English wit and humor — Periodicals
Punch, or The London Charivari, Vol. 148, February 17th 1915
OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.
February 17th 1915.
The Turks are now reported to be retiring through the desert, and the Germans are realising that you may take a horse to the place where there’s no water, but you cannot make him drink.
“Rapid progress,” we read, “is being made in the American movement to supply soldiers at the battle fronts in Europe with Bibles printed in their own languages.” We trust that one will be supplied to the Kaiser, who, if he ever had one, has evidently mislaid it.
Suggested title for Germany and her allies—The Hunseatic League.
The Vossische Zeitung, talking of the proposed blockade, says, “The dance will begin on February 18.” Germania’s toe may not be light, but it is fantastic.
You may know a man by the company he keeps. The Kaiser’s friends are now the Jolly Roger and Sir Roger Casement.
Messrs. Hagenbeck, of Hamburg, are sending Major Mehring, the German Commandant at Valenciennes, an elephant. So we may expect shortly to be told by wireless that a large Indian body has gone over to the Germans.
Earl Grey, speaking at Newcastle on the War, said that a German passenger on the Vaterland remarked to him, “Can you wonder that we hunger? We have been hungry for two hundred years and only had one satisfying meal—in 1870. We have become hungry again.” The pity, of course, is that so few Germans can eat quite like gentlemen.
The Dorsets, we are told, have nicknamed their body belts “the dado round the dining-room.” In the whirligig of fashion the freeze is now being ousted by its predecessor.
Much of the credit for the admirable feeding of our Expeditionary Force is due, we learn, to Brigadier-General Long, the Director of Supplies. As a caustic Tommy, pointing to his “dining-room,” remarked, “one wants but little here below, but wants that little Long.”
The Deutsche Tageszeitung informs its readers that “the men of the North Lancashire Regiment recently attempted to force a swarm of bees to attack German soldiers, but the bees turned on the British and severely stung one hundred and twenty of them.” After this success it is reported that the Death’s Head Hussars are adopting a wasp as a regimental pet.
Talking of regimental pets, the lucky recipient of Princess Mary’s Christmas gift that was packed by the Queen is Private Pet, of the Leinster Regiment.
With reference to the private view of a collapsible hut at the College of Ambulance last week it is only fair to say that there is good reason to believe that not a few of those already erected will shortly come under this description.
The Russian Minister of Finance, M. Bark, paid a visit to this country last week, and it is rumoured that he had an interview with another financial magnate, Mr. Beit, with a view to forming an ideal combination.
Says an advertisement of the Blue Cross Fund:—”All horses cared for. Nationality not considered.” This must save the Fund’s interpreters a good deal of trouble.
The Corporation of the City of London reports that diminished lighting, so far from increasing the dangers of the City streets, has reduced them, the accidents during the past quarter being only 331 as compared with 375 a year ago. However, a proposal that the lights shall now be entirely extinguished with a view to reducing the casualties to nil has not yet been adopted.
A gentleman has written to The Globe to complain that at Charing Cross Station there are signs printed in German indicating the whereabouts of the booking-office, waiting-room, etc. We certainly think that, while we are at war, these ought, so as to confuse the enemy, to point in wrong directions.
Germany is now suffering from extreme cold, and the advice to German housewives to cook potatoes in their jackets is presumably a measure of humanity.
To Mr. Watt’s enquiry in the House as to how many German submarines had been destroyed, Mr. Churchill replied, “The German Government has made no return.” Let us hope that this is true also of a good few of the submarines.
Der Tag, it is announced, is to be withdrawn from the Coliseum. They could do with it, we believe, in Germany.
Theatrical folk will be interested to hear that in the Eastern Theatre of War there has been furious fighting for the passes.
Turk. “I say, you fellows! Do you see the other Allies are pooling their Funds? Capital idea!”
“The power of Great Britain and her Allies was increasing daily in strength, whereas the power of her enemies was distinctly on the wane. The existing situation had been brought about without the vest resources of the Empire having yet been called in to play.”—Daily Mail.
Are we to understand, that, so far, we have only called out the socks and body-belts?
“There is but one survival among the historic shows of the [Crystal] Palace—a portion of the Zoo. The monkeys are asking one another ‘What next?’
