The Project Gutenberg EBook of Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 150, March 29, 1916, by Various This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 150, March 29, 1916 Author: Various Editor: Owen Seaman Release Date: September 20, 2007 [EBook #22688] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK PUNCH *** Produced by Jonathan Ingram and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
Fond Mother. "Anything in the paper, dear?"
Wage-earner (not unkindly). "No, Ma—nothing you could understand."
"His seventy-one years sit lightly on Mr. Gibson Bowles," says the Special Correspondent of The Evening News. No doubt Mr. Bowles has some good reason for permitting this familiarity, for he is not a man to be lightly sat upon.
"In particular," says a report on the resources of German East Africa, "the President of the Silk Association has just directed attention to the wild silk of the anaphe worm." The animal the great two-horned silkworm discovered by Sir Harry Johnston, before whose furious charges, according to the report of natives, even the elephant will give way.
A telegram from Rome states that it is generally believed that Admiral Tirpitz resigned because he could not take the German Fleet out. Others again maintain that it was because he could no longer take the German people in.
It was recently stated in a Parliamentary Report that verminous uniforms had been purchased by the Government for the sum of £2,650 and immediately resold for £400. The difference is accounted for by the fact that they were sold as going concerns.
A white rook has been observed at Boston Road, Brentford, and a local ornithologist writes to say that the bird is probably an accidental straggler from King's Bishop's Fourth.
"To-day in many English homes," says a patriotic contemporary, "alien birds are carolling all unconscious of their countries' doom." One had independently noticed how the modulated of the Turkey buzzard had taken on a mournful tone.
"It is not unusual for horses to go to sleep as they walk along," said a sagacious coroner last week. How often in the old four-wheeler days, when we were going ventre a terre from Buckingham Palace to the National Liberal Club, conversation was rendered impossible by the snores of the flying steed.
The price of admission to Kew for perambulators is 3d. on ordinary days, 1s. on student days. The extra charge has been found necessary because of the fact that large numbers of horticulturists, in order to escape military service, have taken to travelling in these vehicles.
According to the author of In a College Garden "it is not advisable to encourage any but educated ladies to become gardeners." It is always pleasant to note the extent to which a simple thing like a potato will recognise and respond to gentility in those who associate with it.
"The Italian Ambassador opened the exhibition of the Royal Society of Brush Artists at the society's premises in Suffolk-street."
Mr. Punch welcomes the implicit admission that there are others.
"What is needed is that we should have on each of the main lines of our overseas communications at least one ship that is faster than anything else afloat."—Manchester Guardian.
Is it not extraordinary that the Admiralty should never have thought of this simple device?
From a theatre programme:—
"All the Male Members of the above Company are either attested under Lord Derby's Scheme, or are otherwise Ineligible for Service."
The erroneous impression that to be attested is the short road to ineligibility has evidently spread from the platform to the stage.
[The fine example of patriotism shown by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge throws into painful relief the action of some of the obscure remnant, including College Fellows, who have excused themselves from service or adopted an attitude of superior detachment in relation to the War.]
You Intellectuals of Cam and Isis,
Pale phantoms in the dawn of Freedom's light,
And you that in this hour of England's crisis
Haven't the conscience (or the heart) to fight;
You cosmopolitans without a country,
Who go aloof on philosophic quests,
Sucking the fruit of knowledge from the Hun-tree
And spiritual milk from alien breasts;
False to that Brotherhood, who for the splendour
Of a great cause, with gallant hearts and gay,
Of youth and youth's high promise made surrender,
Because their courage knew the nobler way;
I envy not your chance on their returning;
When, scarred with war, they come from overseas,
There should be trouble in those Seats of Learning
Where you sat tight and took your pedants' ease.
Short shrift you'll get for your convenient scruples;
Conducted thither where the wet stream winds
You shall receive as elementary pupils
An object-lesson good for little minds.
Somewhere about the Guts of Cam and Isis,
May I be well in front to see you then
Taught by immersion what the local price is
To pay for being prigs instead of men.
"... It is plain, therefore," said Socrates, "that the man whose soul is afflicted with illness will desire above all things to have it cured as quickly as possible, and for this purpose he will submit himself to one who understands the curing of souls. So far, I think, we are agreed, are we not?"
"Yes, indeed," said Agathon, "that would appear to be the wisest course."
"Then why," said Socrates, "do we find that men who are generally eager to be cured of an ague are indisposed to take care of their soul when it is manifestly suffering? You yourself have declared that your soul is sick within you, yet you consult nobody and take no steps."
"Nay, nay, Socrates, I cannot allow you to catch me like this. Perhaps I spoke thoughtlessly when I mentioned my soul just now. Certainly I had not intended that you should tie me up with your questions and draw conclusions which it was impossible for me to foresee."
"Then I suppose the fault must be mine, for in truth I had not designed to catch anyone, least of all yourself, my dear Agathon. But we will defer the consideration of the matter to a more favourable time, for I see Philogamus approaching and, if we may judge by the outward signs, he seems to be, as one might say, in a terrible state."
Hereupon we turned to observe Philogamus, to whom indeed something painful and calamitous must have happened, for his garments were disarrayed and his hair was unkempt, and anger was seated upon his frowning brow, and he was muttering to himself and calling the gods to witness that he was unjustly treated and that no such misfortune had ever before happened to any other man; and he was beating his hands wildly together and was forgetting to salute his friends. Seeing him thus distraught Socrates plucked him by the sleeve as he passed and addressed him.
"Hail, Philogamus," he said, "what great misfortune do you announce to us? Have the Barbarians at last seized upon the Piræus, and are they even now marching irresistibly on the Acropolis? Are you sent out to summon us to arms? Here are a few of us who will join with you, laying aside even their most pressing private business, and will help to defend the State and themselves to the last gasp. Only do you deliver your message and let us know."
"This," said Philogamus, "is no moment for laughing, though in laughter, O Socrates, you are always easily first, as they say, and the rest nowhere. But have you not heard what has happened?"
"No," said Socrates, "and we much desire to know. I can speak confidently for myself, and Agathon here is, I am sure, in a fever of impatience."
"Listen, then, and, by the gods, you shall be made aware of an injustice that calls for immediate redress. They are even now on the point of calling up the married men to go to the War."
"That is very interesting; and what do the married men say to it?"
"What do they say?" shouted Philogamus. "They say they will not go unless, according to the promises of Darbius and Ascuthius, all the unmarried men are taken first;" and he began once more beating his breast and glaring with his eyes like a dog who has been for long without water.
