Part 2 out of 5
vicarious champions of economy.
[Illustration: TOMMY (finding a German prisoner who speaks English): "Look
what you done to me, you blighters! 'Ere--'ave a cigarette?"]
Evidence of the chastened condition of the enemy is to be found in the
statement on the official notepaper of Wolff's Telegraphic Bureau "that it
assumes no responsibility of any kind for the accuracy of the news which it
circulates." But there is no confirmation of the report that its dispatches
will in future be known as "Lamb's Tales." The German Imperial Chancellor
has replied to an appeal from a deputation of German Roman Catholics on
behalf of the Armenians that "The German Government, in friendly
communication with the Turkish Government, has been at constant pains to
better the situation of Turkey's Christian subjects." Thanks to this
friendly intervention, more than half a million Armenians will never suffer
again from Turkish misrule.
Mr. Roosevelt has added to the picturesqueness of political invective by
describing Mr. Wilson's last Presidential message as "worthy of a Byzantine
logothete." It is not often that one finds a rough-rider and ex-cowboy who
is able to tackle a don in his own lingo. But Tommy at the front manages to
converse with the _poilu_ without any vocabulary at all:
I met a chap the other day a-roostin' in a trench,
'E didn't know a word of ours nor me a word of French,
An' 'ow it was we managed--well, I cannot understand,
But I never used the phrase-book, though I 'ad it in my hand.
I winked at 'im to start with; 'e grinned from ear to ear;
An' 'e says "Tipperary," an' I says "Sooveneer";
'E 'ad my only Woodbine, I 'ad 'is thin cigar,
Which set the ball a-rollin', an' so--well, there you are!
I showed 'im next my wife an' kids, 'e up an' showed me 'is,
Them funny little Frenchy kids with 'air all in a frizz;
"Annette," 'e says, "Louise," 'e says, an' 'is tears began to fall;
We was comrades when we parted, but we'd 'ardly spoke at all.
The New Year brings us a mixed bag of tricks, good and bad. Our armies grow
in numbers and efficiency, in men and munitions. The new Commander-in-Chief
on the Western front, and his new Chief of Staff, inspire confidence in all
ranks, combatant and non-combatant. John Ward, the Labour Member, hitherto
a strong opponent of conscription, and now a full-blown Colonel, has
hurried over from the front to defend the Compulsory Service Bill in a
manly and animated speech, and the Bill, despite the "Pringling" and
pacificism of a small but local minority, has passed through Committee.
Against these encouraging omens we have to set the complete evacuation of
Gallipoli, the scene of unparalleled heroism and unavailing sacrifice, the
fall of Monastir, the overrunning of Serbia, labour troubles on the Clyde,
and the ignominious exemption of Ireland from the Military Service Bill.
General Townshend, _rebus angustis animosus_--"in a tight place but
full of beans"--is besieged in Kut, and the relieving forces have not been
able to dislodge the Turks. Climate and weather and _terrain_ are all
Humanitarian Pacificists are much impressed by Germany's piteous
lamentations over the brutality of the blockade. In these appeals to
America optimists detect signs of cracking. Cooler observers explain them
as evidence of her policy of shamming dead.
English mothers who have lost their only sons cannot be expected to show
sympathy for an Emperor who combines the professions of a Jekyll with the
ferocity of a Hyde. Yet few of them would rewrite the record of these short
lives; their pride is greater than their pain.
While the daily toll of life is heavy, War, shorn of its pomp and
pageantry, drags wearily in the trenches. The Lovelace of to-day is a
troglodyte, biding his time patiently, but often a prey to _ennui_.
This is how he writes to Lucasta to correct the portrait painted by her
Above, the sky is very grey, the world is very damp.
His light the sun denies by day, the moon by night her lamp;
Across the landscape, soaked and sad, the dull guns answer back,
And through the twilight's futile hush spasmodic rifles crack.
The papers haven't come to-day to show how England feels;
The hours go lame and languidly between our Spartan meals;
We've written letters till we're tired, with not a thing to tell
Except that nothing's doing, weather beastly, writer well.
So when you feel for us out here--as well I know you will--
Then sympathise with thousands for their country sitting still;
Don't picture battle-pieces by the lurid Press adored,
But miles and miles of Britishers, in burrows, badly bored.
"Why do we torpedo passenger ships? Because we are being starved by the
"Who says we are in distress? Look what our splendid organisation is
Small wonder that Lovelace in the trenches envies the Flying Man:
He rides aloof on god-like wings,
Taking no thought of wire or mud,
Saps, smells, or bugs--the mundane things
That sour our lives and have our blood.
The roads we trudged with feet of lead,
The shadows of his pinions skim;
The river where we piled our dead
Is but a silver thread to him.
Lovelace in the air might tell another story; but both are at one with
their prototype in the spirit which made him say: "I could not love thee,
dear, so much, loved I not honour more," though neither of them would say
In this context one may add that the Flying Men are not alone in exciting
envy. Bread is the staff of life, and in the view of certain officers in
the trenches the life of the Staff is one long loaf.
The discussion on the withdrawal of Members' salaries has died down. The
incident is now buried, and here is its epitaph:
Some three-score years or so ago six hundred gallant men
Made a charge that cost old England dear; they lost four hundred then:
To-day six hundred make a charge that costs the country dear,
But now they take four hundred each--four hundred pounds a year.
Our journalists have been visiting the Fleet, and one of them, in a burst
of candour tempered with caution, declares that "one would like to describe
much more than one has seen, but that is impossible." Some other
correspondents have found no such difficulty. But for admirable candour
commend us to the _Daily Mail_ of December 24, where we read, "The
_Daily Mail_ will not be published to-morrow, and for that reason we
seize the occasion to-day of bidding our readers a Merry Christmas"--and a
very good reason too. Mr. Punch is glad to reprint a ten-year-old girl's
essay on "Patriotism": "Patriotism is composed of patriots, and they are
people who live in Ireland and want Mr. Redmond or other people to be King
of Ireland. They are very brave, some of them, and are so called after St.
Patrick, who is Ireland's private saint. The patriots who are brave make
splendid soldiers. The patriots who are not brave go to America." And here
is a topical extract from a letter written to a loved one from the Front:
"I received your dear little note in a sandbag. You say that you hope the
sandbag stops a bullet. Well, to tell the truth, I hope it don't, as I have
been patching my trousers with it."
TOMMY (dictating letter to be sent to his wife): "The nurses here are a
very plain lot--"
NURSE: "Oh, come! I say! That's not very polite to us."
TOMMY: "Never mind. Nurse, put it down. It'll please her!"]
Tommy is adding to his other great qualities that of diplomacy, to judge
from the incident illustrated above.
The Epic of the Dardanelles is closed; that of Verdun has begun, and all
eyes are focused on the tremendous struggle for the famous fortress. The
Crown Prince has still his laurels to win, and it is clear that no
sacrifice of German "cannon fodder" will be too great to deter him from
pushing the stroke home. Fort Douaumont has fallen, and the hill of the
Mort Homme has already terribly justified its cadaverous name. The
War-lords of Germany are sorely in need of a spectacular success even
though they purchase it at a great price, for they are very far from having
everything their own way. Another Colony has gone the way of Tsing-tau, New
Guinea and South-West Africa. The German Kamerun has cried "Kamerad!"
General Smuts, like Botha, "Boer and Briton too," has gone off to take
command in East Africa, and in the Caucasus Erzerum has fallen to the
Russians. The Kaiser is reported to be bitterly disappointed with Allah.
Sir Edward Grey is not altogether satisfied with the conduct of the Neutral
Powers. He has no desire to make things as irksome to them as some of his
critics desire. But he has pointed out that in the matter of preventing
supplies from reaching the enemy by circuitous routes Great Britain has her
own work to do, and means to do it thoroughly.
The miraculous forbearance of President Wilson, in face of the activities
of Count Bernstorff, is even more trying to a good many of his countrymen
than it is to the belligerent Briton. Mr. Roosevelt, for instance, derives
no satisfaction from being the fellow-countryman of a man who can "knock
spots" off Job for patience. The _New York Life_ has long criticised
the President with a freedom far eclipsing anything in the British Press.
It has now crowned its "interventionist" campaign by a "John Bull number,"
the most generous and graceful tribute ever paid to England by the American
[Illustration: THE CHALLENGE
"Halt! Who comes there?" "Neutral." "Prove it!"
"What I would say to Neutrals is this: Do they admit our right to apply the
principles which were applied by the American Government in the war between
North and South--to apply those principles to modern conditions and to do
our best to prevent trade with the enemy through neutral countries? If the
answer is that we are not entitled to do that, then I must say definitely
it is a departure from neutrality."--SIR EDWARD GREY.]
GRANNIE (dragged out of bed at 1.30 a.m., and being hurriedly dressed as
the bombs begin to fall): "Nancy, these stockings are not a pair."]
The Military Service Bill has passed through both Houses, and may be
trusted to hasten still further the amazing growth of our once
"contemptible little" Army. The pleasantest incident during the month at
Westminster has been the tribute paid to the gallantry and self-sacrifice
of the officers and men of our mercantile marine. The least satisfactory
aspect of Parliamentary activity has been the ventilation of silly rumours
at Question time, in which Mr. Ginnell has been so well to the fore as to
suggest some subtle connection between cattle-driving and hunting for
Steps have already been taken to restrict the imports of luxuries, and
Ministers are believed to be unanimous in regarding "ginger" as an article
whose importation might be profitably curtailed. It has been calculated
that the annual expenses saved by the closing of the London Museums and
Galleries amount to about one-fifth of the public money spent on the
salaries of Members of Parliament. In other words:
Let Art and Science die,
But give us still our old Loquacity.
Intellectual retrenchment, of course, is desirable,
But let us still keep open one collection
Of curiosities and quaint antiques,
Under immediate Cabinet direction--
The finest specimens of talking freaks,
Who constitute our most superb museum,
Judged by the salaries with which we fee 'em.
Lord Sumner, however, seems to have no illusions on this score. He is
reported to have said that "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 loss of the campaign." It sounds a drastic
remedy, but might be worth trying.
Field-Marshal Lord French has taken over the responsibility for home
defence against enemy aircraft, with Sir Percy Scott as his expert adviser.
But the status of Sir Percy, who, as officially announced, "has not quite
left the Admiralty and has not quite joined the War Office," seems to
suggest "a kind of giddy harumfrodite--soldier an' sailor too."
The War fosters the study of natural and unnatural history.
[Illustration: FIRST LADY: "That's one of them Australian soldiers."
