Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 156, June 11, 1919

Produced by Malcolm Farmer, Sandra Brown and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team.



VOL. 156.

June 11, 1919.


"Every British working man has as much right as any Member of Parliament
to be paid L400 a year," states a well-known Labour paper. We have never
questioned this for a moment.


"Women," says a technical journal, "are a source of grave danger to
motorists in crowded city streets." It is feared in some quarters that
they will have to be abolished.


"Are you getting stout?" asks a Sunday contemporary. Only very
occasionally, we regret to say.


The heat was so oppressive in London the other day that a taxi-driver at
Euston Station was seen to go up to a pedestrian and ask him if he could
do with a ride. He was eventually pinned down by some colleagues and
handed over to the care of his relatives.


"I do not care a straw about Turkey," writes Mr. LOVAT Fraser in _The
Daily Mail_. It is this dare-devil spirit which has made us the nation
we are.


Superstition in regard to marriage is dying out, says a West End
registrar. Nevertheless the superstition that a man who gets married
between January 1st and December 31st is asking for trouble is still
widely held.


Mr. VAN INGEN, a New York business man, has just started to cross the
Atlantic for the one hundred and sixtieth time. It is not known whether
the major ambition of his life is to leave New York or go back and have
a last look at it.


"There is no likelihood," says the FOOD-CONTROLLER, "of cheese running
out during the coming winter." A pan of drinking water left in the
larder will always prevent its running out and biting someone during the


Sympathetic readers will be glad to hear that the little sixpence which
was found wandering in Piccadilly Circus has been given a good home by
an Aberdeen gentleman.


Aeroplane passengers are advised by one enterprising weekly not to throw
bottles out of the machine. This is certainly good advice. The bottles
are so apt to get broken.


Germany, it is expected, will sign the Peace treaty this once, but
points out that we must not allow it to happen again.


Of two burglars charged at Stratford one told the Bench that he intended
to have nothing further to do with his colleague in future. It is said
that he finds it impossible to work with him owing to his nasty grasping

* * * * *

Sixty-seven fewer babies were born in one Surrey village last year than
in previous years. It would be interesting to have their names.


A grocer, according to a legal writer, is not compelled to take goods
out of the window to oblige a customer. The suggestion that a grocer is
expected to oblige anybody in any circumstances is certainly a novelty.


Uxbridge, says _The Evening News_, has no bandstand. Nor have we, but we
make no fuss about it.


The Bolshevists in Russia, we are told, are busy sowing seeds of
sedition. For some time it has been suspected that the Bolshevists were
up to no good.


HERBERT WELSH, aged sixty-seven, has started to walk from New Jersey to
New Hampshire, U.S.A., a distance of five hundred miles. In the absence
of fuller details we assume that HERBERT must have lost his train.


"Postage stamps," says a weekly snippets paper, "can be obtained at all
post-offices." This should prove a boon to those who have letters to


It is thought if a certain well-known judge does not soon ask, "What is
whisky?" he will have to content himself with the past tense.


"What to do with a Wasp" is a headline in a contemporary. We have not
read the article, but our own plan with wasps is to try to dodge them.


We hear that complications may arise from an unfortunate mistake made at
a Jazz Competition held in London last week. It appears that the prize
was awarded to a lady suffering from hysteria who was not competing.


A taxi-driver in a suburb of London was married last week to a local
telephone operator. Speculation is now rife as to which will be the
first to break down and say "Thank you."


The Press reports the case of a young lady who received slight injuries
from a slab of ceiling which fell on her head whilst she was asleep in
bed, but was saved from further damage by the thickness of her hair.
This should act as a warning to those ladies who adopt the silly habit
of removing their tresses on retiring for the night.

* * * * *

[Illustration: _Hospital Orderly (taking particulars of new patient_).


_Hospital Orderly_. "RANK?"


_Hospital Orderly_. "BATTALION?"]

* * * * *


As Count BROCKDORFF-RANTZAU puts it, quoting from his German translation
of _Hamlet: "Sein oder nicht sein, dass ist hier die Frage_."

* * * * *

"The recommendations of the Jerram Committee came before a
conference between a representative body of lower deck ratings
and members of Parliament who sit for naval constituencies. The
veterinary chief petty officer presided."--_Sunday Paper_.

The rank is new to us; but he must be just the man to look after the
interests of our sea-dogs.

* * * * *

From the "Transactions" of a photographic society:--

"Mr. ---- stated that as Architectural Photography covered a large
and varied field he purposed to confine his remarks to the line of
work most familiar to him, namely, The Interiors of some of the
great English Ministers."

Now at last we shall know if the Government's heart is in the right

* * * * *


Since first you loomed upon my infant ken
My firm belief has ever been, and still it is,
That you are fashioned not as other men
(Subject, at best, to mortal disabilities),
But come of more than human kin,
Immune, or practically so, from sin.

Godlike the poise that to your bearing lends
The aspect of a tower that never totters;
There's a divinity hath shaped your ends
(Rough-hewn, perhaps--especially your trotters);
Your ample chest, your generous girth
Have no precise similitude on earth.

I cannot picture you (though I have tried)
Wearing a bowler hat and tweed apparel,
Or craving sustenance for your inside
Drawn either from the oven or the barrel;
Scarcely you figure in my eye
As liable, in Nature's course, to die.

And it was you who almost fell from grace,
Striking, like Lucifer, against authority,
Leaving your Heaven for another place
Not mentioned by your ten-to-one majority,
And doomed, to your surprise and pain,
Never, like Lucifer, to rise again.

But you were wise, my Robert, wise in time;
And I, who set you far above humanity,
High-pedestalled upon my lofty rhyme,
Rejoice with you in your recovered sanity;
To me I feel it would have mattered
Enormously to see my idol shattered.

But 'ware the Bolsh, who fain would lure your feet
To conduct unbecoming in a copper;
Once you betrayed us, going off your beat,
And now you've nearly come another cropper;
If, tempted thrice, you break your trust,
You'll have no halo left to readjust.


* * * * *


Watson is a young barrister who is feeling rather pleased with himself.
I confess that he has deserved it.

The situation was as follows. Before the War he had had no briefs, but
had always had a conscience. A hopeless state of affairs. Then he went
to the War and shed his conscience somewhere in the Balkans. So far so
good. But, when he was demobilised and began to take stock of what had
been happening at home in the meanwhile, he found to his horror that a
conscience had again been thrust upon him by the General Council of the

Such was the situation he had to face, and he has won through.

How, you ask, did the G.C.B. play this trick on him? It happened in
this way. Having nothing better to do during Watson's absence and at a
critical moment of the War, these idle elderly well-fed lawyers solemnly
deliberated upon the following fantastic problem:--

"What is the duty of counsel who is defending a prisoner on a plea of
Not Guilty when the prisoner confesses to counsel that he did commit the
offence charged?"

With a cynical disregard of their own past these sophists propounded the
following answer:--

"If the confession has been made before the proceedings have been
commenced it is most undesirable that an advocate to whom the confession
has been made should undertake the defence, as he would most certainly
be seriously embarrassed in the conduct of the case, and no harm can be
done to the accused by requesting him to retain another advocate."

The new Watson was unable to agree with this doctrine, so far as it
* * * * *
The legal conscience thus gratuitously thrust upon him was soon to
undergo its first ordeal. An acquaintance of his, in a moment of
absent-mindedness, murdered somebody, and asked Watson to persuade the
inevitable jury that he hadn't. The said acquaintance explained to
Watson that he simply did it when he wasn't thinking.

Watson was in a hole. Obviously this was a case to which the
embarrassment prescribed by the General Council of the Bar was
applicable. This legal embarrassment, which, strictly speaking, ought
now to be his, would not, however, have worried him in the least had
it not been for another consideration. Suppose, after Watson had
triumphantly got his client acquitted, it got about that the "innocent"
had confessed his crime to counsel beforehand? That would mean an end to
Watson's professional career. One does not thus slight the edicts of the
mighty with impunity.

