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Title: Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 150, February 16, 1916
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 150, February 16, 1916" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

VOL. 150, FEBRUARY 16, 1916***


PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI

VOL. 150

FEBRUARY 16, 1916



CHARIVARIA.

MANY early nestings are recorded as the result of the mild weather, and
at least one occasional visitor (_Polonius bombifer_) has laid eggs in
various parts of the country.

       * * *

Says a learned correspondent of _The Observer_: "There may be
fundamental differences between observed phenomena without affecting the
validity of a strict analogy; and after all an analogy is based upon
presented similarities. It is sufficient if the sameness should apply to
particular attributes or occurrences found by induction to have similar
relationships or consequences." It looks, after all, as if some of our
Museums wanted closing.

       * * *

The "popular parts" of the Natural History Museum are to remain open,
though it is still felt by the Government that, at a time when the
practice of frugality is incumbent upon everybody, the spectacle of
stuffed animals may tend to have a demoralising effect upon the young.

       * * *

From _The Evening News_:--

    "Our Daily War-time Menu.

            Fish Pie.
  Salt Beef. Turnips or Carrots.
         Baked Potatoes.
         Banana Pancake.
             Coffee."

This will gratify those who believed that our contemporary's diet
consisted largely of brimstone.

       * * *

It is reported from Holland that Germans there are refusing German
notes. In the United States however they are still accepted at their
face value.

       * * *

It is understood that the Government recruiting authorities, with whose
_jeu d'esprit_ all Trafalgar Square is ringing, have definitely rejected
a proposed placard that says--

   "WILL YOU 'ATE NOW
  OR WAIT TILL MARCH 8?"

       * * *

The Admiralty has announced that sea-fishing is included among the
certified occupations exempted from the provisions of the Military
Service Act. The suggestion that the other kind of fishermen should be
rejected for psychopathic reasons has been bitterly resented by some of
our most persistent anglers.

       * * *

"Many of the men," writes a correspondent at one of the Fronts, "have
apparently been without shirts for some time, and consequently the Army
authorities, with that kindly consideration which always distinguishes
them, have issued to the men a new pair of pants all round."

       * * *

A bird-eating spider has just arrived at the Zoo. While its diet is
commonly confined to quite small birds the animal is understood to have
expressed extreme confidence in its ability to eat eagles, if only to
show that its heart is in the right place.

       * * *

"Germany's sea dogs," says the _Berliner Tageblatt_, "cannot content
themselves much longer with merely showing their teeth." This is
obviously unfair to TIRPITZ'S tars, most of whom have not hesitated to
show their tails also.

       * * *

The KAISER at Headquarters lifted his glass to KING FERDINAND, this
being the kindliest way of intimating that he has Bulgaria on toast.

       * * *

It is rumoured that the Government has offered the control of our
anti-aircraft defences to the Office of Works, but that Mr. LULU
HARCOURT has declined the responsibility, adding, however, that he will
gladly repair any damage done by Zeppelins to the flower-beds in his
department.

       *       *       *       *       *

    [Illustration: _V.A.D. wardmaid_, _M.A._ (_to
    kitchen-maid_). "I'M REALLY A UNIVERSITY LECTURER; BUT
    AT A TIME LIKE THIS WE ARE _ALL_ HUMAN BEINGS."]

       *       *       *       *       *

THE WORD OF A GERMAN.

  YOUR troth was broken ere the trumpets blew;
    Into the fight with unclean hands you rode;
  Your spurs were sullied and the sword you drew
    Bore stain of outrage done to honour's code.

  And you have played your game as you began.
    Witness the white flag raised by shattered ranks,
  The cry for mercy, answered, man to man--
    And the swift stroke of traitor steel for thanks.

  Once bitten we were twice a little shy,
    And then forgot; but with the mounting score
  Our old good-nature, tried a shade too high,
    Stiffens its lip and means to stand no more.

  So now, when you protest with bleating throat,
    And broider round your wrongs a piteous tale,
  Urging the Neutral Ones to take a note
    That we have passed outside the human pale;

  The world (no fool) will know where lies the blame
    If England lets your pleadings go unheard;
  To grace of chivalry you've lost your claim;
    We've grown too wise to trust a Bosch's word.

    O. S.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE BILLETING CAPTAIN.

MY job is to ride on ahead of the regiment, whenever we leave the
trenches, and secure accommodation for men and horses in the place
allotted to us. For billeting purposes there are four kinds of villages
behind our front: the good, the indifferent, the positively bad, and the
village of R----. It was to R---- that I was ordered on my first errand
of this kind. On the road I met a friend who holds the same pest in his
regiment as I do in mine. I told him where I was going, and he grinned.
"You'll find all the doors locked when you arrive," he said. "The Mayor
is away on service and you won't get any help from his wife. She's the
most disagreeable woman I ever met, and is known for miles round as a
holy terror." When at length I reached my destination I sent the rest of
the party in search of barns and stables, proceeding myself towards the
village pump, which I had been told was always a good place to work
from. But there was little sign of life here. The _place_ was deserted,
except for one old man who was supporting himself by the pump handle,
while with a stick in his other hand he tried to strafe a hen that had
inadvertently run between his legs.

"Bon jour, M'sieur," I said by way of a start.

"Cigarette anglaise!" replied the patriarch.

I offered my case and was presently being entertained with reminiscences
of the war of _soixante-dix_. By the time that he had finished his
cigarette he had gone further back into history and was vividly
describing the retreat from Moscow under the First Napoleon, on which
occasion I gathered that he had caught a severe cold. There was
evidently little help to be gained here, so leaving my venerable friend
amid the Russian snows I went to the nearest house and knocked.
Presently a key turned and the door was opened for about three inches by
an old woman.

"_Bon jour, Madame_," I said in my best French; "I seek a bedroom, if
possible one with a bed in it."

She looked me up and down for a moment, then with a "_Pas compris_" shut
and locked the door again.

In the next house they were more obliging. A stout gentleman opened the
door and informed me that unfortunately he possessed only one bed, which
was shared by himself and his family of six children. But as M'sieu was
a member of the _entente_, and if he could find no other
accommodation---- But here I fled. Thus it was from house to house, and
when later my N.C.O. reported his arrangements for men and horses
satisfactory I had only managed to secure one miserable little room. So
desperate had I become by this time that I determined to face the
Mayor's wife, in spite of my friend's advice. Accordingly I turned
towards a house labelled _Mairie_, and entered the garden, where a small
child was playing. I think without exception he was the ugliest little
boy I have ever seen, but I am a father when home on leave, and he
smiled at me in such a nice friendly way that I stopped and pecked at
his cheek as I passed.

When I looked up I saw a grim face regarding me over a pot of geraniums
in the window. "Now for it!" I thought, and was presently face to face
with the formidable lady, who asked me in broken English what my
business might be. "Madame," I said, "you see a ruined captain before
you. I have been sent to this village to find twelve bedrooms for my
Colonel and brother-officers. Also a mess-room and an office. In one
hour I have secured one room, and even now the regiment is arriving,"
for as I spoke the O.C. and some of the others came riding up. On seeing
me they dismounted, and before Madame could say anything she and I were
the centre of a little group of officers.

"Well," said the O.C., "what luck? We're looking forward to real beds
again, I can tell you!"