SECOND LADY: "How do you know?"
FIRST LADY: "Why, can't you see the Kangaroo feathers in his hat?"]
Many early nestings are recorded as the result of mild weather, and at
least one occasional visitor _(Polonius bombifer_) has laid eggs in
various parts of the country.
The month of the War god has again justified its name and its traditions.
Both entry and exit have been leonine. The new submarine "frightfulness"
began on the 1st, and the battle round Verdun, in which the fate of Paris,
to say the least, is involved, has raged with unabated fury throughout the
Germany's junior partners, Turkey and Bulgaria, are for the moment more
concerned with bleeding Germany than with shedding their blood for her;
Enver Pasha is reported to have gone to pay a visit to the tomb of the
Prophet at Medina; Portugal, our oldest ally, is now officially at war with
Germany, and the dogs of frightfulness are already toasting "_der
On our share of the Western front there is still what is nominally
described as a "lull." But, as a young Officer writes, "you must not
imagine that life here is all honey. Even here we do a bit for our
eight-and-sixpence." Once upon a time billets were billets. They now very
often admit of being shelled with equal exactitude from due in front and
due in rear, and water is laid on throughout. "It is a fact well known to
all our most widely circulated photographic dailies that the German gunners
waste a power of ammunition. The only criticism I have to make is that I
wish they would waste it more carefully. The way they go strewing the stuff
about around us is such that they're bound to hit someone or something
before long. Still, we have only two more days in these trenches, and they
seldom give us more than ten thousand shells a day."
[Illustration: Verdun, February--March, 1916]
Letters from second-lieutenants seldom go beyond a gentle reminder that
their life is not an Elysium. They offer a strange contrast to the
activities of Parliamentary grousers and scapegoat hunters. 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, one wonders if Members would still
be encumbering the Order-paper with the vexatious trivialities that now
find place there, or emitting what a patriotic Labour Member picturesquely
described as "the croakings and bleatings of the fatted lambs who have
besmirched their country." _Per contra_ we welcome the optimism of Mr.
Asquith in discussing new Votes of Credit, though he reminds us of Micawber
calculating his indebtedness for the benefit of Traddles. It will be
remembered that when the famous IOU had been handed over, Copperfield
remarked, "I am persuaded not only that this was quite the same to Mr.
Micawber as paying the money, but that Traddles himself hardly knew the
difference until he had had time to think about it." Then we have had the
surprising but welcome experience of Mr. Tim Healy championing the
Government against Sir John Simon's attack on the Military Service Bill;
and have listened to Lord Montagu of Beaulieu's urgent plea in the Lords
for unity of air control, a proposal which Lord Haldane declared could not
be adopted without some "violent thinking." Most remarkable of all has been
Mr. Churchill's intervention in the debate on the Naval Estimates, his
gloomy review of the situation--Mr. Churchill is always a pessimist when
out of office--and the marvellous magnanimity of his suggestion that Lord
Fisher should be reinstated at the Admiralty, on the ground that his former
antagonist was the only possible First Sea Lord. Mr. Balfour dealt so
faithfully with these criticisms and suggestions that there seems to be no
truth in the report that Mr. Churchill has been asked to join the
Government as Minister of Admonitions. A new and coruscating star has swum
into our Parliamentary ken in the shape of the Member for Mid-Herts, and
astronomers have labelled it "Pegasus [Greek: pi beta]." When the House of
Commons passed the Bill prohibiting duels it ought to have made an
exception in favour of its own Members. Nothing would have done more to
raise the tone of debate, for offenders against decorum would gradually
have eliminated one another. Yet Parliament has its merits, not the least
of them being the scope it still affords for hereditary talent. Lord Derby,
at the moment the most prominent man on the Home Front after the Premier,
is the grandson of the "Rupert of Debate," and the new Minister of Blockade
enters on his duties close on fifty years after another Lord Robert Cecil
entered the Cabinet of Lord Derby. So history repeats itself with a
difference. In spite of the Coalition, or perhaps because of it, the old
strife of Whigs and Tories has revived, though the lines of cleavage are
quite different from what they were. Thus the new Tories are the men who
believe that the War is going to be decided by battles in Flanders and the
North Sea, and would sacrifice everything for victory, even the privilege
of abusing the Government. The new Whigs are the men who consider that the
House of Commons is the decisive arena, and that even the defeat of the
Germans would be dearly purchased at the cost of the individual's right to
say and do what he pleased.
[Illustration: "He's kicked the Corporal!"
"He's kicked the Vet.!!"
"He's kicked the Transport Officer!!!"
"He's kicked the Colonel!!!!"
[Illustration: THE VICAR: "These Salonikans, Mrs. Stubbs, are, of course,
the Thessalonians to whom St. Paul wrote his celebrated letters."
MRS. STUBBS: "Well, I 'ope 'e'd better luck with 'is than I 'ave. I sent my
boy out there three letters and two parcels, and I ain't got no answer to
After the exhibition of Mr. Augustus John's portrait of Mr. Lloyd George,
the most startling personal event of the month has been the dismissal of
Grand Admiral Tirpitz. According to one account, he resigned because he
could not take the German Fleet out. According to another, it was because
he could no longer take the German people in.
At Oxford the Hebdomadal Council have suspended the filling of the
Professorship of Modern Greek for six months. Apparently there is no one
about just now who understands the modern Greek. A French correspondent
puts it somewhat differently: "_La Grece Antique_: Hellas. _La Grece
Who would have thought when the month opened that at its close a new front
within the Four Seas would be added to our far-flung line, Dublin's finest
street half ruined, Ireland placed under martial law? Certainly not Mr.
Birrell or Mr. Redmond or the Irish Nationalist Members. The staunchest
Unionist would acquit Mr. William O'Brien of any menace when in the Budget
Debate, three weeks before the Rebellion of Easter Week, he gave it as his
opinion that Ireland ought to be omitted from the Budget altogether. So,
too, with Mr. Tim Healy, whose principal complaint was that the tax on
railway tickets would put a premium on foreign travel; that people would go
to Paris instead of Dublin, and Switzerland instead of Killarney. No, so
far as the Government and Ireland's Parliamentary representatives went, it
was a bolt from the blue--or the green. Mr. Birrell, Chief Secretary for
Ireland for nine years, a longer period than any of his predecessors, has
shown himself conspicuous at once by his absence and his innocence, and
England in her hour of need, with the submarine peril daily growing and all
but starved out after a heroic defence, stands to pay dearly for the
privilege of entrusting the administration of Ireland to an absentee
On the Western front Verdun still rivets all eyes. The German hordes are
closing in on the fortress, but at a heavier cost for each mile gained than
they have ever paid before.
Germany's colossal effort would inspire admiration as well as respect if
she would only fight clean. The ugly stories of her treatment of prisoners
have now culminated in the terrible record of the typhus-stricken camp at
Wittenberg, where the German doctors deserted their post.
[Illustration: THE REPUDIATION
Martin Luther (to Shakespeare): "I see my countrymen claim you as one of
them. You may thank God that you're not that. They have made my
Wittenberg--ay, and all Germany--to stink in my nostrils."]
[Illustration: THE GRAPES OF VERDUN
THE OLD FOX: "You don't seem to be getting much nearer them?"
THE CUB: "No, Father. Hadn't we better give it out that they're sour?"]
The report of Mr. Justice Younger's Committee, in which the tale of this
atrocity is fully told, is being circulated in neutral countries, and Mr.
Will Thorne has suggested that it should also be sent to our conscientious
objectors. It is well to administer some sort of corrective to the
information diffused by the neutral newsmonger:
Who cheers us when we're in the blues,
With reassuring German news,
Of starving Berliners in queues?
And then, soon after, tells us they
Are feeding nicely all the day,
And in the old familiar way?
Who sees the Kaiser in Berlin,
Dejected, haggard, old as sin,
And shaking in his hoary skin?
Then says he's quite a Sunny Jim,
That buoyant health and youthful vim
Are sticking out all over him?
Who tells us tales of Krupp's new guns,
Much larger than the other ones,
And endless trains chock-full of Huns?
And then, when our last hope has fled,
Declares the Huns are either dead
Or hopelessly dispirited?
In short, who seems to be a blend
Of Balaam's Ass, the bore's godsend,
And _Mrs. Gamp's_ elusive friend?
In Parliament we have had the biggest Budget ever known introduced in the
shortest Budget speech of the last half-century, at any rate. Mr. Pemberton
Billing is doing his best every Tuesday to bring the atmosphere of the
aerodrome into the House. Mr. Tennant has promised his sympathetic
consideration to Mr. Billing's offer personally to organise raids on the
enemy's aircraft bases, and the House is bearing up as well as can be
expected under the shadow of this impending bereavement. Mr. Swift MacNeill
is busy with his patriotic effort to purge the roll of the Lords of the
peerages now held by enemy dukes. For the rest, up to Easter Week, the
Parliamentary situation has been described as "a cabal every afternoon and
a crisis every second day."
It is one of the strange outcomes of this wonderful time that there is more
gaiety as well as more suffering in hospitals during the War than in peace.
Certainly such a request would never have been heard in normal years as
that recently made by a nurse to a roomful of irrepressible Tommies at a
"A message has just come in to ask if the hospital will make a little less
noise as the lady next door has a touch of headache."
For shouting "The Zepps are coming!" a Grimsby girl has been fined L1. It
was urged in defence that the girl suffered from hallucinations, one being
that she was a daily newspaper proprietor. But the recent Zeppelin raids
have not been without their advantages. In a spirit of emulation an
ambitious hen at Acton has laid an egg weighing 5-1/4 oz.
VISITOR (at Private Hospital): "Can I see Lieutenant Barker, please?"
MATRON: "We do not allow ordinary visiting. May I ask if you are a
VISITOR (boldly): "Oh, yes! I'm his sister."
MATRON: "Dear me! I'm very glad to meet you. _I'm his mother_."]
Verdun still holds out: that is the best news of the month. The French with
inexorable logic continue to exact the highest price for the smallest gain
of ground. If the Germans are ready to give 100,000 men for a hill or part
of a hill they may have it. If they will give a million men they may
perhaps have Verdun itself. But so far their Pyrrhic victories have stopped
short of this limit, and Verdun, like Ypres, battered, ruined and evacuated
by civilians, remains a symbol of Allied tenacity and the will to resist.
