But I hold that such a poster, flaring from every billboard, is a defamation of patriotic American women, and a distinct blow to the cause of suffrage. It will not only antagonize men, who alone have the power to grant the franchise in those States still obdurate, but disgust thousands of women not yet won over to the cause, and far too intelligent not to know the precise meaning behind those lying and hypocritical words. For if that poster were really representative of American women it would mean that American women were traitors to their country, just as all pro-German American men, whatever their descent, are traitors, whether they realize it or not. What was the cause of the roar of indignation that went up all over the United States on Aug. 1? Anti-Germanism? Not a bit of it. If Russia had made the declaration of war the roar would have been as immediate and as loud. It was the spontaneous protest of the spirit of democracy against an arrogant autocracy that dared to plunge Europe into war and the world into panic, without the consent of the people; the manifest of a mediaeval power by an ambitious and unscrupulous group over millions of industrious, peace-loving men who had nothing to gain and all to lose.
It has been pointed out over and over again how diametrically opposed are the German and American ideals; therefore, it seems incredible that every American who champions the cause of a powerful and sublimely egotistic nation does not realize that what he hopes to see is not only the victory of the German arms in Europe, but the eventual destruction of democracy, the annihilation of the spirit of America as epitomized in the Declaration of Independence. I have not the least apprehension of immediate war with Germany, any more than of physical defeat at her hands did she, with the rest of Europe prostrate, make a raid on our shores; but it seems hardly open to question that with Europe Prussianized, we, the one heterogeneous race, and always ready to absorb and imbibe from the parent countries, should lose, in the course of half a century, our tremendous individual hustle, and gratefully permit a benevolent (and cast iron) despotism (not unnecessarily of our own make) to do our thinking, perhaps to select our jobs and apportion our daily tasks.
For that is what it almost amounts to now in Germany, and it is for this reason, no less than to escape military service, that so many millions of Germans have immigrated to this country. Unlike the vast majority of the bourgeois and lower classes, a kindly but stupid people, they were born with an alertness of mind and an energy of character which gave them the impetus to transfer themselves to a land where life might be harder but where soul and body could attain to a complete independence. Their present attitude is, however unconsciously, hypocritical, but it is not altogether as traitorous as that of the American born, who has not the excuse of that peculiar form of sentimentality which has fermented in Germans at home and abroad during this period of their Fatherland's peril. It is this curious and wholly German brand of sentimentality which is the cohering force in the various and extraordinarily clever devices by which modern Germany has been solidified. It is a sentimentality capable of rising to real exaltation that no other nation is capable of, and that alone should make the American pro-German pause and meditate upon a future United States where native individualism was less and less reluctantly heading for the iron jaws of the Prussianized American machine; and, furthermore, upon the weird spectacle of the real gladiatorial contest—German sentimentality wrestling in a death grapple with American downright unpicturesque common sense.
During the seven years that I lived in Munich I learned to like Germany better than any state in Europe. I liked and admired the German people; I never suffered from an act of rudeness, and I never was cheated out of a penny. I was not even taxed until the year before I left, because I made no money out of the country and turned in a considerable amount in the course of a year. When my maid went to the Rathaus to pay my taxes, (moderate enough,) the official apologized, saying that he had disliked to send me a bill, but the increased cost of the army compelled the country to raise money in every way possible. This was in 1908. The only disagreeable German I met during all those years was my landlord, and as we always dodged each other in the house or turned an abrupt corner to avoid encounter on the street, we steered clear of friction. And he was the only landlord I had.
I left Munich with the greatest regret, and up to the moment of the declaration of war I continued to like Germany better than any country in the world except my own.
The reason I left was significant. I spent, as a rule, seven or eight months in Munich, then a similar period in the United States, unless I traveled. I always returned to my apartment with such joy that if I arrived at night I did not go to bed lest I forget in sleep how overjoyed I was to get back to that stately and picturesque city, so prodigal with every form of artistic and aesthetic gratification. But that was just the trouble. For as long a time after my return as it took to write the book I had in mind I worked with the stored American energy I had within me; then for months and in spite of good resolutions and some self-anathema I did nothing. What was the use? The beautiful German city so full of artistic delight was made to live in, not to work in. The entire absence of poverty in that city of half a million inhabitants alone gave it an air of illusion, gave one the sense of being the guest of a hospitable monarch who only asked to provide a banquet for all that could appreciate. I look back upon Munich as the romance of my life, the only place on this globe that came near to satisfying every want of my nature. And that is the reason why, in a sort of panic, I abruptly pulled up stakes and left it for good and all. It is not in the true American idea to be too content; it means running to seed, a weakening of the will and the vital force. If I remained too long in that lovely land—so admirably governed that I could not have lost myself, or my cat, had I possessed one—I should in no long course yield utterly to a certain resentfully admitted tendency to dream and drift and live for pure beauty; finally desert my own country with the comfortable reflection: Why all this bustle, this desire to excel, to keep in the front rank, to find pleasure in individual work, when so many artistic achievements are ready-made for all to enjoy without effort? For—here is the point—an American, the American of today—accustomed to high speed, constant energy, nervous tenseness, the uncertainty, and the fight, cannot cultivate the leisurely German method, the almost scientific and impersonal spirit that informs every profession and branch of art. It is our own way or none for us Americans.
Therefore, if loving Germany as I did, and with only the most enchanting memories of her, I had not immediately permitted the American spirit to assert itself last August and taken a hostile and definite stand against the German idea (which includes, by the way, the permanent subjection of woman) I should have been a traitor, for I knew out of the menace I had felt to my own future, as bound up with an assured development under insidious influences, what the future of my country, which stands for the only true progress in the world today, and a far higher ideal of mortal happiness than the most benevolent paternalism can bestow, had in store for it, with Germany victorious, and America (always profoundly moved by success owing to her very practicality) disturbed, but compelled to admire.
The Germans living here, destitute as their race seems to be of psychology when it comes to judging other races, must know all this; so I say that they are traitors if they have taken the oath of allegiance to the United States. If they have not, and dream of returning one day to the fatherland, then I have nothing to say, for there is no better motto for any man than: "My country, right or wrong."
"Gott Mit Uns"
By C. HUNTINGTON JACOBS
[Harvard Prize Poem]
Professor Kuno Meyer, of the University of Berlin, resigned his incumbency as Visiting Professor at Harvard University during the next season because of this poem, which was printed in The Harvard Advocate of April 9th, last, and won the prize in a competition for poems on the war conducted by that publication. This announcement of it appeared editorially: "Dean Briggs and Professor Bliss Perry, the judges of the Advocate war poem prize competition, have awarded the prize to C. Huntington Jacobs, 1916."
No doubt ye are the people: Wisdom's flame Springs from your cannon—yea from yours alone. God needs your dripping lance to prop His throne; Your gleeful torch His glory to proclaim. No doubt ye are the people: far from shame Your Captains who deface the sculptured stone Which by the labor and the blood and bone Of pious millions calls upon His name.
No doubt ye are the folk; and 'tis to prove Your wardenship of Virtue and of Lore Ye sacrifice the Truth in reeking gore Upon your altar to the Prince of Love. Yet still cry we who still in darkness plod: "'Tis Antichrist ye serve and not our God!"
On the Psychology of Neutrals
By Friedrich Curtius
Friedrich Curtius, of Strassburg, had attained such distinction at the beginning of the century that Prince Chlodwig of Hohenlohe-Schillingfuerst, who succeeded Count Caprivi as Chancellor of the German Empire, on his retirement in 1900, asked Curtius to co-operate with him in the preparation of the Memoirs (New York, The Macmillan Co., 1906) which have since become famous. But the joint work was brought to a sudden end by Prince Hohenlohe's death, and Friedrich Curtius devoted himself, for the next six or seven years, to the completion of the unfinished task. When the Memoirs were finally published, first in America and then in Germany, they were so outspoken as to bring down on Prince Alexander Hohenlohe and Friedrich Curtius the disfavour of the Kaiser. This article by Curtius appeared originally in the Deutsche Revue, May, 1915.