I felt myself growing red. "The men and horses are arranged for, Sir," I
stammered, and then suddenly a voice at my side took up the tale: "And
if you will come wiz me I shall 'elp ze Captain to show to you ze rooms
'e 'as found." Unable to utter a word, I bowed, and we followed Madame
to the first house at which I had earlier tried so unsuccessfully. She
knocked at the door like a fury, and no sooner was it opened than she
went in without more ado, and we after her. "I have come to show M'sieu
the Colonel the room that you have prepared for him," she said in her
own language to the old woman, who stood bowing and smiling as hard as
she could. Then she opened a door and took us into the nicest room
imaginable.

"'Ere I 'ope you will be 'appy, my Colonel," she continued. "Zis is ze
best room ze Captain could find for you. Also I 'ope you will find
Madame aimable;" and here she looked at the old woman, who started
bowing again harder than ever. It was the same at all the other houses.
Passing from one to another she commandeered room after room, even
managing to wrest a bed from the father of six; and I verily believe
that the inhabitants would have burned their dwellings to warm us had
the little lady ordered it. All the while she maintained the fiction
that I had arranged things previously.

"I 'ave just come wiz ze Captain to see everyting ees what you call
spick," she said on leaving us.

"And a very good business you have made of it," said the O.C. to me
approvingly. Still greatly puzzled, I returned to thank my benefactress.
After expressing my gratitude I ventured to tell her that she had been
much kinder to me than I had been led to expect.

"But 'ave I not see you kees my little son?" she said gravely.

"Ah," I said to myself, "_that's_ it!" and, stooping down to where he
was playing, I did it again with added warmth.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the transactions of the Royal Dublin Society:--

    "Professor HUGH RYAN, M.A., D.Sc., and Mr. M. J. WALSH,
    M.Sc.--'On Desoxyhydrocatechintetramethylether.'"

We are not surprised that it took two of them to tackle it.

       *       *       *       *       *

    [Illustration: SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY IN THE FATHERLAND.

    It chanced that on the fourteenth day of February the
    boy Cupid strayed into the precincts of Potsdam, and
    came all unawares upon the War Lord; who deeming him to
    be an alien babe essayed to make a characteristic end of
    him.]

       *       *       *       *       *

    [Illustration: _Disgusted Instructor._ "NOW THEN, NONE
    O' THEM PEACE TACTICS! 'ERE I'M TRYING TO TEACH YER 'OW
    TO KILL THE ENEMY, AND YER GOES AND KISSES 'IM!"]

       *       *       *       *       *

BLANCHE'S LETTERS.

WAR FASHIONS.

_Park Lane._

DEAREST DAPHNE,--People are going to the theatre a good deal, but not in
the old way. We wait in the queue now, and work our way up into the
gallery. We leave the stalls and boxes to _ces autres_. "Olga" has
created a simply charming queue-coat, heavy grey frieze, with plenty of
pockets and a cap to match with ear-pieces. You take a parcel of
sandwiches to eat while you're waiting (the _dernier cri_ is to wrap the
parcel in a spotted handkerchief), and, if you want to be immensely and
utterly right, you'll _walk_ home and buy a piece of fried fish on the
way for your supper.

À propos, there's quite a good little story being told about Lady
Goreazure and these topsy-turvy times. She was in the gallery at the
Incandescent the other night, and, on coming down, the gallery people,
finding it was pouring in torrents, crowded into the chief entrance for
shelter, to the enormous disgust of the stalls and boxes, who were just
coming out. A rose-coloured satin gown with ante-war bare arms and
shoulders, an ermine wrap, and a paste hair-bandeau was particularly
furious, and announced loudly that it was "an abominable shame to mix us
up with the gallery people in this way." Lady Goreazure thought she knew
the voice, and, turning, recognised in the angry pink-satin person her
maid, Dawkins, who left her some months ago to go into munition work.
She's a skilled hand now and simply coining money, as she told Lady G.
in a hurried furtive whisper, adding, "Please don't talk to me any more.
I shouldn't like my friends to see that I know anyone from the gallery."

One of the _literally_ burning questions of the moment has been how to
dispose of the little lanterns one's obliged to carry after dark now
that so many people have given their motors to the country and stump it
or bus it everywhere. Your Blanche has solved the difficulty and at the
same time set a fashion. My evening boots (what a different meaning that
phrase has from what it once had, my Daphne!) have darling little
teeny-weeny lamps fixed to their toes, so that one can see exactly where
one's stepping. With these boots is worn a toque with a small lamp
fastened in a velvet or ribbon _chou_ in front. The _boots_ are for
_one's own guidance_; the _toque illuminante_ is to show _other_ gropers
in the darkness that one's coming. Some people add a chic little hooter,
which clears the way quite nicely and is simply _precious_ in crossing
roads.

Speaking of those who've given all their motors to the State and those
who haven't, a new social danger has bobbed up for the latter--the
chauffeuse. She's got to be reckoned with, dearest. In threatening the
single lives of people's eldest sons she's leaving even the eternal
chorus-girl down the course, and in releasing _one_ man for the Front
she's quite likely to capture _another who counts considerably more!_

The Ramsgates thought they'd got a perfect jewel of a chauffeuse--smart,
businesslike, knew town well, knew when she might exceed the speed limit
and when she mightn't, thoroughly understood her car and so on. And then
one day Pegwell came back from the Front on sick leave. As soon as he
was well enough he went for a drive every day. Someone said to his
mother, "I wonder you trust your boy out alone with that chauffeuse of
yours." And Elizabeth Ramsgate _laughed_ at the caution. "I only wish
Thompson were more dangerous," she said. "There's safety in numbers, and
if she were younger and prettier perhaps she'd switch Peggy's thoughts
off that fearful Dolly de Colty of the Incandescent."

And so Pegwell went on with his drives, and one day they were out so
long that his mother was anxious, and when at last they came back she
said, "Oh, Thompson, you've been driving Lord Pegwell too far; he's not
strong enough for such long drives; it was very inconsiderate of you,
Thompson." And the chauffeuse tossed up her chin and cried, "Not so much
'Thompson,' please!" And Pegwell chipped in with, "This is Lady Pegwell,
mother, and in future she'll drive no one but me!"

Popsy, Lady Ramsgate, is even more furious about it than his parents.
"Ramsgate and Elizabeth have behaved like fools," she said to me
yesterday; "they don't know their world in the least, though they've
lived in it nearly half a century. What if the minx _wasn't_
particularly young and pretty. A chauffeuse is a novelty, and when
you've said that you've said everything."

Your Blanche is enormously busy just now editing a book that's going to
be the sensation of the Spring crop of volumes. You're aware, of course,
_m'amie_, that if a book's even to be _looked_ at now it must be either
Somebody's Memories of Everybody Else or Somebody's Experiences in an
Enemy Country. Well, and so Stella Clackmannan and I, in the hostel we
run for poor dears who've lost their situations abroad and have no
friends to go to on coming back here, found among our guests a bright
little Cockney who's been what she calls an up-and-down girl in the
Royal Palace at Bashbang, the capital of Rowdydaria. My dearest, the
things that girl has climbed over and crawled under, and the weather
she's come through, in escaping from the Rowdydarians and getting back
here! And the things she's seen and heard in the Palace! It will throw a
flood of light on all sorts of things, and will certainly make our F.O.
sit up.

