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becomes, though always hard, more palatable. William Barnes, after reading some of his poems one evening to a large gathering of the Dorset militia, propounded a riddle which went home to them. “Tell me, my men,” said he, “why the Dorset militia is like blue vinny.” “Because," he added, “they'll both stand fire and never run." His joke at the unmelting moods of Dorset cheese was thoroughly appreciated. Another story anent blue vinny relates how two Gillingham farmers differing as to the merits of blue vinny, the detractor of its qualities offered to bet the other a sovereign that he could not get two Dorset cheeses stolen. The bet being taken, it was arranged that at bedtime a cheese should be left on the doorstep when the house was locked up, to see if any one would take it away by the morning. Next morning the cheese was gone, to the great delight of the backer of blue vinny, and the following night the second cheese was duly locked out on the doorstep. Next day, to his great chagrin, both of the cheeses lay side by side on the doorstep.
Lectures delivered in Dorset have not been without their humorous side. Not long ago a “Universities Extension" lecturer gave a course of lectures upon Dante, which was largely attended by young women from the neighboring country houses and rectories. The first lecture was mainly taken up with a description of the definiteness and neatness of Dante's "Inferno," "accurately separated into circles with wellpointed compasses; mapped and properly surveyed in every direction, trenched in a thoroughly good style of engineering, and divided into a concentric series of moats and embankments like those about a castle, with bridges from each embankment to the next" (Ruskin, “Modern Painters”). The whole lecture was represented by but three words on the notes of one of
the listeners; her terse record was, "Hell very neat.”
Another series of lectures was given in connection with higher religious ed. ucation, attended in the main by the same class of students as the Dante lectures. The first group of lectures in this series was upon the Fourth Gospel, and the lecturer laid great stress upoz the authenticity of the Gospel as written by St. John. At the close of the lectures an examination by papers was held, and in half the papers sent up grave doubts were expressed as to St. John being the author of the Fourth Gospel. As in all probability not one of those attending the lectures had, before the lectures were given, so much as heard that the point was in dispute, the lecturer was naturally much distressed to find that he had raised doubts where none previously existed -that his labors to prove the authen. ticity of the Fourth Gospel had had precisely the opposite result.
A widower in a somewhat prominent position in life had inscribed upon his late wife's tomb, "The light of mine eyes is gone from me." Taking unto himself a second wife with remarkable promptitude, a Dorset yokel scrawled as his comment upon the text set forth upon the tablet, “But he soon struck another match."
A kind-hearted and wealthy man, who had from small beginnings built up a large fortune, used to allow the public to freely traverse two of his estates. He had put up a notice, ask: ing for good conduct from his visitors, and stating that “the two estates is the property of So-and-so, Esq." Some humorous passer-by struck out the word "is," and wrote over it “am." The owner of the property, seeing the alteration, turned to a friend who was with him, and in all innocence asked “which was right?" His companion gently suggested that it might be even better if the word “are” was substituted.
Mr. Francis Fane, who first sat for Dorchester in 1790, was desperately fond of practical joking, and travelling one day to London inside the coach, the heavily laden pocket in the coat-tail of the Dorchester barber who was outside hung down temptingly near the open window. Mr. Fane could not resist the opportunity of slitting the barber's pocket and extracting its contents, which proved to be a large packet of bank notes, which had been entrusted to the barber to deliver safely in London. When the barber discovered his loss, his dismay was great, and after he had been reduced to a state of desperation, Mr. Fane produced the packet of notes, and by way of amends proposed to give the barber a dinner at the White Horse Cellar in London. The dinner took place on the afternoon fixed for the barber's return to Dorchester, and the barber waxing mellow, plied with good liquor, Mr. Fane assisted him into the night coach for Dorchester in Oxfordshire, where the bewildered barber in the early hours of the morning could neither find his pole nor his local landmark, the town pump, hard by which was his shop.
Times were rougher in those days than now. “Hangings" were then looked forward to,
pleasant break in the dulness of life. Said an old Dorset shepherd, pointing to where the gibbet stood on the wild downs near Cranbourne, “A hanging was a pretty sight when I were a boy, for the sheriff and javelin men came a horseback, and they all stopped for refreshment at the inn near by, as they'd come a long way, and we all had a drink.” "And did the man who was going to be hanged have anything?" “Lord! yes, sir, as much strong beer as he liked, and we all drank his health; and
then they hanged he, and buried him by the gibbet."
