village and
tripped over it. They had lost their way, were mud from hoofs to
horns, dead beat, soaked to the skin, chilled to the bone, fed up
to the back teeth. They were not going any further, neither were
they going to be deluged to death if there was any cover to be had
anywhere. They nosed about, and soon discovered a few sheets of
corrugated iron, bore them privily hence and weathered the night out
under some logs further down the valley. My batman trod me underfoot
at seven next morning, "Goin' to be blinkin' murder done in this camp
presently, Sir," he announced cheerfully. "Three officers went to
sleep in bivvies larst night, but somebody's souvenired 'em since an'
they're all lyin' hout in the hopen now, Sir. Their blokes daresent
wake 'em an' break the noos. All very 'asty-tempered gents, so I'm
told. The Colonel is pertickler mustard. There'll be some fresh faces
on the Roll of Honour when 'e comes to."
I turned out and took a look at the scene of impending tragedy. The
three unconscious officers on three camp-beds were lying out in the
middle of a sea of mud like three lone islets. Their shuddering
subordinates were taking cover at long range, whispering among
themselves and crouching in attitudes of dreadful expectancy like
men awaiting the explosion of a mine or the cracking of Doom. As
explosions of those dimensions are liable to be impartial in their
attentions I took horse and rode afield. But according to my batman,
who braved it out, the Lieutenant woke up first, exploded noisily and
detonated the Field Officer who in turn detonated the Colonel. In the
words of my batman--"They went orf one, two, three, Sir, for orl the
world like a machine gun, a neighteen-pounder and an How-Pop-pop!
Whizz-bang! Boom!--very 'eavy cas-u-alities, Sir." PATLANDER.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _First unhappy Passenger._ "OH, I SAY, _CAN'T_ WE GO
_Boatman._ "NOT YET, SIR. THE GENTLEMAN IN THE BOWS INSISTS ON 'AVING
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Sergeant (in charge of the raw material)._ "NOW,
NUMBER TWO, WE'LL HAVE THAT MOVEMENT ONCE AGAIN. DON'T FORGET THIS
TIME--NECK LIKE A SWAN, FEET LIKE A FAIRY."]
* * * * *
"A man who was looking at some sheep under the wire saw the flash
pass close to him with simultaneous thunder, the sheep being
unharmed. Still one or two complained of their legs feeling numb."
Who said Baalamb?
* * * * *
"There is no saying how Kinglake's history might have otherwise
read had not a round shot put a premature end to Korniloff's
career at the Malakoff whence M'Mahon was to send his famous
message, 'J'y, j'reste.'"--_Manchester Evening Chronicle._
There is no saying how anybody's history will read if time-honoured
sayings may be treated like this.
* * * * *
"We are inclined to attribute the form as well as the substance
of the Note to the aloofness from the practical affairs of the
outside world which seems to exist in the Vatican."--_Times._
The POPE may or may not be behind the times, but as our contemporary
signed the Papal Peace Note, "BENEDICTUS XVI." it is plain that _The
Times_ is ahead of the POPE.
* * * * *
Extract from a letter recently received by a manufacturing firm:--
"We are pleased to be able to inform you that we have seen the
Munitions Area delusion officer at ----, and he has informed us
that he would not hesitate to grant Protection Certificates for
We sympathise too much with Labour to care to see it labouring under a
* * * * *
(_Herr MICHAELIS: Marshal VON HINDENBURG_.)
_Herr M._ Good morning, my dear Marshal. I am glad we have been able
to arrange a meeting, for there are certain points I wish to settle
_Von H._ I am, as always, at your Excellency's service; only I beg
that the interview may not be prolonged beyond what is strictly
needful. Time presses, and much remains to be done everywhere.
_Herr M._ But I have the commands of the ALL-HIGHEST to speak with you
on some weighty matters. He himself, as you know, has several speeches
to make to-day.
_Von H._ Oh, those speeches! How well I know them. I could almost make
them myself if I wanted to make speeches, which, God be thanked, I do
not need to do.
_Herr M._ No, indeed. Your reputation rests on foundations firmer than
_Von H._ You yourself, Excellency, have lately discovered how
fallacious a thing is a speech, even where the speaker honestly tries
to do his best to please everybody.
_Herr M._ You are very kind, my dear Marshal, to speak thus of my
humble effort. The result of it has certainly disappointed me.
_Von H._ What was it that LEDEBOUR said of it? Did he not describe it
as "a political hocus-pocus"? Such men ought to be at once taken out
and shot. But we Prussians have always been too gentle in our methods.
_Herr M._ We have. It is perhaps our only fault; but this time we must
see that we correct it. In any case, to be so misunderstood is most
painful, especially when one has employed all one's tact.
_Von H._ Ah, tact. That is what you are celebrated for, is it not?
_Herr M._ HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY has more than once been graciously
pleased to compliment me upon it. And he, if anyone, is a judge of
tact, is he not?
_Von H._ I have not myself any knowledge of it, so I cannot say for
certain. Does it perhaps mean what you do when you entirely forget in
one speech what you have said or omitted to say in a previous speech?
_Herr M._ (_aside_). The old fellow is not, after all, so
thick-skulled as I thought him. (_Aloud_) I will not ask you to
discuss this subject any more, but will proceed to lay before you the
commands of HIS MAJESTY.
_Von H._ I shall be glad to hear them.
_Herr M._ Well, then, to cut the matter as short as possible, HIS
MAJESTY insists that there shall be a victory on the Western Front.
_Von H._ A victory?
_Herr M._ Yes, a victory. A real one, mind, not a made-up affair like
the capture of Langemarck, which, though it was certainly captured,
was not captured by us, but by the accursed English. May Heaven
_Von H._ But it was by HIS MAJESTY'S orders that we announced the
capture of Langemarck.
_Herr M._ I know; but he is graciously pleased to forget that, and to
desire a genuine victory now.
