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Title: A Student in Arms - Second Series
Author: Hankey, Donald
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: DONALD HANKEY]

A

STUDENT IN ARMS

SECOND SERIES

BY

DONALD HANKEY

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY J. ST. LOE STRACHEY

EDITOR OF _THE SPECTATOR_


NEW YORK

B.P. DUTTON & CO.

681 FIFTH AVENUE



Published 1917 BY E.P. DUTTON & CO.



CONTENTS

                                      PAGE

  SOMETHING ABOUT "A STUDENT IN ARMS"   1

  AUTHOR'S FOREWORD   33

  I.--THE POTENTATE   37

  II.--THE BAD SIDE OF MILITARY SERVICE   51

  III.--THE GOOD SIDE OF "MILITARISM"   65

  IV.--A MONTH'S REFLECTIONS   79

  V.--ROMANCE   93

  VI.--IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS (I)   109

  VII.--THE FEAR OF DEATH IN WAR   115

  VIII.--IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS (II)   127

  IX.--THE WISDOM OF "A STUDENT IN ARMS"   139

  X.--IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS (III)   145

  XI.--LETTER TO AN ARMY CHAPLAIN   153

  XII.--"DON'T WORRY"   165

  XIII.--IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS (IV)   175

  XIV.--A PASSING IN JUNE, 1915   181

  XV.--MY HOME AND SCHOOL:

    I MY HOME   199

    II SCHOOL   216

  SOME NOTES ON THE FRAGMENT OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY "HILDA"   237



SOMETHING ABOUT "A STUDENT IN ARMS"

BY H.M.A.H.


"His life was a Romance of the most noble and beautiful kind." So says
one who has known him from childhood, and into how many dull, hard
and narrow lives has he not been the first to bring the element of
Romance?

He carried it about with him; it breathes through his writings,
and this inevitable expression of it gives the saying of one of his
friends, that "it is as an artist that we shall miss him most," the
more significance.

And does not the artist as well as the poet live forever in his works?
Is not the breath of inspiration that such alone can breathe into the
dull clods of their generation bound to be immortal?

Meanwhile, his "Romance" is to be written and his biographer will be
one whose good fortune it has been to see much of the "Student" in
Bermondsey, the place that was the forcing-house of his development.
In the following pages it is proposed only to give an outline of his
life, and particularly the earlier and therefore to the public unknown
parts.

Donald Hankey was born at Brighton in 1884; he was the seventh child
of his parents, and was welcomed with excitement and delight by a
ready-made family of three brothers and two sisters living on his
arrival amongst them. He was the youngest of them by seven years, and
all had their plans for his education and future, and waited jealously
for the time when he should be old enough to be removed from the
loving shelter of his mother's arms and be "brought up."

His education did, as a matter of fact, begin at a very early age; for
one day, when he was perhaps about three years old, dressed in a white
woolly cap and coat, and out for his morning walk, a neighbouring baby
stepped across from his nurse's side and with one well-directed blow
felled Donald to the ground! Donald was too much astonished and hurt
at the sheer injustice of the assault to dream of retaliation, but
when they reached home and his indignant nurse told the story, he was
taken aside by his brothers and made to understand that by his failure
to resist the assault, and give the other fellow back as good as he
gave, "the honour of the family" was impugned! He was then and there
put through a systematic course of "the noble art of self-defence."
"And I think," said one of his brothers only the other day, "that he
was prepared to act upon his instructions should occasion arise."
It will be seen from this incident that his bringing-up was of a
decidedly strenuous character and likely to make Donald's outlook on
life a serious one!

He was naturally a peace-loving and philosophical little boy, very
lovable and attractive with his large clear eyes with their curious
distribution of colour--the one entirely blue and the other three
parts a decided brown--the big head set proudly on the slender little
body, and the radiant illuminating smile, that no one who knew him
well at any time of his life can ever forget. It spoke of a light
within, "that mysterious light which is of course not physical," as
was said by one who met him only once, but was quick to note this
characteristic.

Donald's more strenuous times were in the boys' holidays--those
tumultuous of seasons so well known to the members of all big
families! His eldest brother, Hugh, was bent on making an all-round
athlete of him; another brother saw in him an embryo county cricketer,
while a third was most particular about his music, giving him lessons
on the violoncello with clockwork regularity. The games were terribly
thrilling and dangerous, especially when the schoolroom was turned
into a miniature battlefield, with opposing armies of tiny lead
soldiers. But Donald never turned a hair if Hugh were present, even at
the most terrific explosions of gun-powder. His confidence in Hugh was
complete. Nor did he mind personal injuries. When on one occasion he
was hurled against the sharp edge of a chair, cutting his head open
badly, and his mother came to the rescue with indignation, sympathy
and bandages, whilst accepting the latter he deprecated the two
former, explaining apologetically, "It's only because my head's so
big."

He admitted in after years to having felt most terribly swamped by the
personalities of two of his brothers. The third he had more in common
with, for he was more peace-loving, and he seemed to have more time
to listen to the small boy's confidences and stories, which Donald
started to write at the age of six.

Hugh, however, was his hero--a kind of demi-god. And truly there
was something Greek about the boy--in his singular beauty of person,
coupled with his brilliant mental equipment, and above all in the
nothing less than Spartan methods with which, in spite of a highly
sensitive temperament, he set himself to overcome his handicap of
a naturally delicate physique and a bad head for heights. He turned
himself out quite an athlete, and actually cured his bad head by a
course of walking on giddy heights, preferably roofs--the parapet of
the tall four-storied house the children lived in being a favourite
training ground.

Donald was the apple of his eye, and he was quick to note a certain
lack of vitality about the little boy--especially when he was growing
fast--and a certain natural timidity. His letters from school are full
of messages to and instructions concerning Donald's physical training,
and from Sandhurst he would long to "run over and see after his
boxing." He called him Don Diego, a name that suited the rather
stately little fellow, and he used to fear sometimes that Donald
was "getting too polite" and say he must "knock it out of him in
the holidays." Needless to say, his handling of him was always very
gentle.

The other over-vital brother, if a prime amuser, was also a prime
tease, and being nearer Donald in age was also much less gentle.

Before very long these great personages took themselves off "zum neuen
taten." But their Odysseys came home in the shape of letters, which,
with their descriptions of strange countries and peoples and records
of adventures--often the realization of boyish dreams--and also of
difficulties overcome, were well calculated to appeal to Donald's
childish imagination, and to increase his admiration for the
writers--and also his feeling of impotence, and of the impossibility
of being able to follow in the tracks of such giants among men!

His mother, however, was his never-failing confidante and friend.
His love and admiration for her were unbounded, as for her courage,
unselfishness and constant thought for others, more especially for
the poor and insignificant among her neighbours. Though the humblest
minded of women, she could, when occasion demanded, administer a
rebuke with a decision and a fire that must have won the heartfelt
admiration of her diffident little son.

He was not easily roused himself, but there is one instance of his
being so that is eminently characteristic. He had come back from
school evidently very perturbed, and at first his sister could get
nothing out of him. But at last he flared up. His face reddened, his
eyes burned like coals and, in a voice trembling with rage, he said,
"---- (naming a school-fellow) talks about things that I won't even
_think_!"

At the age of about 14 he, too, went to Rugby, and there is an
interesting prophecy about him by his brother Hugh belonging to this
time. Hugh had by now earned a certain right to pronounce judgment,
having already started to fulfil his early promise by making some mark
as a soldier and a linguist. He had been invited to join the Egyptian
Army at a critical time in the campaign of 1897-98, thanks to his
proficiency in Arabic. His work was cut short by serious illness, the
long period of convalescence after which he had utilized in working
for and passing the Army Interpreter's examination in Turkish as
well as the higher one in Arabic and his promotion exam. All of which
achievements had been of use in helping him to wring out of the War
Office a promise of certain distinguished service in China. In a
letter home he writes:--

  2ND BATT. THE ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE, REGT.,
  THE CAMP,
  COLCHESTER.
  28th Sept., 1899.

    MY DEAR MAMMA,--

    I packed Donald off to school to-day in good time and
    cold-less.... He was wonderfully calm and collected. He was
    more at his ease in our mess than I should have been in a
    strange mess, and made himself agreeable to his neighbours
    without being forward. Also he looked very clean and smart,
    and was altogether quite a success.

    That child has a future before him if his energy is up to
    form, which I hope. His philosophy is most amazing. He looks
    remarkably healthy, and is growing nicely....

Shortly after this letter was written the South African War broke out,
and before six months were over the writer was killed in action, at
the age of 27, whilst serving with the Mounted Infantry at Paardeberg.

It was the first sorrow of Donald's life, but six months later he was
to suffer a yet more crushing blow in the loss of his dearly loved
mother. The loss of his best confidante and his ideal seemed at first
to stun the boy completely, and to cast him in upon himself entirely.
Later on he remembered that he had felt at that time that he had
nothing to say to any one. He had wondered what the others could have
thought of him, and had thought how dreadfully unresponsive they must
be finding him. His sister should have been of some use. But she
can only think of herself then as of some strange figure, veiled
and petrified with grief--grief _not_ for her mother, but for the
young hero whose magnetism had thrilled through every moment of her
life--yet pointing onwards, with mutely insistent finger, to the
path that her hero had trodden. And Donald, dazed also himself by
grief--though from another cause--of his own accord, placed his first
uncertain steps on the road that leads to military glory. No "voice"
warned him as yet, and he had no other decisive leading.

If his sister failed him then, his father did not. Of him Donald wrote
recently to an aunt, "Papa's letters to me are a heritage whose value
can never diminish. His was indeed the pen of a ready writer, and
in his case, as in the case of many rather reserved people, the pen
did more justice to the man than the tongue. I never knew him until
Mamma's death, when the weekly letter from him took the place of hers,
and never stopped till I came home."

At Rugby, Donald was accounted a dreamer. Without the outlet he
had hitherto had for his confidences and his thoughts no doubt the
tendency to dream grew upon him. "Behold this dreamer cometh," was
actually said of him by one of his masters.

Nevertheless there were happy times when youth asserted itself and
boyish friendships were made. In work he did well, for he entered the
sixth form at the early age of 16½, and was thereby enabled, though he
left young, to have his name painted up "in hall" below those of his
three brothers, and also on his "study" door which belonged to each of
the four in turn.

He entered the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, straight from
Rugby, and before he was seventeen. We have his word for it that
he was spiritually very unhappy there, finding evils with which he
was impotent to grapple, going up as he did so young from school
and before he had had time to acquire a "games" reputation--that
all-important qualification for a boy if he wishes to influence
his fellows. Nevertheless youthful spirits were bound to triumph
sometimes. He was a perfectly sound and healthy, well-grown boy and a
friend who was with him at "the Shop" says he can remember no apparent
trace of unhappiness, and is full of tales of his jokes and his fun,
his quaint caricatures and doggerel rhymes, his love of flowers and
nature, his hospitalities, and his joy in getting his friends to meet
and know and like each other. Though he made no mark at Woolwich he
did carry off the prize for the best essay on the South African War.
With it he made his first appearance in print, for it was printed in
the R.M.A. Magazine. While he was at Woolwich the family circle was
enlarged by the arrival of a cousin from Australia, and she and Donald
became the greatest of friends. She reminded him in some way of his
mother, and this made all the difference.

The Island of Mauritius, to which he was sent at the age of twenty,
not so very long after having received his commission in the Royal
Garrison Artillery, stood for him later on, he has told us, as
"Revelation"--"for there it was that I was first a sceptic, and was
first shown that I could not remain one." Also towards the end of his
stay there, when he was doubting as to what course he should take,
a sentence came to him insistently, "Would you know Christ? Lo, He
is working in His vineyard." It was these things that decided him
eventually to resign his commission, but of them his letters home
make little or no mention. They are full, on the other hand, of
descriptions of the beauties of the Island which, curious, odd,
freakish and unexpected, held him as did those of no other place. The
curious inconsistencies of the Creole nature also interested him, and
he spent much of his spare time sketching and studying the people. Two
friendships he made there were diverse and lasting, but he complains
very much of feeling the lack of a woman friend--no one to tease and
pick flowers for!

While he was still there, there appeared at home a baby
nephew--another "Hugh"--"trailing clouds of glory," but to return all
too soon to his "Eternal Home." Some years previously, when his eldest
sister had told him of her engagement, he congratulated her warmly,
and said he "had always longed for a nephew"! He never saw the child,
but wrote after his death that he had heard so much about him that
he seemed to know him, and "I think I must have played with him in
my dreams." Possibly the baby nephew, in his short ten months of
life, did more for his uncle than either knew, for no frozen hearts
could do otherwise than melt in the presence of the insistent needs
of that gallant little spirit and fragile little body, and a more
whole-hearted sister was awaiting him on his return home, which took
place at the end of two years, after he had fallen a victim to the
prevalent complaint in the R.G.A--abscess on the liver. It was caused
by the shocking conditions under which the R.G.A. had to live in
Mauritius during that hot summer when the Russian Fleet sojourned
in Madagascan waters, and in Donald's case it necessitated a severe
operation.

His joy in his homecoming was quickly clouded over, for his father
died only a month or two after his return; not, however, before he
had given a delighted acquiescence to Donald's proposal to resign
his commission and go to Oxford in order to study theology--his own
favourite pursuit--with the object of eventually taking Holy Orders.

In the spring of 1907 Donald took a trip to Italy with his sister and
a Rhodes Scholar cousin from Australia. It was the young men's first
visit, and each brought back a special trophy: Donald's, a large
photograph of a fine virile "Portrait of a man" by Giorgione in black
and white, and his cousin, a sweet Madonna head by Luini.

Donald gave his sister her trophy on their return home, in remembrance
of the lectures she had given the two of them on the pre-Raphaelite
painters in Florence. It took the form of a water-colour caricature of
herself, sitting enthroned in a Loggia as a sort of Sybil Saint with
a halo and a book (Baedeker). Behind her, and outlined against a pale
sky as seen through an archway of the Loggia in the typical Florentine
fashion, are the blue mountains near Florence, some tall cypresses,
a campanile and a castle perched on the top of a hill--all features
of the landscapes through which they had passed together. In the
foreground are himself and his cousin as monks adoring, also with
haloes, and expressions of mock ecstasy!

On his return Donald went for a few months to Rugby House, the Rugby
School Mission, in order to cram for Oxford. He thereby made a friend,
and learned to love Browning.

After living so long at Brighton, and then in barracks, the beauty of
Oxford was in itself alone a revelation to him. The work there, too,
was entirely congenial. As a gunner subaltern he had been a square peg
in a round hole. As regards the work there had been far too much to
be accepted on authority for one of his fundamental type of mind; the
relations existing between an officer and his men--in peace time,
at any rate--seemed to him hardly human, and the making of quick
decisions, which an officer is continually called upon to do, was
then as always very difficult to him. His tastes, too, unusual in a
subaltern, had made him rather lonely. He found much more in common
with the undergraduate than with the subaltern. Going up as an
"oldster" (22) was to him an advantage rather than otherwise, for his
six years in the Army had given him a certain prestige which was a
help to his natural diffidence, and helped to open more doors to him,
so that he was not limited to any set.

He gained some reputation as a host, for he had the born host's gift
of getting the right people together and making them feel at their
ease. There was also, as a rule, some little individual touch about
his entertainments that made them stand out. His manner, though
naturally boyish and shy, could be both gay and debonair, quite
irresistible in fact, when he was surrounded by congenial spirits! He
played hockey, and was made a member of several clubs, sketched and
made beautiful photographs. His time he divided strictly between the
study of man and the study of theology, and though he did much hard,
thorough and careful work in connexion with the latter, he always
maintained that for a man who was going to be a parson the former was
the more important study of the two.

He used, however, to complain much at this time of feeling himself
incapable of any very strong emotion, even that of sorrow.

No doubt there is more stimulation to the brain than to the heart in
the highly critical atmosphere of all phases of the intellectual life
at Oxford; also Donald had hardly yet got over the shocks of his youth
and the loneliness of his life abroad. He was, too, essentially and
curiously the son of his father--even to his minor tastes, such as his
connoisseur's palate for a good wine and his judgment in "smokes"--and
this feeling of a certain detachment from the larger emotions of life
was always his father's pose--the philosopher's. In his father's case
it was perhaps engendered, if not necessitated, by his poor health and
wretched nerves.

But can we not trace his dissatisfaction at this time in what he felt
to be his cold philosophical attitude towards life to the same cause
as much of the misery he suffered as a boy! In the paper he calls
"School," which follows with that entitled "Home," he tells us how he
would have liked to have chastised a school-fellow "had he dared,"
and his failure to dare was evidently what reduced him to the state of
impotent rage described on page 9 of this sketch. Again at Woolwich,
what made him unhappy was not so much the evils which he saw but
his impotence to deal with them. So now again at Oxford he feels
"impotent," impotent this time to feel and sympathize as he would
have wished with suffering humanity. But within him was the light,
"the light which is, of course, not physical," which betrayed itself
through his wonderful smile--the same now as in babyhood; and from
his mother, and perhaps also from the young country that gave her
birth, he had inherited, as well as her great heart and broad human
sympathies, the vigour that was to carry him through the experiences
by means of which, in the fullness of time, that light, no longer
dormant, was to break into a flame of infinite possibilities.

