Part 3 out of 5
In a recent character sketch of the deceased Baron, the _Cologne
Gazette_ observed, "He is a fine musician, and his execution was good."
It would have been.
The proceedings in Parliament do not call for extended comment. Mr. Asquith
has handsomely recanted his hostility to women's suffrage, admitting that
by their splendid services in the war women have worked out their own
electoral salvation. An old spelling-book used to tell us that "it is
agreeable to watch the unparalleled embarrassment of a harassed pedlar when
gauging the symmetry of a peeled pear." Lord Devonport, occupied in
deciding on the exact architecture and decoration of the Bath bun (official
sealed pattern), would make a companion picture. For the rest the House has
been occupied with the mysteries of combing and re-combing. The best War
saying of the month was that of Mr. Swift MacNeill, in reference to
proposed peace overtures, that it would be time enough to talk about peace
when the Germans ceased to blow up hospital ships.
LITTLE WILLIE (of Prussia): "As one Crown Prince to another, isn't your
Hindenburg line getting a bit shaky?"
RUPPRECHT (of Bavaria): "Well, as one Crown Prince to another, what about
your Hohenzollern line?"]
Although the streets may have been sweetened by the absence of posters,
days will come, it must be remembered, when we shall badly miss them. It
goes painfully to one's heart to think that the embargo, if it is ever
lifted, will not be lifted in time for most of the events which we all most
desire--events that clamour to be recorded in the largest black type, such
as "Strasbourg French Again," "Flight of the Crown Prince," "Revolution in
Germany," "The Kaiser a Captive," and last and best of all, "Peace." But
Mr. Punch, with many others, has no sympathy to spare for the sorrows of
the headline artist deprived for the time being of his chief opportunity of
In the competition of heroism and self-sacrifice the prize must fall to the
young--to the Tommy and the Second Lieutenant before all. Yet a very good
mark is due to the retired Admirals who have accepted commissions in the
R.N.R., and are mine-sweeping or submarine-hunting in command of trawlers.
Yes, "Captain Dug-out, R.N.R.," is a fine disproof of _si vieillesse
[Illustration: TORPEDOED MINE-SWEEPER (to his pal): "As I was a-saying,
Bob, when we was interrupted, it's my belief as 'ow the submarine blokes
ain't on 'arf as risky a job as the boys in the airy-o-planes."]
According to the _Pall Mall Gazette_, Mr. Lloyd George's double was
seen at Cardiff the other day. The suggestion that there are two Lloyd
Georges has caused consternation among the German Headquarters Staff. But
we are not exempt from troubles and anxieties in England. The bones of a
woolly rhinoceros have been dug up twenty-three feet below the surface at
High Wycombe, and very strong language has been used in the locality
concerning this gross example of food-hoarding. The weather, too, has been
behaving oddly. On one day of Eastertide there was an inch of snow in
Liverpool, followed by hailstones, lightning, thunder, and a gale of wind.
Summer has certainly arrived very early. But at least we are to be spared a
General Election this year--for fear that it might clash with the other
In England, once but no longer merry though not downhearted, in this once
merry month of May, the question of Food and Food Production now dominates
all others. It is the one subject that the House of Commons seems to care
about. John Bull, who has invested a mint of money in other lands, realises
that it is high time that he put something into his own--in the shape of
Corn Bounties. Mr. Prothero, in moving the second reading of the Corn
Production Bill, while admitting that he had originally been opposed to
State interference with agriculture, showed all the zeal of the convert--to
the dismay of the hard-shell Free Traders.
The Food Controller asks us to curtail our consumption of bread by
one-fourth. Here, at least, non-combatants have an opportunity of showing
themselves to be as good patriots as the Germans and of earning the
epitaph: "Much as he loved the staff of life, he loved his country even
[Illustration: "No, dear, I'm afraid we shan't be at the dance to-night.
Poor Herbert has got a touch of allotment feet."]
On the Western Front the German soldiers' opinion of "retirement according
to plan" may be expressed as "each for himself and the Devil take the
Hindenburg." One of them, recently taken prisoner, actually wrote, "When we
go to the Front we become the worst criminals." This generous attempt to
shield his superiors deserves to be appreciated, but it does not dispel the
belief that the worst criminals are still a good way behind the German
lines. The inspired German Press has now got to the point of asserting that
"there is no Hindenburg line." Well, that implies prophetic sense:
And if a British prophet may
Adopt their graphic present tense,
I would remark--and so forestall
A truth they'll never dare to trench on--
_There is no Hindenburg at all,
Or none worth mention_.
According to our Watch Dog correspondent, recent movements show that the
lawless German "has attained little by his destructiveness save the
discomfort of H.Q. Otherwise the War progresses as merrily as ever; more
merrily, perhaps, owing to the difficulties to be overcome. Soldiers love
difficulties to overcome. That is their business in life." This is the way
that young officers write "in the brief interludes snatched from hard
fighting and hard fatigues." Their letters "never pretend to be more than
the gay and cynical banter of those who bring to the perils of life at the
Front an incurable habit of humour, and they are typical of that brave
spirit, essentially English, that makes light of the worst that fate can
send." That is how one brave officer wrote of the letters of a dead comrade
to _Punch_ only a few weeks before his own death.
[Illustration: A BAD DREAM
SPECTRE: "Well, if you don't like the look of me, eat less bread."]
The French have taken Craonne; saluting has been abolished in the Russian
Army; and Germany has been giving practical proof of her friendliness to
Spain by torpedoing her merchant ships. A new star has swum into the
Revolutionary firmament, by name Lenin. According to the Swedish Press this
interesting anarchist has been missing for two days, and it remains to be
seen if he will yet make a hit. Meanwhile the Kaiser is doing his bit in
the unfamiliar role of pro-Socialist.
Newmarket has become "a blasted heath," all horse-racing having been
stopped, to the great dismay of the Irish members. What are the hundred
thousand young men (or is it two?), who refuse to fight for their country,
to do? Mr. Lloyd George has produced and expounded his plan for an Irish
Convention, at which Erin is to take a turn at her own harp, and the
proposal has been favourably received, except by Mr. Ginnell, in whose ears
the Convention "sounds the dirge of the Home Rule Act."
[Illustration: HIS LATEST!
THE KAISER: "This is sorry work for a Hohenzollern; still, necessity knows
_A Garden Glorified_
Mr. Bonar Law has brought in a Budget, moved a vote of credit for 500
millions, and apologised for estimating the war expenditure at 5 1/2
millions a day when it turned out to be 7 1/2. The trivial lapse has
been handsomely condoned by his predecessor, Mr. McKenna. The Budget
debate was held with open doors, but produced a number of speeches much
more suitable for the Secret Session which followed, and at which it
appears from the Speaker's Report that nothing sensational was revealed.
The House of Commons, unchanged externally, has deteriorated spiritually,
to judge by the temper of most of those who have remained behind. It is
otherwise with other Institutions, some of which have been ennobled by
A PLACE OF ARMS
I knew a garden green and fair,
Flanking our London river's tide,
And you would think, to breathe its air
And roam its virgin lawns beside,
All shimmering in their velvet fleece,
"Nothing can hurt this haunt of Peace."
No trespass marred that close retreat;
Privileged were the few that went
Pacing its walks with measured beat
On legal contemplation bent;
And Inner Templars used to say:
"How well our garden looks to-day!"
But That which changes all has changed
This guarded pleasaunce, green and fair,
And soldier-ranks therein have ranged
And trod its beauties hard and bare,
Have tramped and tramped its fretted floor,
Learning the discipline of War.
And many a moon of Peace shall climb
Above that mimic field of Mars,
Before the healing touch of Time
With springing green shall hide its scars;
But Inner Templars smile and say:
"Our barrack-square looks well to-day!"
Good was that garden in their eyes,
Lovely its spell of long-ago;
Now waste and mired its glory lies,
And yet they hold it dearer so,
Who see beneath the wounds it bears
A grace no other garden wears.
For still the memory, never sere,
But fresh as after fallen rain,
Of those who learned their lesson here
And may not ever come again,
Gives to this garden, bruised and browned,
A greenness as of hallowed ground.
News comes from Athens that King Constantine is realising his position and
contemplates abdication in favour of the Crown Prince George. It is not yet
known in whose favour the Crown Prince George will abdicate. In this
context the _Koelnische Zeitung_ is worth quoting. "The German people,"
it says, "will not soon forget what they owe to their future Emperor." This
spasm of candour is not confined to the Rhineland. The keenest minds in
Germany, says a Berlin correspondent, are now seeking to discover the
secret of the Fatherland's world-wide unpopularity. It is this absurd
sensitiveness on the part of our cultured opponent that is causing some of
her best friends in this country to lose hope.
Genius has been denned as an infinite capacity for taking pains; and if the
definition is sound, genius cannot be denied to the painstaking officials
who test the physical fitness of recruits--"as in the picture."
The month has witnessed the amendment of the President's much discussed
phrase: "Too proud to fight" has now become "Proud to fight too." Another
revised version is suggested by Margarine: _C'est magnifique, mais ce
n'est pas le beurre_. The German Food Controller laments the mysterious
disappearance of five million four hundred thousand pigs this year. The
idea of having the Crown Prince's baggage searched does not seem to have
been found feasible.
[Illustration: OUR PERSEVERING OFFICIALS
Or, the Recruit that was passed at the thirteenth examination.]
Within some eleven weeks of the Declaration of War by the U.S.A., the first
American troops have been landed in France. Even the Kaiser has begun to
abate his thrasonic tone, declaring that "it is not the Prussian way to
praise oneself," and that "it is now a matter of holding out, however long
But other events besides the arrival of the Americans have helped to bring
about this altered tone. The capture of Messines Ridge, after the biggest
bang in history, has given him something to think about. His
brother-in-law, Constantine of Greece, has at last thrown up the sponge and
abdicated. "Tino's" place of exile is not yet fixed. The odds seem to be on
Switzerland, but Mr. Punch recommends Denmark. There is no place like home:
Try some ancestral palace, well appointed;
For choice the one where Hamlet nursed his spite,
Who found the times had grown a bit disjointed
And he was not the man to put 'em right;
And there consult on that enchanted shore
The ghosts of Elsinore.
Brazil has also entered the War, and Germany is now able to shoot in almost
any direction without any appreciable risk of hitting a friend.
Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig gave the nation a birthday present on his
own birthday, in the shape of a dispatch which is as strong and straight as
Frugal in speech, yet more than once impelled
To utter words of confidence and cheer
Whereat some dismal publicists rebelled
As premature, ill-founded, insincere--
Words none the less triumphantly upheld
By Victory's verdict, resonantly clear,
Words that inspired misgiving in the foe
Because you do not prophesy--you _know_.
Steadfast and calm, unmoved by blame or praise,
By local checks or Fortune's strange caprices,
You dedicate laborious nights and days
To shattering the Hun machine to pieces;
And howsoe'er at times the battle sways
The Army's trust in your command increases;
Patient in preparation, swift in deed,
We find in you the leader that we need.
[Illustration: A WORD OF ILL OMEN
CROWN PRINCE (to Kaiser, drafting his next speech): "For Gott's sake,
father, be careful this time, and don't call the American Army
A new feature of the German armies are the special "storm-troops"; men
picked for their youth, vigour, and daring, and fortified by a specially
liberal diet for the carrying out of counter-attacks. Even our ordinary
British soldiers, who are constantly compelled to take these brave fellows
prisoners, bear witness to the ferocity of their appearance.
On our Home Front the Germans have shown considerable activity of late.
Daylight air-raids are no longer the monopoly of the South-east coast; they
have extended to London. And a weekly paper, conspicuous for the insistence
with which it proclaims its superiority to all others, has been asking: If
17 German aeroplanes can visit and bomb London in broad daylight, what is
to prevent our enemy from sending 170 or even 1,700? Fortunately the
average man and woman pays no heed to this scare-mongering, and goes about
his or her business, if not rejoicing, at any rate in the conviction that
the Gothas are not going to have it all their own way.
Considering that the "Fort of London" had been drenched with the "ghastly
dew" of aerial navies barely three hours before Parliament met on June 13,
Members showed themselves uncommon calm. They were at their best a few days
earlier in paying homage to Major Willie Redmond. It had been his ambition
to be Father of the House: he had been elected thirty-four years ago; but
in reality he was the Eternal Boy from the far-off time when it was his
nightly delight to "cheek" Mr. Speaker Brand with delightful exuberance
until the moment of his glorious death in Flanders, whither he had gone at
an age when most of his compeers were content to play the critic in a snug
corner of the smoking-room. Personal affection combined with admiration for
his gallantry to inspire the speeches in which Mr. Lloyd George, Mr.
Asquith, and Sir Edward Carson enshrined the most remarkable tribute ever
paid to a private Member.
Mr. Balfour has returned safe and sound from his Mission to the States, and
received a warm welcome on all sides. Even the ranks of Tuscany, on the
Irish benches, could not forbear to cheer their old opponent. Besides
securing American gold for his country, he has transferred some American
bronze to his complexion. If anything, he appears to have sharpened his
natural faculty for skilful evasion and polite repartee by his encounter
with Transatlantic journalists. In fact everybody is pleased to see him
back except perhaps certain curious members, who find him even more chary
of information than his deputy, Lord Robert Cecil. The mystery of Lord
Northcliffe's visit to the States has been cleared up. Certain journals,
believed to enjoy his confidence, had described him as "Mr. Balfour's
successor." Certain other journals, whose confidence he does not enjoy, had
declined to believe this. The fact as stated by Mr. Bonar Law is that "it
is hoped that Lord Northcliffe will be able to carry on the work begun by
Mr. Balfour as head of the British Mission in America. He is expected to
co-ordinate and supervise the work of all the Departmental Missions." It
has been interesting to learn that his lordship "will have the right of
communicating direct with the Prime Minister"--a thing which, of course, he
has never done before. Meanwhile, the fact remains that his departure has
been hailed with many a dry eye, and that the public seem to be enduring
their temporary bereavement with fortitude.
[Illustration: MRS. GREEN TO MRS. JONES (who is gazing at an aeroplane):
"My word! I shouldn't care for one of _them_ flying things to settle
Far too much fuss has been made about trying to stop Messrs. Ramsay
MacDonald and Jowett from leaving England. So far as we can gather they did
not threaten to return to this country afterwards. There is no end to the
woes of Pacificists, conscientious or otherwise. The Press campaign against
young men of military age engaged in Government offices is causing some of
them sleepless days. Even on the stage the "conchy" is not safe.
[Illustration: STAGE MANAGER: "The elephant's putting in a very spirited
CARPENTER. "Yessir. You see, the new hind-legs is a discharged soldier, and
the front legs is an out-and-out pacificist."]
The King has done a popular act in abolishing the German titles held by
members of his family, and Mr. Kennedy Jones has won widespread approval by
declaring that beer is a food.
Lord Devonport's retirement from the post of Food Controller has been
received with equanimity. There is a touch of imagination, almost of
romance, in the appointment of his successor, the redoubtable Lord Rhondda,
who as "D.A." was alternately the bogy and idol of the Welsh miners, and
who, after being the head of the greatest profit-making enterprise in the
Welsh coalfields, is now summoned to carry on war against the profiteers in
the provision trade.
In Germany a number of lunatics have been called up for military service,
and the annual report of one institution at Stettin states that "the
asylums are proud that their inmates are allowed to serve their
Fatherland." It appears, however, that the results are not always
satisfactory, though no complaints have been heard on our side.
The War, so Lord Northcliffe has informed the Washington Red Cross
Committee, has only just begun. Whether this utterance be regarded as a
statement of fact or an explosion of rhetoric, it has at least one merit.
The United States cannot but regard it as a happy coincidence that their
entry into the War synchronises with the initial operations. The dog-days
are always busy times for the Dogs of War, and the last month of the third
year opened with the new Russian Offensive under Brusiloff, and closed with
the beginning of the Third Battle of Ypres. The War in the air and under
the sea rages with unabated intensity, and in both Houses the policy of
unmitigated reprisals on German cities has found strenuous advocates. But
Lord Derby, our new Minister of War, will have none of it. British
aeroplanes shall only be employed in bombing where some distinctly military
object is to be achieved. But this decision does not involve any slackness
in defensive measures. We have learned how to deal with the Zepp, and now
we are going to attend to the Gotha. As for the U-boats, the Admiralty says
little but does much. And we are adding to vigilance, valour, and the
resources of applied science the further aid of agriculture.
In the old days the Kaiser was once described as "indefatigably changing
Chancellors and uniforms." Dr. Bethmann-Hollweg has now gone the way of his
greater predecessors--Bismarck and Caprivi, Prince Hohenlohe and Prince
[Illustration: THE TUBER'S REPARTEE
GERMAN PIRATE; "Gott strafe England!"
BRITISH POTATO: "Tuber ueber Alles!"]
The Princes and the Peers depart, and the Doctors are following suit.
Bethmann-Hollweg, immortalised by one fatal phrase, has been at last hunted
from office by the extremists whom he sought to restrain, and Dr.
Michaelis, a second-rate administrator, of negligible antecedents, succeeds
to his uneasy chair, while the Kaiser maintains his pose as the friend of
the people. He has congratulated his Bayreuth Dragoons on their prowess,
which has given joy "to old Fritz up in Elysian fields":
Perhaps; but what if he is down below?
In any case, what we should like to know
Is how his modern namesake, Private Fritz,
Enjoys the fun of being blown to bits
Because his Emperor has lost his wits.
[Illustration: THE SCRAPPER SCRAPPED]
_Delirant reges_: but there are bright exceptions. On July 17 our King
in Council decreed that the Royal House should be known henceforth as the
House of Windsor. Parliament has been flooded with the backwash of the
Mesopotamia Commission, and at last on third thoughts the Government has
decided not to set up a new tribunal to try the persons affected by the
Report. Mr. Austen Chamberlain has resigned office amid general regret. The
Government have refused, "on the representations of the Foreign Secretary,"
to accept the twice proffered resignation of Lord Hardinge. The plain
person is driven to the conclusion that if there are no unsinkable ships
there are some unsinkable officials. For the rest the question mainly
agitating Members has been "to warn or not to warn." The Lord Mayor has
announced that he will not ring the great bell of St. Paul's; but the Home
Secretary states that the public will be warned in future when an air raid
is actually imminent.
[Illustration: BUSY CITY MAN TO HIS PARTNER (as one of the new air-raid
warnings gets to work): "If you'll leave me in here for the warnings I'll
carry on while you take shelter during the raids."]
During these visitations there is nothing handier than a comfortable and
capacious Cave, but the Home Secretary has his limitations. When Mr. King
asked him to be more careful about interning alien friends without trial,
since he (Mr. King) had just heard of the great reception accorded in
Petrograd to one Trotsky on his release from internment, Sir George Cave
replied that he was sorry he had never heard of Trotsky.
Lord Rhondda reigns in Lord Devonport's place, and will doubtless profit by
his predecessor's experience. It is a thankless job, but the great body of
the nation is determined that he shall have fair play and will support him
through thick and thin in any policy, however drastic, that he may
recommend to their reason and their patriotism. This business of
food-controlling is new to us as well as to him, but we are willing to be
led, and we are even willing to be driven, and we are grateful to him for
having engaged his reputation and skill and firmness in the task of leading
or driving us.
The War has its _grandes heures_, its colossal glories and disasters,
but the tragedy of the "little things" affects the mind of the simple
soldier with a peculiar force--the "little gardens rooted up, the same as
might be ours"; "the little 'ouses all in 'eaps, the same as might be
mine"; and worst of all, "the little kids, as might 'ave been our own."
Apropos of resentment, England has lost first place in Germany, for America
is said to be the most hated country now. The "morning hate" of the German
family with ragtime obbligato must be a terrible thing! General von Blume,
it is true, says that America's intervention is no more than "a straw." But
which straw? The last?
GRANDPAPA (to small Teuton struggling with home-lessons): "Come, Fritz, is
your task so difficult?"
FRITZ: "It is indeed. I have to learn all the names of _all_ the
countries that misunderstand the All-Highest."]
It is reported that ex-King Constantine is to receive L20,000 a year
unemployment benefit, and Mr. Punch, in prophetic vein, pictures him as
offering advice to his illustrious brother-in-law:
Were it not wise, dear William, ere the day
When Revolution goes for crowns and things,
To cut your loss betimes and come this way
And start a coterie of exiled Kings?
In the words of a valued correspondent (a temporary captain suddenly
summoned from the trenches to the Staff), "there is this to be said about
being at war--you never know what is going to happen to you next."