_Von H._ Tell him I cannot promise. We have done our best at Verdun,
at Lens and at Ypres, but we have had to retreat everywhere. Our turn
may come another time, but, as I say, I cannot promise.
_Herr M._ Please go on doing your best. It is so annoying and
temper-spoiling for HIS MAJESTY to make so many speeches of a fiery
kind, and never to have a victory--at least not a real one for which
Berlin can hang out flags. Besides, if we don't get a victory how
shall we ever get a good German peace? And peace we _must_ have, and
that very soon.
_Von H._ Don't talk to me of peace. War is my business, not peace;
and if I am to carry on war there must be no interference. If the
ALL-HIGHEST does not like that, let him take the chief command
_Herr M._ God forbid!
* * * * *
LINES TO A HUN AIRMAN,
WHO AROUSED THE DETACHMENT ON A CHILLY MORNING, AT 2.30 A.M.
Oh, come again, but at another time;
Choose some more fitting moment to appear,
For even in fair Gallia's sunny clime
The dawns are chilly at this time of year.
I did not go to bed till one last night,
I was on guard, and, pacing up and down,
Gazed often on the sky where every light
Flamed like a gem in Night's imperial crown;
And when the clamant rattle's hideous sound
Roused me from sleep, in a far distant land
My spirit moved and trod familiar ground,
Where a Young Hopeful sat at my right hand.
There was a spotless cloth upon the board,
Thin bread-and-butter was upon me pressed,
And China tea in a frail cup was poured--
Then I rushed forth inadequately dressed.
Lo! the poor Sergeant in a shrunken shirt,
His manly limbs exposed to morning's dew,
His massive feet all paddling in the dirt--
Such sights should move the heart of even you.
The worthy Corporal, sage in looks and speeches,
Holds up his trousers with a trembling hand;
Lucky for him he slumbered in his breeches--
The most clothed man of all our shivering band.
The wretched gunners cluster on the gun,
Clasping the clammy breech and slippery shells;
If 'tis a joke they do not see the fun
And damn you to the worst of DANTE'S hells.
And Sub-Lieutenant Blank, that martial man,
Shows his pyjamas to a startled world,
And shivers in the foremost of our van
The while our H.E. shells are upwards hurled.
You vanish, not ten centimes worth the worse
For all our noise, so far as we can tell;
The blest "Stand easy" comes; with many a curse
We hurry to the tents named after Bell.
In two brief hours we must arise and shine!
O willow-waly! Would I were at home
Where leisurely I breakfasted at nine
And warm and fed went officeward to roam!
So come again, but at another time,
Say after breakfast or some hour like that,
Or I will strafe you with a viler rhyme--
I will, by Jove! or eat my shell-proof hat.
[Footnote 1: On second thoughts I don't believe they are named after
anyone, but "Bell" rhymes comfortably with "tell," so it may stand.]
* * * * *
"The Rev. T.F. ---- officiated in the church yesterday for the
first time since his return from a four months' spell of work in
connection with the Y.M.C.A. Huns in France."--_Provincial Paper_.
We congratulate him upon his discovery of this hitherto unknown tribe.
* * * * *
[Illustration: GLIMPSES OF THE FUTURE.
_Maid._ "MR. JONES, SIR--HIM WOT KILLED SEVENTEEN GERMANS IN ONE TRENCH
WITH HIS OWN 'ANDS--'AS CALLED FOR THE GAS ACCOUNT, SIR."]
* * * * *
THE LITTLE MATCH-GIRL.
_(With apologies to the shade of HANS ANDERSEN.)_
It was late on a bitterly cold showery evening of Autumn. A poor
little girl was wandering in the cold wet streets. She wore a hat on
her head and on her feet she wore boots. ANDERSEN sent her out without
a hat and in boots five sizes too large for her. But as a member
of the Children's Welfare League I do not consider that right. She
carried a quantity of matches (ten boxes to be exact) in her old
apron. Nobody had bought any of her matches during the whole long day.
And since the Summer-Time Act was still in force it was even longer
than it would have been in ANDERSEN's time.
The streets through which she passed were deserted. No sounds, not
even the reassuring shrieks of taxi-whistles, were to be heard, for
it costs you forty shillings now (or is it five pounds?) to engage a
taxi by whistle, and people simply can't afford it. Clearly she would
do no business in the byways, so she struck into a main thoroughfare.
At once she was besieged by buyers. They guessed she was the little
match-girl because she struck a match from time to time just to show
that they worked. Also, she liked to see the blaze. She would not have
selected this branch of war-work had she not been naturally fond of
They crowded round her, asking eagerly, "How much a box?" Now her
mother had told her to sell them at a shilling a box. But the little
girl had heard much talk of war-profits, and since nobody had given
her any she thought she might as well earn some. So she asked five
shillings a box. And since these were the last matches seen in England
it was not long before she had sold all the ten boxes (including
the ones containing the burnt ends of the matches she had struck to
The little girl then went to the nearest post-office and purchased two
pounds' worth of War Loan. The ten shillings which remained she took
home to her mother, and since the good woman did not understand the
principles of profiteering she was well pleased.
But alas for the little girl! one of her customers, doubting the
honesty of her intentions, had informed the policeman. She was
subsequently taken into custody, and the magistrate is now faced with
the problem as to whether she is a good little girl in that she put
money into War Loan, or a bad little girl in that she followed the
example of the profiteers.
* * * * *
OUR HELPFUL PRESS.
From a recipe for jam:--
"Add the fruit and boil 40 minutes. Glucose and sugar in equal
parts can be used if sugar is unobtainable."--_Daily Sketch_.
* * * * *
"To lease or rent a fine family residence, healthy locality, one
mile from Mandeville fully furnished with good accommodation for
a large family standing on ten acres of good grazing land with
many fruit trees has two large tanks, recently occupied by judge
Reece."--_Daily Gleaner (Jamaica)_.
Anything for coolness.
