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THERE is something sporting the inexperienced onlooker to be and safe, almost comfortable, nothing inappropriate in the exin the very sound of the phrase pression. That is the beauty — bush - whacking, thicket- of phrase-making—it introduces thumping! It calls up a pic- an element of romance into ture of the burly beaters crash- things unromantic, puts a cheap ing through the coverts, whoop- gloss on things unlovely; it ing and lu-lu-lu-ing, keeping converts the impossible and the their sticks and their big feet abominable into the attractive, working, and marking the rab- and ends by luring sensible men bits out, and the cocks over into "forgotten guts and creeks for the waiting guns beyond. no decent soul would dream of It sounds such an easy, such a visiting.”
one-sided game, that it is diffi- I sit in the bow-window of so cult to associate it with the my club, the leather padding
idea of any heavy risk to those of my arm-chair propping me who take part in it; and when cosily, my thoughts straying you learn that men at a dis- hither and thither listlessly, tance from the scene of action with the languid enjoyment speak of it familiarly as the known only to a busy man fun or the show, there seems to who, for a little
does VOL. CLXVII.—NO. MXI.
M Biudory MAR 3 64
well to be idle. Below me the ears; but my memory has irregular triangle of Hyde Park spirited me away many weary Corner sprawls at ease, with miles from Hyde Park Corner, wide-flung arms and legs. The over strange lands and jostling gates of the park face those of seas, and time has slipped back Constitution
between more than half-a-dozen years. them on an island of grey as- It is no longer the asphalte and phalte rises the statue of Wel- the wooden pavements that lie lington, with a sea of light below me, for my feet are treadbrown wooden pavement hem- ing the war-path; the rumble ming it in. Bulky, dust-col- of the streets is hushed, and it oured buildings are grouped in is the yell of the enemy which solid masses in the direction of is ringing through the forest; Piccadilly, with window-panes my arm-chair is bed of glinting feebly, surmounted by boughs, and I am sleeping bea jumble of slate roofs and a neath tangled branches, my confused up-crop of chimney- head in one puddle and my stacks. In the parks on either feet in another, with an obhand the tree-tops are soot- stinate root wedged into the stained a dingy green. Hurry- small of my back. I am bushing foot-passengers push their whacking once more in the way along the side-walks in Malay Peninsula,—the "jumpcontending streams; a little ing-off-place” of southern Asia, knot of people at one corner —and London, and all the stand awaiting a 'bus; men
civilised universe of which it is and women scurry across the the core, have sunk into total road like rabbits bolting from insignificance, swallowed up by a brake. There is a block of the absorbing and vital interest clumsy vehicles at the corner of an obscure but personal exof Hamilton Place; cabs, carts, perience. Through the curling vans, drays, omnibuses, with a columns of my tobacco-smoke stray motor-car spitting and pictures of the past arise, glimrattling among them—all the mer for a moment before me ingredients of the wonderful with intense reality, fade, and London traffic-make a cease- disappear. The blurring finger less roar and rumble, the hum of memory comes to soften the of the busy life, the heart-beat hardships, the anxieties, the of the vast city'; and over all troubles of that heavy time; hangs the low smoke-blurred Romance casts her glamour over sky, while even the near dis- days long done; the strain, the tance is softened and made toil, the horror are wellnigh hazy by the dim grey mirk forgotten-only the excitement which, to the Londoner born remains as vivid as of old : and who has had too much of sun- thus it is with a feeling akin glare and of exile, is among the to pleasure that I look back, most beautiful of all artistic out of the comfortable present, effects. The centre of the great upon the things which at the World is at my feet; the puls- time we suffered with little ing of its life's blood is in my gladness.
