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Title: Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 150, February 23, 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 23, 1916" ***

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VOL. 150, FEBRUARY 23, 1916***


VOL. 150

FEBRUARY 23, 1916.


The threatened shortage of paper has led a few unkind persons to enquire
upon what our diplomatic victories are hereafter to be achieved.


An interned German was recently given a week's freedom in which to get
married, and the interesting question has now been raised as to whether
his children, when they reach the age of twenty-one, will be liable to
the Conscription Act or will have to be interned as alien enemies.


According to Miss ELLEN TERRY but little attention has been given by the
critics to the letters in SHAKSPEARE'S plays. We rather thought that one
of Germany's intelligent young professors had recently subjected the
letters to a searching analysis, the result being to establish beyond a
reasonable doubt that England started the War.


From _The Observer_:--

    "The King has sent a congratulatory letter to Mrs. Mann of
    Nottingham, who has nine sons serving in the Army and Navy. This
    is believed to be a record for one working-class family."

Though a mere bagatelle, of course, for the idle rich.


We regret to read of the death from tuberculosis of one of the most
popular and playful of the Zoological Society's crocodiles. Death is
said to have been hastened by a severe chill contracted by the
intelligent reptile as the result of leaving off a warm undervest, the
gift of an elderly female admirer, in order to pursue, in jest, of
course, the keeper of the reptile house down a drain.


A Persian newspaper entitled _Kaveh_ is now being published in Berlin
for the purpose of increasing popular interest in Persian affairs. Its
title is short for "_Kaveh kanem_!" (Beware of the Bulldog!)


Women who have volunteered to do agricultural work in place of men
called to the colours will wear a green armlet, green being selected in
preference to red on account of the possibility of cows.


The proposal that wives whose husbands, though of military age, have not
attested under the Derby Act shall be allowed to wear a ribbon on the
left arm to signify that it is not their fault, is said to have received
considerable support.


There is no pleasing everybody. Last week Mr. TENNANT told the House of
Commons that hereafter "the Navy would undertake to deal with all
hostile aircraft attempting to reach this country, while the Army
undertook to deal with all aircraft which reached these shores." And now
the Horse Marines are asking bitterly why they are not to be permitted
to share in the great work.





The German Government has put restrictions on the sale of sauerkraut,
and a hideous rumour is afoot to the effect that they are preparing to
use it on the prisoners by forcible feeding.


It is said of the Chicago meat-packers that they use every part of the
pig except the squeal. As the result of the restriction put upon wood
pulp an equally economical process is to be applied to our old


    "Several new records were established at the Geelong wool sales,
    including 20d. for greasy merino lambs.--_Reuter_."

This revival of the ancient pastime of chasing the greasy lamb will be
of interest to antiquarians.


From The _Irish Times_: "Wanted Lad as assistant plumber. _Experience
not necessary_." After all there is something to be said for the ravages
of war.

       *       *       *       *       *


Kaiser to Sultan

  My Moslem brother, this is sad, sad news,
    So sad that I permit myself to mention
  How much it modifies my sanguine views
      Of Allah's intervention.

  In that combine for holy ends and high
    Of which I let him figure as the joint head
  I must (between ourselves) confess that I
      Am gravely disappointed.

  Without his help I did the Balkan stunt,
    But when I left him to his own devices
  To operate upon a local front
      He failed me at the crisis.

  I could not run the show in every scene,
    Not all at once; and Caucasus was chilly--
  Fifty degrees of frost, which would have been
      Bad for the health of WILLIE.

  And then to think that he should let me down
    When I was sore in need of heavenly comfort,
  Making the Christian free of Erzerum town,
      Which, as you know, is "some" fort.

  Not that I mind the mere material loss,
    But poor Armenia, hitherto quiescent,
  Who sees the barbarous brigands of the Cross
      Trampling her trusted Crescent!

  True, you have spared the major part this pain,
    But for the remnant, who escaped your heeding,
  My heart (recovered, thank you, from Louvain),
      Once more has started bleeding.


       *       *       *       *       *


Did you ever try to write War stories? I am not alluding to Press
telegrams from Athens, Amsterdam or Copenhagen, but legitimate magazine
fiction. Once I was reasonably competent and could rake in my modest
share of War profits. But recently Clibbers, of the International
Fiction Syndicate, approached me and said, "Old man, do me some War
stuff. Anything you like, but it must have a novel climax."

"Not in a War story," I protested.

"Can you deliver the goods?" said Clibbers sternly.

After that what could I do but alter the stories I had in stock.

For example there was my fine story, "Retrieved." The innocent convict
(would that I had the happy innocence of the convict of fiction!)
emerges from Portmoor. In a few well-chosen words the genial old prison
governor (to avoid libel actions I hasten to say that no allusion is
made to any living person) advises the released man to make a new
career. The convict marches to the recruiting office and enlists. In a
couple of paragraphs he is at the Front; on the second page he saves the
Colonel's life, captures a German trench on page three, and in less time
than it takes to do it gains the V.C., discovers the villain dying
repentant with a full confession in his left puttee, and embraces the
girl who chanced to be Red-Crossing in the rear of the German
position--presumably having arrived there by aeroplane. This seemed to
me both probable and credible in a magazine. Still a novel climax was
needed. After the few well-chosen words from the prison governor I took
the convict to the nearest public-house, let him discover that the new
restrictions were in force, and brought the story to a novel conclusion
by making him say with oaths to the recruiting officer that he would be
jiggered if ever he formed fours for such a rotten old country.

I thought that, at any rate, I had provided one surprise for my readers.
Then I turned to my psychological study, entitled "The Funk." There
wasn't much story in this, but a good deal about a man's sensations when
in danger. I could picture the horror of it from personal experience,
for my rear rank man has nearly brained me a dozen times when the
specials have bayonet drill (I also have nearly brained--but I am
wandering from the subject). Well, the Funk at the critical moment ran
away, but, being muddled by German gas clouds, ran straight into the
German lines. He thought that people were trying to intercept his
flight. In panic he cut them down. At the last moment he cut the CROWN
PRINCE'S smile in twain. (In fiction, mark you, it is quite allowable to
put the CROWN PRINCE into the firing line). Then came glory, the D.C.M.
and a portrait of some one else with the Funk's name attached in _The
Daily Snap_. However, novelty was needed. I concluded by leaving the
Funk hiding in a dug-out when the British charged and eating the
regiment's last pot of strawberry jam.

I turned to another romance, entitled "Secret Service," and found to my
joy that this needed very little alteration. The hero chanced to be in
Germany at the outset of the war. He was imprisoned at Ruhleben,
Potsdam, Dantzic, Frankfort and Wilhelmshaven. He escaped from these
places by swimming the Rhine (thrice), the Danube, the Meuse, the Elbe,
the Vistula, the Bug, the Volga, the Kiel Canal and Lake Geneva. He
chloroformed, sandbagged, choked and gagged sentinels throughout the
length and breadth of Germany. From under a railway carriage seat he
overheard a conversation between ENVER BEY and BERNHARDI. Concealed
beneath a pew at a Lutheran church he heard COUNT ZEP. and VON TIRP.
exchanging deadly secrets. Finally he emerged from a grandfather's clock
as the KAISER was handing the CROWN PRINCE some immensely important
documents, snatched them, stole an aeroplane, bombed a Zeppelin or two
on his homeward way, and landed exhausted at Lord KITCHENER'S feet. Here
came the change. Instead of opening the parcel to discover the plans of
the German staff, the WAR SECRETARY found in his hand this document:--

"Sausage Prices in Berlin: Pork Sausage, 3 marks 80 pf.; Horse Sausage,
3 marks 45 pf.; Dog Sausage, 2 marks 95 pf. Gott mit uns.--WILHELM."