* * * * *
Extract from a speech by Mr. BROMLEY on the eight-hours' day:--
"They had endeavoured after long weary waiting to bring to
fruition in due time what had been the first plank in their
programme for thirteen years."--_Morning Paper_.
But the plank, as might be expected, has, as fruit-growers say, "run
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Colonel (asked to review V.A.D. Corps, and not wishing
to spring an order on them)_. "NOW, I'M GOING TO ASK YOU LADIES TO FORM
* * * * *
THE PASSING OF THE COD'S HEAD.
(_A Romance of Chiswick Mall._)
It was because the dustman did not come;
It was because our cat was overfed,
And, gorged with some superior pabulum,
Declined to touch the cod's disgusting head;
It was because the weather was too warm
To hide the horror in the refuse-bin,
And too intense the perfume of its form,
My wife commanded me to do the sin,
To take and cast it in the twinkling Thames--
A practice which the neighbourhood condemns.
So on the midnight, with a strong cigar
And scented handkerchief, I tiptoed near,
But felt the exotic fragrance from afar;
I thought of ARTHUR and Sir BEDIVERE:
And it seemed best to leave it on the plate,
So strode I back and told my curious spouse
"I heard the high tide lap along the Eyot,
And the wild water at the barge's bows."
She said, "O treacherous! O heart of clay!
Go back and throw the smelly thing away."
Thereat I seized it, and with guilty shoon
Stole out indignant to the water's marge;
Its eyes like emeralds caught the affronted moon;
The stars conspired to make the thing look large;
Surely all Chiswick would perceive my shame!
I clutched the indecency and whirled it round
And flung it from me like a torch in flame,
And a great wailing swept across the sound,
As though the deep were calling back its kith.
I said, "It will go down to Hammersmith.
"It will go down beyond the Chelsea flats,
And hang with barges under Battersea,
Will press past Wapping with decaying cats,
And the dead dog shall bear it company;
Small bathing boys shall feel its clammy prod,
And think some jellyfish has fled the surge;
And so 'twill win to where the tribe of cod
In its own ooze intones a fitting dirge,
And after that some false and impious fish
Will likely have it for a breakfast dish."
The morning dawned. The tide had stripped the shore;
And that foul shape I fancied so remote
Lay stark below, just opposite next-door!
Who would have said a cod's head could not float?
No more my neighbour in his garden sits;
My callers now regard the view with groans;
For tides may roll and rot the fleshly bits,
But what shall mortify those ageless bones?
How shall I bear to hear my grandsons say,
"Look at the fish that grand-dad threw away"?
* * * * *
From a South African produce-merchant's letter:--
"As so many of our clients were disappointed last year ... we are
taking time by the fetlock and offering you this excellent quality
To be sure of stopping Father Time you must collar low.
* * * * *
VENIZELOS to KERENSKY. "DO NOT DESPAIR. I TOO WENT THROUGH SUFFERING
BEFORE ACHIEVING UNITY."]
* * * * *
_(With apologies to a contemporary for cutting the ground
from under its feet, and to our readers for omitting certain
names--in deference to the Censor.)_
Owing to the War one must save money and spend as little as possible
on fares when rambling for pleasure. The following itinerary will be
found quite an inexpensive one, though offering plenty of interest.
Take the train to ----. Leave the station by the exit on the south
side, and turn to the right under the railway bridge, taking the path
by the stream till you come to a bridge which crosses it.
Do not cross the stream, however, but turn sharply to the right
(opposite a rather pretentious-looking house) for two hundred yards or
so, when you will come to a park. A little before entering the park
you will see, lying not far from the road on the left, a remarkable
old monastery church, much restored. This contains some fine old
painted glass, some tombs and monumental inscriptions which are worth
a visit if time will allow.
There is a right of way through the park up to the house, which
belongs to the Earl of C----, but is not of great architectural
interest. Bear to the right in front of the house, along a path which
skirts the wall of the private grounds. At the end of the wall a
gateway leads into the high road, and a walk of under two miles will
bring you to the, at one time, pretty village of K----, which has,
however, grown rapidly into a thriving town. Before reaching the
parish church there is a hostelry on the right-hand side of the road
where an excellent tea may be obtained (so far as the food regulations
On leaving the inn, turn through a gateway at the side of it, which
gives on to a straight and rather uninteresting road, which has been
considerably built upon and is more or less private, though a right
of way has been preserved through it. A glimpse of a large mansion,
chiefly of the 17th century, and now in the possession of the W----s,
may be obtained through the trees on the right of the road.
When you come to the main road (at the far end of this semi-private
road) turn to the right, and just where the gibbet used to stand, so
it is said, in the good old days, there is a sharp left-angled turn
which leads to the village of E----. Keep straight on, however, for a
mile or two (notice the fine old timbered houses on the right of the
footpath opposite the old boundary-post), and then turn to the right
by the church, rebuilt in the 17th century on the site of an older and
finer one, whose spire was at one time a noted landmark.
A walk through the churchyard to the church porch brings you to the
brow of a hill. Descend this to the cross-roads at the bottom, but,
instead of turning to either hand, keep to the narrow road in front
till you come to a gateway on the left. This leads to a house which
formerly belonged to the Knights Templars, but which passed into the
hands of the L----s and is still in their possession. There is an
interesting chapel in the grounds, containing the tombs of some of the
former owners, whose deeds were more warlike, though probably less
numerous, than those of the present occupants.
From here an easy walk up the Strand will bring you to the starting
point, Charing Cross Embankment Station, where you can take the train
again; but if you are fit and between the ages of forty-one and fifty,
you can continue the walk till you reach the nearest Recruiting
* * * * *
"Happy Home offered slight Mental Youth or otherwise."--_Times_.
A chance for one of our slim conscientious objectors.
* * * * *
LINES ON RE-READING "BLEAK HOUSE."
