Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 150, May 24, 1916 by Various
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Punch, or the London Charivari.
Volume 150, May 24, 1916.
According to a contemporary, a regiment quartered at Pembroke Dockyard had lost two thousand blankets "by pilfering." We shudder to think what a real Pembroke burglar would get away with.
* * *
"I am a looker for things," said a man at Willesden tribunal last week when asked what his occupation was. The nation, which is paying £5,000,000 a day for the privilege of pursuing the same occupation, would be interested to compare notes with him on the question of whether anything ever turns up.
* * *
"A Saxon pot, quite perfect, has been found at St. Martha's Hill, near Guildford," says a morning paper. Here is striking evidence in support of the charge, which has more than once been levelled, that influential alien enemies are still at large with the connivance of the authorities.
* * *
"The life-blood of England to-day is sulphuric acid," said a Professor at University College the other day. That is certainly the impression one gets from reading the more vitriolic section of our Press.
* * *
[Illustration: _First Public School Man._ "GREAT SCOTT, REGGIE! HOW ON EARTH DID YOU GET THAT JOB?"
_Second ditto (kitchen fatigue)._ "OH, INFLUENCE, DEAR BOY--INFLUENCE."]
The London County Council is teaching Esperanto. The innovation is intended to meet the needs of the lady tram-conductors, to whom convention denies the right to "suffer and be strong" in words of general currency.
* * *
A soldier who lost his speech at the battle of Loos has recovered it as the result of an operation for appendicitis. He has the added satisfaction of knowing that greater soldiers than he have been compelled by the exigencies of the present War to swallow their words.
* * *
At Willesden a conscientious objector has eaten a £1 note in preference to giving it up in part payment of his fine of forty shillings. It would probably work out cheaper in the end to swallow the Compulsion Bill.
* * *
While the Ealing Inspector of Shops is serving in the Army his official duties are to be carried on by his wife. It is no doubt in anticipation of other positions of this sort being thrown open to the female sex that so many women can nowadays be seen familiarising themselves with this class of war work in Regent Street and its neighbourhood.
* * *
In a recent appeal case a man who had received sentences amounting to twenty-six years begged to be put under chloroform, as he had heard that people under the influence of this drug always told the truth when they were asked questions. As a fact, however, the most that the medical profession have ever claimed for it in this way is that it often enables them to get a little inside information.
* * *
A Belfast man who was fined for groaning at Mr. ASQUITH is understood to have informed a sympathetic friend that if he'd known that ten shillings was all he would be fined, begorra, he'd have had thirty-shillings' worth, so he would.
* * *
"To get and keep an upright carriage," says a woman-writer in _The Daily Mail_, "stand with the feet eighteen inches apart and the hands clasped above the head. Now, as if chopping wood, swing the hands down between the parted feet, then bring them up over the head again, and repeat the movement twenty times or so." Personally, as we consider it bad form to keep any sort of carriage just now, we shall remain faithful to the less spectacular custom of whistling for a taxi.
* * *
From the Personal column of _The Times_:--"Airman will bring down Zeppelins. Ladies, Gentlemen." An excellent idea in the present condition of our own Air Service. As in the well-known case of the male and female gondolas, one of each gender to breed from would do for a beginning.
* * *
As a war economy the London County Council have disposed of the major part of the waterfowl that used to adorn the London Parks. A few ornamental geese however are still to be seen in the neighbourhood of the War Office.
* * *
We feel bound to take exception to the levity of a contemporary, which recently introduced an account of a suicide with the heading: "A Riverside Scream."
* * *
A well-known opera-singer is now hauling cabbages on a farm. The ruling passion strong in War. Bouquets all the time.
* * * * *
From a film advertisement:--
"THE GIRL OF LOST ISLAND.--Featuring LILLIAN LORRAINE in a Picturesque Role. There are twelve chapters. I have seen them all, because I was compelled to do so."
_Newcastle Evening Chronicle._
* * * * *
"Livers are being lost on the banks of the Yser."
An Anglo-Indian Colonel tells us that he was so glad to part with his that he hasn't taken any steps to recover it.
* * * * *
"St. Paul knew what he was talking about when he said to Herod, 'Too much thinking has made thee mad.'"
_Letter in an Evening Paper._
That is where St. PAUL had an advantage over the correspondent.
* * * * *
More Impending Apologies.
"Sir A. A. Booth is chairman of the committee appointed by the Government to inquire into the future of shipping and shipbuilding. It is not intended to be an ornamental committee either, for Sir A. Denny and Professor Abell, two of our leading naval architects, are on it."--_Evening Paper._
* * * * *
The Kaiser and the Daylight Saving Bill.
"For our bad neighbour makes us early stirrers, Which is both healthful, and good husbandry."
_Shakspeare's Henry_ V., Act IV. Sc. I. 6-7.
* * * * *
"His Holiness, Pope Pius, taking action, exhorts the Irish Bishops to be thoroughly loyal."--_Bray and South Dublin Herald._
The recent disturbances in Dublin seem to have made the late Pope turn in his grave.
* * * * *
MORE PEACE-TALK IN BERLIN.
TO THE WAR-LORD.
"How beautiful upon the mountain-tops Their feet would sound, the messengers of Peace!" So into neutral cars your unction drops, Hinting a pious hope that War may cease-- War, with its dreadful waste, Which never suited your pacific taste.
Strange you should turn so suddenly humane, So sick of ravage and the reek of gore! Dare we assume that Verdun's long-drawn strain Makes you perspire at each Imperial pore? Or that your nerve's mislaid Through cardiac trouble caused by our Blockade?
You thought to finish on the high wave's crest; To say, "These lands that 'neath our sceptre lie-- Such as we want we'll keep, and chuck the rest, And to the vanquished, having drained 'em dry, We will consent to give, Out of our clemency, the right to live."
Then you came down a long, long way, and said, "For pure desire of Peace, and that alone, We'll deem the dead past buried with its dead, Taking, in triumph's hour, a generous tone; Uplift the fallen foe And affably restore the _status quo_."
Fool's talk and idle. In this Dance of Death The man who called the piper's tune must pay, Nor can he stop at will for want of breath. Though War you chose, and chose its opening day, It lies not in your power To stay its course or fix its final hour. O.S.
* * * * *
IN THE AIR IN 1940.
["Wars of the future will be waged in the air...cities will be laid waste in a night."--_Press._]
_April 20, 1940._--Liberia, in a moment of Ministerial exuberance, sends a Note to China alleging the death of a Krooboy subject who had been forced to study the Chinese language. An indemnity of £100,000,000 is asked.
_April 22._--China, mildly surprised, promises investigation. Owing to an oversight, however, the reply is sent in Chinese characters, which gives the Liberians a just _casus belli_.
_April 23._--Liberia despatches her one airship to China _viâ_ Tibet. Many bombs are dropped on the Chinese Empire and several rice-fields are quite spoilt. The Chinese Ambassador, whom the airship conveyed from Liberia, is also dropped--and spoilt.
_April 24._--China sends four airships to bomb Liberia. These, however, are unable to locate the Black Republic and return, after dispensing with the company of the Liberian Ambassador while over Lake Chad.