With the help of a clever photographer and some imagination we've
reconstructed the up-and-down girl's adventures quite nicely. There are
photos of the King of Rowdydaria as head of his own army; in his uniform
as Colonel of the Hun Räuberundmörder Regiment; and in the Arab burnous
in which he is to lead an attack on Egypt. There's a photo of the
up-and-down girl sweeping a passage and listening through a key-hole to
a wonderful conversation between the King of R. and an Emperor who'd
come to see him (luckily it was in English and she remembers every
word): "You've got to say _you_ did it." "But I haven't got any navy--I
_couldn't_ have done it." "I'll give you the submarine that did it--or
_lend_ it to you. There! now it's yours--for a time. _You_ don't depend
on the Neutralians for any supplies. So you can afford to tell them you
did it--and be quick about it." "But you can't expect even the
_Neutralians_ to swallow that!" "Why, you fool, they'd swallow anything!
That's the meaning of their phrase 'rubber-neck.'" There's a photo of
the Queen of Rowdydaria coming up at this point, snatching the broom
away, and beating the up-and-down girl with it, and calling her "Spying
English Pig." Altogether, my dear, it's positively enthralling! Order
your copy early, for people will be slaying each other for this book.
_Astounding Disclosures of an Up-and-down Girl in the Royal Palace at
Bashbang_ will certainly quite _quite_ eclipse those two other
sensations, _What a Buttons Overheard in the Imperial Pickelhaube
Schloss_ and _Amazing Revelations of a Tweeny in the Perhapsburg Hof_.

    Ever thine,
    BLANCHE.

       *       *       *       *       *

    [Illustration: "I SAY, OLD GIRL, DO LET ME CARRY SOMETHING."]

       *       *       *       *       *

How to put People at their Ease.

    "The officer in command, Lieut. Berg, was exceedingly
    pleasant, and did all in his power to put the passengers
    at their ease and make them feel comfortable.... He had
    a large bomb placed in the engine-room, and another on
    the bridge, which could be exploded easily by
    electricity."--_Daily News._

       *       *       *       *       *

    "AMERICA'S LAST WORD FOR
            THE HUN.
      SIXTEEN PAGES TO-DAY."

    _Daily Mirror Poster._

These American last words!

       *       *       *       *       *

THE WATCH DOGS.

XXXV.

MY DEAR CHARLES,--Things go on here from day to day in a businesslike
and orderly fashion, the comic relief being supplied by a temporary,
very temporary, man from overseas, who has operated for a while at our
telephone exchange. Most people, myself included, are overawed by the
dignity and significance of our environment here; not so this Canadian.
One of our very greatest was having words with his instrument the other
evening. He supposed, wrongly, that his antagonist was a hundred
kilometres away, and he adjusted his remarks and voice accordingly.
Imagine his pain on being informed, from the exchange, in quite a
cheerful and friendly tone, "I guess you're on the wrong string this
time, Mister."

There is also, of course, that never-failing source of satisfaction,
the military mess waiter. I think ours, the other night, excelled all
starters in the art of ellipsis. Our meal was interrupted by a loud
bump, crash, cataclysm and bang. We took it that two at least of the
enemy's great offensives had begun, centralising on us and opening with
the destruction of all our mess machinery, personnel and platter.
Shortly afterwards Alfred, slightly flushed, came into the room. We
asked him to let us know the worst. All we could get out of him was, "I
must 'a' trod on a bit o' fat, Sir."

You will be touched, I am sure, by the pretty story now current
concerning the earnest young subaltern and the Brigadier. The former was
responsible for the training of an expert section, in no matter what
particular black art; the latter called in person one morning to witness
an experimental display. The apparatus was produced, the Brigadier
inspected it delicately, and the section was fallen in, standing near by
in an attitude of modest pride. From them the Brigadier eventually
singled out a private to do a star turn; silence was enjoined while the
subaltern should give the private the necessary detail orders. Now the
subaltern was one of the many of us civilians who have a burning
ambition not only to achieve perfection always, but also to maintain on
all occasions a superlatively military bearing. Confronted by the
private and expected to order him about, he hesitated, blushed and at
last made it clear that he simply must, before beginning, have a few
words apart in the General's private ear. With kindly toleration the
General eventually conceded this, and it was then made more than
apparent to him why it was that the earnest young subaltern was
reluctant to give his orders to the private without some explanation in
advance to the Brigadier. "The man's _surname_ is Bhyll, Sir," he
whispered.

Red-hats may not always know much about life in the trenches, but they
can tell you at first hand what strafing was like when there were no
trenches to live in. You will perhaps care to hear of an adventure of
the good old days, when men wandered about Flanders on their own,
sometimes attaching themselves to English units, sometimes to French,
and sometimes marching inadvertently with the Central Powers. Maps in
those days didn't show you clearly which was your bit and which was the
other fellow's, and many a time different parties, meeting in the dark,
would be quite affable in passing, little knowing it was each other's
blood they were after. My man, at the moment when we take up the
narrative, was walking about in a wood, looking for a job. Half an hour
earlier he had been busily engaged in a brisk battle, but, owing to his
not keeping his mind on it, he'd got detached and now found himself in
one of those peculiarly peaceful solitudes which only exist in the heart
of the war zone. Whether the battle was over and, if so, who'd won it,
he couldn't say. In fact, those being the early confused days, he didn't
rightly know whether it had been a battle at all or just a little
personal unpleasantness between himself and his private enemies.
Everything appeared to be exactly as it should not be; he felt that he
ought to be exhilarated with victory or depressed with defeat, exhausted
or maimed, and not merely covered from top to toe with mud. He found
himself walking along in a wood, just as he might do at home, smoking a
cigarette and thinking that this would be a most convenient moment for a
wash and a cup of tea. As he said, the very last thing he seemed to be
at was war, when suddenly, climbing over a small ridge, he discovered
himself face to face with a hostile sentry, and near him were, at
repose, a knot of other equally repulsive Bosches.

It has struck everyone out here, sooner or later, that it is easy enough
to do the thing if only one could know at the moment what is the thing
to do. Here was a sentry whose whole recent education had been devoted
to learning exactly how to deal with new and unwelcome arrivals. He was
furnished for that very purpose with a rifle having a carefully
sharpened bayonet at one end of it and a nice new bullet at the other.
There he was, all prepared to deal with an emergency, and there was the
emergency confronting him. Having had a good look at it, he contented
himself with saying "_Halt! wer da?_" adding as an afterthought a
threatening move forward.

On the other hand, here was our friend, young and vigorous, in full
possession of all his faculties, too surprised to be even alarmed. His
first tendency was to pass haughtily on or, at the most, to stop and
tell the man to be more respectful when addressing an officer. His
second was to call to mind, in a confused mess, all the brilliant and
dashing things a hero of fiction would, without a moment's hesitation,
have done in the circumstances. Lastly, it was borne in on him that this
was indeed a German; that all Germans were, under the new arrangement,
sworn to do in all Englishmen at sight, and that he himself was, beneath
his mud, one of the last-named. Being rather the quicker-witted of the
two, he had put in three thoughts to the other fellow's one; but the
position showed no improvement in the result, and the enemy's second
thought, slowly dawning, was obviously of a more practical and drastic
nature. His undecided fidgeting with his rifle made this abundantly
clear. No time was to be lost. Our friend realised dimly that at all
costs he must conceal his nationality. This promised to be a matter of
languages, never his strong point. But, there again, he was carefully
prepared with a series of useful phrases in various tongues, which he
had learnt up in small and inexpensive hand-books. The difficulty was to
get on to the right one; his mind, having got him thus far, refused
further assistance. Instead of furnishing him with the appropriate
remark, it merely suggested to him a clearly defined picture of the
outside of the text-book, particularly emphasizing the elegant but inept
phrase, "One Shilling net at all Booksellers." And what was the use of
that with the sentry's bayonet rapidly coming to the "On guard"
position?