"Softly, my good friend," said Socrates, "softly. As to the promise, I know it is being rigidly kept. All the willing single men are gone or going, and the unwilling are being compelled to join as quickly as is possible. What more can be done?"
"Something ought to be done."
"That is very true," said Socrates; "something ought always to be getting itself done, and the something at this moment is that the Barbarians ought to be beaten. But tell me, with regard to the married men, are they not concerned in the safety and welfare of the State?"
"That, indeed, they are," said Philogamus; "none more so."
"In that case why do they hang back and complain when the State declares that its safety and welfare demand that they should be ready to go? Because one here and there has concealed himself, is it for you, a married man, to retire when by going you might help to thrust back the Barbarians? Are you one of those that are called the attested ones?"
"Yes, that I am," said Philogamus, proudly displaying his brown armlet with the red crown.
"Then it is you, as it appears to me, who have given a pledge and made a promise, and that promise, I am sure, you will fulfil to the best of your ability. When the time comes it is for you to go at once and not to weary the market-place with empty noise and murmurs of complaint. For remember this: the man who has taken a wife and has brought up children under the State's protection owes more, if it be possible...."
(Here the fragment ends.)
From a description of the German Crown Prince:—
"Before the war he liked to imitate the English, and posed as a German megalomaniac."
Yes, we believe there were some English like that—before the War.
Imperial Beggar. "PITY A POOR WAR-LORD WHO HAS LOST HALF HIS MEN, AND MUST HAVE MORE MONEY IN ORDER TO LOSE THE OTHER HALF."
Voice through telephone (to officer dragged up from the first sleep he's had for two days). "Thought I'd better report, Sir.—we've just got the consignment of footballs up."
Now that Sir J. M. Barrie has shown us the Transatlantic kinema man's idea of the perfect Macbeth, it is up to the purveyor of American films to retaliate by presenting one of his plots for ordinary stage performance in the Kirriemuir manner. Here and there an inadvertent touch of Western colour may be anticipated.
Scene.—Kensington Gardens. The Heroine—oh, the little love!—is taking a dander round the "Keep off the Grass" boards. Her feet are bare, and this is probably the reason why from time to time she dances among the trees. In the background the Hero, wearing a divided kilt, rides about on a horse. Having thus given the audience time to settle, the play starts.
Heroine (perceiving Hero). Gee! there's that rube I met up North. Sic a bonny lad too! (sighing sadly). But he hasna much siller, I'm sair misdootin'. Guess there's no twelve-pound look about him.
Hero (dashing up and dismounting). Wal, I wanter know. Say, ain't you the peach I useter see from my window in Thrums?
Heroine (coyly). Havers!
Hero (not to be outdone), Dagont!
[She strolls away with her chin in the air, her shoes and stockings in her hands, and the famous red light in her eye. She goes behind a tree, and the Hero, thinking she has retired there to greet sadly, follows to console her. However, he discovers that she is merely resuming her footgear, and he retreats modestly.]
Hero (rolling his eyes wildly to denote love). A snod bit lassie, that. I mean to say—I—ay! Juist so! Ay, ou ay!
Heroine (returning with her shoes on). For the love of Mike—I mean Losh keep's!—are you still here?
Hero. That's so. I wanter put you wise about me. I ain't no boob, as you seemter think. You can bet your rubbers on that. Maybe you're thinkin' that I'm but a puir laddie. Wal, let me tell you you're guessin' wrong. I'm an author—I do writin' stunts. And if I don't swell around in new pants all afternoon it's only because I have to keep all my cheques among the crumbs in my tobacco pouch. I have to do it. All the best Scots writers do it. We call it Arcadian Mixture.
Heroine. Guess that rollers out the course of true love some. But let me tell you there's another feller after me—a puir feckless body of a villain. And, Losh preserve us, here he comes!
[The Villain enters. He looks rather like a revue-producer who has seen better nights. The Hero, overcome by bashfulness at being discovered in conversation with a female, conceals himself behind his accent.]
Villain. See here, gal, you just gotter marry me.
Heroine. Shucks! I should say, Dinna blether, ma mannie.
[The Hero creeps cautiously out of ambush.]
Villain (caressingly). I have always loved my little Mary.
Hero (subtly ironic). Imphm! Imphm! Ou ay, imphm!
Villain (surprised but finding a way). Oh, the dears! oh, the darlings!
Hero (bewildered). What's all that blatherskite, any old way?
Villain (privily drawing bludgeon). It was Sneeky Hobart who never went to kirk again after they substituted tin plates for the usual cloth collecting-bags.
Hero (perplexed and off his guard). Guess you've gone bughouse, sonny. I mean, I'm no quick in the uptak'——
Villain. Are ye no? (brandishing bludgeon). Well, I am! (He fells the Hero senseless to the ground.) And noo, lassie, I can sorter concentrate on you.
Heroine (in the most ladylike way). Help! oh, help!
Villain. Say, you don't seemter freeze on to me, somehow. But you must and shall be mine! Come awa', lassie.
[He seizes her and she resists. Meanwhile the Hero, who fell on to a clump of genuine thistles, makes a superbly-rapid recovery from his unconsciousness.]
Villain (pausing to mop his brow). Say, you'll got my goat for sure if you kick up like this, lassie.
Heroine. Gee! That's a great idea. If only Peter Pan's goat——
[The Hero, inspired, crawls away unnoticed.]
Villain (preparing to renew the struggle). Lassie, I'm quite sweered o' you. There's an awesome look in your eye. And can ye no be more ladylike in your fechting? Remember whose heroine you are.
[He again strives to bear her off. The Hero, having broken off a couple of branches and affixed them to his head—a little trick he learned from the Admirable Crichton—now returns disguised as a goat. He rushes at Villain, who flees and scales the park railings. But his overcoat collar catches in the spikes, and he hangs suspended and helpless. In that position he slowly starves, and dies inconspicuously as the Hero and Heroine finish the play.]
Hero (extending his arms). Say, is it a deal? I mean, will ye ha'e us, lassie?
Heroine (with little wells of gladness in her eyes). It's a cinch. Guess you're Mr. Smart from Smartville. Ay, I'm thinkin' I'll tak' you. But you men are fickle callants—that's what every woman knows. Come awa' and let's find a little meenister at once.
Hero. Oh, joy! oh, rapture! oh, rosy rapture! [They embrace and exeunt.]
The Audience. Hoots!
"THE COMING GREAT SEA BATTLE.
