Punch, September 9, 1903


[It is suggested that children should be trained in shooting and scouting from the very earliest age.]

My child, away with your toys and games.
 No more on the floor shall roll
The painted indiarubber globe,
 To gladden your infant soul.
No more shall the rattle whirr: no more
 Shall the gay tin trumpet toot:
My child, it is time that you learned to drill;
 It is time that you learned to shoot.

Time was when Spillikins caused you joy,
 When you played with a model train,
When Pigs-in-clover was deemed enough
 To foster your growing brain.
Time was when you rode on a rocking-horse,
 Or petted the local cat;
Time was when you worried the patient dog—
 We are going to change all that.

A strenuous life is the life you’ll lead.
 You will rise and dress at dawn
To practice digging a modern trench
 Across the croquet lawn.
You’ll work at that till seven-o-clock;
 From seven-o-clock to ten
You’ll be with your catapult out on the range.
 You may have some breakfast then.

Resuming work at eleven sharp,
 You’ll stay on the range till one,
Or give an hour to the heliograph,
 If there is sufficient sun.
Deep books on Military Law
 From two till five you’ll cram,
And go for a trip from five to six
 In a fully armoured pram.

And when the days are dark and cold,
 When it either snows or pours,
You’ll shift the scene of your daily toil,
 And do your work indoors.
And toy with someone’s “Modern War,”
 Or Kipling’s martial verse,
Or while away the hours of rest
 At Kriegspiel with your nurse.

Thus when the day of battle dawns,
 And merciless foes invade,
When, sore oppressed, at the nursery door
 Your country knocks for aid,
When far and wide through our pleasant land
 Sounds Armageddon’s din,
When England once again “expects,”—
 Why, that’s where you’ll come in.

You’ll take your air-gun from the shelf,
 Your catapult blithely seize,
Gaily you’ll gird your shooter on,
 And see that it lacks not peas.
And as the hiss of your pop-gun’s cork
 Is merged in the general roar,
You’ll bless the day when you left your play
 To practice the art of War.




Unsigned verse as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 125 of Punch.