There was a time when, posing as a purist,
I thought it fine to criticise and crab
CHARLES DICKENS as a crude caricaturist,
Who laid his colours on too thick and slab,
Who was a sort of sentimental tourist
And made life lurid when it should be drab;
In short I branded as a brilliant dauber
The man who gave us _Pecksniff_ and _Micawber_.
True, there are blots--like spots upon the sun--
And genius, lavish of imagination,
In sheer profusion always has outrun
The bounds of strict artistic concentration;
But when detraction's worst is said and done,
How much remains for fervent admiration,
How much that never palls or wounds or sickens
(Unlike some moderns) in great generous DICKENS!
And in _Bleak House_, the culminating story
That marks the zenith of his swift career,
All the great qualities that won him glory,
As writer and reformer too, appear:
Righteous resentment of abuses hoary,
Of pomp and cant, self-centred, insincere;
And burning sympathy that glows unchecked
For those who sit in darkness and neglect.
Who, if his heart be not of steel or stone,
Can read unmoved of _Charley_ or of _Jo_;
Of dear _Miss Flite_, who, though her wits be flown,
Has kept a soul as pure as driven snow;
Of the fierce "man from Shropshire" overthrown
By Law's delays; of _Caddy's_ inky woe;
Or of the alternating fits and fluster
That harass the unhappy slavey, _Guster_?
And there are scores of characters so vivid
They make us friends or enemies for life:
_Hortense_, half-tamed she-wolf, with envy livid;
The patient _Snagsby_ and his shrewish wife;
The amorous _Guppy_, who poor _Esther_ chivvied;
Tempestuous _Boythorn_, revelling in strife;
_Skimpole_, the honey-tongued artistic cadger;
And that tremendous woman, _Mrs. Badger_.
No wonder then that, when we seek awhile
Relief and respite from War's strident chorus,
Few books more swiftly charm us to a smile,
Few books more truly hearten and restore us
Than his, whose art was potent to beguile
Thousands of weary souls who came before us--
No wonder, when the Huns, who ban our fiction,
Were fain to free him from their malediction.
* * * * *
"WHAT PEOPLE SAY.
"One of the collectors for the ---- Hospital Sunday fund seems to
have got more than either he or the committee desired.
"On approaching a house he was received by a dog which persisted in
leaving its compliments on one of his legs.
"Happily the injury, though treated by a chemist, was not serious."
People ought not to say these things about chemists.
* * * * *
"ESCAPED GERMAN FLYING MEN.
"One of the men is Lieut. Josef Flink. He has a gunshot wound in
the palm of the left hand. The second is Orbum Alexander von
Schutz, with side-whispers. Both speak very little English."
But VON SCHUTZ's sotto-voce rendering of the "Hymn of Hate" is
* * * * *
AT THE PLAY.
"THE INVISIBLE FOE."
MR. H.B. IRVING has elected to play villain in a new mystery play by
Mr. WALTER HACKETT. Essential elements of the business as follows:
Obstinate old millstone of a shipbuilder, _Bransby_, who simply will
not give up shipbuilding for aeroplane making (and no wonder in these
days!); nephew _Stephen_, with an unwholesome hankering after power
and a complete inability to see the obvious; nephew _Hugh_, lieutenant
lately gazetted, with much more wholesome and intelligent hankering
after _Helen Bransby_; Clerk, mouldy, faithful, one who discovers
deficit in the West African ledger to the extent of ten thousand
The false entries are in the hand of _Hugh_, but _Stephen's_ sinister
eye and shocking suit of solemn black promptly give him away to the
audience, while with a gorgeous fatuity he gives himself away to
his uncle by writing out his brother's resignation of the King's
Commission (in itself an odd thing to do) in the very hand he had so
adroitly practised in order to manipulate the ledger. Whereupon, at
_Bransby's_ dictation, _Stephen_ writes a full confession, leaving the
house in an acutely disgruntled frame of mind. The old man puts the
confession quite naturally (the firm is like that) between the leaves
of his _David Copperfield_, and dies of heart failure.
So _Stephen_ is again up on _Hugh_ at the turn. Indeed in the six
months that have elapsed between Acts I. and II. many things have
happened, and neglected to happen. _Stephen_ has become by common
report a great man, pillar of the house of Bransby, which now makes
aeroplanes like anything. He has been too busy getting power even to
look into his uncle's papers (though executor), or to have the West
African ledger taken back to the office, or, queerest of all, to
discover and destroy that damning confession. However, having got his
power, he now proceeds to consolidate it by trying to find the missing
On the same day _Helen_ arrives unexpectedly, urged thereto by a vague
impression inspired by her dead father that _Hugh's_ innocence will be
established by something found in the fateful room; also _Hugh_, who
had enlisted and now comes back from France a sergeant, with the same
idea in his head and from the same source. As we had all seen the
paper's hiding-place I found it a little difficult to be impressed by
the elaborate efforts, unconscionably long drawn out, of the departed
spirit to disclose the matter to _Helen_ and _Hugh_; while the
masterly inactivity of _Stephen_, who was trying to find his document
by pure reason (mere looking for it would not occur to his Napoleonic
brain), confirmed the opinion I had earlier formed of that solemn ass.
However, his invisible foe does contrive to get his message through to
the lovers and smash up _Stephen_ and his bubble of power.
I can't help being surprised that Mr. H.B. IRVING should have been
satisfied with so impossible a character as _Stephen Pryde_, though I
need not add that he made most effective play with the terror of
an evil conscience haunted by the vengeful dead, throwing away his
consonants rather recklessly in the process and receiving the plaudits
of an enthusiastic audience.
I grant Mr. HACKETT freely his effects of eeriness and his sound
judgment in manipulating his ghost without materialising him; and
congratulate him particularly on the part of the vague American lady,
most capably performed by Miss MARION LORNE.
Miss FAY COMPTON made a pretty lover and plausible clairvoyante. Mr.