With the opening of the fourth year of the War Freedom renews her vow,
fortified by the aid of the "Gigantic Daughter of the West," and undaunted
by the collapse of our Eastern Ally, brought about by anarchy, German gold
and the fraternisation of Russian and German soldiers. The Kaiser, making
the most of this timely boon, has once more been following in Bellona's
train (her _train de luxe_) in search of cheap _reclame_ on the
Galician front, to witness the triumphs of his new Ally, Revolutionary
But though she fail us in the final test,
Not there, not there, my child, the end shall be,
But where, without your option, France and we
Have made our own arrangements in the West.
[Illustration: RUSSIA'S DARK HOUR]
It is another story on the Western Front, where the British are closing in
on the wrecked remains of Lens, and the Crown Prince's chance of breaking
hearts along "The Ladies' Way" grows more and more remote.
[Illustration: THE OPTIMIST
"If this is the right village, then we're all right. The instructions is
clear--'Go past the post-office and sharp to the left afore you come to the
A recent resolution of the Reichstag has been welcomed by Mr. Ramsay
MacDonald as the solemn pronouncement of a sovereign people, only requiring
the endorsement of the British Government to produce an immediate and
equitable peace. But not much was left of this pleasant theory after Mr.
Asquith had dealt it a few sledge-hammer blows. "So far as we know," he
said, "the influence of the Reichstag, not only upon the composition but
upon the policy of the German Government, remains what it always has
been--a practically negligible quantity."
The Reminiscences of Mr. Gerard, the late German Ambassador in Berlin, are
causing much perturbation in German Court circles. In one of his
conversations with Mr. Gerard, the Kaiser told him "there is no longer any
Little scraps of paper,
Little drops of ink,
Make the Kaiser caper
And the Nations think.
The real voice of Labour is not that of the delegates who want to go to the
International Socialist Conference at Stockholm to talk to Fritz, but of
the Tommy who, after a short "leaf," goes cheerfully back to France to
fight him. And the fomenters of class hatred will not find much support
from the "men in blue." Mr. Punch has had occasion to rebuke the levity of
smart fashionables who visit the wounded and weary them by idiotic
questions. He is glad to show the other side of the picture in the tribute
paid to the V.A.D. of the proper sort:
There's an angel in our ward as keeps a-flittin' to and fro,
With fifty eyes upon 'er wherever she may go;
She's as pretty as a picture, and as bright as mercury,
And she wears the cap and apron of a V.A.D.
The Matron she is gracious, and the Sister she is kind,
But they wasn't born just yesterday, and lets you know their mind;
The M.O. and the Padre is as thoughtful as can be,
But they ain't so good to look at as our V.A.D.
Not like them that wash a teacup in an orficer's canteen,
And then "Engaged in War Work" in the weekly Press is seen;
She's on the trot from morn to night and busy as a bee,
And there's 'eaps of wounded Tommies bless that V.A.D.
Our Grand Fleet keeps its strenuous, unceasing vigil in the North Sea. But
we must not forget the merchant mariners now serving under the Windsor
House Flag in the North Atlantic trade:
"We sweep a bit and we fight a bit--an' that's what we like the best--
But a towin' job or a salvage job, they all go in with the rest;
When we ain't too busy upsettin' old Fritz an' 'is frightfulness blockade
A bit of all sorts don't come amiss in the North Atlantic trade."
"And who's your skipper, and what is he like?" "Oh, well, if you want to
I'm sailing under a hard-case mate as I sailed with years ago;
'E's big as a bucko an' full o' beans, the same as 'e used to be
When I knowed 'im last in the windbag days when first I followed the sea.
'E was worth two men at the lee fore brace, an' three at the bunt of a
'E'd a voice you could 'ear to the royal yards in the teeth of a Cape
But now 'e's a full-blown lootenant, an' wears the twisted braid,
Commandin' one of 'is Majesty's ships in the North Atlantic trade."
"And what is the ship you're sailin' in?" "Oh, she's a bit of a terror.
She ain't no bloomin' levvyathan, an' that's no fatal error!
She scoops the seas like a gravy spoon when the gales are up an' blowin',
But Fritz 'e loves 'er above a bit when 'er fightin' fangs are showin'.
The liners go their stately way an' the cruisers take their ease,
But where would they be if it wasn't for us with the water up to our
We're wadin' when their soles are wet, we're swimmin' when they wade,
For I tell you small craft gets it a treat in the North Atlantic trade!"
"An' what is the port you're plying to?" "When the last long trick is
There'll some come back to the old 'ome port--'ere's 'opin' I'll be one;
But some 'ave made a new landfall, an' sighted another shore,
An' it ain't no use to watch for them, for they won't come 'ome no more.
There ain't no harbour dues to pay when once they're over the bar,
Moored bow and stern in a quiet berth where the lost three-deckers are.
An' there's Nelson 'oldin' is' one 'and out an' welcomin' them that's
The roads o' Glory an' the Port of Death in the North Atlantic trade."
DOCTOR: "Your throat is in a very bad state. Have you ever tried gargling
with salt water?"
SKIPPER: "Yus, I've been torpedoed six times."]
Parliament has devoted many hours of talk to the discussion of Mr.
Henderson's visit to Paris in company with Mr. Ramsay MacDonald to attend a
Conference of French and Russian Socialists. As member of the War Cabinet
and Secretary of the Labour Party he seems to have resembled one of those
twin salad bottles from which oil and vinegar can be dispensed alternately
but not together. The attempt to combine the two functions could only end
as it began--in a double fiasco. Mr. Henderson has resigned, and Mr.
Winston Churchill has been appointed Minister of Munitions. Many reasons
have been assigned for his reinclusion in the Ministry. Some say that it
was done to muzzle Mr. MacCallum Scott, hitherto one of the most
pertinacious of questionists, who, as Mr. Churchill's private secretary, is
now debarred by Parliamentary etiquette from the exercise of these
inquisitorial functions. Others say it was done to muzzle Mr. Churchill.
Contrary to expectation, Mr. Churchill has succeeded in piloting the
Munitions of War Bill through its remaining stages in double quick time.
Its progress was accelerated by his willingness to abolish the leaving
certificate, which a workman hitherto had to procure before changing one
job for another. Having had unequalled experience in this respect, he is
convinced that the leaving certificate is a useless formality.
Food stocks going up, thanks to the energy of the farmers and the economy
of consumers; German submarines going down, thanks to the Navy; Russia
recovering herself; Britain and France advancing hand in hand on the
Western Front, and our enemies fumbling for peace--that was the gist of the
message with which the Prime Minister sped the parting Commons. "I have
resigned," Mr. Kennedy Jones tells us, "because there is no further need
for my services." Several politicians are of opinion that this was not a
valid reason. A boy of eighteen recently told a Stratford magistrate that
he had given up his job because he only got twenty-five shillings a week.
The question of wages is becoming acute in Germany too, and it is announced
that all salaries in the Diplomatic Service have been reduced. We always
said that frightfulness didn't really pay.
Thanks to the collapse of the Russian armies and "fraternisation," Germany
has occupied Riga. But her chief exploits of late must be looked for
outside the sphere of military operations. She has added a new phrase to
the vocabulary of frightfulness, _spurlos versenkt_ in the
instructions to her submarine commanders for dealing with neutral
merchantmen. As for the position into which Sweden has been lured by
allowing her diplomatic agents to assist Germany's secret service, Mr.
Punch would hardly go the length of saying that it justifies the revision
of the National Anthem so as to read, "Confound their Scandi-knavish
tricks." But he finds it hard to accept Sweden's professions of official
rectitude, and so does President Wilson.
The German Press accuses the United States of having stolen the cipher key
of the Luxburg dispatches. It is this sort of thing that is gradually
convincing Germany that it is beneath her dignity to fight with a nation
like America. And the growing conviction in the United States that there
can be no peace with the Hohenzollerns only tends to fortify this view in
Court circles. The Kaiser's protestations of his love for his people become
more strident every day.
[Illustration: PERFECT INNOCENCE
CONSTABLE WOODROW WILSON: "That's a very mischievous thing to do."
SWEDEN: "Please, sir, I didn't know it was loaded."]
In Russia the Provisional Government has been dissolved and a Republic
proclaimed. If eloquence can save the situation, Mr. Kerensky is the man to
do it; but so far the men of few words have gone farthest in the war. A
"History of the Russian Revolution" has already been published. The pen may
not be mightier than the sword to-day, but it manages to keep ahead of it.
With fresh enemy battalions, as well as batteries, constantly arriving from
Russia, the Italians have been hard pressed; but their great assault on San
Gabriele has saved the Bainsizza plateau. The Italian success has been
remarkable, but the Russian collapse has prevented it from being pushed
home. On the Western front no great events are recorded, but the mills of
death grind on with ever-increasing assistance from the resources of
applied science and the new art of _camouflage_. Yet the dominion of
din and death and discomfort is still unable to impair our soldiers'
capacity of extracting amusement from trivialities.
[Illustration: TRIALS OF A CAMOUFLAGE OFFICER
SERGEANT-MAJOR: "Beg pardon, sir, I was to ask if you'd step up to the
CAMOUFLAGE OFFICER: "What's the matter?"
SERGEANT-MAJOR: "It's those painted grass screens, sir. The mules have
[Illustration: THE INSEPARABLE
THE KAISER (to his people): "Do not listen to those who would sow
dissension between us. _I will never desert you_."]
The weather has been so persistently wet that it looks as if this year the
Channel had decided to swim Great Britain. A correspondent, in a list of
improbable events on an "extraordinary day" at the front, gives as the
culminating entry, "It did not rain on the day of the offensive."
C.O. (to sentry): "Do you know the Defence Scheme for this sector of the
line, my man?"
TOMMY: "Yes, sir."
C.O.: "Well, what is it, then?"
TOMMY. "To stay 'ere an' fight like 'ell."]
When Parliament is not sitting and trying to make us "sit up," and when war
news is scant, old people at home sometimes fall into a mood of wistful
reverie, and contrast the Germany they once knew with the Germany of
A LOST LAND
A childhood land of mountain ways,
Where earthy gnomes and forest fays,
Kind, foolish giants, gentle bears,
Sport with the peasant as he fares
Affrighted through the forest glades,
And lead sweet, wistful little maids
Lost in the woods, forlorn, alone,
To princely lovers and a throne.
Dear haunted land of gorge and glen,
Ah me! the dreams, the dreams of men!