Watson was too proud to ask his client to keep the deadly secret, or to
apply the famous wriggle of _Hippolytus_: "My tongue hath sworn, but my
heart remains unsworn."

Nevertheless Watson gave his mind to the problem. In the end he decided
on the following line of defence: "Not Guilty," and in the alternative
"Guilty under justifiable circumstances, without malice aforethought but
with intent to benefit the person murdered."

Happily the General Council of the Bar has not yet assigned any
moral embarrassment to a counsel who pleads "Not Guilty," and in the
alternative, "Guilty." Watson therefore reasoned that if the jury
returned a verdict of "Not Guilty," his client's alternative confession
could be written off as an obvious mistake; on the other hand, if he
were found "Guilty," the fact of confession would be an ethical asset
towards securing for him a lenient view of the case.

As I said, Watson behaved well. He proved to his own and the jury's
satisfaction (1) that his client did not commit the murder; (2) that
alternatively he did commit the murder, but that he did so for the good
of everybody concerned; and (3) that in either case he never meant to do

In the event the prisoner was acquitted without a stain upon his
* * * * *
Watson is now well established as the last hope of abandoned causes. He
is a specialist in defence, and criminals of every shade throng to him.
When a new one swims into his ken Watson meets him on the threshold
and says, "Don't speak a word. Read this;" and he puts into his hand a
printed slip. The slip reads:--

"_ Conditions of Advocacy_.

"(1) If you put your case into my hands it ceases at once and from
that moment to be any concern of your own. You are not entitled, for
instance, to express any opinion as to whether you committed the
alleged crime or not. That is my affair exclusively.

"(2) If however there is anything which lies so heavily on your
conscience that it must out sooner or later, let it be later. I
am open to receive confessions at any time after proceedings have

"If you accept these conditions, good; if not, go."

Watson says they always accept them, so he never worries about the
General Council of the Bar.

* * * * *

[Illustration: THE NEW ISSUE.

OIL GENIE _(gushingly, to Coal-Owner and Mr. SMILLIE)._ "CAN I DO

[The discovery of oil in Derbyshire, which threatens the supremacy of
the mining industry, may affect the questions now in dispute before the
Coal Commission.]

* * * * *

[Illustration: _Harassed Mother (having distributed half of her
offspring on laps of passengers)._ "COME ON, 'ENERY. SQUEEZE IN

* * * * *


In the heart of the Foret de Roumare there is a spot called Rond du
Chene a Leu, where eight paths meet. Why they choose to meet there,
unless it is for company, one can't imagine. The fact that there is not
an estaminet within five kilometres nullifies its value as a military
objective. Therefore, having been decoyed thither by a plausible
guide-book, it was with surprise that I beheld an ancient representative
of the British Army smoking his pipe with the air of having been in
possession for centuries.

"Bit lonely here," I said.

"Rumble's Moor on a wet Friday's busy to it," he said emphatically. "Is
it reet the War's over?"


He puffed his pipe for a few minutes while the information soaked in.

"Who won?"

"The Peace Conference haven't decided yet."

Conversation languished until I remembered the guide-book.

"According to tradition," I said, "it was at this identical spot that
ROLLO, first Duke of Normandy, hung his golden chain on a sign-post for
a whole year without having it stolen."

"Tha-at ud be afore we brought our Chinese Labour gang felling timber,"
he said firmly; "I wudden give it five minutes now."

"I understand, too, that there is a historic ruin hereabouts."

"Theer was," he said; "but he's in hospital."

"What do you mean?"

"Ratty Beslow; my owd colleague an' sparring pardner. It's 'im you weer
talking of, ain't it?"

"It wasn't; but I'm interested in him," I said, sitting down on a pile
of logs. "How did he get to hospital?"

"Through a mistake in Nacheral 'Istory. You see, me an' Ratty had been
in th' War a goodish time an' ha-ad lost our o-riginal ferociousness. So
they put us to this Chink Labour gang for a rest-cure. Likewise Ratty
'ad got too fa-amous as a timber-scrounger oop th' line, and it was
thought that if 'e was left in th' middle of a forest, wheer it didn't
matter a dang if he scrounged wood fra' revally to tattoo, it might
reform him. But it was deadly dull. We tried a sweepstake f'r th' one as
could recognise most Chinks at sight, and a raffle for who could guess
how many trees in a circle; but there wasn't much spice in it. So at
last Ratty suggested we should try a bit o' poaching.

"'Ah doan't know th' first thing about it,' I says; 'Ah'm town bred.
Nobbut Ah could knock a few rabbits over if Ah'd got a Lewis gun handy.'

"'Rabbuts be danged!' says he; 'Ah've no use f'r such vermin. Theer's
stags, so Ah've heerd tell, in this forest.'

"'Ah wudden say no to a haunch o' venison,' I answered; 'but stags is
artillery work.'

"'They is not,' says Ratty. 'Nor yet rifles nor bombs.'

"'Ah s'pose you stops theer holes an' puts in a ferret,' says I,
sarcastic; 'or else traps 'em wi' cheese.'

"'That's the only kind o' hunting you've bin used to,' replies Ratty.
'Stags is caught wi' tactics, a trip-wire an' a lasso.'

"'Well, la-ad,' I says, 'you'd best do th' lassoing. I doan't know the
habits o' stags.'

"Ratty scrounges a prime rope fra' somewheers, an' we creeps out after
nightfall. It was a dree night, the owd bracken underfoot damp an'
sodden, an' th' tall firs looking grim an' gho-ostly in th' gloom. Soon
theer was a crackling o' twigs, like a tank scouting on tiptoe.

"'Bosch patrol half-left!' whispers I.

"'Stow it, you blighter,' says Ratty. 'This is serious. Can't you see
th' stag?'

"I peeps round and, loomin' in the da-arkness, see th' hindquarters of a
stag sticking out ayant a tree. It looked bigger 'n Ah 've seen 'em in
pictures, but Ah 've noticed Fritzes look bigger in th' dark.

"'Now's your chance, la-ad,' I whispers. 'Trip round an' slip th' noose
over 'is horns.'

"'Not me,' growls Batty. 'T'other end's safer.'

"He crawls up to it wi' th' rope all ready, but just as he was going to
slip it over its leg it seemed to stand on its head, feint wi' its left
an' get an upper-cut wi' its right under Ratty's chin. A shadow passed
across th' fa-ace o' the moon, which I judged to be Ratty.

"'Ratty's after altitude records,' says I to meself, 'an' there'll be
th' ellanall of a row if that rope's lost.'

"However, in a few minutes he started to descend an' made a good landing
in some soft bracken. By th' time I'd felt him all over, an' found 'e'd
be fit to go to hospital in th' morning, th' stag had disappeared."

"I never heard of stags kicking like that before," I interrupted.

"Nor hadn't Ratty," said the ancient warrior. "Ah towd you he made a
mistake in Nacheral 'Istory.

"The next night, feeling mighty lonely, Ah walked five kilometres to th'
nearest estaminet, the 'Rondyvoo de Chasers,' an' looked upon the _vang_
while it was _rouge_. When I'd done lookin' and started home th' forest
looked more gho-ost-like than ever wi' th' young firs bowing an'
swaying, and drifts o' cloud peeping through the branches. All at once I
heerd a crackling o' twigs like th' night afore, an' then someone stole
acrost th' road carrying a rope.

"Ah says to myself, 'It's one of th' Chinks poaching, an' it's 'evin
'elp 'im if 'e 's after what Ratty nearly caught last night!'

"Seemingly 'e was, for 'e follered th' noise, an' Ah follered 'im--at a
safe distance. Then, dimlike an' looming big, Ah saw th' stag, an' the
Chink stealing up behind it.

"'Tother end, you fool!' I whispered; an' he jumps round to its head,
slips th' noose round its neck an' leads if off as quiet as a lamb."