The gay wit of Lord Alington needs no bush. When county councils were established in 1889 Lord Alington stood for a division in Dorset as a county councillor, and had for an opponent a county parson from the neighborhood. The parson, carried away by the fervor of the contest, told his would-be constituents, in somewhat. rhetorical language, that he "was prepared to die for them.” In spite of this generous offer, when the contest was over, it was found that Lord Alington had been returned by a thumping majority. In his address that evening to the electors, thanking them for his election, Lord Alington humorously said that he had “no intention whatever of dying for his constituents, he meant to live for them, and he thought that they had shown, by electing him, that they considered that "a live lord was better than a dead parson."
Early in the nineties a close parliamentary contest was waged for the Southern Division of Dorset, and shortly after the election was over, the elected member and the defeated candidate attended an agricultural dinner, when it fell to the lot of the latter to propose the toast of the Houses of Parliament. The dinner was held in a large marquee, which was creaking and groaning under the strain of a boisterous storm of wind and wet rag. ing outside. The speaker, in making reference to his successful opponent, happily said “that whatever might have been their respective feelings on a recent occasion, on that particular day they were in complete accord, for they were both of them entirely satisfied, not only with the state of the canvass, but also with the state of the poll” (pole).
The Cornbill Magazine.
DIPLOMATIC INEPTITUDE AND THE CHINESE WAR. *
I have long wished to record my protest against the entire faith reposed by us Europeans in the sagacity and finesse of our diplomatic methods. It probably dates from the time when embassies were an indispensable necessity without which intercourse between nations was virtually impossible; for which reason the representatives of a country were bound to represent it seriously, and rly to interpret its needs and desires, at the risk of being held responsible for grave disaster. Still more, as I think, is the diplomatic legend due to the fact that our diplomatists, who are usually selected from among the richest and most highly born of our citizens, and who always receive handsome pay, have gloried in assuming an air of lofty dignity, in impressive silence and appropriate gestures, while the actual attention bestowed upon their proper business was in an inverse ratio to its importance: just as the poor Machiavellis and Guicciardinis of the olden time, reduced to inaction by the Medici government, used to send bustling couriers from point to point within their territory, in order to give themselves the air of transacting important state-business, when the matter in hand might perhaps be the choice of a preaching friar for the capital city. At present our foreign representatives occupy themselves with sport rather than sermons, with state-balls, receptionsformal visits, official reports and the observance of minute points of etiquette:-seldom indeed, save under exceptional circumstances, with a careful study of the commercial, social and political conditions of the countries to which they are accredited. And how should it be otherwise? In their appointment, the
first requisite is held to be that they should be titled nobility of the oldfashioned stamp; the second that they should have large private means and a general disposition to spend money lavishly in vain display. If not noble, they must be men of high military rank, of whose ability to manage matters outside their own sufficiently difficult sphere we have lately had some striking illustrations.
It is thus that I explain the heavy misfortunes we have lately sustained through revolts in various places, and those disastrous military enterprises, entirely disproportionate to the strength of the foe into which the most intelligent among us may well have been be. trayed through a lack of proper diplomatic information, through not having been warned in time of the dangers we were confronting. I say nothing of that perilous moment when we discovered the previously unsuspected fact that the foe was upon us in Africa, one hundred thousand strong, and when we came within an ace of plunging into a general war and of losing both our insignificant navy and the small amount of money still remaining in our treasury, by invading a country which we could never have conquered, and which would have been of no use to us, if we had done so. Fortunately or unfortunately we are not alone. Germany, and even England, hitherto supposed to be so exceptionally well-informed about the condition of foreign peoples, are showing, in this matter of the Chinese insurrection, an immense ignorance of a country which as I my. self in these pages' and many others elsewhere, have vainly attempted to show, possesses an enormous popula
• Translated for The Living Age.
i Italy in China, and the Yellow Danger. Nuova Antologia. March 16, 1899.
tion, civilization differing widely from our own indeed, but ancient and powerful, and a tenacious and exclusive sentiment of patriotic and filial devotion; a country, too, which, from hav. ing been able to avoid the divisions and disasters which the rest of us have sustained through militarism, feudalism, industrialism and priestly superstition, constitutes for Europe a tremendous menace; not merely on account of the resistance which may be expected from innumerable hordes inspired by political fanaticism, but through the perpetual revolts due to an invincible antipathy of race which would be sure to arise, even if victory were won. Add also the fact that being able to command the best kind of manual labor at a much lower price than we, subjugated China would soon effect a far worse than warlike invasion of our territory, appearing in our markets as a most formidable industrial competitor.