I sent the three romances to Clibbers and waited his reply with anxiety.
It came promptly and as follows:--"Are you mad?--CLIBBERS."

Instantly I sent him the first versions of these magnificent fictions.
He phoned me at once, "That's the kind of novelty I want. Send me some

You will see "Retrieved," "The Funk," and "Secret Service" in the
magazines shortly. Don't trouble if the titles differ. After all, there
are only three genuine War story plots.

       *       *       *       *       *


(With acknowledgments to "_The Evening News_.")

Mr. George Washington Turpin, Islington, writes:--

    "I wonder if Mr. G. R. Sims remembers a curious horsey character
    known as John Gilpin, who rode in state one day from his home in
    the City to the Bell at Edmonton. I shall never forget the crowd
    that assembled to see him pass through Islington. It's quite a
    while ago and my memory is not so clear as it might be, but
    being a bit of a road-hog he missed the Bell and went on to York
    or somewhere."

       *       *       *       *       *



_Rudyard Kipling_.

"Sir PERCY SCOTT has not quite left the Admiralty and has not quite
joined the War Office."--_Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH, in the House_. Since this
remark Lord KITCHENER, has announced that the Admiral is to act as
expert adviser to Field-Marshal Lord FRENCH, who is taking over the
responsibility for home defence against aircraft.]

       *       *       *       *       *


"I shall never shake it off," said Francesca. It was six o'clock and she
had just come in from having tea with some friends.

"Shake what off?" I said.

"My Cimmerian gloom," she said. "Haven't you noticed it?"

"No," I said, "I can't say I have. Perhaps if you stood with your back
to the light--yes, there's just a _soupçon_ of it now, but nothing that
I could honestly call Cimmerian."

"Of course you'd be sure to say that. I can never get you to believe in
my headaches, and now you won't notice my Cimmerian gloom."

"Francesca," I said, "I do not like to hear you speak lightly of your
headaches. To me they are sacred institutions, and I should never dare
to tamper with them. Don't I always walk on tiptoe and speak in a
whisper when you have a headache? You know I do, even when you don't
happen to be in the room. If your gloom is the same sort of thing as
your headache----"

"It's much worse."

"If it's only as bad I'm prepared to give it a most respectful welcome.
But what is it all about?"

"It's about the War."

"God bless my soul, you don't say so. You're generally so cheerful about
it and so hopeful about our winning. What _has_ happened to give you the
hump? We've blown up any amount of mines and occupied the craters, and
we've driven down several German aeroplanes."

"Yes, I know," she said, "I admit all that; but I've just met Mrs.

"And a very cheery little party she is, too."

"That," said Francesca, "is just it."

"What's just what?" I said.

"Don't be so flippant."

"And don't you be so cryptic. What's Mrs. Rowley's cheerfulness done to

"I'll tell you how it happened," she said. "We met; 'twas at a tea, and
first of all we talked about committees."

"Committees!" I said. "How glorious! Are there many?"

"Yes," she said. "There's the old Relief Committee, and the Belgian
Committee, and the Soldiers' Comforts' Committee, and the Hospital
Visitors' Committee, and the Children's Meals' Committee, and the
Entertainments' Committee and the----"

"Enough," I said. "I will take the rest for granted. But isn't there a
danger that with all these committees----?"

"I know," she said; "you're going to say something about overlapping."

"Your insight," I said, "is wonderful. How did you know?"

"I've noticed," she said, "that when men form committees they always
declare that there sha'n't be any overlapping, and then, according to
their own account, they get to work and all overlap like mad. Now we
women don't worry about overlapping. Most of us don't know what it
means--I don't myself--but we appoint presidents and treasurers and
secretaries, and then we go ahead and do things. If we were only left to
ourselves we should never call a meeting of any committee after we'd
once started it. It's the men who insist on committees meeting."

"Yes, and on keeping them from breaking their rules."

"What's the use of having committees if you can't break their silly old

"Amiable anarchist," I said, "let us abandon committees and return to
Mrs. Rowley."

"Well," she said, "we soon got on to the War."

"You might easily do that," I said. "The subject has its importance.
What does Mrs. Rowley think of it?"

"Mrs. Rowley thinks it's all perfectly splendid. She hasn't the least
doubt about anything. She knows the uncle of a man whose cousin is in
the War Office and often sees Lord KITCHENER in the corridors, and he's
quite certain----"

"Who? Lord KITCHENER?"

"No, the uncle of the man whose cousin--he's quite certain the War will
be over in our favour before next June, because there'll be a revolution
in Potsdam and thousands of Germans are being killed in bread-riots
every day, and lots of stuff of that sort."

"I understand," I said. "You began to react against it."

"Something of that kind. She was so terribly serene and so dreadfully
over-confident that I got contradictious and had to argue with
her--simply couldn't restrain myself--and then she said she was sorry I
was such a pessimist, and I said I wasn't, and here I am."

"Yes," I said, "you are, and in a state of Cimmerian gloom, naturally
enough. But you've come to the right place--no, by Jove, now that I
think of it you've come to the wrong place, the very wrongest place in
the world."

"How's that?"

"Because I met old Captain Burstall out walking, and he was miserable
about everything. According to him we haven't got a dog's chance
anywhere. The Government's rotten, the Army's rotten, the Navy's worse
and the British Empire's going to be smashed up before Easter."

"Captain Burstall's the man for my money. If I'd only met him I should
have been as cheerful as a lark."

"And that," I said, "is exactly what I am, entirely owing to a natural
spirit of contradiction. I just pulled myself together and countered him
on every point."

"I daresay you did it very well," she said; "but if you're as
cock-a-hoop as you make out I don't see how I'm ever to get rid of my
depression. I shall be starting to contradict _you_ next."

"Which," I said, "will be an entirely novel experience for both of us.
But I'll tell you a better way; let's keep silent for ten minutes and
simmer back to our usual condition of reasonable hopefulness."

"I can't promise silence," she said, "but I'll back myself against the
world as a simmerer."

R. C. L.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _Jarge (on a visit to London)._ "Let's go oop past th'
War Office, Maria. We might see Kitchener."

_Maria_. "We'll do nothin' o' th' sort. More'n likely you two'd get
talkin' an' we'd miss our train."]

       *       *       *       *       *

SHAKSPEARE to the Slackers:--

    "Dishonour not your mothers; now attest." _Henry V., Act III.,
    Scene I_.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _Joan (reading)._ "It says here that this war is
Armagideon, and the end as the would is fixed for the beginning of

_Darby._ "There, now! I always said the Kaiser would wriggle out of it

       *       *       *       *       *


If ever I write a Hymn of Hate, or, at any rate, of resentment, it will
not be about the Germans, but about a certain type of Englishman whom I
encounter far too often and shall never understand. The Germans are now
beyond any hymning, however fervent; they are, it is reassuring to
think, a class by themselves. But my man should be hymned, not because
it will do him any good, but because it relieves my feelings.