"You don't expect me to believe," I broke in indignantly, "that a stag
can be led like a poodle on a lead?"

"P'r'aps not stags," said the veteran, relighting his pipe. "That's weer
Ratty made the mistake that sent 'im to hospital. But you can do it now
and then with a transport mule what's broke away, and the Chink done

* * * * *

[Illustration: _Photographer (to Douglas Devereux, the world-famous
cinema-actor_). "TIKE YER PHOTO, SIR?"]

* * * * *


"In reply to your letter to hand, we are very sorry for the delay in
sending the Jumper, but the tremendous demand for these has denuded
our stock. We are, however, expecting a further delay now in a day
or so.

Yours obediently,


* * * * *

"The spell of hot weather is causing large numbers of the public
to migrate to the Kent coast. Thanet, owing to greatly improved
travelling facilities, is being specially flavoured. The public well
know the magical properties of Thanet air."--_Evening Paper_.

Then why bother about flavouring it?

* * * * *

"The Food Controller announced that canned salmon is now free of
control, and that chocolates and other sweetmeats will be freed on
July 1.

He also intimates that canned salmon is now free of control,
and that chocolates and other sweetmeats will be freed on July
1."--_Daily Paper_.

We hope he will say it once more, on the Bellman's principle that "what
I tell you three times is true."

* * * * *

[Illustration: _Chorus of children (to parent, late Lieut-Col. R.F.A.,

* * * * *


As all the world will soon be in the air a few words of advice on
choosing an aerial steed may be of assistance to intending fliers who
have so far had no experience as owners of winged craft.

The first thing is to locate the whereabouts of the best park, for one
speaks of a park of aeroplanes just as one speaks of a school of whales,
a grove of wombats or a suite of leeches. Having arrived (wearing, if
you are wise, a full-grown check cap, with the back to the front and the
peak protecting the nape of the neck from the bites of savage vendors),
take a deep breath and look round you knowingly.

By the way, what are you--peer, profiteer, or plain _pater-familias_
looking for a family air-bus? It is impossible to advise you how to
select a plane without knowing whether you want one for long-distance
journeys (with non-starting attachment), for stunting, or merely for
gadding about and dropping in on your friends. There is a sad story
afloat of a man who bought an air-bus the other day for world-touring
and only discovered the insufficiency of cupboards and the want of a
bathroom after starting on his maiden trip to Patagonia (where the nuts
drop off).

Let us suppose that you are one of the majority of heavier-than-air
persons who will shortly be wanting a good steady machine to rise to any
ordinary occasion.

Well, then, look round you carefully. Observe the demeanour of the
machines that are trotted out (if such a term may be used) for your
inspection. The flick of a tail, the purr of an engine or the slope of
a wing may give the observant a clue as to the disposition of an aerial

But however reassuring a preliminary canter may be (to borrow another
horsey simile) insist on a thorough personal inspection of all parts of
the machine. Test the musical capacity of the wire entanglement, screw
and unscrew the turnbuckles till the seller cries for mercy, and run
your hands well over the body (the aeroplane's, of course) to make quite
sure that it will support the weight of yourself, of your family and of
your parasites--remembering in this connection that Aunt Louisa kicks
the beam at 15.7. Make sure also that the body will not part company
with the rest of the box of tricks at one of those awkward corners in
the sky. Also, if you have time, it might be well to glance at the
engine, the petrol tank and the feed-pipe, as experts consider these of

Having satisfied yourself that all these things are as they should be
in the best of all possible aeroplanes, that the joy-stick works as
smoothly as a beer-pull, and that the under-carriage has the necessary
wheels, axles and other things that under-carriages are licensed to
carry, little remains but to pay for the machine and make a nosedive for

A longer and more detailed article on "How to Choose a Stunter," by the
Bishop of Solder and Man, with which is incorporated "A Few Hints on
Banking for Beginners," by Sir JOHN BRADBURY, will appear in next week's

[This is the first I have heard of it.--ED.]

* * * * *

From a Menu:--

"Special this day: Boiled Rabbi and Pork."

A clear case of adding insult to injury.

* * * * *




* * * * *


I'm back in civil life, all brawn and chest,
Lungs made of leather, heart as right as rain;
I still could dine off bully-beef with zest;
I've never had a scratch or stitch or sprain;
Life seems to throb in every single vein.
Yet I'm a whited sepulchre, in brief;
I've one foot in the grave, I'm on the wane,
I'm heading for the sere and yellow leaf.

From Mons to Jericho I've borne my crest
And back from Jericho to Mons again;
I've sampled smells in Araby the Blest
Would burst a boiler or corrode a drain;
The Blankshires have a port that raises Cain--
I've messed with them and never come to grief;
And yet I'm dashing like a non-stop train
Full steam into the sere and yellow leaf.

It caught me hard this morning when I dressed
And read the mirror's verdict. Ah, the pain
Is gnawing like a canker at my breast,
Is beating like a hammer in my brain;
I must speak out or break beneath the strain.
_I'm going bald on top_. O cruel reef
Where youthful hopes lie wrecked! O dismal lane
Whose end is but the sere and yellow leaf!


Prince (Mr. Punch)! on Armageddon's plain
My love-locks fell a prey to Time, the thief.
Regrets are useless, unguents are in vain;
Only remains the sere and yellow leaf.

* * * * *


"Presiding at the concert given in connection with the ---- Art
Club's annual exhibition of oil and water-colours, Mr. ----
congratulated the club on the quality of its paintings, which, he
thought, were remarkably cheap when cognisance was taken of the
present high prices of materials."--_Provincial Paper_.

This critic has, as the Art jargon puts it, "a nice feeling for values."

* * * * *


By A Modern Woman.

'_Women differ by the width of Heaven from what their mothers

"I do not smoke and I do not wear bare-back dresses, but I agree with
Mr. Justice Darling--there is the width of Heaven between my mother
and I."--_Evening News_.

Let's hope so, in the matter of grammar.

* * * * *


_Lochtermachty, N.B. May 29th, 1919._

DEAR MR. PUNCH,--My father and I have fallen out over the question
of your literary judgment and sense of humour. If I weren't a filial
daughter I'd say that he's a ----; but I am, so I won't call him

The fact is that, before he became a professional Padre, he didn't
know that such things as senses of humour existed. All that mattered
in his life were Latin and Greek and Hebrew and the other pursuits
of the classical scholar. However, during his wanderings with
the Army he has somehow managed to acquire what he calls "an
appreciation of the laughable." And that is the cause of our divided

This morning at breakfast, while he was reading out the account
of the proceedings of the General Assemblies, he came upon the
interesting statement--volunteered by an eminent Edinburgh
divine--that all the ministers of the Kirk have lost a stone in
weight during the War, and that this works out at a loss of five
tons of ministerial flesh to the United Free Church of Scotland.
Then, after he had tested the accuracy of the statistics, which he
found quite incorrect, and I had meditated upon the bulk of matter
encircled by the parental Sam Browne, we were both seized with an
idea, and said "_Punch!_" at the same instant.

It took us some time to get rid of the accumulation of marmalade,
margarine and bacon fat which we amassed in our attempts to link
fingers across the table; but about 10.30 or so we got settled down
to work on your behalf.

Until lunch-time we were fully occupied in giving each other ideas
and then explaining why they wouldn't work. After lunch the
Padre retired to his study to work out, he said, a satire--after
ARISTOPHANES--which would afford him an opportunity of introducing
the Archbishop of CANTERBURY'S speech, and making some whimsical
allusions to the legend of the strayed lamb come back to tell his
lean Scotch brethren of the green meadows and luscious feeding to be
had across the Borders.

