Some excerpts from 1916 book – Gazing into Eternity.

Fermanagh Herald January 1st 1916.  Obiter Dicta, (Ed. It means by the Way) Christmas Day 1915.  How will it dawn?  How will it dawn on the coming Christmas Day?  It was Charles Kingsley’s question in 1868.  My question is: How will it dawn the coming New Year’s Day?  It should be a question deeply vital to the interests of everyone today.  Writing, as I am on Christmas day, I cannot help casting back to the optimistic days of last spring the days of illusionment, when many of us walked in a fool’s paradise.  We were saying to one another:  It will be over by Christmas!  We dare to dream beautiful dreams of peace on earth.  Today we are wiser and sadder, though no jot less determined.  And now we’re about to enter on a new year, commencing with bloodshed and slaughter. How will it dawn for on the coming New Year’s Day?

Today the merry boisterous spirits of Charles Dickens is out in the cold.  We have little heart for frivolity, merriment, and even the boy at home for his holidays is unnaturally subdued.  Many homes, alas, are no longer homes.  They are just walls and roofs; places where many a mother or father are eating their Christmas dinner and stealing around the house like ghosts. Poor Jack, I wonder how my boy is today.  Perhaps somewhere in Gallipoli is the little grave of him who a year ago was the bread-winner.  Somewhere in France the elder brother leapt the golden stile.  We know that father or son or brother is telling us from beyond the stars that all is well.  But we want him; without him home is not home; Christmas is not Christmas.  Today and on New Year’s Day both Hall and Cottage rejoice together or mourn together.

IN THE TRENCHES.  But today – Christ Day – how did it dawn; what picture unfolded itself as the sun rose in the high heavens, and cast its translucent gaze over the bloody plains of France; over the pinnacle heights of Gallipoli, where so many sons of Patrick have breathed  their last.  Did it disclose a scene of awful carnage, or what?  We know that on this day last year the better instinct was, for a few hours, triumphant.  Men forgot to they were out to kill and maim; they remembered they were of the same flesh and blood.  They laid aside their instruments of death; they exchanged cigarettes; they talked no doubt of homes in Saxony or Bethnal Green, or sunny, picturesque Fermanagh.  Then the circle of military discipline waved her wand.  Men sought for their burrows, and once more their sole aim in life was to make death.  Christmas came and went.  For a short space there was between the trenches peace and goodwill among men.  Then the dogs of war were let loose.  What was it like out there in France today?  Had the poor fellows plum pudding?  Hardly.  Was the ground damp and odiferous?  How was that ghastly wound; did it cause some brave Irishman untold agony – agony on a day like this!  Discipline probably made it impossible for friends and foe to meet as brothers.  Yet in the rival trenches there was surely much in common – the same great heartache for home – the same hunger for the little children’s arms – the same longing to look into the eyes of the girl, of the mother, who writes so bravely, who prays so unceasingly, and cries just at times like Christmas, so heartbrokenly.

The wages earned on munitions by many women and girls without any previous knowledge or experience are surprisingly large, says the Daily News.  It would be very interesting to know what is the biggest average weekly earnings of a female “hand” who can be legitimately classed as an amateur.  The managing director of a munitions factory told the writer recently that he had several girls who, without any training before they came to him, were each receiving nearly £4 a week after a month at his works.  “They beat heaps of men hollow,” he added “naturally there are men who don’t like it.  But that’s their lookout.  The labourer is worthy of his or her hire in war time or in peace.”

Describing the delivery of the Christmas mail to the British troops at the front a correspondent says that during Christmas week the heaviest daily mail consisted of 18,500 bags of letters and parcels.  By a conservative estimate the Army postal authorities reckon this to have represented about three million letters and half a million parcels.

Fermanagh Herald January 1st 1916.  BRIGADIER-GENERAL L. J.  LIPSETT HONOURED.  Brigadier General Lewis James Lipsett, a member of the well-known Ballyshannon family of that name, had the honour of being received by the King at Buckingham Palace on the 22nd of December, when his Majesty invested him with the insignia of a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.  The only surviving son of the late Mr. Richard Lipsett, the Brigadier-General was educated at Bedford Grammar School and the Royal Military College.  He entered the Royal Irish Regiment there in 1894 and wears the medals with two clasps for the operations in at the north-west frontier of India in 1897/8 and the medal issued for the suppression of the native rising in Natal in 1906. Brigadier-General Lipsett has served with distinction on the Western front being in command of a Canadian brigade, and has been mentioned in dispatches by Field Marshall Viscount French, in addition to being appointed Companion of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on the occasion of the King’s birthday. It may be recalled that Brigadier-General Lipsett had behaved with great gallantry in the severe fighting at Hill 60, where his cousin, Private W. A. Lipsett – a former member of the Irish Bar – fell in action.

Fermanagh Herald January 1st 1916.  SCHOOLING AND BOY LABOUR IN ENGLAND.  They are coming to think in England that too much schooling – by which is meant too long schooling – is bad for skilled labour in manual work says the Freeman.  The difficulties in the way of agriculture have brought this conviction home.  There is a shortage of agricultural labour and if the farmers are to maintain their normal rate of production they must make up the deficiency by employing inexperienced town labour, or women, or boys under 15 years.  The employment of boys is contrary to the school regulations in most districts.  There is a strong demand for the abolition of these regulations.  It is pointed out that only boys that begin agricultural work early in life are skilled beyond the work of mere labourers, and, since compulsory education took them away from the fields agriculturalists have lost their old cunning in ploughing, draining, ditching, thatching, and hedging, not to speak of dairying and stock grazing.  Schooling, say advocates of boy labour on the land, when prolonged beyond the ages of 11 or 12, destroys the boys’ chances of advancement in agricultural work, and is bad for the boys and bad for the country.  Labour is scarce and will become scarcer.

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