_April 26._--China addresses a curt Note to Liberia, requesting her to be good enough to state her exact whereabouts.
_May 1._--The Grand Lama directs a plaintive Note to Liberia, alleging that on April 23 a Liberian airship violated the neutrality of Tibet.
_May 3._--Liberia, never having heard of Tibet, but believing the G.L. to be a species of camel and a great fetish, publishes an apology in _The Liberian Times (and Advertiser)_, which, however, does not circulate in Tibet.
_May 4._--China, after exhaustive inquiries, despatches another air-fleet, but again fails to locate her quarry.
_May 5._--Liberia again raids China by air. Some stones in the Great Wall are badly chipped.
_May 7._--Liberia issues her first official communiqué through the medium of _The Liberian Times (and Advertiser)_:--"On the night of May 5-6 our Naval and Military airship attacked the Chinese cities of Pekin, Hankow and others too intricate of pronunciation to be mentioned here. Incendiary and explosive bombs were dropped on the fortifications, gun emplacements, waterworks and waxworks at Pekin. A battery and many hens were silenced at Hankow. Our entire air-fleet returned safely and hurriedly."
_May 9._--The G.L. of Tibet sends another Note to Liberia, protesting against a further grave infringement of neutrality, several eggs of dubious quality and the remnants of an unsavoury stew having been dropped from a Liberian airship on Tibetan territory on the night of May 5-6.
_May 11._--Liberia publishes another apology, and sacks her air _chef_.
_May 13._--Two squadrons of Chinese airships scour the globe but cannot find Liberia. Several are forced to land in the Arctic Circle and are interned by the Esquimaux.
_May 15._--The G.L. of Tibet sends another Note to Liberia.
_May 16._--Liberia, owing to a paper shortage, makes no reply.
_May 17._--Liberia adopts the Group System.
_May 18._--Introduction of "starring and badging" in Liberia. Owing to a slight miscalculation all trades and professions are "reserved."
_May 19._--Liberia abandons Group System.
_May 24._--Liberia again despatches her airship to China _viâ_ Tibet. The raider falls in flames near the Forbidden City, the commander having been rather careless with his cigar in one of the gas chambers.
_May 25._--The G.L. of Tibet buys a typewriter and some carbon sheets, and begins a campaign of daily Notes to Liberia.
_May 26_-June 5.--Liberia lies low.
_June 7._--China, after fifteen futile attempts to locate Liberia, sues for peace, asking Liberia to send an envoy who will be able to guide airships carrying Peace delegates and the first instalment of indemnity to Liberia.
_July 12._--Ten Chinese airships, loaded with Peace delegates and money, and piloted by the Liberian envoy, travel to the Black Republic. Arrived over the much-sought country, the Peace delegates drop their pilot and aid the airships' crews in wiping Liberia off the face of the earth.
_July 14._--The G.L. of Tibet disposes of his typewriter at a considerable loss.
* * * * *
In a Good Cause.
Mr. _Punch_ is bound to plead for THE CHILDREN'S AID COMMITTEE, who undertake the care of the motherless children of our fighting men, feeding and clothing them and finding homes for them in the country. This labour of love has far outgrown the modest scope of its original plan and now stands in urgent need of assistance. Except for a Christmas Gifts Fund no appeal has yet been made to the public in the Press. Mr. _Punch_ is very confident that he will not ask in vain for help in a cause that so nearly touches the hearts of all; and that he may rely on his many generous readers to see that this good work does not fail, both for the children's sake and for the comfort of their fathers who are fighting our battles.
Gifts of money and clothing, and offers of hospitality will be very gratefully acknowledged by Miss MAXWELL-LYTE, Hon. Treasurer of The Children's Aid Committee, 9, South Molton Street, London, W.
* * * * *
[Illustration: PUFFING BILLY.
WILLIAM JUNIOR. "I SAY, FATHER, I BELIEVE THE DAM THING'S PUNCTURED!"]
* * * * *
_A Farm, Somewhere in the Country._
DEAREST DAPHNE,--I'm on the land! _Several_ of us are on the land! No one need worry any more about agriculture and rotation of crops and all that sort of thing being stopped by the War. We're going to see to it. It is positively _enthralling_ work! Lady Manoeuvrer wrote me an agonised letter the other day, asking me if I thought there'd be any season in London, and if it would be worth her while to take a house and give some parties for Bluebell. And I wrote back: "Please--_please_ don't talk to me about London and seasons and _parties_! I know absolutely _nothing_ of such matters. I'm on the land!" And I wound up with, "This comes hopping," in real farmers' style.
[Illustration: _Recruit (much perturbed)._ "IF YOU PLEASE, SERGEANT, THE OTHER FELLOWS SAY I'VE GOT TO GROW A MOUSTACHE."
_Sergeant._ "OH, THERE'S NO COMPULSION ABOUT GROWING A MOUSTACHE, MY LAD; BUT YOU MUSTN'T SHAVE YOUR UPPER LIP."]
I wish you could see me ploughing, dearest. My ploughman's pinny, big soft hat and leggings are a dream. (_À propos_, the "ploughman's pinny" is going to be _the_ summer coat this year.) Oh, my Daphne, I plough such an adorable furrow! Yesterday, when I was at it, the oldest inhabitant came and leaned on a gate to watch me--one of those fearful creatures, you know, who've lived through six reigns and can read small print and smoke six pipes a day, and end by getting into the daily papers.
"Be you one o' they fine Lunnon ladies wot 'ave come to these parts to blay at varmin'?" he asked.
"We haven't come to _play_ at farming," I told him; "we've come to take the men's places and help save the country."
"Yon's a wunnerful bad furrow," said the creature. "And what be goin' to sow in it?"
"Oh, corn or chaff, or whatever it is people eat, I suppose," I said.
"Seems to Oi the right crop for such a wunnerful crooked furrow as yon 'ud be _tares_," said the horrid old thing; "but happen you don't know what tares be--happen you don't read your Bible."
I was starting up the field again by that time and paid no more attention to him. The oldest inhabitant is _proverbially_ a most unpleasant character, I believe. Beryl and Babs are also doing very well down here. And now that we've learned all about farming and agriculture we're training _numbers_ of girls and putting them on the land, (_Entre nous, chérie_, it's not so difficult to _put_ them on the land as to _keep_ them on it. Some of them are a wee bit inclined to "put their hands to the plough and look black," to quote dear SHAKSPEARE, that we've all been talking of so much lately.) Beryl has developed positively _shining_ gifts as a _drover_. She drives cattle into the nearest market town twice a week, and does it _à merveille_. (I _can't_ say the dear thing's drover's coat and hat are becoming--indeed, I never saw her look worse!) She has a large class of women and girls learning to be drovers. But unluckily, the other day, there was a regrettable little affair. Beryl was taking a big herd of cattle along to the market town, with her class in attendance, when one of the bullocks stopped to nibble at the hedge. Beryl told a girl in the class to give it a tap and send it on.
"I'm afraid to," said the girl.
"Oh," said Beryl, "you city girls are duffers at country life! What's there to be afraid of?" and she went up to the bullock and gave it a smart whack with her drover's stick. "Come," said, "no nonsense! Go on with the others," and she gave it a harder whack.