It is really rather a curious case, for he might be quite a nice fellow
and, I have little doubt, often is; but he boasts and flaunts an inhuman
insensibility that excites one's worst passions.

What would you say was the quality or characteristic most to be desired
in every member of our social common-wealth? Obviously there is only one
reply to this question: that he should be decently susceptible to
draughts. If society is to go on, either we must all be so
pachydermatous as to be able to disregard draughts, or we must feel them
and act accordingly. There should not be here and there a strange
Ishmaelite creature whose delight it is to be played upon by boreal
blasts. But there is. I meet him in the train, and the other day I
hymned him.

O thou (my hymn of dislike, of annoyance, of remonstrance began):--

  O thou, the foe of comfort, heat,
  O thou who hast the corner seat,
  Facing the engine, as we say
  (Although it is so far away,
    And in between
    So many coaches intervene,
  The phrase partakes of foolishness);--
  O thou who sittest there no less,
  Keeping the window down
  Though all the carriage frown,
    Why dost thou so rejoice in air?
  Not air that nourishes and braces,
  Such as one finds in watering-places,
    But air to chill a polar bear--
  Malignant air at sixty miles an hour
    That rakes the carriage fore and aft,
  Wherein we cower;
    Not air at all, but sheer revengeful draught!
  How canst thou like it? Say! How canst thou do it?

  Thou even read'st a paper through it!

  Know'st thou no pain?
    Sciatica or rheumatism
    Leading to balm or sinapism?
  Doth influenza pass thee by?
  Hast never cold or bloodshot eye
  Like ordinary Christian folk
    Who sit in draughts against their will
    And pray they'll not be ill?
  Even in tunnels (this is past a joke)
  Thou car'st no rap
  Nor, as a decent man would, pull'st the strap,
  But lett'st the carriage fill with smoke
  Till all but thou must choke.

  Why art thou anti-social thus,
  Why dost thou differ so from us?
  Thou pig! thou hippopotamus!

I don't pretend to be satisfied with these lines. They are not strong,
not complete. Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS would have done it more fittingly. Still
they might do a little good somewhere, and every little helps.

       *       *       *       *       *


    "The evidence was that defendants employed six young persons for
    more than seven days a week."--_Provincial Paper._

       *       *       *       *       *

    "The organist played as opening voluntaries the 'Bridal March'
    from 'Lohengrin,' Barnaby's 'Bridal March' from 'Lohengrin,' and
    Barnaby's 'Bridal March.'"

    _Provincial Paper._

It was evidently BARNABY's. Still, we think WAGNER might have been
mentioned as his collaborator.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "In the current number of the _Commonwealth_ Canon Scott Holland
    in his own inimical manner endorses all that Mr. Carey has been
    writing in our columns recently."

    _Clerical Paper._

The Canon appears to be one of those jolly people who slap you on the
back as if they would knock you down.

       *       *       *       *       *


Of recent days we have almost stopped pretending to be soldiers and
owned up to being civilian labourers lodged in the War zone. This is
felt so acutely that several leading privates have quite discarded that
absolute attribute of the infantryman, the rifle. They return from
working parties completely unarmed, discover the fact with a mild and
but half-regretful astonishment and report the circumstance to
section-commanders as if they had lost one round of small arms
ammunition or the last cube from an iron ration.

The hobby of the civilian labourer is obstacle-racing. To do this you
require a dark night, the assistance of some Royal Engineers, an
appointment just behind the front line with some supervisor of labour
whom you don't know and don't specially want to, and a four-mile stretch
across country to the rendezvous.

You start out at nightfall and do good time over the first hundred
yards. The field consists of forty to eighty labourers, and one of the
idle rich (formerly styled officers). At the hundred yards' mark the
Royal Engineers begin to come in. Obstacle 1 is a model trench, built
for instructional purposes and now being turned to obstructional
account. There's one place where you can get on to the parades without
swimming, and if we started by daylight we might strike it. We do not
start by daylight.

Beyond the trench is a wire entanglement, also a fine specimen of early
1915 R.E. work. We may note in passing the trip wire eight yards beyond.
We're getting pretty good with it now, but in our early days the R.E.
used to get a lot of marks for it.

You go on towards a couple of moated hedges, whimsically barbed in odd
spots, and emerge into a park or open space leading into an
unhealthy-looking road. It seems all plain sailing to the road--unless
you know the R.E., in which case you will not be surprised to find your
neck nearly bisected by a horizontal wire designed to encourage
telephonic communication.

Eventually you all reach an area known for some obscure reason--if for
any at all--as "The Brigade." Here the R.E. have a new game waiting for
you. We call it "Hunt the Shovels." You have been instructed to draw
shovels from the Brigade. The term covers a space of some thousand
square metres intersected with hedges, bridges, rivers, dugouts,
horseponds (natural and adventitious), any square metre of which may
contain your shovels.

If you are not behind time so far this is where you drop a quarter of an
hour. Of course you may just get fed up and go home. But in that case
you aren't allowed to play again, and as a matter of fact the game is
rather _de rigueur_ out here. So you hide your party behind a sign-post,
which tells you--if it were not too dark to read--INFANTRY MUST NOT HALT
HERE, and then a lance-corporal with a good nose for shovels looks
through the more likely hiding-places. The search is rendered pleasant
as well as interesting by the fact that all the Brigade has been trodden
into a morass by months of shovel-hunting.

Beyond the Brigade the obstacles really begin. But if you use a revolver
freely for wire-cutting and rope your party together--this prevents
anyone sitting down by the wayside to take his boots off "because they
draws that bad"--you will reach the rendezvous assigned to you within an
hour of the time assigned to you. At this point you will learn that no
guide has been seen or heard of there, and, subsequently, that the guide
was warned for another square that certainly looks very similar on the
map. But again, if you know guides, you will guess that he went straight
to the spot where the job was to be done without bothering about
anything so intricate or superfluous as a rendezvous. Anyhow you will
probably end by getting some sort of casual labour somewhere, some time
or other, and no questions asked so long as you don't inadvertently dig
through from a main drain into a C.O.'s dugout.

There is a new joke too, a Red Book, out of which we are gradually
becoming millionaires. It is full of comfortable claims and allowances
for gentlemen serving the KING overseas. The only thing is it takes a
bit of working out. There are so many channels of enrichment. Thus in
June--I forget the exact date--I spent a night in the train. Although I
had a bed and beer in bottles all the way from England, not to mention
usual meals and part use of doctor, I became entitled to one franc ten
centimes in lieu of something which I have now forgotten. (Authority,
W.O. Letter 2719.) Then a broken revolver is worth no less than
seventy-two shillings, but I have to collect autographs to get that
Unclaimed groom's allowance--I don't think my groom has claimed
it--comes to nearly four-and-sixpence; and I find I have been quite
needlessly getting my hair cut at my own expense these many months.

And yet I am afraid that when have made it all out and got a chartered
accountant to account for it--that ought to mean a few pounds Chartered
Accountant allowance--my application will be returned to me because the
envelope is not that shade of mauve officially ordained for the
enclosure of Overseas Officers' Claims.