Donald's one complaint against Oxford was that the ideas that are born
and generated there so often evaporate in talk and smoke. He left with
the determination to "do," but before going on to a Clergy School he
decided to accept a friend's invitation to visit him in savage Africa
so that he might think things over, and put to the test, far away from
the artificialities of Modern Life, the ideas he had assimilated in
the highly sophisticated atmosphere of Oxford. As he quaintly put it:
"Since Paul went into Arabia for three years, I don't see why I should
not go to British East Africa for six months!" He did not, however,
stay the whole time there, but re-visited his beloved Mauritius, and
also stayed in Madagascar.

The beginning of 1911 found him at the Clergy School. But what he
wanted he did not find there. During his Oxford vacations he had made
many expeditions to poorer London, at first to Notting Dale where
was the Rugby School Mission, and afterwards to Bermondsey. But these
expeditions had not been entirely satisfactory. He had then gone as
a "visitor." The lessons he wanted to learn now from "the People"
could only be learned by becoming as far as possible one of them. The
story of his struggles to do so in his life in Bermondsey, and of
his journey to Australia in the steerage of a German liner and of his
roughing it there, always with the same object in view, cannot be told
here. The first outcome of it all was the writing of his book, _The
Lord of All Good Life_. Of this book he says, in a letter to his
friend Tom Allen of the Oxford and Bermondsey Mission:

"The book I regard as my child. I feel quite absurdly about it; to me
it is the sudden vision of what lots of obscure things really meant.
It is coming out of dark shadows into--moonlight ... I would have you
to realize that it was written spontaneously in a burst, in six weeks,
without any consultation of authorities or any revision to speak of.
I had tried and tried, but without success. Then suddenly everything
cleared up. To myself, the writing of it was an illumination. I did
not write it laboriously and with calculation or because I wanted to
write a book and be an author. I wrote it because problems that had
been troubling me suddenly cleared up and because writing down the
result was to me the natural way of getting everything straight in my
own mind."

The book was written not away in the peace of the country, nor in the
comparative quiet of a certain sunny little sitting-room I know of,
looking on to a leafy back garden in Kensington, where Donald often
sat and smoked and wrote, but in a little flat in a dull tenement
house in a grey street in Bermondsey, where I remember visiting him
with a cousin of his.

Here the Student lived like a lord--for Bermondsey! For he possessed
two flats, one for his "butler"--a sick-looking young man in list
slippers, and his wife and family--and the other for himself.

The little sitting-room in which he entertained us was very pleasant,
with light walls, a bright table-cloth, a gleam of something brass
that had come from Ceylon, one or two gaily painted dancing shields
from Africa, and two barbaric looking dolls, about a foot high,
dressed chiefly in beads and paint, that he had picked up in an
Antananarivo shop in Madagascar. They came in usefully when he was
lecturing on Missions!

His bedroom he did not want us to see. It struck cold and appeared to
be reeking with damp!

The weather had been rather dull when we arrived, but suddenly there
was a glint of sunshine, and a grind-organ that had wandered up the
street started playing just opposite. Two couple of children began
to dance. A girl with a jug stopped to watch them, and mothers with
babies came to their doors. A window was thrown open opposite and a
whole family of children leaned out to see the fun.

Bermondsey was gay, and after we had gone the "Student" perpetuated
the fact in a water-colour drawing which he sent to his cousin
afterwards.

In the evening, however, the sounds would be more discordant, also
the Student was running a Boys' Club, taking several Sunday services
at the Mission, visiting some very sick people, and attending to a
multifarious list of duties which left me breathless when I saw it,
knowing too how many casual appeals always came to him and that he
never was known to refuse a helping hand to any one! Nevertheless
it was there, and in six weeks, that the _Lord of All Good Life_ was
written!

"Then came the war," and the Student shall tell us in his own words
what it meant to him. Writing still to Tom Allen, who had also
enlisted, and afterwards also gave his life in the war, he says:

"For myself the war was, in a sense, a heaven-sent opportunity. Ever
since I left Leeds I have been trying to follow out the theory that
the proper subject of study for the theologian was man, and had
increasingly been made to feel that nothing but violent measures could
overcome my own shyness sufficiently to enable me to study outside
my own class. Enlistment had always appealed to me as one of the few
feasible methods of ensuring the desired results....

"I was interested to hear that you found the ---- so illuminating as
regards human potentialities for bestiality. I think that I plumbed
the depths between sixteen and a half and twenty-two. I have learned
nothing more since then about bestiality. In fact I am hardened, and,
I am afraid, take it for granted. Since then I have been discovering
human goodness, which is far more satisfactory. And oh, I have found
it! In Bermondsey, in the stinking hold of the _Zieten_, in the wide,
thirsty desert of Western Australia, and in the ranks of the 7th
Battalion of the Rifle Brigade. I enlisted very largely to find out
how far I really believed in the brotherhood of man when it comes to
the point--and I do believe in it more and more."

Donald Hankey enlisted in August, 1914, and after a period of
training, part of which was certainly the happiest time of his life,
he went to the front in May, 1915, coming home wounded in August, when
he wrote for the _Spectator_ most of the articles that were published
anonymously the following spring under the title of _A Student in
Arms_. Before he left hospital he received a commission in his old
regiment, the R.G.A., but still finding himself with no love for
big guns, he transferred to his eldest brother's regiment, the Royal
Warwickshire, hoping that by doing so he might get back to the front
the sooner. He did not, however, leave until May, 1916, after he had
written his contribution to _Faith or Fear_.

Most of the numbers of the present volume were written in or near
the trenches, and a fellow-officer gave his sister an interesting
description of how it was done. "Your brother," said he, "will sit
down in a corner of a trench, with his pipe, and write an article for
the _Spectator_, or make funny sketches for his nephews and nieces,
when none of the rest of us could concentrate sufficiently even to
write a letter."

On October 6th, Donald Hankey wrote home: "We shall probably be
fighting by the time you get this letter, but one has a far better
chance of getting through now than in July. I shall be very glad if we
do have a scrap, as we have been resting quite long enough. Of course
one always has to face possibilities on such occasions; but we have
faced them in advance, haven't we? I believe with all my soul that
whatever will be, will be for the best. As I said before, I should
hate to slide meanly into winter without a scrap.... I have a top-hole
platoon--nearly all young, and nearly all have been out here eighteen
months--thoroughly good sporting fellows; so if I don't do well it
will be my fault."

Six days after this the Student knelt down for a few seconds with his
men--we have it on the testimony of one of them--and he told them a
little of what was before them: "If wounded, 'Blighty'; if killed, the
Resurrection." Then "over the top." He was last seen alive rallying
his men, who had wavered for a moment under the heavy machine gun and
rifle fire. He carried the waverers along with him, and was found that
night close to the trench, the winning of which had cost him his life,
with his platoon sergeant and a few of his men by his side.

What wonder that his cousin and best friend, when asked a short time
previously what he was like, had replied, "He is the most beautiful
thing that ever happened."



AUTHOR'S FOREWORD

(BEING EXTRACTS FROM LETTERS TO HIS SISTER)


"I am very much wondering whether you will receive 'A Diary' in four
parts. It is very much founded on fact, though altered in parts. You
will probably be surprised at a certain change in tone, but remember
that my previous articles were written in England, while this was
written on the spot.... The Diary was not my diary, though it was
so very nearly what mine might have been that it is difficult to
say what is fiction and what is actuality in it. With regard to the
'conversation' during the bombardment, it represents in its totality
what I believe the ordinary soldier feels. He loathes the war, and the
grandiloquent speeches of politicians irritate him by their failure to
realize how loathesome war is. At the same time he knows he has got to
go through with it, and only longs for the chance to hurry up. In the
'Diary,' again, I quite deliberately emphasized the depression of the
man who thought he was being left out, and the mental effect of the
clearing-up process because I thought that it would be a good thing
for people to realize this side, and also partly because I felt that
in previous articles I had glossed over it too much.... If I get a
chance of publishing another book I shall certainly include them."

    _Note_.--Not only "A Diary" and "Imaginary Conversations," but
    every paper in the present collection, with the exception of
    "The Wisdom," "The Potentate," and "A Passing in June," were
    written in France in 1916, and many of them actually in the
    trenches. The rough sketch for "A Passing in June" was written
    in France in 1915, but was completed when the author was in
    hospital at home.

    "The Potentate" was written for the original volume of _A
    Student in Arms_, but was not published on account of its
    likeness in subject to Barrie's play, _Der Tag_, which,
    however, Donald had not seen or even heard of when he wrote
    his own.



I

THE POTENTATE[1]


    SCENE. _A tent (interior). The_ POTENTATE _is sitting at a
    table listening to his_ COURT CHAPLAIN.

[Footnote 1: It is necessary to state that _The Potentate_ was written
before Sir James Barrie's play _Der Tag_ appeared.]

COURT CHAPLAIN (_concluding his remarks_). Where can we look for the
Kingdom of God, Sire, if not among the German people? Consider your
foes. The English are Pharisees, hypocrites. Woe to them, saith
the Lord. The French are atheists. The Belgians are ignorant and
priest-ridden. The Russians are sunk in mediæval superstition. As for
the Italians, half are atheists and the other half idolators. Only
in Germany do you find a reasonable and progressive faith, devoid
of superstition, abreast of scientific thought, and of the highest
ethical value. Germany then, Sire, is the Kingdom of God on earth. The
Germans are the chosen people, the heirs of the promise, and let their
enemies be scattered!

    (_The_ POTENTATE _rises, leans forward with his hands on the
    table, and an expression of extreme gratification, while the_
    CHAPLAIN _stands with a smug and respectful smile on his white
    face._)

POTENTATE. You are right, my dear Clericus, abundantly right. Very
well put indeed! Yes, Germany is the Kingdom of God, and I (_drawing
himself up to his full height_)--I am Germany! The strength of the
Lord is in my right arm, and He teaches it terrible things for the
unbeliever and the hypocrite. With God I conquer! Good-night, my dear
Clericus, good-night.

    (CLERICUS _departs with a low bow, and_ _the_ POTENTATE _sinks
    into his chair with a gesture of fatigue. Enter a_ GENERAL _of
    the Headquarters Staff with telegrams._)

POTENTATE (_brightening_). Ha, my dear General, you have news?

GENERAL. Excellent news, Sire! On the Eastern front the Russians
continue to give way. In the West a French attack has been repulsed
with heavy loss, and our gallant Prussians have driven the British out
of half a mile of trenches.

    (_At this last bit of news the_ POTENTATE _springs to his feet
    with a look of joy._)

POTENTATE. A sign! My God, a sign! Pardon, General, I was thinking of
a conversation that I have just had with Dr. Clericus. Come now, show
me where these trenches are.

    (_The_ GENERAL _produces a map, over which they pore
    together._)

POTENTATE. Excellent, excellent! A most valuable capture. Our losses
were ...?

GENERAL. Slight, Sire.

POTENTATE. Better and better. I cannot afford to lose my good
Prussians, my heroic, my invincible Prussians. To what do you
attribute the success?

GENERAL. The success was due in a large measure to the perfection
of the apparatus suggested a week ago by your Majesty's scientific
adviser.

POTENTATE (_blanching a little_). Ah, then it was not a charge, eh?

GENERAL. The charge followed, Sire; but the work was already done. The
defenders of the trench were already dead or dying before our heroes
reached it.

POTENTATE (_sinking back in his chair with his finger to his lips,
and a slight frown_). Thank you, General, your news is of the best.
I will detain you no longer. (_The_ GENERAL _bows._) Stay! Has a
counterattack been launched yet?

GENERAL. Not yet, Sire. No doubt one will be attempted to-night. Our
men are prepared.

POTENTATE. Good. Bring me fresh news as soon as it arrives.
Good-night, General, good-night.

    (_Exit_ GENERAL.)

    (_The_ POTENTATE _sits musing for a considerable time. A
    slight cough is heard, and he raises his head._)

POTENTATE (_slowly_). Enter!

    (_Enter a tall figure in a long black academic gown and black
    clothes._)

POTENTATE (_with an attempt at gaiety_). Come in, my dear Sage, come
in. You are welcome. (_A little anxiously_) You have the crystal?
Good. How is the Master? Still busy devising new means of victory?

THE SAGE. My master's poor skill is always at your service, Sire. You
have only to command.

POTENTATE. I know it. Now let me have the crystal. I would see if
possible the scene of to-day's victory in Flanders.

    (_The_ SAGE _hands him the crystal with a low bow. The_
    POTENTATE _seizes it eagerly, and gazes into it. A pause._)

POTENTATE (_raising his head suddenly_). Horrible, horrible!

SAGE. Sire?

POTENTATE. This last invention of your master's is inhuman!

SAGE. War is inhuman, Sire. Where a speedy end is desired, is it not
kindest to be cruel?

    (_The_ POTENTATE _gazes again into the crystal,_ _but starts
    up immediately with a gasp of horror._)

POTENTATE. Again the same vision! Always after my victories the vision
of the Crucified, with the stern reproachful eyes! Am I not the Lord's
appointed instrument? What means it? Tell your master that I will have
no more of his inventions. They are too diabolical! They imperil my
cause!

SAGE (_pointing to the crystal_). Look again, Sire.

POTENTATE (_gazing into the crystal, and in a low and agonized
voice_). Time with his scythe raised menacingly against me.
(_Abruptly_) This is a trickery, Sirrah! Have a care! But I will not
be tricked. Are my troops not brave? Are they not invincible? Can they
not win by their proven valour? Who can stand against them, for the
strength of the Lord is in their right hands?

    (_Enter GENERAL hastily_)

GENERAL. Sire.... (_He starts, and stops short_).

POTENTATE (_testily_). Go on, go on. What is it?

GENERAL. Sire, the English counterattack has for the moment succeeded.
Infuriated by their defeat they fought so that no man could resist
them. They have regained the trenches they had lost, but we hope to
attack again to-morrow, when--

POTENTATE. Enough! Leave me!

    (_The_ GENERAL _withdraws, and the_ POTENTATE _leans forward
    with his head on his hands._)

SAGE (_commiseratingly_). Apparently other troops are brave besides
your own, Sire!

POTENTATE (_brokenly_). The cowards! The cowards! Five nations against
three! Alas, my poor Prussians!

SAGE. If you will look once more into the crystal, Sire, I think you
will see something that will interest you.

    (_The_ POTENTATE _takes the crystal again, but without
    confidence._)

POTENTATE (_in a slow recitative_). A stricken field by night. The
dead lie everywhere, German and English, side by side. But all are not
dead. Some are but wounded. They help one another. Prussian and Briton
help one another, with painful smiles on their white faces. What? Have
they forgotten their hate? My Prussians! Can you so soon forget? I
mourn for you! But who are these? White figures, vague, elusive! See,
they seem to come down from above. They are carrying away the souls
of my Prussians! And of the accursed English! What! One Paradise for
both! Impossible! And who is that watching? He who with a smile so
loving, and yet so stern ... Ah!... My God ... no!... not I....

    (_The_ POTENTATE _rises with a strangled cry, and sinks into
    his chair a nerveless wreck. The_ SAGE _watches coolly, with a
    cynical smile._)

SAGE. So, Sire, you must find room for the English in that kingdom of
yours and God's! Perchance it is more catholic than we had thought!

    (_The_ POTENTATE _groans._)

SAGE. Sire, you have seen some truth to-night. Is courage, is God, all
on your side? Is Time on your side? Shall I go back to my master and
tell him that you need no more of his inventions?

    (_He pauses, and glances at the_ POTENTATE _with a look of
    contempt, and then turns to go. The_ POTENTATE _looks round
    him with a ghastly stare._)

POTENTATE (_feebly_). No ... the Crucified ... Time ... Stay, stay!

    (_The_ SAGE _turns with a gesture of triumph._)

    (_Curtain._)



II

THE BAD SIDE OF MILITARY SERVICE


A Padre who has earned the right to talk about the "average Tommy,"
writes to me that _A Student in Arms_ gives a very one-sided picture
of him. While cordially admitting his unselfishness, his good
comradeship, his patience, and his pluck, my friend challenges me
to deny that military, and especially active, service often has a
brutalizing effect on the soldier, weakening his moral fibres, and
causing him to sink to a low animal level.

Those who are in the habit of reading between the lines will, I
think, often have seen the shadow of this darker side of army life
on the pages of _A Student in Arms_; but I have not written of it
specifically for several reasons. It will suffice if I mention two.
First, I was writing mainly of the private and the N.C.O. Rightly
or wrongly, I imagined that those for whom I was writing were in the
habit of taking for granted this darker side of life in the ranks. I
imagined that they thought of the "lower classes" as being naturally
coarser and more animal than the "upper classes." I wanted then, and I
want now, to contradict that belief with all the vehemence of which I
am capable. Officers and men necessarily develop different qualities,
different forms of expression, different mental attitudes. But I am
confident that I speak the truth when I say that essentially, and in
the eyes of God there is nothing to choose between them.

If I must write of the brutalizing effect of war on the soldier, let
it be clearly understood that I am speaking, not of officers only,
nor of privates only, but of fighting men of every class and rank.
As a matter of fact I have never, whether before or during the war,
belonged to a mess where the tone was cleaner or more wholesome than
it was in the Sergeants' Mess of my old battalion.