The months in war-time sometimes belie their traditions, but it is fitting
that in May we should have enlisted a new Ally--the Sun. The Daylight
Saving Bill became Law on May 17. Here is a true economy, and our only
regret is that Mr. Willett, the chief promoter of a scheme complacently
discussed during his lifetime as ingenious but impracticable, should not
have lived to witness its swift and unmurmuring acceptance under stress of
The official _communiques_ from the Irish Front in the earlier stages
of the Dublin rebellion did not long maintain their roseate complexion.
Even before the end of April a Secret Session--the second in a week--was
held to discuss the Irish situation. By a strange coincidence this Secret
Session immediately followed the grant by the Commons of a Return relating
to Irish Lunacy accounts. From the meagre official summary we gather that
the absence of reporters has at least the negative advantage of shortening
speeches. In a very few days, however, the Prime Minister discarded
reticence, admitting the gravity of the situation, the prevalence of street
fighting, the spread of the insurrection in the West, the appointment of
Sir John Maxwell to the supreme command, and the placing of the Irish
Government under his orders. The inevitable sequel--the execution of the
responsible insurrectionist leaders--has led to vehement protests from
Messrs. Dillon and O'Brien against militarist brutality. The House of
Commons is a strange place. When Mr. Birrell rose on May 3 to give an
account of his nine years' stewardship, the Unionists, and not the
Unionists alone, were thinking of a lamp-post in Whitehall. When he had
concluded his pathetic apologia and confessed his failure to estimate
accurately the strength of Sinn Fein, members were almost ready to fall on
his neck, but they no longer wanted his head.
[Illustration: WANTED--A ST. PATRICK
ST. AUGUSTINE BIRRELL: "I'm afraid I'm not so smart as my brother-saint at
dealing with this kind of thing. I'm apt to take reptiles too lightly."]
Even Sir Edward Carson admitted that Mr. Birrell had been well intentioned
and had done his best. By the middle of the month Mr. Asquith had gone to
Ireland, in the hope of discovering some arrangement for the future which
would commend itself to all parties. By the 25th he was back in his place
after nine days in Dublin. But he had no panacea of his own to prescribe;
no cut-and-dried plan for the regeneration of Ireland. All he could say was
that Mr. Lloyd George had been deputed by the Cabinet to confer with the
various Irish leaders, and the choice is generally approved. If anyone
knows how to handle high explosives without causing a premature concussion
it should be the Minister of Munitions.
Ireland has dominated the political scene at home, for it is impossible not
to connect our new commitments across St. George's Channel with the
introduction and passing of the new Military Service Bill establishing
compulsion for all men, married or single--always excepting Ireland. The
question of man-power is paramount. Mr. Asquith is at last convinced that
"Wait and See" must yield to "Do it Now": that the nation won't have the
sword of Damocles hanging over its head any longer, but will have
compulsion in its hand at once. On the progress of the War Mr. Asquith has
said little in Open Session, but any omission on his part has been made
good by Mr. Churchill, now home on unlimited leave, who has spoken at great
length on the proper use of armies.
Mr. Arthur Ponsonby and Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, who raised the question of
Peace on Empire Day, urging the Government to open negotiations with
Germany, have elicited from the Foreign Secretary the deliberate statement
that the only terms of peace which the German Government had ever put
forward were the terms of victory for Germany, and that we could not reason
with the German people so long as they were fed with lies.
Mr. Henry James, who so nobly repaid the hospitality England was proud to
show him by adopting her nationality in her hour of greatest need, said
shortly before his death that nothing grieved him more than the constant
loss of England's "best blood, seed and breed." The mothers of England
"give their sons," but they know that the choice did not rest with them:
We did not give you--all unasked you went,
Sons of a greater motherhood than ours;
To our proud hearts your young brief lives were lent,
Then swept beyond us by resistless powers.
Only we hear, when we have lost our all,
That far clear call.
But how can the grief be measured of those
Eager to serve a higher quest
And in the Great Cause know the joy of battle,
Gallant and young, by traitor hands,
Leagued with a foe from alien lands,
Struck down in cold blood, fell like butchered cattle?
Though Ireland is not for the moment a source of humour she contrives to be
the cause of it in others. A daily paper tells us that Sir Robert Chalmers
is to be "Permanent Under-Secretary of Ireland _pro tem_." Another
daily paper, the _Daily Mail,_ to be precise, has discovered a new
test of valour: "Mr. Hellish, a regular reader of the _Daily Mail_ for
years, was awarded the V.C. last month for conspicuous bravery."
At last the long vigil in the North Sea has ended in the glorious if
indecisive battle of Jutland, the greatest sea fight since Trafalgar. Yet
was it indecisive? After the momentary dismay caused by the first Admiralty
_communique_ with its over-estimate of our losses, public confidence,
shaken where it was strongest, has been restored by further information and
by the admissions of the enemy. We have to mourn the loss of many ships,
still more the loss of splendid ships' companies and their heroic captains.
We can sympathise with the cruel disappointment of those who, after bearing
the brunt of the action, were robbed of the opportunity of overwhelming
their enemy by failing light and the exigencies of a strategy governed in
the last resort by political caution. But look at the sequel. The German
Fleet, badly battered, retires to port; and despite the paeans of
exultation from their Admirals, Kaiser, and Imperial Chancellor, remains
there throughout the month. Will it ever come out again? Meanwhile,
Wilhelmshaven is closed indefinitely, and nobody is allowed to see those
sheep in Wolff's clothing--the "victorious fleet." The true verdict, so
far as we can judge, may be expressed in homely phrase: The British Navy
has taken a knock but given a harder one. We can stand it and they can't.
[Illustration: THE LOST CHIEF
In Memory of Field-Marshal Earl Kitchener, Maker of Armies]
Within a week of Jutland the Empire has been stirred to its depths by the
tragic death of Lord Kitchener in the _Hampshire_, blown up by a mine
off the Shetlands on her voyage to Archangel. On the eve of starting on his
mission to Russia his last official act had been to meet his critics of the
House of Commons face to face, reply to their questions and leave them
silenced and admiring. On the day of the battle of Jutland these critics
had moved the Prime Minister to declare that Lord Kitchener was personally
entitled to the credit for the amazing expansion of the army. Sir Mark
Sykes, no mean authority, asserted that in Germany our War Secretary was
feared as a great organiser, while in the East his name was one to conjure
with; and Sir George Reid, a worthy representative of the Dominions,
observed that his chief fault was that he was "not clever at circulating
the cheap coin of calculated civilities which enable inferior men to rise
to positions to which they are not entitled." These tributes were delivered
in his lifetime; they deserve to be contrasted with the appreciations of
those journalists who clamoured for his appointment, then clamoured for his
dismissal, and profaned his passing with their insincere eulogies. Three
weeks of Recess elapsed before the Houses could render homage to the
illustrious dead. In the Lords the debt has been paid by a statesman, Lord
Lansdowne, a soldier, Lord French, and a friend, Lord Derby. In the Commons
the speeches were all touched with genuine emotion and the sense of
personal loss. Through all these various tributes rang the note of duty
well done, and Mr. Bonar Law did well to remind the House of the sure
instinct which caused Lord Kitchener to realise at the very outset the
gigantic nature of the present War. In a sense his loss is irreparable, yet
his great work was accomplished before he died. Sometimes accused of
expecting others to achieve the impossible, he had achieved it himself in
the crowning miracle of his life, the improvisation of the New Armies.
The violation of Greek territory by the Bulgarian troops, as might be
expected, has not led to any effective protest from King Constantine. On
the contrary, one seems to hear this benevolent neutral deprecating any
apology on the part of King Ferdinand: "Please make yourself at home. This
is Liberty Hall."
It is otherwise with the irruption of the Russians under General Brusiloff.
His great offensive is a source of offence to the Austrians, who have good
reason to complain that the "steam-roller" is exceeding the speed limit. Or
to change the metaphor, the bear and his tormentor have changed places.
Ireland has receded a little from her place in the limelight, and though
debates on martial law continue, and Irish members ask an inordinate number
of questions arising out of the hot Easter week in Dublin, the temperature
is no longer "98 in the shade" as a local wit described it at the time.
Ministers are extremely economical of information: the anticipated
settlement still hangs fire, and there are increasing fears that it will
not hold water.
[Illustration: THE FAR-REACHING EFFECT OF THE RUSSIAN PUSH]
A number of professional fortune-tellers have been fined at Southend for
having predicted Zeppelins. The fraudulent nature of their pretensions was
sufficiently manifest, since even the authorities had been unable to
foresee the Zeppelins until some time after they had arrived.
The discussions in Parliament and out of it of the way in which things get
into the papers which oughtn't to, are dying down. A daily paper, however,
has revived them by the headline, "Cabinet leekage." Now, why, in wonder,
do they spell it in that way?
It is quite impossible to keep pace with all the new incarnations of women
in war-time--'bus-conductress, ticket-collector, lift-girl, club waitress,
post-woman, bank clerk, motor-driver, farm-labourer, guide, munition maker.
There is nothing new in the function of ministering angel: the myriad
nurses in hospital here or abroad are only carrying out, though in greater
numbers than ever before, what has always been woman's mission. But
whenever he sees one of these new citizens, or hears fresh stories of their
address and ability, Mr. Punch is proud and delighted. Perhaps in the past,
even in the present, he may have been, or even still is, a little given to
chaff Englishwomen for some of their foibles, and even their aspirations.
But he never doubted how splendid they were at heart; he never for a moment
supposed they would be anything but ready and keen when the hour of need
[Illustration: FARMER (who has got a lady-help in the dairy): "'Ullo,
Missy, what in the world be ye doin'?"
LADY: "Well, you told me to water the cows, and I'm doing it. They don't
seem to like it much."]
On the home front we have long been accustomed to the sound of guns, small
and great, but it has come from training camps and inspires confidence
rather than anxiety. We have been spared the horrors of invasion,
occupation, wholesale devastation. In certain areas the noise of bombs and
anti-aircraft guns has grown increasingly familiar, and on our south-east
and east coasts war from the air, on the sea, and under the sea has become
more and more audible as the months pass by. But July has brought us a new
experience--the sound fifty or sixty miles inland in peaceful rural
England, amid glorious midsummer weather, of the continual throbbing night
and day of the great guns on the Somme, where our first great offensive
opened on the 1st, and has continued with solid and substantial gains, some
set-backs, heavy losses for the Allies, still heavier for the enemy. Names
of villages and towns, which hitherto have been to most of us mere names on
the map, have now become luminous through shining deeds of glory and
sacrifice--Contalmaison and Mametz, Delville Wood, Thiepval and
Beaumont-Hamel, Serre and Pozieres.
The victory, for victory it is, has not been celebrated in the German way.