       *       *       *       *       *


(_In acknowledgment of its "John Bull Number."_)

  In earlier peaceful days your attitude
  Was witty and satirical and shrewd,
  But, whether you were serious or skittish,
  Always a candid critic of things British,
  Though, when you were unable to admire us,
  _Life's_ "little ironies" were free from virus.
  But since the War began your English readers
  Have welcomed MARTIN's admirable leaders--
  Which prove that all that's honest, clean and wise
  In the United States is pro-Allies--
  And learned to recognise in _Life_ a friend
  On whom to reckon to the bitter end.
  But these good services you now have crowned
  By something finer, braver, more profound--
  Your "John Bull Number," where we gladly trace
  Pride in the common glories of our race,
  Goodwill, good fellowship, kind words of cheer,
  So frank, so unmistakably sincere,
  That we can find (in ARTEMUS'S phrase)
  No "slopping over" of the pap of praise,
  But just the sort of message that one brother
  Would send in time of trial to another.
  And thus, whatever comes of WILSON's Notes,
  Of Neutral claims or of the tug for votes,
  Nothing that happens henceforth can detract
  From your fraternal and endearing act,
  Which fills your cup of kindness brimming full,
  And signals _Sursum corda_ to John Bull.

(_The War Week by Week, as seen from New York. Being Observations from
"Life."_ By E.S. MARTIN.)

       *       *       *       *       *

    "The Chairman said he should like to appeal to the good sense of
    the inhabitants of Duffield, through the Press, to do all they
    could to darken their windows not only at the front of the
    houses, but also at the back.

    The Clerk said the Council had no power to take action in this
    matter only by persuasion, and it was decided that 500 leaflets
    should be distributed by the lamplighters to each
    house."--_Derbyshire Advertiser._

And with pulp so expensive, too!

       *       *       *       *       *


[Illustration: _Characters in the Play._

Nancy Primrose.  Richard Grenfield.  Vera Vavasour.]

[Illustration: Richard Grenfield, leaving his native village to seek his
fortune in London, bids adieu to Nancy Primrose, his rustic sweetheart.
He swears to be true to her.]

[Illustration: Arrived in London, Richard speedily plunges into the gay
life of the great Metropolis. He makes the acquaintance of Vera
Vavasour, the famous actress and leader of the Smart Set. He entertains
her to tea at the Fitz Hotel.]

[Illustration: In the meantime, all Nancy's relations having died, she
is thrown upon her own resources, and obtains a situation as kitchenmaid
at the Fitz. From a place of concealment she watches, with dismay, the
false behaviour of her former lover].

[Illustration: Richard, whose previous incursions into society had not
led him higher than A.B.C. shops, is unable to meet the bill. Vera
reveals herself in her true colours and refuses to offer monetary
assistance. The irate manager threatens to call in the police. Nancy to
the rescue!]

[Illustration: Nancy, having with her hard-earned savings discharged the
bill, is clasped to his breast by Richard, who then and there abjures
the Smart Set and makes stern resolve never again to fall a victim to
"the Lure of London."]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _Lieutenant_. "Nobody hurt? Then what the deuce are you
kicking up such a row for?"

_Tommy._ "Well, Sir, look at the mess they bloomin' 'Uns 'ave made in
the trench just after I've swep' it up!"]

       *       *       *       *       *


    "The piano with a thirty-foot keyboard, forty-five octaves, and
    five hundred and twenty-two keys, which Mr. Alfred Butt will
    'present' in 'Follow the Crowd' at the Empire Theatre, is now in
    course of construction. Six pianists will play it, and Mr.
    Irving Berlin, the composer of 'Watch Your Step,' is composing
    some special melodies for them."--_Sunday Paper._

The new Bombastophone which the Titanola Company are constructing for
Mr. Boomer, the famous War lecturer, is approaching completion. This
remarkable instrument, which roughly resembles a double-bassoon, stands
about 45 feet high, and has a compass of 500 octaves, from the low B
flat _in profundissimo_ to the high G on the Doncaster St. Leger line.
The use that Mr. Boomer makes of the Bombastophone is very original and
effective. Whenever he sees that the attention of his audience is
flagging he introduces an interlude of "bombination," which renders
lethargy impossible and exercises an indescribably stimulating effect on
the tympanum. The current of air is supplied by a bellows operated by an
eight-cylinder Brome engine, but Mr. Boomer works the keys himself,
climbing up and down them with a rapidity which must be seen to be

Another instrument which is expected to work a revolution in the realm
of sonority is the Clumbungo Drum, on which Mr. Wackford Bumpus will
shortly give a recital at the Albert Hall. The drum, which is made of
teak and rhinoceros hide, is three hundred feet in circumference, but
only twenty feet high, and the drumsticks are of proportionate length.
As Dr. Blamphin, the eminent aurist, remarks, "The merit of the notes of
this momentous instrument is their profound sincerity. They cannot be
disregarded even by the most absent-minded auditor."

       *       *       *       *       *


The War Office have issued a notice reminding the public that they are
greatly inconvenienced by persons who telephone for information during
the progress of an air raid. To avoid a repetition of the trouble the
attention of the public is called to the following information:--

(1) Elderly ladies may deposit their lap dogs in the bomb-proof shelter
erected for that purpose in the basement of the War Office buildings at
Whitehall, a charge of one penny per dog per raid being made.

(2) Persons removed from the interior of motor omnibuses by the
explosion of bombs dropped by airships cannot claim from the Government
a refund of the fares paid by them.

(3) Persons having reason to believe that an air raid is in progress are
requested to put on their hats before leaving the house, as it has been
ascertained that a hard hat is a substantial protection against falling

(4) For the benefit of editors and others who are dissatisfied with the
precautions taken to cope with the Zeppelin peril, Messrs. Selfgrove &
Co. announce that their new Strafing Room will shortly be open to the

(5) As the force of a bomb explosion is largely in an upward direction,
those in the immediate vicinity of a dropping bomb are advised to assume
a recumbent position, in which they will enjoy the added advantage of
being indistinguishable from the pavement.

(6) As theatre audiences are notoriously subject to panic,
actor-managers are earnestly requested to prepare beforehand some
suitable jest with which, in the event of a bomb entering the theatre,
the attention of the audience may be distracted.

       *       *       *       *       *


[Illustration: Sultan of Turkey. "ALL-HIGHEST, ERZERUM HAS FALLEN!"


       *       *       *       *       *


It was four o'clock on a wet wintry morning.

Captain Blank executed an inadvertent double-shuffle on a greasy trench
plank and wondered vaguely why the rain should _always_ come from the
north-east. Presently a figure squelched up to him and halted.

"'Tis Sergeant O'Hagan, Sorr," it whispered hoarsely.

"Well, Sergeant, what is it?"

"'Tis the sintry at Fosse 19, Sorr. He's reported quare noises in that
inimy sap beyant."

"Been dreaming, I expect," muttered the Captain, and then added briskly,
"I think I'll have a listen myself. Go ahead, Sergeant."

They made their way slowly along the uneven trench, past silent figures
reclining in various attitudes of ease or discomfort; past emplacements
where machine-guns and trench-mortars were innocently sleeping (with one
eye always open) or being overhauled by an expert night-nurse.
Eventually, by that instinct common to trench-dwellers and professional
poachers, they found themselves at Fosse 19, and with superlative
caution crept up to the sentry.

"What's wrong?" whispered the Captain tersely.

"Well, Sir," replied Private Blobbs, "I was standin' 'ere on listenin'
duty, when I 'ears somethink movin' very contagious, so I pops up me
'ead to 'ave a peep. Didn't see nothink, but I 'ears a pecooliar noise
like----There y'are, Sir."