It's a long story, Charles, and it ended by our friend ingenuously
stating by way of a seasonable ruse, "_Pardon, monsieur, je suis
français._"

I'd prefer to leave it at that, but you are one of those detestable
people who insist on going on after the climax. So I may as well tell
you that at this point our friend's legs took to action on their own, no
doubt remarking to themselves as they did so that this was but another
instance of damned bad Staff work. I sometimes wonder whether possibly
it isn't easier to be a limb than a brain.

    Yours ever,
    HENRY.

       *       *       *       *       *

MR. PUNCH'S POTTED FILMS. THE PASSIONATE DRAMA.

THE DEMON OF JEALOUSY.

    [Illustration: "WRETCHED WOMAN! WHO IS THIS? HENCEFORTH
    YOU ARE NO WIFE OF MINE!"]

    [Illustration: A WOMAN'S ANGUISH.]

    [Illustration: "DIE, SCOUNDREL!"]

    [Illustration: A STRONG MAN'S RAGE.]

    [Illustration: "HE IS MY BROTHER FROM AUSTRALIA. YOU
    SHOULD NOT BE SO HASTY."]

    [Illustration: FORGIVENESS.]

       *       *       *       *       *

    [Illustration: _Grannie_ (_dragged out of bed at 1.30
    A.M. and being hurriedly dressed as the bombs begin to
    fall_). "NANCY, THESE STOCKINGS ARE NOT A PAIR."]

       *       *       *       *       *

LITERARY PITFALLS.

_The Chronicle_ publishes a most interesting letter received from Mr. G.
B. BURGIN, who lately, if our memory serves us right, completed his
fiftieth novel. He writes:--

    "A hitch has arisen about the publication of my novel,
    _The Rubber Princess_. It deals with an air raid on
    London, etc., and it has been pointed out to me that if
    it appears before the War is over it will probably be
    suppressed, and that I shall be mulcted in pains and
    penalties. I have therefore withdrawn it and substituted
    (for the Spring), with Hutchinsons, _The Hut by the
    River_, of which I have great hopes. It is a Canadian
    romance, with a pretty love story and a nice little
    mystery at the end."

It will, we are sure, be a consolation to Mr. BURGIN, to whose agility
and versatility we desire to render our homage, to learn that he is not
singular in his experience.

Only a few days ago we received a letter from Mr. Bimbo Posh, the famous
Suffolk realist, recounting the circumstances which have led to the
postponement of his eagerly-expected romance, _The Synthetic Sovereign_.

It appears that Mr. Posh, a man of a most scientific imagination,
assigned the _rôle_ of hero in his story to a marvellous automaton.
Unfortunately for him he was not content with generalities, but
described the process by which this artificial superman was produced in
such minute detail that his publishers realised that it might be
positively prejudicial to our safety to make it known. The sequel had
best be told in Mr. Posh's own pathetic words:--

    "At first I was fearfully upset, though convinced by the
    arguments of my publishers (Messrs. Longbow and
    Green-i'-th'-Eye). But a happy inspiration seized me as
    I was ascending the escalator at Charing Cross, and in
    exactly a fortnight I had finished another novel,
    entirely divorced from the present, entitled, _In Dear
    Old Daffy-land_. It is an idyllic story of Suffolk in
    the days of the Heptarchy, founded on an ancestral
    tradition of the Posh family. It runs to about 60,000
    words, and Mr. Longbow, who read it at a sitting, thinks
    it the finest thing I have done."

Curiously enough, just as we go to press comes a letter from Miss Miriam
Eldritch, apologising for the withdrawal of her volume of poems, _Attar
of Roses_, in view of the fact that one of the leading establishments
for the distilling of this perfume is in Bulgaria. Miss Eldritch,
however, has proved fully equal to the occasion, for by a great effort
she has composed, in little over one hundred hours, a cycle of one
hundred lyrics, to which she has given the title, at once alluring and
innocuous, of _Love in Lavender_.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Perturbabantur Constantinopolitani Innumerabilibus sollicitudinibus."

    ["Constantinople is much perturbed."
     _Daily Press._]

  In flouting Zeus and Themis, his
  Heart set on cheating Nemesis,
      The Constantinopolitan
  Now rues his impious blunders,
  And fears approaching thunders
      Trinitrotoluolitan.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Gentleman's dark grey fur lined motor coat, fit fairly
    big man, lined with about 150 selected natural musquash
    skins, real Persian lamb collar, the property of a peer,
    in the pink of condition."--_The Bazaar._

We trust his lordship will remain so in spite of the inclemency of the
weather.

       *       *       *       *       *

    [Illustration: JOB'S DISCOMFORTER.

    UNCLE SAM (_to JOB_). "SAY, PATRIARCH, THEY TELL ME YOU
    HOLD THE WORLD'S RECORD FOR PATIENCE. WAL, WE CLAIM TO
    HAVE GOT A MAN HERE THAT CAN KNOCK SPOTS OFF YOU!"]

       *       *       *       *       *

ESSENCE OF PARLIAMENT.

(EXTRACTED FROM THE DIARY OF TOBY, M.P.)

THE LAST CHAPTER.

_House of Commons, Tuesday, 15th February._--After, on nomination of my
revered master, Mr. Punch, representing Barkshire in the Commons during
three reigns, under nine Parliaments, captained in succession by six
Premiers, come to conclusion that I have earned the right to retire. Two
ways of voluntarily vacating a seat. One by a call to the Lords. The
other by application for Chiltern Hundreds. Not having heard anything
about the Peerage, have adopted latter course. The MEMBER FOR SARK,
loyal to the last, insists on following my example.

Accordingly, when House meets to-morrow, writs will be moved for
elections to fill two vacancies. In ordinary times this would lead to
interesting episode. Customary for the Chief Party Whip to move for writ
to fill casual vacancies in his ranks. Would the Ministerial Whip or the
Opposition Whip come forward to take preliminary step for elections
consequent on retirement of the MEMBER FOR BARKS and the MEMBER FOR
SARK?

The closest observer of Parliamentary procedure or comment is not sure
whether in Party politics they are Liberals or Conservatives. Cannot
indeed say on which side of the House they sit. As it happens there is
at this doubly memorable date no division of parties, consequently no
contending Whips. Writs for Barks and Sark will accordingly be
appropriately moved by Whip representing united House.

Thirty-five years ago Barks first sent me to Westminster. Of Cabinet
Ministers then seated on Treasury Bench none are alive to-day.
GLADSTONE, just returned by overwhelming majority, was Premier;
GRANVILLE, with consummate skill and dainty humour, led minority
supporting Government in House of Lords; HARCOURT was at the Home
Office; HARTINGTON, Secretary of State for War; CHILDERS at the
Treasury; KIMBERLEY at the India Office; at the Irish Office FORSTER,
with his rumpled hair, his rugged speech and his gruff manner, "the best
Stage Yorkshireman of his time."

Much history has been made since that time. Procedure in the Commons has
been revolutionised, with the result not only of accelerating ordinary
business and leading to final issue controversies futilely raging for
years, but radically altering personal tone and manner of Mother of
Parliaments.

That is another story, too lengthy to be told here. Glad to know I was
intimately acquainted with the House and, with rare exceptions, with the
principal personages in either political camp through a long stretch of
older, more picturesque time.

I close the Diary here, not because I am tired of writing it, nor, as
continuous testimony indicates, because a generous public is tired of
reading. But I am not disposed to linger superfluous on the stage. So I
withdraw, carrying with me my little bag of tricks, the sententious Dog,
the cynical SARK and the rest of the contents.

Henceforward some new form will be given to the "Essence of Parliament"
which was created by SHIRLEY BROOKS, and enlivened by the hand of TOM
TAYLOR.

