The Books of To-day and the Books of To-morrow, August 1906

Peeps Into Futurity.
The New Rules of War.

1.   Each army shall appoint an umpire. It shall be the umpires’ duty to see that the fight is perfectly fair.

2.   In the event of a soldier firing before the enemy is ready, the umpire shall call “No-ball.” Three no-balls shall disqualify a soldier from further participation in the campaign.

3.   Soldiers proven to be good marksmen shall allow the enemy three shots at them before opening fire. To facilitate sureness of aim, all British regiments shall wear white shirt-fronts and diamond studs.

4.   If the enemy show signs of retreating, they shall be allowed to depart in peace, and forty points shall be added to the winners’ score. This shall be called Grand Slam.

5.   Prisoners shall be fed on champagne and chicken. Neither prisoners nor chicken must in any circumstances be potted.

6.   In the event of the enemy massacring their prisoners, the British General must apply for instruction to Mr. Byles, and in bad cases it is possible that a letter of expostulation may be sent to the opposite camp.

7.   Bayonets must not be used except as toasting-forks.

8.   An English soldier meeting a Zulu with an assegai shall toss for first prod. If the Zulu misses him the first time, he shall be allowed to follow on.

9.   Should the noise of firing give the enemy’s troops a headache, they may demand an abandonment of the fight. After a tea interval the battle shall be continued with brick-bats.

10.   Lunch shall be taken at 1.30 on battle mornings, when play shall cease for three-quarters of an hour.

11.   In the event of the enemy’s General manœuvring his troops into a dangerous position, he shall be empowered to call ‘Pax!’ until such time as he has gained more favourable ground. If our troops fire in the meantime, the fight shall be awarded to the enemy on a foul.

12.   Lemons shall be brought out to the two armies at half-time.

13.   Ambushes must be clearly marked with red flags.

14.   No British General may take advantage of superior brain-power or a more effective military education to puzzle the opposing General with cryptic stratagems. He must adapt his style to the mental calibre of his antagonist.

15.   Impulsive subalterns found firing revolvers will be cashiered.

16.   Lances must be provided with stout leather buttons.

17.   There shall be a speed limit of four miles an hour for cavalry charges: and during the charge the officer in command must sound a motor-horn at frequent intervals as a warning.

18.   Sabres shall be made of papier-maché.

19.   All cases in which doubt exists must be referred to Mr. W. P. Byles, Minister for War.



Printed unsigned; entered by Wodehouse in Money Received for Literary Work as “The Rules of War.”


Mr. William Pollard Byles (1839–1917, knighted 1911) was a British newspaper owner (the Bradford Observer) and Liberal M.P. He was a well-known pacifist, and never held any Cabinet post, let alone Minister for War.