England takes her triumphs as she takes defeats, without a sign of having
turned a hair:
Yet we are proud because at last, at last
We look upon the dawn of our desire;
Because the weary waiting-time is passed
And we have tried our temper in the fire;
And proving word by deed
Have kept the faith we pledged to France at need.
But most because, from mine and desk and mart,
Springing to face a task undreamed before,
Our men, inspired to play their prentice part
Like soldiers lessoned in the school of war,
True to their breed and name,
Went flawless through the fierce baptismal flame.
And he who brought these armies into life,
And on them set the impress of his will--
Could he be moved by sound of mortal strife,
There where he lies, their Captain, cold and still
Under the shrouding tide,
How would his great heart stir and glow with pride!
[Illustration: "TWO HEADS WITH BUT A SINGLE THOUGHT"
FIRST HEAD: "What prospects?" SECOND HEAD: "Rotten." FIRST HEAD: "Same
The results of the battle of the Somme are shown in a variety of ways: by
the reticence and admissions of the German Press, by its efforts to divert
attention to the exploits of the commercial submarine cruiser
_Deutschland_; above all, by the Kaiser's fresh explosions of piety.
"The Devil was sick, the Devil a monk would be." There is no further sign
of his fleet, which remains crippled by its "victory." Nor can he, still
less his Ally, draw comfort from the situation on the Russian or Italian
[Illustration: WELL DONE, THE NEW ARMY]
Mr. Punch finds the usual difficulty in getting any details from his
correspondents when they have been or are in the thick of the fighting.
Practically all that they have to say is that there was a "damned noise,"
that breakfast was delayed by the "morning hate," or that an angry sub
besought a weary O.C. "to ask our gunners not to serve faults into our
front line wire." One of them, however, a very wise young man, ventures on
the prediction that the War will last well into 1918. As the result of a
brief leave he has learned an important truth. "In England they assume that
you, having just arrived from France, _know_. When you return to
France, it is assumed that you, having just arrived from England,
In Parliament Ireland is beginning to suffer from a rival in unenviable
notoriety. Mesopotamia does not smell particularly sweet just now, but that
may add to its usefulness as a red herring. Geographers are said to have
some difficulty in defining its exact boundaries, but the Government are
probably quite convinced that it is situate between the Devil and the Deep
Sea. Two Special Commissions are to be set up to inquire into the
Mesopotamian and Dardanelles Expeditions. Public opinion has been painfully
stirred by the harrowing details which have come to light of the
preventible sufferings endured by British troops. From their point of view
the supply of their medical needs, now guaranteed, is worth a wilderness of
Special Commissions. But Ireland still holds the floor, though Mr. Asquith
is frugal of information as to the prospective Irish Bill and has
deprecated discussion of the Hardinge Report, the most scarifying public
document of our times. The Lords, unembarrassed by any embargo, have
discussed the Report in a spirit which must make Mr. Birrell thank his
stars that he got in his confession first. But why, he may ask, should he
be judged by Lord Hardinge, himself a prospective defendant at the bar of
Following the lead of a certain section of the Press, certain Members have
begun to wax vocal on the subject of reprisals, uninterned Aliens, and the
Hidden Hand. Their appeals to the Home Office to go on the spy-trail have
not met with much sympathy so far. An alleged Austrian taxi-driver has
turned out to be a harmless Scotsman with an impediment in his speech. More
interesting has been the sudden re-emergence of Mr. John Burns. He sank
without a trace two years ago, but has now bobbed up to denounce the
proposal to strengthen the Charing Cross railway-bridge. We could have
wished that he had been ready to "keep the bridge" in another sense; but at
least he has been a silent Pacificist. Mr. Winston Churchill, when his
journalistic labours permit, has contributed to the debates, and Lord
Haldane has again delivered his famous lecture on the defects of English
education. But for Parliamentary sagacity _in excelsis_ commend us to
Mr. McCallum Scott. He is seriously perturbed about the shortage of
sausage-skins and, in spite of the bland assurance of Mr. Harcourt that
supplies are ample, is alleged to be planning a fresh campaign with the
assistance of Mr. Hogge. Another shortage has given rise to no anxiety, but
rather the reverse. In a police court it was recently stated that there are
no longer any tramps in England. Evidently the appeal of that stirring old
song, "Tramp! tramp! tramp! the boys are marching," has not been without
[Illustration: CONJURER (unconscious of the approach of hostile aircraft):
"Now, Ladies and Gentlemen, I want you to watch me closely."]
Yet another endurable shortage is reported from the seaside, where an old
sailor on the local sea front has been lamenting the spiritual starvation
brought about by the war. "Why," he said, "for the first time for twenty
years we ain't got no performing fleas down here." And performers, when
they do come, are not always successful in riveting the attention of their
The third year of the War opens well for the Allies; so well that the
Kaiser has again issued a statement denying that he is responsible for it.
The Big Push on the Somme goes on steadily, thanks to fine leadership, the
steadfast heroism of the New Armies, and the loyal co-operation of the
munition-workers at home, who have deferred their holiday rather than
hamper their brothers in the trenches by a lessened output.
Here one fact may suffice as a sample. The weekly consumption of high
explosives by the Army is now between eleven and twelve thousand times as
much as it was in September, 1914. Yet when a lieutenant is asked to state
what it is really like being along with the B.E.F. when it is in its
pushful mood, he sedulously eschews heroics, and will not commit himself to
saying more than that it's all right--that he doesn't think there is any
cause for anxiety. "We seem to have ceased to have sensations out here. It
is a matter of business; the only question is how long is it going to take
to complete." So, too, with the Tommies. "Wonderful," declares the man in
the ranks to persistent seekers after thrilling descriptions of war. "You
never see the like. Across in them trenches there was real soda-water in
bottles." To return to our lieutenant, he "simply can't help being a little
sorry for the Boche now that his wild oats are coming home to roost." Even
his poetic friends, formerly soulful and precious, take this restrained
view. The Attributes of the Enemy are thus summed up by one trench bard:
If Boches laughed and Huns were gents,
They'd own their share of continents;
There'd be no fuss, and, what is more,
There wouldn't even be a war.
Whereas the end of all this tosh
Can only be there'll be no Boche.
[Illustration: THE BIG PUSH
MUNITION WORKER: "Well, I'm not taking a holiday myself just yet, but I'm
sending these kids of mine for a little trip on the Continent."]
Another poet, an R.F.C. man, adopts the same vein, void alike of hate or
Returning from my morning fly
I met a Fokker in the sky,
And, judging from its swift descent,
It had a nasty accident.
On thinking further of the same
I rather fear I was to blame.
It is easy to understand why the enemy nations find England so
disappointing and unsatisfying to be at war with.
Italy, too, has had her Big Push on the Isonzo, capturing Monte Sabotino,
which had defied her for fifteen months, and Gorizia--a triumph of
scientific preparation and intrepid assault. The Austrian poison-gas attack
on the Asiago plateau has been avenged, and the objectives of the long and
ineffectual offensive of the previous winter carried with thousands of
prisoners at a comparatively cheap price. To add to Austria's humiliation
her armies on the Eastern Front have been placed under the Prussian
Hindenburg. And Rumania has joined the Allies at the end of what has been a
very bad month for the Central Empires. English newspapers have been
excluded from Germany, and Berlin has added truthless to meatless days. But
the Germans have long since found a substitute for veracity as well as for
leather and butter and rubber and bread. They are said to have found a
substitute for International Law, and it is an open secret that they are
even now in search of a substitute for victory. We might even suggest a few
more substitutes which have not yet been utilised. As, for example, a
substitute for Verdun with the German flag flying over it; substitutes for
several German Colonies; a substitute for Austria as an ally; and
substitutes for Kultur and Organisation and Efficiency and World Power and
the Mailed Fist and the Crown Prince and the Kaiser and the War and all the
things that haven't come off.
Various momentous decisions have been arrived at in Parliament. The Cabinet
are _not_ to be cinematographed, and unnecessary taxi-whistling is to
be suppressed, without any prejudice to the squealing of importunate
chatterers below the gangway. Ireland has again dominated the Parliamentary
scene; the Nationalists have resumed their freedom of action with attacks
on Sir John Maxwell and martial law, and are displaying an embarrassing
industry reminiscent of the 'Eighties. Mr. Ginnell has been removed by
order of the Speaker; Mr. Duke has succeeded Mr. Birrell; and the
discussion of three Irish Bills has bulked so large that one might almost
forget we were at war. In such brief moments as could be spared from Irish
affairs the Premier has proposed a fresh Vote of Credit for 450 millions,
has introduced a Bill for extending the life of Parliament, and another
establishing a new Register. The last has been unmercifully belaboured in
debate, the Prime Minister himself describing it as "a halting, lopsided,
temporary makeshift." The apparently insoluble problem is that of enabling
soldiers in the trenches to exercise the franchise. Soldiers and sailors
can very well wait for their votes, but not for their money, and the delays
in providing pensions for discharged men have been condemned by members of
all parties. So the War is not altogether forgotten by the House. Mr. Lloyd
George, the new War Secretary, without wasting breath on the pessimistic
comments of his colleague Mr. Churchill, has given an encouraging survey of
the general situation. The cry has gone up that Mr. Hughes Must Come Back
from Australia, and Mr. Swift MacNeill has been rewarded for his
pertinacity by extracting a promise from Mr. Asquith that he will purge the
Peerage of its enemy Dukes. Better still is the solemn assurance of the
Premier that the Government are taking steps to discover the identity of
all those who are in any way responsible for the judicial murder of Captain
Fryatt--the worst instance of calculated atrocity against non-combatants
since the murder of Nurse Cavell.
The education of our New Armies is full of strange and noble surprises. Now
it is an ex-shop boy converted into an R.H.A. driver. Or again it is a
Tommy learning to appreciate the heroism of a French peasant woman:
'Er bloke's out scrappin' with the rest,
Pushin' a bay'net in Argonne;
She wears 'is photo on 'er breast,
"_Mon Jean_," she sez--the French for John.
She 'ears the guns boom night an' day;
She sees the shrapnel burstin' black;
The sweaty columns march away,
The stretchers bringin' of 'em back.
She ain't got no war-leggin's on;
'Er picture's never in the Press,
Out scoutin'. She finds breeks "_no bon_,"
An' carries on in last year's dress.
At dawn she tows a spotty cow
To graze upon the village green;
She plods for miles be'ind a plough,
An' takes our washin' in between.
She tills a patch o' spuds besides,
An' burnt like copper in the sun,
She tosses 'ay all day, then rides
The 'orse 'ome when the job is done.