_Business done._--TOBY, M.P.'S.

       *       *       *       *       *

A DIRTY NIGHT.

THE night is starless, with a darkness so enveloping that it seems to
possess palpability. As we reel westward in a smother of water the
miracle of how any human being equipped with but five senses can find
and keep his course in the chartless void that envelops us smites me
afresh.

A longing for an atmosphere unimpregnated with petrol eventually sends
me stumbling up the companion-way to the deck. Gripping the rail, I make
my way forward, and, peering through the mirk, distinguish a huddled
figure in a sou'wester. Aloof, detached, he steers the shrewdest,
swiftest path ever carved through a wall of blackness on behalf of
dependent fellow-creatures.

"A wild night," I shout.

He turns slightly and answers in a hoarse bellow, "The better for us,
mister. Keeps the track clear. Ought to get in ahead o' time."

The yellow glare from our lights glances in broken splashes of colour
over the waters, as the squat craft heaves and rolls with rhythmic
regularity. From somewhere below comes the monotonous throb of the
protesting engines. A red light gleams suddenly on our starboard, and I
catch my breath. Æons pass, it seems, before a panther-like clutch at
the wheel carries us aside in time to let the offender plunge drunkenly
past. We were near enough to throw a biscuit on her deck. A swift
exchange of badinage follows.

"Lost yer job o' puntin' coal-barges?"

"Yuss--they're usin' donkey-power instead. I give in your name 'fore I
left, but they 'adn't a spare stable." After which, the immediate danger
past, we plough our way down a blurred track on either side of which
lurks Peril in a hundred grim and invisible shapes.

The temperature, already low, has begun to drop steadily, and a fine
drizzle yields to a penetrating chilliness which finds its way to one's
very marrow. I am glad of my heavy wraps, and inclined, indeed, to envy
the huddled figure, whose coverings are still heavier. Inwardly I wonder
what this clashing of the Nations has meant to him: whether he has wife
and children; whether he keeps their portraits in some deep-buried
pocket beneath that accumulation of clothing which engulfs him to the
ear-tips.

I am still speculating when a second figure, moving with the easy gait
of one whose feet have trodden many decks, climbs the companion-way and
comes forward in leisurely fashion. The fellow is no stranger; already,
as I came on board, I had a glimpse of that grizzled, masterful jaw and
keen eyes. He peers past me towards his mate.

"Elf!"

"Yuss?"

"Seed anyfink o' young 'Arry lately?'

"Not me!"

"Well, I 'ear 'e done a bit in the lead-slingin' line at a place called
Wipers, an' they've been an' stuck some sort o' French medal on 'is
chest."

"Blighter owes me fourpence, anyway," roars Elf; and I infer that
neither of them has a high opinion of 'Arry's character from the
civilian point of view.

Follows an interval filled with small confused sounds--the staccato note
of a bell, the soft thud of a passenger's body as he is jerked
unexpectedly against the rail, the picturesque ripple of his
expostulations with Providence.

A lamp, burning with unusual and illegal garishness, gives me light
enough to examine my watch. It indicates the proximity of midnight. I
realize that I am incredibly stiff and cold, and am tormented by visions
of unattainable comforts.

At last I am conscious of a line of dimmed lights, of a distant roar of
escaping steam, of a violent quivering motion that indicates the
slackening of speed. We come to a sudden halt. The voice of Elf rises
triumphant.

"Bill!"

"Yuss?"

"Two minutes arter!"

"Knowed we'd do it!"

And as I stumble blindly forth it is borne upon me that the last Ealing
motor-bus has ended her journey with five minutes to spare.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Egypt is placidly awaiting the event, with the absolute
    conviction that the Turks and Germans will get the
    boating of their lives in the Sinai Desert."--_Civil and
    Military Gazette._

They certainly won't get it on the Suez Canal.

       *       *       *       *       *

A MODEST SUGGESTION FOR A NEW HUNNISH CANTICLE.

    "KAISER WANTS NEW NATIONAL HYMN."
          "_Westminster Gazette_" _Heading._

    "He shall have it."--_Mr. Punch._

  GOD of our Fathers, God of old,
    Who hast for us such sympathy,
  Cast as Thou art in German mould,
    Again we raise our voice to Thee:
  Omnipotence, we need Thy hand
  In air, on sea, canal and land!

  The English (who, Thou knowest, hide
    Contemptibly upon an isle)
  No doubt on Thee have also cried,
    According to their native guile;
  Presumption could no further go
  In those who plunged the world in woe.

  Thou wouldst not hearken to a race
    Possessed of that inhuman Fleet,
  So cruel, arrogant and base,
    So steeped in rancour and deceit.
  'Twas they, remember, they alone,
  Who forced this Burden on Thine own!

  Bless, rather, us! our arms! our cause!
    Pour on us Thy protecting love!
  Sanction our fractures of Thy laws,
    By U,s beneath, by Zeps above!
  Relieve us in this dark impasse;
  Bless all our efforts; bless our gas!

  Deal gently with us should we tend--
    Presuming as Thy favoured Race,
  All flushed to own so great a Friend--
    To dereliction into grace!
  Deal gently with us, Lord, should we
  Once deviate to decency!

  And Him, from Whom such blessings flow,
    Our WILHELM, first of Sons of Light,
  Whose one ambition is to show
    Mankind the rightfulness of Might;
  Bless Him, and forward His device
  To make an Earthly Paradise!

  And should some other star up there
    (For all the stellar space is Thine)
  Demand Thy more immediate care,
    And thus divert Thee from the Rhine,
  Thou need'st but mention it, and He
  Thy Viceroy hero will gladly be!

       *       *       *       *       *

"WANT OF FOOD.

    Salonika.

    On returning to Salonika after an absence of a month, I
    find the situation much relieved as a result of the
    deportation of the enemy Consuls and the energetic
    measures adopted to clear the town of the numerous pies
    previously infesting it."--_Provincial Paper._

The headline seems justified.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "I bought a brochure, which explained that the Emperor
    was not physically ill, but his metal condition was
    upset owing to the war."

    _Evening Paper._

Another allusion, we suppose, to the depreciation of the Mark.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Lord Crewe and Lord Lansdowne have addressed the
    following Whip to the members of the House of Lords: On
    February 15 an address will be moved in the House of
    Lords in answer to His Majesty's Speech. We venture to
    express the hope that Your Majesty will find it possible
    to attend in your place on that day."--_Yorkshire
    Evening Post._

We have heard of the Sovereign People, but the Sovereign Peers are new
to us.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "In the course of the match, Brelsford, the United
    half-back, and Glennon, the Wednesday forward, were
    ordered off the field for fighting. Upwards of 16,000
    spectators witnessed the match."--_Birmingham Post._

Mr. Punch will gladly furnish any of the players, or eligibles amongst
the 16,000 spectators, with the address of a field where fighters will
certainly not be "ordered off."

       *       *       *       *       *

"ANIMALS AND ZEPPELIN NOISES.

    SIR,--The dat is affected by all sounds, according to
    its weakness or its strength."

    _Morning Paper._

We have often noticed the same thing about the cog.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "TYPIST and Shorthand Clerk.--Required at once for
    invoicing a young lady, accustomed to the drapery trade
    preferred."

    _Daily Chronicle._

Not an easy post. Some young ladies are so unaccountable.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Washington, Jany. 17.--Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst the
    suffragette leader now under parole in New York will be
    formally admitted to the United States soon after her
    papers reach Washington. President Wilson is opposed to
    her execution."--_Bermuda Colonist._

A merciful man, this WILSON.