A meeting of the directors of the Crystal Palace Football Club is to be summoned to decide on a course of action.”
The Evening News.
Without wishing to be needlessly offensive to either of these bodies, we venture to suggest that they should combine their deliberations.
“If … England and France keep the police of the sea with the utmost vigilance, so that no copper at all can reach Germany and Austria, the fate of both Empires seems certain.”—Times.
The land police must be guarded even more vigorously if “no copper at all” is to slip over.
THE GODS OF GERMANY.
[A certain German hierarch declares that it goes well with his country. He finds it unthinkable that the enemy should be permitted to “trample under foot the fresh, joyous, religious life of Germany.”]
Lift up your jocund hearts, beloved friends!
From East and West the heretic comes swooping,
But all in vain his impious strength he spends
If you refuse to let him catch you stooping;
All goes serenely up to date;
Lift up your hearts in hope (and hate)!
Deutschland—that beacon in the general night—
Which faith and worship keep their fixed abode in,
Shall teach the infidel that Might is Right,
Spreading the gospel dear to Thor and Odin;
O let us, in this wicked war,
Stick tight to Odin and to Thor!
Over our race these gods renew their reign;
For them your piety sets the joy-bells pealing;
Louvain and Rheims and many a shattered fane
Attest the force of your religious feeling;
Not Thor’s own hammer could have made
A better job of this crusade.
In such a cause all ye that lose your breath
Shall have a place reserved in high Valhalla;
And ye shall get, who die a Moslem’s death,
The fresh young houri promised you by Allah;
Between the two—that chance and this—
Your Heaven should be hard to miss.
“Francesca,” I said, “how would you describe my nose?”
“Your nose?” she said.
“Yes,” I said, “my nose.”
“But why,” she said, “do you want your nose described?”
“I am not the one,” I said, “who wants my nose described. It is Sir Edward Grey, the—ahem—Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. In the midst of all his tremendous duties he still has time to ask me to tell him what my nose is like.”
“This,” said Francesca, “is the short cut to Colney Hatch. Will somebody tell me what this man is talking about?”
“I will,” I said. “I am talking about my nose. There is no mystery about it.”
“No,” she said, “your nose is there all right. I can see it with the naked eye.”
“Do not,” I said, “give way to frivolity. I may have to go to France. Therefore I may want a passport. I am now filling in an application for it, and I find to my regret that I have got to give details of my personal appearance, including my nose. I ask you to help me, and all you can do is to allude darkly to Colney Hatch. Is that kind? Is it even wifely?”
“But why can’t you describe it yourself?”
“Don’t be absurd, Francesca. What does a man know about his own nose? He only sees it full-face for a few minutes every morning when he’s shaving or parting his hair. If he ever does catch a glimpse of it in profile the dreadful and unexpected sight unmans him and he does his best to forget it. I give you my word of honour, Francesca, I haven’t the vaguest notion what my nose is really like.”
“Well,” she said, “I think you might safely put it down as a loud blower and a hearty sneezer.”
“I’m sure,” I said, “that wouldn’t satisfy Sir Edward Grey. He doesn’t want to know what it sounds like, but what it looks like.”
“How would ‘fine and substantial’ suit it?”
“Ye—es,” I said, “that might do if by ‘fine’ you mean delicate——”
“I don’t,” she said.
“And if ‘substantial’ is to be equivalent to handsome.”
“It isn’t,” she said.
“Then we’ll abandon that line. How would ‘aquiline’ do? Aren’t some noses called aquiline?”
“Yes,” she said, “but yours has never been one of them. Try again.”
“Francesca,” I said pleadingly, “do not suggest to me that my nose is turned up, because I cannot bear it. I do not want to have a turned-up nose, and what’s more I don’t mean to have one, not even to please the British Foreign Office and all its permanent officials.”
“It shan’t have a turned-up nose, then. It shall have a Roman nose.”
“Bravo!” I cried “Bravo! Roman it shall be,” and I dipped my pen and prepared to write the word down in the blank space on the application form.
“Stop!” said Francesca. “Don’t do anything rash. Now that I look at you again I’m not sure that yours is a Roman nose.”