"All the world must hate or love; no choice remains. The Devil is neutral."
So sang Clemens Brentano in the year 1813. Today, we once more realize that the attempt to remain neutral through a conflict which is deciding the history of the world not only brings great spiritual difficulties, but is even felt to be a downright moral impossibility, just as the poet saw it a hundred years ago. Legal neutrality is, of course, a simple thing. Every state can itself practice it, and impose it as a duty on its citizens. One may even think that modern states should go further in this direction than they do. The indifference of the Government toward the business transactions of its citizens with foreign states is a political anomaly, comprehensible in an age when foreign policy in war and peace was viewed as something that concerned the ruler only, but contradictory in a democratic age, when wars are peoples' wars. Today, in all civilized states, the Government is morally answerable for those activities of its subjects which have international results. The American policy which permits the supply of weapons to England but allows England to prevent the export of grain to Germany, is a bad neutrality, morally untenable, a mere passivity, which lacks the will to do right. Such a standpoint might exist in a despotically governed state, but in a democratic Republic it is incomprehensible. For, from a genuinely democratic point of view, it does not signify whether the government or the citizens intervene to help or to hinder in an armed conflict. If we venture to speak at the right time of the development of international law, this, before all, must be demanded: that neutral states shall forbid the export of weapons, and that belligerents shall not hinder the import of foodstuffs for civilian populations.
Meanwhile the insecurity of the international attitude of neutrals is only a symptom of the difficulties to which neutrality of view is subject. These begin with the outbreak of the war. Each belligerent government believes itself to be in the right, and publishes a collection of documents which seem to it fitted to prove this right. This literature appearing in all the colours of the spectrum is really aimed at neutrals. For the belligerent nations themselves have weightier matters in hand than to sit in judgment upon their own governments. But the neutrals find themselves to decide which side is right. Yet this whole idea of a "just war" (coming to us from the moral philosophy of the Schoolmen) which shall expiate an injustice, as the judge punishes crimes, is antiquated. When, in the middle ages, the citizens of a town were maltreated or robbed by the authorities or citizens of another town, and the guilty party refused satisfaction, then the consequent feud might be viewed as a modified criminal case, and the right of the wronged town to help itself must be recognized. In exactly the same way, differences over questions of inheritance between independent states could only be decided by force, where, as in a civil suit, each party was convinced of its own justice. But the great wars of our time arise from causes which are different from their immediate occasions, from opposed interests which can only be decided by discovering which side has the power to enforce its will. If one wishes to ascribe the blame for a war to one of the parties, one need only ask which of them pursued an aim which could not be reached through a peaceful understanding. In the present war, we Germans have clear consciences, for we know, concerning ourselves and our government, that we strove for nothing but the maintenance of our position as a world-power, bought with heavy sacrifices, and the free, peaceful expansion of our sphere of action in the world. On the other hand, Russia desired to get to Constantinople ahead of Berlin and Vienna, France desired to win back Metz and Strassburg, England desired to destroy our sea-power and commerce—goals which could only be reached over prostrate Germany. On this understanding, it would not be difficult for neutrals to arrive at a clear and just judgment. But as the belligerents themselves did not announce their purposes, but much rather took pains to turn public attention from the causes to the occasion of the conflict, the judgment of neutrals is affected by this, and if they are really impartial in their view, they suffer morally under the burden of an insoluble problem. But if outspoken sympathy draws them toward one of the belligerent powers, then their judgment is as little objective as that of the belligerents themselves. Their pretended neutrality gives to their expressions a loathsome Pharisaical aspect, because they come to a decision according to their opinions as if they stood on a height above the contestants and, from this lofty standpoint, were holding an anticipated Last Judgment on kings and statesmen.
The same phenomena show themselves with regard to judgments concerning methods of warfare. It goes without saying that each belligerent party reports all the atrocities which are committed by its opponents and is silent as to its own shortcomings. Once more, neutrals feel compelled to form a judgment, and therefore, if they are conscientious, read the reports of both sides, and, as a result, find themselves in a desperate situation, because it is impossible, from the assertions and counter-assertions of the belligerents, to ascertain the actual facts of the case. In practice, mere chance decides which set of reports one comes across. And the exact proof of details is impossible to the most zealous newspaper-reader. Therefore one's judgment remains vacillating, and one is likely to come to this conclusion: to believe nothing at all. Naturally, the case is different here also, if one is previously in sympathy with one party. Then one believes the reports coming from that side, and leaves out of consideration those that stand against them. In this case, again, neutrals become as one-sided as belligerents, without having the indubitable right to be one-sided which the belligerents have.
And finally, in the decisive question, neutrality is excluded. Whatever judgments one may form as to the cause of the war, and as to methods of waging it, the final outcome is always the decisive factor. Only a completely demoralized and stupid man can boast, in cynical indifference, that the result of the war leaves him cold. Where spiritual life functions, wishes and prayers, hopes and fears, are passionately involved in the course of the mighty conflict. For it is not a question whether this or that nation shall experience more pleasure or pain, but the form of all Europe and of the world, for long periods to come, will be fixed by the decision of this war. That cannot be a matter of indifference for any thinking human being. An equilibrium of view, a real neutrality is as little possible here as it would have been in the Persian or Punic wars, or, a hundred years ago, in the revolt of Europe, against the domination of Napoleon. He who, invoking the neutrality of his state, does not takes sides in this decisive question, debases himself and his people with him. For to stand indifferent, taking no part in the mightiest events of history, is a degradation of humanity.
The neutrals in this world-war are, therefore, to be pitied rather than esteemed happy. Either they are only legally uncommitted, but have, in feeling and thought, taken the side of one of the belligerent parties: in which case it must weigh heavily on their hearts not to be able to come out openly for that side and to aid it with all their power; or they hold to neutrality as a positive political ideal: then the ethical solution of the dark questions of the right and wrong of the war, and the methods of warfare become a torturing and hopeless problem, and, in considering the future, the weakness and impracticability of what one has accepted as a legal precept becomes evident.
If the world-war should last much longer, then neutrality, as such, will probably go bankrupt. The economic injuries of the war weigh on neutrals as heavily as on belligerents. But they are far harder to bear when one has nothing to hope from the outcome of the war, when one must make continued sacrifices in sheer passivity, without knowing why. One would finally fall into despair, and accept anything that would bring this intolerable condition to an end. We hope that this extremity will not be reached, but rather that the decision of the war will come early enough to permit neutrals to preserve their attitude. That this should happen, is the common interest of mankind. For, in the collective life of civilized nations, neutrals have their own mission. Just because they share only the sufferings of the war, but do not partake of its inspiring and exalting forces, they are, of necessity, opponents of war, the providential mediators of the idea of peace, of international understanding, of the development and strengthening of international law. They can, during and after the conclusion of peace—if they unite and go forward with clearly formed ideals—have a notable effect. It will, in part, depend on their wisdom and firmness, whether it will be possible, within a conceivable time, to heal the deep wounds of humanity and international comity.
A Reuter dispatch, dated Amsterdam, June 26, 1915, reports that the "Koelnische Zeitung," in a semi-official defence of the German employment of gases, says:
"The basic idea of the Hague agreements was to prevent unnecessary cruelty and unnecessary killing when milder methods of putting the enemy out of action suffice and are possible. From this standpoint the letting loose of smoke-clouds which, in a gentle wind, move quite slowly towards the enemy is not only permissible by international law, but is an extraordinarily mild method of war. It has always been permissible to compel the enemy to evacuate positions by artificially caused flooding.
"Those who were not indignant, or even surprised, when our enemies in Flanders summoned water as a weapon against us, have no cause to be indignant when we make air our ally and employ it to carry stupefying (betaeubende) gases against the enemy. What the Hague Convention desired to prevent was the destruction without chance of escape of human lives en masse, which would have been the case if shells with poisonous gas were rained down on a defenceless enemy who did not see them coming and was exposed to them irremediably. The changing forms of warfare make new methods of war continually necessary."
By Pierre Loti
This article by Pierre Loti (Captain Viaud) originally appeared in L'Illustration as the last of a series of three entitled "Visions of the Battle Front," and is translated for THE NEW YORK TIMES CURRENT HISTORY by Charles Johnston.