My second reason for not writing about the bad side of Army life was
that mere condemnation is so futile. I have listened to countless
sermons in which the "lusts of the flesh" were denounced, and have
known for certain that their power for good was _nil_. If I write
about it now, it is only because I hope that I may be able to make
clearer the causes and processes of such moral deterioration as
exists, and thus to help those who are trying to combat it, to do so
with greater understanding and sympathy.

Even in England most officers, and all privates, are cut off from
their womenfolk. Mothers, sisters, wives, and sweethearts are
inaccessible. All have a certain amount of leisure, and very little
to do with it. All are physically fit and mentally rather unoccupied.
All are living under an unnatural discipline from which, when the
last parade of the day is over, there is a natural reaction. Finally,
wherever there are troops, and especially in war time, there are "bad"
women and weak women. The result is inevitable. A certain number of
both officers and men "go wrong."

Fifteen months ago I was a private quartered in a camp near Aldershot.
After tea it began to get dark. The tent was damp, gloomy, and cold.
The Y.M.C.A. tent and the Canteen tent were crowded. One wandered off
to the town. The various soldiers' clubs were filled and overflowing.
The bars required more cash than one possessed. The result was that
one spent a large part of one's evenings wandering aimlessly about
the streets. Fortunately I discovered an upper room in a Wesleyan
soldiers' home, where there was generally quiet, and an empty chair.
I shall always be grateful to that "home," for the many hours which I
whiled away there with a book and a pipe. But most of us spent a great
deal of our leisure, bored and impecunious, "on the streets"; and if
a fellow ran up against "a bit of skirt," he was generally just in the
mood to follow it wherever it might lead. The moral of this is, double
your subscriptions to the Y.M.C.A., Church huts, soldiers' clubs, or
whatever organization you fancy! You will be helping to combat vice in
the only sensible way.

I don't suppose that the officers were much better off than we were.
Their tents may have been a little lighter and less crowded than ours.
They had a late dinner to occupy part of the long evening. They had
more money to spend, and perhaps more to occupy their minds. But I
fancy that as great a proportion of them as of us took the false step;
and though perhaps when they compared notes their language may have
been less blunt than ours, I am not sure that, for this very reason,
it may not have been more poisonous. But mind you, we did not all
go wrong, by any means, though I believe that some fellows did, both
officers and men, who would not have done so if they had stayed at
home with their mothers, sisters, sweethearts, or wives.

So much for the Army at home. When we cross the Channel every feature
is a hundred times intensified. Consider the fighting man in the
trenches--and I am still speaking of both officers and men--the most
ordinary refinements of life are conspicuously absent. There is no
water to wash in. Vermin abound, sleeping and eating accommodations
are frankly disgusting. One is obliged for the time to live like a
pig. Added to this one is all the time in a state of nervous tension.
One gets very little sleep. Every night has its anxieties and
responsibilities. Danger or death may come at any moment. So for a
week or a fortnight or a month, as the case may be. Then comes the
return to billets, to comparative safety and comfort--the latter
nothing to boast about though! Tension is relaxed. There is an
inevitable reaction. Officers and men alike determine to "gather
rosebuds" while they may. Their bodies are fit, their wills are
relaxed. If they are built that way, and an opportunity offers, they
will "satisfy the lusts of the flesh."

When there is real fighting to be done the dangers of the
after-reaction are intensified. You who sit at home and read of
glorious bayonet charges do not realize what it means to the man
behind the bayonet. You don't realize the repugnance for the first
thrust--a repugnance which has got to be overcome. You don't realize
the change that comes over a man when his bayonet is wet with the
blood of his first enemy. He "sees red." The primitive "blood-lust,"
kept under all his life by the laws and principles of peaceful
society, surges through his being, transforming him, maddening him
with the desire to kill, kill, kill! Ask any one who has been through
it if this is not true. And that letting loose of a primitive lust is
not going to be without its effect on a man's character.

At the same time, of course, not all of us become animals out here.
There are other influences at work. Caring for the wounded, burying
the mutilated dead, cause one to hate war, and to value ten times more
the ways of peace. Many are saved from sinking in the scale, by a love
of home which is able to bridge the gulf which separates them
from their beloved. The letters of my platoon are largely love
letters--often the love letters of married men to their wives.

There is immorality in the Army; when there is opportunity immorality
is rife. Possibly there is more abroad than there is at home. If so it
is because there is far greater temptation. Nevertheless, I fancy that
my correspondent, who is a padre, a don, and at least the beginning of
a saint, is perhaps inclined to exaggerate the extent of the evil in
the Army as compared with civil life. I imagine that very few padres,
especially if they are dons, and most of all if they are saints,
realize that in civil life as in Army life, the average man is
immoral, both in thought and deed. Let us be frank about this. What
a doctor might call the "appetites" and a padre the "lusts" of the
body, hold dominion over the average man, whether civilian or soldier,
unless they are counteracted by a stronger power. The only men who
are pure are those who are absorbed in some pursuit, or possessed by a
great love; be it the love of clean, wholesome life which is religion,
or the love of a noble man which is hero-worship, or the love of a
true woman. These are the four powers which are stronger than "the
flesh"--the zest of a quest, religion, hero-worship, and the love of
a good woman. If a man is not possessed by one of these he will be
immoral.

Probably most men are immoral. The conditions of military, and
especially of active service merely intensify the temptation. Unless
a soldier is wholly devoted to the cause, or powerfully affected by
religion, or by hero-worship, or by pure love, he is immoral.

Perhaps most men are immoral if they get the chance. Most soldiers
are immoral if they get the chance. But those who are trying to help
the soldier can do so with a good heart if they realize that in
him they have a foundation on which to build. Already he is half a
hero-worshipper. Already he half believes in the beauty of sacrifice
and in the life immortal. Already he is predisposed to value
exceedingly all that savours of clean, wholesome home life. On that
foundation it should be possible to build a strong idealism which
shall prevail against the flesh. And this is my last word--it is by
building up, and not by casting down, that the soldier can be saved
from degradation. The devil that possesses so many can only be cast
out by an angel that is stronger than he.



III

THE GOOD SIDE OF "MILITARISM"


I had a letter the other day from an Oxford friend. In it was this
phrase: "I loathe militarism in all its forms." Somehow it took me
back quite suddenly to the days before the war, to ideas that I had
almost completely forgotten. I suppose that in those days the great
feature of those of us who tried to be "in the forefront of modern
thought" was their riotous egotism, their anarchical insistence on the
claims of the individual at the expense even of law, order, society,
and convention. "Self-realization" we considered to be the primary
duty of every man and woman.

The wife who left her husband, children, and home because of her
passion for another man was a heroine, braving the hypocritical
judgments of society to assert the claims of the individual soul.
The woman who refused to abandon all for love's sake, was not only
a coward but a criminal, guilty of the deadly sin of sacrificing her
soul, committing it to a prison where it would languish and never
blossom to its full perfection. The man who was bound to uncongenial
drudgery by the chains of an early marriage or aged parents dependent
on him, was the victim of a tragedy which drew tears from our eyes.
The woman who neglected her home because she needed a "wider sphere"
in which to develop her personality was a champion of women's rights,
a pioneer of enlightenment. And, on the other hand, the people
who went on making the best of uncongenial drudgery, or in any way
subjected their individualities to what old-fashioned people called
duty, were in our eyes contemptible poltroons.

It was the same in politics and religion. To be loyal to a party
or obedient to a Church was to stand self-confessed a fool or a
hypocrite. Self-realization, that was in our eyes the whole duty of
man.

And then I thought of what I had seen only a few days before. First,
of battalions of men marching in the darkness, steadily and in step,
towards the roar of the guns; destined in the next twelve hours to
charge as one man, without hesitation or doubt, through barrages
of cruel shell and storms of murderous bullets. Then, the following
afternoon, of a handful of men, all that was left of about three
battalions after ten hours of fighting, a handful of men exhausted,
parched, strained, holding on with grim determination to the last bit
of German trench, until they should receive the order to retire. And
lastly, on the days and nights following, of the constant streams
of wounded and dead being carried down the trench; of the unceasing
search that for three or four days was never fruitless.

Self-realization! How far we have travelled from the ideals of those
pre-war days. And as I thought things over I wondered at how faint a
response that phrase, "I loathe militarism in all its forms," found in
my own mind.

Before the war I too hated "militarism." I despised soldiers as men
who had sold their birthright for a mess of pottage. The sight of
the Guards drilling in Wellington Barracks, moving as one man to the
command of their drill instructor, stirred me to bitter mirth. They
were not men but manikins. When I first enlisted, and for many months
afterwards, the "mummeries of military discipline," the saluting, the
meticulous uniformity, the rigid suppression of individual exuberance,
chafed and infuriated me. I compared it to a ritualistic religion, a
religion of authority only, which depended not on individual assent
but on tradition for its sanctions. I loathed militarism in all its
forms. Now ... well, I am inclined to reconsider my judgment. Seeing
the end of military discipline, has shown me something of its ethical
meaning--more than that, of its spiritual meaning.

For though the part of the "great push" that it fell to my lot to see
was not a successful part, it was none the less a triumph--a spiritual
triumph. From the accounts of the ordinary war correspondent I think
one hardly realizes how great a spiritual triumph it was. For the war
correspondent only sees the outside, and can only describe the outside
of things. We who are in the Army, who know the men as individuals,
who have talked with them, joked with them, censored their letters,
worked with them, lived with them we see below the surface.

The war correspondent sees the faces of the men as they march towards
the Valley of the Shadow, sees the steadiness of eye and mouth,
hears the cheery jest. He sees them advance into the Valley without
flinching. He sees some of them return, tired, dirty, strained, but
still with a quip for the passer-by. He gives us a picture of men
without nerves, without sensitiveness, without imagination, schooled
to face death as they would face rain or any trivial incident of
everyday life. The "Tommy" of the war correspondent is not a human
being, but a lay figure with a gift for repartee, little more than
the manikin that we thought him in those far-off days before the war,
when we watched him drilling on the barrack square. We soldiers know
better. We know that each one of those men is an individual, full of
human affections, many of them writing tender letters home every
week, each one longing with all his soul for the end of this hateful
business of war which divides him from all that he loves best in
life. We know that every one of these men has a healthy individual's
repugnance to being maimed, and a human shrinking from hurt and from
the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

The knowledge of all this does not do away with the even tread of the
troops as they pass, the steady eye and mouth, the cheery jest; but
it makes these a hundred times more significant. For we know that what
these things signify is not lack of human affection, or weakness, or
want of imagination, but something superimposed on these, to which
they are wholly subordinated. Over and above the individuality of
each man, his personal desires and fears and hopes, there is the
corporate personality of the soldier which knows no fear and only one
ambition--to defeat the enemy, and so to further the righteous cause
for which he is fighting. In each of those men there is this dual
personality: the ordinary human ego that hates danger and shrinks from
hurt and death, that longs for home, and would welcome the end of the
war on any terms; and also the stronger personality of the soldier who
can tolerate but one end to this war, cost what that may--the victory
of liberty and justice, and the utter abasement of brute force.

And when one looks back over the months of training that the soldier
has had, one recognizes how every feature of it, though at the time
it often seemed trivial and senseless and irritating, was in reality
directed to this end. For from the moment that a man becomes a
soldier his dual personality begins. Henceforth he is both a man and
a soldier. Before his training is complete the order must be reversed,
and he must be a soldier and a man. As a soldier he must obey and
salute those whom, as a man, he very likely dislikes and despises. In
his conduct he no longer only has to consider his reputation as a man,
but still more his honour as a soldier. In all the conditions of his
life, his dress, appearance, food, drink, accommodation, and work, his
individual preferences count for nothing, his efficiency as a soldier
counts for everything. At first he "hates" this, and "can't see
the point of" that. But by the time his training is complete he has
realized that whether he hates a thing or not, sees the point of a
thing or not, is a matter of the uttermost unimportance. If he is
wise, he keeps his likes and dislikes to himself.

All through his training he is learning the unimportance of his
individuality, realizing that in a national, a world crisis, it counts
for nothing. On the other hand, he is equally learning that as a unit
in a fighting force his every action is of the utmost importance. The
humility which the Army inculcates is not an abject self-depreciation
that leads to loss of self-respect and effort. Substituted for the old
individualism is a new self-consciousness. The man has become humble,
but in proportion the soldier has become exceeding proud. The old
personal whims and ambitions give place to a corporate ambition
and purpose, and this unity of will is symbolized in action by the
simultaneous exactitude of drill, and in dress by the rigid identity
of uniform. Anything which calls attention to the individual, whether
in drill or in dress, is a crime, because it is essential that the
soldier's individuality should be wholly subordinated to the corporate
personality of the regiment.

As I said before, the personal humility of the soldier has nothing in
it of abject self-depreciation or slackness. On the contrary, every
detail of his appearance, and every most trivial feature of his duty
assumes an immense significance. Slackness in his dress and negligence
in his work are military crimes. In a good regiment the soldier is
striving after perfection all the time.

And it is when he comes to the supreme test of battle that the fruits
of his training appear. The good soldier has learnt the hardest
lesson of all--the lesson of self-subordination to a higher and bigger
personality. He has learnt to sacrifice everything which belongs to
him individually to a cause that is far greater than any personal
ambitions of his own can ever be. He has learnt to do this so
thoroughly that he knows no fear--for fear is personal. He has learnt
to "hate" father and mother and life itself for the sake of--though he
may not call it that--the Kingdom of God on earth.

It is a far cry from the old days when one talked of self-realization,
isn't it? I make no claim to be a good soldier; but I think that
perhaps I may be beginning to be one; for if I am asked now whether I
"loathe militarism in all its forms," I think that "the answer is in
the negative," I will even go farther, and say that I hope that some
of the discipline and self-subordination that have availed to send men
calmly to their death in war, will survive in the days of peace, and
make of those who are left better citizens, better workmen, better
servants of the State, better Church men.



IV

A MONTH'S REFLECTIONS


Timothy and I are on detachment. We are billeted with M. le Curé, and
we mess at the schoolmaster's. Hence we are on good terms with all
parties, for of course a good schoolmaster shrugs his shoulders at
a priest, and a good priest returns the compliment. In war time,
however, the hatchet seems to be buried pretty deep. We have not seen
it sticking out anywhere.

M. le Curé has a beautiful rose garden, a cask of excellent cider, a
passable Sauterne, and a charming pony. He is a good fellow, I should
think, though without much education. His house--or what I have seen
of it--is the exact opposite of what an English country vicar's
would be. The only sitting-room that I have seen is as neat as an old
maid's. There is a polished floor, an oval polished table on which
repose four large albums at regular intervals, each on its own little
mat. There is a mantelpiece with gilt candlesticks and an ornate clock
under a glass dome. Round the walls are photographs of brother clergy,
the place of honour being assigned to a stout _Chanoine_. The chairs
are stiff and uncomfortable. One of them, which is more imposing
and uncomfortable than the rest, is obviously for the Bishop when he
comes. There are no papers, no books, no ash-trays, no confusion. I
have never seen M. le Curé sit there. I fancy he lives in the kitchen
and in his garden.

Timothy sleeps in the bed which the Bishop uses, and is told he ought
to feel _très saint_.

The wife of the schoolmaster cooks for us. She is an excellent soul.
We give her full marks. She has a smile and an omelette for every
emergency, and waves aside all Timothy's vagaries with "Ah, monsieur,
la jeunesse!" I am not sure that Timothy quite likes it!

Timothy is immense. He is that rarest of birds, a wholly delightful
egotist. He is the sun, but we all bask and shine with reflected
glory. The men are splendid, because they are his men. I am a great
success because I am his subaltern. Fortunately we all have a sense of
humour and so are highly pleased with ourselves and each other. After
all, if one is a Captain at twenty-two ...! But he's a good soldier,
too, and we all believe in him. Timothy's all right, in spite of _la
jeunesse_!

       *       *       *       *       *

Rain! The men are fifteen in a tent in a sea of mud. Poor beggars!
They are having a thin time. Working parties in the trenches day and
night; every one soaked to the skin; and then a return to a damp,
crowded, muddy tent. No pay, no smokes, and yet they are wonderfully
cheery, and all think that the "Push" is going to end the war. I wish
I thought so!

       *       *       *       *       *

These rats are the limit! The dugout swarms with them. Last night they
ate half my biscuits and a good part of Timothy's clean socks, and
whenever I began to get to sleep one of them would run across my face,
or some other sensitive part of my anatomy, and wake me up. I shall
leave the candle alight to-night, to see if that keeps them away.

       *       *       *       *       *

Last night the rats tried to eat the candle, and very nearly set me on
fire. If it were not for the rain I would try the firestep.

The men are having a rotten time again--no proper shelter from the
rain, and short rations, to say nothing of remarkably good practice by
the Boche artillery. C----, just out from England, got scuppered this
afternoon. A good boy--made his communion just before we came in. I
suppose he didn't know much about it, and that he is really better off
now; but at the same time it makes one angry.

       *       *       *       *       *

The rain has lifted, so last night I tried the firestep, and got a
good sleep. The absurd thing was that I couldn't wake up properly. I
came on duty at midnight, was roused, got to my feet, and started to
walk along the trench. And then the Nameless Terror, that lurks in
dark corners when one is a small boy, gripped me. I was frightened of
the dark, filled with a sense of impending disaster! It took about
ten minutes to wake properly and shake it off. I must try to get more
sleep somehow; but it is jolly difficult.