A learned law of wise old books
And men with meditative looks,
Who move in quaint red-gabled towns,
And sit in gravely-folded gowns,
Divining in deep-laden speech
The world's supreme arcana--each
A homely god to listening youth,
Eager to tear the veil of Truth;
Mild votaries of book and pen--
Alas, the dreams, the dreams of men!
A music land whose life is wrought
In movements of melodious thought;
In symphony, great wave on wave--
Or fugue elusive, swift and grave;
A singing land, whose lyric rhymes
Float on the air like village chimes;
Music and verse--the deepest part
Of a whole nation's thinking heart!
Oh land of Now, oh land of Then!
Dear God! the dreams, the dreams of men!
Slave nation in a land of hate,
Where are the things that made you great?
Child-hearted once--oh, deep defiled,
Dare you look now upon a child?
Your lore--a hideous mask wherein
Self-worship hides its monstrous sin--
Music and verse, divinely wed--
How can these live where love is dead?
Oh depths beneath sweet human ken,
God help the dreams, the dreams of men!
The Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, is preparing for a trip to the
North Pole in 1918. Additional interest now attaches to this spot as being
the only territory whose neutrality the Germans have omitted to violate.
Apropos of neutrals, the crew of the U-boat interned at Cadiz has been
allowed to land on giving their word of honour not to leave Spain during
the continuance of the War. The mystery of how the word "honour" came into
their possession is not explained. It is easier to explain that the Second
Division, in which Mr. E.D. Morel is now serving, is not the one which
fought at the battle of Mons.
Another month of losses and gains. Against the breakthrough at Caporetto on
the Isonzo we have to set the steady advance of Allenby on the Palestine
front, and the decision arrived at by an extraordinary meeting of German
Reichstag members that the Germans cannot hope for victory in the field. We
see nothing extraordinary in this. The Reichstag may not yet be able to
influence policy, but it is not blind to facts--to the terribly heavy
losses involved in our enemy's desperate efforts to prevent us from
occupying the ridges above the Ypres-Menin road, and so forcing him to face
the winter on the low ground. Then, too, there has been the ominous mutiny
of the German sailors at Kiel. The ringleaders have been executed, but they
may have preferred death to another speech from the Kaiser. Dr. Michaelis,
that "transient embarrassed phantom," has joined the ranks of the
dismissed. No sooner had the _Berliner Tageblatt_ pointed out that
"Dr. Michaelis was a good Chancellor as Chancellors go" than he went.
Another of the German doctor politicians has been delivering his soul on
the failure of Pro-German propaganda in memorable fashion. Dr. Dernburg, in
_Deutsche Politik_, tells us that "steadfastness and righteousness are
the qualities which the German people value in the highest degree, and
which have brought it a good and honourable reputation in the whole world.
When we make experiments in lies and deceptions, intrigue and low cunning,
we suffer hopeless and brutal failure. Our lies are coarse and improbable,
our ambiguity is pitiful simplicity. The history of the War proves this by
a hundred examples. When our enemies poured all these things upon us like a
hailstorm, and we convinced ourselves of the effectiveness of such tactics,
we tried to imitate them. But these tactics will not fit the German. We are
rough but moral, we are credulous but honest." Before this touching picture
of the German Innocents very much abroad, the Machiavellian Briton can only
take refuge in silent amazement.
[Illustration: THE DANCE OF DEATH
THE KAISER: "Stop! I'm tired."
DEATH: "I started at your bidding; I stop when I choose."]
Parliament has reassembled, and Mr. Punch has been moved to ask Why?
Various reasons would no doubt be returned by various members. The
Chancellor of the Exchequer wants to obtain a further Vote of Credit. The
new National Party wish to justify their existence; and those incarnate
notes of interrogation--Messrs. King, Hogge and Pemberton Billing--would
like Parliament to be in permanent session in order that the world might
have the daily benefit of their searching investigations. There has been a
certain liveliness on the Hibernian front, but we hope that Mr. Asquith was
justified in assuming that the Sinn Fein excesses were only an expression
of the "rhetorical and contingent belligerency" always present in Ireland,
and that in spite of them the Convention would make all things right.
Meanwhile, the Sinn Feiners have refused to take part in it. And not a
single Nationalist member has denounced them for their dereliction; indeed,
Mr. T.M. Healy has even given them his blessing, for what it is worth. Of
more immediate importance has been Mr. Bonar Law's announcement of the
Government's intention to set up a new Air Ministry, and "to employ our
machines over German towns so far as military needs render us free to take
[Illustration: A PLACE IN THE MOON
HANS: "How beautiful a moon, my love, for showing up England to our gallant
GRETCHEN: "Yes, dearest, but may it not show up the Fatherland to the
brutal enemy one of these nights?"]
In the earlier stages of the War we looked on the moon as our friend. Now
that inconstant orb has become our enemy, and the only German opera that we
look forward to seeing is _Die Gothadaemmerung_. A circular has been
issued by the Feline Defence League appealing to owners of cats to bring
them inside the house during air-raids. When they are left on the roof it
would seem that their agility causes them to be mistaken for aerial
torpedoes. We note that the practice of giving air-raid warnings by notice
published in the following morning's papers has been abandoned only after
the most exhaustive tests. The advocates of "darkness and composure" have
not been very happy in their arguments, but they are at least preferable to
the members of Parliament deservedly trounced by Mr. Bonar Law, who
declared that if their craven squealings were typical he should despair of
victory. Meanwhile, we have to congratulate our gallant French allies on
their splendid bag of Zepps. But the space which our Press allots to air
raids moves Mr. Punch to wonder and scorn. Our casualties from that source
are never one-tenth so heavy as those in France on days when G.H.Q. reports
"everything quiet on the Western front." Still worse is the temper of some
of our society weeklies, which have set their faces like flint against any
serious reference to the War, and go imperturbably along the old
ante-bellum lines, "snapping" smart people at the races or in the Row, or
reproducing the devastating beauty of a revue chorus, and this at a time
when every day brings the tidings of irreparable loss to hundreds of
* * * * *
"He was last seen going over the parapet into the German trenches."
What did you find after war's fierce alarms,
When the kind earth gave you a resting-place,
And comforting night gathered you in her arms,
With light dew falling on your upturned face?
Did your heart beat, remembering what had been?
Did you still hear around you, as you lay,
The wings of airmen sweeping by unseen,
The thunder of the guns at close of day?
All nature stoops to guard your lonely bed;
Sunshine and rain fall with their calming breath;
You need no pall, so young and newly dead,
Where the Lost Legion triumphs over death.
When with the morrow's dawn the bugle blew,
For the first time it summoned you in vain,
The Last Post does not sound for such as you,
But God's Reveille wakens you again.
The discomforts of railway travelling do not diminish. But impatient
passengers may find comfort in a maxim of R. L. Stevenson: "To travel
hopefully is a better thing than to arrive." And further solace is
forthcoming in the fact that our enemies are even worse off than we are.
Railway fares in Germany have been doubled; but it is doubtful if this
transparent artifice will prevent the Kaiser from going about the place
making speeches to his troops on all the fronts. Here all classes are
united by the solidarity of inconvenience. And they all have different ways
of meeting it. But we really think more care should be taken by the
authorities to see that while waging war on the Continent they do not
forget the defence of those at home. The fact that Mr. Winston Churchill
and Mr. Horatio Bottomley were away in France at the same time looks like
gross carelessness. In this context we may note the report that the Eskimos
had not until quite recently heard of war, which seems to argue slackness
on the part of the circulation manager of the _Daily Mail_.
STOUT LADY (discussing the best thing to do in an air-raid): "Well, I
always runs about meself. You see, as my 'usband sez, an' very reasonable
too, a movin' targit is more difficult to 'it."]
The best and the worst news comes from the outlying fronts. Allenby's
triumphant advance is unchecked in Palestine. Gaza has fallen. The British
are in Jaffa. Jerusalem is threatened. The German-Austrian drive which
began at Caporetto has been stemmed, and the Italians, stiffened by a
British army under General Plumer, are standing firm on the Piave. In
Mesopotamia we deplore the death of the gallant Maude, a great general and
a great gentleman, beloved by all ranks, whose career is an abiding answer
to those who maintain that no good can come out of our public schools or
the Staff training of regular officers. In Russia the Bolshevist _coup
d'etat_ has overthrown the Kerensky _regime_ and installed as
dictator Lenin, a _declasse_ aristocrat, always the most dangerous of
revolutionaries. On the Western front the tide has flowed and ebbed. The
Germans have yielded ground on the _Chemin des Dames_, the British
have stormed Passchendaele Ridge, but at terrible cost, and General Byng's
brilliant surprise attack and victory at Cambrai has been followed by the
fierce reaction of ten days later. But perhaps the greatest sensation of
the month has been Mr. Lloyd George's Paris speech, with its disquieting
references to the situation on the Western front, and its announcement of
the formation of the new Allied Council. The Premier's defence of, and, we
may perhaps say, recomposition of his Paris oration before the House of
Commons has appeased criticism without entirely convincing those who have
been anxious to know how the Allied Council would work, and what would be
the relations between the Council's military advisers and the existing
General Staff of the countries concerned. But as Mr. Lloyd George confessed
that he had deliberately made a "disagreeable speech" in Paris in order to
get it talked about, the Press critics whom he rebuked will probably
consider themselves absolved.
[ILLUSTRATION: A GREAT INCENTIVE
MEHMED (reading dispatch from the All-Highest): "Defend Jerusalem at all
costs for my sake. I was once there myself."]
[ILLUSTRATION: ONE UP!]
Parliament has for once repelled the gibe that it has ceased to represent
the people in the tribute of praise paid by Lords and Commons to our
sailors and soldiers and all the other gallant folk who are helping us to
win the War. On the strength of this capacity for rising to the occasion
one may pass over the many sittings at which a small minority of
Pacificists and irrelevant inquisitors have dragged the House down to the
depths of ineptitude or worse. In the debate on the Air Force in Committee,
one member, if we count speeches and interruptions, addressed the House
exactly one hundred times, and it is worthy of note that his last words
were: "This is what you call muzzling the House of Commons." If we were
to believe some critics, the British Navy is directed by a set of
doddering old gentlemen who are afraid to let it go at the Germans, and
cannot even safeguard it from attack. The truth, as expounded by the
First Lord, Sir Eric Geddes, in his maiden speech, is quite different.
Despite the Jeremiads of superannuated sailors and political longshoremen,
the Admiralty is not going to Davy Jones's locker, but under its present
chiefs, who have, with very few exceptions, seen service in this War,
maintains and supplements its glorious record.