He broke off abruptly, and, borne upon the wind, came a series of
guttural murmurs.

"Now wouldn't ut give one a quare shtart, that?" remarked Sergeant
O'Hagan, _sotto voce_.

"Um-m," said the Captain thoughtfully. "I think Mr. Hamilton had better
have a look round."

A few minutes later, having invaded the privacy of "Whortleberry Villa,"
he was relentlessly prodding a bundle of waterproofs.

"Come on, young fella!" he exclaimed when the bundle showed signs of
life; "bombin' party forward. Brother Bosch is playin' the piccolo just
outside Fosse 19."

The Subaltern scrambled out of his wraps and, with incredible dispatch,
gathered together the Davids of his section. "All guaranteed," so he
boasted, "to hit the cocoanut every time."

Accoutred with their infernal machines, the little band of hope passed
along the trench as silently as a party of Fenimore Cooper's
North-American Indians.

"Yes, they're at home right enough," muttered the Subaltern, after a
cramped interval of breathless attention, "and fairly asking for it."

He proceeded to make his dispositions with the skill and assurance of an
old hand. He was nearly nineteen.

"We're going to stalk 'em this time," he whispered to the men; "you keep
on crawling till I say 'Go!' Then drop it on them quick."

He slid over the parapet like an eel and disappeared into the night. In
a few moments the sentry was alone in the trench. His state of mind was,
from sheer excitement, almost insupportable.

After what seemed interminable hours, at last he heard the clear word of
command, the clatter of things falling and the immediate roar of the
explosions. In reply, rifle fire began to break out along the German
first trenches, whilst, overhead, a star-shell burst into blossom; then
the stutter of machine-guns joined in the chorus. The sentry flattened
himself like a poultice against the side of the trench. Fosse 19 had,
among other disadvantages, the reputation of being open to enfilading by
machine-gun fire.

The disturbance died away as quickly as it had arisen, but there were no
indications that the bombing party was returning. Private Blobbs danced
with futile impatience and bent his head to the approved angle of the
expert listener. Suddenly a heavy body took him in the nape of the neck.

"Ow!" he exclaimed, floundering in mud and water with an unseen and
inconceivable presence. He clutched the nightmare of an ear and kicked

"Look aht, Percy," enjoined a hollow but reassuring voice, "'ere comes

Private Blobbs removed himself with remarkable agility.....

"Good!" exclaimed the Subaltern when he finally slid into the trench.
"This expedition hasn't quite come up to expectations, but it's the
nicest family of pigs I've seen for some time."

He flashed an electric torch on to the disordered carcasses.

"Corporal Leary," he added incisively, "will you kindly see that the
officers' mess is served with fresh pork?"

He snapped out the torch and, complete master of the situation, started
on the return journey to "Whortleberry Villa."

       *       *       *       *       *


Household Orders.

By Mrs. EMMA PIPP, Commanding 3rd (Home Service) Battalion, The Fire
Guards. February 21st, 1916.

_Detail_.   Orderly Officer  ....   _Mary Ann_.
             Next for duty....       _Sarah Jane_.
             Charwoman of the day. . _Mrs. Susanna Sudds_.

_Parade._ 9.30 Shopping march under the Commanding Officer.
Haversacks (for rations) will be carried.

_Inspection._ 12.0 O.C. Pantry will inspect all beetle-traps in
her charge, and report if No. 13 (Kitchener pattern) has been

_Decrease Strength._ No. 4 Master T. Pipp, attached to Sea View
House School, Boyton, for discipline.

_Promotion._ The Commanding Officer is pleased to approve of the
following promotions:--Under-housemaid Mary Jane, to be
Acting-Sergeant Housemaid; Miss Jones, Lady Nurse, to be Nursery

_Leave._ No. 1 Father Pipp granted six days' leave, inclusive of
two days for travelling. Credit with six days' ration allowance
at 1s. 9d. per diem.

_Baths._ Baths will be available for the nursery on Saturday
evening from 6 to 7. O.C. Nursery will report that they have
been taken.

_Signalling._ The Commanding Officer is pleased to announce that
at the Fortnightly Course of Glad Eye Signalling, No. 2 Gertie
Pipp gained a Flapper's Certificate.

_Enquiry._ A Court of Enquiry will assemble on the 25th inst.
for the purpose of enquiring into the circumstances whereby the
wheel of No. 3 Perambulator became buckled on the 12th inst.

O.C. Nursery will arrange for the presence of the necessary
witnesses, with the exception of No. 9 Baby Pipp, now teething.

_General Inspection._ On the 1st prox., Uncle-General Towzer,
L.S.D., will hold an inspection of nephews and nieces at 5
o'clock on the front parade lawn.

_Dress:_ Best bibs and tuckers, with smiles.

       *       *       *       *       *

A Hint for Slackers.

    "Drilling versus Broad-Casting Oats."


       *       *       *       *       *

    "The British Tropical Committee for War Films exhibited a
    further series of pictures of the British Army in France at the
    West-end Cinema House, Coventry-street, yesterday."

    _The Times._

Very hot stuff, no doubt!

       *       *       *       *       *

From a description of Sir SAMUEL EVANS' "_lit de justice_":--

    "Sir Samuel first heard one summons in camera, and then took two
    months of a formal nature, the time occupied being less than
    half an hour."--_Morning Paper._

How time does fly when one's happy.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "WANTED, Rehearse March 20, Comedian and Chambermaid. Light
    Comedy (Refined Part, capable Good Drunken Scene)."

    _The Stage._

This is what is meant, no doubt, when people talk of "elevating" the

       *       *       *       *       *



Striking example of war-time economy: Mr. Asquith and Mr. Mckenna split
a cigar.]

_Tuesday, February 15th._--To the regret of all loyal citizens, the
curtain rang up at Westminster to-day without the now customary Royal
Overture. In the absence of HIS MAJESTY, the LORD CHANCELLOR delivered
the brief Speech from the Throne, expressing the unalterable
determination of the British people and their Allies to defeat the Power
(name not given but possibly conjecturable) "which mistakes force for
right and expediency for honour." To emphasise the unity of the nation
the Address was moved by the Unionist Earl of CLARENDON and seconded by
the Liberal Lord MUIR-MACKENZIE. It was agreed to in good time for

The Commons are not so economical of time. Mr. IAN MACPHERSON, who moved
the Address, made quite a long speech. Like _Hamlet_, it was chiefly
composed of quotations, but they were all quite apt, and as they ranged
from THUCYDIDES to BURKE, with BOLINGBROKE's _Patriot King_ thrown in,
they pleased the House, which likes these tributes to its erudition. The
seconder, in khaki, was Col. F. S. JACKSON, a new Member, who, like the
still-lamented ALFRED LYTTELTON, had made a reputation at Lord's ere
ever he essayed the Commons. "Jacker" found the new wicket not quite to
his liking at first, but afterwards scored freely. In congratulating the
outgoing batsman the PRIME MINISTER discovered unexpected knowledge of
cricket. "The Hon. Member," he said, "was making his maiden speech; but
I doubt if he has ever encountered a maiden over--except, perhaps, when
he was bowling."