In a moment the creature turned upon her with a simply _odious_ expression in its eyes and began to bellow; and _then_, dearest--_wasn't_ it a pity?--Beryl suddenly lost her nerve, dropped her drover's stick, and climbed to the top of a big gate near at hand, while the class ran back along the road, shrieking. As for the cattle, terrified by the shrieks of the class, they took to their heels (if they have such things), and were finally stopped by a farmer, who drove them into the market himself.
Everyone's so glad General Dodderidge is better. You remember his marrying Mittie Jermyn _en troisièmes noces_ some years ago? The wedding was at Newmarket; Mittie was married in her racing colours, and her famous Oaks and One Thousand winner, "Give-'em-beans," was her only bridesmaid. It was quite a nice marriage, but they've not seen much of each other for several years. Poor Mittie was fearfully _affaissée_ when the War hit racing so hard; but she's found herself again now, and the last we heard of her she was buying and breaking horses for the Remount Department somewhere in the world. The dear General, being enormously old, couldn't take any part in the War, but he was like the war-horse, you know, dearest, mentioned by the Psalmist, that "sayeth Ha, ha! through a trumpet"; he read _every_ daily and weekly paper, with all the conflicting reports from both sides, till at last he was in a frightful state. Sir William Kiddem took him in hand, he said, only just in time to save his cerebral spheres and nerve centres from doing something horrible in a dozen syllables. And now, with newspapers taboo and a milk and egg diet, the old darling is so much better that he helped at our matinée in town the other day in aid of the "Fund for Manicuring Amateur Farm Hands."
All the people one knows were perfectly sweet in placing their talents at one's disposal for the benefit of the Fund. (Has it ever struck you, my Daphne, how _much_ readier people are to offer their _talents_ than their _money_?--even though they may have _immensely_ more of the latter than the former.) It was a tremendous programme. General Dodderidge, who said he'd been considered a very good ventriloquist in his time, gave a turn with one of those doll-things. I'm sure it was a topping turn, because the dear General laughed so often himself at the things he was saying. Several people, however, said that the voice, when they could hear it, seemed to be always the General's and never the doll's; but there'll always be grumblers.
The gem of the afternoon was certainly Hermione Shropshire's song and dance, "Sal of the Supper Club." She was coached by the famous Jenny Jolliwell, who's called "The Diva of the Dials;" and I hear that Jenny (who was one of our programme-sellers) said afterwards, "Lumme, duchess, you went one better than me, you did, straight! If I dared to give 'Sal' like that at the Syndicate Halls I'd have the Lord High What's-his-name down on me in two ticks!"
_Wasn't_ that a triumph for dear Hermione?
Ever thine, BLANCHE.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Judge._ "ANYTHING TO SAY?"
_Prisoner._ "WELL, NOT MESELF, ME LORD. BUT IF YOU'LL ALLOW ME LITTLE DAUGHTER HERE TO RECITE A PASSAGE OUT O' 'THE MERCHANT O' VENICE'----"]
* * * * *
The Germans seem to have adopted a new method of hiding their losses. We read in _The Edinburgh Evening Dispatch_ that the attack on the Mort Homme "has brought no kudos to the Crown Prince--only more catacombs."
* * * * *
NURSERY RHYMES OF LONDON TOWN.
The Lady sat On the brink of the Well; She lost her balance And in she fell! They fished her up With a crooked pin; She came out wetter Than she went in. "Well, Lady, well?" "Sir, very ill! If you sit by the Well You are certain to spill."
Walk, Shepherdess, walk, And I'll walk too, To find the ram with the ebony horn And the gold-footed ewe;
The lamb with the fleece of silver Like Summer sea-foam, And the wether with the crystal bell That leads them all home.
Walk, Shepherdess, walk, And I'll walk too, And if we never find them I shan't mind--shall you?
* * * * *
"Wanted, cast-off clothing for pen of profitable pedigree bantams."--_The Lady._
* * * * *
ENGLAND CAUGHT OUT.
AS DETECTED THROUGH GERMAN SPECTACLES.
The malignant and perfidious English have again to eat their own words. Indeed, they have eaten them. It will be remembered that on every occasion of one of our glorious Zeppelin raids our official report of the damage done, notwithstanding the meticulous accuracy which those who draw up the reports impose upon themselves, has been angrily contradicted by the English Press, always under some heading attributing habitual mendacity and wilful and continuous dishonesty to the German headquarters.
Germans do not lie. There is no need. Their deeds are so terrific and sweeping as it is that the slightest embroidery or exaggeration would produce an effect to stagger humanity. Hence when our reports said on one occasion that our Zeppelins had irretrievably damaged the fortified town of Margate, and on another occasion that our Zeppelins had practically destroyed the formidable garrison of Ramsgate, and on a third occasion that our Zeppelins had almost eliminated that English Kronstadt, Yarmouth, and on a fourth occasion that the menacing citadel of Cromer had been reduced to ruins, and on a fifth occasion that the hitherto impregnable fortress of Lowestoft had become pregnable owing to the wonderful science of the revered Count ZEPPELIN--when our reports said these things they recorded facts, although the reptile English Press instantly hissed out denials and attacks.
But justice will prevail, even in England, although one may have to wait long for it. And now, some while after these magnificently successful raids, the admission is made that our official reports, so suspect and derided, were right all the time. In one of the leading English papers we find the following words in an article entitled, "Prospects for the Summer Holidays." For it seems that, in spite of the famine and other hardships which the immortal German army and supreme German navy are inflicting upon England, some of these trivial islanders are proposing to go to the seaside as usual this year--either out of a paltry bravado or by arrangement with the Government to create an illusion of prosperity and composure. But, whereas normally the watering-places of the whole country are open to them for their obscene and brutish frolics, this year they are not expected to patronise the East coast--that is to say the English shores of the German Ocean. And why? The reason is not without its flattery to us; and it also carries with it the damning admission of the absolute exactitude, the minute veracity of the German official reports of the Zeppelin raids which previously the English papers had conspired to impugn. We give the precise words:--
"There is, we fear, every reason to anticipate a barren season for the East Coast resorts, usually so popular. From Margate and Ramsgate, right up through Lowestoft, Yarmouth, Cromer and Cleethorpes to Scarborough and Whitby, they have, it cannot be denied, been _badly hit_ by the Zeppelin raids."
The italics are ours. Note them well, for they are the measure of English turpitude. When, after our shattering and comprehensive raids had occurred, one by one, always with such devastating fury and precision, our reports announced that these very towns had been "badly hit" (mark the phrase!), the English Press once more accused us of perversion and dissimulation. How right we were is now proved. In fact it seems that we understated the case, for we gather that a very large number of East Coast towns have been badly hit by our irresistible machines of retribution--far more than we knew.
If we wait long enough we shall doubtless find somewhere in an English paper the verification of other of our claims, which at the time were treated with contempt--such, for example, as the glorious destruction of Liverpool and Manchester by bombs from the sky. All that we need is a little patience.
* * * * *
CHERCHEZ LES TABLEAUX;
OR, THE CULPRIT À LA MODE.