Save for an occasional game of "tip and run," as with the North Sea convoy,
enemy vessels have disappeared on the surface of the ocean; and the long
arm of the British Navy is now stretching down into the depths and up into
the skies in successful pursuit of them. If the nation hardly realises what
it owes to the men of the Fleet and their splendid comrades of the
Auxiliary Services, it is because this work is done with such thoroughness
and so little fuss, and, as Mr. Asquith put it, "in the twilight and not in
AUNT MARIA: "Do you know I once actually saw the Kaiser riding through the
streets of London as bold as brass. If I'd known then what I know now I'd
have told a policeman."]
The general sense of the community is now practically agreed that
compulsory rationing must come, and the sooner the better. Lord Rhondda is
still hopeful that John Bull will tighten his own belt and save him the
trouble. But if we fail, the machinery for compulsion is all ready.
Reuter reports that a British prisoner has been sentenced to a year's
imprisonment for calling the Germans "Huns." On the Western front Tommy
usually calls them "Allymans," "Jerry," or "Fritz." But even if this
prisoner did use the word he cannot be blamed. The choice was the Kaiser's
when, as Attila's understudy, "Go forth," he said, "my sons. Go and behave
exactly as the Huns."
Apropos of the Kaiser, it appears that a certain Herr Stegerwald,
addressing a Berlin meeting, said: "We went to war at the side of the
Kaiser, and the All-Highest will return from war with us." If we may be
permitted to say anything, we expect he will be leading by at least a
couple of lengths.
The versatility and inventive genius of the Prime Minister provoke mingled
comment. An old Parliamentarian, when asked to what party Mr. Lloyd George
now belonged, recently answered: "He used to be a Radical; he will some day
be a Conservative; and at present he is the leader of the Improvisatories."
It seems useless to attempt to cope with the staggering multiplicity of
events crowded into the last few weeks. Jerusalem captured in this last
crusade, which realises the dream of Coeur de Lion; Russia "down and out"
as a result of the armistice and the Brest-Litovsk Conference; Germany's
last colony conquered in East Africa; Lord Lansdowne's letter; the
retirement of Lord Jellicoe; while in one single week Cuba has declared war
on Austria, the Kaiser has threatened to make a Christmas peace offer, and
Mr. Bernard Shaw has described himself as "a mere individual." We have
traversed the whole gamut of sensation from the sublime and tragic to the
ridiculous; and Armageddon, vulgarised by the vulgar repetition of the
journalist, has redeemed its significance in the dispatches from our
Palestine front. The simplicity and dignity of General Allenby's entry into
the Syrian town--
Where on His grave with shining eyes
The Syrian stars look down--
afford a happy contrast to the boastful pagentry of the Kaiser's visit in
1898. Meanwhile it has not yet been decided in Berlin what the Sultan of
Turkey thinks of the capture of Jerusalem.
THE PANDER: "Come on; come and be kissed by him."]
Where Russia is concerned Mr. Balfour wisely declines to be included among
the prophets; all he knows is that she has not yet evolved a Government
with which we can negotiate.
There _is_ a Government in Germany, but neither Government nor people
afford excuse for the negotiations which Lord Lansdowne, in a fit of
war-weariness, has advocated in his letter to the _Daily Telegraph_.
His unfortunate intervention, playing into the hands of Pacificists and
Pro-Boches, is all the more to be deplored in a public servant who has
crowned a long, disinterested and distinguished career by an act of
grievous disservice to his country. British grit will win, declares Sir
William Robertson; but our elderly statesmen must refrain from dropping
theirs into the machinery. Happily the Government are determined to give no
more publicity to the letter than they can help. On the Vote of Credit for
550 millions the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been invited by Mr. Dillon
to make a survey of the military situation, and has replied that all the
relevant facts are known already. "The War is going on; the Government and
the country intend it shall go on; and money is necessary to make it go
on." That was a good answer to a member who has certainly done little to
receive special consideration. Not only do we need money; we need men to
supply the gaps caused by our withdrawal of troops to Italy and the
constant wastage on all fronts.
Mr. Balfour, as we have seen, abstains from prophecy. Mr. Dillon, who, with
other Nationalists, bitterly resents the decision of the Government to
apply the rules of arithmetic to the redistribution of seats in their
beloved country, has indulged in a terrifying forecast which ought to be
placed on record. He has threatened the House with the possibility that at
the next General Election he and his colleagues might be wiped out of
Tommy is a very great man, but he is not a great linguist, though he always
gets what he wants by the aid of signs or telepathy. Three years and some
odd months have not changed his point of view, and now for Thomas to find
himself in Italy is only to discover another lot of people who cannot
understand or make themselves understood. "Alliances," as a correspondent
from Italy puts it, "are things as wonderful to see as they are magnificent
to read about. I do, however, regard with something approaching alarm the
new language which will be evolved to put the lot of us on complete
[Illustration: THE NEED OF MEN
MR. PUNCH (to the Comber-out): "More power to your elbow, sir. But when are
you going to fill up that silly gap?"
SIR AUCKLAND GEDDES: "Hush! Hush! We're waiting for the Millennium."]
THE NEW LANGUAGE
TOMMY (to inquisitive French children): "Nah, then, alley toot sweet, an
the tooter the sweeter!"]
Lord Rhondda, who listened from the Peers' gallery to the recent debate in
the Commons on Food Control, has received a quantity of advice intended to
help him in minding his p's and q's, particularly the latter. In China, we
read in the _Daily Express_, a chicken can still be purchased for
sixpence; intending purchasers should note, however, that at present the
return fare to Shanghai brings the total cost to a figure a trifle in
excess of the present London prices. More bread is being eaten than ever,
according to the Food Controller: but it appears that the stuff is now
eaten by itself instead of being spread thinly on butter, as in pre-war
days. Bloaters have reached the unprecedented price of sixpence each. This
is no more, as we have seen, than a chicken fetches in China, but it is
enough to dispel the hope that bloaters, at any rate over the Christmas
season, would remain within the reach of the upper classes. At a Guildford
charity _fete_ the winner of a hurdle race has been awarded a new-laid
egg. If he succeeds in winning it three years in succession it is to become
his own property.
Christmas has come round again, and peace still seems a far-off thing.
"What shall he have that killed the deer?" someone asks somebody else in
_As You Like It_. But there is a better question than that, and it is
this: "What shall they have that preserve the little dears?" And the answer
is--honour and support. For there can be no doubt that in these critical
times, when the life of the best and bravest and strongest is so cheap, no
duty is more important than the cherishing of infancy, and the provision of
seasonable joys to the youngest generation, gentle and simple. More than
ever Mr. Punch welcomes the coming of Santa Klaus:
Thou who on earth was named Nicholas--
There be dull clods who doubt thy magic power
To tour the sleeping world in half-an-hour,
And pop down all the chimneys as you pass
With woolly lambs and dolls of frabjous size
For grubby hands and wonder-laden eyes.
Not so thy singer, who believes in thee
Because he has a young and foolish spirit;
Because the simple faith that bards inherit
Of happiness is still the master key,
Opening life's treasure-house to whoso clings
To the dim beauty of imagined things.
While avoiding as a rule the fashionable _role_ of prophet, Mr. Punch
is occasionally tempted to indulge in prediction. The year 1918, in which
France is greeting in increasing numbers the heirs of the Pilgrim Fathers,
is going to be America's year. As for the Kaiser,
A Fatherland Poet was busy of late
In making the Kaiser a new Hymn of Hate;
Perhaps, ere its echoes have time to grow dim,
The Huns may be learning a new Hate of Him.
In this prophetic strain Mr. Punch has been musing on the fortunes of the
Hohenzollerns under a German Republic. Will the ex-Kaiser be appointed to
the post of official Gatherer of Scraps of Paper, or start in business as a
second-hand wardrobe dealer with a large assortment of slightly soiled
uniforms? Or will he be ordered to ring a joy-bell on the anniversary of
the inauguration of the German Republic?
The ex-Kaiser is appointed to the post of official gatherer of scraps of
These are attractive speculations, but a trifle previous, while hospital
ships are still being torpedoed, U-boats are busy at Funchal, and the bonds
of German influence and penetration are being forged anew at Brest-Litovsk.
The latest news from that quarter seems to indicate that the Kaiser desires
peace--at any rate for the duration of the War. And already there is a talk
of a German counter-offensive on a colossal scale on the Western front. So
that Mr. Punch's message for the New Year is couched in no spirit of
premature jubilation, but rather appeals for fortitude and endurance.
[Illustration: TO ALL AT HOME]
How needful such an appeal is may be gathered from the proceedings at
Westminster, less fit for the Mother than the Mummy of Parliaments, where
"doleful questionists" exhume imaginary grievances or display their "nerve"
by claiming the increase in pay recently granted to fighting men for
conscientious objectors in the Non-Combatant Corps. The interest taken by
one of this group in Army Dentistry inspires the wish that "the treatment
of jaw-cases" mentioned by the Under-Secretary for War could be applied on
the Parliamentary front. Head-hunting is in full swing. This classical
sport, as practised in Borneo, involved the discharge of poisoned darts
through a blow-pipe, and the House of Commons has not materially altered
the method. In the attack of January 23 it is supposed that the Head of the
Government was aimed at; but most of the shots went wide and hit the Head
of our Army in France. Ministers have not distinguished themselves except
by their capacity for "butting-in" and eating their words. Public opinion
has been inflamed rather than enlightened by the discussions on unity of
command, and the newspaper campaign directed against our War chiefs.
Meanwhile, the Suffragists have triumphantly surmounted their last obstacle
in the House of Lords, and Votes for Women is now an accomplished fact. But
the Irish Andromeda still awaits her Perseus, gazing wanly at her various
champions in Convention. The Ulsterman's plea for conscription in Ireland
has been rejected after Sir Auckland Geddes had declared that it would be
of no use as a solution of the present difficulty. He did not give his
reasons, but they are believed to be Conventional. Mr. Barnes has described
the Government as "living on the top of a veritable volcano," but, in spite
of the context, the phrase must not be taken to refer to the Minister of
Munitions, who, as everybody knows, cannot be sat upon.
Military experts tell us that this is a "Q" war, meaning thereby that the
Quartermaster-General's department is the one that matters. Naval experts
sometimes drop hints attaching another significance to that twisty letter.