SYDNEY VALENTINE'S portrait was (yes!) masterly; and Mr. TOM REYNOLDS
is excellent as the confidential clerk. Mr. HOLMAN CLARK struck me
(without surprise) as slightly bored with his part of a Doctor who
lost his patient in the first Act and remained as a convenient peg for
the plot. His adroit method ensures smooth playing and pulls a cast
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Servant (on hearing air-raid warning)._ "I SHALL STAND
HERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE 'ALL, MUM, SO THAT IF A BOMB COMES IN AT THE
FRONT-DOOR WE CAN GO OUT AT THE BACK."]
* * * * *
PLAYING THE GAME.
After we had finally arranged the cricket match--Convalescents
_versus_ the Village--for the benefit of the Serbian Relief Fund, we
remembered that early in the year the cricket-field had been selected
for the site of the village potato-patch, and my favourite end of the
pitch--the one without the cross-furrow--was now in full blossom.
As the cricket-field is the only level piece of ground in the
district, the cricket committee began to lose its grip upon the
situation, and were only saved from ignominious failure by the
enterprise of the British Army, in this case represented by
Sergeant-Major Kippy, D.C.M., who was recovering in the best of
spirits from his third blighty one.
"'Ow about the Colonel's back gardin?" he suggested. "There's a lovely
bit o' turf there."
We remembered the perfect and spacious lawn, scarcely less level than
a billiard-table, and, even with the Colonel busy on the East Coast,
the committee were unanimously adverse to the suggestion. But Kippy,
born within hail of a Kentish cricket-field, was not to be denied,
and, after all, one cannot haggle about a mere garden with someone who
was with the first battalions over the Messines Ridge.
Thus the affair was taken out of our hands, and when the day arrived
we pitched the stumps where Kippy, giving due consideration to the
Colonel's foliage, thought the light was most advantageous.
The Village won the toss, and old Tom Pratt took guard and proceeded
to dig himself in by making what he termed his "block-hole." I
visualised the choleric blue eye of the Colonel and shuddered.
For a time matters proceeded uneventfully. Then, at the fall of the
fourth wicket, the game suddenly developed, Jim Butcher, batting at
the pergola end, giving us an exhibition of his famous scoop shot,
which landed full pitch through the drawing-room window. It was a
catastrophe of such dimensions that even the boldest spirit quailed
before it, and the Colonel's butler, batting at the other end,
immediately dissociated himself from the proceedings and bolted from
Kippy, as befitted a warrior of parts, was the first to recover.
"'Ere," he exclaimed, "we carn't 'ave this; wot do you think the
Colonel will say?"
I do not suppose there was anyone who had not thought of it.
"We got to 'ave fresh rules," Kippy continued. "Anyone breaking a
winder 'as to retire, mend the winder, and 'is side loses ten runs."
Only a super mind could in the time have framed a punishment so
The scoop shot from the pergola end was ruled out in a sentence, and
we were treated to a masterly and Jessopian demonstration of how to
get an off ball past square-leg.
But no completely efficient form of organisation can be encompassed in
an hour, nor can man legislate for the unknown factor.
In this case Kippy was not aware that, on the far side of the
shrubbery, against an ancient sun-bathed wall, stood the greenhouse
which sheltered the Colonel's prize grapes. And so Jim Butcher,
playing this time from the rockery end, brought off the double event
and caused another new clause to be added to the local rules. With
thirty-seven to his credit and still undefeated he was making history
in the village, though it must be admitted that no one was ever less
anxious to retain the post of honour, and when the gardener laid out
the damaged fruit nothing short of Kippy's appeal would have persuaded
him to continue his innings.
"Wot, retire jest when you're gettin' popler an' can't do no more
'arm an' I've sent off the 'ole brigade of scouts ter spread the noos,
'Jessop thirty, not out, an' 'arf the Colonel's winders napooed.' Wy,
the 'ole blinkin' county will be 'ere as soon as they know wot's goin'
on." Kippy leant forward confidentially, "An' them Serbian boxes 'as
got ter be filled some'ow." It was an irresistible argument, and Jim
Butcher continued his innings under slightly restricted conditions.
At 6.50, with ten minutes to play, the Convalescents, who had shown
great form, required only twelve runs to win the match. Kippy and
Gunner Toady shared the batting. A pretty glance to leg for two by
the Gunner was all that could be taken out of the penultimate over,
and Kippy at the pergola end faced Mark Styles, the postman, to take
the first ball of the last over. Two singles were run, and then Kippy
placed one nicely into the herbaceous border for four. The next one
nearly got him, and then, with the seven o'clock delivery, as it
were, the postman tossed up a half-volley on the leg side. Forgotten
were the rules, the windows and all else. Kippy jumped out and, with
every muscle he could bring into action, hit it straight through
the plate-glass panel of the billiard-room door. For five petrified
seconds we gazed at the wreckage, and then the door opened and the
Colonel walked briskly into the garden. Anything else--a bomb or
an earthquake--might merely have created curiosity, but this was
Quite unostentatiously I vacated my position at fine leg and merged
myself with the slips, who, together with point and cover, were
bearing a course towards the labyrinthine ways of the kitchen-garden.
After vainly searching for an imaginary ball and finding that we were
not actually attacked from the rear, we ventured at length to return.
Kippy and the Colonel were conversing on the centre of the well-worn
pitch. The Colonel was speaking.
"... Lose ten runs and the match! I never heard such infernal
nonsense. That shot was worth six runs on any ground. I shall insist
on revising the rules."
At the same time I noticed that Kippy was holding a red-and-white box,
and the Colonel was with difficulty thrusting something through the
It looked like a piece of paper.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Bank Cashier (gazing at golden orb of day)._ "IT'S A
REAL HOLIDAY TO WATCH THESE SUNSETS--AFTER ALL THE PAPER MONEY."]
* * * * *
The Huns at Home.
"In the final figure, all the dancers make bows and curtseys to
the Emperor and Empress, who are either standing or sitting at
this time on the throne."
