“From Our Own Correspondent.”
Fair (UK), July 28, 1904
(“. . . . As soon as the result of Kin-chau was known, preparations were made for pouring more troops into the Liao-tung Peninsula and Manchuria. I have been pressing that matter as a wise precaution for some time.”—A war correspondent in a morning paper.)
Talkio, July 18.
EVER since I bottled up Port Arthur, matters have been moving rapidly. Togo took my advice and lured the Russian fleet out of the harbour, inflicting a crushing defeat.
“Tog,” I said to him, “mark my words. You must get those Russians out of the port if you want them to fight on the open sea.”
It was pretty to see his face light up as the beauty of the idea dawned upon him. He had never thought of it before. He is a good chap, Togo, but he wants a man like me at his elbow to see that he does not go wrong. I remember advising him at the beginning of the war always to be sure and use his torpedoes.
“It has probably not occurred to you,” I said, “but you may take it from one who knows, that a torpedo is an uncommonly useful thing in naval warfare. I have not time to explain its workings to you just now—I have to assure the readers of the Telephone that I am looking after the land operations—but the main point about it is that it strikes the ship below the water-line.”
“Kimono!” replied the amazed but plucky little Jap, “Chifu hai saki ju-jitsu!” (“Bless my soul, now I never heard that before.”)
The result of my word of advice is now well known.
In my position as confidential adviser to the Japanese Staff I find many similar opportunities of teaching our allies, who, I admit, are quick learners, something of the art of war. I find that I am not the first of my family to hold a post of this sort. One Wm. Adams, an ancestor of mine on the distaff side, was Wellington’s right-hand man at Waterloo, and it was mainly owing to his advice that Napoleon found himself baffled on that occasion. Like myself, he was as handy with the pen as with the sword. His pamphlet, “How Bill Adams Won the Battle of Waterloo,” has had a large vogue.
I took the opportunity, after the capture of Kin-chau, of dropping a gracious word of praise to General Fukushima.
“Not bad,” I said, “not bad at all. You are coming on, General.”
He thanked me with that quietness and modesty which is but another phase of the best side of Japanese character in her best men. In passing, I must say a word for the universal courtesy of the Japanese with whom I have come in contact. Many of them, after I had finished pointing out a few of their (quite pardonable) errors, expressed a wish to break my bones—a very high compliment. On another occasion, when I was passing through the camp, they lined up and gave me double booing. It is little things like this, trivial in themselves, that make me feel that my efforts on their behalf are not in vain.
Published unsigned in Vanity Fair; entered by Wodehouse in Money Received for Literary Work as “From Our Special Correspondent.”
The Daily Telegraph newspaper, among others, was in the habit of bylining stories as “From our own correspondent,” which may have influenced the change of title from Wodehouse’s original. It is clear that war correspondents were becoming notorious for editorializing rather than just reporting (see fifth and sixth items in the previous week’s “In the Stocks” column).