Harassed house-keepers are beginning to think that this is a "queue-war,"
and look to Lord Rhondda to end it. For the moment the elusive rabbit has
scored a point against the Food Controller, but public confidence in his
ability is not shaken. All classes are being drawn together by a communion
of inconvenience. The sporting miner's wife can no longer afford dog
biscuits: "Our dog's got to eat what we eats now." And the pathetic appeal
of the smart fashionable for lump sugar, on the ground that her darling
Fido cannot be expected to catch a spoonful of Demerara from the end of his
nose, leaves the grocer cold. A dairyman charged with selling
unsatisfactory milk has explained to the Bench that his cows were suffering
from shell-shock. He himself is now suffering from shell-out-shock. At
Ramsgate a shopkeeper has exhibited a notice in his window announcing that
"better days are in store." What most people want is butter days.
ORDERLY SERGEANT: "Lights out, there."
VOICE FROM THE HUT: "It's the moon, Sergint."
ORDERLY SERGEANT: "I don't give a d--- what it is. Put it out!"]
The disquieting activities of the "giddy Gotha" involve drastic enforcement
of the lighting orders, and the moon is still an object of suspicion.
Pessimists and those critics who are never content unless each day brings a
spectacular success, seem to have taken for their motto: "It's not what I
mean, but what I say, that matters." But the moods of the non-combatant are
truly chameleonic. Civilians summoned to the War Office pass from
confidence to abasement, and from abasement to megalomania in the space of
half an hour.
Turkey, it appears, has sent an urgent appeal to Berlin for funds. The
disaster to the _Goeben_ can be endured, since the Sultan can now
declare a foreshore claim, and do a little salvage profiteering; but
Palestine is another matter. Since General Allenby's advance "running"
expenses have swallowed up a formidable total. The War is teaching us many
things, including geography. We are taking a lively interest in the
Ukraine, and the newspapers daily add to our stock of interesting
knowledge. Apropos of General Allenby's entry into Jerusalem, we learn that
"the predominance of the tar brush in the streets added to the brightness
of the scene," and in connection with his return to Cairo, that "the
MacCabean Boy Scouts" took part in the reception--presumably the Cadet
Corps of the Jordan Highlanders. But the most reassuring news comes from
the enemy Press. "It is simply a miracle," says the _Cologne Gazette_,
"that the Germans have so loyally stood by their leaders," and for once we
are wholly in agreement with our German contemporary.
If Mr. Punch may exert his privilege of turning abruptly to grave from gay,
the claim may be allowed on behalf of the youngest generation, already
remembered in the chronicle of last month.
CHILDREN OF CONSOLATION
By the red road of storm and stress
Their fathers' footsteps trod,
They come, a cloud of witnesses,
The messengers of God.
Cradled upon some radiant gleam,
Like living hopes they lie,
The rainbow beauty of a dream
Against a stormy sky.
Before the tears of love were dried,
Or anguish comfort knew,
The gates of home were opened wide
To let the pilgrims through.
Pledges of faith, divinely fair,
From peaceful worlds above
Against the onslaught of despair
They hold the fort of love.
THE CIVILIAN AND THE WAR OFFICE
I am bidden to the War Office.
I depart for it.
I approach it.
I am not observed.
I am still not observed.
I am observed.
I am spoken to (and still live).
I continue to be spoken to.
I am spoken to quite nicely.
I am shaken hands with.
I take my leave.]
"Watchman, what of the night?" The hours pass amid the clash of rumours and
discordant voices--optimist, pessimist, pacificist. Only in the answer of
the fighting man, who knows and says little, but is ready for anything, do
we find the best remedy for impatience and misgiving:
"Soldier, what of the night?"
"Vainly ye question of me;
I know not, I hear not nor see;
The voice of the prophet is dumb
Here in the heart of the fight.
I count the hours on their way;
I know not when morning shall come;
Enough that I work for the day."
The first Brest-Litovsk Treaty has been signed, followed in nine days by
the German invasion of Russia, an apt comment on what an English paper, by
a misprint which is really an inspiration, calls "the Brest Nogotiations."
The record of the Bolshevist regime is already deeply stained with the
massacre of the innocents, but Lenin and Trotsky can plead an august
example. More than fourteen thousand British non-combatants--men, women and
children--have been murdered by the Kaiser's command. And the rigorous
suppression of the strikes in Berlin furnishes a useful test of his recent
avowals of sympathy with democratic ideals. By way of a set-off the German
Press Bureau has circulated a legend of civil war in London, bristling with
circumstantial inaccuracies. The enemy's successes in the field--the
occupation of Reval and the recapture of Trebizond--are the direct outcome
of the Russian _debacle_. Our capture of Jericho marks a further stage
in a sustained triumph of good generalship and hard fighting, which
verifies an old prophecy current among the Arabs in Palestine and Syria,
viz. that when the waters of the Nile flow into Palestine, a prophet from
the West will drive the Turk out of the Arab countries. The first part of
the prophecy was fulfilled by the pipe-line which has brought Nile water
(taken from the fresh-water canal) for the use of the Egyptian
Expeditionary Force across the Sinai desert to the neighbourhood of Gaza.
The second part was fulfilled by the fact that General Allenby's name is
rendered in Arabic by exactly the same letters which form the words "El
Nebi," i.e. the Prophet.
FIRST BOLSHEVIK: "Let me see; we've made an end of Law, Credit, Treaties,
the Army and the Navy. Is there anything else to abolish?"
SECOND BOLSHEVIK: "What about War?"
FIRST BOLSHEVIK: "Good! And Peace too. Away with both of 'em!"]
At home we have seen the end of the seventh session of a Parliament which
by its own rash Act should have committed suicide two years ago. Truly the
Kaiser has a lot to answer for. On the last day but one of the session 184
questions were put, the information extracted from Ministers being, as
usual, in inverse ratio to the curiosity of the questioners. The opening of
the eighth session showed no change in this respect. The debate on the
Address degenerated into a series of personal attacks on the Premier by
members who, not without high example, regard this as the easiest road to
fame. The only persons who have a right to congratulate themselves on the
discussion are the members of the German General Staff, who may not have
learned anything that they did not know before, but have undoubtedly had
certain shrewd suspicions confirmed. Mr. Bonar Law, in one of his engaging
bursts of self-revelation, observed that he had no more interest in this
Prime Minister than he had in the last; but the House generally seemed to
agree with Mr. Adamson, the Labour leader, who, before changing horses
again, wanted to be sure that he was going to get a better team. A week
later, on the day on which the Prince of Wales took his seat in the Lords,
Lord Derby endeavoured to explain why the Government had parted with Sir
William Robertson, the Chief of the Imperial Staff, and replaced him by
General Wilson. It is hard to say whether the Peers were convinced.
Simultaneously in the House of Commons the Prime Minister was engaged in
the same task, but with greater success. Mr. Lloyd George has no equal in
the art of persuading an audience to share his faith in himself. How far
our military chiefs approved the recent decision of the Versailles
Conference is not known. But everyone applauds the patriotic
self-effacement of Sir William Robertson in silently accepting the Eastern
Command at home.
In Parliament the question of food has been discussed in both Houses with
the greatest gusto. Throughout the country it is the chief topic of
[Illustration: SECRET DIPLOMACY
WIFE: "George, there are two strange men digging up the garden."
GEORGE: "It's all right, dear. A brainy idea of mine to get the garden dug
up. I wrote an anonymous letter to the Food Controller and told him there
was a large box of food buried there."
WIFE: "Heavens! But there _is_!"]
To the ordinary queues we now have to add processions of conscientious
disgorgers patriotically evading prosecution. The problem "Is tea a food or
is it not?" convulses our Courts, and the axioms of Euclid call for
revision as follows:
"Parallel lines are those which in a queue, if only produced far enough,
never mean meat."
"If there be two queues outside two different butchers' shops, and the
length and the breadth of one queue be equal to the length and breadth of
the other queue, each to each, but the supplies in one shop are greater
than the supplies in the other shop, then the persons in the one queue will
get more meat than those in the other queue, which is absurd, and Rhondda
ought to see about it."
All the same, Lord Rhondda is a stout fellow who goes on his way with an
imperviousness to criticism--criticism that is often selfish and
contemptible--which augurs well for his ultimate success in the most
thankless of all jobs.
INDIGNANT WAR-WORKER: "And she actually asked me if I didn't think I might
be doing something! Me? And I haven't missed a charity matinee for the last
Food at the front is another matter, and Mr. Punch is glad to print the
tribute of one of his war-poets to the "Cookers":
The Company Cook is no great fighter,
And there's never a medal for _him_ to wear,
Though he camps in the shell-swept waste, poor blighter,
And many a cook has "copped it" there;
But the boys go over on beans and bacon,
And Tommy is best when Tommy has dined,
So here's to the Cookers, the plucky old Cookers,
And the sooty old Cooks that waddle behind.
"It is Germany," says a German paper, "who will speak the last word in this
War." Yes, and the last word will be "Kamerad!" But that word will be
spoken in spite of many pseudo-war-workers on the Home Front.
Among the many wonders of the War one of the most wonderful is the
sailor-man, three times, four times, five times torpedoed, who yet wants to
sail once more. But there is one thing that he never wants to do again--to
"pal" with Fritz the square-head:
"When peace is signed and treaties made an' trade begins again,
There's some'll shake a German's 'and an' never see the stain;
But _not me_," says Dan the sailor-man, "not me, as God's on high--
Lord knows it's bitter in an open boat to see your shipmates die."
Among the ignoble curiosities of the time we note the following
advertisements in a Manchester newspaper of "wants" in our "indispensable"
industries: "Tennis ball inflators, cutters and makers" and "Caramel
wrappers"; while a Brighton paper has "Wanted, two dozen living flies
weekly during the remainder of winter for two Italian frogs."
The situation in Ireland remains unchanged, and suggests the following
historical division of eras. (1) Pagan era; (2) Christian era; (3) De
Once again the month of the War-God has been true to its name. March,
opening in suspense, with the Kaiser and his Chancellor still talking of
peace, has closed in a crisis of acute anxiety for the Allies. The expected
has happened; the long-advertised German attack has been delivered in the
West, and the war of movement has begun.
Breaking through the Fifth British Army, in five days the Germans have
advanced twenty-five miles, to within artillery range of Amiens and the
main lateral railway behind the British lines. Bapaume and Peronne have
fallen. The Americans have entered the war in the firing line. It is the
beginning of the end, the supreme test of the soul of the nation:
The little things of which we lately chattered--
The dearth of taxis or the dawn of Spring;
Themes we discussed as though they really mattered,
Like rationed meat or raiders on the wing;--
How thin it seems to-day, this vacant prattle,
Drowned by the thunder rolling in the West,
Voice of the great arbitrament of battle
That puts our temper to the final test.