But the diplomatists of Europe, ani. mated by ideas which are, to say the least of it, academic and out of date, have been placing full reliance on their land and naval forces, and the supposed strategic weakness of the foe. They have overlooked the fact that what is needed to make a good soldier is a thing so quickly learned as to make it well worth the while even of a nation which had advanced to a higher point of civilization in this respect, to take a step backward and turn warlike again. Also that a nation animated by a mighty passion is to some extent in. dependent of artful strategy, and can moreover impart to its soldiers that utter contempt for death which renders them peculiarly formidable to fighting far away from home, who easily forget that they are fighting for an idea and are all the sooner discouraged, because they arrive in a presumably unhealthy country, worn out by an exhausting sea-voyage, and kwowing perfectly well that if they do fall
into the hands of the enemy they may expect the most cruel treatment.
But the majority of our diplomatists in the East care for none of these things. Several of those, especially of the other Powers, who have been longest on the spot, have large interests on the turf. One is not a diplomat for nothing, and sport is of course the great concern. But meanwhile they have quite overlooked both the volcano seething under their feet and the perfect mutual accord subsisting in China, between the common people, the government, the army and the religious sects; an accord rendered sufficiently apparent by the movement of troops, casually noted now and again in some Anglo-Oriental journal, and by the alleged murder of occasional Europeans. They have been equally apathetic about the immense improvement both in the instruments and the art of warfare, which China has achieved since the war with Japan; the fact being that she has purchased no less than 600.000 muskets with money raised on European loans, by the sage advice of diplomatists who plumed themselves on the transaction and regarded it as a triumph of one of the Powers, namely Russia, over the others, and over England in particular.
I am but an insignificant quill-driver, without wealth or title, who have already denounced the Yellow Danger, and the absolute futility of attempting to conquer a people so compact and so superior, in many ways, to ourselves as the people of China. But it is hardly to be expected that the traveller in a coroneted carriage should pay much heed to the suggestions of a halting pedestrian, who has immersed himself in books and maps instead of covering his breast with orders. Are there not those who still defend the expedition of San Mun, notwithstanding the fact that if it had not been thwarted by the Opposition, we should be at this moment in the throes of an enormously
costly and utterly profitless war? And our ignorance is apparently shared by those whom we have been accustomed to regard as the ablest of all statisticians and diplomatists,-I mean the Germans, who are lamenting, by the mouth of their emperor, that they have not already helped themselves to a larger piece of China! As if the energy, the zeal and the huge numbers of the Chinese- distant they
from Germany-were quantities so entirely négligeable, that nothing would have been needed for their complete subjugation except a few more ships than the Germans happened to have in hand; not to mention the fact that the said ships—if they had had them, could never have navigated the great rivers and canals which are the principal channels of communication throughout that mighty empire.
It is much the same with America, involved against her own fundamental principles, and with insufficient fighting force, in a costly and most unpopular war against the Philippines, whose only sin is a desire to be free, and over whom, after a year's fighting, the United States have not gained one jot of substantial advantage.
Even more inadequate to the occasion have the statesmen of England shown themselves in the war with the Boers, whom they confidently expected to beat in a few months; utterly ignoring the immense tactical, geographical and especially ethnical difficulties they had to encounter;--and simply deriding the rest of us when we foretold the same.
And now it is said that the English had not even a trustworthy topographical map of the country about TienTsin, and it is certain that Seymour plunged into an almost impracticable territory, where both water and grain were scarce, with a dash that may have been heroic, but which we cannot but consider reckless, even while
we make vows for his complete success in the rescue of the colonists and legations.
But when I hear certain strong partisans crying out, “You see now! Antimilitarism is utterly bankrupt and everything goes to show that what we have now to do is to increase our inadequate armaments an hundred fold!" I answer most emphatically, “Not at all: It is diplomacy which is bankrupt. It is the diplomats, who instead of restraining the dangerously rapacious impulses of the peoples whom they represent, have spurred them on, blindfold, to certain defeat, through the quality of the climate in which they had to fight, and the character of the populations they were expected to subdue. Whereas, on the other hand, if we had had the wisdom to bridle all this vain 'bluster, we might have remained in the secure enjoyment of such blessings as arise from a good mutual understanding among the European states, and our own troops need never have been exposed in action save under the circumstances when action is required, and supported by those grand ideals which are the best inspiration in warfare, and the strongest bond.
Yo,-what we need at this moment is not to reinforce our armaments and multiply their instruments of destruction, but to protect life and property by the selection of good foreign representatives. Let them be wealthy and titled if need be, but let them at all events be thoroughly instructed; and to this end let us strenuously require a many-sided culture; most of all in the languages of the lands to which they are sent, their history and their ethnography. Let the standard be as high as for university professorships-and higher, since our diplomats hold in their hands the destinies of the whole country. Let us revive the practice of the medieval republics-especially of Venice and Florence-by insisting on