During the trial of George Smith for obtaining the sum of five hundred pounds by means of a forged cheque, it was proved that the prisoner spent a portion of the money in the purchase of a ninepenny admission to a local cinema. The learned judge, speaking with considerable warmth, observed that he hoped the Press would make a careful note of that fact. It entirely confirmed a belief he himself had long held, namely, that the existence of such places afforded a temptation to wrongdoing that was nothing short of a public menace. He only wished that he had power to sentence the proprietor. (Applause.)
* * * * *
During the hearing of a petition for breach of promise of marriage, evidence was given that the behaviour of defendant had changed since he witnessed the performance of a certain film entitled, "Mr. Quiverful keeps House."
Mr. Dodge, K.C. (for the plaintiff) put in a scenario of the film, showing that it represented the troubles of a paterfamilias forced to look after a crowd of children, pacify indignant servants, and the like. It was unquestionable that such an exhibition might produce a very serious effect upon a timid and impressionable bachelor.
_His Lordship._ It is perfectly monstrous that such things should be tolerated.
Counsel, continuing, said he believed that there was also introduced a mother-in-law. At this point the jury stopped the case, and awarded the plaintiff three thousand pounds damages.
* * * * *
Arrested on a charge of severely wounding a neighbour with a shotgun, a prisoner at Birmingham pleaded that he had been led astray by a visit paid to a picture-house, where films of cowboy life were being exhibited. It was true that his parents were both doing time, and he had two uncles in an asylum, but he attributed his own downfall entirely to the pernicious influence of the cinema.
_The Judge._ I am glad you appreciate that fact.
Counsel for the defence here stated that the victim was now ascertained to have been a writer of picture-plays.
_The Judge._ Why didn't you say so before? That entirely alters the complexion of the case. I am not sure that the prisoner has not rendered a public service.
By direction of his Lordship the charge was subsequently amended to one of using firearms without a licence, and, a nominal fine having been imposed, the accused left the dock amid general congratulations.
* * * * *
SONNET TO A YOUNG ASS.
(_On hearing it correctly imitate the hoot of a motor-horn._)
"Poor little foal of a despised race"-- Thus in an earlier day a poet broke Into blank verse about thee, and awoke Compassion for thy patient, pleading face. But time thy ancient burden of disgrace Has ta'en away long since, and, though in joke Sometimes we may address thee as "the moke," No more we seek thy service to debase. For thou art changed, O much-enduring ass! No longer scorned but honoured in our day, When an entire and influential class-- Our politicians--emulate thy bray; Whilst thou, in bland reciprocal salute, Hast tuned thy note to mock the motor's hoot.
* * * * *
"The balloon immediately began to drift over the enemy's lines. Although he threw his rifle, field glasses, and everything movable overboard, the balloon went still higher."
_Continental Daily Mail._
Well, what did he expect?
* * * * *
"APPRENTICE.--Smart Lad to learn up-to-date business; must be mechanically bent."
The simple plan of putting him across your knee will not suffice.
* * * * *
From a review of Sir CHARLES WALDSTEIN'S _Aristodemocracy_ in an evening paper:--
"That, however, is only a side-issue in a volume which treats the provident questions of politics with perfect humility and with much persecution. It is a book which, as we began by saying, deserves a much better title."
Some people might even say that it deserved a better reviewer.
* * * * *
The Chalmers Invasion.
With Sir ROBERT CHALMERS as the new Irish Under-Secretary and Sir MACKENZIE CHALMERS (no relation) as one of the members of the Commission of Enquiry into the Rebellion, Ireland no doubt will find another grievance, singing:
How happy could I be with either, Were t' other dear Chalmers away!
* * * * *
[Illustration: _Expert in Military Matters._ "HE SAID HE WAS AN ORFICER; BUT I KNEW HE WASN'T, COS HE HADN'T A BUSTER BROWN BELT ON."]
* * * * *
THE WATCH DOGS.
MY DEAR CHARLES,--The weather has changed and War has resumed a less uncomfortable aspect. The last I heard of our friend Persius Adolphus (now promoted to the giddy heights of Second-Lieutenant, but still referred to, in the privacy of the traverse, as "Perse") he was living _al fresco_ in his little bit of trench, leading the sinful life with a pot of _páté de foie gras_ in the one hand and the latest number of _La Vie Parisienne_ in the other. It takes a lot of H.E. to distract a man's attention from these luxuries, which goes to show that, if at times it is a short life, it is in spring a merry one, and a twenty-franc note will in these parts provide a man with all the most extravagant pleasures of the idle rich for a month.
To the officer in the trench, Battalion Headquarters, a few hundred yards to the rear, is a veritable pleasaunce far removed from the din and worry of battle. To the C.O. and his satellites, putting up with their dangers and discomforts for a noble cause, Brigade Headquarters, a mile down the road, is a palace of safety and ease, where any man but a fool of a Brigadier would remain. To the Brigade Staff, grimly holding on in its rough and perilous fortress, the Divisional villa is the ideal of quiet residences. To the Divisional Staff, suffering silently, the Corps Château is all that a man could ask in the way of handsome furnished apartments. And to the Corps Staff it is ever a matter of surprise that its miserable hovel can be contemplated without a blush by the Army Staff, revelling, as the latter does, in every modern convenience. The Army Staff says nothing but thinks bitterly of those at G.H.Q., and by the time it gets to the War Office I couldn't tell you what the grouse is or whose the envied lot. The real wallower out here is, if we all did but know it, some little known and unobtrusive C.O. of some special company, with a village to himself, half-a-dozen châteaux to choose from, more motors than he knows what to do with, and, wickedest and worst, a real bath to wash in.
Be that as it may, the eyes of all rest upon the same unwarlike pictures torn from the same least bellicose journal. From dug-out to palace, faded walls are decorated with the same three-colour process divinities, whose expressions are as arch as arch and whose clothing is typical of the wonderful economy of the French. Through the clamour of bursting shells or the din of the military typewriter, turning out its thousand "Pass Memos." to the hour, these fair Parisiennes continue to smile unperturbed, until some officer, callous rather than modest, hides their bright blue eyes and bright red cheeks under a pile of official telegrams relating to picks and shovels, gas protectors and other sordid and unromantic matter.
Meanwhile the motor lorries creep demurely along the country lanes, coming nobody knows whence, going nobody knows whither. Now and then they will pause in a convenient ditch, rubbing their wheels briskly in the mud to restore the circulation. A less restful sight is the military car, proceeding at a pace never exceeding twenty kilometres per hour, the occupants of which have also, these days, adopted the three-colour process, a sure sign that we are winning. Fortune favours the brave, and the lightning despatch-rider as often as not will pass through the lot, with the loss of little more than a couple of limbs and half-a-dozen spare parts. Even so, he will not omit to salute you, as you stand off the road, a sight which has a peculiar thrill of its own, since the salute of a motor cyclist consists in his looking fixedly in one direction and proceeding recklessly in another. You cannot help appreciating his courtesy, but in your more nervous moments you can't help wishing he wouldn't do it.