To see it, our legendary and marvellous French basilica, to bid it farewell, before its fall and irremediable crumbling to dust, I had made my military auto make a detour of two hours on my return from completing a service mission.
The October morning was foggy and cold. The hillsides of Champagne were on that day deserted; with their vines with leaves of blackened brown, damp with rain, they seemed all clad in a sort of shining leather. We had also passed through a forest, keeping our eyes alert, our weapons ready, for the possibility of marauding Uhlans. And at last we had perceived the immense form of a church, far off in the mist, rising in all its great height above the plots of reddish squares, which must be the roofs of houses; evidently that was it.
The entrance to Rheims: defences of every kind, barriers of stone, trenches, spiked fences, sentinels with crossed bayonets. To pass, the uniform and accoutrements of a soldier are not enough. We must answer questions, give the pass-words....
In the great city, which I had not visited before, I ask the way to the cathedral, for it is no longer visible; its silhouette which, seen from a distance, so completely dominates everything, as a giant's castle might dominate the dwellings of dwarfs, its high gray silhouette seems to have bent down to hide itself. "The cathedral," the people reply, "at first straight on; then you must turn to the left, then to the right, and so on." And my auto plunges into the crowded streets. Many soldiers, regiments on the march, files of ambulance wagons; but also many chance passers-by, no more concerned than if nothing was happening; even many well-dressed women with prayer-books in their hands, for it is Sunday.
Where two streets cross, there is a crowd before a house, the walls of which have been freshly scratched; a shell fell there, just now, without any useful result, as without any excuse. A mere brutal jest, to say: "You know, we are here!" A mere game, a question of killing a few people, choosing Sunday morning because there are more people in the streets. But, in truth, one would say that this city has completely made up its mind to being under the savage field-glasses ambushed on the neighboring hillsides; these passers-by stop a minute to look at the wall, the marks of the bits of iron, and then quietly continue their Sunday walk. This time it was some women, they tell us, and little girls that this neat jest laid low in pools of blood; they tell us that; and they think no more of it, as if it were a very small thing in days like these.... Now the district becomes deserted; closed houses, a silence, as of mourning. And at the end of a street, the great gray doors appear, the high pointed arches marvellously chiseled, the high towers. Not a sound, and not a living soul on the square where the phantom basilica still sits enthroned, and an icy wind blows there, under an opaque sky.
It still keeps its place as by a miracle, the basilica of Rheims, but so riddled and torn that one divines that it is ready to founder at the slightest shock; it gives the impression of a great mummy, still upright and majestic, but which a mere nothing will turn to ashes. The ground is strewn with precious relics of it. It has been hurriedly surrounded with a solid barrier of white boards, within which its holy dust has formed heaps: fragments of rose-windows, broken piles of stained glass, heads of angels, the joined hands of saints. From the top of the tower to the base, the charred stone has taken on a strange color of cooked flesh, and the holy personages, still upright in rows on the cornices, have been peeled, as it were, by the fire; they no longer have faces or fingers, and, with their human forms, which still persist, they look like the dead drawn up in files, their contours vaguely indicated under a sort of reddish grave-clothes.
We make the circuit of the square without meeting anyone, and the barrier which isolates the fragile and still admirable phantom is everywhere solidly closed. As for the old palace adjoining the basilica, the episcopal palace where the kings of France came to rest on the day of their consecration, it is no longer anything more than a ruin, without windows or roof, everywhere licked and blackened by the flame.
What a peerless jewel it was, this cathedral, still more beautiful than Notre Dame in Paris. More open and lighter, more slender also, with its columns like long reeds, wonderful to be so fragile, and yet to hold firm; a wonder of our French religious art, a masterpiece which the faith of our ancestors had caused to blossom there in its mystic purity, before they came to us from Italy, to materialize and spoil everything, the sensual heaviness of what we have agreed to call the Renaissance....
Oh! the coarse and cowardly and imbecile brutality of those bundles of iron, launched in full flight against the lace-work, so delicate, that had risen confidently in the air for centuries, and which so many battles, invasions, scourges have never dared to touch!...
That great closed house, there, on the square, must be the Archbishop's residence. I try ringing the bell at the entrance to ask the favor of admission to the cathedral. "His Eminence," I am told, "is at mass, but will soon return." If I am willing to wait.... And, while I wait, the priest who receives me relates to me the burning of the episcopal palace: "Beforehand, they had sprinkled the roofs with I know not what diabolical substance; when they then threw their incendiary bombs, the timbers burned like straw, and you saw everywhere jets of green flame, which spread with the noise of fireworks."
In fact, the barbarians had premeditated this sacrilege, and prepared it long ago; in spite of their foolishly absurd pretexts, in spite of their shameless denials, what they wished to destroy here was the very heart of old France; some superstitious fancy drove them to it, as much as their instinct of savages, and this is the task they plunged into desperately, when nothing else in the city, or almost nothing, suffered.
"Could not an effort be made," I said, "to replace the burned roof of the cathedral?—to cover the vaulted roofs again as quickly as possible? For without this they cannot resist the coming winter."
"Evidently," he said, "at the first snows, at the first rains, there is a risk that everything will fall, the more so, as those charred stones have lost their power of resistance. But we cannot even try that, to preserve them a little, for the Germans never take their eyes off us; at the end of their field-glasses, it is the cathedral, always the cathedral; and as soon as a man ventures to appear on a turret, in a tower, the rain of shells immediately begins again. No, there is nothing to be done. It is in the hands of God."
Returning, the prelate graciously gives me a guide, who has the keys of the barrier, and at last I penetrate into the ruins of the cathedral, into the denuded nave, which thus appears still higher and more immense. It is cold there; it is sad enough to make one weep. This unexpected cold, this cold much keener than outside, is, perhaps, what from the first takes hold of you, disconcerts you; instead of the slightly heavy odor which generally fills ancient churches—the vapor of so much incense that has been burned there, the emanations of so many coffins that have been blessed there, of so many generations of men that have crowded there, for agony and prayer—instead of this, a damp and icy wind, which enters rustling through all the crevices of the walls, through the breaches in the stained glass windows and the holes in the vaulted ceilings. Those vaulted roofs, up there, here and there smashed by grapeshot—one's eyes are immediately lifted up by instinct to look at them, one's eyes are, as it were, drawn to them by the up-springing of all these columns, as slender as reeds, which rise in sheaves to sustain them; they have retreating curves of exquisite grace, which seem to have been imagined, so as not to allow the glances sent heavenward to fall back again. One never grows weary of bending one's head back in order to see them, to see the sacred roofs which are about to fall into nothingness; and they are up there also, far up, the long series of almost aerial pointed arches, on which they are supported, pointed arches indefinitely alike from one end of the nave to the other, and which, in spite of their complicated carvings, are restful to follow in their retreating perspective, so harmonious are they.
And it is better to go forward beneath them with raised head, not too carefully looking where one walks, for this pavement, rather sadly sonorous, has recently been soiled and blackened by the charring of human flesh. It is known that, on the day of the fire, the cathedral was full of German wounded, stretched on straw beds which caught fire, and it became a scene of horror worthy of a dream of Dante; all these creatures, whose raw wounds were baked in the flames, dragging themselves, screaming, on their red stumps, to try to reach the narrow doors. One knows also the heroism of the ambulance bearers, priests and nuns, risking their lives in the midst of the bombs, to try to save these hapless brutes, whom their own brother Germans had not even thought of sparing; however, they did not succeed in saving them all; some remained, and were burned to death in the nave, leaving foul clots on the sacred flagstones, where of old processions of kings and queens slowly dragged their ermine mantles, to the music of the great organ and the Gregorian chants....
"Look!" says my guide to me, showing me a large hole in one of the aisles, "that is the work of a shell which they fired at us yesterday evening; then come and see a miracle." And he leads me into the choir, where the statue of Jeanne d'Arc, preserved, one would say, by some special grace, is still there, intact, with eyes of gentle ecstasy.