The times is 'ard--I got me woes,
With blistered feet an' this an' that,
An' she's got 'ers, the good Lord knows,
Although she never chews the fat.
But when the Boche 'as gulped 'is pill,
An' crawled 'ome to 'is bloomin' Spree,
We'll go upon the bust, we will,
Madame an' Monsieur Jean an' me.
Or once more it is the young officer shaving himself in a captured German
dug-out before an old looking-glass looted from a _chateau_ by a dead
German, and apologising to its rightful owner:
Madame, at the end of this long campaign,
When France comes into her own again
In the setting where only she can shine,
As you in your mirror of rare design--
Forgive me, who dare
In a German lair
To shave in your mirror at Pozieres.
Then there are "lonely soldiers" in India, envious of their more fortunate
comrades in Flanders, and soldiers quite the reverse of lonely during their
THE CAPTAIN: "Your brother is doing splendidly in the Battalion. Before
long he'll be our best man."
THE SISTER: "Oh, Reginald! Really, this is so very sudden."]
The education of those on the Home Front is also proceeding. There are some
maids who announce the approach of Zeppelins as if they were ordinary
visitors. There are others who politely decline to exchange a seat at an
attic window for the security of the basement.
MISTRESS (coming to maid's room as the Zeppelins approach): "Jane! Jane!
Won't you come downstairs with the rest of us?"
LITTLE MAID: "Oh, thank you, Mum, but I can see beautiful from here, Mum."]
According to the German papers Prince Frederick Leopold of Prussia has been
severely reprimanded by the Kaiser for permitting his wild swine to escape
from their enclosure and damage neighbouring property. It would be
interesting to know if Prince Leopold excused himself on the ground that he
had merely followed the All Highest's distinguished example. When Princes
are rebuked common editors cannot hope to escape censure. The editor of the
_Vorwaerts_ has again been arrested, the reason given being that the
newspaper does not truthfully represent Germany's position in the War. If
the title of the organ is any indication of its contents the charge would
appear to be more than justified.
"IAN HAY" wrote a fine book on "The First Hundred Thousand"--the first
batch of Kitchener's Army. Another book, equally glorious, remains to be
written about another Hundred Thousand--the Sweepers of the Sea. And with
them are to be reckoned the heroes of the little ships of whom we hear
naught save the laconic record in a daily paper that "the small steamer
------ struck a mine yesterday and sank," and that all the crew were lost:
Who to the deep in ships go down,
Great marvels do behold,
But comes the day when some must drown
In the grey sea and cold.
For galleons lost great bells do toll,
But now we must implore
God's ear for sunken Little Ships
Who are not heard of more.
When ships of war put out to sea,
They go with guns and mail,
That so the chance may equal be
Should foemen them assail;
But Little Ships men's errands run,
And are not clad for strife;
God's mercy, then, on Little Ships
Who cannot fight for life.
To warm and cure, to clothe and feed,
They stoutly put to sea,
And since that men of them had need
Made light of jeopardy;
Each in her hour her fate did meet,
Nor flinched nor made outcry;
God's love be with these Little Ships
Who could not choose but die.
To friar and nun, and every one
Who lives to save and tend,
Sisters were these whose work is done
And cometh thus to end;
Full well they knew what risk they ran
But still were strong to give;
God's grace for all the Little Ships
Who died that men might live.
September has brought us good tidings by land and air. Thiepval and Combles
are ours, and the plague of the Zeppelins has been stayed. The downing of
the Zepp at Cuffley by Lieutenant Robinson gave North London the most
thrilling aerial spectacle ever witnessed. There has been much diversity of
opinion as to the safest place to be in during a Zeppelin raid--under cover
or in the open, on the top floor or in the basement; but recent experiences
suggest that by far the most dangerous place on those occasions is in a
Zeppelin. But perhaps the most momentous event of the month has been the
coming of the Tanks, a most humorous and formidable addition to the
_fauna_ of the battlefield--half battleship, half caterpillar--which
have given the Germans the surprise of their lives, a surprise all the more
effective for being sudden and complete. The Germans, no doubt, have their
surprise packets in store for us, but we can safely predict that they are
not likely to be at once so comic and so efficient as these unlovely but
painstaking monsters. As an officer at the front writes to a friend: "These
animals look so dreadfully competent, I am quite sure they can swim. Thus,
any day now, as you go to your business in the City, you may meet one of
them trundling up Ludgate Hill, looking like nothing on earth and not
behaving like a gentleman." As for the relations between the Allies in the
field the same correspondent contributes some enlightening details. The
French aren't English and the English aren't French, and difficulties are
bound to arise. The course of true love never did run smooth. Here it
started, as it generally does, with a rush; infatuation was succeeded by
friction, and that in turn by the orthodox aftermath of reconciliation.
"How do we stand now? We have settled down to one of those attachments
which have such an eternity before them in the future that they permit of
no gushing in the present." The War goes well on the Western Front, the
worst news being the report that the Kaiser has undertaken to refrain in
future from active participation in the conduct of military operations.
THE SWEEPERS OF THE SEA.
MR. PUNCH: "Risky work, isn't it?"
TRAWLER SKIPPER: "That's why there's a hundred thousand of us doin' it."]
Peace reigns at Westminster, where legislators are agreeably conspicuous by
their absence. But other agencies are active. According to an advertisement
in the _Nation_ the Fabian Research Department have issued two
Reports, "together with a Project for a Supernatural Authority that will
Prevent War." The egg, on the authority of the _Daily Mail_, is
"disappearing from our breakfast table," but even the humblest of us can
still enjoy our daily mare's nest. The effect of the Zeppelin on the young
has already been shown; but even the elderly own its stimulating influence.
Mr. Punch's correspondents at the Front have an incorrigible habit of
euphemism and levity. Even when things go well they are never betrayed into
heroics, but adhere to the schoolboy formula of "not half bad," just as in
the blackest hours they would not admit that things were more than "pretty
beastly." Yet sometimes they deviate for a moment into really enlightening
comment. No better summary of the situation as it stands in the third year
of the War can be given than in the words of the faithful "Watch-dog," who
has long been on duty in trench and dug-out and crater-hole:--
"This War has ceased to become an occupation befitting a
gentleman--gentleman, that is, of the true Prussian breed. It was a happy
and honourable task so long as it consisted of civilising the world at
large with high explosive, poisonous gas and burning oil, and the world at
large was not too ready to answer back. To persist in this stern business,
in face of the foolish and ignoble obstinacy of the adversary, required
great courage and strength of mind; but the Prussian is essentially
courageous and strong. Things came to a pretty pass, however, when the
wicked adversary made himself some guns and shells and took to being stern
on his own. People who behave like that, especially after they have been
conquered, are not to be mixed with--anything to keep aloof from such. One
had to leave Combles, one had to leave Thiepval, one may even have to leave
Bapaume to avoid the pest; these nasty French and English persons, with
their disgusting tanks, intrude everywhere nowadays." The German engineer
is being hoist with his own petard:
Yet you may suck sweet solace from the thought
That not in vain the seed was sown,
That half the recent havoc we have wrought
Was based on methods all your own;
And smile to hear our heavy batteries
Pound you with imitation's purest flatteries.
Yet, at best, this is sorry comfort for the Kaiser.
[Illustration: THE REJUVENATING EFFECT OF ZEPPELINS]
It is not a picnic for the men in our front line. Reports that the
situation is "normal" or "quiet" or "uneventful" represent more or less
correctly what is happening at G.H.Q., Divisional Headquarters, Brigade
Headquarters, or even Battalion Headquarters. They represent understatement
to the _n_th when applied to the front trenches. But listen again to
the "Watch-dog." He admits that some of our diamonds are not smooth, but
adds "for myself I welcome every touch of nature in these our warriors. It
is good to be in the midst of them, for they thrive as never before, and
their comforts are few enough these wet bloody days."
The Crown Prince, after seven months of ineffective carnage before Verdun,
has been giving an interview to an American ex-clergyman, representing the
Hearst anti-British newspapers, in which he appears in the light of a
tender-hearted philanthropist, longing for peace, mercy, and the delights
of home-life. Mr. Lloyd George, in an interview with an American
journalist, has defined our policy as that of delivering a "knock out" to
Prussian military despotism, a pugilistic metaphor which has wounded some
of our Pacificists. Our Zeppelin bag is growing; Count Zeppelin has sworn
to destroy London or die, but now that John Bull is getting his eye in, the
oath savours of suicide.
KAISER (as his sainted Grandfather's clock strikes three): "The British are
just putting their clocks back an hour. I wish I could put ours back about
The Allies have presented an ultimatum to Greece, but Mr. Asquith's appeal
to the traditions of ancient Hellas is wasted on King Constantine, who, if
he had lived in the days of Marathon and Salamis, would undoubtedly have
been a pro-Persian. As for his future, Mr. Punch ventures on a prediction:
Tino, if some day Hellas should arise
A phoenix soaring from her present cinders,
Think not to share her passage to the skies
Or furnish purple copy for her Pindars;
You'll be in exile, if you don't take care,
Along with brother William, Lord knows where!
A couple of months ago, on the occasion of sharks appearing on the Atlantic
coast of the U.S.A., it was freely intimated at the fashionable
watering-places that there was such a thing as being too proud to bathe.
Now a new and untimely irritant has turned up off the same shores in the
shape of U-boats. Their advent is all the more inconsiderate in view of the
impending Presidential Election, at which Mr. Wilson's claim is based on
having kept America out of the War.
COMRADES IN VICTORY
Combles, September 26th
POILU: "Bravo, mon vieux!"
TOMMY: "Same to you, mate."]
Members have returned to St. Stephen's refreshed by seven weeks' holiday,
and the Nationalists have been recruiting their energies, but unfortunately
nothing else, in Ireland. By way of signalising his restoration, after an
apology, Mr. Ginnell handed in thirty-nine questions--the fruits of his
enforced leisure. The woes of the interned Sinn Feiners who have been
condemned to sleep in a disused distillery at Frongoch have been duly
brought forward and the House invited to declare that "the system of
government at present maintained in Ireland is inconsistent with the
principles for which the Allies are fighting in Europe." The system of
administration in Ireland is, and always has been, inconsistent with any
settled principles whatsoever; but to propose such a motion now is
equivalent to affirming that Ireland is being treated by Great Britain as
Belgium and Poland and Serbia have been treated by Germany. Mr. Redmond
made no attempt to prove this absurd thesis, but when he demanded that
martial law should be withdrawn and the interned rebels let loose in a
Home-ruled Ireland--while the embers of the rebellion were still
dangerously smouldering--he asked too much even of that amicable and
trustful beast, the British Lion. Mr. Duke is not exactly a sparkling
orator, but he said one thing which needed saying, namely, that Irishmen
ought to work out a scheme of Home Rule for themselves, and lay it before
Parliament, instead of expecting Englishmen to do their work for them and
then complaining of the result. In the division-lobby the Nationalists
received the assistance of some forty or fifty British Members, who
supported the motion, Mr. Punch suspects, more out of hatred of the
Coalition than of love for Ireland. But they were easily out-voted by
British Home Rulers alone. The impression left by the debate was that the
Nationalist Members had a great deal more sympathy with the Sinn Feiners
than they had with the innocent victims of the rebellion.