My own ambitions were slighter. I would do a conversation perhaps
between the shades of JOHNSON and his BOZZY, or a Limerick, or even
just an original witty remark, or, failing all of these, I would
select an "apt quotation." About tea-time I retired to the garden
with a notebook, a pencil and a book of quotations. By 6.30 I had a
list of one hundred and two, and was wavering over the final choice
of a parody on "Some hae meat wha canna eat," and an adaptation of
"Be sooople, Davie, in things immaterial," when my parent came
out to the lawn, flushed and excited, with his last three hairs
triumphantly erect, and brandished a document in my face.

It was an ode, Mr. Punch--an ode five (foolscap) pages long, written
in Greek!

I gave him best at once, and then very gently suggested that his
composition might not in its present unmitigated form be _quite_
suited to your tastes and requirements.

I shall spare you the details of the ensuing controversy, but I want
you to know that I have spared you much else, and in so doing have
forfeited not only my father's affection but a projected advance on
my next quarter-but-three's dress allowance.

I hope you need no further proof of my devotion.

Yours, etc.,


P.S.--I was forgetting to say that you will find the bit about the
ministers near the bottom of the third column of the tenth page of
Thursday's _Scotsman_. Perhaps you can think of a funny treatment

* * * * *



Akbar the furrier squats on the floor
Sucking an Eastern pipe,
Thumbing the lakhs that he's made of yore,
Lakhs which creep to the long-dreamed crore
In a ledger of Western type.

And all around him the wild beasts sway,
Cured of their mortal ills--
Flying squirrels from Sikkim way,
Silver foxes that used to play
Up on the Kashmir hills.

On the shelf of a cupboard a polecat lies
Laughing between his paws,
And there's more than a hint of amused surprise
In the gape of the lynx, in the marten's eyes,
In the poise of the grey wolf's claws.

And, should you enter old Akbar's lair
And hear what he wants for his skins,
You will know why the little red squirrels stare,
Why the Bengal tiger gasps for air
And the gaunt snow-leopard grins.


* * * * *

The Telephone Girl's motto: _Nulla linea sine die_--"Number engaged;
ring again and again, please."

* * * * *


I went to the Derby fully intending to back the favourite--The Panther.

But the cross-currents immediately set in--as they always do.

I began by making the mistake of reading the forecasts of all the
experts--the gallant Captains and Majors, the Men on the Course, the Men
on the Heath, the Men on the Spot--all of whom, although they mostly
favoured The Panther, had serious views as to dangerous rivals,
supported by what looked like uncontrovertible arguments.

I also had an early evening paper with a summary of forecasts, none of
which (as it was to turn out) mentioned the winner at all.

I was even so foolish as to glance at some of the advertisements of the
wizards who are so ready to put the benefit of their knowledge at the
service of the public and make fortunes for others rather (apparently)
than for themselves, all of whom hinted at some mysterious long-priced
outsider whose miraculous qualities of speed were a secret. But of
course I was too late to profit by these; they merely unsettled me.

Not content with this I was forced to overhear the conversation of
others in our compartment, each of whom fancied a separate animal,
arguing with reasons that could not be gainsaid.

In this way I learned that The Panther would win in a canter and would
be badly beaten; that he was a stranger to the Epsom course; that he was
ready for anything; that he liked soft going; that he was no good except
when he could hear his hoofs rattle; that his jockey was not strong
enough; that his jockey was ideal; that he was sounder than any horse
had ever been, and that trouble was brewing.

All this naturally left me shaken as to my first decision. Was I wise,
I asked myself, to trust all my eggs (forgive, Sir ALEC BLACK, the
poorness of this metaphor) to one doubtful basket?

Having admitted an element of doubt I was the prey of every suspicion
and began to consider the other candidates. All Alone headed the list.
I liked the name, because it suggested the corollary: the rest nowhere.
Also it belonged to a lady--to the only lady owner, in fact--and
lady--owners were said (by a man with a red beard opposite me who smoked
cigarettes so short that I was certain it was made of dyed asbestos) to
be in luck this season. "Always follow the luck," he added. But then, on
the other hand, what could be more lucky than Colonel BUCHAN, author of
_Mr. Standfast_ and an excellent History of the War, into whose lap so
many good things fall? Why not back a horse named after him? Besides,
was not Buchan third favourite?

I was making a note of Buchan's claims, when a man with a Thermos flask
lashed to his side began to praise Dominion. Dominion, it seems, was
third in the Two Thousand Guineas--only just behind Buchan, who was just
behind The Panther. Many people thought The Panther unduly lucky that
day. A very different course, too, at Newmarket from that at Epsom.
Obviously Dominion must be remembered. Moreover he was being greatly
fancied and some of the best judges looked to him to win the Blue Riband
for Lord GLANELY. The fact that Lord GLANELY drew his own horse in the
Baltic Sweep was not to be sneezed at either, said some one. That's an
omen if there ever was one! And it knocked out Lord GLANELY'S other
horse, Grand Parade.

"Well, here's a tip," cried a man with a frock-coat and a straw hat.
"Blest if I've got a single coin left--nothing but paper money. That's
good enough for me. I shall back Paper Money."

The carriage agreed that that was his duty. "Of course you must," they
said. "When everyone disagrees in the way that the experts do, you might
as well take a tip like that as anything."

Paper Money had therefore to be added also to my list of possibles.

"Besides," said another man, "DONOGHUE rides him; our leading jockey,
you know." I had forgotten to look at the jockeys' names. How absurd! Of
course one must back DONOGHUE.

But just then, "Give me WHALLEY," said the man with the asbestos beard,
and, as WHALLEY was riding Bay of Naples, I had to consider him too.
Naples was a jolly place and I had had a lot of fun there. Hadn't I
better make that my tip?

But, on the other hand, what about Tangiers? I had had fun there too,
and more than one fellow-passenger had darkly hinted that this was a
much better animal than public form proclaimed. Looking for particulars,
I found that he once "ran Galloper Light to a head;" which had a
promising sound. He was trained at Lambourne too, and I like Lambourne.
There is a good inn there and it is a fine walk to White Horse Hill.

"Well," said another man, who had been borrowing matches from his
neighbour ever since Victoria, "I always had a feeling for a Marcovil
colt. Marcovil is a good sire. I 've had some very special information
about Milton, the Marcovil colt, to-day."

MILTON!--one of my favourite poets, and also one of Mr. ASQUITH'S, as he
said in that lecture last week. Yes, but is Mr. ASQUITH exactly lucky
just now? Perhaps not. And did not MILTON write _Paradise Lost_? True.
But, on the other hand, he wrote _Paradise Regained_. You see how
difficult tip-hunting can be!

And so it went on and I emerged from the Epsom Downs station in a
maze of indecision, in which one fact and one only shone with crystal
clearness, and that was that whatever won the race The Panther had no
better chance, even though it had been made favourite, than any other.

"Besides," as one of the two men who sat on my knees had said, "What's a
favourite anyway? Very often a horse is made a favourite by the bookies,
in conjunction with the Press, just so as everyone will back it. No, no
favourites for me. Give me a likely outsider at good odds. Look what you
have to put on The Panther to win anything."

In the result I backed--well, I am not going to tell you; but they "also

The moral of this story--if it has one--is either don't bet at all, or,
if you do bet, draw the horse from a hat at random, and, having drawn
it, stick to it. No one, as the failure of The Panther proves, can
possibly _know_ more than you.

* * * * *

[Illustration: _Daphne_. "I MUSTN'T HAVE ANY CAKE TILL I DON'T ASK FOR

* * * * *



* * * * *


When Ernest asked me to take a run in his car I took advantage of the
invitation because there are times when I think that life is less joyful
without a car and that one day I shall slip out and buy one. I should
love to grip the wheel and sweep the countryside and listen to the soft
purr of the engine. So we started sweeping the countryside, Ernest and
I; but we had not swept very much of it before the soft purr developed a
kind of cough and the car stopped.

Ernest coaxed and petted her. He tried kindness, while I helped him with
sarcasm. He tried hauteur and then a little bad temper.