In the regretted absence of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr.
STUART-WORTLEY as Acting-CHAPLIN referred to the disintegration of
parties under the stress of war. Now they had only groups, some designed
to help the Government, some to "ginger" them. Mr. ASQUITH dwelt upon
the growing unity of control among the Allies, which would counteract
the advantage in this respect hitherto enjoyed by our foes; and noted
the amazing growth of the once "contemptible little" British Army. He
further reminded us that we had already incurred liabilities which it
would take us a generation to wipe out; and it was the first duty of
every patriotic citizen to practise rigid economy.

All very well, said, in effect, Mr. WARDLE, the new leader of the Labour
Party; but, if the working classes are to save, the other classes must
set them the example. All very well, said Sir MARK SYKES, but if we are
going to win the war we must co-ordinate at home as well as abroad, and
abandon the idea of "muddling through." With experience of G.H.Q. and
four public departments, he asserted that the men were all right, but
the system all wrong; and that the proper thing was to adopt SULTAN
OMAR'S plan, and give the supreme control of the War to a Cabinet of not
more than four members, who with no administrative details to distract
them might be able to "teach the doubtful battle where to rage."

The PRIME MINISTER listened with interest but without enthusiasm to this
suggestion. Probably he remembered that an essential part of OMAR's
scheme was that if the Four failed to agree they were to be promptly
hanged, and had himself no ambition to take part in a String Quartett.

_Wednesday, February 16th._--The Trustees of the British Museum are for
the most part grave and reverend seniors. But they harbour at least one
humourist among them, in Captain HARRY GRAHAM. I suspect him of having
conceived the notion of choosing this moment, of all others, to frame a
petition to the House of Commons praying for more money to enable them
to fulfil their trust, and of getting Mr. LULU HARCOURT, himself a
member of the Government which is closing their galleries, to present

Sir HENRY DALZIEL is the leader of one of the "ginger groups" above
referred to. His first exploit in this capacity was to resist the
proposal of the Government to take all the time of the House. In his
demand that private Members should still be allowed the privilege of
introducing Bills and having them printed at the public expense, he had
the support of Mr. HOGGE, Mr. KING, Mr. PRINGLE, Mr. BOOTH, Sir WILLIAM
BYLES, and other statesmen of similar eminence; but the PRIME MINISTER
was obdurate. He accused the malcontents of lacking a sense of
perspective--and expressed the poorest opinion of their efforts at

Some of the private Members got their own back when the first amendment
to the Address was moved by Mr. JOYNSON-HICKS. The Member for Brentford,
who knows the alphabet of aviation from Aeroplane to Zeppelin,
complained that the air-service, like his own constituency in legendary
times, was under Dual Control, and urged that it should be placed under
a single competent chief.

was at all happy in reply. They resembled a couple of flying pilots who,
having gone up to attack a hostile airship in the dark, search in vain
for an adequate landing-place. Heckled as to the exact status of Sir
PERCY SCOTT, for example, Mr. TENNANT could only say that he "is still
in the position he _was_ in." When Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH ventured the
remark that a personal knowledge of flying would be a useful
qualification for officers advising the Government on this subject, Mr.
BALFOUR was as painfully surprised as if he himself had been called upon
to navigate a.t.b.d. in heavy weather.

In the absence of any definite sign of repentance the critics of the
Government threatened a division, which would have been awkward and
might have been disastrous. In similar circumstances Mr. GLADSTONE used
to "send for the sledge-hammer"--meaning Mr. ASQUITH. The present PRIME
MINISTER, when hard pressed, sends for BONAR. Thus summoned to ride the
whirlwind the COLONIAL SECRETARY executed a graceful volplane. In a few
frank sentences he admitted that the Government were very far from being
satisfied with the Air Service, though it had achieved great things.
Further, they were willing to give another day for its discussion when
they had got through their financial business. With this confession and
promise the critics were for the time being appeased.

_Thursday, February 17th._--This being the first day for which Questions
could be put down, Members took full advantage of the opportunity, and
propounded ninety-nine of them. Ministers displayed less enthusiasm, and
some of them were so late in arriving that the SPEAKER had to dodge
about all over the paper before the list was disposed of. Mr. GINNELL
was, as usual, well to the fore with silly rumours. There is perhaps a
subtle connection between cattle-driving and hunting for mare's nests.

The pleasantest feature of Question time was the tribute paid (with hint
of more substantial rewards to come after the War) to the gallantry and
self-sacrifice of the officers and men of our mercantile marine. This
furnished an appropriate prelude to the subject of the ensuing debate.
Mr. PETO and others sought to press upon the Government the more
economical use of our merchant shipping. Here they were forcing an open
door. Steps have already been taken to restrict the imports of luxuries.
Ministers are unanimous, I believe, in regarding "ginger," for instance,
as an article whose importation might profitably be curtailed.
       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Highlander and Zouave (_simultaneously_): "!!!"]

       *       *       *       *       *


[Illustration: _Mrs. Jones (completing her fourth Hour_). "I used to
stay only two hours; but one 'as to make threepence go further these

       *       *       *       *       *


It happened in Scotland--it couldn't have happened anywhere else.

I had been visiting the MacNeils. They sympathised over my wound; they
rallied round with tea and toast; they provided Scotch whisky. My one
objection to the family was their supreme confidence in these
new-fledged lads of the Home Defence, whom I--as a Subaltern of the old
school who had done my time at Sandhurst before the War--scorned with a
dogged contempt which no degree of argument could kill.

It was when I reached the street that I realised that fervid fire in the
soul of Scotch hospitality--a fire which brands it as unique in our
island story. In my coat pocket reposed a bottle of Heather Dew.

The convalescent home where I was being wooed back to brisk health was
situated along the sea-front. Chuckling at the MacNeils' efforts to
modify my views of our Home Defenders and their inefficiency, and
brooding on the folks' kind hearts, I paused to light a cigarette. The
wind blew out the fluttering flame. It also set me sneezing, for I had a
bad cold in the head. I struck another match.

"Hey!" said a voice suddenly behind me. I swerved, choking back a
sneeze. "Hey, hey, hey!" some broad Doric tongue continued.

A heavy hand came plump on my shoulder; a large Highland face was pushed
into mine; a kilt flapped round long bare shanks. I sneezed again.

"Got ye this time, lad!" announced the son of the North, who now
appeared to be a brawny lance-corporal. "Signallin' ye are. Oot to sea.
Ah saw ye blinkin' wi' a licht."

I sneezed again. "I was'd!" I declared as well as the cold in my head
would allow. "It was a batch. I've dever sigdalled id by life. You're
wrog--quite wrog!"

He gripped me firmly by the arm.

"Dinna tell me!" he announced in conclusive tones. "Ah ken better! Ye're
the second spy Ah've cotched. Come along, ma freend Fritz! Ye'll hae the
job o' explainin' to the Colonel whaur ye got that second-lootenant's

Hunching his rifle over his shoulder, he marched me back the way I had

"Where are you takig be to?" I enquired thickly. "Take be to your
Cobbadig Officer at wudce. I wad to egsplaid!"

"Ah'll hae nane o' your clavers," he said shortly. "Ye're for the
gaird-room. Dinna tell ma ye're no a German wi' a tongue like yon!"

"I've god a gold id by head!" I shouted at him. "I'b dot a Gerbud! I'b
Lieutedad Dobsod----"

"Haud yer tongue. Ye're a Chooton. An' ye're cotched. That's flat."