"Sunday Herald" Poster.
The subtlety of the Military mind beats and will beat me to the end. Yesterday we lived in a row of earthen dwellings in a depression in the ground, which anyone might be excused for referring to, if not as trenches, at least as dugouts. These alone of all the marvels of military engineering I have observed during the War admitted of being shelled with equal exactitude from due in front and due in rear; and water seemed to have been laid on throughout. Taking all these things into consideration some Authority labelled them, once for all, "Billets."
Last night we moved into a commodious cellar of a house which still leans against the next. It is only five minutes from town, and tramlines pass the door. Nay more, they stop abruptly at the door—such are the improvements effected by R.E. Inside the cellar are three bits of chairs, a table-top on boxes, and an inimitable ancestral smell that no deodorizer known to modern warfare can cope with. And all this is called "Trenches!" Our servants do their best to support the official illusion by neglecting to clean our boots and regarding with surprise and some little sadness any tendency on our part to wash.
But you must not imagine that life here is all honey. Even here we do a bit for our eight-and-sixpence. Every evening there comes down from the front line a report that our men there want more food. A stricter or less beneficent C.O. than ours might at once institute a court of inquiry into what has happened to all the food we gave them last night. But not so with us. "The boys want food," he says to the Adjutant, "and, by Heaven, the boys shall have it."
No sooner said than handed on to someone else to do. The Adjutant works off a little bit of his strong personal dislike for me in a note, couched, if you please, in the most friendly terms, intimating that he has raised heaven and earth to get me off, but the C.O. insists that I (as the only competent officer for the task) shall supervise the conduct of our rations to the front, middle and back lines to-night. He adds that the Intelligence Corps report that information received from deserters leads us to suppose that Fritz intends to strafe all roads and communication trenches in our sector to-night.
The carrying party is supplied by a sister battalion, and makes the night thoroughly well acquainted with its views about a unit that can't supply blanks to carry their blanked rations for their blanked selves. Sometimes a second or a third trip may be necessary, and then the carriers' patriotic fervour expresses itself in terms almost potent enough to do the carrying for them. For some reason or other the R.E., who design material for our porterage, consider its end and not its portability. Their special line of ready-made wire entanglements would entangle a hippopotamus; and when it comes to carrying one a mile-and-a-half you find it has no wheels, no handles, and simply won't fold up into the pocket. The usual procedure is for a man or two to roll on one of these barbed-wire death-traps until they are well stuck on them and then crawl to the point of delivery.
Sometimes, of course, we have accidents. [pg 214] Last night, for instance, two men were proceeding (by the way the great point about being a soldier is that you never walk, run or otherwise ambulate—you proceed, or proceed at the double, which of course is much nicer for you)—yes, were proceeding, one at each end of an entanglement, along the top of a slope, when the leader missed his footing altogether and rolled down to the morass below. The second, after a brief struggle, followed with the entanglement. This movement involved not only the man behind, who was bearing a footboard, but also the remainder of the section. The entire avalanche was precipitated on to the leaders, and remained there struggling like the population of a fly-paper until a squad arrived with wire-cutters. When the R.E. heard of it they wanted the episode published in Corps Orders as a testimonial. But what the men wanted done about the R.E. I dare not tell you.
A distinguished neutral observer, who has just returned from a visit to Cinemaland, has furnished our representative with the following interesting account of his experiences and conclusions.
One of the first things (he says) that impressed me was that in the great cities of Cinemaland there is, outwardly at least, little or no sign of scarcity. On the contrary, at the various hotels and restaurants, as well as several private entertainments that came under my observation, a note of almost wanton luxury appeared to be aimed at. Evening dress is worn whenever possible, and the costumes of the ladies are invariably the last word in ultra-fashionable extravagance. Food is as yet obviously plentiful; what is not consumed being frequently flung about, especially by the humorous elements of the population, and wasted with reckless prodigality.
In spite however of this ostentation signs are not wanting that the true condition of the country is increasingly precarious. Crime of all sorts is rampant. Judging even by what I myself witnessed within a short period, the detectives of Cinemaland must all be working overtime. Quite recently a gang, under the leadership of a ruffian who elected to be known as The Clutching Hand, made large sums of money by working upon the terrors of its victims.
Another significant symptom is that respect for law and authority as such appears to be almost non-existent. The police force of Cinemaland is a body of men who are most of them of conspicuously full habit. I can vouch for it that the appearance of these officials is almost invariably greeted with derision; and should they (as frequently happens) incur physical maltreatment or other misfortune in the exercise of their duties popular sympathy is almost always on the side of their opponents.
A notable exception to this feeling is found in the attitude of the populace towards their chosen ruler, the Emperor, or Film-Lord, Charlemagne-Chaplin. It is only fair to record that recent spectacular (and carefully stage-managed) appearances of the monarch have been greeted with every demonstration of unswerving loyalty and affection.
More significant perhaps to an outside spectator is the undeniable fact that the Wild Western portions of Cinemaland are to-day in a state of turbulence bordering upon anarchy. The Cowboys, who are its chief denizens, would seem, so far as my experience goes, to spend their entire time in exploits of murderous violence; though here (as elsewhere among this remarkable people) the influence of sentiment is often unexpectedly potent. It can hardly be doubted that a populace so emotional and ill-balanced as that of Cinemaland will have little power to withstand the strain of disaster.
Despite my apparent freedom from restraint I am persuaded that I was kept under the observation of a number of uniformed officials during the whole course of my stay in Cinemaland; and I am bound to confess that my departure, which was made under cover of darkness, was not unattended with a sense of personal relief.
Once upon a time there was a Father who was devoted to his child. He fed it and nursed it and watched it grow and gave it toys to play with—both soldiers and boats. Also he made it promises that some day he would extend their house and garden until no house and garden were bigger. Every year he took it to the top of a high precipice and showed it beautiful lands and water which should some day be theirs.
The child had heard this promise so often that it used to ask, "When? when?" And always the answer was, "Some day, some day."
And then at last the day came, and the Father took the child to the high precipice yet once more, but behold it chanced that they both fell over and were smashed, the Father hopelessly and the child very, very badly, so that it would for long years or perhaps for evermore be a cripple.
Somewhere in France—no, let me be bold and say in Paris—there is a young French soldier named Charles. Less than two years ago he was a plumber and whole; to-day he has but one arm, his left; the other and a piece of his shoulder with it having gone in saving his country from the foe.