--_Mr. GERARD'S description of a Court Ball._
Two chiefs with but a single chair to stand on. And yet they call
* * * * *
"M. Painleve's resemblance to M. Briand (the former Premier) is
string."--_Liverpool Daily Post_.
Whereas the tie between British Ministers is generally tape (red).
* * * * *
PRESERVING THEIR PROSPECTS.
[Exemption has been granted by the Warwick Appeal Tribunal to
a man who applied on the ground that if he lived long enough
he would inherit L200,000.]
_Extract from "The Mid-County Advertiser," July 30th._
Martin Slim, 25, single, categoried A 1, applied for exemption to
the Bumpshire Tribunal on the ground that if he were required to
do military service he would lose a substantial fortune. Applicant
explained that he was engaged in an enterprise which involved the
planting of 200 acres of young cork-trees. The trees would be ready
for cutting in about 1945, by which time it was estimated the demand
for cork legs would enable him to realise a handsome profit on the
sale of the bark. Total exemption was granted, the chairman of the
Tribunal congratulating the young man on his patriotic foresight.
_"The Snobington Mercury," August 7th._
Among the recent applicants to the Snobington Appeal Tribunal was
the Hon. Geoffrey de Knute. Solicitor for the applicant stated that
his client, who was already giving all his time to the organisation
of hat-trimming competitions for wounded soldiers and other work of
national importance, desired exemption for the reason that he expected
shortly to succeed to the Earldom of Swankshire. There were, he
explained, three brothers who stood between his client and the title,
all over military age. It was expected, however, that the age limit
would before long be substantially raised, in which case there was
every reason to believe that his client, if exempted from military
service, might outlive his relatives. After some consultation the
chairman stated that ten years' exemption would be granted.
_"The Morning News," August 14th._
Sol. Strunski, 18, single, passed for General Service, applied for
exemption yesterday before the Birdcage Walk Tribunal. Applicant's
mother, who was observed to be wearing several large diamond rings
and a sable jacket, informed the Tribunal that applicant was her sole
support; that he had been engaged until recently upon a contract for
supplying the Army Ordnance Department with antimacassars, but that,
as the result of false charges made against him by persons connected
with the police force, the War Office had removed his name from its
list of eligible contractors, with the result that he was now out of
work. He had, however, been offered the secretaryship of the Russian
branch of the No-Conscription Fellowship. It was a great chance for
him, she explained, but he would lose it if he were called up. The
Tribunal expressed its sympathy with Mrs. Strunski, and stated that
the War, important as it might be, could not be allowed to mar the
future of such an able youth. Total exemption.
_"The Purrsweet Record," August 21st._
At the Purrsweet Tribunal, Messrs. Prongingham and Co., proprietors
of the popular multiple grocery establishments, applied for exemption
for their local branch manager, William Dudd (28, B 1). The chairman
of the Tribunal, Sir George Prongingham, stated that he had had some
doubts as to whether his position as president of Prongingham's, Ltd.,
did not require him to leave the disposition of this case to his
colleagues. They had persuaded him to a contrary view, and certainly
his patriotism could not be questioned. His son Reginald had been
serving gallantly in the Army Pay Department since the outbreak of
war, and he himself had been consulted by the Government on several
occasions. In deciding the case of the applicant, William Dudd, he
felt no bias of any kind, and the Tribunal's decision to grant total
exemption was made wholly out of regard to the young man's prospects,
and not in the interest of Prongingham's, Ltd. (Cheers.) ALGOL.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Farmer._ "YOU'LL NOT BE FEELING GIDDY, SURR?"
_R.F.C. Officer (on leave)_. "NOT TILL WE REACH TEN THOUSAND FEET."]
* * * * *
There were three of us--a soldier, a _flaneur_ and myself, who am
neither but would like to be either. We were talking about the strange
appearance--a phenomenon of the day--of French wine in German bottles,
and this led to the re-expression of my life-long surprise that
bottles should exist in such numbers as they do--bottles everywhere,
all over the world, with wine and beer in them, and no one under any
obligation to save and return them.
"Well," said the soldier (who may or may not have known that I was one
of those writing fellows), "that has never struck me as odd. Of course
there are lots of bottles. Bottles are necessary. But what beats me is
the number of books. New books and old books, books in shops and books
on stalls, and books in houses; and on top of all that--libraries.
That's rum, if you like. I most cordially hope," he added, "that there
are more bottles than books in the world."
"I don't care how many there are of either," said the _flaneur_; "but
I know this--another book's badly wanted."
"Oh, come off it," said the enemy of authorship. "How can another book
be needed? Have you ever seen the British Museum Reading Room? It's
simply awful. It's a kind of disease. I was taken there once by an
aunt when I was a boy, and it has haunted me ever since. Books by the
million all round the room, and the desks crowded with people writing
new ones. Men _and_ women. Mixed writing, you know. Terrible!"
"All that may be true," said the _flaneur_, "but the fact remains that
another book is still needed."
"Impossible," said the soldier, "unless it's a cheque-book. There I'm
"No, a book--a real book. Small, I admit, but real. And I believe I
can make you agree with me. I'm full of it, because I discovered the
need of it only this last week-end."
"Well, what is it to be called?" the sceptic asked.
"I think a good title would be, _Have I Put Everything in?_"
"Sounds like a manual of bayonet exercise," said the soldier, and he
made imaginary lunges at imaginary Huns.
"Very well then, to prevent ambiguity call it _Have I Left Anything
Out?_ The sub-title would be 'A Guide to Packing,' or 'The
"Ah!" said the other, beginning to be interested.
"With such a book," the _flaneur_ continued, "you could never, as
I did on Saturday, arrive at a house without any pyjamas, because
you would find pyjamas in the list, and directly you came to them
you would shove them in. That would be the special merit of the
book--that you would get, out of wardrobes and drawers and off the
dressing-table, the things it mentioned as you read them and shove
"You would hold the book in the left hand," said the soldier, with
almost as much excitement as though he were the author, "and pack with
the right. That's the way."