Eventually he decided to send for the local motor engineer, and it was
when this gentleman arrived with his mate that I decided that motoring
was not for me and that I should have to fall back on fretwork or tame
mice for my recreation.

"Here, Bill," said Overalls-in-Chief, "just hold up the Ding-dong."

His mate did as instructed and up went the Ding-dong.

"Now hand me the Doo-dal," he went on; "and while I tune up the old
Jig-jig you get the Pipety-pip and clean it out.

"Now get the Tick-tick and just give me a tap here with the Ooh-jah,
while I give the Thing-a-me-tight a couple for his nob.

"See that?" he shouted at me. "Would you believe it? Easy as
winking. See, it was like this. The What's-a-name here, as kept the
Tiddley-um-tum in place, was sort of riding on the Squeak-box, so as the
Tiddley-om-pom and the other Jigger sort of gave the half-seas-over
to the Thing-a-me-bob and missed the Rum-ti-tum. Simple, ain't it,

"Yes," I answered, "quite simple."

But I have decided to give up all idea of buying a car. I should never
learn the language.

* * * * *


Little Grey Water, my heart is with you
In the loop of the hills where the lone heron feeds,
Where your cloak is a cloud with a lining of blue,
And your lover a wind riding over the reeds.

Little Grey Water, I know that you know
What the teal and the black duck are dreaming at noon,
And the way of the wistful wild geese as they go
Through the haze of the hills to keep tryst with the moon.

Little Grey Water, folk say and they say
That the homing hill-shepherd, benighted, has heard
A song in the reeds, 'twixt the dawn and the day,
That was never the song of a breeze or a bird.

But I know you so silent, so silent and still,
And so proud of your trust that you'll never betray
What the fairies that gather from Grundiston Hill
Tell the stars before morning to witch them away.


* * * * *

[Illustration: FAITH RESTORED.


* * * * *


_Monday, June 2nd_.--The Lords seldom sit _die Lunae_, and were perhaps
feeling what humbler folk call "rather Mondayish" at being summoned from
their week-end pleasaunces to put the Local Government (Ireland) Bill
through its final stages. Anyhow they developed some eleventh-hour
criticisms. The sad case of the Belfast Water Commissioners attracted
Lord STUART OF WORTLEY. There are fifteen of them--one each for the
existing wards. But under the Bill Belfast is to be divided into ten
wards; and fifteen into ten won't go, even in Ireland. Lord PEEL
considered that while Lord STUART'S arithmetic was impeccable his fears
were exaggerated. If Belfast drinks its whiskey neat it will not be for
want of Water Commissioners.

In the Commons Members were disappointed to learn from Sir AUCKLAND
GEDDES that he had no idea of the time when railway-fares would be
reduced to the amount printed on the tickets. Nor were they much
consoled by his promise to consider the suggestion that as the fare
cannot be brought down to the ticket the ticket shall be brought up to
the fare. We should not lightly part with our few reminders of the cheap
dead days that are no more. In fact it would be a salutary thing if
other tradesmen imitated the "commercial candour" of the railways and
ticketed their goods with the pre-war value in addition to the present

There is a juvenile impulsiveness about Sir HENRY CRAIK which reminds
one of "the boy who wouldn't grow up," and may account for his keen
interest in Kensington Gardens. Dissatisfied with an assurance of the
FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS that he was doing his best to get the War
Office to clear away their hutments he burst out, "Could he not attempt
to use some disciplinary action against the obstinacy, the stupidity,
the slackness, the carelessness of those who are responsible?" Swept
away by this spate of sibilants Sir ALFRED MOND essayed no further

After less than an hour's debate the House gave the CHANCELLOR OF THE
EXCHEQUER power to borrow a trifle of two hundred and fifty millions,
to square this year's account, _plus_ an undefined sum to enable him to
fund the floating debt, now amounting to close on two thousand millions.
Even Sir FREDERICK BANBURY had no serious objection to raise, his chief
anxiety being that everyone, and not merely the plutocratic holders of
Treasury Bills, should be permitted to subscribe to the new loan. Mr.
CHAMBERLAIN assured him that it was a case of "Let 'em all come."





_Tuesday, June 3rd_.--According to the view of Major WOOD and his
friends the Mother of Parliaments is played out. The Grand Committees
which were to have restored her vigour have left her more enfeebled
than ever, and unless she devolves a large part of her duties upon
subordinate assemblies her end is near. But I noticed that, although
Ireland was expressly excepted from their resolution, most of them
talked of little else, and I fancy that but for Dublin we should not
have heard much of devolution.

As a statesman His Grace of CANTERBURY has hitherto enjoyed the
reputation of being "safe" rather than dashing. But that is evidently a
mistake, for in introducing the Bill which is to enable the Church to
free itself from some of the trammels imposed upon it by the State he
begged his hearers not to be afraid of "brave adventurous legislation."
His appeal was quite lost upon Lord HALDANE, who was shocked by the
terrible possibilities of the measure, and warned the PRIMATE that
if the Bill became law he would have signed the death-warrant of the
Establishment. Coming from a Presbyterian who helped to disestablish the
Church in Wales, this showed the heights of altruism to which a real
philosopher may rise.

Colonel WEDGWOOD was shocked to learn that in the occupied territories
Germans had to take off their hats when addressing British officers.
But it would be a mistake to assume that his concern was due to any
tenderness for our foes. On the contrary, it was exhibited out of regard
for the feelings of British officers. Mr. CHURCHILL regretted
the inconvenience, but pointed out that it had always been the
practice--even in Belgium--for an Army of Occupation to exact certain
acts of respect from the inhabitants.

Mr. KELLAWAY, who announced last week with such pride that "the
Government have struck oil," was now able to state that the oil had
reached a height of 2,400 feet and was still rising steadily. There is
some talk of inviting the successful engineers to put down bores at

_Wednesday, June 4th_.--Complaint was made recently that under the new
Rules of Procedure Members were expected to be in three places at once.
I fancy that a good many of them settled their difficulty to-day by
betaking themselves to a fourth place, not in the precincts of the
Palace of Westminster.

There was anything but a Grand Parade on the green benches, and the
faithful few who were present put a good many questions "on behalf of my
honourable friend." The Front Benches were well manned, however, and
Mr. LONG had quite a busy time explaining to Commander BELLAIRS why the
Admiralty thought it inadvisable at this date to hold courts-martial in
regard to the Naval losses of 1914. The House was more interested to
hear that the Peace celebrations will include a Naval procession through
London, and that there will be a display in the Thames of war-ships of
various classes, including, possibly, some of those captured from the

A feature of the afternoon was Mr. MACQUISTEN'S brief comments upon
Ministerial replies. Divorced from their setting, such remarks as "Fish
is very dear!" (_a propos_ of Admiralty parsimony in compensating the
owners of drifters) or "By thought-reading?" (when the best method of
ascertaining native opinion on the future of Rhodesia was in question),
may not sound particularly funny, but, when delivered in a voice of
peculiar penetration and "Scotchiness," at precisely the right moments,
they were sufficient to convulse the Benches. Mr. MACQUISTEN must be
careful or he will soon be a spoiled DARLING.

* * * * *

[Illustration: _Waiter (at public dinner, to very hot and red-faced

* * * * *

"Cigar smokers will be interested very much in the likelihood of
that luxury being soon dearer than ever.... It will most likely
develop into a habit of getting the very last whiffff ffffout of
every cigar."--_Provincial Paper_.

The printer would seem to be practising already.

* * * * *


_(With humble acknowledgments to the critic of "The Times.")_

We were grateful to Mlle. Snouck Hugronje for giving us an opportunity
of hearing the Violin Concertos of Prenk Bib Doda in C sharp minor, and
of Basil Tulkinghorn in the composite key of F.E. The latter work, we
may explain, is dedicated to Lord BIRKENHEAD. Doda's work is so rarely
played that Mr. ERNEST NEWMAN has wittily suggested that he ought to be
renamed Dodo. But let that pass. Here he is abundantly like himself,
rich in self-determining phrases which emerge from a Hinterland of wild
surmise, and tower aloft in peaks of Himalayan majesty like Haramokh or
Siniolchum ---- Mr. CANDLER must finish this sentence.