Charles is shy and very modest, and no bigger than so many French youths—he is only twenty-two—with dark-brown hair and blue eyes with very black centres, and a moustache that never succeeds in looking more than three weeks old. Being, however, brave, he does not let his maimed condition unduly trouble him, but runs his errands (all that he can now do) and whistles as he runs, and is glad to be alive at all, instead of dead, as so many of his comrades are and as his Colonel is, as I shall tell.
At the Front Charles's duties were these. A despatch—a pli, as they call it—would be given him either back of the lines to deliver in the trenches, or in the trenches to deliver back of the lines, and in order to get there, if fighting was in progress, it was necessary for him to crawl for perhaps one or two kilometres on his stomach. On a certain day of intense activity, Charles in his trench was handed one of these critical missives for the commanding officer, who was a kilometre or so behind, and this he placed in his satchel and then began the hazardous journey.
No one ever knows when the supreme moment of his life is coming; nor did Charles, but it was then.
This being a terrific day—as a matter of fact it was during the famous battle for the Maison du Passeur, when the French and Germans were losing and retaking trenches for hours—he had to crawl all the way, only to come suddenly upon the body of the commanding officer himself stretched dead in a carrot field.
To Charles's mind there was then but one thing to do, and that was, as he had been unable to deliver the message, to take it back to the sender. He therefore started on the return journey, and was only a few yards from his trench, and still un-hit, when he found a wounded officer on the ground. Here was a new problem, but necessarily having to stand up and throw aside all precautions, Charles got him as well as he could on his back and, still un-hit, half carried, half supported, him to the trench, and was at once away again with his despatch. It was at this moment that an exploding shell hurled the satchel from big hands and flung it on the open ground [pg 215] between the French trenches and the enemy's, which were here separated only by a few yards. At any cost the despatch must not fall into German hands, and Charles, who miraculously had not been injured by the explosion, began instantly to climb out of the trench to recover it, and this in spite of a sergeant, who called to him to keep under cover. But Charles, having one idea and one only, and that was to save from the foe the despatch that had been entrusted to him, succeeded in reaching it and securing it; and then came another shell that shattered his arm.
That is all he remembers; but he must have rolled back to the bottom of the trench, where he was found, two days later, still clutching the satchel. And after that, although he remembers the coffee he was given to drink, all is a haze until he came fully to himself in hospital and found that no longer had he a right arm.
Such is the story of Charles's effort for his country.
Now I do not claim for Charles that he is any braver or has a finer sense of duty than many another French soldier; but this I know, that when he recovered he was summoned to the Invalides to receive not only the Croix de Guerre but the Médaille Militaire with the palm, which corresponds to our Victoria Cross, and that now, although, having left the Army, he no longer wears uniform but merely such poor civilian clothes as he can afford as a messenger, when he walks along the Boulevards—which he does as seldom as he can, so shy is he—there is not an officer, seeing the ribbons on his coat, who does not salute this little plumber with as much punctilio as though he were General Joffre himself; and, blushing crimson, Charles returns the salute.
Patriotic Scots Lady (patrolling Victoria main-line station to assist any of her stranded countrymen arriving from the Front). "Can I help you in any way?"
Perplexed Scot. "Thank you, Mam. Is the toon far frae the station?"
"Mrs. Humphry Ward seems to have gone for inspiration to contemporary characters, and now in 'Tasker Jevons' it is difficult not to find the lineaments of a well-known writer."
Quite so: and Miss May Sinclair made A Great Success of it.
What shall we do?
His purple robe
Is rent in two!
Out of his crown
He's torn the gems!
He's thrown his sceptre
Into the Thames!
The Court is shaking
In every shoe—
What shall we do?
Leave him alone
For a minute or two.
What a clamour at the gate,
O what a din!
Inside and outside
The Bishops bang and shout,
Outside crying, "Let me in!"
Inside, "Let me out."
"Look here, confound you! What do you mean by your 'disclosures'? There's nothing here that wasn't in the morning papers."
"I'm sorry you're disappointed, Sir. At the same time I must point out to you that my connection with the paper gives me abserlootly no influence with the editorial department."
In that great Room which military error
Has miscalled Orderly (for it is not,
But full of tumult and debate and terror,
And worried writers growing rather hot,
For ever floundering in seas of chits
And forms and counterfoils and wrathful writs),
Alone unfevered mid the storm he sits
And tells them all exactly what is what.
Who so alert to solve the frequent riddle,
To judge if Jones should have his train-fare free,
Whether the band requires another fiddle,
And which is senior, Robinson or me?
Who shall indite such circulars as his
To Officers Commanding Companies
About their musketry, or why it is
So many men take sugar in their tea?
And when at times he shuns the sacred table
And like some eagle swoops upon parade,
Men mark his coming and there bursts a babel
As with new zeal the subalterns upbraid,
Lecture and illustrate, and on the right
Form sullen squads, and hope they're being bright—
Save those white-livered ones who at the sight
Hide their commands in some convenient glade.
For he is terrible; and few folk relish
The words of doom which shake his diaphragm;
Yet is the heart of him not wholly hellish,
But in his playing-hours he's like a lamb;
And who'd have said that one so skilled to strafe
And, when I err, too truculent by half,
Could own so rich, so rollicking a laugh,
Would see so well how humorous I am?
Yet if with leave unasked I quit the barrack,
Ever behind I dread that he will call,
Speed up the street in some avenging Darracq
Or on the Underground retrieve his thrall;
Nor in my home can quite escape the spell
But freeze with horror at the front-door bell,
For fear the parlour-maid may speak my knell,
May knock and say that he is in the hall.
And, sleeping, still I have to brook his blusters;
A monstrous Adjutant is always nigh
At dream-reviews and endless dreamy musters,
Laden with lists and schemes and syllabi;
And, though he find no failing anywhere,
But all are present and correct and fair,
I never fail to make the fellow swear,
I always seem to catch his horrid eye.
Tuesday, March 21st.—Returning from Westminster this afternoon I stumbled in Whitehall upon a Member whom I had not seen in his place this Session. "Going down to the House?" I asked. "What, is it sitting?" he replied; and then it appeared that he was just home on short leave after working hard "somewhere on the Continent," and had no present interest in political controversy. As I reflected on a speech I had just listened to, it occurred to me that the attitude of some of the stay-at-home Members towards the War is much the same as that of my hon. friend towards the House. "What, is it still going on?"
If the Germans were in occupation of the Black Country, if Oxford were being daily shelled, as Rheims is, and if with a favouring breeze London could hear the dull rumble of the bombardment, as Paris can, I wonder if Members would still be encumbering the Order-paper with the sort of trivialities that now find place there.