The most irreparable loss is that of the great stained glass windows, which the mysterious artists of the thirteenth century so religiously composed, in meditation and dream, gathering the saints by hundreds, with their translucent draperies, their luminous halos. There also German scrap-iron rushed in great stupid bundles, crushing everything. The masterpieces, which no one will ever reproduce, have scattered their fragments on the flagstones, forever impossible to separate, the golds, the reds, the blues, whose secret is lost. Ended, the rainbow transparencies, ended, the graceful, naive attitudes of all these holy people, with their pale little ecstatic faces; the thousands of precious fragments of these stained glass windows which, in the course of centuries, had little by little become iris-tinted like opals, are lying on the ground—where they still shine like jewels....
A whole splendid cycle of our history, which seemed to go on living in this sanctuary, with a life almost terrestrial, though immaterial, has just been plunged suddenly into the abyss of things that are ended, whose very memory will soon perish. The Great Barbarity has passed by, the modern barbarism from beyond the Rhine, a thousand times worse than the ancient, because it is stupidly and outrageously self-satisfied, and, in consequence, fundamental, incurable, final—destined, if it be not crushed, to throw a sinister night of eclipse over the world....
Verily, this Jeanne d'Arc in the choir has very strangely remained, untouched, immaculate, in the midst of the disorder, with not even the slightest scratch on her dress....
The English Falsehood
By Sven Hedin
Early in the war Sven Hedin, the Swedish explorer and writer, visited the German front to see the world-war at first hand. "A People in Arms," published in Leipzig and dedicated to the German soldiers, is the result. A preface proclaims the author's neutrality as a Swede and announces that he "swears before God that I have written not a line which is not the truth and have depicted nothing which I have not witnessed with my own eyes." This article is one of his concluding sketches.
I should like to have seen how the troops of India stood the raw autumn in Artois and Flanders. But the Indian prisoners at Lille were transferred to the East in order to make room for fresh contingents. I, myself, have experienced the difficulty of transplanting Indians to a colder climate. On my last journey to Tibet I had two Kadschputs from Cashmere with me. When we got into the mountains they nearly froze to death, and my caravan leader, Muhamed Isa, declared they would be about as useful as puppies. I had to send them back. The same thing happened to me with my Indian cook; outside India he was absolutely useless. In Tibet they live on meat, in India on vegetables. How could he stand so sudden a change of both climate and diet!
Now the press has been claiming that the English have ordered a full contingent from India to Europe. I found it hard to believe but at the front I learned that it was true. "How do you treat the Indian soldiers?" I once asked a couple of officers. "We just arrest them," answered one, and the other added: "We don't need to do even that; they will soon die in the trenches."
When I admit that I myself made a stupid blunder in thinking that Indians could do service in Tibet, I am justified in claiming that Lord Charles Beresford made ten times as stupid a blunder when he expressed the hope of seeing "Indian lances roaming the streets of Berlin and the little brown Gurkas making themselves comfortable in the park of Sans Souci."
But the import of Indian troops is more than a stupid blunder—it is a crime!
For almost a century and a half Great Britain has performed the shining mission of acting as India's guardian; no other people probably could successfully carry through so gigantic a task. Indian troops have fought with honor against their neighbors, and, moreover have assisted in maintaining order among the 300 millions of their people.
But never has it occurred to an English government as now to the Liberal government, to oppose black infidels to Christian Europeans! That is a crime against culture, against civilization and against Christianity. And if the English missionaries approve it, then are they hypocrites and false bearers of the Gospel.
India's English rulers despise—and rightfully—all marital relations between whites and Hindoos; the children of such marriages are regarded as mules, and are often called such; they are neither horse nor ass, they are half caste. In Calcutta they have their own quarter and are allowed to live in no other part of the city. But—when it comes to the question of overthrowing the "German barbarians," then an alliance with the bronze-skinned people is good enough for England!
Is it one of the twentieth century's worthy advances in culture and civilization that the unsuspecting Indian is brought hundreds of miles over land and sea that he may on the battlefields of Europe drive to destruction the first soldiers of the world, the German army? Even though some may answer this question in the affirmative, I hold unshaken to my assertion that such a course of action is the very height of frightfulness! Not frightful to the German soldiers, for I know what sort of feeling the Indian fighters have for them—respect and sympathy!
And we aren't much nearer that "roaming about in the streets of Berlin," and the lindens of Sans Souci are not yet waving above the warriors from the slopes of the Himalayas.
What must these Indian troops think of their white masters? That the future will show. Whoever has seen something of the land of a thousand legends, who has ridden over the crests of the Himalayas, who has dreamed in the moonlight before the Taj Mahal, who has seen the holy Ganges slip gray and soft past the wharves of Benares, who has been entranced by the train of elephants under the mango trees of Dekkan—in short, whoever has loved India and admired the order and security which prevails there under the English rule, he will need no very powerful imagination to understand with what thoughts the Indian soldiers will go back, and with what feelings their families and their fellow countrymen in the little narrow huts on the slopes of the Himalayas will listen to their accounts. Only with a shudder can we think of this, for it must be said that here a crime against civilization and Christianity has been done in the name of civilization.
The question cannot be suppressed: Will the Indian contingent really be used? Will not the white millions of Great Britain, Canada and Australia suffice, to say nothing of the French, Belgians, Russians, Serbians, Montenegrins and Japanese? Apparently not. In The Times of September 5th appears in large letters: The need for more men. Already they are in need of more people to overthrow the Kultur of the "German barbarians"! The English people must be educated by a special method in order to understand both the cause and the aim of this war. Otherwise the Englishman will stay at home and play, football and cricket.
And what is this education of the people? In regard to this the English press informs us daily. It is a systematic lie! The fatal reality, that England is slowly sliding to catastrophe, must be hidden by a strict censorship. The English people has no suspicion of Hindenburg's victories. The development of the German operations in Poland is translated into a victorious move of the Russians on Berlin! The most shameful slander concerning the Kaiser is spread abroad! The Germans are barbarians who must be annihilated, and the civilized peoples of Servia, Senegambia and Portugal must take part in this praiseworthy undertaking!
England carries on this war with a perversion of the truth, and truth is as rare in the English press as lies in the German.
But do the people really believe what they read in the English newspapers? Yes, blindly! I have been convinced of this by letters received from England. An appeal signed by many scholars—among them several Nobel prize winners—and sent to me, closes with the words:
We regret deeply that under the unwholesome influence of a military system and its unrestrained dreams of domination, the country which we have once honored now has become Europe's common enemy and the enemy of all people who respect the rights of nations. We must carry to an end this war which we have entered. For us as for the Belgians it is a war of defense, which will be fought through for peace and freedom.
The old story of the splinter and the beam! Is England's rule of the sea no military system then? Can there be conceived a more far-reaching militarism than that which stretches out its conquests over five continents? Which even clutches at the straw which republican Portugal holds out and announces "the need for more men" in the newspapers?
What was the Boer War then? An expression perhaps of this same humane solicitude for the small states which now causes England to break the lance for Belgium's independence?
It would be useless at this late day to attempt to determine what would have been the course of the great war had England stayed out of it. But this much is certain, that Belgium's loss of independence would have lasted only until the conclusion of peace. The war would then not have grown as now to be a world-war—to be the greatest and most tragic catastrophe which the human race has ever suffered. No nation has ever incurred a greater, a more comprehensive responsibility than England! And one can only regret most deeply that these men will have to bear now and in the world to come the full and oppressive burden of that responsibility.
Calais or Suez?
Which Should be Germany's Objective?
By special cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES from London on July 1, 1915, came the following information:
Count von Reventlow, in last Sunday's Deutsche Tageszeitung, explains the importance and meaning of Calais as a German objective in the west and as a key to the destruction of the British Empire. Dr. Ernst Jaeckh, in an article called "Calais or Suez," maintained that if an English statesman had to make a choice he would undoubtedly give up Calais and cling to Suez rather than give up Suez and control Calais. Reventlow maintains there is no reality about this alternative.