"Yes, that's the way. It would be only a little book--like a
vest-pocket diary--but it would be priceless. It would be divided into
sections covering the different kinds of visit to be paid--week-end,
week, fortnight, and so on. Then the kind of place--seaside, river,
shooting, hunting, and so on. Foreign travel might come in as well."
"Yes," said the soldier, "lists of things for Egypt, India, Nairobi."
"That's it," said the _flaneur._ "And there would be some unexpected
things too. I guess you could help me there with all your wide
"A corkscrew, of course," said the soldier.
"I said unexpected things," said the _flaneur_ reprovingly, "such
as--well, such as a screw-driver for eye-glasses--most useful. And a
carriage key. And--"
His pause was my opportunity. "I'll tell you another thing," I said,
"something for which I'd have given a sovereign in that gale last week
when I was at the seaside--window-wedges. Never again shall I travel
"By Jove!" said the soldier, "that's an idea. Put down window-wedges
at once. It's a great book this," he went on. "And needed--I should
jolly well say so. You ought to compile it at once--before any of us
has time to go away again. Personally I don't know how I've lived
without it. Why, just talking about it makes me feel quite a literary
"Let me see," I said sweetly, "what do you call this monumental
work? Oh yes, I remember--_Are There Any Important Omissions from my
"Rubbish!" said the soldier. "The title is--_Have I Put Everything
* * * * *
BY THE CANAL IN FLANDERS.
By the canal in Flanders I watched a barge's prow
Creep slowly past the poplar-trees; and there I made a vow
That when these wars are over and I am home at last
However much I travel I shall not travel fast.
Horses and cars and yachts and planes: I've no more use for such;
For in three years of war's alarms I've hurried far too much;
And now I dream of something sure, silent and slow and large;
So when the War is over--why, I mean to buy a barge.
A gilded barge I'll surely have, the same as Egypt's Queen,
And it will be the finest barge that ever you have seen;
With polished mast of stout pitch pine, tipped with a ball of gold,
And two green trees in two white tubs placed just abaft the hold.
So when past Pangbourne's verdant meads, by Clieveden's mossy stems,
You see a barge all white-and-gold come gliding down the Thames,
With tow-rope spun from coloured silks and snow-white horses three,
Which stop beside your river house--you'll know the bargee's me.
I'll moor my craft beside your lawn; so up and make good cheer!
Pluck me your greenest salads! Draw me your coolest beer!
For I intend to lunch with you and talk an hour or more
Of how we used to hustle in the good old days of war.
* * * * *
The Vicar of a country parish was letting his house to a _locum
tenens_, and sent him a telegram, "Servants will be left if desired."
Promptly came back the reply, "Am bringing my own sermons." And now
each is wondering what sort of man the other is.
* * * * *
"Young Man to help weigh and clean widows at chemist's shop."
--_Sheffield Daily Telegraph._
To any young man who should be inclined to apply we commend the advice
of _Mr. Weller, senior_, "Sammy, beware of the vidders."
* * * * *
[Illustration: AN ADAMLESS EDEN.
_The Seated Lady_. "THE GREAT CHARM OF THIS PLACE IS ITS ABSOLUTE
LONELINESS. DAY AFTER DAY ONE HAS THESE LOVELY SANDS AND SEA AND ROCKS
AND SKY ALL TO ONESELF."
_The Other_. "REALLY. AND HAVE YOU BEEN HERE LONG?"
_Seated Lady_. "SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE WEEK."
_The Other_. "AND ARE YOU GOING TO STAY IN THIS DELIGHTFUL PLACE MUCH
_Seated Lady_. "ANOTHER TEN DAYS--UNLESS MY LANDLADY WILL LET ME OFF
THE LAST WEEK."]
* * * * *
_(By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks.)_
In _The Irish on the Somme_ (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) Mr. MICHAEL
MACDONAGH continues the story which he began in _The Irish at
the Front_. He gives us more accounts of the heroism of his
fellow-countrymen in the titanic battles that have thrilled the minds
of men all the world over. He writes with a justifiable enthusiasm of
the deeds of these gallant Irishmen. The book stirs the blood like
the sound of a trumpet. In a war which has produced so many glorious
actions the Irish are second to none. Even those who do not agree
in every point with Mr. JOHN REDMOND will admit ungrudgingly that
he makes good the claims he puts forward in his introduction to Mr.
MACDONAGH'S book. He tells us that from Ireland 173,772 Irishmen are
serving in the Army and Navy, and that in addition at least 150,000
of the Irish race have joined the colours in Great Britain--no mean
record. Mr. MACDONAGH is as proud of the glory of the Ulstermen as
of that of Nationalist Ireland. He dedicates his book to the _carum
caput_ of Major WILLIE REDMOND.
* * * * *
Mr. E.B. OSBORN, who has written _The Maid with Wings, and other
Fantasies Grave to Gay_ (LANE), will perhaps not altogether thank me
for saving that among the _Other Fantasies_ I throughout preferred the
grave to the gay. _The Maid with Wings_ itself is a beautiful little
piece of imagination--the vision of the Maid of France comforting an
English boy during his last moments out in No Man's Land. The thing
is well and delicately done, with a reserve that may encourage the
judicious to hope for good work in the future from a pen that is (I
fancy) as yet somewhat new. On the other hand, I must confess that the
Gaiety left me (though this, of course, may be an isolated experience)
with sides unshaken. "Callisthenes at Cambridge," for example, is but
little removed from the article that, to my certain knowledge, has
padded school and 'Varsity magazines since such began to be. Still, I
liked the plea for Protection against foreign imports in literature
and art by way of helping the native producer, though even here some
condensation would, I thought, have sharpened the point. But, after
all, reviewers are dull dogs to move to laughter (as no doubt Mr.