An exception may be made in favour of Mr. Joe King. He has discovered a little late in the day that a war is going on in Europe, and that it affects a little country called Belgium, whose neutrality was guaranteed by the Powers. He was anxious to know whether Belgium had formally renounced her neutrality, and was no doubt greatly surprised to learn from Sir Edward Grey that, owing to one of the guaranteeing Powers having invaded her, Belgium had become a belligerent.
I do not know whether Mr. Pringle was in the House when this announcement was made. But if so it evidently created no impression on his mind. In the debate on the Army Estimates he followed Captain Tryon, who had delivered an urgent appeal to the Government from the text, "A strong Army and a shorter War." Mr. Pringle's ideal is just the reverse. In his view the Army is too big already, and is taking too great a toll from our industrial and commercial population. The great men who won the Napoleonic War—after twenty-three years—had not a big army; and the consequence was that, while it was going on, British trade expanded by leaps and bounds. To-day, owing to our disastrous military policy the demands upon our tonnage were so heavy that people had to go short of sugar and tobacco. Let us conserve our resources and be ready to dictate terms when Germany has been financially ruined. When Mr. Pringle at last sat down after three-quarters of an hour of this sort of thing I longed for ten minutes of Mr. Balfour at his best. But he was not present, and Mr. Long was so much occupied in defending the Government against the charge of having broken faith with the married men that Mr. Pringle never got the trouncing he deserved.
Wednesday, March 22nd.—One of the most cherished beliefs of the House of Commons is that upon the Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill anything under the sun may be discussed. Colonel Yate was justly surprised, therefore, when the Speaker ruled that he was out of order in criticising the Indian Government for its conduct of the Mesopotamian Expedition, and advised him to reserve his remarks for the Indian Budget discussion—equivalent in these times to the Greek Kalends.
Mr. Chamberlain was surprised too, but, regardless of the ruling, proceeded to make a carefully-prepared reply to the speech which the Hon. and gallant Member had not been allowed to deliver. He frankly admitted that there had been a lamentable breakdown of the hospital arrangements, but steps had been taken to improve them, and a telegram from General Lake showed that the treatment of the men wounded in the recent engagement was satisfactory.
Mr. Pemberton-Billing essayed another and a longer flight to-day, but had a good deal of engine trouble. His [pg 219] Parliamentary friends ought to have warned him that the House does not care to listen to a man reading extracts from his own leading articles, however prophetic they may have been; that the constant reiteration of a phrase such as "I would like to suggest, Mr. Speaker," soon becomes tiresome, and that to call somebody else "the De Rougemont of the air" is to invite the tu quoque. Members became more and more impatient as the orator became more and more dogmatic; and when he rhetorically demanded the name of "one man to whom we could turn to solve the problem" they derisively chorused, "Billing!" Mr. Tennant, recognising the feeling of the House, did not spend much time in refuting Mr. Billing's wild assertions, but devoted most of his speech to replying to Mr. Joynson-Hicks, who had pleaded that the East-Coast towns should be more promptly warned of approaching air-raids. He had personally investigated the arrangements and was positively "staggered" at "the wonderful network that had been set up," and he invited Mr. Joynson-Hicks to come with him privately and share his amazement. Mr. Ellis Griffith was not convinced. He thought that there were still too many strands of red tape in the network, and reiterated the hope that the Derby Committee would soon develop into a Ministry of the Air.
Thursday, March 23rd.—A distressing report in the papers this morning, that the Galloper had been blown up by the Germans, made the friends of Sir Frederick Smith anxious. Had he, on one of his periodical visits to the trenches to see Friend Winston, stumbled across an enemy mine? Happily the report was grossly exaggerated. The Galloper was only a light-ship, and had not been destroyed by the enemy but merely withdrawn by the Trinity House; and on the Treasury Bench this afternoon there was the Attorney-General very much alive.
Mr. Trevelyan had a motion on the paper condemning the administration of the Defence of the Realm Act, and in support of it produced a sheaf of cases, in which he said the Government had abused its powers. Among other acts of vile oppression they had ravished from her home, on September 1st, while her father was away shooting partridges, and had subsequently interned without trial, a young lady against whom no charge had been formulated. It sounded very dreadful, and someone called out, "Is this a Russian case?"
Then arose Sir F. E. Smith, and with a few forensic gestures demolished the house of cards that Mr. Trevelyan had so laboriously erected. Most of his cases were out of court because they had already been in court, the decisions he impugned being those of the magistrates. As for the daughter of the partridge-slayer she was an associate of a notorious German spy, and had come back from Switzerland with a message for one of his agents. As her case had been fully considered by the late Home Secretary he suggested that Mr. Trevelyan should talk to him about it.
This was the most pungent speech of the afternoon. The most amusing was that of Mr. Ginnell, who kept the House in fits of laughter for ten minutes while in his most rasping tones he jerked out epigrams against "this thing calling itself a Government." The Coalition was described as "two poisons blended, which could not make a wholesome drink." Never before has he had such a success. I only hope it will not turn his head and encourage him to attempt conscious humour.
Veteran (instructing "Bantam" in his duties as sentry). "You look over there—there's the Germans. Don't you worry about them—they won't 'urt you. But you watch those blinking rats. They'll get you by the back of the leg and pull you off the bloomin' fire-step in no time!"
"The World at War at —— Theatre Only."
Advt. in Evening Paper.
We are relieved to find that the area of conflict has been so much restricted.
We have just returned from another of those little expeditions which are becoming almost a habit with the —— Frontier Force when in search of an enemy whose discretion is only rivalled by that of the German High Seas Fleet. We moved out four days ago with all the pomp of war—horse, foot and guns, ambulances and long trains of transport waggons, the fierce vivid fighting of the desert before us. We rode seventeen miles that day and camped at some wells. As we rolled ourselves in our blankets round the camp-fires to rest for the glorious contest of the morrow our hearts should have been filled with dreams of undying fame. But we were really wondering when the squadron transport would arrive with our porridge and sausages for breakfast.
Next morning we were in the saddle by 3 A.M., and after some ten or twelve hours of unbroken and undisputed progress we captured two Arab shepherds in charge of as many as eight sheep. This succès fou was the cause of justifiable satisfaction.