MOTHER: "Come away, Jimmy! Maybe it ain't properly stuffed."]
The need of a War propaganda at home is illustrated by the answers to
correspondents in the _Leeds Mercury_. "Reasonable questions" are
invited, and here is one of the answers: "T.B.--No, it is not General Sir
William Robertson, but the Rev. Sir William Robertson Nicoll who edits
_The British Weekly_." But then, as another journal pathetically
observes, "About nine-tenths of what we say is of no earthly importance to
anybody." Further light is thrown on this confession by the claim of an
Islington applicant for exemption: "Once I was a circus clown, but now I am
on an evening newspaper."
We are grateful to Russia for her efforts, but, as our artist shows above,
the plain person is apparently uncertain as to the quality of our Ally.
We are glad to learn that, on the suggestion of Mr. Asquith, the Lord
Mayor's banquet will be "of a simple nature." Apropos of diet, an officer
expecting leave writes: "My London programme is fixed; first a Turkish
bath, and then a nice fried sole." History repeats itself. A fried sole was
the luxury which officers who served in the Boer War declared that they
enjoyed most of all after their campaigning.
Francis Joseph of Austria has died on the tottering throne which has been
his for nearly seventy years. In early days he had been hated, but he had
shown valour. Later on he had shown wisdom, and had been pitied for his
misfortunes. It was a crowning irony of fate which condemned him in old age
to become the dupe and tool of an Assassin. He should have died before the
War--certainly before the tragedy of Sarajevo.
The British Push has extended to the Ancre, and the Crown Prince, reduced
to the position of a pawn in Hindenburg's game, maintains a precarious hold
on the remote suburbs of Verdun. Well may he be sick, after nine months of
futile carnage, of a name which already ranks in renown with Thermopylae.
As the credit of the Crown Prince wanes, so the cult of Hindenburg waxes.
HINDENBURGITIS; OR, THE PRUSSIAN HOME MADE BEAUTIFUL]
Monastir has been recaptured by the Serbians and French; but Germany has
had her victories too, and, continuing her warfare against the Red Cross,
has sunk two hospital ships. Germany's U-boat policy is going to win her
the War. At least so Marshal Hindenburg says, and the view is shared by
that surprising person the neutral journalist. But in the meantime it
subjects the affections of the neutral sailorman to a severe trial.
King Constantine, however, remains unshaken in his devotion to German
interests. He has also shown marked originality by making up a Cabinet
exclusively composed of University Professors. But some critics scent in
his action a hint of compulsory Ministerial Service, and predict Labour
At home we have to note the steady set of the tide of public opinion in
favour of Food Control. The name of the Dictator is not yet declared, but
the announcement cannot be long postponed. Whoever he may be, he is not to
be envied. We have also to note the steady growth on every side of
Government bungalows--the haunts (if some critics are to be believed) of
the Great Uncombed, even of the Hidden Hand. The men of forty-one were not
wanted last March. Mr. Lloyd George tells us that they are wanted now, or
it would mean the loss of two Army Corps. The Germans, by the way, appear
to be arriving at a just conception of their relative value. Lord Newton
has informed the Lords that the enemy is prepared to release 600 English
civilian prisoners in return for some 4,000 to 7,000 Germans. Parliament
has developed a new grievance: Ministers have confided to Pressmen
information denied to M.P.'s. And a cruel wrong has been done to Erin,
according to Mr. Dillon, by the application of Greenwich time to Ireland,
by which that country has been compelled to surrender its precious
privilege of being twenty-five minutes behind the times. The injustice is
so bitter that it has reconciled Mr. Dillon and Mr. Healy.
The Premier has hinted that if the House insisted on having fuller
information than it receives at present another Secret Session might be
held. When one considers the vital problems on which Parliament now
concentrates its energies--the supply of cocaine to dentists, the
withholding of pictures of the Tanks, etc.--one feels that there should be
a Secret Session at least once a week. Indeed, if the House were to sit
permanently with closed doors, unobserved and unreported, the country might
be all the better for it.
A STRAIN ON THE AFFECTIONS
NORWEGIAN (to Swede): "What--you here, too. I thought you were a friend of
SWEDE: "I was."]
It is the fashion in some quarters to make out that fathers do not realise
the sacrifice made by their sons, but complacently acquiesce in it while
they sit comfortably at home over the fire. Mr. Punch has not met these
fathers. The fathers--and still more the mothers--that he knows recognise
only too well the unpayable nature of their debt.
They held, against the storms of fate,
In war's tremendous game,
A little land inviolate
Within a world of flame.
They looked on scarred and ruined lands,
On shell-wrecked fields forlorn,
And gave to us, with open hands,
Full fields of yellow corn;
The silence wrought in wood and stone
Whose aisles our fathers trod;
The pines that stand apart, alone,
Like sentinels of God.
With generous hands they paid the price,
Unconscious of the cost,
But we must gauge the sacrifice
By all that they have lost.
The joy of young adventurous ways,
Of keen and undimmed sight,
The eager tramp through sunny days,
The dreamless sleep of night,
The happy hours that come and go,
In youth's untiring quest,
They gave, because they willed it so,
With some light-hearted jest.
No lavish love of future years,
No passionate regret,
No gift of sacrifice or tears
Can ever pay the debt.
Yet if ever you try to express this indebtedness to the wonderful young men
who survive, they turn the whole thing into a jest and tell you, for
example, that only two things really interest them, "Europe and their
stomachs"--nothing in between matters.
[Illustration: PAT (examining fare): "May the divil destroy the Germans!"
SUB: "Well, they don't do you much harm, anyway. You don't get near enough
PAT: "Do they not, thin? Have they not kilt all the half-crown officers and
left nothing but the shillin' ones?"]
Guy Fawkes Day has come and gone without fireworks, pursuant to the Defence
of the Realm Act. Even Parliament omitted to sit. Apropos of Secret
Sessions, Lord Northcliffe has been accused of having had one all to
himself and some five hundred other gentlemen at a club luncheon. The
_Daily Mail_ describes the debate on the subject as a "gross waste of
time," which seems to come perilously near _lese-majeste!_ But then,
as a writer in the _Evening News_--another Northcliffe paper--safely
observes, "It is the failing of many people to say what they think without
Rumania has unhappily given Germany the chance of a cheap and spectacular
triumph--of which, after being badly pounded on the Somme, she was sorely
in need. Here was a comparatively small nation, whom the Germans could
crush under their heel as they had crushed Belgium and Serbia. So in
Rumania they concentrated all the men they could spare from other fronts
and put them under their best generals. Their first plans were thwarted,
but eventually the big guns had their way and Bukarest fell. Then, after
the usual display of bunting and joy-bells in Berlin, was the moment to
make a noble offer of peace. The German peace overtures remind one of Mr.
Punch's correspondents of the American advertisement: "If John Robinson,
with whose wife I eloped six months ago, will take her back, all will be
The shadowy proposals of those who preach humanity while they practise
unrestricted frightfulness have not deceived the Allies. They know, and
have let the enemy know, that they must go on until they have made sure of
an enduring peace by reducing the Central Empires to impotence for evil.
When Mr. Asquith announced in the House on December 4 the King's approval
of Reconstruction, few Members guessed that in twenty-four hours he would
have ceased to be Prime Minister and that Mr. Lloyd George would have begun
Cabinet-making. There has been much talk of intrigue. But John Bull doesn't
care who leads the country so long as he leads it to victory. And as for
Certain People Somewhere in France, we shall probably not be far wrong in
interpreting their view of the present change as follows:
Thank God, we keep no politicians here;
Fighting's our game, not talking; all we ask
Is men and means to face the coming year
And consummate our task.
Give us the strongest leaders you can find,
Tory or Liberal, not a toss care we,
So they are swift to act and know their mind
Too well to wait and see.
[Illustration: THE RETURN OF THE MOCK TURTLE-DOVE
THE BIRD: "Wouldn't even look at me!"]
The ultimate verdict on Mr. Asquith's services to the State as Prime
Minister for the first two and a half years of the War will not be founded
on the Press Campaign which has helped to secure his downfall. But, as one
of the most bitterly and unjustly assailed ex-Ministers has said, "personal
reputations must wait till the end of the War." Meanwhile, we have a
Premier who, whatever his faults, cannot be charged with supineness.
THE NEW CONDUCTOR
Opening of the 1917 Overture]
Mr. Bonar Law, the new Leader of the House, has made his first appearance
as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Moving a further Vote of Credit for 400
millions, he disclosed the fact that the daily cost of the War was nearer
six than five millions. In regard to the peace proposals he found himself
unable to better the late Prime Minister's statement that the Allies would
require "adequate reparation for the past and adequate security for the
future." In lucidity and dignity of statement Mr. Asquith was certainly
above criticism. Lord Devonport has been appointed Food Controller and
warned us of rigours to come. The most thrilling speech heard at
Westminster this month has been that of Major Willie Redmond, fresh from
the invigorating atmosphere of the front. While some seventy odd
Nationalist Members are mainly occupied in brooding over Ireland's woes,
two are serving in the trenches--William Redmond and Stephen Gwynn, both of
them middle-aged men. _O si sic omnes_!
Our wounded need all their patience to put up with the curiosity of
non-combatants. A lady, after asking a Tommy on leave what the stripes on
his arm were for, being told that they were one for each time he was
wounded, is reported to have observed, "Dear me! How extraordinary that you
should be wounded three times in the same place!" Even real affection is
not always happily expressed.
"Have you brought me any souvenirs?"
"Only this little bullet that the doctor took out of my side."
"I wish it had been a German helmet."]