About the importance of Suez, Jaeckh and Reventlow are agreed. Reventlow for his part declares England's main interest in the Dardanelles operations is the desire to protect Egypt and that this is the explanation of all her efforts to range the Balkan countries against Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Turkey. As translated in THE TIMES he proceeds:
"These efforts are not yet at an end, and they will be continued with a desperate expenditure of strength and all possible means. It was believed that the Russian armies and influence exercised upon the Balkan peoples would make Egypt safe. These hopes are now tottering or vanishing. All the greater must be the energy of our triple alliance in order completely to clear the way and then at the proper moment to take it with firm determination to see the thing through. Here also we see the correctness of our old argument, that for Germany and her allies success lies in a long war and that time works for them if they employ the time in working. Our forces are increasing with time and, as has been said, Germany has the assured possibility of gaining time. To strike our chief enemy at a vital point is worth the greatest efforts and sacrifice of time, quite apart from the fact that we owe it to the Turkish Empire to assist with all our strength in restoring Egypt, which was stolen by England."
Reventlow then says that a comparison of "the Calais idea" with Suez is as idle as the comparison of a chair with a table. He says Jaeckh is mistaken in supposing Calais does not concern more than the south coast of England or that it merely threatens one of many ways to and from England. Reventlow says:
"This by no means completes the Calais idea. From a military or political or economic point of view one should look at the matter with the eyes of Great Britain and define the Calais idea as a possibility for a seafaring continental power to conduct a war against Great Britain from the continental coast channel and with all military resources while holding open communication between the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea."
Note on the Principle of Nationality
By John Galsworthy
This article, dealing with the consequences of the war, originally appeared in La Revue of Paris, and is here reproduced by permission of Mr. Galsworthy.
In these times one dread lies heavy on heart and brain—the thought that after all the unimaginable suffering, waste, and sacrifice of this war, nothing may come of it, no real relief, no permanent benefit to Europe, no improvement to the future of mankind.
The pronouncements of publicists—"This must never happen again," "Conditions for abiding peace must be secured," "The United States of Europe must be founded," "Militarism must cease"—all such are the natural outcome of this dread. They are proclamations admirable in sentiment and intention. But human nature being what it has been and is likely to remain, we must face the possibility that nothing will come of the war, save the restoration of Belgium, (that, at least, is certain;) some alterations of boundaries; a long period of economic and social trouble more bitter than before; a sweeping moral reaction after too great effort. Cosmically regarded, this war is a debauch rather than a purge, and debauches have always to be paid for.
Confronting the situation in this spirit, we shall be the more rejoiced if any of our wider hopes should by good fortune be attained.
Leaving aside the restoration of Belgium—for what do we continue to fight? We go on, as we began, because we all believe in our own countries and what they stand for. And in considering how far the principle of nationality should be exalted, one must well remember that it is in the main responsible for the present state of things. In truth, the principle of nationality of itself and by itself is a quite insufficient ideal. It is a mere glorification of self in a world full of other selves; and only of value in so far as it forms part of that larger ideal, an—international ethic, which admits the claims and respects the aspirations of all nations. Without that ethic little nations are (as at the present moment) the prey—and, according to the mere principle of nationality, the legitimate prey—of bigger nations. Germany absorbed Alsace-Lorraine, Schleswig, and now Belgium, by virtue of nationalism, of an overweening belief in the perfection of its national self. Austria would subdue Serbia from much the same feeling. France does not wish to absorb or subdue any European people of another race, because France, as ever, a little in advance of her age, is already grounded in this international ethic, of unshakable respect for the rights of all nations which belong, roughly speaking, to the same stage of development. The same may be said of the other western democratic powers, Britain and America. "To live and let live," "to dwell together in unity," are the guiding maxims of the international ethic, by virtue of which alone have the smaller communities of men—the Belgiums, Bohemias, Polands, Serbias, Denmarks, Switzerlands of Europe—any chance of security in the maintenance of their national existences. In short the principle of nationality, unless it is prepared to serve this international ethic, is but a frank abettor of the devilish maxim, "Might is right." All this is truism; but truisms are often the first things we forget.
The whole question of nationality in Europe bristles with difficulties. It cannot be solved by theory and rule of thumb. What is a nation? Shall it be determined by speech, by blood, by geographical boundary, by historic tradition? The freedom and independence of a country can and ever should be assured when with one voice it demands the same. It is seldom as easy as all that. Belgium, no doubt, is as one man. Poland is as one man in so far as the Poles are concerned; but what of the Austrians, Russians, Germans settled among them? What of Ireland split into two camps? What of the Germans in Bohemia, in Alsace, in Schleswig-Holstein? Compromise alone is possible in many cases, going by favor of majority. And there will always remain the poignant question of the rights and aspirations of minorities. Let us by all means clear the air by righting glaring wrongs, removing palpable anomalies, redressing obvious injustices, securing so far as possible the independent national life of homogeneous groups; but let us not, dazzled by the glamour of a word, dream that by restoring a few landmarks, altering a few boundaries, and raising a paean to the word Nationality, we can banish all clouds from the sky of Europe, and muzzle the ambitions of the stronger nations.
In my convinced belief the one solid hope for future peace, the one promise of security for the rights and freedom of little countries, the one reasonable guarantee of international justice and general humanity, lies in the gradual growth of democracy, of rule by consent of the governed. When this has spread till the civilization of the Western world is on one plane—instead of as now on two—then and then only we shall begin to draw the breath of assurance. Then only will the little countries sleep quietly in their beds. It is conceivable, nay probable, that the despotic will of a perfect man could achieve more good for his country and for the world at large in a given time than the rule of the most enlightened democracy. It is certain that such men occupy the thrones of this earth but once in a blue moon.
If proof be needed that the prevalence of democracy alone can end aggression among nations, secure the rights of small peoples, foster justice and humaneness in man—let the history of this last century and a half be well examined, and let the human probabilities be weighed. Which is the more likely to advocate wars of aggression? They, who by age, position, wealth, are secure against the daily pressure of life and the sacrifice that war entails, they who have passed their time out of touch with the struggle for existence, in an atmosphere of dreams, ambitions, and power over other men? Or they, who every hour are reminded how hard life is, even at its most prosperous moments, who have nothing to gain by war, and all, even life, to lose; who by virtue of their own struggles have a deep knowledge of, a certain dumb sympathy with, the struggles of their fellow-creatures; an instinctive repugnance to making those struggles harder; who have heard little and dreamed less of those so-called "national interests," that are so often mere chimeras; who love, no doubt, in their inarticulate way the country where they were born, and the modes of life and thought to which they are accustomed, but know of no traditional and artificial reasons why the men of other countries should not be allowed to love their own land and modes of thought and life in equal peace and security?
Assuredly, the latter of these two kinds of men are the less likely to favor ambitious projects and aggressive wars. According as "the people" have or have not the final decision in such matters, the future of Europe will be made of war or peace; of respect or of disregard for the rights of little nations. It is advanced against democracies that the workers of a country, ignorant and provincial in outlook, have no grasp of international politics. This is true in Europe where national ambitions and dreams are still for the most part hatched and nurtured in nests perched high above the real needs and sentiments of the simple working folk who form nine-tenths of the population of each country. But once those nests of aggressive nationalism have fallen from their high trees, so soon as all Europe conforms to the principle of rule by consent of the governed, it will be found—as it has been already found in France—that the general sense of the community informed by an ever-growing publicity (through means of communication ever speeding-up) is quite sufficient trustee of national safety; quite able, even enthusiastically able, to defend its country from attack. The problem before the world at the end of this war is how to eliminate the virus of an aggressive nationalism that will lead to fresh outbursts of death. It is a problem that I, for one, frankly believe will beat the powers and goodwill of all, unless there should come a radical change of Governments in Central Europe; unless the real power in Germany and Austria-Hungary passes into the hands of the people of those countries, as already it has passed in France and Britain. This is in my belief the only chance for the defeat of militarism, of that raw nationalism, which, even if beaten down at first, will ever be lying in wait, preparing secret revenge and fresh attacks.