By way of contrast to the business of it all is the light-blue Gendarme, unaffected by the entourage of war, ambling peacefully where he will, greeting all and sundry with an expansive smile and growing momentarily ruddier and more fat in his happy face. It is his work in life to get in nobody's way and do no man any harm; it is his pleasure to wear upon his head a helmet of the truest steel, of a type created to ward off hostile shrapnel, but worn by him for the same good reason for which a miller wears a white hat. I count amongst the best of my newly-found friends a certain _chef_ of this merry and bright _escadron_. An ex-Cavalry Officer, he fought through the earlier stages of the War, undaunted by many misadventures. Since he took to the less hazardous pastime of commanding _gendarmerie_, he has found life not so precarious, may be, but a good deal more intricate.
He will tell you, if you ask him, the story of the sacred civilian automobile which he once ventured to stop in order to satisfy himself as to its contents. He did not recognise any significant halo surrounding it, though this should have been discernible even in the cloud of dust accompanying it. He had his written instructions to see that the credentials of all who drove through his zone should be _en règle_. Simple and ingenuous as he then was, written instructions were enough for him. The car approached him menacingly, but he stood his horse in the middle of the road and signed to it to stop. The car hooted with hoarse and defiant anger, and a sinister bowler hat was seen and angry words were heard at the window. None the less he stopped it at the risk of his life, and in his best manner (always a nice one) demanded credentials.
In wartime, one may interfere with Jupiter and be forgiven, but my Commandant had gone too far. He was lucky to find himself, at the conclusion of the correspondence, severely admonished and in receipt of an order to place himself under arrest for six days (which he did, choosing six wet ones).
The car contained a Deputy, no less.
The Commandant clings to the childlike belief that we manage these things better in England. What would have happened, he asked me, if he had been a British officer and the object of his attention merely a Member of Parliament? "Merely," indeed! I answered that the thing simply couldn't be conceived as happening with us. Our soldiers, I admitted, were amongst the bravest of the brave, but I had never yet met one reckless enough to dream of obstructing the slightest whim of a politician.
Meanwhile, Charles, don't forget to forward to me, day by day, the Official Communiqué from the Irish Front.
Yours ever, HENRY.
* * * * *
[Illustration: LEST WE FORGET.
_"Combed-out" Gentleman (to pal, also about to be called up)._ "WHAT ABOUT 'AVIN' OUR PHOTOS TOOK? WE SHALL BE IN KHAKI TO-MORROW, AND I SHOULD LIKE TO FEEL I 'AD SOME RECORD OF WHAT I'VE LOOKED LIKE."]
* * * * *
Shakspeare on Daylight Saving.
"It shall be what o'clock I say it is."
_Taming of the Shrew_, Act iv. Sc. 3.
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE GOLDEN MOMENT.
ERIN (_to Mr. REDMOND and Sir EDWARD CARSON_). "COME, MY FRIENDS, YOU'RE BOTH IRISHMEN; WHY NOT BURY THE HATCHET----IN THE VITALS OF THE COMMON ENEMY?"]
* * * * *
[Illustration: ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT
PARLIAMENTARY PILADEX--THE LATEST GAME AT WESTMINSTER.
INTRODUCED TO MESSRS. BALFOUR AND TENNANT BY MESSERS. CHURCHILL, JOYNSON-HICKS AND PEMBERTON-BILLING.]
_Monday, May 15th._--The continued absence of Mr. ASQUITH is causing much speculation in the Lobbies. Will the new Irish Privy Councillor come back from Dublin, like Lord BEACONSFIELD from Berlin, bringing peace with honour in his pack? Or will he, as so many British statesmen have done before, find the inherited hostility of Irishmen to one another an insuperable obstacle? An hon. and learned Nationalist was not encouraging. "When," he was asked, "were the seeds of this trouble sown?" "When STHRONGBOW came to Ireland," was the answer. "And when do you think it will be over?" persisted the questioner. "When the world's at an end."
Last Session Mr. KING was easily the champion of Question-time. But this year, thanks to the Sinn Feiners, Mr. GINNELL is coming up with a rush. Mr. KING has however one consolation. Mr. GINNELL rarely extracts much information from Ministers; often it is nothing more than "There is no foundation for the allegation contained in the question." Whereas his rival, whose queries cover a much wider field, frequently elicits important facts. Like the rest of the world he has been puzzled by the coloured tabs now so commonly seen on officers' tunics. What did they mean? Mr. TENNANT for once was communicative. "I think," he said, "green stands for intelligence." Mr. KING is now more regretful than ever that he is over military age; the green badge would just suit his mental complexion.
Ever since the Military Service Bill came under discussion the public galleries have been full of men in khaki. As it seems difficult to believe that their presence is due to the intrinsic fascination of debates, which have been for the most part insufferably dull, another theory has been started. Should the opponents of the Bill become too obstructive and threaten its passage, will these doughty warriors leap over the barriers, drop down on to the floor of the House (in the manner already made historic this Session) and execute a new "PRIDE'S Purge"?
A rather unkind trick was played upon the Simonites by Mr. BARNES. He has a good deal of influence with the Government nowadays, and when he delivered an eloquent defence of conscientious objectors, describing them as the men who kept the spiritual fires burning, there were high hopes that he was going to secure an enlargement of the loopholes in the Bill. But as he went on to explain that his remarks only applied to genuine cases and had nothing to do with the shoal of frauds who had discovered a conscience within the last month or two, the enthusiasm below the Gangway fell so suddenly that you could almost hear it drop.
_Tuesday, May 16th._--To invite the House of Lords to go in for daylight saving is rather like carrying coals to Newcastle. The Peers habitually set an excellent example in this respect. No matter what the importance of the subject under consideration they almost invariably manage to conclude its discussion before the dinner-hour.
Some of Lord LANSDOWNE'S friends are beginning to fear that association with wicked Radicals like Lord CREWE is having a deteriorating effect upon his political faith. They were shocked to hear him allude almost disparagingly to the innate conservatism of the national temperament, which put Greenwich mean time on the same level as the Thirty-nine Articles. He even spoke disrespectfully of the sun, to the marked disapproval of that other shining light, Lord SALISBURY.
In the Commons the Simonites made a determined effort to get the minimum age raised from 18 to 19. But Mr. LONG was obdurate, though he promised that, subject to exceptional military necessity, no conscript should be sent abroad till he was 19. Eventually the Bill passed its Third Reading by 250 to 35.
A characteristically bitter speech from Mr. SNOWDEN evoked an appropriate retort from Sir ARTHUR MARKHAM. Observing that the Hon. Member had been against the War throughout, he charged him with "making vitriolic speeches and dropping acid drops in every direction." Mr. SNOWDEN (remembering the case of Mr. JOHN BURNS) may think himself lucky if he is not known as "The Acid Drop" for the rest of his political career.
_Wednesday, May 17th._--The Summer Time Bill passed into law to-day, in spite of the gloomy prognostications of Lord BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH. He foresaw the time when the Committee of Privileges might be called upon to pronounce a new judgment of SOLOMON on the question whether a peerage should go to a boy born at 2.50 A.M. on October 1st or to his twin-brother, born actually half-an-hour later, but according to statutory time half-an-hour before.
While the Lords were illuminating the daylight the Commons were engaged in ventilating the air. The present administration of the Flying Services was severely criticised by Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS, who wanted an Air Minister--not Lord CURZON, but "someone with a reputation to lose." Mr. TENNANT promptly announced that the ex-Viceroy of India would be President of the new Air Board.