OSBORN will now agree), so I hope he will rest content with my
genuine appreciation of his graver passages, and will be encouraged
to give us something more ambitious and less open to the suspicion
* * * * *
The _Letters of a Soldier: 1914-1915_ (CONSTABLE) are letters to
a mother; letters also of an artist, and full of an exquisite
sensibility, a fine candour. I can best give you an impression of the
charming personality of this young French soldier (who survived his
first great battle, to be reported missing after the counter-attack,
since when no news of him has reached his friends), by quoting little
sentences of his, and if you don't want to know more of him after
reading them then nothing I can say will be of any use: "The true
death would be to live in a conquered country, above all for me, whose
art would perish.... If you could only see the confidence of the
little forest animals, such as the field-mice! They were as pretty as
a Japanese print, with the inside of their ears like a rosy shell....
How is it possible to think of Schumann as a barbarian?... I am happy
to have felt myself responsive to all these blows, and my hope lies in
the thought that they will have forged my soul.... Spinoza is a most
valuable aid in the trenches.... We are in billets after the great
battle, and this time I saw it all. I did my duty; I knew that by the
feeling of my men for me. But the best are dead. We gained our object
... I send you my whole love. Whatever comes to pass, life has had its
beauty." And then no more.
* * * * *
If Mr. HAROLD LAKE'S account of the British forces in Macedonia is
supposed to supply an answer to a not unnatural query as to what they
are doing there, I am afraid one must take it that in fact they are
doing nothing in particular. An intelligent British public believes
that at least they are immobilising important enemy forces and perhaps
accomplishing several other useful things as well, but the writer, who
has actually been _In Salonica with Our Army_ (MELROSE), frankly lays
aside high considerations of policy and, seeing it all in desperately
foreshortened perspective, knows only that he and his fellows,
having volunteered to fight, are being called on instead to endure
a purgatorial routine of dust and dulness, mosquitoes, malaria and
night marches, and the grilling away of useless days in the society of
flies and lizards, with only, as a very occasional treat, the smallest
glimpse of anything resembling a Front. And all this is in a country
so desolated by centuries of war that in spite of obvious natural
fertility it is a sullen treeless desert--a desert of blight and
thistles, as profitless to our men as their periodically deferred
anticipations of a grand advance. A book that sets out to record
vacuity can hardly be crammed with thrilling literature, and I am
not going to pretend that Mr. LAKE has achieved the impossible. All
the same one found points--for instance, his desire that someone
(apparently England for choice!) should colonise Macedonia; and his
most right and appropriate plea for fairer recognition of those who
have sacrificed their health in the national service. A man, he holds,
who is to suffer all his life from malarial fever has done his bit no
less than plenty who bear the honourable insignia of the wounded in
battle and the snout of a mosquito may be as valorously encountered as
the bayonet of a Hun. And so say all of us.
* * * * *
I can read Miss MARY WEBB'S studies of the peasant mind with great
pleasure, but at the same time I am doubtful whether she is as
successful in _Gone to Earth_ (CONSTABLE) as she was in her first
novel, _The Golden Arrow_. My difficulty--and I hope it will not be
yours--was to believe in the power of _Hazel Woodus_ to make very
dissimilar men lose their hearts and heads. That _Jack Reddin_, a
dare-devil farmer with love for any sort of a chase in his blood,
should pursue her to the bitter end is intelligible enough, but why
_Edward Marston_, a rather anaemic minister, married her and then
forgave her escapades with _Reddin_ has me bothered. I can admire
Edward's forgiving spirit, but cannot altogether pity him when his
methodical congregation said straight and disagreeable things. In
fact my total inability to see _Hazel_ as _Edward_ saw her somewhat
detracted from my enjoyment of her history. That being said the
rest is, thank goodness, praise. Miss WEBB is a careful and sincere
workman, who, whether you believe or disbelieve in her characters,
writes with such real compassion for suffering that she cannot fail to
enlist your sympathy. Additionally her vein is original, and she only
needs a little more experience to make a great success of it.
* * * * *
Presumably the eleven stories in _The Loosing of the Lion's Whelps_
(MILLS AND BOON) are published for the first time, as we are not
given any notice to the contrary, and I can imagine that Mr. JOHN
OXENHAM'S many admirers will derive considerable pleasure from them.
Mr. OXENHAM'S weak points are that sometimes he fails to distinguish
between real pathos and sticky sentimentality, and that when he tries
his hand at telling a practical joke he does not know when to stop.
There are, however, stories in this volume which deserve unqualified
praise. The shortest, "How Half a Man Died," is the best; indeed, it
is a real gem. But "The Missing K.C.'s" has a genuine thrill in it;
and, in a very different manner, "A By-Product" is proof enough that
the author can get his effects all the more readily when he keeps his
own feelings under the strictest control. Mr. OXENHAM'S XI. has weak
points in it, but on the whole it is a good side.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _The Farmer._ "DON'T YOU KNOW, YOU LITTLE THIEF, I
COULD GET YOU TEN YEARS IN JAIL FUR STEALIN' MY APPLES?"
_The Boy._ "EXCUSE ME, SIR, BUT YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY MISINFORMED. I
SHOULD COME UNDER THE FIRST OFFENDERS ACT."]
* * * * *
Another Impending Apology.
"John Kelly, Aughanduff, while going to Dernaseer was attacked on
the road by a bull belonging to Thomas Kelly, and knocked down
and had three ribs broken. He was attended by Dr. ----, and we
think such dangerous animals should not be allowed to wander at
* * * * *
"J.A.M. required for St. Mark's Girls' School, Dublin."--_Irish
A case for the FOOD CONTROLLER.
* * * * *
From a letter on "How we are to be Governed":--
"Are we in future to see the party whips put on to decide
whether a 16 in. gun is to be 50 or 60 calibres? The think is
We don't think.
Back to Full Books