       *       *       *       *       *

    [Illustration: _Nervous Young Officer_ (_to 'bus conductor_).
    "FIRST SINGLE TO OXFORD CIRCUS."

    (The authorities have recommended that officers should
    travel first-class.)]

       *       *       *       *       *

A CONTROVERSY.

(_From Our Own Correspondent in America._)

I.

YESTERDAY President WILSON addressed a monster gathering of business men
at Ponkapog. He said that it was a cruel misconception to hold that
Americans were without ideals. As a matter of fact they cherished their
ideals far beyond any question of making money and would die rather than
submit to acts which were an outrage on our common humanity. In
declaring that there was such a thing as being too proud to fight he
had, of course, meant that there was such a thing as being only too
proud to fight for what was just and right. This was the American
attitude, and he therefore advocated national preparedness which might
possibly imply such an increase in America's naval and military forces
as few people except himself had yet dreamt of. At this point the
audience rose _en masse_ and cheered for ten minutes. Nothing could show
more clearly than this speech how intensely critical are the relations
between America and Germany over the _Lusitania_ case. There has been a
wild panic on the New York Stock Exchange. A prominent banker has
expressed the opinion that Count BERNSTORFF will receive his passports
to-morrow.

II.

Count BERNSTORFF has not called on Mr. LANSING to-day. This is
considered a symptom of the utmost gravity, and the exchange value of
the German mark has receded ten points.

III.

Count BERNSTORFF was closeted with Mr. LANSING for two hours this
afternoon. Relations are evidently strained to a very dangerous point,
and the worst is feared.

IV.

The situation has appreciably improved, and the controversy has been
narrowed down to the use or omission of the word "illegality." The
American Government insist that Germany should admit the illegality of
the torpedoing of the _Lusitania_, but for this Germany is not yet
prepared, though she is willing to make a formal expression of regret at
the death of American citizens, whom, she is ready to declare, she did
not intend to destroy. Colonel ROOSEVELT spoke last night at the dinner
of the Associated Progressive Manufacturers. He said no touch of infancy
or feebleness had been omitted by the present Administration in their
conduct of negotiations with Germany. They had performed the miracle of
causing every true American to blush for his country. When you met a
rattlesnake you didn't waste time in arguing with it or flattering it.
Your duty was to shoot it or knock it on the head, or, preferably, to
employ both methods in order to rid the world of a danger. At this
vigorous denunciation the whole audience rose and cheered for a quarter
of an hour.

V.

The situation is easier. Count BERNSTORFF has declared in an interview
that the German Government is prepared to accept the American formula if
the word "legality" be substituted for the word "illegality." Germany
would thus admit the legality of the torpedoing of the _Lusitania_ and
express regret at the death of American citizens. Count BERNSTORFF
points out that Germany has thus gone very far towards meeting the
American demand. He hopes and believes that two great civilized nations
will not fall out over so small a matter as the use or omission of the
two letters _i_, _l_, at the beginning of a long word.

VI.

Mr. LANSING has in a polite note expressed himself unable to accept
Count BERNSTORFF'S offer as a full satisfaction of America's demands.
The sands are evidently running out, and there is serious danger of the
negotiations proving abortive. In the meantime a sharp Note has been
addressed to England in regard to her interference with American
commerce. Six munition works were yesterday blown up. The outrage is
attributed to Germans. President WILSON is carefully considering his
action.

       *       *       *       *       *

    [Illustration: THE ARMLET IN BORRIBODABOO.

    _The Old Man._ "THIS HOT SPELL MAKES ME GLAD THAT I'M
    TOO OLD TO ATTEST."]

       *       *       *       *       *

The "Lusitania" Crisis.

    "The Vienna Correspondence Bureau emphasises the gravity
    of the situation, and says that the negotiations are
    interrupted. This interruption, it is added, is as it
    came from the cow."
    _Yorkshire Post._

Not, as you might have expected, from the WOLFF.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "To prevent the eyes watering when peeling onions, let
    the tap drip on them. This keeps the fumes from rising,
    and if wanted for frying they can easily be dried in a
    cloth afterwards."--_The Matron._

Thanks, but we hardly ever want to fry our eyes.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "The Primate had the novel and undesirable experience of
    being shelled by the enemy, one shell in fact bursting
    within twenty-five yards of him. The arrangements for
    this part of his visit were mostly made by the Rev. ----,
    C.F."--_Northern Whig._

Humorous fellows, these Army chaplains.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "FOR SALE.--Imported, fresh arrival of Japanese Poodles,
    very handsome, with a long silken hair, smart, and pick
    up anything taught. Rs. 200 per pair."--_Times of
    India._

"And beauty draws us with a single hair."

       *       *       *       *       *

    "What would he say to a chemist who could not translate a
    common tag--for example, rem tetigisti acer?"--_Morning
    Paper._

We give it up, like the chemist.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "GENERAL (good, refined) for modern non-basement
    clergyman's house."--_Daily Chronicle._

The reverend gentleman does not mention his ecclesiastical views; but we
gather that he is not an Arian.

       *       *       *       *       *

    [Illustration: OUR VILLAGE ENTERTAINMENT.

    _Boy_ (_explaining_). "YOU SEE, AUNTIE, THE FELLER
    THAT'S GOING OUT HAS GOT A GRUDGE AGAINST THE OTHER
    CHAP."]

       *       *       *       *       *

RAILWAY RHYMES.

  WHEN books are pow'rless to beguile
  And papers only stir my bile,
  For solace and relief I flee
  To _Bradshaw_ or the _A. B. C._,
  And find the best of recreations
  In studying the names of stations.

  There is not much among the _A_'s
  To prompt enthusiastic praise,
  But _B_ is infinitely better,
  And there are gems in ev'ry letter.
  The only fault I have with Barnack
  Is that it rhymes with Dr. HARNACK;
  Barbon, Beluncle Halt, Bodorgan
  Resound like chords upon the organ,
  And there's a spirit blithe and merry
  In Evercreech and Egloskerry.
  Park Drain and Counter Drain, I'm sure,
  Are hygienically pure,
  But when æsthetically viewed
  They seem to me a little crude.
  I often long to visit Frant,
  Hose, Little Kimble and Lelant;
  And, if I had sufficient dollars,
  Sibley's (for Chickney) and Neen Sollars;
  Shustoke and Smeeth my soul arride
  And likewise Sholing, Sole Street, Shide,
  But I'm afraid my speech might go
  Awry on reaching Spooner Row.

  In serious mood I often bend
  My thoughts to Ponder and his End,
  And when I'm feeling dull and down
  The very name of Tibshelf Town
  Rejoices me, while Par and Praze
  And Pylle and Quy promote amaze.

  Of all the Straths, a numerous host,
  Strathbungo pleases me the most,
  While I can court reluctant slumber
  By murmuring thy name, Stogumber.
  Were I beginning life anew
  From Swadlincote I'd take my cue,
  But shun as I would shun the scurvy
  The perilous atmosphere of Turvey.

  But though the tuneful name of Horbling
  Incites to further doggerel warbling,
  And Gallions, Goonbell, Gamlingay
  Are each deserving of a lay,
  No railway bard is worth his salt
  Who cannot bear to call a "Halt."

       *       *       *       *       *

Encouraging.

    "WANTED, GIRL; farmhouse; last lived two years."--_Devon
    and Exeter Gazette._

       *       *       *       *       *

The Pinch of War.

    "Mr. ---- is having his first show of well-known English
    Corsets, made specially for him."--_Provincial Paper._

       *       *       *       *       *

Getting Off Cheaply.