I was bundled into a draughty cattle-shed. The door was slammed. I
sneezed. It was a bright prospect. I changed my views on the
inefficiency of our Home Defenders. They now appealed to me as violently
efficient. A night in a tumble-down cow-house! Desolation! Then I
brightened up: the MacNeils' whisky. The cork popped in the silence of
the night.

The door opened. A sentry's head was poked round. Disregarding him, I
raised the bottle to my chattering teeth. Then the lance-corporal
appeared. With a sudden thought I offered him the bottle. A strange look
crept across his face. Gingerly he took the bottle. Then there was a
comfortable sound. He drew a hand across his mouth.

"That's grrand," he said. "Beg pardon, Sir. It's been ma mistake. Jock,
the prisoner is a Scottish officer. Let him gang.... Thank ye, Sir;
thank ye for the whisky."

       *       *       *       *       *

    "The Germans ... a whole company being decimated, the only
    survivors, a captain and seventy men, surrendering."

    _Pall Mall Gazette._

This indication that the normal strength of a German company is now only
79 is welcome news.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "The air defence of London is now practically under the control
    of the home forces, of which Lord French is Commander-in-Chief,
    and Admiral Lord French is Commander-in Chief, and Admiral the
    gunnery defences of London."--_Provincial Paper._

So now we're all right.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "The spectacle of the snow-clad trees on the London Road, and in
    other suburban districts, was pleasant to the eye, although it
    made walking a trifle difficult."--_Leicester Mail._

It is our habit to discourage the dangerous practice of tree-gazing
while in motion.

       *       *       *       *       *


The Miracle.

Once upon a time there was one Herbert. The doctor being unwilling to
pass him so that there was no chance that he, in the words of the great
joke, would "march too," he had taken a situation as a waiter.

Englishmen (it is an axiom) do not make good waiters; nor was he an
exception. But he was conscientious and painstaking, although clumsy and
of short memory. Still, this was war-time, and Hans had gone to Germany
and might now be dead, and Fritz very properly was interned, and Josef
had sought Vienna once more, and Pasquale and Giuseppe had rejoined the
Italian flag, and the only foreigners left were a few nondescripts, very
volubly, indeed almost passionately, of Swiss nationality. In fact, if
this War has done nothing else it has at least established the fact that
the male population of Switzerland is far greater than any one had
supposed. Gallant little Switzerland!

So you see this was Herbert's chance, and the manager was glad to get
him; and Herbert, who, owing to the slump in games, had lost his job at
an athletic sports factory and had certain financial liabilities which
he had long since abandoned any hope of meeting, was glad to come. Only,
by infinite self-denial and sacrifice did he get together the necessary
capital for his clothes and the deposit demanded from waiters against
breakages, theft and so forth.

On his first day as one in charge of three or four tables Herbert made
some very serious mistakes. He was complained of for slowness, he turned
over a sauce-boat, he broke a glass, and he forgot to charge for the
cigar which the portly gentleman in the corner had taken after his
lunch. And this cigar was a half-crown Corona, for the portly gentleman
either had not yet grasped the full meaning of War economy or was
enjoying one of those periodical orgies to which even rigid economist
think themselves to be entitled.

Already Herbert had, like _Alnaschar_ in the Eastern tale, spent
imagination far more than he could make all the week, and this blow,
with the manager's abuse to serve as salt in the wound, sent him home in
misery. Nor was it as if the portly gentleman was a regular customer who
could be reminded of the error (little as such reminding is to the taste
of regular customers); on the contrary, he had never been known to visit
the restaurant before. You see, then, how unhappily Herbert viewed life
as he lay awake in his attic that night, and very heavy were his feet on
his way to work the next day, with an overcoat buttoned up to his neck
to hide his evening dress.

It was a cold rainy morning; the wind raged; and the very indifferent
soles of Herbert's boots absorbed moisture like blotting-paper.
Everything was against him. There was not a gleam of hope in the future,
not a ray of light. His companions were surly, the manager was venomous,
the bitter rain fell on. He was in debt and would get the sack.

It was then that the miracle happened. Suddenly Herbert, who was gazing
forlornly through the window at this disconsolate world, waiting, napkin
on his arm, to begin to wait, heard a voice saying, "I'm afraid you
forgot to charge me for my cigar yesterday." It was the portly
gentleman. Life was not utterly hopeless any more.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _Old Lady_, "Ah, it'll take more than preaching
to make them Zeppelins repent!"]

       *       *       *       *       *


  Who shall be Lord of the Air,
  Now N. has seen fit to declare,
  To his followers' deep despair,
  That he can't conscientiously sit
  In a Cabinet void of grit?
  For CHURCHILL is tied to the Front,
  And MARKHAM is out of the hunt,
  And eloquent BERNARD VAUGHAN
  From his pulpit can't be withdrawn.

  Who shall be Lord of the Air
  And take us all under his care?
  Why, ROBERTSON NICOLL, of course--
  A man of colossal force,
  With a perfectly splendid gift
  For soaring and moral uplift.
  For, though nobody so uniquely
  Can hearten _The British Weekly_,
  His readers will cheerfully spare
  Him to go and remain in the air,
  Careering along the inane
  In a Nicoll-plated plane
  With, to lend him additional fervour,
  Mr. G*RV*N as his "Observer."

       *       *       *       *       *


The Best Thing Yet Said of the 22.

    Mr. Gibson Bowles, at the City blockade meeting, on the
    Coalition: "The Government did not swop horses. They made an
    alliance with another animal; and the result is a mule without
    pride of ancestry or hope of posterity."--_Evening News._

Incidentally the unkindest thing that has yet been said of the Unionists
who joined the late Ministry.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "There were further indications at the meeting of the Salop
    County Council on Saturday of the Council's desire to economise
    where possible. Dr. McCarthy drew attention to figures given in
    the report of the County Medical Officer of Health showing a
    diminution in the birth-rate of the county for the quarter to
    the extent of 14 per cent."

    _Wellington Journal._

Economy of any kind is praiseworthy, but we think they might have begun
with one of the other rates.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "The domestic income of a more or less typical three-roomed
    cottage near the docks is at present £17 per week. Among the
    recent purchases of the family, a pianoforte, costing £50, may
    be enumerated, although no one in the house can play a note.
    This looks more wasteful than the common outlay on gramophones,
    which at least give pleasure. The idea of sound investment is
    slow in penetration among the suddenly affluent in wages."

    _Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury._

We dislike carping, but surely a piano is always a sound investment.

       *       *       *       *       *


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

In fiction it is certainly true that nothing succeeds like success.
There is a sure and very understandable charm in a story of climbing
fortunes. Therefore it may be that part of my pleasure in _Tasker
Jevons_ (HUTCHINSON) was due to sympathy with the upward progress of its
hero. But much more was certainly due to the art with which Miss MAY
SINCLAIR has written about it. _Tasker Jevons_ is a book, and a
character, that will linger pleasantly in my memory. He was a little man
with a great personality, or rather I will say a great purpose, and that
was to approve himself in the eyes of the wife whom he worshipped, and
her perplexed, slightly contemptuous family. The trouble was that
_Tasker_ was in the beginning a hack journalist, socially and personally
impossible; and that _Viola Thesiger_, whom he married, belonged by
birth to the rigidest circle of Cathedral society (Miss SINCLAIR,
scorning subterfuge, calls it quite openly Canterbury). So you see the
difficulties that beset the _Jevons_ pair. Their story is told here,
very effectively, through the mouth of a third person, a
fellow-journalist and admirer of _Jevons_--but quite respectable--the
rejected suitor of _Viola_, and eventually the husband of her sister.
Through his clever and observant eyes we watch the progress of _Jevons_,
see him prospering materially, becoming famous and rich and vulgarized.
It is an unusually close and rather subtle study of the development of
such a man. Eventually there happens that for which the date, Midsummer
1914, will have prepared you, even if you had forgotten that Miss
SINCLAIR had herself served in Belgium with a field ambulance. So the
end of the book gives us some vivid War pictures. Taking it all round, I
am inclined to consider _Tasker Jevons_ the best of the 1916 novels that
has yet come my way.