In the first place we scented liver and bacon for breakfast. In the second place it seemed to promise a settlement of the long-standing dispute between me and the General. The General has a preposterous theory about the existence and hostility of a vast number of mythical Arabs in our immediate neighbourhood. Now this is obviously absurd. With the exception of three palm-trees, which belong to us, there is nothing but sand for about two hundred miles in all directions, and even an Arab cannot subsist entirely on sand. Of course, if there were any Arabs near us, they would be so enraged at finding themselves at a spot two hundred miles from anything except sand that they would be violently hostile to anyone, especially to the people who had engaged the only three palm-trees in the neighbourhood. But it is their existence that I dispute with the General. It is true he took a most unfair dialectical advantage, about a fortnight ago, by having a large battle. But my contention is that the enemy on this occasion were merely orange-sellers from the nearest town, hired by the General for the purpose of argument.
These two shepherds, however, did seem to support his theory of the existence of Arabs, but as to their hostility there was still room for doubt. They were both extraordinarily old and unbelievably dirty. Also they were, as was very natural, extremely frightened. Seeing that they knew themselves to be the only living people for quite a number of miles round, it must have appeared to them that the entire —— Frontier Force had come out solely for the purpose of capturing them, and that, as it had ridden some forty miles to do it, it would not be in a good temper. It was therefore rather hard to judge of their hostility, because as soon as they were confronted with the General and the interpreter they gave one yell of "Allah!" and fell flat, face downwards, in the sand, from which position they refused to move. They would not even budge when the interpreter took all their clothes off with a view to searching them. They probably thought this was merely a preliminary to skinning them. When they were finally induced to speak, I believe they were understood to say that we were the first men they'd seen for eight years. I don't wonder they were frightened. If you have lived all your life all alone in the middle of a howling desert with Grandfather it's a very frightening thing when a complete Frontier Force marches forty miles for the sole purpose of capturing you.
But the day's excitement was not over yet. Towards evening I took my troop off at a gallop in person and captured a camel. It was a very young camel, hardly bigger than a sheep on stilts, and it cried like a child at the sight of me. This, I hope, was not so much due to my frightful appearance in my red moustaches as to the fact that it had probably never seen a man at all (not being eight years old), let alone an army.
The curious aversion which it conceived for my moustache threatened to hold up the entire Frontier Force for the rest of the day, for it would neither be led nor driven. Fortunately, however, we had a very black Soudanese camel-driver with us as guide, and he came and spat at it, which soothed it considerably, and it followed him like a lamb. We got it back to camp next day and it is tied up near my tent. It has apparently made up its mind to waive the moustache question, and we now spit at one another in the friendliest fashion whenever I pass. I hope in time to train it to bring up my bath water in the morning from the three palm-trees.
Later.—The camel was the last episode of the campaign, and we returned to —— yesterday. The total bag of a four days' expedition was—sheep, 8; shepherds, 2; camel, 1. The human section was subsequently released on the grounds that their political views were satisfactory.
["Women can bake bread if they will. It is much easier than trimming hats."—"Housewife," in "The Daily News."]
Aminta, be not led away
By words that sanguine women say;
Though simpler be the baking bread
Than trimming gear for your fair head,
Let your concern remain, I ask,
The sterner and the nobler task.
The nobler task: I'll tell you why.
Shall Bloggs, our baker, wilt and die
For loss of trade, his brood of eight
Left destitute and desolate?
And must I perish 'neath the stress
Of culinary frightfulness?
No, dear. The millinery art
Is where I'd have you play your part;
For, though your hats may work intense
Despite on my aesthetic sense,
Whatever pain their crudeness brings
At least I needn't eat the things.
"You never know your luck when you get our FRUIT."—Advt. in Irish Paper.
"Mr. Hayes. Certainty is defined in Webster as the maximum of our expectations. (Loud laughter.)
The Judge (laughing). Let us get on. This is more like Punch than anything else. (Laughter.)"—Pall Mall Gazette.
It will now have to be called the Supreme Court of Punch and Judicature.
Dear Old Lady. "It must be a great strain for the man up the periscope."
Nephew. "Yes, he has a thin time."
A WRITER in a recent issue of The Daily Chronicle prefaces a column of novel notices with the following remarks: "The smaller papers consequent upon the famine in 'pulp' have made the reviewing of the new novels rather a job, but at least it is possible to give news of them."
But the writer tackles his job in a half-hearted manner, using such ponderous polysyllables as "international" and "acquisition." Now Mr. Punch, always ready to lend a hand in a good cause, has instructed one of his young men to rewrite two of The Chronicle reviews in words of one syllable, and presents them to his contemporary as models for imitation in the future.
A Great Hit. By Mrs. Hump. Ward. Lond., Smith, Eld., 3s. 6d. net.
For the most part Mrs. Ward writes long yarns, and those who read her books look to her for more than five score thou. words. Here she gives us a short tale in which the three chief rôles are filled by a man who earns lots of dibs by his pen, his wife, and their, or his, friend—a peer's wife, who takes him up for her own ends. She tries in her hard bright way to shape his course as she views it, which means a place in the sun for her. The wife, who has brains as well as a warm heart, will not be robbed of her man like this, puts up a good fight, and in the end has the best of the bout with the pale witch with dark eyes who had waved her wand o'er the knight of the pen. It is not poss. to deal with all the points of Mrs. Hump. Ward's book in words of one syll., but we can at least say here is a good tale to speed the flight of the hours of eve.
The Shop Girl. By C. N. and A. M. Sons o' Bill. Lond., Meth., 6s.
Miss Child is a nice sweet girl with lots of sense who goes to the land of the Yanks and makes things hum a bit in a nice sweet way. She meets her fate on board the big ship on the way out; but a long and bright yarn has to be read ere she makes the Port of Joy. We see a Yank store in full swing, learn much of the way it is worked, and the folk who run it are well drawn. To be frank one could scarce think that so chic a tale could be made out of the prose of New York. But to the Bills—if I may so call them—all the world is a stage, and they see through the heart of the New Eve with a gaze that is quite weird. In fine this is a tale in which the Bills, while they take new ground, write with all their old flair and charm.
When M. Raemaekers went to Paris the other day to receive his decoration and be fêted for his fine pro-Ally spirit, it was M. Forain, as the head of living French cartoonists, who received him in the name of France and conferred the Order. M. Forain's public appearances are nowadays few and far between, but he still wields—and none more searchingly—a pencil keen and swift as a sword, and he never takes it in hand but to create something memorable. A selection of his recent work is now on view in London at 22, Montagu Square, the residence of Mr. Campbell Dodgson, the Keeper of the Prints at the British Museum, the proceeds of the entrance fees being intended for a hospital for French wounded soldiers at Arc-en-Barrois. The little exhibition, which should be seen by all who love great draughtsmanship and France, remains open until April 1.