How this democratization of Central Europe can be brought about I cannot tell. It is far off as yet. But if this be not at last the outcome of the war, we may still talk in vain of the rights of little nations, of peace, disarmament, of chivalry, justice, and humanity. We may whistle for a changed world.
Singer of "La Marseillaise"
By H.T. SUDDUTH
[The body of Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, who composed "The Marseillaise," was placed, on July 15, 1915, in the Hotel des Invalides, Paris.]
Up from the land of fair Provence, Land of the vineyard and olive green, Flushed with a new hope's radiance Glow of glorious visions seen, Joyous Marseilles' Battalion came, Singing a song since known to fame.
List as the drums the quickstep beat! List to the Chant of Liberty! Ringing through dawn or noonday heat— "Allons enfants de la Patrie!" List to the chant on the dusty way, "Death to the tyrant! Vive le Marseillais!"
Orchards and vineyards caught up the song, France seemed but waiting that martial lay, Born of poet's heart-beats strong! Sung by the sons of the South that day, Voicing the hero-soul of strife, Marching song of a nation's life!
Days of Terror that chant ushered in, Falling of thrones and baubles and crowns— Bastille walls and guillotine, Sack of Tuileries, Temple frowns. Heard that Chant of the Marseillais, "Le jour de gloire est arrive."
Reds of the Midi! The song you sung Thrilled the hearts of all who heard! Song of a people with hearts tense-strung, Rhythm that every pulse quick stirred! Echoes that song as France now pays Honor to singer of "La Marseillaise!"
Depression—Common-Sense and the Situation
By Arnold Bennett
Copyright, 1915, by Arnold Bennett
The pessimistic attitude toward the military situation assumed by a large part of British society, after the arrival of warm weather, without the heralded concerted advance of the Allies in France and Belgium, is dealt with by Mr. Bennett in the subjoined article, which appeared in the London Daily News of June 16, 1915. It is here reproduced by Mr. Bennett's express permission.
In a recent article I said that for reasons discoverable and undiscoverable the military situation had been of late considerably falsified in the greater part of the Press. This saying (which by the way was later confirmed by the best military experts writing in the Press) aroused criticism both public and private. That it should have been criticised in certain organs was natural, for these organs had certainly been colouring or manipulating their war news, including casualties, chiefly by headlines and type, and even influencing their expert analysis of war-news, to suit what happened to be at the moment their political aims.
Even the invasion scare was last week revived by the "Daily Mail" as an aid to compulsion. The "Daily Mail" asserted that, whatever we might say, invasion was possible. True. It is. Most things are. But invasion is responsibly held to be so wildly improbable that our military, as distinguished from our naval, plans are permitted practically to ignore the possibility. Compulsion or no compulsion, those plans will be the same. They will be unaffected by any amount of invasion-scaring, and therefore to try to foster pessimism in the public by alarums about invasion is both silly and naughty.
Newspapers quite apart, however, there has been in the country a considerable amount of pessimism which I have not been able to understand, much less sympathise with; pessimism of the kind that refuses to envisage the future at all. It has not said: "We shall be beaten." But it has groaned and looked gloomy, and asked mute questions with its eyes. It has resented confident faith and demanded with sardonic superiority the reasons for such faith.
Of the tribe of pessimists I count some superlative specimens among my immediate acquaintances. The explanation of their cases is, I contend, threefold. First, they lack faith, not merely in the Allied arms, but in anything. They have not the faculty of faith. Secondly, they unconsciously enjoy depression, and this instinct distorts all phenomena for them. Thus they exhibited no satisfaction whatever at the capture of Przemysl full of men and munitions by the Russians, whereas the recapture of Przemysl empty of men and munitions by the Germans filled them with delicious woe. Thirdly, they lack patience, and therefore a long-sustained effort gets on their nerves. Others I can inoculate with my optimism, but the effect passes quickly, and each succeeding reinoculation has been less and less effective, with the monotonous questioning, ever more sardonic in tone: "How can you be deluded by the official bulletins?" or: "What do you know about war, to make you so cocksure?"
The truth is that I am not deluded by the official bulletins. I don't know how long it is since I learnt to appreciate official bulletins at their true value, but it is a long while ago. A full perception of the delusiveness of official bulletins can only be obtained by reading histories of the war. The latest I have read are those of Mr. John Buchan and Mr. Hillaire Belloc. (Mr. Buchan's is good. Mr. Belloc's is more than good: it is—apart from a few failures in style, due either to fatigue or to the machinery of dictation—absolutely brilliant, both militarily and politically. I am inclined to rate the last dozen pages of Mr. Belloc's book as the finest piece of writing yet produced by the war.) And when one compares, in these works, the coherent, impartial, and convincing accounts of, say, the first month of the war, with the official bulletins of the Allies during that month, one marvels that even officialism could go so far in evasion and duplicity, and the reputation of official bulletins is ruined for the whole duration of the conflict. No wonder the contents of the Allied newspapers in that period inspired the Germans with a scornful incredulity, which nothing that has since happened can shake.
It is not that official bulletins are incorrect; they are incomplete, and, therefore, misleading. The policy which frames them seems now to be utterly established, but my motion that it is a mistaken policy remains unaltered. When the policy is pushed as far as the suppression of isolated misfortunes which flame in the headlines of the enemy Press from Cologne to Constantinople, then I begin to wonder whether I am living in three dimensions or in four.
If, then, he does not rely on the official bulletins, and he has no military expertise, how is the civilian justified in being optimistic? The reply is that the use of his common-sense may justify his optimism. The realm of common-sense being universal, even war comes within it. And the fact is that the major aspects of the war are no more military than they are political, social, and psychological. Take one of the most important aspects—the character of generals. It cannot be denied that after ten months, confidence in Joffre has increased. At the beginning of the war, when the German plan was being exactly followed and was succeeding, when the Germans had an immense advantage of numbers, when their reserves of men and munitions were untouched, when everything was against us, and everything in favour of the Germans, Joffre, aided by the British, defeated the Germans. He defeated them by superior generalship. Common-sense says that now, when the boot is on the other leg, Joffre will assuredly defeat the Germans—and decisively, and common-sense is quite prepared to wait until Joffre is ready. Again, take the case of the Grand Duke. The Grand Duke has shown over and over again that he is an extremely brilliant general of the first order. In the very worst days, when everything was against him and everything in favour of the Germans, as in the West, he held his own and he has continually produced many more casualties in the German ranks than the Germans have produced in his ranks. He still has many things against him, but it is not possible reasonably to believe that the Grand Duke will let himself in for a disaster. That he should avoid a disaster is all that the West front demands of him at present.
On the other side, General von Moltke, head of the German Great General Staff, has been superseded. What German General has advanced in reputation? There is only one answer—von Hindenberg. Von Hindenberg won the largest (not the most important) victory of the war in the Battle of Tannenberg. He won it because the ground was exceedingly difficult, and because he knew the ground far better than any other man on earth. He was entitled to very high credit. He got it. He became the idol of the German populace, and the bugbear of the Allied countries. But he has done nothing since. Soon after Tannenberg he made a fool of himself on the Russian frontier, and showed that success had got into his head. He subsequently initiated several terrific attempts, all of which were excessively costly and none of which was carried through. If he has not ceased to be an idol, he has at any rate ceased to be a bugbear.
As for the average intelligence of the opposing forces, it may be said that Prussian prestige, though it dies very slowly, is dying, even in the minds of our pessimists. Their zest for elaborate organization of plan gave the Germans an immense advantage at the start, but it is proved that, once the plan has gone wrong, they are at the best not better in warfare than ourselves. Their zest for discipline, and their reserves, have enabled them to stave off a catastrophe longer than perhaps any other nation could have staved it off. But time is now showing that excessive discipline and organization produce defects which ultimately outweigh the qualities they spring from. The tenacity of the Germans is remarkable, but does it surpass ours? Man for man, a soldier of the Allies is better than a soldier of the Central Powers—or ten thousand observers have been deceived. As for the intelligence of the publics upon whose moral the opposing forces ultimately depend, it is undeniable that the German public is extremely hysterical, and far more gullible even than ourselves at our very worst. The legends believed by the German public today are ridiculous enough to stamp Germany for a century as an arch-simpleton among nations. Its vanity is stupendous, eclipsing all previously known vanities. The Great General Staff must know fairly well how matters stand, and yet not the mere ignorant public, but the King of Bavaria himself, had the fatuity as late as last week to talk about the new territory that Germany would annex as a result of the war!