Thither our eyes are turned, our hearts are straining,
Where those we love, whose courage laughs at fear,
Amid the storm of steel around them raining,
Go to their death for all we hold most dear.
New-born of this supremest hour of trial,
In quiet confidence shall be our strength,
Fixed on a faith that will not take denial
Nor doubt that we have found our soul at length.
O England, staunch of nerve and strong of sinew,
Best when you face the odds and stand at bay;
Now show a watching world what stuff is in you!
Now make your soldiers proud of you to-day!
Of our soldiers we at home cannot be too proud, from Field-Marshal to
officer's servant. As one of Mr. Punch's correspondents at the front
writes: "Dawn to me hereafter will not be personified as a rosy-fingered
damsel or a lovely swift-footed deity, but as a sturdy little man in khaki,
crimson-eared with cold, heralded and escorted by frozen wafts of outer
air, bearing in one knobby fist a pair of boots, and in the other a tin mug
of black and smoking tea." As for the charities and courtesies of war, as
interpreted by our soldiers, Mr. Punch can wish for no better illustration
than in these lines on "The German graves":
I wonder are there roses still
In Ablain St. Nazaire,
And crosses girt with daffodil
In that old garden there.
I wonder if the long grass waves
With wild-flowers just the same,
Where Germans made their soldiers' graves
Before the English came?
The English set those crosses straight
And kept the legends clean;
The English made the wicket-gate
And left the garden green;
And now who knows what regiments dwell
In Ablain St. Nazaire?
But I would have them guard as well
The graves we guarded there.
And when at last the Prussians pass
Among those mounds and see
The reverent cornflowers crowd the grass
Because of you and me,
They'll give, perhaps, one humble thought
To all the "English fools"
Who fought as never men have fought
But somehow kept the rules.
[Illustration: MADE IN GERMANY
CIVILISATION: "What's that supposed to represent?"
IMPERIAL ARTIST: "Why, 'Peace,' of course."
CIVILISATION: "Well, I don't recognise it--and I never shall."]
To turn from the crowning ordeal of our Armies to the activities of British
politicians on the eve of the great German attack is not a soul-animating
experience. Indeed, the efforts of Messrs. Snowden and Trevelyan, Pringle
and King almost justify the assumption that Hindenburg would have launched
his offensive earlier but for his desire not to interfere with the great
offensive conducted by his friends on the Westminster front. Our
anti-patriots, however, are placed in a dilemma. They were bound to side
with Germany, because of their rooted belief that England always must be
wrong. They were bound to hail the Bolshevik self-determinators because of
their entirely sound views on peace at any price. But now their two loves
are fighting like cats. Hence the problem: "Which am I (both can't well be
right), Pro-German or Pro-Trotskyite?" Discussions of pig shortage,
commandeered premises, the relations of the Government and Press, and the
duties of the Directors of Propaganda leave us cold or impatient. But
members of all parties have been united in genuine grief over the death of
Mr. John Redmond, snatched away just when his distracted country most
needed his moderating influence. For in their anxiety not to interfere with
the deliberations of those patriotic Irishmen who are trying to settle how
Ireland shall be governed in the future, the Government are allowing it to
become ungovernable by anybody. A new and agreeable Parliamentary
innovation has been introduced by Sir Eric Geddes in the shape of an
immense diagram showing the downward tendency of the U-boat activities.
Other orators might with advantage follow this method. Indeed, there are
some whose speeches would be more enjoyable if they were all diagrams. As
for that pledge of the New Citizenship, the Education Bill, the debate on
the second reading has been such a long eulogy of its author that Mr.
Fisher would be well advised to offer a propitiatory sacrifice to Nemesis.
BY SPECIAL REQUEST
CUSTOMER: "Here, waiter, take a coupon off this and ask the band to play
five-penn'orth of 'The Roast Beef of Old England.'"]
Compulsory rationing is now an established fact, and the temporary
disappearance of marmalade from the breakfast table has called forth many a
_cri de coeur_. As one lyrist puts it:
Let Beef and Butter, Rolls and Rabbits fade,
But give me back my love, my Marmalade.
And another has addressed this touching vow to margarine:
Whether the years prove fat or lean
This vow I here rehearse:
I take you, dearest Margarine,
For butter or for worse.
It is reported that the Government's standard suits for men's wear will
soon be available. One is occasionally tempted to hope that women's
costumes might be similarly standardised.
[Illustration: THE COAT THAT DIDN'T COME OFF]
The German Press announces the death of the notorious "Captain of
Koepenick," and the _Cologne Gazette_ refers to him as "the only man
who ever succeeded in making the German Army look ridiculous." This is the
kind of subtle flattery that the Hohenzollerns really appreciate.
We have reached the darkest hours of the War and the clouds have not yet
lifted, though the rate of the German advance has already begun to slow
down. On the 11th the enemy broke through at Armentieres and pushed their
advantage till another wedge was driven into the British line. On the 12th
Sir Douglas Haig issued his historic order: "With our backs to the wall,
and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the
end. The safety of our homes and the freedom of mankind depend alike upon
the conduct of each one of us at the critical moment." The Amiens line
being under fire, it was impossible to bring French reinforcements north in
time to save Kemmel Hill and stave off the menace to the Channel ports. The
tale of our losses is grievous, and for thousands and thousands of families
nothing can ever be the same again. The ordeal of Paris has been renewed by
shelling from the German long-distance gun, the last and most sensational
of German surprise-packets. These are indeed dark days, yet already lit by
hopeful omens--the closer union of the Allies, the appointment of the
greatest French military genius, General Foch, as Generalissimo of the
Allied Forces, and his calm assurance that we have as yet lost "nothing
vital." America is pouring men into France and, without waiting to complete
the independent organisation of her Army, has chivalrously sent her troops
forward to be brigaded with French and British units. Even now there are
optimists, who are not fools, who maintain that Germany has shot her last
bolt and knows that she is losing. It is at least remarkable that German
newspapers are daily excusing the failure of their offensive to secure all
its objectives. There is clearly something wrong with the time-table and,
in the race of Man Power, time is on the side of the Allies.
Truth, long gagged and disguised, is coming to light in Germany. This has
been the month of the Lichnowsky disclosures--the Memoir of their
Ambassador, vindicating British diplomacy and saddling Germany with the
responsibility for the War. The time of publication is indeed unfortunate
for the Kaiser, who has been telling us how bitterly he hates war.
THE COMING ARMY
FATHER: "Here's to the fighter of lucky eighteen!" SON: "And here's to the
soldier of fifty!"]
For now from German lips the world may know
Facts that should want some skill for their confounding--
How Potsdam forced alike on friend and foe
A war of Potsdam's sole compounding.
How you, who itched to see the bright sword lunged,
Still bleating peace like innocent lambs in clover,
In all that bloody business you were plunged
Up to your neck and something over.
And, having fed on little else but lies,
Your people, with the hollow place grown larger
Now that the truth has cut off these supplies,
May want your head upon a charger.
THE DEATH LORD
THE KAISER (on reading the appalling tale of German losses): "What matter,
so we Hohenzollerns survive?"]
And what has England's answer been, apart from the stubborn and heroic
resistance of her men on the Western Front? The answer is to be found in
the immediate resolve to raise the age limit for service to 50, still more
in the glorious exploit of Zeebrugge and Ostend, in the incredible valour
of the men who volunteered for and carried through what is perhaps the most
astonishing and audacious enterprise in the annals of the Navy.
The pageantry of war has gone, but here at least is a magnificence of
achievement and self-sacrifice on the epic scale which beggars description
and transcends praise. The hornet's nest that has pestered us so long, if
not rooted out, has been badly damaged; our sailors, dead and living, have
once more proved themselves masters of the impossible.
At home Parliament, resuming business after the Easter recess, began by
giving a second Reading to a Drainage Bill, and ended its first sitting in
an Irish bog. Ireland throughout the month has dominated the proceedings,
aloof and irreconcilable, brooding over past wrongs, blind to the issues of
the War and turning her back on its realities. Mr. Lloyd George's plan of
making Home Rule contingent on compulsory service has been described by Mr.
O'Brien as a declaration of war on Ireland. Another Nationalist Member, who
at Question time urged on the War Office the necessity of according to its
Irish employees exactly the same privileges and pay as were given to their
British confreres, protested loudly a little later on against a Bill which
_inter alia_ extends to Irishmen the privilege of joining in the fight
for freedom. Mr. Asquith questioned the policy of embracing Ireland in the
Bill unless you could get general consent. Mr. Bonar Law bluntly replied
that if Ireland was not to be called upon to help in this time of stress
there would be an end of Home Rule, and that if the House would not
sanction Irish conscription it would have to get another Government. It
remained for Lord Dunraven, before the passing of the Bill in the House of
Lords, to produce as "a very ardent Home Ruler" the most ingenious excuse
for his countrymen's unwillingness to fight that has yet been heard.
Ireland, he tells us, has been contaminated by the British refugees who had
fled to that country to escape military service.
Zeebrugge, St. George's Day, 1918
ADMIRAL DRAKE (to Admiral Keyes): "Bravo, sir. Tradition holds. My men
singed a King's beard, and yours have singed a Kaiser's moustache."]
The Prime Minister, in reviewing the military situation, has attributed the
success of the Germans to their possessing the initiative and to the
weather. Members have found it a little difficult to understand why, if
even at the beginning of March the Allies were equal in numbers to the
enemy on the West and if, thanks to the foresight of the Versailles
Council, they knew in advance the strength and direction of the impending
blow, they ever allowed the initiative to pass to the Germans. It is known
that hundreds of thousands of men have been rushed out of England since the
last week of March. Why, if Sir Douglas Haig asked for reserves, were they
not sent sooner? These mysteries will be resolved some day. Meanwhile
General Trenchard, late chief of the Air Staff, and by general consent an
exceptionally brilliant and energetic officer, has retired into the limbo
that temporarily contains Lord Jellicoe and Sir William Robertson. But Lord
Rothermere (Lord Northcliffe's brother), who still retains the confidence
of Mr. Pemberton Billing. remains, and all is well. The enemy possibly
thinks it even better. "At least we should keep our heads," declared Mr.