Tulkinghorn is also a master of transcendental effects, and as
relentless in pushing home his points as Mr. SMILLIE when examining a
duke before the Coal Commission. But he is not always to be trusted. He
lacks the architectonic faculty. In between the clusters of clear-cut
phrases there are too many nebulae of gaseous formation and spiral type,
which deflect the orbital movement of his essentially electronic melody
and impair its impact on the naked ear.

But when Mlle. Snouck Hugronje plays you forget all about
self-determination, syndicalism, guild-control, proletariats, sunspots
and even Mr. SMILLIE. If you are a poet, and we are all poets nowadays,
you dream yourself into a punt on the Sonning backwater, wondering if
the summer was ever so amazing before, nearly being shipwrecked on
a sandy spit, startling moorfowl or it may be dabchicks, sending a
_frisson_ into the fritillaries, losing and regaining your punt-pole,
always believing that the next bend ---- Mr. FILSON YOUNG must really
finish the sentence.

If you are a musician and an occultist you will, by due concentration of
your pineal gland and pituitary body, rise with the rapidity of a HAWKER
to astral altitudes immune from all mundane disquiet. You will notice
---- However, this is best, left to Mr. CYRIL SCOTT or Sir RABINDRANATH
TAGORE or Sir OLIVER LODGE. But if you are a mere listener you will
listen and be thankful. But if you never go to concerts you will still
be able, by the aid of the New Criticism, to attain to an ecstasy of
appreciation far greater than if you had relied on the crude medium of
your senses.

* * * * *



* * * * *



The Literary section of the Nationalisation Commission met last Friday.
Before evidence was taken the Chairman, Mr. ROBERT WILLIAMS, said that
as their Report must be delivered in less than a week the Commission had
decided not to summon Lord MORLEY, Lord ROSEBERY or Mr. THOMAS HARDY,
but hoped in the few days still available, to hear the evidence of Sir

Mr. EDWARD MARSH read an interesting Report on the State Remuneration of
Poets. He was of opinion that poets, if they could be shown to be of the
authentic Georgian brand, ought to be secured a reasonable salary quite
irrespective of the views which they expressed. They must never be
expected to glorify or approve of the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, but
should be perfectly free to criticise or attack him. No attempt should
be made to impose any metrical constraint on their verse. But he thought
it desirable that for the purpose of bringing them to the notice of
the public a State chaperon should be appointed to provide suitable
introductions and biographical details. He also advocated the
multiplication of poetry tea-shops, where pure China tea and wholesome
confectionery should be supplied gratis to all poets whose works had
been favourably noticed in _The Times Literary Supplement_.

The CHAIRMAN. What is your idea of the minimum wage for poets?--In view
of the present purchasing power of the sovereign I should put it at
eight hundred pounds a year. Modern poets require an extra amount of
nourishment, owing to the nervous strain involved in production, and
their requirements in the matter of dress are often difficult to
satisfy. I understand that the price of sandals has gone up two hundred
per cent.

Mr. CHARLES GARVICE, the next witness, stated that he did not think
the literary quality of novels would be necessarily improved by
nationalisation. Speaking for himself he did not think it would affect
his output. But if the State took over this industry it should be
liberal in affording novel-producers facilities for obtaining fresh
material, local colour, etc. At all costs the output of salubrious
and sedative fiction must be maintained if only as an antidote to the
subversive and revolutionary literature now freely disseminated among
the proletariat.

COLONEL WEDGWOOD. HOW do you expect a workman earning only three
pounds a week to afford seven shillings for every novel that he
buys?--Personally I should like to see the cost reduced, but I
understand that if the price of novels were fixed at one shilling
it would involve the State in an expenditure of ten million pounds
annually, even with the present reduced output of novels, which has
fallen during the War to little over twenty million tons.

Mr. HAROLD BEGBIE declared himself a whole-hearted supporter of
nationalisation. There was something extraordinarily uplifting in the
notion of consecrating one's talents to the State. Publishers were too
often callous individualists. Here one would be working for humanity. If
his interview with the KAISER had been issued under State sanction he
believed that the Peace would have been signed months sooner.

* * * * *



Public is hereby informed that delays to and from offices in Punjab
are normal."--_Indian Paper_.

Same here.

* * * * *


"London Rifle Brigade, 40 strong, of the 1st Battalion, which
went out in 1814, arrived in London from France at mid-day
yesterday."--_Daily Paper_.

* * * * *


"Someone to see you, Miss."

Thus Mary at about nine o'clock on an April evening at the door of my
tiny sitting-room.

There was a strange little quiver in her voice.

Mary is so extremely well trained, and so accustomed, moreover, to queer
visitors at the flat, that I looked up in surprise.

"Yes?" I said. "Is it a lady?"

Mary did not reply immediately; she seemed half-dazed.

"Is it a lady?" I repeated a little sharply. My usually imperturbable
parlourmaid appeared to have taken leave of her senses.

"She said she was a queen, Miss," she gasped.

At that moment the visitor, evidently grown tired of waiting, calmly
floated in through the half-open door and settled down gracefully in the
centre of a large gold cushion lying on the end of the Chesterfield.

Fortunately I grasped the situation at once.

"Thank you, Mary," I said, with what I now feel to have been most
commendable coolness in the entirely unprecedented circumstances; "I
will ring if I want tea later."

When the door had closed upon the still gasping Mary I turned
apologetically to my visitor.

"I'm so sorry, your Majesty," I said. "You see, my maid was not
unnaturally a little surprised--"

"It's _quite_ all right," said the Fairy Queen graciously; "I thought
you wouldn't mind my coming in."

"Of course not," I said; "I am only too delighted. Won't you come nearer
the fire?"

She looked down at the cushion on which she was sitting, then she looked
up at me and smiled.

"I don't like to leave it," she said; "it's so pretty." And she stroked
the soft gold stuff with her tiny hand.

"Yes," I said; "and your lovely frock goes with it so beautifully. But
how would this be?"

I stooped, gently lifted the cushion with its delicate burden and put it
down on the floor in front of the fire. "There--how is that?"

"That's delightful," said the Fairy Queen. "I'm so glad you like my
frock," she went on. "Paris, of course. That is to say, the idea came
from there. My own people did the actual making. After all, no one can
touch the French when it comes to real _chic_. Don't you think so?"

I acquiesced. Oh, yes, Paris was certainly the best.

"But I didn't come here to discuss clothes," said my visitor. She made a
quick movement and leaned suddenly forward on the cushion, her delicate
golden head supported on her slender hand. "Do you know the Editor of
_Punch_?" she asked abruptly.

I hesitated. "I can't exactly say that I _know_ him," I said.

The Fairy Queen looked very disappointed.

"Oh, dear, then I'm afraid it's no good. I thought you'd be sure to know

"But although I don't know him personally I am in communication with
him," I said. "Perhaps--"

She brightened up a little.

"I suppose you _could_ write," she said; "though of course it would be
far better to see him."

"It's about that cover," she went on. I looked at her blankly.

"The cover of _Punch_, you know."

Vague pictures of Mr. Punch surrounded by little dancing figures, an
easel, Toby, a lion--surely there was a lion somewhere--flitted across
my mind. What on earth had the cover of _Punch_ got to do with the Fairy

I went over to the little table where lay the latest copy, and came back
with it in my hand and knelt down on the floor near the cushion.

The Fairy Queen came close to me and peered over the edge of the paper.

"Look at the fairies," she said, pointing with a tiny indignant finger.
"_Look_ at them. They're most dreadfully old-fashioned. Nobody in
fairyland looks in the least like that now."

I looked. Certainly the little figures had rather an early-Victorian air
about them.