The tenderness with which King Constantine is still treated, even after the
riot in Athens in which our bluejackets have been badly mishandled, is
taxing the patience of moderate men. Mr. Punch, for example, exasperated by
the cumulative effect of Tino's misdeeds, has been goaded into making a
formidable forecast of surrender or exit:
You say your single aim is just to use
Your regal gifts for your beloved nation;
Why, then, I see the obvious line to choose,
Meaning, of course, the path of abdication;
Make up your so-called mind--I frankly would--
To leave your country for your country's good.
The German Emperor was prevented from being present at the funeral of the
late Emperor Francis Joseph by a chill. One is tempted to think that in a
lucid interval of self-criticism William of Hohenzollern may have wished to
spare his aged victim this crowning mockery.
Motto for Meatless Days: "The time is out of joint." This is a _raison de
plus_ for establishing an _Entente_ in the kitchen and getting
Marianne to show Britannia how to cook a cabbage.
Though the chariots of War still drive heavily, 1917 finds the Allies in
good heart--"war-weary but war-hardened." The long agony of Verdun has
ended in triumph for the French, and Great Britain has answered the Peace
Talk of Berlin by calling a War Conference of the Empire. The New Year has
brought us a new Prime Minister, a new Cabinet, a new style of Minister.
Captains of Commerce are diverted from their own business for the benefit
of the country. In spite of all rumours to the contrary Lord Northcliffe
remains outside the new Government, but his interest in it is, at present,
friendly. It is very well understood, however, that everyone must behave.
And in this context Mr. Punch feels that a tribute is due to the outgoing
Premier. Always reserved and intent, he discouraged Press gossip to such a
degree as actually to have turned the key on the Tenth Muse. Interviewers
had no chance. He came into office, held it and left it without a single
concession to Demos' love of personalia.
[Illustration: THE DAWN OF DOUBT
GRETCHEN: "I wonder if this gentleman really is my good angel after all!"]
Germany has not yet changed her Chancellor, though he is being bitterly
attacked for his "silly ideas of humanity"--and her rulers have certainly
shown no change of heart. General von Bissing's retirement from Belgium is
due to health, not repentance. The Kaiser still talks of his "conscience"
and "courage" in freeing the world from the pressure which weighs upon all.
He is still the same Kaiser and Constantine the same "Tino," who, as the
_Berliner Tageblatt_ bluntly remarks, "has as much right to be heard
as a common criminal." Yet signs are not wanting of misgivings in the
Mr. Wilson has launched a new phrase on the world--"Peace without Victory";
but War is not going to be ended by phrases, and the man who is doing more
than anyone else to end it--the British infantryman--has no use for them:
The gunner rides on horseback, he lives in luxury,
The sapper has his dug-out as cushy as can be,
The flying man's a sportsman, but his home's a long way back,
In painted tent or straw-spread barn or cosy little shack;
Gunner and sapper and flying man (and each to his job say I)
Have tickled the Hun with mine or gun or bombed him from on high,
But the quiet work, and the dirty work, since ever the War began,
Is the work that never shows at all, the work of the infantryman.
The guns can pound the villages and smash the trenches in,
And the Hun is fain for home again when the T.M.B.s begin,
And the Vickers gun is a useful one to sweep a parapet,
But the real work is the work that's done with bomb and bayonet.
Load him down from heel to crown with tools and grub and kit,
He's always there where the fighting is--he's there unless he's hit;
Over the mud and the blasted earth he goes where the living can;
He's in at the death while he yet has breath, the British infantryman!
Trudge and slip on the shell-hole's lip, and fall in the clinging mire--
Steady in front, go steady! Close up there! Mind the wire!
Double behind where the pathways wind! Jump clear of the ditch, jump
Lost touch at the back? Oh, halt in front! And duck when the shells come
Carrying parties all night long, all day in a muddy trench,
With your feet in the wet and your head in the rain and the sodden
Then over the top in the morning, and onward all you can--
This is the work that wins the War, the work of the infantryman.
And if anyone should think that this means the permanent establishment of
militarism in our midst let him be comforted by the saying of an old
sergeant-major when asked to give a character of one of his men. "He's a
good man in the trenches, and a good man in a scrap; but you'll never make
a soldier of him." The new armies fight all the harder because they want to
make an end not of this war but of all wars. As for the regulars, there is
no need to enlarge on their valour. But it is pleasant to put on record the
description of an officer's servant which has reached Mr. Punch from
France: "Valet, cook, porter, boots, chamber-maid, ostler, carpenter,
upholsterer, mechanic, inventor, needlewoman, coalheaver, diplomat, barber,
linguist (home-made), clerk, universal provider, complete pantechnicon and
infallible bodyguard, he is also a soldier, if a very old soldier, and a
man of the most human kind."
Parliament is not sitting, but there is, unfortunately, no truth in the
report that in order to provide billets for 5,000 new typists and
incidentally to win the War, the Government has commandeered the Houses of
Parliament. The _Times Literary Supplement_ received 335 books of
original verse in 1916, and it is rumoured that Mr. Edward Marsh may very
shortly take up his duties as Minister of Poetry and the Fine Arts. Mr.
Marsh has not yet decided whether he will appoint Mr. Asquith or Mr.
Winston Churchill as his private secretary. Meanwhile, a full list of the
private secretaries of the new private secretaries of the members of the
new Government may at any moment be disclosed to a long suffering public.
On the Home Front the situation shows that a famous literary critic was
also a true prophet:
O Matthew Arnold! You were right:
We need more Sweetness and more Light;
For till we break the brutal foe,
Our sugar's short, our lights are low.
The domestic problem daily grows more acute. A maid, who asked for a rise
in her wages to which her mistress demurred, explained that the gentleman
she walked out with had just got a job in a munition factory and she would
be obliged to dress up to him.
COOK (who, after interview with prospective mistress, is going to think it
"'Ullo! Prambilator! If you'd told me you 'ad children I needn't have
troubled meself to 'ave come."
THE PROSPECTIVE MISTRESS: "Oh! B-but if you think the place would
otherwise suit you, I dare say we could board the children out."]
Maids are human, however, though their psychology is sometimes
disconcerting. One who was told by her mistress not to worry because her
young man had gone into the trenches responded cheerfully, "Oh, no, ma'am,
I've left off worrying now. He can't walk out with anyone else while he's
[Illustration: THE RECRUIT WHO TOOK TO IT KINDLY]
The rulers of Germany--the Kaiser and his War-lords--proclaimed themselves
the enemies of the human race in the first weeks of the War. But it has
taken two years and a half to break down the apparently inexhaustible
patience of the greatest of the neutrals. A year and three-quarters has
elapsed since the sinking of the _Lusitania_. The forbearance of
President Wilson--in the face of accumulated insults, interference in the
internal politics of the United States, the promotion of strikes and
_sabotage_ by the agents of Count Bernstorff--has exposed him to hard
and even bitter criticism from his countrymen. Perhaps he over-estimated
the strength of the German-American and Pacificist elements. But his
difficulties are great, and his long suffering diplomacy has at least this
merit, that if America enters the War it will be as a united people.
Germany's decision to resort to unrestricted submarine warfare on February
1 is the last straw: now even Mr. Henry Ford has offered to place his works
at the disposal of the American authorities.
Day by day we read long lists of merchant vessels sunk by U-boats, and
while the Admiralty's reticence on the progress of the anti-submarine
campaign is legitimate and necessary, the withholding of statistics of new
construction does not make for optimism. Victory will be ours, but not
without effort. The great crisis of the War is not passed. That has been
the burden of all the speeches at the opening of Parliament from the King's
Lord Curzon, who declared that we were now approaching "the supreme and
terrible climax of the War," has spoken of the late Duke of Norfolk as a
man "diffident about powers which were in excess of the ordinary." Is not
that true of the British race as a whole? Only now, under the stress of a
long-drawn-out conflict, is it discovering the variety and strength of its
latent forces. The tide is turning rapidly in Mesopotamia. General Maude,
who never failed to inspire the men under his command on the Western front
with a fine offensive spirit, has already justified his appointment by
capturing Kut, and starting on a great drive towards Baghdad.
[Illustration: THE LAST THROW]
On the Salonika front, to quote from one of Mr. Punch's ever-increasing
staff of correspondents, "all our prospects are pleasing and only Bulgar
vile." On the Western front the British have taken Grandcourt, and our
"Mudlarks," encamped on an ocean of ooze, preserve a miraculous equanimity
in spite of the attention of rats and cockroaches and the vagaries of the
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT (in his private room in recently commandeered
hotel): "Boy! Bring some more coal!"]
At home the commandeering of hotels to house the new Ministries proceeds
apace, and a request from an inquiring peer for a comprehensive return of
all the buildings requisitioned and the staffs employed has been declined
on the ground that to provide it would put too great a strain on officials
engaged on work essential to winning the War.
The criticisms on the late Cabinet for its bloated size have certainly not
led to any improvement in this respect, and one of the late Ministers has
complained that the Administration has been further magnified until, if all
its members, including under-secretaries, were present, they would fill not
one but three Treasury Benches. Already this is a much congested district
at question-time and the daily scene of a great push. Up to the present
there are, however, only thirty-three actual Ministers of the Crown, and
their salaries only amount to the trifle of L133,000. The setting up of a
War Cabinet, "a body utterly unknown to the law," has excited the
resentment of Mr. Swift MacNeill, whose reverence for the Constitution
(save in so far as it applies to Ireland) knows no bounds; and Mr. Lynch
has expressed the view that it would be a good idea if Ireland were
specially represented at the Peace Conference, in order that her delegates
might assert her right to self-government.
England, in February, 1917, seems to deserve the title of "the great Loan
Land." Amateurs of anagrams have found satisfaction in the identity of
"Bonar Law" with "War Loan B." As a cynic has remarked, "in the midst of
life we are in debt." But the champions of national economy are not happy.
The staff of the new Pensions Minister, it is announced, will be over two
thousand. It is still hoped, however, that there may be a small surplus
which can be devoted to the needs of disabled soldiers. Our great warriors
are in danger of being swamped by our small but innumerable officials.
[Illustration: A PLAIN DUTY
"Well, good-bye, old chap, and good luck! I'm going in here to do my bit,
the best way I can. The more everybody scrapes together for the War Loan,
the sooner you'll be back from the trenches."]
The older Universities, given over for two years to wounded soldiers and a
handful of physically unfit or coloured undergraduates, are regaining a
semblance of life by the housing of cadet battalions in some colleges. The
Rhodes scholars have all joined up, and normal academic life is still in
In Tom his Quad the Bloods no longer flourish;
Balliol is bare of all but mild Hindoos;
The stalwart oars that Isis used to nourish
Are in the trenches giving Fritz the Blues,
And many a stout D.D.