       *       *       *       *       *

The great bombardment has begun, the long-promised strafing of the
Boche. According to the gunners they will all be dead, buried, or
dazed when the time comes for us to go over the top. I doubt it! If
they have enough deep dug-outs I don't fancy that the bombardment will
worry them very much.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now we are at rest for a day or two before the Push. I am to be left
out--in charge of carriers. Damn! I might as well be A.S.C. I see
myself counting ration bags while the battalion is charging with
fixed bayonets; and in the evening sending up parties of weary laden
carriers over shell-swept areas, while I myself stay behind at
the Dump. Damn! Damn!! Damn!!! Then I shall receive ironical
congratulations on my "cushy" job.

       *       *       *       *       *

Have just seen the battalion off. I don't start for another five
hours. I loathe war. It is futile, idiotic. I would gladly be out
of the Army to-morrow. Glory is a painted idol, honour a phantasy,
religion a delusion. We wallow in blood and torture to please
a creature of our imagination. We are no better than South Sea
Islanders.

       *       *       *       *       *

Just here the attack was a failure. When I got to the Dump I found the
battalion still there. By an irony of fate I was the only officer of
my company to set foot in the German lines. After a day of idleness
and depression I had to detail a party to carry bombs at top speed to
some relics of the leading battalions, who were still clinging to the
extremest corner of the enemy's front line some distance to our left.
Being fed up with inaction, I took the party myself. It was a long
way. The trenches were choked with wounded and stragglers and troops
who had never been ordered to advance. In many places they were broken
down by shell-fire, in others they were waist-deep in water. By dint
of much shouting and shoving and cursing I managed to get through
with about ten of my men, but had to leave the others to follow with a
sergeant.

At last we sighted our objective, a cluster of chalk mounds surrounded
with broken wire, shell craters, corpses, wreathed in smoke, dotted
with men. I think we all ran across the ground between our front
line and our objective, though it must have been more or less dead
ground. Anyhow, only one man was hit. When we got close the scene
was absurdly like a conventional battle picture--the sort of picture
that one never believes in for a minute. There was a wild mixture of
regiments--Jocks, Irishmen, Territorials, etc., etc. There was no
proper trench left. There were rifles, a machine gun, a Lewis rifle,
and bombs all going at the same time. There were wounded men sitting
in a kind of helpless stupor; there were wounded trying to drag
themselves back to our own lines; there were the dead of whom no one
took any notice. But the prevailing note was one of utter weariness
coupled with dogged tenacity.

Here and there were men who were self-conscious, wondering what would
become of themselves. I was one of them, and we were none the better
for it. Most of the fellows, though, had forgotten themselves. They no
longer flinched, or feared. They had got beyond that. They were just
set on clinging to that mound and keeping the Huns at bay until their
officer gave the word to retire. Their spirit was the spirit of the
oarsman, the runner, or the footballer, who has strained himself to
the utmost, who if he stopped to wonder whether he could go on or not
would collapse; but who, because he does not stop to wonder, goes on
miraculously long after he should, by all the laws of nature, have
succumbed to sheer exhaustion.

Having delivered my bombs into eager hands, I reported to the officer
who seemed to be in charge, and asked if I could do anything. I must
frankly admit that my one hope was that he would not want me to stay.
He began to say how that morning he had reached his objective, and how
for lack of support on his flank, for lack of bombs, for lack of men,
he had been forced back; and how for eight hours he had disputed every
inch of ground till now his men could only cling to these mounds with
the dumb mechanical tenacity of utter exhaustion. "You might go to
H.Q.," he said at last, "and tell them where I am, and that I can't
hold on without ammunition and a barrage."

I am afraid that I went with joy on that errand. I did not want to
stay on those chalk mounds.

       *       *       *       *       *

I only saw a very little bit of the battle. Thank God it has gone well
elsewhere; but here we are where we started. Day and night we have
done nothing but bring in the wounded and the dead. When one sees the
dead, their limbs crushed and mangled, their features distorted and
blackened, one can only have repulsion for war. It is easy to talk of
glory and heroism when one is away from it, when memory has softened
the gruesome details. But here, in the presence of the mutilated and
tortured dead, one can only feel the horror and wickedness of war.
Indeed it is an evil harvest, sown of pride and arrogance and lust of
power. Maybe through all this evil and pain we shall be purged of many
sins. God grant it! If ever there were martyrs, some of these were
martyrs, facing death and torture as ghastly as any that confronted
the saints of old, and facing it with but little of that fierce
fanatical exaltation of faith that the early Christians had to help
them.

For these were mostly quiet souls, loving their wives and children
and the little comforts of home life most of all, little stirred by
great emotions or passions. Yet they had some love for liberty, some
faith in God,--not a high and flaming passion, but a quiet insistent
conviction. It was enough to send them out to face martyrdom, though
their lack of imagination left them mercifully ignorant of the
extremity of its terrors. It was enough, when they saw their danger in
its true perspective, to keep them steadfast and tenacious.

For them "it is finished." _R.I.P._



V

ROMANCE


I suppose that there are very few officers or men who have been at the
front for any length of time who would not be secretly, if not openly,
relieved and delighted if they "got a cushy one" and found themselves
_en route_ for "Blighty"; yet in many ways soldiering at the front
is infinitely preferable to soldiering at home. One of the factors
which count most heavily in favour of the front, is the extraordinary
affection of officers for their men.

In England, officers hardly know their men. They live apart, only meet
on parade, and their intercourse is carried on through the prescribed
channels. Even if you do get keen on a particular squad of recruits,
or a particular class of would-be bombers, you lose them so soon that
your enthusiasm never ripens into anything like intimacy. But at the
front you have your own platoon; and week after week, month after
month, you are living in the closest proximity; you see them all day,
you get to know the character of each individual man and boy, and the
result in nearly every case is this extraordinary affection of which I
have spoken.

You will find it in the most unlikely subjects. I have heard a Major,
a Regular with, as I thought, a good deal of regimental stiffness,
talk about his men with a voice almost choked with emotion. "When
you see what they have to put up with, and how amazingly cheery they
are through it all, you feel that you can't do enough for them. They
make you feel that you're not fit to black their boots." And then he
went on to tell how it was often the fellows whom in England you had
despaired of, fellows who were always "up at orders," who out at the
front became your right-hand men, the men on whom you found yourself
relying.

I had a letter not long ago from a gunner Captain, also a Regular, who
has been out almost since the beginning of the war. He wrote: "One of
my best friends has just been killed"; and the "best friend" was not
the fellow he had known at "the shop," or played polo with in India,
or hunted with in Ireland, but a scamp of a telephonist, who had
stolen his whisky and owned up; who had risked his life for him, who
had been a fellow-sportsman who could be relied on in a tight corner
in the most risky of all games.

There is indeed a glamour and a pathos about the private soldier,
especially when, as so often happens, he is really only a boy. When
you meet him in the trenches, wet, covered with mud, with tired eyes
speaking of long watches and hours of risky work, he never fails to
greet you with a smile, and you love him for it, and feel that nothing
you can do can make up to him for it. For you have slept in a much
more comfortable place than he has. You have had unlimited tobacco
and cigarettes. You have had a servant to cook for you. You have fared
sumptuously compared with him. You don't feel his superior. You don't
want to be "gracious without undue familiarity." Exactly what you want
to do is a bit doubtful--the Major said he wanted to black his boots
for him, and that is perhaps the best way of expressing it.

When he goes over the top and works away in front of the parapet with
the moon shining full and the machine guns busy all along; when he
gets back to billets, and throws off his cares and bathes and plays
games like any irresponsible schoolboy; even when he breaks bounds and
is found by the M.P. skylarking in ----, you can't help loving him.
Most of all, when he lies still and white with a red stream trickling
from where the sniper's bullet has made a hole through his head, there
comes a lump in your throat that you can't swallow; and you turn away
so that you shan't have to wipe the tears from your eyes.

Gallant souls, those boys, and all the more gallant because they hate
war so much. Their nerves quiver when a shell or a "Minnie" falls into
the trench near them, and then they smile to hide their weakness. They
hate going over the parapet when the machine guns are playing; so
they don't hesitate, but plunge over with a smile to hide their fears.
Their cure for every mental worry is a smile, their answer to every
prompting of fear is a plunge. They have no philosophy or fanaticism
to help them--only the sporting instinct which is in every healthy
British boy.

Then there are "the old men," less attractive, less stirring to the
imagination, less sensitive, but who grow upon you more and more as
you get to know them. Any one over twenty-three or so is an "old
man." They have lost the grace, the irresponsibility, the sensibility
of youth. Their eyes and mouths are steadier, their movements more
deliberate. But they are the fellows whom you would choose for a
patrol, or a raid, where a cool head and a stout heart are what is
wanted. It takes you longer to know these. They are less responsive to
your advances. But when you have tested them and they have tested you,
you know that you have that which is stronger than any terror of night
or day, a loyalty which nothing can shake.

And then when he thinks how little he deserves all this love and
loyalty, the subaltern's heart aches with a feeling that can find no
expression either in word or deed.

This is a tale that has often been told, and that people in England
know by heart. It cannot be told too often. It cannot be learnt too
well. For the time will come when we shall need to remember it, and
when it will be easy to forget. Will you remember it, O ye people,
when the boy has become a man, and the soldier has become a workman?
But there are other tales to tell. There are the tales of the
sergeant-major and the sergeants, the corporals and the "lance-jacks."
Sergeant-majors, sergeants, and corporals are not romantic figures. If
you think of them at all, you probably think of rumjars and profanity.
Yet they are the very backbone of the Army. I have been a sergeant and
I have been a private soldier, and I know that the latter has much
the better time of the two. He at least has the kind of liberty
which belongs to utter irresponsibility. If he breaks bounds in the
exuberance of his spirits, no one thinks much worse of him as long as
he does not make a song about paying the penalty!

Of course he has to be punished. So many days of sleeping in the guard
tent, extra fatigues, pack-drill, and perhaps a couple of hours tied
up, as an example to evil-doers. But if he has counted the cost, and
pays the price with a grin, we just say "Young scamp!" and dismiss
the matter. But if a sergeant or a corporal does the same, that's a
very different matter. He has shown himself unfit for his job. He
has betrayed a trust. We cannot forgive him. Responsibility has its
disadvantages. The senior N.C.O. gets no relaxation from discipline.
In the line and out of it he must always be watchful, self-controlled,
orderly. He must never wink. These men have not the glamour of the boy
private; but their high sense of duty and discipline, their keenness
and efficiency, merit all the honour that we can give them.

Finally--for it would not do for a subaltern to discuss his
superiors--we come to the junior officer. Somehow I fancy that in the
public eye he too is a less romantic figure than the private. One does
not associate him with privations and hardships, but with parcels from
home. Well, it is quite right. He has such a much less uncomfortable
time than his men that he does not deserve or want sympathy on that
score. He is better off in every way. He has better quarters, better
food, more kit, a servant, and in billets far greater liberty. And yet
there is many a man who is now an officer who looks back on his days
as a private with regret. Could he have his time over again ... yes,
he would take a commission; but he would do so, not with any thought
for the less hardship of it, but from a stern sense of duty--the sense
of duty which does not allow a man with any self-respect to refuse to
shoulder a heavier burden when called upon to do so.

Those apparently irresponsible subalterns whom you see entertaining
their lady friends at the Canton or Ciro's do, when they are at the
front, have very heavy responsibilities. Even in the ordinary routine
of trench life, so many decisions have to be made, with the chance of
a "telling off" whichever way you choose, and the lives of other men
hanging in the balance. Suppose you are detailed for a wiring party,
and you arrive to find a full moon beaming sardonically down at you.
What are you to do? If you go out you may be seen. Half a dozen of
your men may be mown down by a machine gun. You will be blamed and
will blame yourself for not having decided to remain behind the
parapet. If you do not go out you may set a precedent, and night after
night the work will be postponed, till at last it is too late, and
the Hun has got through, and raided the trench. If you hesitate or ask
advice you are lost. You have to make up your mind in an instant, and
to stand by it. If you waver your men will never have confidence in
you again.

Still more in a push; a junior subaltern is quite likely to find
himself at any time in command of a company, while he may for a day
even have to command the relics of a battalion. I have seen boys
almost fresh from a Public School in whose faces there were two
personalities expressed: the one full of the lighthearted, reckless,
irresponsible vitality of boyhood, and the other scarred with
the anxious lines of one to whom a couple of hundred exhausted
and nerve-shattered men have looked, and not looked in vain, for
leadership and strength in their grim extremity. From a boy in such
a position is required something far more difficult than personal
courage. If we praise the boy soldier for his smile in the face of
shells and machine guns, don't let us forget to praise still more the
boy officer who, in addition to facing death on his own account, has
to bear the responsibility of the lives of a hundred other men. There
is many a man of undoubted courage whose nerve would fail to bear that
strain.

A day or two ago I was reading _Romance_, by Joseph Conrad and Ford
Madox Hueffer. It is a glorious tale of piracy and adventure in the
West Indies; but for the moment I wondered how it came about that
Conrad, the master of psychology, should have helped to write such
a book. And then I understood. For these boys who hate the war, and
suffer and endure with the smile that is sometimes so difficult, and
long with a great longing for home and peace--some day some of them
will look back on these days and will tell themselves that after all
it was Romance, the adventure, which made their lives worth while. And
they will long to feel once again the stirring of the old comradeship
and love and loyalty, to dip their clasp-knives into the same pot of
jam, and lie in the same dug-out, and work on the same bit of wire
with the same machine gun striking secret terror into their hearts,
and look into each other's eyes for the same courageous smile. For
Romance, after all, is woven of the emotions, especially the elemental
ones of love and loyalty and fear and pain.

We men are never content! In the dull routine of normal life we sigh
for Romance, and sometimes seek to create it artificially, stimulating
spurious passions, plunging into muddy depths in search of it. Now we
have got it we sigh for a quiet life. But some day those who have not
died will say: "Thank God I have lived! I have loved, and endured, and
trembled, and trembling, dared. I have had my Romance."



VI

IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS


I

    SCENE. _A field in Flanders. All round the edge are bivouacs,
    built of sticks and waterproof sheets. Three men are squatting
    round a small fire, waiting for a couple of mess-tins of water
    to boil_.

BILL (_gloomily_). The last three of the old lot! Oo's turn next?

FRED. Wot's the bleedin' good of bein' dahn in the mahf abaht it? Give
me the bleedin' 'ump, you do.

JIM. Are we dahn-'earted? Not 'alf, we ain't!

BILL. I don't know as I cares. Git it over, I sez. 'Ave done wiv it!
I dessay as them wot's gone West is better off nor wot we are, arter
all.

JIM. Orlright, old sport, you go an' look for the V.C., and we'll pick
up the bits an' bury 'em nice an' deep!

BILL. If this 'ere bleedin' war don't finish soon that's wot I
bleedin' well will go an' do. Wish they'd get a move on an' finish it.

FRED. If ever I gets 'ome agin, I'll never do another stroke in
my natural. The old woman can keep me, ---- 'er, an' if she don't
I'll--well--'er ---- ----.

JIM (_indignantly_). Nice sort o' bloke you are! Arter creatin' abaht
ole Bill makin' you miserable, you goes on to plan 'ow you'll make
other folks miserable! Wot's the bleedin' good o' that? Keep smilin',
I sez, an' keep other folks smilin' too, if you can. If ever I gets
'ome I'll go dahn on my bended, I will, and I'll be a different sort
o' bloke to wot I been afore. Swelp me, Bob, I will! My missus won't
'ave no cause to wish as I've been done in.

BILL. Ah well, it don't much matter. We're all most like to go afore
this war's finished.

JIM. If yer goes yer goes, and that's all abaht it. A bloke's got to
go some day, and fer myself I'd as soon get done in doin' my dooty as
I would die in my bed. I ain't struck on dyin' afore my time, and I
don't know as I'm greatly struck on livin', but, whichever it is, you
got ter make the best on it.

BILL (_meditatively_). I woulden mind stoppin' a bullet fair an'
square; but I woulden like one of them 'orrible lingerin' deaths.
"Died o' wounds" arter six munfs' mortal hagony--that's wot gets at
me. Git it over an' done wiv, I sez.

FRED (_querulously_). Ow, chuck it, Bill. You gives me the creeps, you
do.

JIM. I knowed a bloke onest in civil life wot died a lingerin' death.
Lived in the second-floor back in the same 'ouse as me an' my missus,
'e did. Suffered somefink' 'orrible, 'e did, an' lingered more nor
five year. Yet I reckon 'e was one o' the best blokes as ever I come
acrost. Went to 'eaven straight, 'e did, if ever any one did. Wasn't
'alf glad ter go, neither. "I done my bit of 'ell, Jim," 'e sez to
me, an' looked that 'appy you'd a' thought as 'e was well agin. Shan't
never forget 'is face, I shan't. An' I'd sooner be that bloke, for all
'is sufferin's, than I'd be old Fred 'ere, an' live to a 'undred.