We did not call it a war, and and inconvenience whether he beyond an odd paragraph or chance to fall amid the world so in the 'Times' it never got thunder of a second Waterloo into the English papers. Great or in some mismanaged border Britain holds too many frontier scrimmage, and his prospects lands in her vast clutch to be of finding an early grave are able to take count of all the greater than they would be were petty skirmishes which are for he to form one of an army ever going forward in one or corps. Therefore the strain and another uncared-for corner of the excitement, the hard work the empire. When regular troops mental and physical, and the are employed, the stay-at-home measure of his responsibilities Britisher hears of it, for to some are more than sufficient for his extent it affects the most sen- needs. The troubles by which sitive portion of his person—his he is encompassed are, for the pocket. But when troubles, or time, the only realities. The disturbances as we prefer to call voice of the world of life beyond them, can be arranged without his narrow field of action has help from outside the sphere of dwindled to a hushed whisper, conflict, no one worries himself distant and barely audible. about the depressing business, The thing itself is ugly but except the men who are in the inevitable. Our experience in thick of it, and the anxious Asia has taught us that it is folk, their kindred, who long impossible to avoid making a for the news which is so slow little war of our own before we in coming. The end of it all is can hope to teach an unimaginusually a severe minute or two, ative people the full blessings “ reasons in writing” in pro- of peace. It is a pity, and, stated fusion, and a firm footing won crudely, it has an ugly look to where formerly Britain stood un- those who do not understand. steadily. An incompetent man Therefore, at each forward step may be broken, a good one may which England makes, her sons be thanked, in the name of a thrust the past behind them, Secretary of State who never hope that the future will belie heard of him, by one of the its experience, and decline to junior clerks in a public office; face the facts which history but, like Fuzzy Wuzzy, the bush- teaches all too plainly. Given, whacker “’asn't got no medals however, an oligarchy of native nor rewards.” The whole affair chiefs who have ruled a cowed is squalid and petty, a matter brown people, melancholy and of little moment; but to the men unresisting, for their own profit on the spot it looms big, obscur- and for the satisfaction of their ing all other earthly things. The own lusts, with flinty hearts unbush-whacker has his game to fettered by conscience or prinplay, his enemy to out-manæuvre ciple; given a strong feudal and overcome, his name to make, spirit among the lower classes, his duty to perform, his success the habits of centuries which to score, his failure to avoid. To bid them to obey unquestionhim it is of equal importance ingly ; given a fear of the Un
known, which tells them white turbances. The white man in men may be even harder task- charge comes up out of the masters than their hereditary stuffy little cabin, seats himself oppressors, -given these things, in a rattan - chair, and looks
-and an explosion of some sort about him. His eyes are aching, must certainly occur. Add to for he has been hard at work them the presence of a slender all night preparing for the start band of Europeans, men callous at dawn, and the intruding of that personal dignity which daylight has robbed him of his most readily impresses oriental sleep. It is nearly ten o'clock folk, striving to set up a new in the morning, and the glare standard of ethics in a land upon the smooth surface of the where right and wrong have water is blinding. On either hitherto been things of little hand, at a distance of some 300 meaning, curbing the lawless- yards, the jungle rises in vast ness of the chiefs, punishing the tangles of blended greens and crimes of the community with blacks, with dim bronze shadows an even-handed justice which lying upon the stream under disregards alike the convenience the overhanging branches. of friend and foe, and all the Seen below the ragged fringes while unwittingly offending the of the awning-canvas, the tall susceptibilities of a most sen- masses of foliage have the air sitive race, and the chances of of shutting in the burning glare peace become small indeed. To between straitened walls, as an Eastern people, with the tra- though it were some golden dition of centuries of war and molten fluid. You might think rapine in their wake, bloodshed that the whole heat of the uninaturally appeals as the only verse was concentrated in the conceivable exit from an impasse gut of that forest-bound reach such as this, so we inaugurate of river. The steady forefoot our rule of peace with a heart- of the bow ploughs its course breaking little war.
up-stream, cleaving the way be
fore it into a brace of waves, The pictures of the past, my smoothly curving, glittering, scattered memories of the war- and to all appearances stationpath, come up singly, fix them- ary. Astern a long line of selves upon my sight vividly as ripples, bubbles, and foam-flecks things very real and present, run into the invisible base of a and then pass, giving place to slim triangle, as though seen in others. Let me etch them in, inverted perspective.
Ahead each as it comes. Taken to the narrow strip of white hot gether they should make some- river spreads away to the next thing like a connected whole, bend, whence it seems to flow something like the broad view towards you from under a of those days of trouble as it lowering wall of jungle. Each appears to my mind's eye. reach looks like a thing apart,
A steam-launch is labouring utterly severed from the rest of up-stream, bearing a body of the created world by those black
Sikhs to the scene of the dis- walls of forest. Up-stream the