    "Mark then explained to the police that they had been
    'had.' He was promptly arrested for falsely representing
    himself as a deserter and to-day was fined 0s."

    _Evening Paper._

Judging by the small value attached to him he might have been the German
mark.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "LOST, in Annfield, Newhaven, boy's bicycle
    (three-wheeled); if found in any person's possession
    after this date will be prosecuted."

    _Edinburgh Evening News._

For unlawful acquisition of the extra wheel, we presume.

       *       *       *       *       *

From a shop-girl's account of the great War:--

    "I shall never forget the Saturday before that Bank
    Holiday if I live till I draw my last breath."--_Daily
    Mirror._

She ought to have a fair chance of this.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Sir Edward Grey has all manner of fine and beautiful
    ideals to which we lay no claim. But the fairy
    step-mother who was so prodigal over his cradle yet
    denied him one gift."

    _Morning Paper._

Still, it takes an exceptional man to have a step-mother at birth, fairy
or other.

       *       *       *       *       *

AT THE PLAY.

"CAROLINE."

A BABY, did he but know it, is only happy reaching out from the bath for
the soap. When he gets it, lo! it is mere froth and bitterness. That,
roughly, is Mr. MAUGHAM'S idea in _Caroline_.

If you are to love a woman, for heaven's sake, says he, take care that
she be safe bound beyond your reach. All attainment is dead-sea fruit.
But how is anyone to believe this depressing sort of doctrine when the
woman in question is such an engaging divinity as his _Caroline Ashley_,
interpreted by Miss IRENE VANBRUGH at the very top of her form? The
doctrine, indeed, may be hanged for the nefarious half-truth it is; but
this would still leave you free to appreciate one of the most brilliant
and finished pieces of work which Mr. MAUGHAM has yet done for the
stage. True, it is merely an airy trifle; but it is almost perfect of
its kind.

The action opens on the morning of the announcement in _The Times_ of
the death of _Caroline's_ extremely difficult husband, who has long been
a wanderer seeking spirituous consolations in out-of-the-way places of
the earth. _Robert Oldham_, a quite delightful barrister (Mr. LEONARD
BOYNE; so you will understand the "delightful"), has worshipped
_Caroline_ with an honourable fidelity for ten years, waiting patiently
for the day on which she shall be free. Well, here is the long-desired
day. Affectionate, officious friends come to congratulate each of the
pair before they meet, and each confesses to a curious chilling sense of
dread. When the embarrassing moment of the _téte-à-téte_ arrives,
_Robert_, obviously ill-at-ease and apparently more as a matter of duty
than of eager conviction, suggests that _Caroline_ shall name the day.
She gives him a blank refusal. Both affect dismay at this queer ending
of their long-deferred hopes, but eventually confess, mid peals of their
own happy laughter, their actual relief. So ends the first chapter.

A later hour of the same day finds our heroine on her sofa, languid from
the morning's emotions, and indulging in the luxury of not feeling at
all well. Her world is crumbling. She cannot do without a slave, and
_Robert_ can no longer fill quite the old _rôle_. Clearly a matter for
counsel with her physician and friend, _Dr. Cornish_ (Mr. DION
BOUCICAULT), who pleasantly diagnoses middle-age and prescribes a young
adorer, than which no advice could be more nicely calculated to restore
her lost feeling of queenly complacency. She sends for young _Rex
Cunningham_ (Mr. MARTIN LEWIS), a morbid egoist, who nourishes a
hopeless passion for her (and others), being well aware of the paramount
claims of _Robert_. She contrives to let him know that she is free, and
the youth, whose pet hobby is hopeless passion, at once sheers off in
alarm. _Caroline_ is learning--is beginning to understand the dark
philosophy of Mr. SOMERSET MAUGHAM. In despair she again turns to
_Robert_. They become engaged and promptly begin quarrelling about their
houses. He objects to her Futurist bathroom; she to his, which is so
like a tube station that she would bathe in constant apprehension of the
sudden appearance of a young man demanding tickets. _Robert_ begins to
assert his masculine rights to control these and sundry matters. She
realises (oh, venerable gag of the cynics!) that the fetters which would
unite their bodies would put a barrier between their souls. The
engagement is by mutual consent declared off.

Realising, however, in Chapter III., that she needs _Robert's_ devotion
more than anything else, she conceives a plot. _Dr. Cornish_ makes an
opportune call, not this time as a doctor, but as a whole-hearted
admirer. With just such an one for my husband, thinks _Caroline_,
_Robert_ could again assume his accustomed part of loyal friend and
incense-bearer. She accordingly proposes. Appreciating the difficulty of
directly refusing without discourtesy, he temporises and appears to fall
in with her suggestion that he shall announce their engagement to
_Robert_ and her interfering friends, who are promptly telephoned for to
hear an interesting statement. But _Cornish_ proves himself a WOLFF in
sheep's clothing. Instead of announcing the engagement he asserts that
he has just seen _Stephen Ashley_, the husband: a lie which obtains
credence with the others because of the dead man's amiable habit of
occasionally putting about a rumour of his decease. _Caroline_, with
superb presence of mind, seeing a glorious way out of a dilemma, adopts
the lie, contrives a more or less plausible explanation, and thus
establishes the _status quo ante_--the grass widow with the faithful and
contented adorer.

The play, whose only flaw was a certain rather upsetting ambiguity
(whether accidental or designed I could not quite gather) in the last
few sentences before the curtain fell, was interpreted with a very fine
intelligence. Miss IRENE VANBRUGH'S superbly trained talent showed
itself in an astonishing range of moods tethered in a plausible unity of
conception. Mr. BOYNE, who is just coming into his own, scored bull
after bull. Perhaps he didn't make _Oldham_ quite the Englishman that
the author (I should say) designed, but rather an Irishman of that
delightfully faint flavour which is so entirely attractive. Miss LILLAH
MACARTHY, as _Maude Fulton_, a well-preserved bachelor in the most
bizarre modern mode, also a dexterous liar and officious matchmaker,
played with her head in her most accomplished manner and gave full value
in the general scheme to a character which the author made a person when
he might have been content with a peg. Mr. DION BOUCICAULT'S physician
was as bland a humbug as ever coined guineas in Mayfair. Mr. MARTIN
LEWIS, as a profoundly silly ass, played a difficult hand without fault.
Miss NINA SEVENING, as a consoler of handsome men in trouble, and Miss
FLORENCE LLOYD, as _Caroline's_ maid, competently rounded off in
subsidiary _rôles_ the work of the principals.

Yes, undoubtedly a brilliant performance.

    T.

    [Illustration: BLIGHTED TROTH.

    _Caroline Ashley_ . . . . . . . Miss IRENE VANBRUGH.

    _Robert Oldham_   . . . . . . . Mr. LEONARD BOYNE.]

       *       *       *       *       *

    [Illustration: _Huntsman._ "GIVE US A BIT O' ROOM! YOU
    WAS NEARLY IN MY POCKET THAT TIME."

    _Flat-race Jockey._ "ROOM? WHY, I WAS NEARLY HALF A
    LENGTH BEHIND YOU."]

       *       *       *       *       *

OUR BOOKING-OFFICE.