"Of course we should never dream of being tremendously fashionable or
anything of that kind. I would not for one moment think of allowing any
of my court-ladies to cut their hair short, for instance, or to wear one
of those foolish hobble skirts; but nobody, nobody could accuse us of
being dowdy. Now tell me, have you ever seen one of us looking like
that, or like that?"

"But are you quite sure," I said, not without hesitation, for she was by
way of being rather an autocratic and imperious little person and I was
the least little bit afraid of her--"are you quite sure that they _are_

"Of course they are," she replied quickly. "What else could they be?
Naturally Mr. Punch would have fairies all round him. He loves us. You
have no idea how much we have in common."

I didn't reply at once. I was engaged in staring at the familiar design.

"They haven't any wings," I said, still rather doubtfully, "except this
one at the bottom."

But the Fairy Queen was very decided indeed. "All fairies don't have
wings," she said; "and with regard to that particular one at the
bottom," she glanced a little superciliously at the buxom lady with the
trumpet, "as a matter of fact, she isn't a fairy at all. I don't quite
know what she is, an angel perhaps, but not a fairy, certainly not
a fairy. But the others are, of course." She glanced at me a little
defiantly with her bright eyes. "Surely, my dear, I ought to know
a fairy when I see one. At the time when these were done they were
perfectly all right; they only want bringing up to date, like the
pictures inside, that's all. Now you will see whether you can do
anything, won't you?"

It was difficult to refuse, but I didn't feel very hopeful.

"I'll try," I said. "I'll write to the Editor; but I'm afraid it's not
very likely that he will do anything in the matter. You see the cover's
been like that for years and years. Almost ever since _Punch_ began.
It's--well, it's part of the _Punch_ tradition. We all love it. Nobody
would like to see it altered; it wouldn't seem the same thing."

The Fairy Queen was busy with her cloak and didn't pay much attention to
what I was saying,

"Won't you stay a little longer and have some tea or something?" I

She shook her head.

"A chocolate?"

She smiled. "I can't resist a chocolate," she said. She took a very
little one and nibbled at it daintily, flitting about the room meanwhile
and chattering away in the friendliest fashion in her tiny high voice.

"I must go," she said at last. "I have enjoyed it so much. May I come
again some day? I should love to come again."...

I went out with her into the little lobby and down the stairs, and stood
at the hall door to watch her go.

"Now don't forget," were her last words as she floated out into the
night. "Tell him, tell him exactly what we really look like."

"I can't," I called after her desperately; "I can't."

But she had already disappeared in the soft haze. I went slowly up the
stairs and back to my quiet room and the dying fire.

"I can't," I said again. "I only wish I could."

R. F.

* * * * *

"Bandsmen Wanted for Municipal Band. Solo Cornet and others. Work
found for bricklayer, carpenter, painter and paperhanger."--_Daily

With whose assistance we may expect some jazzling effects.

* * * * *

[Illustration: LURE OF THE LAND.











* * * * *

[Illustration: _Author_. "YOU REMEMBER MY LAST BOOK?"




* * * * *


My particular interest having been aroused by descriptions recently
published in the English Press of the Murmansk mosquito, I made a point,
on my arrival in North Russia with the Relief Force, of collecting
further data from officers whose experience entitles them to speak with
authority upon the habits of the local fauna.

From them I have gathered some curious information which should interest
even those whose enthusiasm for the phenomena of natural history
is normally but languid, and cannot fail to intrigue not only the
entomologist but also the big game hunter, who would find it well
worth his while to observe and study the tactics of this sagacious and
formidable insect.

Judging from the evidence at my command the true Murmansk mosquito is
considerably larger and fiercer than the Archangel variety, owing no
doubt to the genial influence of the Gulf Stream. Both types are however
sufficiently ferocious, and, save when rendered comatose by excess of
nutrition, will attack human beings without provocation. The female
of the species, if disturbed while accompanied by her young, will
invariably charge with such fury that only by an exceptional combination
of skill and courage can she be driven off. The shrill and vibrating cry
of the Russian mosquito as it swoops to the attack is, I am assured,
qualified to shake the fortitude of even experienced troops.

So surprising are some of the current stories of the size, strength and
agility of these dreaded carnivora that one would suspect their veracity
were they not vouched for by military and naval officers, and supported
by such concrete evidence as that of the local architecture. The houses
are almost universally constructed of substantial logs, undoubtedly for
the reason that brickwork would be more easily displaced by the furious
assault of the mosquito, which usually hunts in droves, packs or
swarms, and has been known to surround and make concerted attacks, upon
buildings occupied by particularly well-nourished personnel.

As evidence of the determination of their attacks, veterans of this
front have pointed out to me, in the walls of local buildings, massive
timbers which have been scarred and splintered by the teeth and claws of
these monsters, emboldened by hunger and incensed by resistance.

The peculiar ferocity of the mosquito of these high latitudes is,
of course, accounted for by the brevity of its actual life. Immured
throughout the prolonged winter within its icy sarcophagus, it is not
released before the middle of June, while the premature severity of
August rapidly lowers its vitality. Such is its offensive spirit during
the first relaxation of wintry rigour that it is dangerous in the
extreme for anyone to walk about alone, for naturally the mosquito which
the sunshine has just liberated, fasting and impatient, will make a
determined effort to partake of the first likely repast which presents
itself. Single newly-thawed specimens have been known to lie in ambush
by frequented paths and fall upon lonely wayfarers with the desperate
courage of starvation. I am credibly informed that, if duty necessitates
an unescorted journey at this season, it is a wise precaution to provide
oneself with several joints of reindeer flesh, which, in the event of
attack by mosquitoes, may be thrown to them and so effect at least a
temporary diversion.

The revolver is of little service against this formidable creature,
owing to its cunning and the rapidity with which it manoeuvres, while
its bristly hide is stout enough to defy the ordinary shotgun. It
is proposed to detail certain anti-aircraft batteries to deal with
high-flying swarms, while a young friend of my own, who was with a
special company of the R.E. in France, is prepared to design a haversack
projector for issue to all ranks. But against this it is urged by those
familiar with North Russian towns in summer that nothing of such a
nature can materially damage the _moral_ of the local mosquito.

Thrilling stories are told of escapes from these dangerous brutes. A
senior officer of notoriously full habit of body, having attracted the
attention of several immense specimens, was by them surrounded in his
office, and rescued only just in time by the gallant efforts of an
allied fatigue party which the besieged officer had the presence of mind
to detail over the telephone. While awaiting (or pending) their arrival
he passed through a period of mental agony (which has left unmistakable
marks upon him) as he listened to the roar of their wings and the
crunching of their fangs upon the outer timbers, or fixed his fascinated
gaze upon the sweep, of their antennae under the front door, where they
were trying for a purchase in order to force an entry.

On another occasion a patrol which was attacked by a large swarm was
only saved by the _savoir faire_ of its commander, who ordered his men
each to ward off the rush of the hungry insects with a ration biscuit
held out to them at arm's length. In their impetuous ferocity the
creatures blindly snapped at the biscuits, with the result foreseen by
the experienced leader; the swarm, with every appearance of complete
demoralisation, broke and fled, several being weakened by the fracture
of their mandibles and falling an easy prey to the bayonets of the
exultant patrol.

With its naturally ardent temperament irritated by months of bitter
cold, its constitutional hunger aggravated by a prolonged fast, its
appetite tempted by a novel diet in the form of British soldiery
well-washed and firm-fleshed after years of Army rations, the North
Russian mosquito is likely, in the opinion of experts, to take a high
place among the more deadly horrors of war.

* * * * *

[Illustration: _Sergeant_. "NOW THEN, ARE YOU THE FOUR MEN WITH A

_Chorus_. "YES, SERGEANT."