Pringle during the debate on the Man-Power Bill. We are not sure about
this. It depends upon the heads.
It is a pity that the "New Oxford Dictionary" should have so nearly reached
completion before the War and the emergence of hundreds of new words, now
inevitably left out. The Air service has a new language of its own, witness
the conversation faithfully reported by an expert:
SCENE: R.F.C. CLUB. TIME: EVERY TIME.
_First Pilot_. Why, it's Brown-Jones!
_Second Pilot_. Hullo, old thing! What are you doing now?
_First Pilot_. Oh, I'm down at Puddlemarsh teaching huns--monoavros,
pups and dolphins.
_Second Pilot_. I'm on the same game, down at Mudbank--sop-two-seaters
and camels. We've got an old tinside, too, for joy-riding.
_First Pilot_. You've given up the rumpety, then?
_Second Pilot_. Yes. I was getting ham-handed and mutton-fisted,
flapping the old things every day; felt I wanted to stunt about a bit.
_First Pilot_. Have you ever butted up against Robinson-Smith at
Mudbank? He was an ack-ee-o, but became a hun.
_Second Pilot_. Yes, he crashed a few days ago--on his first solo
flip, taking off--tried to zoom, engine konked, bus
stalled--sideslip--nose-dive. Not hurt, though. What's become of
Smith-Jones? Do you know?
_First Pilot_. Oh, yes. He's on quirks and ack-ws. He tried spads, but
got wind up. Have you seen the new-----?
_Second Pilot_. Yes, it's a dud bus--only does seventy-five on the
ceiling. Too much stagger, and prop stops on a spin. Besides, I never did
care for rotaries. Full of gadgets too.
_First Pilot_. Well, I must tootle off now. I'm flapping from
Northbolt at dawn if my old airship's ready--came down there with a konking
_Second Pilot_. Well, cheerio, old thing--weather looks dud--you're
going to have it bumpy in the morning, if you're on a pup.
_First Pilot_, Bye-bye, you cheery old bean.
[Illustration: THE POLITICIAN WHO ADDRESSED THE TROOPS]
The Emperor Karl of Austria, by his recent indiscretions, is winning for
himself the new title of "His Epistolic Majesty." His suggestion that
France ought to have Alsace-Lorraine has grated on the susceptibilities of
his brother Wilhelm. But a new fastidiousness is to be noted in the Teuton
character. "Polygamy," says an article in a German review, "is essential to
the future of the German race, but a decent form must be found for it."
With the coming of May the Vision of Victory which had nerved Germany to
her greatest effort seemed fading from her sight. With its last days we see
them making a second desperate effort to secure the prize, capturing
Soissons and the Chemin des Dames and pushing on to the Marne. This time
the French have borne the burden of the onslaught, but Rheims is still
held, the Americans are pouring in to France at the rate of 250,000 a
month, and have proved their mettle at Cantigny, a small fight of great
importance, as it "showed their fighting qualities under extreme battle
conditions," in General Pershing's words, and earned the praise of General
Debeney for the "offensive valour" of our Allies.
[Illustration: The Threatened Peace Offensive
GERMAN EAGLE (to British Lion): "I warn you--a little more of this
obstinacy and you'll rouse the dove in me!"]
The British troops have met Sir Douglas Haig's appeal as we knew they
Their _will_ to _win_ let Boches bawl
As loudly as they choose,
When once our back's against the wall
'Tis not our _wont to lose_.
Those who have gone back at the seventh wave are waiting for the tide to
turn. To the fainthearted or shaken souls who contend that no victory is
worth gaining at the cost of such carnage and suffering, these lines
addressed "To Any Soldier" may serve as a solvent of their doubts and an
explanation of the mystery of sacrifice:
If you have come through hell stricken or maimed,
Vistas of pain confronting you on earth;
If the long road of life holds naught of worth
And from your hands the last toil has been claimed;
If memories of horrors none has named
Haunt with their shadows your courageous mirth
And joys you hoped to harvest turn to dearth,
And the high goal is lost at which you aimed;
Think this--and may your heart's pain thus be healed--
Because of me some flower to fruitage blew,
Some harvest ripened on a death-dewed field,
And in a shattered village some child grew
To womanhood inviolate, safe and pure.
For these great things know your reward is sure.
The Germans have reached Sevastopol, but the Kaiser's Junior Partner in the
South is only progressing in the wrong direction. While Wilhelm is
laboriously struggling to get nearer the sea, Mehmed is getting farther and
farther away from it. The attitude of Russia remains obscure. Mr. Balfour
tells us that it is not the intention of the Government to appoint an
Ambassador to Russia. But there is talk of sending out an exploration party
to find out just where Russia has got to. Russia, however, is not the only
country whose attitude is obscure. The Leader of the Irish Nationalist
Party is reported to have said to a New York interviewer: "We believe that
the cause of the Allies is the cause of Freedom throughout the world." At
the same time, while repudiating the policy of the Sinn Feiners, he
admitted that he had co-operated with them in their resistance to the
demand that Ireland should defend the cause of Freedom. The creed of Sinn
Fein--"Ourselves Alone"--is at least more logical than that of these
And is not ours a noble creed
With Self uplifted on the throne?
Why should we bleed for others' need?
Our motto is "Ourselves Alone."
Why prate of ruined lands out there,
Of churches shattered stone by stone?
We need not care how others fare,
We care but for "Ourselves Alone."
Though mothers weep with anguished eyes
And tortured children make their moan,
Let others rise when Pity cries;
We rise but for "Ourselves Alone."
Let Justice be suppressed by Might,
And Mercy's seat be overthrown;
For Truth and Right the fools may fight,
We fight but for "Ourselves Alone."
Meanwhile, the gentle Mr. Duke has retired from the Chief Secretaryship to
the Judicial Bench; Mr. Shortt, his successor, recently voted against
conscription for Ireland; Lord French, the new Viceroy, is believed to
favour it. The appointments seem to have been made on the cancelling-out
principle, and are as hard to reconcile as the ministerial utterances on
the recent German push. Thus Mr. Macpherson declared that the crisis came
upon us like a thief in the night, while on the same day Mr. Churchill
observed that the German offensive had opened a month later than we had
calculated, and consequently our reserves in munitions were correspondingly
larger than they would have been. Anyhow, it is a good hearing that the
lost guns, tanks, and aeroplanes have all been more than replaced, and the
stores of ammunition completely replenished, while at the same time
munition workers have been released for the Army at the rate of a thousand
_a_ day. These results have been largely due to the wonderful work of
the women, who turned out innumerable shells of almost incredible
quality--not like that depicted by our artist.
[Illustration: THE DUD]
Mr. Bonar Law has brought in his Budget and asked for a trifle of 842
millions. We are to pay more for our letters, our cheques, and our tobacco.
The Penny Postage has gone, and the Penny Pickwick with it. For the rest we
have had the Maurice Affair, which looked like a means of resurrecting the
Opposition but ended in giving the Government a new lease of life, and Sir
Eric Geddes has given unexpected support to the allegations that the German
pill-boxes were made of British cement. At least he admitted that the port
of Zeebrugge was positively congested with shiploads of the stuff.
Proportional Representation has been knocked out for the fifth time in this
Parliament; and we have to thank Sir Mark Sykes for telling us that the
Whip's definition of a crank is "a wealthy man who does not want a
Knighthood, or a nobleman who does not want to be an Under-Secretary."
War is a great leveller. The Carl Rosa Company are about to produce an
opera by an English composer. And war _is_ teaching us to revise our
histories. For example, "'Nelson,' the greatest naval pageant film ever
attempted, will," says the _Daily News_, "tell the love story of
Nelson's life and the outstanding incidents of his career, including the
destruction of the Spanish Armada." No scandal about Queen Elizabeth, we
trust. The _Daily News_, by the way, is much exercised by Mr. Punch's
language towards the enemy, which it describes as being in the Billingsgate
vein. In spite of which rebuke, and at the risk of offending the readers of
that patriotic organ, Mr. Punch proposes to go on saying just what he
thinks of the Kaiser and his friends.
The price of tobacco, as we have seen, is becoming a serious matter, but
Ireland proposes to grapple with the problem in her own way. The
Ballinasloe Asylum Committee, according to an announcement in the
_Times_ of May 14, have decided, with the sanction of the authorities,
to grow tobacco leaf for the use of their inmates. "A doctor said that if
the patients were debarred from an adequate supply of tobacco there would
be no controlling them."
As a set-off to the anti-"Cuthbert" campaign in the Press the War Cabinet
has in its Report declared that "the whole Empire owes the Civil Service a
lasting debt of gratitude." It looks as if there was something in red tape
after all. We must not, however, fail to recognise the growth of the new
competitive spirit in the sphere of production, and Mr. Punch looks forward
to the establishment of Cup Competitions for Clydesdale Riveters and London
Allotment workers. Woman's work in munition factories has already been
applauded; her services on the land are now more in need than ever.
[Illustration: WOMAN POWER
CERES: "Speed the plough!"
PLOUGHMAN: "I don't know who you are, ma'am, but it's no good speeding the
plough unless we can get the women to do the harvesting."
(Fifty thousand more women are wanted on the land to take the place of men
called to the colours, if the harvest is to be got in.)]
The danger is not past, but grounds for hope multiply. The new German
assault between Montdidier and Noyon has brought little substantial gain at
heavy cost. The attacks towards Paris have been held, and Paris, with
admirable fortitude, makes little of the attentions of "Fat Bertha." "The
struggle must be fought out," declared the Kaiser in the recent anniversary
of his accession to the throne. In the meanwhile no opportunities of
talking it out will be overlooked by the enemy. He is once more playing the
old game of striving to promote discord between the Allies. At the very
moment when the official communiques announced the capture of 45,000
prisoners, the Chancellor began a new peace-offensive, aimed primarily at
France, and supported by mendacious reports that the French Government were
starting for Bordeaux, Clemenceau overthrown, and Foch disgraced. But the
campaign of falsehood has proved powerless to shake France or impose on the
German people. Commandeered enthusiasm is giving place to grave discontent.
The awakening of Germany has begun, and the promise of a speedy peace falls
on deaf ears. In the process of enlightenment the Americans have played a
conspicuous part, in spite of the persistent belittlement of the military
experts in the official German Press. The stars in their courses have
sometimes seemed to fight for Germany, but they are withdrawing their aid.
[Illustration: "COMPLETE ACCORD"; OR, ALL DONE BY KINDNESS