Colonel CHURCHILL launched into a lengthy history of the Air Services, from which we gathered that but for the exertions of a former First Lord, who used to divert money voted for hospitals and coastguard stations to the building of aeroplanes, the country would have had no aerial defences when the War broke out. He joined in the demand for an Air Ministry. In fact, he had himself proposed it to the PRIME MINISTER a year ago. It is possible that he even indicated a suitable person to fill the post.
Before the War it was sometimes said of Lord HUGH CECIL that his Parliamentary speeches were too much up in the clouds. Since he has taken to exploring those regions as a member of the Royal Flying Corps, that criticism no longer applies. In a severely practical speech he flatly contradicted the accusations that had been made against our Air Service, and boldly claimed that it was the most efficient in the world.
After that, Mr. BONAR LAW had a comparatively easy task in persuading the House to give the new Air Board a fair trial. In reference to the fears that had been expressed as to the powers to be accorded to its President he drily remarked that from his experience in the Cabinet he did not think Lord CURZON would be found lacking in personality.
All through the afternoon Mr. PEMBERTON-BILLING had been popping up with questions, interjections and points of order. Now he rose to continue the debate, but Members had apparently had enough of him for one day. After a few minutes he suffered the most inglorious fate that can befall a Parliamentary crusader. One by one his audience melted away, until there was not enough left to make a House. "P. B." was counted out.
_Thursday, May 18th._--Lord LANSDOWNE at least is not afraid of the new Order in Council prohibiting reference to Cabinet proceedings. In answer to complaints of the delay in introducing Compulsory Service he told the old story of the widow who married a widower, and complained to a friend that "_his_ children are always fighting with _my_ children and frightening _our_ children." That, he implied, was what went on in the Coalition.
The Commons enjoyed a pretty little duel between two old friends. Ex-Professor HEWINS delivered a long lecture on elementary economics, leading up to the conclusion that we could not beat the Germans without an immediate dose of Tariff Reform. The House, expecting an equally solemn defence of Free Trade from the CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER, was at once surprised and delighted when Mr. CHAMBERLAIN rose to reply.
Though tied to the Tariff movement "by my heart-strings as well as by my head," he thought it would be imprudent to embark on it at this moment. After the War it would very likely meet with general consent. Mr. HEWINS must have felt like _Alice_ with "jam yesterday, and jam to-morrow, but never jam to-day."
* * * * *
[Illustration: DIGNITY AND IMPUDENCE;
OR, THE RIVAL COMMISSIONAIRES.]
* * * * *
[Illustration: "RECOLLECT THAT NIGHT--YOU AN' ME AN' OLE TURNIPTOPS WIV 'IS MOUTH-ORGAN IN THE WHITECHAPEL ROAD?"
"NOT 'ARF I DON'T."
"WELL, 'OW DID THAT TUNE GO?"]
* * * * *
THEIR SCRIBES AND PHARISEES.
[It is reported that the citizens of Berlin are agitated about the serious difficulty that has arisen with regard to the removal of dust. A Berlin journal has championed their cause.]
I love to catch such bits of local colour As hide awhile the lurid hues of war, And paint the fatuous Hun an even duller Fool than we took him for.
I love to seize on every source of humour That gives black care a very welcome shove-- I like, I mean to say, the sort of rumour Recited up above.
Berlin, you see, has grown of late so gritty That half the pop. is troubled to the quick, Finding the dust of that unwholesome city Is just a bit too thick.
Well, I have read about some other grumblers With curious similarity of soul Who left untouched the gnats that thronged their tumblers, But drank their camels whole.
So here your Hun, denouncing this condition Of his uncleanly city's upper crust, Flatly declines to have his earthly vision Clogged with material dust,
Yet, all unconscious of the draught he's taking, Swallows the stuff in pharisaic wise With which his rulers have for years been making A dustbin of his eyes.
* * * * *
A NURSERY VIEW.
Last Sunday morning an hour was lost. The children had been discussing the question beforehand.
"Where will it go?" asked one.
"I suppose the fairies will take it," said Joyce.
"Perhaps it will go behind the clock," said another.
"Well, I'll tell you what I'd like to do," said Joyce deliberately. "I'd like to get up in the middle of the night, when the hour is going to be lost, and put on my dressing-gown without waking Nannie, and go out into the garden and see for myself how they lose it. It's sure to be about somewhere."
"You couldn't," said one of the others. "Nannies always sleep so that they wake up at once if you move. You'd never get up without her knowing."
"Well, why do they want to lose it?" asked Joyce, realising that the last argument was unanswerable and so darting off on to a new train of thought altogether.
"Because they'll save a lot of other hours that way. And then, you see, if we get up earlier we shan't have to pay the pennies for gas and electric light, and all those pennies can go to help Daddy win the War."
"Yes, but where will the hour be gone?"
And so we came back to the beginning again.
There, was a long pause.
"Well," concluded Joyce, on a note of finality, "it's a very good plan anyway."
That settled it.
* * * * *
"MR. BIRRELL'S REBELLION REVELATIONS."
_"Westminster Gazette" Contents Bill._
But in justice to the late CHIEF SECRETARY it should be said that the Sinn Feiners also had a hand in it.
* * * * *
[Illustration: _P.C. O'Leary._ "MOVE ON THERE, AND DON'T BE OBSTHRUCTING THE THOROUGHFARE!"
_Interested Spectator._ "WOT 'ARM AM I DOIN' OF?"
_P.C. O'Leary._ "SURE IF EVERY WAN WOS TO STAND IN THE WAN PLACE, HOW WOULD THE REST GO BY?"]
* * * * *
A WORD OF ADVICE TO NEW OFFICERS.
How delicate must be the young man's dealings With those who hold the regimental reins; How sensitive he finds the Major's feelings, How constantly the Adjutant complains; Yet any youth of reasonable phlegm Should be at ease with some at least of them, But, mind you, there is only one Q.M., And he, I think, requires the greatest pains.
For he provides his own peculiar terrors, His own pet penalties, his special scores; He little recks your mere strategic errors, He marks unmoved the feeblest kind of fours; 'Tis naught to him how Private Thompson shoots, Only he must not wear civilian boots; And all the officers may act like brutes If they commit no sin against the Stores.
Then, like the octopus, that all day dallies In loathly caverns, loving not the sun, Till prying trespassers provoke his sallies, He waddles forth and gives the culprit one; Unrolls, like tentacles, by fold and pleat, Some hoary form, some long-forgot receipt, And stamps the fellow liar, thief and cheat-- There is no argument; the man is done.
And evermore, however slight the caper, His name, his credit in the Stores is black; If he but supplicate for emery-paper, Or seek small articles his soldiers lack, He will be lucky if they fail to look His record up in some avenging book, And say, "I thought as much--the man who took A bar of soap and never brought it back."
Be careful, then, and court the man's compassion; Note how the gods, in old Olympian years, Would woo Hephaestus's, that used to fashion Stout shields and suchlike for his godly peers; How upstart deities, who feared not Zeus And gave Poseidon something like abuse, Approached him sweetly and were quite profuse, Lest he be cross and serve them out no spears.