BILL (_philosophically_). You'm right, matey. This is a wale o' tears,
as the 'ymn sez, and them as is out on it is best off, if so be as
they done their dooty in that state o' life.... Where's the corfee,
Jim? The water's on the bile.



VII

THE FEAR OF DEATH IN WAR


I am not a psychologist, and I have not seen many people die in their
beds; but I think it is established that very few people are afraid of
a natural death when it comes to the test. Often they are so weak that
they are incapable of emotion. Sometimes they are in such physical
pain that death seems a welcome deliverer.

But a violent death such as death in battle is obviously a different
matter. It comes to a man when he is in the full possession of his
health and vigour, and when every physical instinct is urging him
to self-preservation. If a man feared death in such circumstances
one could not be surprised, and yet in the present war hundreds of
thousands of men have gone to meet practically certain destruction
without giving a sign of terror.

The fact is that at the moment of a charge men are in an absolutely
abnormal condition.

I do not know how to describe their condition in scientific terms;
but there is a sensation of tense excitement combined with a sort of
uncanny calm. Their emotions seem to be numbed. Noises, sights, and
sensations which would ordinarily produce intense pity, horror, or
dread, have no effect on them at all, and yet never was their mind
clearer, their sight, hearing, etc., more acute. They notice all sorts
of little details which would ordinarily pass them by, but which now
thrust themselves on their attention with absurd definiteness--absurd
because so utterly incongruous and meaningless. Or they suddenly
remember with extraordinary clearness some trivial incident of their
past life, hitherto unremembered, and not a bit worth remembering! But
with the issue before them, with victory or death or the prospect of
eternity, their minds blankly refuse to come to grips.

No; it is not at the moment of a charge that men fear death. As in
the case of those who die in bed, Nature has an anesthetic ready for
the emergency. It is before an attack that a man is more liable to
fear--before his blood is hot, and while he still has leisure to
think. The trouble may begin a day or two in advance, when he is first
told of the attack which is likely to mean death to himself and so
many of his chums. This part is comparatively easy. It is fairly easy
to be philosophic if one has plenty of time. One indulges in regrets
about the home one may never see again. One is rather sorry for
oneself; but such self-pity is not wholly unpleasant. One feels mildly
heroic, which is not wholly disagreeable either. Very few men are
afraid of death in the abstract. Very few men believe in hell, or are
tortured by their consciences. They are doubtful about after-death,
hesitating between a belief in eternal oblivion and a belief in a new
life under the same management as the present; and neither prospect
fills them with terror. If only one's "people" would be sensible, one
would not mind.

But as the hour approaches when the attack is due to be launched the
strain becomes more tense. The men are probably cooped up in a very
small space. Movement is very restricted. Matches must not be struck.
Voices must be hushed to a whisper. Shells bursting and machine guns
rattling bring home the grim reality of the affair. It is then more
than at any other time in an attack that a man has to "face the
spectres of the mind," and lay them if he can. Few men care for those
hours of waiting.

Of all the hours of dismay that come to a soldier there are really few
more trying to the nerves than when he is sitting in a trench under
heavy fire from high-explosive shells or bombs from trench mortars.
You can watch these bombs lobbed up into the air. You see them slowly
wobble down to earth, there to explode with a terrific detonation
that sets every nerve in your body a-jangling. You can do nothing. You
cannot retaliate in any way. You simply have to sit tight and hope
for the best. Some men joke and smile; but their mirth is forced. Some
feign stoical indifference, and sit with a paper and a pipe; but as a
rule their pipes are out and their reading a pretence. There are few
men, indeed, whose hearts are not beating faster, and whose nerves are
not on edge.

But you can't call this "the fear of death"; it is a purely physical
reaction of danger and detonation. It is not fear of death as death.
It is not fear of hurt as hurt. It is an infinitely intensified
dislike of suspense and uncertainty, sudden noise and shock. It
belongs wholly to the physical organism, and the only cure that I
know is to make an act of personal dissociation from the behaviour of
one's flesh. Your teeth may chatter and your knees quake, but as long
as the real you disapproves and derides this absurdity of the flesh,
the composite you can carry on. Closely allied to the sensation of
nameless dread caused by high explosives is that caused by gas. No one
can carry out a relief in the trenches without a certain anxiety and
dread if he knows that the enemy has gas cylinders in position and
that the wind is in the east. But this, again, is not exactly the
fear of death; but much more a physical reaction to uncertainty and
suspense combined with the threat of physical suffering.

Personally, I believe that very few men indeed fear death. The vast
majority experience a more or less violent physical shrinking from
the pain of death and wounds, especially when they are obliged to be
physically inactive, and when they have nothing else to think about.
This kind of dread is, in the case of a good many men, intensified
by darkness and suspense, and by the deafening noise and shock that
accompany the detonation of high explosives. But it cannot properly be
called the fear of death, and it is a purely physical reaction which
can be, and nearly always is, controlled by the mind.

Last of all there is the repulsion and loathing for the whole business
of war, with its bloody ruthlessness, its fiendish ingenuity, and
its insensate cruelty, that comes to a man after a battle, when the
tortured and dismembered dead lie strewn about the trench, and the
wounded groan from No-Man's-Land. But neither is that the fear of
death. It is a repulsion which breeds hot anger more often than cold
fear, reckless hatred of life more often than abject clinging to it.

The cases where any sort of fear, even for a moment, obtains the
mastery of a man are very rare. Sometimes in the case of a boy,
whose nerves are more sensitive than a man's, and whose habit of
self-control is less formed, a sudden shock will upset his mental
balance. Sometimes a very egotistical man will succumb to danger long
drawn out. The same applies to men who are very introspective. I have
seen a man of obviously low intelligence break down on the eve of an
attack. The anticipation of danger makes many men "windy," especially
officers who are responsible for other lives than their own. But even
where men are afraid it is generally not death that they fear. Their
fear is a physical and instinctive shrinking from hurt, shock, and the
unknown, which instinct obtains the mastery only through surprise, or
through the exhaustion of the mind and will, or through a man being
excessively self-centred. It is not the fear of death rationally
considered; but an irrational physical instinct which all men possess,
but which almost all can control.



VIII

IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS


II

    SCENE. _A dug-out in a wood somewhere in Flanders. Officers at
    tea._

HANCOCK. Damned glad to be out of that infernal firing trench,
anyway. (_A dull report is heard in the distance._) There goes another
torpedo! Wonder who's copt it this time!

SMITH. For Christ's sake talk about something else!

HANCOCK (_ignoring him_). Are we coming back to the same trenches,
sir?

CAPTAIN DODD. 'Spect so.

HANCOCK. At the present rate we shall last another two spells. I hate
this sort of bisnay. You go on month after month losing fellows the
whole time, and at the end of it you're exactly where you started. I
wish they'd get a move on.

WHISTON. Tired of life?

HANCOCK. If you call this life, yes! If this damned war is going on
another two years, I hope to God I don't live to see the end of it.

SMITH. If ever I get home ...!

WHISTON. Well?

SMITH. Won't I paint the town red, that's all!

WHISTON. If ever I get home ... well, I guess I'll go home. No more
razzle-dazzle for master! No, there's a little girl awaiting, and I
know she thinks of me. Shan't wait any longer.

HANCOCK (_heavily_). Don't think a chap's got any right to marry a
girl under present circs. It's ten to one she's a widow before she's
a mother.

SMITH. Oh, shut up!

CAPTAIN DODD (_gently_). To some women the kid would be just the one
thing that made life bearable.

HANCOCK (_reddening_). Sorry, sir; forgot you'd just done it. Course
you're right. Depends absolutely on the girl.

CAPTAIN DODD. Thanks. I say, Whiston, I'm going to B.H.Q. Care to come
along?

    (_They go out together._)

    SCENE. _A path through a wood_. CAPTAIN DODD _and_ WHISTON
    _walking together, followed by a_ LANCE-CORPORAL.

DODD. D'you believe in presentiments, Whiston?

WHISTON (_doubtfully_). A year ago I should have laughed at you for
asking. Now ...

DODD. More things in heaven and earth ...?

WHISTON. My rationalism is always being upset!

DODD. How exactly?

WHISTON. For instance, I simply can't believe that old John is
finished. Can you?

DODD (_quietly_). No.

WHISTON. Funny thing. As far as I'm concerned I can quite imagine
myself just snuffing out. You can put one word on my grave, if I have
one--"Napu." But as for John, no. I want something else. Something
about Death being scored off after all.

DODD. I know. "O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy
victory?"

WHISTON. Just that. Mind you, I don't think I'm afraid of Death. I
don't want to get killed. But if I saw him coming I think I could
smile, and feel that after all he wasn't getting much of a bargain.
But the idea of his getting old John sticks in my gullet. I believe in
all sorts of things for him. Resurrection and life and Heaven, and all
that.

DODD. What do you think about it, Corporal?

LANCE-CORPORAL. Same as Mr. Whiston, sir.

WHISTON. But what about presentiments?

DODD. Oh, I don't know. Funny thing; but all through this fortnight
I've been absolutely certain that I was not for it.

LANCE-CORPORAL. Beg pardon, sir, we noticed that, sir!

WHISTON. Well, it's practically over now.

DODD. I'm not so sure. I'm not in a funk, you know. It's simply that I
don't feel so sure.

WHISTON. Oh, rot, sir! I don't believe in that sort of presentiment.

DODD. What do you think, Corporal?

LANCE-CORPORAL. I think you goes when your time comes, sir. But it
won't come to-night, sir. Not after all we been through this spell,
and the spell just finished.

DODD. I believe you're right, Corporal. We shall go when our time
comes, and not before. I like that idea, you know. It means one hasn't
got to worry.

WHISTON. If it means that you go on as you've done the last fortnight,
it's a damnable doctrine, sir. You've no business to go taking
unnecessary risks simply because you've got bitten by Mohammedanism.

DODD (_thoughtfully_). You're right, too, Whiston. "Thou shalt not
tempt the Lord thy God." One shouldn't take unnecessary risks. Mind
you, I don't admit that I have. It just enables one to do one's job
with a quiet mind, that's all.


TWO DAYS LATER

    SCENE. _A billet._ HANCOCK _and_ SMITH.

HANCOCK. Damn!

SMITH. What's up? Aren't you satisfied? The brigade's bound to go back
and re-form now, and that means that we shan't be in the trenches for
a couple of months at least. We may even go where there's a pretty
girl or two. My word!

HANCOCK. Damnation!

SMITH (_genuinely astonished_). What the hell's wrong? Any one would
think you liked the trenches! Personally, I don't care if I never see
them again. England's full of nice young, bright young things crying
to get out. Let 'em all come! They can have my job and welcome!

HANCOCK (_to himself_). God! Why Dodd and Whiston? Why, why, why? Why
not me? Why just the fellows we can't afford to lose?

SMITH. Oh, for God's sake stow it! What the hell's the good of going
on like that? Of course I'm sorry for them and all that. But I don't
see that it's going to help them to make oneself miserable about it.

HANCOCK (_fiercely_). Sorry for them! It's not them I'm sorry for!
They ... they're the lucky ones! God! I suppose that's the answer!
They'd earned it!

SMITH (_satirically_). Have you turned pi? We shall have you saying
the prayers that you learnt at your mother's knee next, I suppose!
I shall have to tell the Padre, and he'll preach a sermon about it!
I should never have thought you would have been _frightened_ into
religion!

HANCOCK. Frightened! You little swine! _You_ talk about being
frightened after last night! I tell you I'd rather be lying out there
with Dodd and Whiston than be sitting here with you. Frightened into
religion!

SMITH. Oh, I suppose you're the next candidate for death or glory!
Good luck to you! I'm not competing. I'll do my job; but I'm not going
to make a fool of myself. Dodd and Whiston deserved all they got.
You're right there. You'll get what you deserve some day, I expect!
Don't look at me like that. I've said I'm sorry, and all that. But
it's the truth I'm speaking, all the same.

HANCOCK. And you'll get what you deserve too, I suppose, which is to
live in your own company till the end of your miserable existence. I
won't deprive you of your reward more than I can help, I promise you!

    (HANCOCK _goes out._)



IX

THE WISDOM OF "A STUDENT IN ARMS"


It is no good trying to fathom "things" to the bottom; they have not
got one.

Knowledge is always descriptive, and never fundamental. We can
describe the appearance and conditions of a process; but not the way
of it.

Agnosticism is a fundamental fact. It is the starting-point of the
wise man who has discovered that it needs eternity to study infinity.

Agnosticism, however, is no excuse for indolence. Because we cannot
know all, we need not therefore be totally ignorant.

The true wisdom is that in which all knowledge is subordinate to
practical aims, and blended into a working philosophy of life.

The true wisdom is that it is not what a man does, or has, or says,
that matters; but what he is.

This must be the aim of practical philosophy--to make a man be
_something_.

The world judges a man by his station, inherited or acquired. God
judges by his character. To be our best we must share God's viewpoint.

To the world death is always a tragedy; to the Christian it is never a
tragedy unless a man has been a contemptible character.

Religion is the widening of a man's horizon so as to include God.

It is in the nature of a speculation, but its returns are immediate.

True religion means betting one's life that there is a God.

Its immediate fruits are courage, stability, calm, unselfishness,
friendship, generosity, humility, and hope.

Religion is the only possible basis of optimism.

Optimism is the essential condition of progress.

One is what one believes oneself to be. If one believes oneself to be
an animal one becomes bestial; if one believes oneself spiritual one
becomes Divine.

Faith is an effective force whose measure has never yet been taken.

Man is the creature of heredity and environment. He can only rise
superior to circumstances by bringing God into environment of which he
is conscious.

The recognition of God's presence upsets the balance of a man's
environment, and means a new birth into a new life.

The faculties which perceive God increase with use like any other
perceptive faculties.

Belief in God may be an illusion; but it is an illusion that pays.

If belief in God is illusion, happy is he who is deluded! He gains
this world and thinks he will gain the next.

The disbeliever loses this world, and risks losing the next.

To be the centre of one's universe is misery. To have one's universe
centred in God is the peace that passeth understanding.

Greatness is founded on inward peace.

Energy is only effective when it springs from deep calm.

The pleasure of life lies in contrasts; the fear of contrasts is a
chain that binds most men.

In the hour of danger a man is proven. The boaster hides, and the
egotist trembles. He whose care is for others forgets to be afraid.

Men live for eating and drinking, passion and wealth. They die for
honour.

Blessed is he of whom it has been said that he so loved giving that he
even gave his own life.



X

IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS


III

    SCENE. _A trench unpleasantly near the firing line. There
    has been an hour's intense bombardment by the British, with
    suitable retaliation by the Boches. The retaliation is just
    dying down._

    CHARACTERS. ALBERT--_Round-eyed, rotund, red-cheeked,
    yellow-haired, and deliberate; in civil life probably a
    drayman._ JIM--_Small, lean, sallow, grey-eyed, with a kind
    of quiet restlessness; in civil life probably a mechanic with
    leanings towards Socialism._ POZZIE--_A thick-set, low-browed,
    impassive, silent_ _country youth, with a face the colour of
    the soil._ JINKS--_An old soldier, red, lean, wrinkled, with
    very blue eyes. His face is rough-hewn, almost grotesque
    like a gargoyle. In his eyes there is a perpetual glint of
    humour, and in the poise of his head a certain irrepressible
    jauntiness._

ALBERT (_whose eyes are more staring than ever, his cheeks pendulous
and crimson, his general air that of a partly deflated air-cushion_).
Gawd's truth!

JINKS (_wagging his head_). Well, my old sprig o' mint, what's wrong
wi' you?

ALBERT. It ain't right. (_Sententiously_) It's agin natur'. Flesh an'
blood weren't made for this sort o' think.

JIM. It ain't flesh an' blood that can't stand it. It's Mind. Look at
old Pozzie. 'E's flesh an' blood, and don't turn an 'air! For myself
I'll go potty one o' these days.

JINKS (_slapping POZZIE on the back_). You don't take no notice, do
you, old lump o' duff?

POZZIE. Oi woulden moind if I got moy rations; but a chap can't keep a
good 'eart if 'e's got an empty stummick.

JIM (_sarcastically_). You keep yer 'eart in yer stomach, don't yer?
You ain't got no mind, you ain't. Jinks was born potty, an' the rest
of us'll all go potty except you. It's you an' yer Ally Sloper's
Cavalry what'll win the war, I don't think!

ALBERT. What I wants ter know is 'ow long the bleedin' war's a-goin'
ter last. If it goes on much longer I'll be potty if I ain't a gone
'un.

JIM. There's only one way of ending it as I knows on.

ALBERT. What's that, matey?

JIM. Put all the bleedin' politicians on both sides in the bleedin'
trenches. Give 'em a week's bombardment, an' send 'em away for a week
to make peace, with a promise of a fortnight's intense at the end of
it if they've failed. They'd find a way, sure enough.

ALBERT (admiringly). Ah, that they would an' all. If old "Wait
and See" 'ad been 'ere these last four days 'e wouldn't talk about
fightin' to the last man!

JINKS. Don't talk stoopid. 'Oo began the bloomin' war? Don't yer know
what you're fightin' for? D'you want ter leave the 'Uns in France an'
Belgium an' Serbia an' all? It ain't fer us to make peace. It's fer
the 'Uns. An' if you are done in, you got to go under some day. I
ain't sure as they ain't the lucky ones what's got it over and done
with. And arter all, it's not us what's not proper. The 'Uns 'ave 'ad
two fer our one.