Is digging trenches with the V.T.C.
[Illustration: The Brothers Tingo, who are exempted from military service,
do their bit by helping to train ladies who are going on the land.]
It is true that Mr. Bernard Shaw has visited the front. No reason is
assigned for this rash act, and too little has been made of the fact that
he wore khaki just like an ordinary person. Amongst other signs of the
times we note that women are to be licensed as taxi-drivers:
War has taught the truth that shines
Through the poet's noble lines:
"Common are to either sex
_Artifex and opifex_."
A new danger is involved in the spread of the Army Signalling Alphabet. The
names of Societies are threatened. The dignity of Degrees is menaced by a
code which converts B.A. into Beer Ack. Initials are no longer sacred, and
the great T.P. will become Toc Pip O'Connor, unless some Emma Pip
introduces a Bill to prevent the sacrilege.
With the end of Tsardom in Russia, the fall of Baghdad, and the strategic
retreat of Hindenburg on the Western front, all crowded into one month,
March fully maintains its reputation for making history at the expense of
Caesars and Kaisers. It seems only the other day when the Tsar's assumption
of the title of Generalissimo lent new strength to the legend of the
"Little Father." But the forces of "unholy Russia"--Pro-German Ministers
and the sinister figure of Rasputin--have combined to his undoing, and now
none is so poor to do him reverence. In the House of Commons everybody
seems pleased, including Mr. Devlin, who has been quite statesmanlike in
his appreciation, and the Prime Minister, in one of his angelic visits to
the House, evoked loud cheers by describing the Revolution as one of the
landmarks in the history of the world. But no one noticed that Sir Henry
Campbell-Bannerman's outburst in 1906, just after the dissolution of
Russia's first elected Parliament: "_La Duma est morte; vive la Duma_!
" has now been justified by the event--at any rate for the moment, for
Revolutions are rich in surprises and reactions. The capture of Baghdad
inspires no misgivings, except in the bosoms of Nationalist members, who
detect in the manifesto issued by General Maude fresh evidences of British
The fleet of Dutch merchantmen, which has been sunk by a waiting submarine,
sailed under a German guarantee of "relative security." Germany is so often
misunderstood. It should be obvious by this time that her attitude to
International Law has always been one of approximate reverence. The shells
with which she bombarded Rheims Cathedral were contingent shells, and the
_Lusitania_ was sunk by a relative torpedo. Neutrals all over the
world, who are smarting just now under a fresh manifestation of Germany's
respective goodwill, should try to realise before they take any action what
is the precise situation of our chief enemy: He has (relatively) won the
War; he has (virtually) broken the resistance of the Allies; he has
(conditionally) ample supplies for his people; in particular he is
(morally) rich in potatoes. His finances at first sight appear to be pretty
heavily involved, but that soon will be adjusted by (hypothetical)
indemnities; he has enormous (proportional) reserves of men; he has
(theoretically) blockaded Great Britain, and his final victory is
(controvertibly) at hand. But his most impressive argument, which cannot
fail to come home to hesitating Neutrals, is to be found in his latest
exhibition of offensive power, namely, in his (putative) advance--upon the
A grave statement made by the Under-Secretary for War as to the recent
losses of the Royal Flying Corps on the Western front and the increased
activity of the German airmen has created some natural depression. The
command of the air fluctuates, but the spirit of our airmen is a sure
earnest that the balance will be redressed in our favour. Mr. Punch has
already paid his tribute to the British infantryman. Let him now do his
homage to the heroes whose end is so often disguised under the laconic
announcement: "One of our machines did not return."
[Illustration: ALSO RAN
WILHELM: "Are you luring them on, like me?" MEHMED: "I'm afraid I am!"]
I like to think it did not fall to earth,
A wounded bird that trails a broken wing,
But to the heavenly blue that gave it birth,
Faded in silence, a mysterious thing,
Cleaving its radiant course where honour lies
Like a winged victory mounting to the skies.
The clouds received it, and the pathless night;
Swift as a flame, its eager force unspent,
We saw no limit to its daring flight;
Only its pilot knew the way it went,
And how it pierced the maze of flickering stars
Straight to its goal in the red planet Mars.
So to the entrance of that fiery gate,
Borne by no current, driven by no breeze,
Knowing no guide but some compelling fate,
Bold navigators of uncharted seas,
Courage and youth went proudly sweeping by,
To win the unchallenged freedom of the sky.
Parliament has been occupied with many matters, from the Report of the
Dardanelles Commission to the grievances of Scots bee-keepers. The woes of
Ireland have not been forgotten, and the Nationalists have been busily
engaged in getting Home Rule out of cold storage. Hitherto every attempt of
the British Sisyphus to roll the Stone of Destiny up the Hill of Tara has
found a couple of Irishmen at the top ready to roll it down again. Let us
hope that this time they will co-operate to install it there as the throne
of a loyal and united Ireland. Believers in the "Hidden Hand" have been on
the war-path, and as a result of prolonged discussion as to the
responsibility for the failure of the effort to force the Dardanelles, the
House is evidently of opinion that Lord Fisher might now be let alone by
foes and friends. The idea of blaming _Queen Elisabeth_ for the fiasco
is so entirely satisfactory to all parties concerned that one wonders why
the Commission couldn't have thought of that itself.
[Illustration: THE INFECTIOUS HORNPIPE]
Mr. Bernard Shaw, returned from his "joy-ride" at the Front, has declared
that "there is no monument more enduring than brass"; the general feeling,
however, is that there is a kind of brass that is beyond enduring.
Armageddon is justified since it has given him a perfectly glorious time.
He is obliged, in honesty, to state that the style of some of the buildings
wrecked by the Germans was quite second rate. He entered and emerged from
the battle zone without any vulgar emotion; remaining immune from pity,
sorrow, or tears. In short:
He went through the fiery furnace, but never a hair was missed
From the heels of our most colossal Arch-Super-Egotist.
According to the latest news from Sofia, 35,000 Bulgarian geese are to be
allowed to go to Germany. As in the case of the Bulgarian Fox who went to
Vienna, there appears to be little likelihood that they will ever return.
[Illustration: FOOD RESTRICTION
LITTLE GIRL: "Oh, Mummy! They've given me a dirty plate."
MOTHER: "Hush, darling. That's the soup."]
Apropos of food supplies, Lord Devonport has developed a sense of judicial
humour, having approved a new dietary for prisoners, under which the bread
ration will be cut down to 63 ounces per week, or just one ounce less than
the allowance of the free and independent Englishman. The latest morning
greeting is now: "_Comment vous Devonportez-vous?_"
Once more the rulers of Germany have failed to read the soul of another
nation. They thought there was no limit to America's forbearance, and they
thought wrong. America is now "all in" on the side of the Allies. The Stars
and Stripes and the Union Jack are flying side by side over the Houses of
Parliament. On the motion introduced in both Houses to welcome our new
Ally, Mr. Bonar Law, paraphrasing Canning, declared that the New World had
stepped in to redress the balance of the old; Mr. Asquith, with a
fellow-feeling, no doubt, lauded the patience which had enabled President
Wilson to carry with him a united nation; and Lord Curzon quoted Bret
Harte. The memory of some unfortunate phrases is obliterated by the
President's historic message to Congress, and his stirring appeal to his
countrymen to throw their entire weight into the Allied scale. The War,
physically as well as morally, is now _Germania contra Mundum_. Yet,
while we hail the advent of a powerful and determined Ally, there is no
disposition to throw up our hats. The raw material of manpower in America
is magnificent in numbers and quality, but it has to be equipped and
trained and brought across the Atlantic. Many months, perhaps a whole year,
must elapse before its weight can be felt on the battle front. The
transport of a million men over submarine-infested seas is no easy task.
But while we must wait for the coming of the Americans on land, their help
in patrolling the seas may be counted on speedily.
THE NEW-COMER: "My village, I think?"
THE ONE IN POSSESSION: "Sorry, old thing; I took it half-an-hour ago."]
[Illustration: SWOOPING FROM THE WEST
(_It is the intention of our new Ally to assist us in the patrolling of
The British have entered Peronne; the Canadians have captured Vimy Ridge.
But the full extent of German frightfulness has never been so clearly
displayed as in their retreat. Here, for once, the German account of their
own doings is true. "In the course of these last months great stretches of
French territory have been turned by us into a dead country. It varies in
width from 10 to 12 or 13 kilometres, and extends along the whole of our
new positions. No village or farm was left standing, no road was left
passable, no railway track or embankment was left in being. Where once were
woods, there are gaunt rows of stumps; the wells have been blown up.... In
front of our new positions runs, like a gigantic ribbon, our Empire of
Death" (_Lokal Anzeiger_, March 18, 1917). The general opinion of the
Boche among the British troops is that he is only good at one thing, and
that is destroying other people's property. One of Mr. Punch's
correspondents writes to say that while the flattened villages and severed
fruit trees are a gruesome spectacle, for him "all else was forgotten in
speechless admiration of the French people.
"Their self-restraint and adaptability are beyond words. These hundreds of
honest people, just relieved from the domineering of the Master Swine, and
restored to their own good France again, were neither hysterical nor
exhausted." The names of the new German lines--Wotan and Siegfried and
Hunding--are not without significance. We accept the omen: it will not be
long before we hear of fresh German activities in the _Goetterdaemmerung_
line. Count Reventlow has informed the Kaiser that without victory a
continuation of the Monarchy is improbable. The "repercussion" of
Revolution is making itself felt. Even the Crown Prince is reported
to have felt misgivings as to the infection of anti-monarchial ideas,
and Mr. Punch is moved to forecast possibilities of upheaval:
Not that the Teuton's stolid wits
Are built to plan so rude a plot;
Somehow I cannot picture Fritz
Careering as a _sans-culotte_;
Schooled to obedience, hand and heart,
I can imagine nothing odder
Than such behaviour on the part
Of inoffensive cannon-fodder.
And yet one never really knows.
You cannot feed his massive trunk
On fairy tales of beaten foes,
Or Hindenburg's "victorious" bunk;
And if his rations run too short
Through this accursed British blockade,
Even the worm may turn and sport
A revolutionary cockade.
On the German Roll of Dishonour this month appears the name of one who has
been _grande et conspicuum nostro quoque tempore monstrum_. Baron
Moritz Ferdinand von Bissing, the German Military Governor-General of
Belgium, who was largely responsible for the murder of Nurse Cavell and the
chief instigator of the infamous Belgian deportations, after being granted
a rest from his labours, is reported to have died "of overwork." Here for
once we find ourselves in perfect agreement with the official German view.