“Oh, Francesca, do not say such cruel, such upsetting things. It must, it shall be Roman.”
“What,” she asked, “is a Roman nose?”
“Mine is,” I said eagerly. “No nose was ever one-half so Roman as mine. It is the noblest Roman of them all.”
“No,” she said, with a sigh, “it won’t do. I can’t pass it as Roman.”
“All right,” I said, “I’ll put it down as ‘non-Roman.'”
“Yes, do,” she said, “and let’s get on to something else.”
“Eyes,” I said. “How shall I describe them?”
“Green,” said Francesca.
“Let’s compromise on grey-green.”
“Right,” I said. “Grey-green and gentle. Sir Edward Grey will appreciate that. Oh, bother! I’ve written it in the space devoted to ‘hair.’ However it’s easy to——”
“Don’t scratch it out,” she said. “It’s a stroke of genius. I’ve often wondered what I ought to say about your hair, and now I know. Oh, my grey-green-and-gentle-haired one!”
“Very well,” I said, “it shall be as you wish. But what about my eyes?”
“Write down ‘see hair’ in their space and the trick’s done.”
“Francesca,” I said, “you’re wonderful this morning. Now I know what it is to have a real helper. Complexion next, please. Isn’t ‘fresh’ a good word for complexion?”
“Yes, for some.”
“Another illusion gone,” I said. “No matter; I’ve noticed that people who fill up blank spaces always use the word ‘normal’ at least once. I shall call my complexion normal and get it over.”
After this there was no further difficulty. I took the remaining blank spaces in my stride, and in a few minutes the application form was filled up. Having then secured a clergyman who consented to guarantee my personal respectability and having attached two photographs of myself I packed the whole thing off to the Foreign Office. I have not yet had any special acknowledgment from Sir Edward Grey, but I take this opportunity to warn the French authorities that within a few days a gentleman with a non-Roman nose, grey-green and gentle hair, see-hair eyes and a normal complexion may be seeking admission to their country.
R. C. L.
THE RESOURCEFUL LOVER.
Teuton Troubadour (serenading the fair Columbia). “IF SHE WON’T LISTEN TO MY LOVE-SONGS, I’LL TRY HER WITH A BRICK!”
Bright Youth. “Yes, I’m thinkin’ of gettin’ a commission in something. What about joinin’ that crowd with the jolly little red tabs on their collars? They look so doocid smart.”
THE WATCH DOGS.
My dear Charles,—It must be upwards of a month since you heard from me; I trust you have had sleepless nights in consequence. To be honest, I am still in England, prepared to go out at a moment’s notice, sworn to go, medically approved, equipped and trained to go, but (my one weakness) never in fact going. War, of course, is not open to any member of the public who cares to turn up on the field and proffer his entrance-money; it is an invitation show, and we have not yet received our cards.
Poor old Tolley, to whom Armageddon is an intensely personal affair, and who interested himself in it from the purely private motives of the patriot, in the competitive spirit of the pothunter, or in the wicked caprice of the law-abiding civilian lusting to travel abroad without a ticket, go shooting without a licence and dabble in manslaughter without the subsequent expense of briefing counsel,—poor old Tolley sees a personal slight in this, and is quite sure that K. has a down on all of us and on himself in particular. He has no difficulty in conceiving of the Olympians at the War Office spending five working days and the Saturday half-day in deciding what they shall do about US; writing round to our acquaintances for our references: “Is Lieut. Tolley honest, sober and willing, punctual in his habits, clean in his appearance, an early riser and a good plain warrior?” and receiving under confidential cover unfavourable answers; and at night in his dreams he sees the Secretary for War pondering over our regimental photo and telling himself that there are some likely-looking fellows in the front row, but you never know what they have got hidden away in the middle; counting up the heads and murmuring, as he wonders when he shall send us out, “This year, next year, some time—never.”
But you, Charles, must be patient with us, supporting us with your good will and opinion, and replying to all who remark upon the progress of the Allies, “Yes, that’s all very well in its way, but you wait till Henry gets out and then you’ll see some war.”
