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The Angel and the Author

CHAPTER XV
[Music and the Savage.]
I never visit a music-hall without reflecting concerning the great future there must be
before the human race.
How young we are, how very young! And think of all we have done! Man is still a mere
boy. He has only just within the last half- century been put into trousers. Two thousand
years ago he wore long clothes--the Grecian robe, the Roman toga. Then followed the
Little Lord Fauntleroy period, when he went about dressed in a velvet suit with lace
collar and cuffs, and had his hair curled for him. The late lamented Queen Victoria put
him into trousers. What a wonderful little man he will be when he is grown up!
A clergyman friend of mine told me of a German Kurhaus to which he was sent for his
sins and his health. It was a resort, for some reason, specially patronized by the more
elderly section of the higher English middle class. Bishops were there, suffering from
fatty degeneration of the heart caused by too close application to study; ancient spinsters
of good family subject to spasms; gouty retired generals. Can anybody tell me how many
men in the British Army go to a general? Somebody once assured me it was five
thousand, but that is absurd, on the face of it. The British Army, in that case, would have
to be counted by millions. There are a goodish few American colonels still knocking
about. The American colonel is still to be met with here and there by the curious traveller,
but compared with the retired British general he is an extinct species. In Cheltenham and
Brighton and other favoured towns there are streets of nothing but retired British
generals--squares of retired British generals--whole crescents of British generals. Abroad
there are pensions with a special scale of charges for British generals. In Switzerland
there has even been talk of reserving railway compartments "For British Generals Only."
In Germany, when you do not say distinctly and emphatically on being introduced that
you are not a British general, you are assumed, as a matter of course, to be a British
general. During the Boer War, when I was residing in a small garrison town on the Rhine,
German military men would draw me aside and ask of me my own private personal views
as to the conduct of the campaign. I would give them my views freely, explain to them
how I would finish the whole thing in a week.
"But how in the face of the enemy's tactics--" one of them would begin.
"Bother the enemy's tactics," I would reply. "Who cares for tactics?"
"But surely a British general--" they would persist. "Who's a British general?" I would
retort, "I am talking to you merely as a plain commonsense man, with a head on my
shoulders."
They would apologize for their mistake. But this is leading me away from that German
Kurhaus.
 
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