"The Barton Mystery."
One of the most difficult feats of juggling is, I understand, the deft tossing up and catching of a heavy weight (say a dumb-bell), a very light weight, such as a champagne cork, together with any old thing of irregular shape, a bedroom candlestick, for instance. Mr. Walter Hackett's The Barton Mystery is a most ingenious turn of this sort.
The fiancé of the sister of the wife of Richard Standish, M.P., is under sentence of death for the murder of Mr. Barton. He happens to be innocent, though he admits at the trial that he quarrelled violently with and even threatened Barton on the night of the murder, and his revolver has been found by the dead man's side. That vindictive relict, Mrs. Barton, is holding back some material evidence which could save the condemned man, or so Standish thinks, and she is adamant. Now Barton was unquestionably a bad egg, but the widow doesn't want the whole world to know it—at least not till she finds the woman. Some woman, who had incidentally written some, shall we say, very impetuous love letters, is being shielded. Who is she? Is it Standish's wife, for instance? Ah!... This is the dumb-bell.
A Lady Marshall, the wife of a Sir Everard Marshall, a comic scientist in perpetual flight from his overwhelming spouse, is one of the sort that finds a new religion every few months and is now in the first fast furious throes of her latest, which is some form of psychomania, whereof the high priest is one Beverley, a plausible ringletted charlatan of alcoholic tendencies (Sludge the Medium, without his cringe and snarl), who ekes out his spasmodic visitations of genuine psychic illumination with the most shameless spoof. This is the cork.
The candlestick is the dream motif, always a ticklish business to handle, and in this particular case—well, no, I won't be such a spoil-sport as to go into that, for the chief pleasure of this kind of an entertainment is the succession of pleasant unexpected shocks which are deftly administered to the audience by the author.
There were times indeed when the latter nearly dropped his dumb-bell—times when it was in imminent peril of barging into the cork; and most certainly the candlestick very nearly slipped out of his hand. But it just didn't, so you will see that it was really a most exceptional piece of jugglery. Of course I will admit you have to swallow the robust assumption that into a household over which the shadow of death in its ugliest form hovers so threateningly two fatuous people, to wit the scientist and his wife, can come and babble about their own trivial domestic troubles or their latest philosophy of life. But then mystery plays always are like that, and this is a jolly good one of its kind—a kind which it pains me, as a superior person, to confess that I liked enormously.
THE MEDIUM AND THE PALMIST.
Beverley ... Mr. H. B. Irving.
Sir Everard Marshall ... Mr. Holman Clark.
Mr. H. B. Irving as the preposterous Beverley was in his very best form. Beverley is really a creation. How much the author's and how much the player's it would be an impertinence to inquire. This imperturbable trickster with his thin streak of genuine sensitiveness to psychic influence; his grotesquely florid style—the man certainly has style; his frank reliance on apt alcohol's artful aid; his cadging epicureanism; his keen eye for supplementary data for his inductions and prophecies; his cynical candour when detected, is presented to us with Mr. Irving's rich-flavoured and most whimsical sense of comedy, with all his exuberant abundance of gracious or fantastic gesture and resourceful business. In the trances, sometimes real, sometimes simulated, he gives you a plausible sketch of how a modicum of psychic power (whatever that may be), laced with whisky neat, might colour a séance. Mr. Hackett, by way of showing that he has not ignored the literature of his subject, has adapted from the admirable, but, I regret to say, entirely untrustworthy, because incurably original, Maeterlinck an entirely new definition of psychometry. But we certainly will not go into that.
Mr. Holman Clark as the sceptical Sir Everard, completely spoofed by Beverley in the end, with an elaborate make-up ruthlessly reminding us of our simian ancestry, potters cleverly about the stage with that admirable and amiable craft which he has at such easy command. Miss Marie Illington as Lady Marshall, the seeker after light, kept the burlesquerie of her part skilfully within bounds—indeed this matter of key was extraordinarily well handled by the three players entrusted with what I have ventured to call the cork motif.
As to the more serious business, Mr. H. V. Esmond seemed to behave very much as one would imagine a decent M.P. behaving in such embarrassing circumstances. He suspected his wife with all the ardour which public men on the stage always exhibit. His little turn of desperate tragedy carried conviction—almost too much conviction, as you will find—but I won't explain.
Miss Jessie Winter, as his wife, very adroitly contrived an ambiguous effect of likely guilt but possible innocence. She more than fulfils the promise of her last performance in this theatre, but she must (may I tell her?) arrest the development of "the Fatal Cæsura," that exasperating histrionic device whereby every salient phrase is broken up for no conceivable reason into two halves. In the secondary stages there is but slender hope of a cure; in the tertiary there is none.
Miss Darragh was, as required, the vindictive widow to the life (this kind of life, you understand), and Miss Hilda Bayley played very charmingly the little wilful fiancée who—but no, I must keep my promise.
With much less evidence than the applause and generally keyed-up attitude of the Savoy audience afforded me, I could risk a psychic communication in the authentic manner of a Beverley séance. "All is dark.... It is getting light.... I see a man.... He leans eagerly to a telephone.... He thrusts something into envelopes. He goes on thrusting things into envelopes. The telephone keeps ringing.... It is.... Can it be? Yes, it is a Box Office." An institution which at the Savoy should be busy for many months to come.
"In memory of the name of the late Dr. F. C. Batchelor it is proposed that the name of the Forth Street Maternity Hospital (Dunedin) be altered to that of the Batchelor Hospital."—Southland Times (N.Z.)
Mother. "Did you remember to pray for everybody, dear?"
Daughter. "Well, Mummy, I prayed for you, but Jack prayed for Daddy. He's looking after him just now."
(An Order in Council prohibits the importation of all musical instruments.)
In ancient, peaceful ante-bellum days—
Now far remote as Hannibal's or Hanno's—
I had a weakness, possibly a craze,
For buying Hun pianos.
I let no patriotic sentiment
My honest inclination curb or fetter;
On foreign articles my cash I spent,
Because I liked them better.
Nor would I now proscribe Germanic Art,
Their one surviving claim to lasting glory,
Or bar Beethoven, Wagner, Bach, Mozart—
Strauss is another story.
But while our enemy unshattered stands
In any single theatre or sector,
I take no interest in German "grands,"
As player or collector.