* * * * *


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

That audacious paraphrase of the Book of Job, _The Undying Fire_
(CASSELL), seems to me to be marred by a fundamentally false note. I am
sure that Mr. WELLS is as serious about his new God in the Heart of
Man as he was about the Invisible King--I've no sort of intention of
sneering--but I cannot credit him with belief in the Adversary, who by
arrangement with the Almighty (as set forth in a discreetly flippant
prologue with something of the flavour of those irreverent yarns
invented and retailed by Italian ecclesiastics about Dominiddio) visits
_Job Huss_, the headmaster of Woldingstanton, with the plagues of his
desperate trial. However I take it that the author was anxious that his
parody should be as complete in form as possible, and, being rather
impressed by the insouciance, not to say insolence, of the Satan of the
original, seized his chance of bizarre characterisation and "celestial
badinage" and let consistency go hang for the time. Certainly the
theological disquisitions of Mr. WELLS are remarkable not for their
formal logic, but for their provocative quality and the very real
eloquence of detached passages of the rambling argument. In particular,
taking up again the thread of _Joan and Peter_, he gives such a survey
of the scope and glories of a new education that is to salve the world's
wounds as would move the heart of a jelly-fish. Mr. WELLS has his own
methods of justifying the ways of God to man. He may be discursive,
impatient, rash, perhaps a little shallow; but he has an undying fire of
his own. He is certainly not dull. And therefore orthodox divines and
pedagogues may perhaps have a real grievance against him. But I can't
imagine any serious-minded man in a serious time reading this book and
not getting hope and courage from it.

* * * * *

_Victory Over Blindness_ (HODDER AND STOUGHTON) is a book whose title
gives you at once the key to its contents and to the spirit that
animates them. It is the record by Sir ARTHUR PEARSON of one of the most
finely successful enterprises that the War has called forth. Everyone
to-day has at least a vague idea of the work carried on at St.
Dunstan's, "the biggest individual business," Sir ARTHUR terms it, "that
I have ever conducted." A study of these pages will transform that vague
idea into wonder and admiration. Big the business might well be called,
since it is nothing less than the bringing back, almost to normal life,
of men apparently condemned to an existence of helpless inactivity and
dependence. Few things will strike you more forcibly in this book than
its practical common sense. That and an unsentimental optimism seem to
be the dominant notes of all Sir ARTHUR'S effort. Without doubt the
success of this has been beyond measure helped by the fact that the
originator was himself a sharer in the adversity that it was designed
to lessen. Two chapters especially in the book, called "Learning to be
Blind," a brief manual of practical suggestions by one whom experience
has rendered expert, supply a clue to the difference between the work
at St. Dunstan's and the best-intentioned efforts of outside sympathy,
_Victory Over Blindness_ is a proud and rewarding motto; this little
volume will show how thoroughly it has been earned.

* * * * *

I fancy that Miss JOAN THOMPSON had some design of symbolism in the
choice of a name for her heroine, _Mary England_ (METHUEN). The
publishers indeed consider that she might be called "Every Woman," so
typical is she of her sex, and "so like to the emotional careers of so
many English girls is her own." Perhaps, on the other hand (without
disparagement to the skill of Miss THOMPSON'S portraiture), I should
have expected the typical maiden of _Mary's_ class to show greater
initiative. Many things nearly happened to _Mary_; practically nothing
in her life was fashioned by her own intent. Of the two men who might
have made her happy, one didn't propose at all, and one did it in the
wrong fashion. Other two, who seemed possibly menacing, both drifted
away with their evil purpose (if any) unfulfilled. I am wrong, though,
in recalling _Mary_ as invariably passive. She was once roused to the
action of destroying the manuscript of a novel, in which the writer, the
man who didn't propose, had too faithfully revealed his perception of
herself. But though, as a reviewer, I may applaud this achievement on
general grounds, it provided no kind of solution for the problem of her
existence. This was left to be settled, very much offhand, by a detached
iceberg, which sank the ship in which _Mary_ was emigrating. I thought
that iceberg rather an evasion on the part of Miss THOMPSON. Perhaps
however all this effect of drift is part of a subtle intention. I
can certainly call the book admirably written, with restraint and an
emotional sympathy that impressed me as the outcome probably of an
intimate knowledge of the scenes and persons described. Whether her
lethargy is "typical" or not, as a study _Mary England_ will hold you at
least sufficiently curious to deplore its arbitrary end.

* * * * *

Sir HARRY JOHNSTON has written a book which I find it difficult to
define. His publishers and Mr. H.G. WELLS call it a novel, but bits of a
biography and an autobiography and an African explorer's account of his
travels have all somehow squeezed themselves into it, and for readers
whose birthdays began before the last quarter of the nineteenth century
_The Gay-Dombeys_ (CHATTO AND WINDUS) will best justify itself as a
_chronique scandaleuse_. To penetrate the thin disguises in which the
author has dressed his notabilities and to sort the composite or hybrid
personalities into their component parts should provide the initiated
with congenial if not very edifying occupation. The reader who is also
a DICKENS enthusiast will be, according to temperament, delighted or
outraged to find that Sir HARRY JOHNSTON has made his book as it were a
continuation of _Dombey and Son_. Many of his characters are either the
creations of Boz or their children and he contrives to carry on the
interweaving of their lives to an unbelievable extent--even when
the fullest allowance has been made for the smallness of the world.
_Florence Dombey_ and _Walter Gay_, as _Mr._ and _Mrs. Gay-Dombey_,
actually survive well into the present book, while Sir HARRY JOHNSTON'S
_Eustace Morven_, who tells us that he has reverted to the ancient
spelling of his name, is the son of _Harriet Carker_ and that hazel-eyed
bachelor, _Mr. Morfin_, who lived and loved in _Dombey and Son_. But
save in the chapter describing _Eustace Morven's_ appearance at the
annual dinner-party given by _Florence_ and _Walter_ to celebrate the
re-establishment of the firm, Sir HARRY JOHNSTON'S work has not a very
pronounced flavour of DICKENS. It is to be hoped that this method of
writing novels will not become popular. A series of sequels to everybody
by somebody else opens up an intimidating prospect, at least for the

* * * * *

Mr. PHILIP GIBBS has gathered together, under the title. _Open Warfare,
the Way to Victory_ (HEINEMANN), his despatches written from the Western
front during the last year of the War. What strikes one most on seeing
them again in book form is the obscurity in which they veil the events
they record. They so shine, as it were, with a luminous mist that they
seem to reveal everything, yet in sober truth very often it is only
in the light of later knowledge that they reveal anything at all.
Congratulations, therefore, to Mr. GIBBS, the perfect war correspondent!
I defy anyone from these papers alone (apart from the plentiful and
excellent maps) to form anything like an adequate conception of the
disaster that swept down upon the British Armies in the Spring of 1918.
And yet in a sense it is all there, gorgeously camouflaged under the
control--I daresay the wise and necessary control--of the censorship.
The author, watching the very moulding of history with every advantage
of proximity, has written down, if not much bare statement, yet an
amazing sequence of heroic detail, associated with such stirring names
as Arras or Givenchy or Cambrai. Curiously enough, though each chapter
is intensely vivid, they become, through much instancing of the same
unconquerable spirit, something monotonous, though never wearisome, in
bulk. One trusts that a future generation will realise that the value of
a book of this order consists in its first-hand record of such incidents
of valour; it would be pitiful to have it hastily assumed, because so
much is slurred or omitted to deceive the enemy, that England was
so feeble-hearted as to require her evil news predigested before
consumption in this manner. It should be added that the writer gives us
a good sound introduction that goes a long way to fill the yawning gaps.

* * * * *

[Illustration: _Gatekeeper (at castle of unpopular baron--to new

* * * * *

"GIRL WANTED.--A reliable girl for the summer months to go across
the Arm."--_Halifax Evening Mail_.

To prevent misapprehension we ought to say that the western part of the
bay at Halifax, Nova Scotia, is locally known as the "Arm."

* * * * *



Back to Full Books