Mr. Punch's History of the Great War

New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company. 1919. Large 8vo, xvi+304 pp. Profusely illustrated by reproductions of cartoons. $4.00.
IF there is another medal to be bestowed for gallant service in the Great War, we respectfully urge Mr. Punch’s claims. Who else in England kept his courage high with so equable a temper? Who else, from first to last, saw but one possible consummation? Who else kept so near to the central current of right-minded feeling, and laughed through the hell of it, with just the touch of bravado which is the noblest gesture of the comic spirit? ‘Will you take your bath, sir, before or after haction? ’ asks the steward, as the officer paces the cleared deck. ’These stockings are not pairs,’ says the dear old lady, urged to hurry downstairs before the raid begins. ‘Thank ye, ma’am, thank ye. I can see beautiful from here,’ chirrups the maid at the garret window, when her mistress invites her to join the family party in the cellar on a similar occasion.
And as with small things, so with great. No speech from the Treasury bench struck the high note of the war so quickly as Townsend’s glorious cartoon, ‘Bravo, Belgium! ’ in those terrific days of that first August, applauding the boyish hero blocking the pathway of the threatening bully. There is no other tribute so adequate to the honor of the British Navy as Partridge’s picture of Britannia spurring her war-horse into the breakers, while the sea-gulls whirl and scream about her olive-crowned trident.
To American readers the whole story of their country’s bewilderment — her pause, her resolution, and then the swoop of the Eagle from the West — is told in half-a-dozen pictures, bringing back the thrilling years in as many seconds. And the record of the Hohenzollern crew is there graven as history wil grave it, to that last dreadful vision of William seated in spirit at Versailles, while the mighty ghosts of his grandfather, Bismarck, and Moltke tragically pace the corridor.
To many the Prologue of the book, with the prophetic cartoons of '70, even of '64, I, will be its most striking pages. Mr. Punch is prophet, as well as historian.
Nothing could be so good as the pictures, but the letter-press is adequate and tells the story of England’s spirit better than a longer history; while sprinkled through the volume are verses Tom Taylor would not be ashamed of. The book, like the war, ends on the heroic note.
Children of one dear land and every sea,
At last fulfilment comes — the night is o’er;
Now, as at Samothrace, swift Victory
Walks wingèd on the shore;
And England, deathless Mother of the dead,
Gathers, with lifted eyes and unbowed head.
Her silent sons into her arms once more.
Altogether, a necessary book. E. S.