(_By Mr. Punch's Staff of Learned Clerics._)

THE evolution of the long novel appears to be following that of the
human race. Instead of the individual, the family now threatens to
become the central unit. I confess that this prospect, as evidenced by
_Three Pretty Men_ (METHUEN), fills me with some just apprehension. Mr.
GILBERT CANNAN has set out to tell how a Scotch family, three brothers,
a mother, and some sisters in the background, determines to make its
fortune in a South Lancashire city (very recognisable under the name of
_Thrigsby_), and how eventually all but one of them succeed. It is a
long book and a close; and the dialogue (which of its kind is good
dialogue, crisp and illuminating), being printed without the usual
spacing, produces an indigestible-looking page that might well alarm a
reader out for enjoyment. The book, in its record of the progress of the
three, _Jamie_ and _Tom_ and _John_, is really more a study of social
conditions in mid-Victorian Manchester than a work of imagination. But
there is clever character-drawing in it, especially in _Jamie_, who from
a worldly point of view is the failure of the group, making no money,
and drifting through journalism to emigration; and in the finely
suggested figure of _Tibby_, the ill-favoured kitchen drudge, who is his
real centre of inspiration. But first and last it remains a dull
business, partly from an entire lack of humour, partly from the absence
of any settled plan that might help one to endure the dreariness of the
setting. Mr. CANNAN certainly knows his subject, and few novels indeed
have given me, rightly or wrongly, a greater suggestion of
autobiography. But for once the art of being exhaustive without being
exhausting seems to have eluded him.

       *       *       *       *       *

If you want really to get a picture of war as she is waged by an obscure
unit in the thick of the dirtiest, dampest and most depressing part,
read PATRICK MACGILL'S _The Red Horizon_ (JENKINS). Here we meet the
author of _The Children of the Dead End_ and _The Rat Pit_ as Rifleman
3008 of the London Irish, involved in the grim routine of the firing
line--reliefs, diggings and repairs, sentry-go's, stand-to's, reserves,
working and covering parties, billets; and so _da capo_. With a rare
artistic intuition, instead of diffusing his effects in a riot of
general impressions, he has confined himself to a record of the doings
of his section, and I have read nothing that gives anything near so
convincing an impression of the truth, at once splendid and bitter. It
is a privilege to be shown, through the medium of an imaginative
temperament, the fine comradeship of the trenches, the heroism that
shines through the haunting fear of death, mostly conquered with a
laugh, but sometimes frankly expressed in the pathetic desire for a
"blighty" wound--a wound just serious enough to send the envied hero
home. You won't get much of the Romance of War out of this strong piece
of work, except the jolly sort of romance of the little Cockney, _Bill_,
who, when the regiment in reserve was crouching in the trench under
heavy shelling, cheered it by delivering himself characteristically as
follows: "If I kick the bucket don't put a cross with ''E died for 'is
King and Country' over me. A bully beef tin at my 'ead will do,
and--''E died doin' fatigues on an empty stomach.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

If you were the hero of a novel, the only possible mate for the heroine,
and, in short, taking you all round, an important sort of person, would
you not consider yourself hardly treated if you were not allowed to make
the girl's acquaintance till page 311, when you knew there were to be
only three hundred and thirty-two pages in the book? I disagree entirely
with _Roger Quinn_, in Miss BEATRICE KELSTON'S _The Blows of
Circumstance_ (LONG), when, reviewing the affair, he writes to a friend:
"It's amazing that we fell short of perfect understanding." My opinion
is that _Roger_ did extremely well in the little time he was given. Of
course he had conducted the case for the Crown when she was in the dock,
charged with murder, and that formed a sort of bond between them; but
even so I don't see how he could have got much nearer to a complete
understanding, considering that the girl dashed off and committed
suicide almost before he could get a word in. If my enjoyment of _The
Blows of Circumstance_ waned towards the end and the book seemed to me
to lose grip, it was because the sudden discovery on the part of _Quinn_
and _Amalie Gayne_ that they were soul-mates was too sudden to convince
me. Up to the beginning of the trial the story has vigour and an air of
probability, with its careful building-up of _Amalie's_ curious
character and the vivid description of her life on the stage and off it
in the society of a drug-taking husband; but from that point on it
seemed to me to fail. In real life all might have happened just as it is
set down, but real life is sloppily constructed. A novel must obey more
rigid rules. Miss KELSTON writes extremely well, if a trifle too
gloomily for my personal taste, but she cannot afford to ignore the laws
of construction and hurl her big situation at the reader with an abrupt
"Take it or leave it!"

       *       *       *       *       *

  For _Thirteen Stories_ I've nought but praise,
    Although you'll find when you overhaul them
  They're best described, in the author's phrase,
    As "sketches, studies or what do you call them?"

  Per DUCKWORTH forward and back you trek;
    You may book right through or choose between a
  Peep at Perim or Chapultepec,
    Sahara, Hampstead or Argentina.

  You may halt, if you will, at phalansteries,
    Where Mescaleros on maturangos
  Eat or drink (whichever it is)
    Baked tortillas and twang changangos.

  Suchlike things come easy as pie
    To the author, Mr. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM,
  And I quite like 'em so long as I
    Have only to read and not to say 'em.

       *       *       *       *       *

If 'tis love that makes the world go round, it is certainly the same
force that maintains the circulation of the libraries. So it is safe to
assume that such a title as _The Little Blind God_ (MELROSE) is itself
enough to preserve the volume that bears it from any wallflower
existence on the less frequented shelves. But as for the story to which
Miss ANNE WEAVER has given this attractive name I find it very difficult
to say anything, good or bad. Only once did its placid unfolding cause
me any emotion, even the mildest. Old _Lady Conyers_ had adopted as
companion one _Mistress Barbara Cardeen_ (need I interpolate that the
time is the eighteenth century? O brocade and lavender! O swords and
candle-light and general tushery!), whom she found playing a violin in
the streets of Bath--I should say _the_ Bath; let us above all things be
atmospheric! As her ladyship had a most eligible son, and as
_Barbara_--the chit!--naturally hadn't a guinea, I own I was slightly
astonished to find the dowager positively hurling the young couple at
each other's heads. However, doubtless _Lady Conyers_, as herself a
novel-reader, knew that the thing was inevitable anyway. But before this
there were of course the misunderstandings. _Mistress Barbara_ had, in
the violin days, a half-brother and this gentleman very obligingly turns
up _incognito_ at Conyers End, and even goes to the expense of hiring
rooms in a cottage on the estate, for no other purpose in life than that
his conspicuously clandestine meetings with the fair _Barbara_ should be
misconstrued as an assignation. Ha! out, rapiers! and let us be ready
for the moment when _Barbara_, rushing between the combatants, receives
in her own bosom the blade intended for ----, etc. But of course not
enough blade to endanger the happy ending. So there you are. A placid,
undistinguished tale, that may be commended as nourishment or soporific
according to the taste and fancy of the reader.

       *       *       *       *       *

    [Illustration: ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF PRUSSIAN EFFRONTERY.

    _Officer of Zeppelin_ (_in perfect English._) "WOULD YOU
    KINDLY DIRECT ME TO THE WAR OFFICE?"]

       *       *       *       *       *

An Optimist.

    "Gentlewoman, bright, owing to War, offers Companionship
    in Return for hospitality, laundry, and travelling
    expenses."

    _Morning Paper._

       *       *       *       *       *

    "An attack on the compulsory vice bill now before the
    House of Lords was made by the president of the
    conference, William C. Anderson."--_New York Globe._

Our American contemporary is misinformed. The measure in question seeks
to make virtue compulsory--the virtue of patriotism.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "The following French official communiqué was issued
    this afternoon:--3.25.--Bouton Rouge 1, Dordogne 2,
    Kitch 3. Eight ran."--_Evening Times and Echo._

We are sorry that K. OF K. didn't do better.





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