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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 _soup├žon_ 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

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Online LibraryVariousPunch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 150, February 23, 1916 → online text (page 1 of 3)