ALBERT. They got dug-outs as deep as 'ell, it don't touch 'em.

JINKS. (_but without conviction_). Don't talk silly.

POZZIE. Oi reckon we got to go through with it. But they didn't ought
to give a chap short rations. That's what takes the 'eart out of a
chap.



XI

LETTER TO AN ARMY CHAPLAIN[2]


_April 17, 1916._

Thank you very much for your letter of a week ago, which I should
have tried to answer before if I had had time. I am afraid that your
confidence in me as an oracle will be severely shaken when I confess
that I was once on the eve of being ordained, and that in the end
I funked it because it seemed such an awfully difficult job, and I
couldn't see my way to going through with it.

[Footnote 2: This chapter is the actual text of a letter from "A
Student in Arms," and like the most of the other chapters appeared
originally in the _Spectator_.]

However, I must try to answer your letter as best I can, and I hope
that you will not mind my speaking plainly what I think, and will
remember that I do so in no spirit of superiority, but very humbly, as
one who has funked the great work that you have had the pluck to take
up, and who has even failed in the little bit of work that he himself
did try and do. This last means that I have no business to be an
officer. It was the biggest mistake in my life, for my position in the
ranks did give me a hold on the fellows, the strength of which I have
only realized since I left.

Now then to the point. As I understand you, your difficulty is that
you feel that you must devote yourself to strengthening a very few men
who are already Churchmen, and to whom you can talk in the language
of the Church of things which you know they want to hear about, or
you must appeal to the crowd of those who are merely good fellows and
often sad scamps too, who must be caught with buns and cinemas and who
are very difficult to get any farther.

I fancy that you, like me, when you see a fine dashing young fellow,
with a touch of honesty and recklessness and wonderful mystery of
youth in his eyes, love him as a brother, and long to do something to
keep him clean, and to keep him from the sordid things to which you
and I know well enough he will descend in the long run if one cannot
put the love of clean, wholesome life into his heart. But how to get
at him? If you talk to him about his soul you disgust him, and you
feel a sort of sneaking sympathy with him too. It does not seem the
thing to make a chap self-conscious and a bit of a prig when he is
not one to start with. On the other hand, if you just keep to buns and
cinemas you never get any farther. Well, it is a big difficulty. The
only experience that I have had which counts at all is experience that
I gained while trying to run a boys' club in South London, and you
must not think me egotistical if I tell you what seems to me to have
been the secret of any power that I seem to have had over fellows.

At first I used to have a short service at the close of the club every
evening, to which most of the boys used to stay. I also had a service
on Sunday afternoon. Something of the same sort might perhaps be
possible in the Y.M.C.A. tent if there is one where you are. When I
was talking to them at these services I always used to try and make
them feel that Christ was the fulfilment of all the best things that
they admired, that He was their natural hero. I would tell them some
story of heroism and meanness contrasted, of courage and cowardice, of
noble forgiveness and vile cruelty, and so get them on the side of the
angels. Then I would try and spring it upon them that Christ was the
Lord of the heroes and the brave men and the noble men, and that He
was fighting against all that was mean and cruel and cowardly, and
that it was up to them to take their stand by His side if they wanted
to make the world a little better instead of a little worse, and I
would try to show them how in little practical ways in their homes and
at their work and in the club they could do a bit for Christ.

Well, they listened pretty well, and I think that they agreed in
a general sort of way, only 'they knew that I was a richish man in
comparison with them, and that I didn't have their difficulties to
contend with, and that all tended to undo the effect of what I had
said. And then accident gave me a sort of clue to the way to get them
to take one seriously. For some idiotic reason--I really couldn't say
just what it was--I dressed up as a tramp one day, and spent a night
in a casual ward. I didn't do it for any very worthy motive, and I
didn't mean any one to know about it; but it got round, and I suddenly
found that it had caught the imaginations of some of the fellows, and
I realized that if one was to have any power over them one must do
symbolic things to show them that one meant what one said about love
being really better than money, and all that sort of thing. So in
rather a half-hearted way I did try to do things which would show
them that I was in earnest. I took a couple of rooms in a little
cottage in a funny little bug-ridden court, instead of living at the
mission-house. I went out to Australia steerage to see why emigration
of London boys was not a success, and when war broke out I enlisted,
although I had previously held a commission. And all these little
things, though on reasonable grounds often rather indefensible,
undoubtedly had the effect of making my South London boys take me
more seriously than they did at first. Well, I am quite sure that with
Tommies, if ever you get a chance of doing something in the way of
sharing their privations and dangers when you aren't obliged to, or of
showing in practical ways humility and unselfishness, that will endear
you to them, and give you weight with them more than anything else. In
my time in the ranks I had that proved over and over again. If once
I was able to do even a small kindness for a fellow which involved a
bit of unnecessary trouble, he would never forget it, and would repay
me a thousand times over. I was a sergeant for about nine months in
England, and had one or two chances. Then I reverted to the ranks,
and for that the men could not do enough to show me kindness. (It was
my not valuing rank and comparative comfort for its own sake that
appealed to them.) Continually I have reaped a most gigantic reward of
goodwill for actions which cost very little, and which were not always
done from the motives imputed.

I am not swanking--at least, I don't mean to--but that is just my
experience, that with Tommy it is actions, and specially actions that
imply and symbolize humility, courage, unselfishness, etc., that
count ten thousand times more than the best sermons in the world. I am
afraid that all this is not much good because you are an officer, and
your course of action is very clearly marked out for you by authority.
But I do say that if ever you have a chance of showing that you are
willing to share the often hard and sometimes humiliating lot of the
men it is that which above all things will give you power with them;
just as it is the Cross of Christ, and the spitting and the mocking
and the scourging, and the degradation of His exposure in dying, that
gives Him His power far more than even the Sermon on the Mount. After
all, it is always what costs most that is best worth having, and if
you only see Tommy in his easiest moments, when he is at the Y.M.C.A.
or the club, you see him at the time when he is least impressionable
in a permanent manner.

Well, I must apologize for writing such an egotistical and intimate
sort of letter on so slight a provocation. But this that I have said
is all that my experience has taught me about influencing the Tommy.

No doubt there are other ways; but I have not been able to strike
them.

Yours very truly, DONALD HANKEY, 2nd Lieut.

P.S.--Of course in becoming a Second Lieutenant I have dished my own
influence most effectually. It has often appeared to me that among
ordinary working men humility was considered the Christian virtue _par
excellence_. Humility combined with love is so rare, I suppose, and
that is why it is marvelled at.



XII

"DON'T WORRY"


This is at present the soldier's favourite chorus at the front--

  "What's the use of worrying?
    It never was worth while!
  Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag
    And Smile, Smile, Smile!"

Not a bad chorus, either, for the trenches! You can't stop a shell
from bursting in your trench, even if Mr. Rawson can! You can't stop
the rain, or prevent a light from going up just as you are half-way
over the parapet ... so what on earth is the use of worrying? If you
can't alter things, you must accept them, and make the best of them.

Yet some men do worry, and by so doing effectually destroy their peace
of mind without doing any one any good. What is worse, it is often the
religious man who worries. I have even heard those whose care was for
the soldier's soul, deplore the fact that he did not worry! I have
heard it said that the soldier is so careless, realizes his position
so little, is so hard to touch! And, on the other hand, I have heard
the soldier say that he did not want religion, because it would make
him worry. Strange, isn't it, if Christianity means worry and anxiety,
and if it is only the heathen who is cheerful and free from care? Yet
the feeling that this is so undoubtedly exists, and it must have some
foundation. Perhaps it is one of the subjects which ought to engage
the attention of Churchmen in these days of "repentance and hope."

Of course, worrying is about as un-Christian as anything can
be. [Greek: "mê merimnate tê psychê umôn"]--"Don't worry about your
life"--is the Master's express command. In fact, the call of Christ is
a call to something very like the cheerfulness of the soldier in the
trenches. It is a call to a life of external turmoil and internal
peace. "I came not to bring peace, but a sword"; "take up your
cross and follow Me"; "ye shall be hated"; "he that would save his
life shall lose it." It is a call to take risks, to risk poverty,
unpopularity, humiliation, death. It is a call to follow the way of
the Cross. But the way of the Cross is also the way of peace, the
peace of God that passeth understanding. It is a way of freedom from
all cares, and anxieties, and fears; but not a way of escape from them.

Yet worrying is often a feature of the actual Churchman. The actual
Churchman is often a man whose conscience is an incubus. He can do
nothing without weighing motives and calculating results. It makes
him introspective to an extent that is positively morbid. He is
continually probing himself to discover whether his motives are really
pure and disinterested, continually trying to decide whether he is
"worthy" or "fit" to undertake this or that responsibility, or to
face this or that eventuality. He is full of suspicion of himself,
of self-distrust. In the trenches he is always wondering whether he
is fit to die, whether he will acquit himself worthily in a crisis,
whether he has done anything that he ought not to have done, or left
undone anything that he ought to have done. Especially if he is an
officer, his responsibility weighs on him terribly, and I have known
more than one good fellow and conscientious Churchman worry himself
into thinking that he was unfit for his responsibilities as an
officer, and ask to be relieved of them.

There must be something wrong about the Christianity of such men.
Their over-conscientiousness seems to create a wholly wrong sense
of proportion, an exaggerated sense of the significance of their own
actions and characters which is as far removed as can be from the
childlike humility which Christ taught. The truth seems to be that we
lay far too much stress on conscience, self-examination, and personal
salvation, and that we trust the Holy Spirit far too little.

If we look to the teaching of Christ, we do not find any
recommendation to meticulous self-analysis, but rather we are taught
a kind of spiritual recklessness, an unquestioning confidence in what
seem to be right impulses, and that quite regardless of results. We
are not told to be careful to spend each penny to the best advantage;
but we are told that if our money is preventing us from entering the
Kingdom, we had better give it all away. We are not told to set a high
value on our lives, and to spend them with care for the good of the
Kingdom. On the contrary, we are told to risk our lives recklessly
if we would preserve them. A sense of anxious responsibility is
discouraged. If our limbs cause us to offend, we are advised to cut
them off.

The whole teaching of the Gospels is that we have got to find freedom
and peace in trusting ourselves implicitly to the care of God. We
have got to follow what we think right quite recklessly, and leave the
issue to God; and in judging between right and wrong we are only given
two rules for our guidance. Everything which shows love for God and
love for man is right, and everything which shows personal ambition
and anxiety is wrong.

What all this means as far as the trenches are concerned is
extraordinarily clear. The Christian is advised not to be too
pushing or ambitious. He is advised to "take the lowest room." But
if he is told to move up higher, he has got to go. If he is given
responsibility, there is no question of refusing it. He has got to do
his best and leave the issue to God. If he does well, he will be given
more responsibility. But there is no need to worry. The same formula
holds good for the new sphere. Let him do his best and leave the issue
to God. If he does badly, well, if he did his best, that means that
he was not fit for the job, and he must be perfectly willing to take a
humbler job, and do his best at that.

As for personal danger, he must not think of it. If he is killed, that
is a sign that he is no longer indispensable. Perhaps he is wanted
elsewhere. The enemy can only kill the body, and the body is not the
important thing about him. Every man who goes to war must, if he is to
be happy, give his body, a living sacrifice, to God and his country.
It is no longer his. He need not worry about it. The peace of God
which passeth all understanding simply comes from not worrying about
results because they are God's business and not ours, and in trusting
implicitly all impulses that make for love of God and man. Few of us
perhaps will ever attain to a full measure of such faith; but at least
we can make sure that our "Christianity" brings us nearer to it.



XIII

IMAGINARY CONVERSATIONS


IV

_AU COIFFEUR_

    SCENE. _A barber's shop in a small French town about thirty
    miles from the front. A_ SUBALTERN _and a stout_ BOURGEOIS
    _are waiting their turn_.

BOURGEOIS. Is it that it is the mud of the trenches on the boots of
Monsieur?

SUBALTERN. Ah! but no, Monsieur, for then it would reach to my waist!

BOURGEOIS. Nevertheless, Monsieur is but recently come from the
trenches, is it not so?

SUBALTERN. Yes, I am arrived from the trenches yesterday.

BOURGEOIS. Then Monsieur has assisted at the great attack!

SUBALTERN. Oh, yes, I helped a very little bit.

BOURGEOIS. There have been immense losses, is it not so?

SUBALTERN (_vaguely_). There are always great losses when one attacks.

BOURGEOIS. Ah! but much greater than one expected--I have seen, I, the
wounded coming down the river.

SUBALTERN. I--I have always expected great losses.

BOURGEOIS. 'Tis true. There are always great losses when one attacks.
But all goes well, Monsieur, is it not so?

SUBALTERN. It is difficult to estimate the success of an attack until
after several weeks. But I think that all goes well.

BOURGEOIS. But yes, the French, they have had a great success, and
also the English. The English are wonderful. Their equipment! It is
that which astonishes me. Everything is complete. They say that
the English have saved France; but the French also, they have saved
England, is it not so, Monsieur?

SUBALTERN. But we are saving each other!

BOURGEOIS. Good! We are saving each other! Very good! But after the
war, Monsieur, England will fight against France, _hein_?

SUBALTERN. Never!

BOURGEOIS. Never?

SUBALTERN. Never in life!

BOURGEOIS. You think so?

SUBALTERN. We do not love war. We do not seek war. It is only when a
nation is so execrable that one is compelled to fight, as have been
the Germans, that we make war.

BOURGEOIS. You do not love war, eh? Before the war you had a very
small Army, about three hundred thousand, is it not so? And now you
have about three million. You do not love war, you others.

SUBALTERN. The Germans thought that they loved war, but I do not
believe that they will love it very much longer!

BOURGEOIS. No! The war will give them the stomach-ache. They will love
it no longer!

COIFFEUR. But these English, whom did they fight before? The Boers,
was it not?

SUBALTERN. Yes, but a great many English think now that it was a
_bêtise_. There was also great provocation. And nevertheless, who
knows if there was not in that affair also a German plot?

BOURGEOIS. It is very likely. Then Monsieur thinks that we are true
friends, the English and the French?

SUBALTERN. But yes, Monsieur, because we love, both of us, liberty and
peace.



XIV

A PASSING IN JUNE, 1915


PROLOGUE

    SCENE. _The parlour of an Auberge._

    PERSONS. _A stoist motherly_ MADAME, _a wrinkled fatherly_
    MONSIEUR, _and a plain but pleasant_ MA'MSELLE. _Some English
    soldiers drinking_. CECIL _is talking in French to_ MONSIEUR,
    _and they are all very friendly_.

MADAME. Alors, vous n'avez pas encore été aux tranchées?

CECIL. Mais non, Madame, peut-être ce soir.

(MONSIEUR _and_ MADAME _exchange glances_. CECIL _rises to go._)

CECIL. À Jeudi, Monsieur, Madame, Ma'mselle.

MONSIEUR, MADAME, AND MA'MSELLE (_in chorus_). À Jeudi, Monsieur.

MADAME (_earnestly_). Bon courage, Monsieur!

    (_Curtain_)


ACT I. DAWN

    CECIL _is discovered lying behind a wall of sandbags. On one
    side are the sandbags, and on the other an idyllic spring scene,
    with flowers and orchards seen in the half-light of a spring
    morning. The dawn breaks gently, and soon bullets begin to ping
    through the air, flattening themselves against the sandbags, or
    passing over_ CECIL's _head. He wakes and yawns, and then
    composes himself with his eyes open._

    _Enter Allegorical personages_: FATHER SUN, MOTHER EARTH, _and
    a chorus of_ GRASSES, POPPIES, CORNFLOWERS, RAGGED ROBINS,
    DAISIES, BEETLES, BEES, FLIES, _and insects of all kinds._

FATHER SUN.

  Wake, children, rub your eyes,
  Up and dance and sing and play,
  Not a cloud is in the skies;
  This is going to be _my_ day.
  See the tiny dew-drop glisten
  In my glancing golden ray;
  See the shadows dancing, listen
  To the lark so blithe and gay.
  Up, children, dance and play,
  This is my own festal day.

FLOWERS, BEETLES, ETC.

          Dance and sing
          In a ring,
    Naughty clouds are chased away;
          Oh what fun,
          Father Sun
  Is going to shine the whole long day.

MOTHER EARTH. That's right, children. This is the day to grow in; but
don't forget to come home to dinner; I've got such a nice dinner for
you.

    (_The children dance away delightedly, while CECIL watches
    them, fascinated._)

MOTHER EARTH. What's this absurd young man doing, sitting behind that
ugly wall? Why don't he sit under a tree if he must sit?

FATHER SUN. Oh, he's a lunatic! Must be.

    (RANDOM BULLET _jumps over the sandbags into the dug-out, and
    jibbers impotently at_ CECIL, _who glances up at him with a
    look of disgust._)

RANDOM BULLET. Ping! Ping. It's me he's afraid of. He daren't stir a
yard from this wall, or I'd tear his brains out. Ping! Ping!

MOTHER EARTH. Who are you, Monster?

RANDOM BULLET. I'm Random Bullet. I _am_ a monster, I am! Ping!

MOTHER EARTH. Who sent you, anyway?