In numbers we in the West had got the better of them, and were slowly increasing our lead, before Italy, by joining us, increased the Allies' advantage at a stroke by over three-quarters of a million fully mobilised men, and much more than as many reserves.
In financial resources there is simply no comparison between the enemy and ourselves. We are right out of sight of the enemy in this fundamental affair.
We lack nothing—neither leading, nor brains, nor numbers, nor money—save ammunition. Does any pessimist intend to argue that we shall not get all the ammunition we need? It is inconceivable that we should not get it. When we have got it the end can be foretold like the answer to a mathematical problem.
Lastly, while the Germans have nothing to hope for in the way of further help, we have much to hope for. We have, for example, Rumania to hope for; and other things needless to mention. And we have in hand enterprises whose sudden development might completely change the face of the war in a few hours; but whose failure would not prejudice our main business, because our main business is planned and nourished independently of them. One of these enterprises is known to all men. The other is not. The Germans have no such enterprises in hand.
For all the foregoing argument no military expertise is necessary. It lies on a plane above military expertise. It appeals to common-sense and it cannot be gainsaid. I have not yet met anybody of real authority who has attempted to gainsay it, or who has not endorsed it. The sole question is, not whether we shall win or lose, but when we shall win.
For this reason I strongly object to statesmen, no matter who they be, going about and asserting to listening multitudes that we are fighting for our very existence as a nation. We most emphatically are not. It is just conceivable that certain unscrupulous marplots might by chicane produce such domestic discord in this country as would undermine the very basis of victory. I regard the thing as in the very highest degree improbable, but it can be conceived. The result might be an inconclusive peace, and another war, say, in twenty years, when we probably should be fighting for our very existence as a nation. But we are not now, and at the worst shall not be for a long time, fighting for our very existence as a nation. Nobody believes such an assertion; pessimists themselves do not believe it. And when statesmen give utterance to it in the hope of startling the working-class into a desired course of conduct, they under-rate the intelligence of the working-class and the result of such oratory is far from what they could wish.
Our national existence is as safe as it has been any time this century; indeed, it is safer, for its chief menace has received a terrible blow, and the Prussian superstition is exploded. All that can be urged is that we have an international job to finish; that in order to finish it properly and within a reasonable period we must work with a will and in full concord; and that if we fail to do this the job will be botched, with a risk of sinister consequences to the next generation. The notion that to impress the public it is necessary to pile on the agony with statements that no moderately enlightened person can credit, is a wrong notion, and, like all wrong notions, can only do harm. The general public is all right, quite as all right as the present Government or any other. Had it not been so we should not be where we are today, but in a far less satisfactory position. Not Governments, not generals, but the masses make success in these mighty altercations. Read Tolstoi's "War and Peace."
The War and Racial Progress
[From the Morning Post of London, July 2, 1915]
Major Leonard Darwin, in his presidential address on "Eugenics During and After the War" to the Eugenics Education Society at the Grafton Galleries yesterday, said that our military system seemed to be devised with the object of insuring that all who were defective should be exempt from risks, whilst the strong, courageous, and patriotic should be endangered. Men with noble qualities were being destroyed, whilst the unfit remained at home to become fathers of families, and this must deteriorate the natural qualities of the coming generations. The chances of stopping war were small, and we must consider how to minimize its evils. If conscription were adopted future wars would produce less injury to the race, because the casualty lists would more nearly represent a chance selection of the population; though whether a conscript army would ever fight as well as our men were doing in France was very doubtful. The injurious effects of the war on all useful sections of the community should be mitigated. Military training was eugenic if the men were kept with the colours only for short periods. Officers must, of course, be engaged for long periods, and amongst them the birth rate was very low. An increase of pay would be beneficial in this respect, but only if given in the form of an additional allowance for each living child. In the hope of increasing the birth rate attempts were likely to be made to exalt the "unmarried wife," a detestable term against which all true wives should protest. If a change in moral standards was demanded in the hope that an increase in the habit of forming irregular unions would result in an increase in the population, that plea entirely failed because the desired effect would not thus be produced. A special effort ought now to be made on eugenic as well as on other grounds to maintain the high standards of home life which had ever existed in our race, and which had been in large measure the basis of our social and racial progress in the past. If we did not now take some steps to insure our own racial progress being at least as rapid as that of our neighbours, and if our nation should in consequence cease in future to play a great part in the noble and eternal struggle for human advancement, then the fault would be ours.
The English Word, Thought, and Life
By Russian Men of Letters
A group of sixty-seven Russian writers and publicists, comprising the best men of letters of the nation, with the exception of Vladimir Korolenko, who is at present in France, have signed a reply to the tribute to the writers of Russia by English men of letters, a translation of which was printed in CURRENT HISTORY for February, 1915. The text of the reply, given below, is taken from the Moscow daily newspaper, Outro Rossii; its translation into English by Leo Pasvolsky appeared in the New York Evening Post of June 20th.
We have known you for a long time. We have known you since we Russians came to a communion with Western Europe and began to draw from the great spiritual treasury created by our brethren of Western Europe.
From generation to generation we have watched intently the life of England, and have stored away in our minds and our hearts everything brilliant, peculiar, and individual, that has impressed itself upon the English word, the English thought, and the English life.
We have always wondered at the breadth and the manifoldness of the English soul, in whose literature one finds, side by side, Milton and Swift, Scott and Shelley, Shakespeare and Byron. We have always been amazed by the incessant and constantly growing power of civic life in England; we have always known that the English people was the first among the peoples of the world to enter upon a struggle for civic rights, and that nowhere does the word freedom ring so proud and so triumphant as it does in England.
With wonder and veneration, have we watched the English people, that combines the greatest idealism with the most marvellous creative genius, that constantly transforms words into deeds, aspirations into actions, thoughts and feelings into institutions, go onward, from step to step, reaching out into the heavens, yet never relinquishing the earth, higher and higher along its triumphant road, still onward in its work of creating the life of England.
Kingdoms and peoples, cultures and institutions, pass away like dreams. But thoughts and words remain, whether they be of white men, or black, or yellow, whether they be of Jews or of Hellenes, whether they be inscribed on slabs of stone, or on boards of clay, or on strips of papyrus. Words and thoughts live to the present day; they still move us and uplift us, even though we have already forgotten the names of those who spoke them. And we know that only the winged words live on, the words that are intelligible to the whole of mankind, that appeal to the whole of humanity, to the common human mind, the common heart.
We know the vast power of the English word. We know what a marvellous contribution the English writers have made to the life not of England alone, but to that of the whole world, the whole humanity. It is with a feeling of long-standing affection and veneration that we turn to the ancient book, called "England," whose pages never grow yellow, whose letters are never effaced, whose thoughts never become dim, whose new chapters bear witness to the fact that the book is still being written, that new pages are still being added, and that these new pages are permeated with that same bright and powerful spirit of humanity that illumines and enlivens the pages of the past.
We feel proud because you have recognized the great individual worth of the Russian literature, and we are moved by your ardent expressions of sympathy and friendship. You scarcely know what Lord Byron was to us at the dawn of our literature, how our greatest poets, Poushkin and Lermontov, were swayed by him. You scarcely know to what an extent the Shakespearean Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, has become a part of our literature, how near to us is Hamlet's tragedy.
We, too, pronounce the names of Copperfield and Snodgrass with a little difficulty, but the name of Dickens is as familiar to us and as near to our hearts as the names of some of our own writers.
We trust, and we even permit ourselves to hope, that our friendship will not end on the fields of battle, but that our mutual understanding will continue to grow, as it lives on together with those sincere and heartfelt words, with which you have addressed us. We trust that it will be transformed into a spiritual unity between us, a unity based on the universal achievements of the spirit of humanity.