Nor in the trenches should your tact diminish, For there, still stern with casual issue notes, _He_ will determine when the food must finish, And stint his rum to undeserving throats; And what if in some struggle he should say, "Look here, this battle can't go on to-day; You'll get no hand-grenades, no S.A.A., Till Simpson signs for all those overcoats"?
* * * * *
Mormonism in England?
"A Minister's Wives' Meeting will be held at Whitefield's, Tottenham Court Road."
* * * * *
FROM THE FRONT.
"Hurrah!" I said, "I've got a letter from the Front."
"Well done!" said Francesca. "Who's it from?"
"From Walter. It's not a very long one."
"That doesn't matter a bit. The great thing is to have one from the Front, even if it's only to thank you for a pair of socks."
"Mine's better than that," I said. "It runs into nearly two pages."
"Yes," she said, "but it doesn't tell you much, now does it?"
"No, to tell you the truth it doesn't. They're under an honourable obligation, you know, not to reveal things."
"Poor boys! It isn't much a Second-Lieutenant could reveal, is it. There's nothing said in your letter about Sir DOUGLAS HAIG having called Walter up to Headquarters----"
"You mustn't say Headquarters; you must say G.H.Q. if you want to impress people."
"I'm not talking to people; I'm talking to you. There's nothing said in your letter, is there, about Walter having been asked by Sir DOUGLAS HAIG to draw up a plan for the Big Push?"
"No, there isn't; but Walter would draw up a dozen if he were asked. He's that sort."
"Don't talk about my first cousin once removed in that flippant way."
"You are, and it's most ungrateful of you."
"Yes, ungrateful. He's written you a letter that you'll be able to chat about for a fortnight. I can hear you mentioning it to your train-friends, Major Boger and Dr. Apthorpe. You'll bring it in in a careless kind of way. 'I've had a letter,' you'll say, 'from a chap at the Front, a cousin of my wife's, and he tells me they're expecting a move now at any moment.' Then they'll both say, 'Ah,' as if they didn't think much of your chap, and each of them will produce a chap of his own with some highly private information about the CROWN PRINCE having been taken to a lunatic asylum in a motor-car so heavily iron-clad that nobody could see who was inside, but he was recognised by his shrieks; and Dr. Apthorpe will cap it all with some cock-and-bull story about German ships having bombarded one another in the Canal last week. And so you'll get to London."
"Francesca," I said, "you are a holy terror. How do you know all these things? You have never travelled to London with Major Boger and Dr. Apthorpe, and yet you're able to misrepresent them as if you'd heard them speak every day of your life. It's wonderful."
"Clever fellow," said Francesca; "we won't pursue the question of your boastings. They're innocent enough, I dare say. Let me hear what Walter actually does say in his letter."
"Well," I said, "he doesn't actually say very much. The weather is fine, he says, and his particular lot have been having rather a slack time lately. There was a stampede of horses last week, but his Battery was not involved in it, and would I mind sending him a packet or two of chocolate, some strong brown boot-laces and a briar-root pipe, he having broken his last one, and he's never felt fitter in his life, and anybody who wants to know what health is had better come out to France at once. That's about all; but you can read it for yourself." I handed it over to her and she skimmed through it.
"I'll tell you what," she said, "I strongly advise you not to show this letter about."
"I certainly shall show it," I said, "but only to friends."
"Well," she said, "I wouldn't even do that, unless you want to get Walter into trouble."
"What nonsense!" I said. "It's the most discreet and honourable letter I ever received.".
"Yes," she said, "but it's so cheerful. If certain newspapers got hold of it there wouldn't be any peace for Second-Lieutenant Walter Carlyon. He'd be told he was like all other Englishmen--he didn't take a serious view of the War. Then they'd say that he was one of the men who were responsible for the French not understanding us, and for the Russians failing to appreciate our efforts, which, indeed, could hardly be called efforts at all, and for the Italians despising us as we deserved to be despised for tolerating such a Government as we were afflicted with--and lots more of the same sort, all because poor Walter doesn't go about in a state of perpetual gloom, as if he expected the whole of Great Britain to be sunk into the sea the next minute."
"Francesca," I said, "your warmth is excusable, and there's a good deal in what you say, but I shall show Walter's letter all the same."
"Well," she said, "when the storm bursts I shall let him know whom he's got to thank for it."
"I shall write to him," I said, "and warn him to write a really pessimistic letter next time, so that I may show it to influential people and get his name up."
"It'll be no good," she said. "Walter isn't one of that sort. He 's cursed with a profound and unreasoning belief in his country, and, being an Englishman, he'll go to his grave if necessary believing that England is bound to win the War."
"And, by Jove," I said, "I thoroughly agree with him."
"Yes," she said, "and so do I, but it doesn't do to say so to everybody nowadays."
R. C. L.
* * * * *
SPEED THE PLOUGH: A COUNTRY SONG.
As I was a-walking on Chilbolton Down I saw an old farmer there driving to town, A-jogging to market behind his old grey, So I jumped up beside him, and thus he did say:--
"My boy he be fightin', a fine strappin' lad, I gave he to England, the one boy I had; My boy he be fightin' out over the foam, An' here be I frettin' an' mopin' at home.
"But if there be times when 'tis just about hard Wi'out his strong arm in the field an' the yard, Why, I plucks my old heart up an' flicks the old grey, An' this is the tune that her heels seem to say:--
"'Oh the hoof an' the horn, the roots an' the corn, The flock in the fold an' the pigs in the pen, Rye-grass an' clover an' barns brimmin' over, They feed the KING'S horses an' feed the KING'S men!'
"Then I looks at my furrows to see the corn spring Like little green sword-blades all drawn for the KING; An' 'tis 'Get up, old Bess, there be plenty to do For old chaps like me an' old horses like you.
"'My boy be in Flanders, he's young an' he's bold, But they will not have we, lass, for we be too old, So step it out lively an' kip up your heart, For you an' me, Bess, be a-doin' our part--
"'Wi' the shocks an' the sheaves, the lambs an' the beeves, The ducks an' the geese an' the good speckled hen, The cattle all lowin', the crops all a-growin', To feed the KING'S horses and feed the KING'S men.'"
* * * * *
[Illustration: THE GREAT GAME.
_Subaltern (wounded four times at Gallipoli, about to rejoin after four months' sick leave)._ "CAN I GET A TRENCH DAGGER HERE?"
_Shopwalker._ "TRENCH DAGGER? CERTAINLY, SIR. YOU'LL GET THAT IN THE SPORTS DEPARTMENT."]