RANDOM BULLET. Why, the idiots behind the other wall, over there!
Sometimes I jump at them, and sometimes I jump over here. I don't care
which way it is; but I like tearing their brains out, I do. I don't
care which lot it is.

MOTHER EARTH. What madness!

FATHER SUN (_indignantly_). On my day too!

RANDOM BULLET. Mad! I should think they were! Never mind, they give me
some fun! Ping! So long, I'm off, going to jump at the other fellows,
back in a second if you like to wait.

    (RANDOM BULLET _jumps out of sight, and_ MOTHER EARTH _and_
    FATHER SUN _move disgustedly away._)

CECIL (_getting up_). Mad! By God, we are mad! Curse the war! Curse
the fools who started it! Why did I ever come out here? What a way to
spend a morning in June!

    (_Curtain._)


ACT II. MIDDAY

    SCENE. _The same._ CECIL _as before, but sweltering in the
    sun. Enter the_ SPIRIT OF THIRST.

THIRST. Oh for a drink! Water, anything! I could drink a bath full.
What a place to spend a June day in! When one thinks of all the drinks
one might be having, it is really infuriating. Gad! The very thought
of 'em makes me feel quite poetic! Think of the great barrels of still
cider in cool Devonshire cellars! Think of the sour refreshing wine
we used to get in Italy! And the iced cocktails of Colombo! And Pimm's
No. 1 in the City. Anywhere but here it's a pleasure to be a Thirst;
but here! Good Lord, it will send me off my head. How would a bath
go now, old chap? By God, don't you wish you were back in your canoe,
drawn up among the rushes near Islip, and you just going to plunge
into the cool waters of the Char? Or think of that day you bathed in
the deep still pool at the foot of the Tamarin Falls, with the water
crashing down above you, into the deep shady chasm. Even a dip in the
sea at Mount Lavinia wouldn't be bad now,--or, better still, a dive
into Como from a rowboat; you remember that hot summer we went to
Como? I'll tell you another thing that wouldn't go down badly either.
Do you remember a great bowl of strawberries and cream with a huge
ice in it, that you had the day before you left school, after that hot
bike ride to Leamington? Not bad, was it?

CECIL (_fiercely_). Shut up, you beast! Oh, curse this idiotic war!
Why are we such fools?

    (_Curtain._)


ACT III. LATE AFTERNOON

    SCENE. _As before._ CECIL _is discovered reading a letter from
    home._

CECIL (_to himself_). Tom dead. Good Lord! What times we have had
together! Where are all the good fellows I used to know? Half of them
dead, and the rest condemned to die! No more yachting on the broads!
No more convivial evenings at the Troc.! No more long nights spinning
yarns in Tom's old rooms in the Temple! Curse this blasted war that
robs one of everything worth having, that dulls every sense of decency
and kills all feeling for beauty, destroys the joy of life, and
mutilates one's dearest friends. Curse it!

    (_A sound as of an express train is heard, followed by the
    roar of an explosion, while a dense cloud of smoke and dust
    rises immediately in view of the trench._)

PORTENTOUS VOICE. Prepare to face eternity!

CECIL (_clenching his fists_). Beast, loathsome beast! Don't think I
am afraid of you.

    (_The sounds are repeated as a second shell drops, rather
    nearer. A Shadow appears round the dug-out, and hesitates._)

CECIL (_to the Shadow_). Who is that? Is that the Shadow of Fear?

A THIN, QUAVERING VOICE. Yes, shall I come in?

CECIL (_furiously_). Out of my sight, vile, cringing wretch! Not even
your shadow will I tolerate in my presence!

    (_A third shell bursts nearer still._)

PORTENTOUS VOICE (_thunderously_). Set not your affections on things
below.

    (CECIL _pauses in a listening attitude_).

CECIL (_more quietly, and with a new look in his eyes_). I think I
have forgotten something,--something rather important.

    (_Enter the twin Spirits of_ HONOUR _and_ DUTY, _Spirits of a
    very noble and courtly mien._)

CECIL (_simply and humbly_). Gentlemen, to my sorrow and loss I had
forgotten you. You are doubly welcome.

THE SPIRIT OF DUTY. Young sir, we thank you. After all, it is but
right that in this hour of danger and dismay we should be with you.

THE SPIRIT OF HONOUR. I am so old a friend of you and yours, Cecil,
that you may surely trust me. I was your father's friend. Side by
side we stood in every crisis of his varied life. Together faced the
Dervish rush at Abu Klea, and afterwards in India took our part
in many a desperate unnamed frontier tussle. I helped him woo your
mother, spoke for him when he put up for Parliament, advised him when
he visited the city. In fact, I was his companion all through life,
and I stood beside his bed at death.

THE SPIRIT OF DUTY. I too may claim to have been as much your father's
friend as was my brother. Indeed, where one is, the other is never far
away. We do agree most wonderfully, and since our birth, no quarrel
has ever disturbed the harmony of our ways.

CECIL. Gentlemen, you have recalled me to myself. I had forgotten that
I was no more a child. I wanted to dance in the sun with the flowers,
and sing with the birds, to swim in the pool with yonder newt, and
lie down to dry in the long meadow grass among the poppies. Because I
might not do this and other things as fond and foolish, I was petulant
and peevish, like a spoilt child. I look to you, gentlemen, to help me
to be a man, and play a man's part in the world.

HONOUR. We will remain at hand, call us when you need us, we shall not
fail you.

    (_The bombardment increases in intensity. Shrapnel bursts
    overhead. Shells with increasing rapidity and accuracy
    explode both short and over the trench. The hail of bullets is
    continuous. An N.C.O. rushes by shouting "Stand to"; men rush
    from the dug-outs and seize their rifles_; CECIL, _like the
    others, grasps his rifle and sees that it is fully loaded._)

    (_Curtain._)


ACT IV. SUNSET

    SCENE. _The same, but the wall of sand-bags_ _bags is broken
    in many places. The dead lie half-buried beneath them._ CECIL
    _lies, badly wounded, against a gap in the wall, his rifle
    by his side._ HONOUR _and_ DUTY _kneel beside him tenderly.
    The last rays of the sun light up his painful smile._ THIRST
    _stands gloomily over him, and the wild flowers are peeping
    at him with sleepy eyes through the gap, while_ MOTHER EARTH
    _calls to them to go to bed._ FATHER SUN _leans sadly over the
    broken parapet._

CECIL (_slowly and with difficulty_). Honour, Duty, I thank you. You
did not fail me.

HONOUR. You played the man, Cecil, as your father did before you.

DUTY. Your example it was that steadied your comrades, and kept craven
fear at a distance. You saved the trench.

HONOUR. This is the beauty of manhood, to die for a good cause. There
is no fairer thing in all God's world.

CECIL. I thank you. Good-night, Sun; good-night, Mother Earth. Think
kindly of me. I don't think I was mad after all.

SUN. Good-night, brave lad. (_To_ MOTHER EARTH) I can hardly bear to
look on so sad a sight.

CECIL. Good-night, Ragged Robins; good-night, Poppies. You have
played your game, and I mine. Only they are different because we are
different.

CHORUS OF FLOWERS. Good-night, dear Cecil. We are so very sorry that
you are hurt.

    (_Enter the_ MASTER, _flowers shyly following him._ HONOUR
    _and_ DUTY _raise_ CECIL _gently to a standing position._)

THE MASTER (_extending his arms with a loving smile_). "Well done,
good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

    (CECIL, _with a look of wonder and joy, is borne forward._)

    (_Curtain._)



XV

MY HOME AND SCHOOL[3]

A FRAGMENT OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY

I

MY HOME

What is one to say of home? It is difficult to know. I find that
biographers are particular about the date of birth, the exact address
of the babe, the social position and ancestry of the parent. I suppose
that it is all that they can learn. But as an autobiographer I want
to do something better; to give a picture of the home where, as I
can now see, ideals, tastes, prejudices and habits were formed which
have persisted through all the internal revolutions that have since
upheaved my being.

[Footnote 3: "A Student" left a great deal of manuscript, among which
this fragment of autobiography is not the least interesting.]

I try to form the picture in my mind, and a crowd of detail rushes
in which completely destroys its simplicity and harmony. How hard it
is to judge, even at this distance, what are the salient features.
I must try, but I know that from the point of view of psychological
development I may easily miss out the very factors which were really
most important.

I remember a big house, in a row of other big houses, in a side street
leading from the East Cliff at Brighton right up to the edge of the
bare rolling downs. It was exactly like almost every other house
in that part of Brighton--stucco fronted, with four stories and a
basement, three windows in front on each of the upper stories, and two
windows and a door on the ground floor and basement. At the back was
a small garden, with flower beds surrounding a square of gravel, and
a tricycle house in one corner. There was a back door in this garden,
which gave on to a street of cottages. This back door was a point of
strategic importance.

But I need not describe the house in detail. It was exactly like
thousands of other houses built in the beginning of the nineteenth
century. High, respectable, ugly and rather inconvenient, with many
stairs, two or three big rooms, a lot of small ones and no bathroom.
It was essentially a family house, intended for people of moderate
means and large families. Nowadays they build houses which are
prettier, and have bathrooms; but they are not meant for large
families.

We were a large family, and a fairly noisy one. Moreover, we were
singularly self-sufficing. We hadn't many friends, we didn't entertain
much, we had dinner in the middle of the day, and supper in the
evening.

There was my father who was a recluse, my mother who was essentially
our mother, the two girls and four boys. I was an afterthought, being
seven years younger than my next brother, who for seven years had
been called B. (for baby), and couldn't escape from it even after my
appearance.

In addition to these, B. and I both had inseparable friends, who lived
within a stone's throw. Ronnie was my _alter ego_ till I was fourteen:
so much so that I had no other friend. Even now, though our ways
have kept us apart, and our interests and opinions are fundamentally
different, we can sit in each other's rooms with perfect content. We
know too much of each other for it to be possible to pretend to be
what we are not. We sit and are ourselves, naked and unashamed so to
speak, and it is very restful.

Pictures float before my mind. Let me select a few. I see a rather
fat, stolid little boy in a big airy nursery at the top of the house,
sitting in the middle of the floor playing with bricks. Outside it is
gusty and wet, and the small boy hopes that he will be allowed to stay
in all the afternoon, and play with bricks. But that is not to be. A
small thin man, with gentle grey eyes, short curly beard, an old black
greatcoat and a black square felt hat, comes in. The child must have
some air. The child is resentful, but resigned, is wrapped up well,
put in his pram and wheeled up and down the Madeira Road.

"Pa" didn't appear very much except on some such errand; but "Ma" was
in and out all the time. "Ma" was everything, the only woman who has
ever had my whole love, my whole trust and has made my heart ache with
the desire to show my love.

A later picture. The boy is bigger, and not so fat. He no longer has
a nurse. He has vacated the nursery, which is now tenanted by his big
sisters. He has a little room all his own: a very small room, looking
west. The south-west gales beat upon the window in the winter, and not
so far away is the roar of the sea. It is good to curl up in a nice
warm little bed, and listen to the howling of the wind and the waves.

In the morning come lessons from his eldest sister G. The schoolroom
has rings and a trapeze, a bookshelf full of boys' books, and
cupboards full of stone bricks, cannon and soldiers. The boy's mind
is set on bricks and soldiers. Lessons and walks with "Ma" and his
sisters or Ronnie and his nurse down the town are a nuisance. They
interfere with the building of cathedrals and the settling of the
destinies of nations by the arbitrament of war.

It was a stolid, placid boy, intensely wrapt up in his cathedrals and
his generals, intensely devoted to "Ma," and regarding all else as
rather a nuisance. Ronnie he liked. He liked going to tea with him,
and going walks with him and his nurse; but they didn't have much
in common except cricket. Ronnie had big soldiers which could not be
knocked down by cannon balls, and which couldn't make history because
they were few in number, and nearly all English. Mine were of every
European power, and many Asiatic ones. They were diminutive and
numerous, could take shelter in a forest of pine cones and were
admirably suited to be mown down at the cannon's mouth. The King of
England was a person with a fine figure. He had one leg and one arm,
and the plume of his dragoon's helmet was shorn off; but his slight,
erect figure still looked noble on a stately white palfrey. The French
armies were usually commanded by Marshal Petit, a gay fellow with
his full complement of limbs, who sat a horse well. He had a younger
brother almost equally distinguished. I have no recollection of a King
of France. He must have been a poor fellow. The Sultan of Turkey,
the Khedive, and Li Hung Chang still live in my memory as persons of
distinction; but I have no personal recollection of the Tsar, or the
Emperors of Germany or Austria, or of the King of Italy, though I know
they existed.

Into this placid existence turmoil would enter three times a year. The
elder brothers, Hugh, Tommy and B., would come home for the holidays
from Sandhurst and Rugby, and R. would appear, and become almost one
of the family. Then would occur troublous times, with a few advantages
and many disadvantages.

"Tommy" was a curiously solitary youth as I remember him, who played
the 'cello with great perseverance and considerable success. At
soldiers he was something of a genius, though his games were of an
intricacy which failed to commend itself to me altogether. In his
great soldier days he not only made history, but wrote it--a height to
which I never attained.

In the holidays, cricket in the back garden became a great feature,
and Tommy was a demon bowler. I fancy, too, that the very elaborate
but highly satisfactory form of the game must have originated with
him. In the back garden we not merely played cricket, but made
history--cricket history. Two county sides were written out, and
we batted alternately for the various cricketers, doing our best
to imitate their styles. We bowled also in a rough imitation of the
styles of the county bowlers whom we represented. This arrangement
secured us against personal rivalry, kept up a tremendous interest in
first-class cricket and enabled matches to continue, if necessary,
for weeks at a time. It encouraged, too, a fair, impersonal and
unprejudiced view of outside events.

In cricket, war and music we undoubtedly benefited by the holidays,
especially in the summer, when we used to go to the country, often
occupying a school-house with gym, cricket nets and a fair-sized
garden. Ecclesiastical architecture suffered, however....

Hugh was a great and glorious person, a towering beneficent despot
when he did appear.... As for me I adored him with whole-hearted
hero-worship. He was the "protector of the poor," who kept the rest of
us in order. He was a magnificent person who revolutionized the art
of war by the introduction of explosives. He was a tremendous walker,
and first taught me to love great tramps over the downs, to sniff
appreciatively the glorious air and to love their bare, storm-swept
outlines. Hugh stood for all that is wholesome, strenuous, out of
doors in my life. Without him I should have been a mere sedentary.
Among other things he was an enthusiastic boxer and gymnast. For these
pursuits I sturdily feigned enthusiasm and suppressed timidity.

A few more pictures. First, Sunday morning. Gertrude goes off to
Sunday School. She likes teaching and bossing. Hilda and Hugh, who
are greater pals than brother and sister can often be, go off to St.
James', where there will be good music and an interesting sermon.
Tommy goes to St. Mark's, a good Protestant place, or to the beach,
where curious and recondite doctrines are weekly disputed. B. goes to
St. George's, protesting. There is plenty of room for his hat, there
is a congenially aggressive spirit against Rome and it slightly
irritates Ma. Pa is not up yet. Ma and I go to All Souls', because it
is the nearest poor church, and Ma finds it easier to worship where
there are no pew rents, and the seats are uncushioned, and there are
few rich people. I am ever loyal to Ma.

I often wonder whether the reason why my family are all Churchgoers
now is not that at that time we could choose our church.

The next picture is Sunday night. "Pa" and I, and perhaps some of
the other boys, set out for St. Paul's, at the other end of the town.
Then, after the service, follows an immense walk all through the slums
of the town. We talk of Australia, where Pa once had a sheep run; of
theology, of the past and the future. This weekly walk is something of
a privilege, and rather solemn. It makes me feel older.

It is spring. I am at Rugby, and in the "San" with ophthalmia. The
South African war is raging. Hugh is there. I am told that Hugh is
dead. He has been shot in a glorious but futile charge at Paardeberg.
I can't realize it. I am an object of interest, of envy almost, to the
whole school. The flag is half-mast because my brother is dead. Every
one is kind, touched. I put on an air as of a martyr.

I get a heartbroken letter from my mother. Will I come home? Or hadn't
I better go to Uncle Jack's? If I go home we shall make each other
worse. It is better for me than for Maurice, who is with the fleet in
the Mediterranean with no one to comfort him.

Ma has had a great shock. She feels it desperately. She thinks all
the others feel it as much. Except Hilda, we don't. There is a huge
piece taken out of Ma's life and Hilda's life, because they were so
unselfishly devoted to Hugh. Pa, also, has lost much, but he is a
philosopher.

I go to Uncle Jack's and shoot rabbits. The holidays come and go.
Tommy is at Oxford; I am at Rugby. Pa is immersed in theological
speculation about the next world; B. is in the Mediterranean. Ma sends
Gertrude and Hilda away for a long change. They go, and come back.
Something about Ma frightens them. She and Pa come near Rugby and stay
with Uncle Jack. The holidays come. I learn that for the first time
for about twenty years Ma is to go away without Pa. I am to meet her
at Hereford, and we are to go to Wales. Ma forgets things. She is more
loving than ever, but her memory is going. We go to communion together
in the little village church.