       *       *       *       *       *

When, in the first chapter of _Moll Davis_ (ALLEN AND UNWIN), you find
the heroine having a very pretty dispute with the landlord of the
Mischief Inn, and a gallant blade of a fellow coming to her rescue, you
will guess what fare is to follow. And, provided that your taste is for
diet of the lightest, you will not be disappointed, for no one is more
capable than Mr. BERNARD CAPES of making it palatable. Here we are then
back in the year 1661, and in a maze of intrigue. Wit, if we are to
believe the novelist, was as plentiful in those days as morals were
scarce, and Mr. CAPES is not the man to spoil tradition for lack of
colour. He calls his book a comedy, but he should have called it a
comedy with an interlude; and the part I like best is the interlude.
Possibly because he was weary of plots and counterplots he suddenly
breaks loose, and with a warning to those who have "an unconquerable
repugnance to sentiment" tells a moving tale that has nothing to do with
the main narrative. I can thank him unreservedly for this, and for the
crop of words which he has added to my vocabulary. "Bingawast,"
"gingumbobs," and "fubbs" have the right ring, and after a little
training I hope to use them with telling effect on my platoon.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Edith Ottley_ cherished a passion for _Aylmer Ross_; to such an extent
indeed that she came within an ace of eloping with him. However, the ace
wasn't played; and in due course _Aylmer_ went to the War and became a
captain. Unfortunately he also became much more interesting by reason of
a wound; and, when this brought him back to England, the passion also
returned, stronger than ever. This, of course, is why their story is
called _Love at Second Sight_ (GRANT RICHARDS). I have now a small
surprise for you, namely that _Edith_ was already married, and owned a
charming house, a valetudinarian husband and two pleasant children. So I
quite expected that _Aylmer_, in the fulness of time, would either (1)
be removed by the enemy, or (2) marry a delightful little Red-Cross
nurse who adored him. But the author, Mrs. LEVERSON, had other views.
Instead therefore of ending her heroine in the expected mood of
conventional reconciliation she sends the objectionable husband off with
somebody else, and leaves us to a prospect of wedding-bells with the
divorce court as a preliminary. Which is at least original. But
throughout I had the feeling that a great deal of bright and clever
writing was being wasted on a poor theme. The characters are brilliantly
suggested, but--with perhaps one exception, forgetful _Lady Conroy_, who
is an entire delight--they seem altogether unworthy of it. In fact I
came away from the book with the impression of having attended a
gathering of somewhat shoddily smart people, and sat next to a clever
woman who had been witty about them. The worst of the matter is that
they are all so real. This is a tribute to the author, but a most
unpleasant reflection for everyone else.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: The Rector. "Well, William, you ought to be proud and
happy to know you have four sons serving their country with His
Majesty's Forces."

William. "I am proud and happy, Sir, but the old woman she do fret
somethin' terrible because none of 'em ain't got no Victoria Cross

       *       *       *       *       *

My attention was first attracted to _The New Dawn_ (LONG) by the fact
that the plot starts at Euston Station. That interesting, not to say
romantic, line, the L. & N. W. R., is usually shunned by our novelists.
But although "GEORGE WOVIL" takes his characters to the furthest North,
even beyond Glasgow, their sympathies, like, I think, those of their
creator, remain behind in fair and false and fickle Wimbledon. This at
least was where _Halvey Brown_ wished himself as the train glided over
the best laid track in Europe towards dour Bartocher. And _Brown_,
though he knew the natural drabness of his destination already, had at
that time no information as to all the unpleasing events that were to
happen there; that, for example, the minister's new wife would turn out
to be a lady with a past that he himself had shared, or that the
fair-haired young man in the same compartment was the assistant
minister, who would fall in love with the said wife and eventually slay
her, the minister, and himself. I find I have been led into betraying
for you the outline of the story. Perhaps, however, this does not
greatly matter. The value of the book lies in its very natural and human
characters. All four of them--there are only four who really matter--are
admirably drawn, so that the tragedy of their lives holds and convinces
you. My complaints against the author are, first, the excess of emphasis
that he gives to the physical unpleasantness of his background;
secondly, the loose construction that allows the tale to be continually
turning back to look behind it. He would keep a lover in the act of
embracing the lady of his heart while he explains what the parents of
each died of, and all that has happened since. Still, _The New Dawn_
remains an unconventional and strongly written story, which will
certainly interest though perhaps hardly enliven you.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is something very soothing in the peeps into dusty family papers
and the faint echoes of departed gossip which Mrs. STIRLING provides in
_A Painter of Dreams_ (LANE). These pleasantly amateurish historical
studies go back a century and a half. A commonplace book from which are
quoted many diverting and incredible things; a chapter in which those
queer Radicals, HORNE TOOKE, COBBETT, Sir FRANCIS BURDETT and bluff
Squire BOSVILLE, are chiefly concerned; a sketch of the fourth Earl of
ALBEMARLE, keen farmer and friend of COKE of Norfolk, Master of the
Horse to WILLIAM IV. and QUEEN VICTORIA (it is to ALBEMARLE in this
capacity that the IRON DUKE said: "The Queen can make you go inside the
coach, or outside the coach, or run behind it like a d----d tinker's
dog"), winner of the Ascot Gold Cup three years running and stiff-backed
autocrat; an account of the beautiful Misses CATON of Baltimore and
their matrimonial adventures--the American invasion of brides bringing
money and beauty in exchange for titles thus dating back to 1816; some
details of the lives of two artists, JOHN HERRING, animal painter, and
RODDAM SPENCER STANHOPE, one of the lesser pre-Raphaelites and the
painter of dreams referred to in the title--these all make up an
agreeable pot-pourri with an old-world fragrance which ought to be able
to charm you out of the preposterous nightmare of the present. But it
makes one feel old to see that the conscientious author thinks that
DICKY DOYLE now needs a footnote to let the present generation know who
he was.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the Catalogue of a V.T.C. Tailor.

    "'I am,' a V.T.C. Secretary writes, 'in correspondence with the
    undertaker, and hope at last to induce the War Office to
    recognise us by sending a representative to attend our funeral

       *       *       *       *       *

    "One man of four who escaped the bombs."--_Morning Paper._

A little too old for the baby-killers.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Lord Sumner on the Need for Self-Sacrifice.

    'If the House of Lords and the House of Commons could be taken
    and thrown into a volcano every day the loss represented would
    be less than the daily cost of the campaign.'"--_The Times._

It sounds a drastic remedy, but might be worth trying.

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Lemons, used largely for making demonade, have a medicinal
    value."--_Daily Paper._

We know nothing of the drinks popular in the lower regions, but have
always heard that the nectarines used for making nectar have a strong
tonic effect.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 150, February 23, 1916" ***

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