* * * * *
(_By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerks._)
Except by keen politicians the fourth volume of Mr BUCKLE'S _Life of Benjamin Disraeli_ (MURRAY) may be found a little dull in comparison with its predecessors. That is not the fault of the biographer, who has done his best with a vast mass of somewhat dry material, but could not make this portion of his record so enthralling as that which preceded it or--we may confidently hope--that which will follow it. In 1855 DISRAELI had arrived at respectability, but had not yet attained power. The Conservative Party recognised that he was indispensable, but continued to withhold its full confidence, with the result that, although his brain still teemed with the great schemes formed in his hot youth, he had to defer their practical accomplishment and to devote himself to educating his party and its titular leader, Lord DERBY, for the day when the swing of the pendulum might give it a majority in the House of Commons. Only one great triumph came to him during these years in the wilderness. DISRAELI had never visited India, but, owing perhaps to his Eastern ancestry, he had a truer intuition of Oriental needs than most contemporary statesmen; and it was fortunate that it fell to him in 1858, during one of the brief periods when the Conservatives held office on sufferance, to carry the Bill which transferred the government of India from "John Company" to the Crown. The principles which he then laid down, and which eighteen years later he carried a stage further in the Imperial Titles Act, justify Mr. BUCKLE in claiming the Coronation Durbar of 1911 as "the logical conclusion of Disraeli's policy." Apart from this one episode the volume is mainly concerned with the reconstruction of the Conservative party--"at about the pace of a Tertiary formation"--with which DISRAELI'S voluminous correspondence with Lord DERBY was mainly concerned. Happily he had other correspondents, and, though too self-conscious to be a perfect letter-writer, he could be playful enough when writing to his wife or to Mrs. BRYDGES-WILLIAMS. In this volume Mr. BUCKLE has given us a careful portrait of the Politician DISRAELI; in his next we look to see a little more of the Man.
* * * * *
It is probable, I think, that you will not have turned many pages of _Brenda Walks On_ (HUTCHINSON) before being struck by a certain pleasing incongruity between its matter and style. Sir FREDERICK WEDMORE is such an artist in words, so punctilious in the niceties of their employment, that to find him writing a story of modern stage-life, and using for it--with, as it were, a certain delicate deliberation--phrases peculiar to the jargon of the class of which it treats, gives one a series of small shocks. It is like hearing slang from a Dean. As a matter of fact, though, I was wrong in calling _Brenda Walks On_ a story. It is rather a disquisition about stage people, stage art and life, and anything else whatever upon which Sir FREDERICK wishes to talk at the moment, from the beauties of the North-Eastern coast (the Scarborough part of the book carried me back to the far-off days of _Renunciations_) to the treasures of Hertford House. Even _Brenda's_ chief suitor is capable of breaking off the avowal of his love to deliver a few well-chosen remarks about theatrical rents and the hazards of management. This suitor, _Penfold_, is perhaps the nearest approach to an actual character that the book contains. He was a writer of papers upon the drama of whom the author observes, "With a ready pen, indeed, Heaven forbid that he should have been cursed! It was better to have a careful one, faithfully ordered, allowing him to make sensible utterance of some part of the knowledge and thought that were in him." Which, by a happy coincidence, is exactly my verdict author's method in this graceful causerie.
* * * * *
_Christina's Son_ (WELLS GARDNER) is a disarming book. It overcomes criticism by the direct simplicity of its attack, in which only later do you begin to suspect a concealed art. Miss W. M. LETTS tells a tale that (you might say) has nothing in it; nothing certainly at all sensational or strikingly original. But this story of a middle-class North-country woman grips the attention, and holds it, by some quality hard to define. _Christina_, as wife of a man she can never greatly love, and, later, as mother of a son whom she adores but only half understands, becomes, for all her commonplace environment, a figure that dwells in the memory because of what you feel to be its absolute truth. The atmosphere of the story is so crystal clear that every detail of its chief characters stands out with the distinctness of a landscape after rain. And because, by all the rules, these characters should be so little interesting, and the very provincial society in which the thirty or so years of the book pass is so entirely undistinguished, you are faintly astonished all the way through (at least I was) at not being bored. I see that one critic has praised a previous story by Miss LETTS for its humour, should not have picked this out as a characteristic of _Christina's Son_. Rather has it a certain gravity and sobriety of aim, which in part explains its appeal; if there is humour it is generally below the surface and never insisted upon. There is a moment when its rather restrained style rises suddenly to rare beauty, where the theme is old age; and throughout there is a maturity of judgment in the writing that will make it perhaps less attractive to the young than to those whose outlook has reached the same stage.
[Illustration: A FAVOURITE OF THE HALLS WAS GREATLY PLEASED WITH THE NEW POSTER OF HIMSELF----]
[Illustration: UNTIL HE CAME TO A HOARDING WHERE THE EXIGENCIES OF SPACE HAD PLAYED HAVOC WITH THE COMPOSITION.]
* * * * *
If I were to give away the plot of Miss MARY L. PENDERED'S _The Secret Sympathy_ (CHAPMAN AND HALL) I think that you would sniff. It is not likely to cause animated discussion in intellectual circles. We are introduced to a girl who, finding herself reduced from affluence to poverty, takes a garage and runs it with success, and we become acquainted with a chauffeur and a peer, and the former turns out to be--but that is just what I am not going to tell you. If you want a book in which the hero is a very perfect gentleman indeed and the villain really is a villain, then here you are. Miss PENDERED'S scheme is not too subtle, but what she has set out to do she has done, and done well. Although her characters play their part in the War, she resists the temptation to smother them with V.C.'s and other decorations, and for this abstinence and for _Miss Chetwynd_, a middle-aged spinster of shrewd sense and humour, I warmly commend her. I confess myself in love with _Miss Chetwynd_ and should dearly like to hear her candid opinion of _The Secret Sympathy_. But I feel sure that, if she smiled a little at the wonderfulness of it all, her final verdict would be as benevolent as mine.
* * * * *
Mr. RICHARD MAHER'S _The Shepherd of the North_ (MACMILLAN) looks a little like one of those rather elaborate Catholic tracts in form of a novel of which we have so many classic examples. _Mgr. Winthrop_, the Bishop of Alden, way up in the Adirondacks, was indeed a noble old fellow, somewhat given to long speeches, but with a great heart in the right place, and wise and tolerant withal. He was known and loved by the small farmers and lumber-men as _The White Horse Chaplain_ for a deed of valour done in his youth in the Civil War. And he carried that high quality of courage into his work of defending his people against the machinations of the U. & M. Railroad, which swept down upon them and stuck at nothing, not arson on a Teuton scale or judicial murder, to get the prize it was after--valuable iron ore in the hills through which its track ran. However, it was the Bishop's oar, dexterously thrust in, which finally won the victory. There is a point which puzzles me considerably. The crisis of the story turns on the secret of the Confessional. A young man is accused of murder, and the Bishop, his friend, has heard the confession of the real murderer, so that his lips are sealed. But his fiancée also unwittingly overheard the essential of the confession screamed by the dying man. Mr. MAHER seems to think her bound by the same sacred ties as the Bishop, even to the point of allowing her lover to go to the chair because of her silence. But is that sound moral theology? I should doubt it. I ought to add that there's nothing to shock the most sensitive evangelical conscience, and quite a good deal to edify, instruct and entertain.
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Overheard at a fashionable restaurant:--
_1st Guest._ I read in one of the Sunday papers that BENJAMIN FRANKLIN discovered the Daylight Saving Bill by noticing that the sun shines the moment it rises, and not several hours afterwards, as is popularly supposed.
_2nd Guest._ How interesting! By the way, FRANKLIN'S body has never been found since he discovered the North Pole.
_3rd Guest._ No, poor fellow, although STANLEY went in search of him.
_1st Guest (correcting)._ He found him right enough, but FRANKLIN preferred to stop where he was. Rough on STANLEY.
Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.]