We trust even further. We trust that evil will finally become extinguished in the hearts of men, that mutual ill-feeling will be bitter and poignant no longer, and that, when ears of corn will be again fluttering upon the fields, mutilated by trenches and ramparts, and drenched in human blood, when wild flowers will begin to grow over the countless unknown graves, time will come, when the nations that are separated by such a tremendous gulf today, will come together again upon the one great road of humanity and will turn back once more to the great, universal words, that are common to all men.
We trust, and we hope.
Greetings to you.
L. ANDREEV, K. ARSENIEV, I. BUNIN, U. BUNIN, I. BELOUSOV, M. GORKY, V. VERESAEV, A. GRUSINSKY, N. DAVYDOV, S. ELPATIEVSKY, I. IGNATOV, S. MELGUNOV, A. SERAFIMOVICH, N. TELESHOV, I. SHMELEV, N. MOROZOV, COUNT A.N. TOLSTOY, N. RUSANOV, F. KRIUKOV, A. GORNFELD, A. PIESHECHONOV, N. KAREYEV, F. BATUSHKOV, L. PANTELEYEV, N. KOTLIAREVSKY, V. MIAKOTIN, V. VODOVOSOV, P. SAKULIN, OLNEM-TSEKHOVSKAYA, A. KONI, W. KRANIKHFELD, B. LAZAREVSKY, P. POTAPENKO, TH. SOLOGUB, T. SCHEPKINA-KUPERNIK, W. BOGUCHARSKY, K. BARANTSEVICH, S. VENGEROV, P. MILIUKOV, A. PRUGAVIN, M. KOVALEVSKY, A. POSNIKOV, E. LETKOVA-SULTANOVA, D. OVSIANNIKO-KULIKOVSKY, A. REMEZOV, D. MEREZHKOVSKY, Z. HIPPICS, F. ZELINSKY, N. TCHAIKOVSKY, A. BLOK, E. TCHIRIKOV, A. PETRISCHEV, I. BIELOKONSKY, PRINCE A. SUMBATOV, W. FRITCHE, A. VESELOVSKY, W. NEMEROVICH-DANCHENKO, PRINCE E. TROUBETSKOY, I. SHPAZHINSKY, TH. KOKOSHKIN, COUNT E.L. TOLSTOY, N. TEMKOCSKY, M. ARTISIBASHEV, U. BALTRUSHAITIS, U. AICHENWALD, PRINCE D. SHAKHOVSKY, W. BRUSOV.
By William Archer
Mr. Archer's article praising the Italian decision and purpose appeared originally in The London Daily News.
One of the most beautiful and memorable of human experiences is to start, one fine morning, from some point in German Switzerland or Tyrol and, in two or three days—or it may be in one swinging stretch—to tramp over an Alpine pass and down into the Promised Land below. It is of no use to rush it in a motor; you might as well hop over by aeroplane. In order to savor the experience to the full, you must take staff and scrip, like the Ritter Tannhaeuser, and go the pilgrim's way. It is a joy even to pass from the guttural and explosive place names of Teutonia to the liquid music of the southern vocables—from Brieg to Domo d'Ossola, from Goeschenen to Bellinzona, from St. Moritz to Chiavenna, from Botzen and Brixen to Ala and Verona. It is a still greater joy to exchange the harsh, staring colors of the north for the soft luminosity of the south, as you zigzag down from the bare snows to the pines, from the pines to the chestnuts, from the chestnuts to the trellised vineyards. And just about where the vineyards begin, you come upon two wayside posts, one of them inscribed "Schweiz" or "Oesterreich," the other bearing the magic word "Italia." If your heart does not leap at the sight of it you may as well about-turn and get you home again; for you have no sense of history, no love of art, no hunger for divine, inexhaustible beauty. For all these things are implicit in the one word, "Italy."
Alas! the charm of this excursion has from of old made irresistible appeal to the northern barbarian. That has been Italy's historic misfortune. For certain centuries, under the dominance of Rome, she kept the Goths and Huns and Vandals aloof by what is called in India a "forward policy"—by throwing the outworks of civilization far beyond the Alpine barrier. But Rome fell to decay, and, wave upon wave, the barbarian—generally the Teuton, under one alias or another—surged over her glorious highlands, her bounteous lowlands, and her marvelous cities. It is barely half a century since the hated Tedeschi were expelled from the greater part of their Cisalpine possessions; and now, in the fullness of time, Italy has resolved to redeem the last of her ravished provinces and to make her boundaries practically conterminous with Italian speech and race.
The political and military aspects of the situation have been fully dealt with elsewhere; but a lifelong lover of Italy may perhaps be permitted to state his personal view of her action. While the negotiations lasted, her position was scarcely a dignified one. It seemed that she was willing, not, indeed, to sell her birthright for a mess of pottage, but to buy her birthright at the cost of complicity in monstrous crime. Neither Italy nor Europe would have profited in the long run by the substitution of "Belgia Irredenta" for "Italia Irredenta." But now that she has repudiated the sops offered to her honor and conscience, her position is clear and fine. She has rejected larger concessions, probably, than any great power has ever before been prepared to make without stroke of sword; and she has thrown in her lot with the Allies in no time-serving spirit, but at a point when their fortunes were by no means at their highest. This is a gesture entirely worthy of a great and high-spirited people.
It is true that she had no guarantee for the promised concessions except the "Teutonica fides," which has become a byword and a reproach. But I am much mistaken if that was the sole or main motive that determined her resort to arms. She took a larger view. She felt that even if Germany, by miracle, kept her faith, the world, after a German victory, would be no place for free men to live in. She was not moved by the care for a few square miles of territory, more or less, but by a strong sense of democratic solidarity and of human dignity. After the events of the past ten months, she felt that, to a self-respecting man or nation, German hate was infinitely preferable to German love. It was, in fact, a patent of nobility.
And now that Italy is ranked with us against the powers of evil, it becomes more than ever our duty to strain every nerve for their defeat. We are now taking our share in the guardianship of the world's great treasure house of historic memories and of the creations of genius. We have become, as it were, co-trustees of an incomparable, irreplaceable heritage of beauty. Italy has been the scene of many and terrible wars; but since she emerged from the Dark Ages I do not know that war has greatly damaged the glory of her cities. She has not, of recent centuries, had to mourn a Louvain or a Rheims. But if the Teuton, in his present temper, should gain any considerable footing within her bounds, the Dark Ages would be upon her once more. What effort can be too great to avert such a calamity!
I am not by way of being versed in the secrets of Courts; but I recall today, with encouragement, a conversation I had some years ago with an ex-Ambassador to Italy (not a British Ambassador) who had been on intimate terms with the King, and spoke with enthusiasm of his Majesty's character. He told me of his bravery, his devotion to duty, his simple manners, his high intelligence. One little anecdote I may repeat without indiscretion. A Minister of Education said to my friend that when he had an interview with the King he felt like a schoolboy bringing up to an exacting though kindly master a half-prepared lesson; and when this was repeated to his Majesty, he smiled and said: "Ministers come and go, but I, you see, am always here." He merited far better than his grandfather (said my informant) the title of "il Re Galantuomo." Under such a Chief of State Italy may, with high hope and courage, set about her task of tearing away her unredeemed fringes from that patchwork of tyrannies known as the Austrian Empire.
Who Died Content!
[From the Westminster Gazette]
Rex and Wilfred Winslow were the first men who died on the field of German South West Africa. The epitaph on the cross on the grave ran thus:
"Tell England ye that pass this monument, That we who rest here died content."
Far the horizon of our best desires Stretches into the sunset of our lives: The wavering taper of the achieved expires, And only the irrevocable will survives. Content to die for England! How the words Thrill those who live for England, knowing not The stern, heroic passion that upgirds The loins of such as, ardent, for her fought. Content! It is a word that brooks no bounds, If from the heights and depths it takes its name: Upon the proud lips of great men it sounds As if the clear note from the Heavens came; A word that, sea-like, shrinks and grows again; A little word on lips of little men!
"The Germans, Destroyers of Cathedrals"
By Artists, Writers, Musicians, and Philosophers of France