Meanwhile the soldier’s life continues with us very much after the manner of the schoolboy’s. We all pretend to ourselves that we are now on terms of complete mutual understanding with the C.O. and the Adjutant, but none the less we all study their expressions with great care before we declare ourselves at breakfast. There are times for jesting and there are times for not jesting; it goes by seasons, fair and stormy, and to the wise the Adjutant’s face is a barometer. In my wilder and more dangerous moods I have felt tempted to tap it and see if I couldn’t effect an atmospheric change. (In the name of goodness, I adjure you, Charles, not to leave this letter lying about; if it gets into print I shall lose all my half-holidays for the next three years or the duration of the War.)
The other morning I was come for, that is to say I was proceeding comfortably with my breakfast at 7.55, when I was touched on the shoulder and told that the C.O. would be glad to see me (or rather, would see me) at orderly room at eight, a thing which, by the grace of Heaven and the continual exercise of low cunning on my part, has never happened to me before. At least they might have told me what I had done, thought I, as I ran to my fate, gulping down my toast and marmalade, and improvising a line of defence applicable to any crime. Believe me, the dock is a haven of rest and security compared with orderly, or ordeal, room.
When my turn came I advanced to the table of inquisition, came smartly to attention, saluted, cleared my throat and said, “Sir!” (The correctness of this account is not guaranteed by any bureau.) I then cleared my throat again and said, “Sir, it was like this.” The C.O. looked slightly nonplussed; the Adjutant, who in all his long experience of crime had never before seen the accused open his mouth, began to open his own. So I pushed on with it. “My defence is this: in the first place I did not do it. I wasn’t there at the time, and if I had been I shouldn’t have done it. In the second place I did it inadvertently. In the third place it was not a wrong thing to do; and in the fourth place I am prepared to make the most ample apology, to have the same inserted in three newspapers, and to promise never to do it again.”
Orderly room was by now thoroughly restive. “If you take a serious view of the matter, Sir,” said I, “shoot me now and have done with it. Do not keep me waiting till dawn, for I am always at my worst and most irritable before breakfast.”
When I paused for breath they took the opportunity to inform me, rather curtly, I felt, that I had been sent for in order to be appointed to look after the rations and billets of a party of sixteen officers proceeding to a distance that same day, and I was to dispose accordingly. “If I had known that was all,” I said to myself, “I’d have had my second piece of toast while it was still lukewarm.” I then withdrew, by request. I found upon enquiry of the Sergeant-Major, who knows all things, that the party was to travel by circuitous routes and arrive at 7.5 P.M., whereas I, travelling viâ London, might arrive at 5 P.M., and so have two odd hours to prepare a home and food for them. So into the train I got, and there of all people struck the C.O. himself, proceeding townwards on duty. In the course of the journey I made it clear to him that, if his boots required licking, I was the man for the job.
He smiled indulgently. “Referring to that second piece of toast,” he began.
I tapped my breast bravely. “Sir, it is nothing,” said I.
“When we arrive in London,” he said, “you will lunch with me.” I protested that the honour was enormous, but I was to arrive in London at 1.30 and must needs proceed at 1.50.
“You will lunch with me,” he pursued, adding significantly as I still protested, “at the Savoy.”
After further argument, “It is the soldier’s duty to obey,” I said, and we enquired at St. Pancras as to later trains. The conclusion of the matter was that by exerting duress upon my taxidriver I just caught the 4.17, which got me to —— at 7.15, ten minutes after the hungry and houseless sixteen.
You don’t think this is particularly funny; well, no more did the sixteen. But it was a very, very happy luncheon. Remember that we have subsisted on ration beef and ration everything else for some months, and you will believe me when I tell you that, upon seeing a menu in French (our dear allies!), opening with crème and concluding with Jacques, we told the waiter to remove the programme and give us the foodstuffs. “Start at the beginning,” said the C.O., “and keep on at it till you reach the end. Then stop.”
“Stop, Sir?” I asked.
“Ay, stop,” said he, “and begin all over again” … and so when we got to the last liqueur, I held it up and said, “Sir, if I may, your very good health,” meaning thereby that I forgave him not only all the harsh things he has said to me in the past, but even all the harsher things he proposes to say to me in the future.
From the monotony of training we have only occasional relief in the actual, as for instance when we are kept out of