I will not have them broken up or burned,
Although they cease to give me delectation,
That mean to keep them suitably interned
Throughout the War's duration.
But now the Board of Trade, those lynx-eyed gents,
Our economic needs severely scanning,
The importation of all instruments
Have just resolved on banning.
No matter; I possess a set of pipes
Made in the land whose emblem is the Thistle;
Three Indian tom-toms of peculiar types
And a Bolivian whistle.
I've a Peruvian nose-flute, made of bone,
A war-conch brought me from the South Pacific,
Which, by a leather-lunged performer blown,
Is really quite horrific.
I have some balalaikas, few though fit,
Whose strings I have acquired some skill in tweaking;
And several pifferi, whose tubes emit
A most unearthly squeaking.
I am, alas! too old and weak to fight,
But on these non-Teutonic pipes and tabors
I hope a martial spirit to incite
In "conscientious" neighbours.
And when my time, as soon it must, shall come,
My epitaph perhaps might thus begin well:
"He 'did his bit' upon the Indian drum;
He played the mandolin well.
Others who stayed at home to criticize
More vocal proved; he, on a falling rental,
In furthering the cause of the Allies
Was always instrumental."
In an account of a Burns' celebration given by the North Battleford News (Saskatchewan), it is remarked that "the absence of any kind of spirituous liquors around the festive board and the fact that the ladies were present" were unique features of the entertainment. But, according to the same report, there was yet another: "'The Immoral Memory' was given by Rev. D. Munro."
It is a tragic coincidence that, just as Rupert Brooke's now famous sonnets were published in volume form after his own death, the appearance of his Letters from America (Sidgwick and Jackson) follows immediately upon the death of Mr. Henry James, who had written the preface to them. Thus in one book we have the last work of two writers, widely separated in age and circumstance, but united by a very real bond of artistic and personal sympathy. How generous was the elder man's appreciation of the younger may be seen in this preface; it is at its best and simplest in dealing with that charm of personality by which all who knew Rupert Brooke will most vividly remember him. Elsewhere it must be confessed that the preface is by no means easy reading, so that one emerges at last a little breathless upon the transparent and sunlit stream of the Letters themselves. Many who recall these from their publication in The Westminster Gazette will be glad to meet them again. Those who knew the writer only as the poet of 1914 will perhaps wonder to find him the whimsical and smiling young adventurer who moves with such boyish enjoyment through these pages. There is holiday humour in them, even in the occasional statistics—holiday tasks, these latter; and everywhere the freshness of an unclouded vision. "Only just in time," one thinks, sharing the happiness that his Letters reflect, and grateful for it as for a beautiful thing snatched so narrowly from fate.
Mrs. Belloc Lowndes has written a story of the War that has at least the distinction of being absolutely fair. She has indeed got so far away from the perhaps excusable error of painting Germans uniformly black that her Huns in The Red Cross Barge (Smith, Elder) are made upon the average quite as attractive as their enemies. This by way of warning, so that if you are in no mood to look for pearls amid swine you may avoid some impatience and a feeling that impartiality can be carried too far. Not by any means that The Red Cross Barge is a pro-German book.... There is an attractive sense of atmosphere about Mrs. Lowndes' picture of the little French town in which a group of Germans are left during what appears to them the triumphal march to Paris. Here Herr Doktor Max Keller meets and falls in love with a French girl who is looking after certain wounded of both nations. The peaceful and picturesque air of the little place during this quiet occupation is well contrasted with the horrors that befall it when the draggled and drink-sodden soldiery come surging back in their retreat from the Marne. Eventually, just as the Germans are leaving, Keller is fatally wounded, and dies holding the hand of the enemy who has become so dear to him. One can hardly call the tale anything but sentimental, but it is sentiment of a fragrant and wholesome kind. In the years to come such stories will no doubt multiply indefinitely, but there will be few more gracefully and gently told.
Corporal (alluding to knock-kneed man). "It's no good; 'e never looks smart. Look at 'im now—the top 'alf of 'is legs standing to attention and the bottom 'alf standing at ease!"
Mr. Richard Pryce, true to the fashion of describing the childhood of heroes at great length, has in David Penstephen (Methuen) out-Comptoned Mackenzie. David in fact dallied so persistently in the nursery that I began to wonder if he would ever emerge; but, when he does get a move on, his story is strangely appealing. His father and mother, having ideas of their own, had excused themselves from the formalities of wedlock, and before Mrs. Penstephen broke down under the strain of this omission David and his sister, Georgiana, were born. Subsequently the parents were married, and had another son. But before this legitimate addition to the family a boating accident had deprived the world of two cousins of Penstephen père, and in consequence he inherited a baronetcy. This change of fortune affected his views, and as time passed by he became as orthodox a baronet as any you could wish to find in Burke. All of which was galling to David's mother, who loved and was jealous for those children who were born to suffer for their parents' original morals. The situation required very delicate handling, and Mr. Pryce is to be congratulated warmly upon the manner in which he has developed it. Perhaps a little more humour would have added salt to the tale, but however that may be we have a careful study of a boy and an exquisitely sympathetic portrait of a mother. The latter part of the book is admirable both in what it tells and in what it merely suggests. More is the pity that Mr. Pryce has weighed down David's childish back with too heavy a load of detail. My advice to you is to skip some of the earlier pages, and so husband your strength for the better enjoyment of the remainder.
The Duel (Allen and Unwin) is a study in the Gorky tradition, by Alexander Kuprin, of life in an obscure Russian regiment and an out-of-the-way provincial town before the great awakening that followed Mukden and Port Arthur purged away much dross and prepared the way for these latter days of sacrifice and heroism. It is a mournful document, a piece of devil's advocacy, a Russian counterpart of Lieutenant Bilse's Life in a Garrison Town, identical in temper and astonishingly similar in some of its detail. It is clear that the author, who was for seven years an infantry lieutenant and probably little fitted for the military life even at its best, endured much unhappiness, for the marks of suffering have burnt themselves into the book so savagely that the English translation, though characterized by a crudity which might reasonably be expected to accomplish much in the way of eliminating the personality of the author, cannot quite rob his work of its impression of power and intimate tragedy. Those who are not in search of light refreshment and who will remember that this last decade of Russian national regeneration and reorganisation has rooted up the incompetence, the false standards, the irregular discipline and the inhuman barriers between officers and men here commented upon, may read these bitter chapters with profit. As for the translator, he might do well to study one of the Garnett Turgenieffs, and see how this kind of thing should be done.