A few weeks later. We are back in Brighton. An Australian uncle and
family are staying with us. Ma is ill in bed. I get up at 6 A.M.,
tramp over the downs and in a place I wot of, some five miles away,
I gather heather for Ma. I run. I get back by 8.30. I find my uncle
and cousins getting into a cab. Some one says, "How lovely! Are these
for me?" I grip them in despair. They are for Ma. "Quite right," says
someone. A day or two later my heather was placed, still blooming, on
Ma's grave.

I was sixteen then. Six years later I return home from abroad. Within
a few weeks of my return I am sitting in Pa's room in agony, listening
to him fight for breath. The fight at last weakens. I hear him
whisper, "Help! help!" I set my teeth. The others come in. There
is silence. All is over. I am given my father's ring. It is my most
treasured possession.

Henceforth all I have left of home is Hilda, for she alone is
unmarried. Ever since my mother's death she has been my confidante.
As far as was possible she has taken Ma's place in my life, and I have
taken Hugh's place in hers. We are substitutes. For that reason as
we get older we get to know each other better, and to know better how
much we can give to each other. There is more criticism between us
than there would have been between Ma and me, and Hilda and Hugh. But
it has its advantages. We live apart, but we correspond weekly, and
holiday together. It is all that is left of home, and it is infinitely
precious.

Now that I have written these pages I can see as I have never seen
before how much the child was father of the man. Since those home days
I have had more variety of experience perhaps than falls to the lot
of most men, and I would almost say more varied and more epoch-making
friendships. Yet in these pages that I have written I seem to see all
the essential and salient features of my character already mirrored
and formed.

I am still by nature lethargic and placid. I could still occupy myself
contentedly With bricks and soldiers, art and history, and trouble
no one. But there is still that other element, instilled by Hugh--a
love of the open air, of struggle with the elements, in lonely desert
places.

I have never lost the craving for true religion, which induced my
mother to go to a poor church to worship, and to visit the drunken
and helpless in their slums. I have never lost the desire for her
singleness of mind, and simple loyalty to Christ and His Church. At
the same time I have never lost my father's inquiring spirit, broad
view, love of doctrine tempered by reason and founded on history and
tested by human experience. When these two beloved ones passed from
this world I learnt the meaning of the text, "Where your treasure is,
there will your heart be also." My heart has never been wholly in this
world.

So, too, I have always been a man of few friends. Ronnie has had many
successors; but seldom more than one at a time. I have never cared
much for society. My father and mother neither of them attached much
importance to conventions, or to the fictitious values which society
puts on clothes or money or position. I have always looked rather
for some one to admire, some one whose ideals and personality were
congenial, whatever their position or occupation. I have also, on the
whole, always preferred comfort to show, simple to elaborate living.
This I trace to the simple comfort and naturalness of my old home.


II

SCHOOL

I went to a day school kept by Ronnie's father when I was nine.
At least, it was a day school for me; but nearly all the boys
were boarders. I worked fairly hard, and got prizes. I was fairly
good at cricket, and not much good at football. I had only one
friend--Ronnie--and about two enemies, both of whom were day boys, and
whom I should have liked to have fought if I had dared. My memories
of the school are few. I best remember leaving home, and going
back, and also playing cricket. Ronnie's father lives as a just and
straightforward gentleman, who never caned a boy except for what was
mean or dirty, and whom we all loved and respected. But then I have
known and loved him and his wife all my life. If our house was a
second home to Ronnie, theirs has always been a second home to me.

There was one master whom I liked, and who perhaps did something to
develop my character. He was fond of poetry and history, and from him
I learnt--an easy lesson for me--to love history; but what is more, he
first gave me a glimmering idea, which was to develop long after, that
the classics are literature, and not torture.

I left there to go to Rugby.

Never did a boy enter Rugby with better chances. The memory of
my three brothers still lived in the house. They had all achieved
distinction in games, and been leading prefects (or sixths as they
are called at Rugby) in the house. Many masters remembered them for
good, particularly Jacky, the housemaster, who had loved them all,
especially Hugh.

In addition to this, one of the leading fellows in the house, who was
afterwards to be captain of the school fifteen and cricket eleven,
lieutenant in the corps, and one of the racquet pair, had been at my
private school. I shared a study with another fellow who had been at
my private school. Two boys accompanied me from there, one of whom was
my next best friend to Ronnie. His parents were in India, and he had
spent some of his holidays with Ronnie and me.

But though I loved Rugby and was happy there, I can't say I was a
success. I made few friends, who have since, with one exception,
drifted out of my life. I was too timid to enjoy Rugger. I never
achieved distinction at cricket. I got into the sixth my last term,
but hadn't the force of character to enjoy the prefectural powers
which that fact conferred upon me. The fact is that I left when I was
16, and it is between 16 and 18 that the full enjoyment of school life
comes and boys reap the harvest they have sown. Had I stayed another
year I should have belonged to the leading generation, strengthened
my friendships and developed what was latent in my character. As it
was, I left at an unfortunate age. I was pushed into the sixth a year
before my contemporaries. My friendships were only half formed, and
I had only just begun to feel strength of body and mind developing in
me.

As a junior I was too conscientious, and not light-hearted enough.
I hardly had any adventures at Rugby, because I had an incurable
instinct for keeping rules. I worked hard at mathematics and French,
and my report generally read, "Good ability. Might exert himself
more." At classics and chemistry I did as little work as possible,
and any report generally read, "Hard-working but not bright."

On the whole I think I was pretty happy at Rugby; but I never look
back to my school days as the happiest part of my life. I have had
many happier times since. But still, my house was a good one. Jacky,
the housemaster, was wonderfully kind and wise. He hardly ever
interfered with the affairs of the house, but left it all--in
appearance--to the "Sixths." Actually, nothing escaped him. The tone
of the house was on the whole extraordinarily clean and wholesome,
and the fellows who had dirty minds were a small minority, and easily
avoided. At all events, very little of that sort of thing reached me.

At sixteen and a half I went to the Royal Military Academy at
Woolwich, commonly known as "the Shop." There I spent the two
most miserable years of my life, and made the second of my great
friendships. In these days the Shop was still a pretty rough place,
and at the moment it was unusually full. I think there were over 300
fellows there altogether, and there were about 70 in my term. My first
experience was unfortunate. I was interviewing the Adjutant, a keen
sportsman and a bit of a tartar. He eyed me unfavourably, asked what
games I could play, and when I replied that I had no great proficiency
in any he commented, "Humph, a good-for-nothing!" and dismissed me.

I am by nature slow, stolid and clumsy. I was bad at being "smart";
I was slow and clumsy at drill; map making and geometrical drawing
were physical impossibilities to me; I was incredibly slow and stupid
at machinery, mechanism and electricity. The only subject which
interested me was military history. In my first term I dropped from
about forty-fourth to about seventieth in my class, and I kept near
the bottom until my fourth term, when I failed in my electricity
exam., and had to stay one term more. In the same term I received a
prize for the best essay on the lessons of the South African War.

Oh, the misery of those terms at Woolwich! I hated the work, the
drill, the gym and even the riding school. I hated the officers, and
above all I hated the spirit of the place. As far as I remember,
the one eternal topic of conversation and subject of "wit" was the
sexual relation. Of course the boys had never been taught sensibly
anything about it. Consequently the place was continually circulated
with filthy books, pictures, stories, etc. When I went there I was
extraordinarily innocent, and devoid of curiosity. I had been recently
the more disposed to purity through the death of my mother. At
Woolwich I remained extraordinarily innocent and uncurious, letting
the poisonous stream flow continually by me, shrinking from its
stench, and finding more and more relief in my own company. I must
have been a very unpleasant person at that time.

One friend I had. He was a small, compact, keen, and capable little
Rugbian named F----. He was like me in that he had recently lost his
parents, and was interested in religion and philosophy in a boyish
way. Unlike me he rather enjoyed Woolwich. He had a lot of friends,
was keen on riding and on a good deal of the work, and generally
speaking plunged into life, taking the rough with the smooth, and
both in good part. Although we have drifted far apart in ideals and
sympathies, and though misunderstanding has come in and destroyed our
friendship, I shall never cease to be grateful for all that F----
did for me in those days. He routed me out when I was in the blues,
laughed at me, cheered me up and made me look at life with new eyes.
Moreover he did this, as I know, in defiance of the set with whom he
was friendly, who despised me for a milksop, and were at no pains to
conceal the fact. But for F----, my life at the Shop would have been
intolerable.

Besides him, I had a few associates, boys with whom I naturally
associated for the simple reason that they, too, were left out of the
main current of the life of the place. But they were not particularly
congenial. One or two were hard workers. One was a great slacker, and
more timid, physically and morally, than even I. He was a boy with a
fatal facility for doing useless things moderately well, especially in
the musical line. He was even more frightened of gym and horses than
I was, and unlike me was not ashamed to show it. If the Shop was
purgatory to me, it must have been hell to him.

My happiest times were week-ends spent at home. I used to arrive on
Saturday evening and leave on Sunday evening. About now I began to
get to know my father much better, and to develop my theological bent
under his advice. In my disillusionment as to my capacity for military
life I began to wish I had chosen the clerical profession. I think my
father had the shrewdness to see that failure in one profession was
not necessarily the sign of a "call" in another direction. Anyway, he
did not discourage me; but spoke of five years in the Army as the best
training for a parson.

I remember avowing my intention of becoming a parson to one of my more
friendly acquaintances at the Shop, and he replied that I wouldn't set
the Thames on fire, because I had such a monotonous voice.

In spite of seeking relief from my uncongenial surroundings in
religion and theology, I did not join myself to any one else. There
was a so-called "Pi Squad," or Bible class, held weekly, but I only
went once, and didn't like it. I was always peculiarly sensitive about
priggishness in those who professed themselves to be religious openly,
and generally thought I detected priggishness in any "Bible circle"
or similar institution that I came across. I think my theology
mainly consisted in speculations about the future state--I remember
I emphatically declined to believe in hell--and my religion consisted
mainly in fairly regular attendance at Matins and Communion.

Another effect of the intensity with which I hated my surroundings was
that I read a lot of good novels--George Eliot, the Brontës, Scott,
Dickens, Jane Austen, Thackeray, Besant, etc. A book which I read
over and over again was Arthur Benson's _Hill of Trouble, and other
Stories_. Those legends, with their imaginative setting, charm of
language and beautiful religious ideas were more restful to my unquiet
spirit than anything else I read.

The actual conditions of life at the Shop were pretty barbaric. The
aim was to make it as much like barracks as possible. Each term was
housed in a different side of the square of buildings which form the
Academy, and the fourth term were spread among the houses of the other
terms as corporals. My first term I shared a room with three other
fellows. I think it was the ugliest room I have ever lived in, without
exception. It had high whitewashed brick walls. In each corner was
a bed which folded up against the wall in the day time, and was
concealed by a square of print curtains. There were a deal table, four
windsor chairs, a shelf with four basins, and a cupboard with four
lockers. All the woodwork was painted khaki. The contrast with the
little study at Rugby, with its diamond-paned window, its matchboard
panelling surmounted by a paper of one's own choosing, its ledge
for photos and ornaments ("bim ledge" so called), its eggshell blue
cupboards, baize curtains and window box, was striking.

It used to be the custom to go to and from the bathroom attired in a
sponge, in connexion with which an amusing incident once happened.

A cadet in his second year was on the bathroom landing, when he
perceived that the mother and sisters of another cadet were coming
upstairs. From sounds in the bathroom he realized that they would
meet a naked corporal just as they reached the landing. The door of
the bathroom opened outwards, and with admirable presence of mind
he rushed back, and putting his back against the door and his feet
against the wall, imprisoned the corporal. The corporal, in the
approved Shop version of Billingsgate, began to blaspheme at the top
of his voice, so when the ladies reached the top of the stairs they
saw a vision of a cadet with his feet to the wall and his back to a
door singing at the top of his voice to drown a Commotion within!

On another occasion in my second year, when I was sharing a room
with one other fellow, I had a sister to tea. On arriving in my room
I found that my stablemate had been playing hockey, and was at the
moment in the bathroom, having thoughtlessly left all his clothes in
the room--mostly on the floor.

On the last day of my first term the corporals and officers were all
absent at a farewell dinner to the former, and we received information
that the third term were going to raid our house, with a view to
"toshing" us in a cold bath. We therefore prepared for action. Every
receptacle which would hold water was taken to the upper landing,
full. Then all the chairs in the house were roped together, and
placed on the stairs as an obstacle. The defenders then took up their
position at the windows and at the top of the stairs. In due course
the enemy's forces arrived, and stormed the stairs, under a heavy fire
of water. The obstacle was at length destroyed, and a solid phalanx
of wet bodies swarmed up the stairs. We formed a similar phalanx
and charged to meet them. I happened to be first, and much to my
discomfiture the enemy's phalanx parted in the middle, and I was
rapidly passed down the stairs--a prisoner! Fortunately at the bottom
I found a relieving party from the next house, making a diversion on
the enemy's rear. With great valour we dragged down a foe, and toshed
him in the bath that had been made ready for us. "The tosher toshed!"

The next day we surveyed the damage. All the chairs and banisters were
broken, the whitewash was rubbed off the bricks by wet shoulders
and nearly all the basins were broken. That day was the day of Lord
Roberts's half-yearly inspection!

There was not such another battle until my third term, when we
were the aggressors. This time the damage was even greater, for the
defenders let down tables across the stairs as an obstacle, and we
battered our way through with scaffolding poles. There were some
casualties that day, owing to an indiscriminate use of mop handles.

On the day of Lord Roberts's inspection we had to change from parade
dress to gym dress, and it was during the change that Lord Roberts
inspected our quarters. He went into one room and found a fellow just
half-way through his change--with nothing at all on! The room was
called to attention, and with great presence of mind the boy dashed
into the bed curtains and stood to attention there, while Lord Roberts
had an animated conversation with him!

There were jolly moments in the life at the Shop. On Saturdays, after
dinner, the unfortunates who had not got away for the week-end used to
have "stodges" after dinner. Having put away a substantial dinner, we
changed into flannels, and used to crowd into some one's room, and eat
muffins and smoke cigars. I remember one night there were eighteen of
us in one small room.

In order to go away for a week-end one had to obtain (1) an
invitation, (2) permission from parent or guardian to accept the
invitation. One week my brother, who was working at the Admiralty,
offered his flat to myself and F----, as he was going to Brighton
himself. Fleming wrote to his guardian--a Scotsman--for permission
to stay with Captain Hankey. The guardian wrote back for more
information. He saw by the Army List that Captain Hankey existed, but
who were the Hankeys? etc., etc. F---- wrote back a furious letter,
saying that he expected to have his friends accepted without question,
and received the permission. We went. The awkward thing was that
Captain Hankey was not there, and we shuddered to think of the rage of
F----'s guardian if he should find out. Worse still, the guardian was
supposed to be staying at the Oriental Club in Hanover Square, and my
brother's flat was in Oxford Street! However, we didn't meet.

F---- and I neither of us knew London, and had the time of our lives.
We dined at Frascati's--a palace of splendour in our eyes--and went to
His Majesty's to see Beerbohm Tree in Ulysses. When it came to Hades,
we held each other's hands! On Sunday we went to St. Peter's, Vere
Street, but were so furious at being kept waiting for pew holders
long after service had commenced, that we went on to the Audley Street
Chapel, a most queer little place. It was full of monuments to the
dependents of peers, in which the peers figured very largely and
the dependents fared humbly--the epitome of flunkeydom. Among these
tablets was one inscribed--

  "To John Wilkes,
  Friend of Liberty."

Truly refreshing!

We finished the day at some old friends of mine, and voted the
week-end a huge success.

When I went to Woolwich I was just on the verge of getting keen
on games and beginning to feel self-confident, and to enjoy the
fellowship of my comrades. Woolwich nipped this in the bud. I left
with no self-confidence, having renounced games, and with a sense
of solitariness among my comrades. I was a misanthrope, and the
unhappiest sort of egotist--the kind that dislikes himself. To say
the truth, too, I was then, and always have been, a bit of a funk,
physically, which didn't make me happier. On the other hand, I was an
omnivorous reader of everything which did not concern my profession,
and a dabbler in military history.

I have sometimes thought that I was unconsciously a bit of a hero at
Woolwich, standing out for purity and religion in an atmosphere of
filth and blasphemy. I have come to the conclusion, however, that
there was nothing in this. As to the general atmosphere, there is
no doubt that it was singularly pernicious; even the officers and
instructors contributed their quota of filthy jokes, and there was no
religious instruction or influence at all except the parade service at
the garrison church on Sunday, if one happened not to be on leave. But
as to my heroism I am reluctantly compelled to be sceptical. I went
as far as I felt my inclination, and stopped after a time because
instinct was too strong the other way.

As I have said before, I have always had an insurmountable instinct
for keeping rules. At school I could never bring myself to transgress,
although I knew that transgression was the road to adventure. So
at the Shop, however much I may have wished to be in the swim, my
instinct for the moral and religious code of home was too strong for
me. It required no self-control to prevent myself from slipping into
blasphemy and filth. On the contrary, in order to do so I should have
had to violate my strongest instincts, and exercised a will to evil
much stronger than any will power that I possessed at that time. If,
when I left Woolwich, I was comparatively pure, it was because nature
did not allow me to be anything else.

To say the truth, I have never felt the sway of passions to anything
like the same extent as most men seem to. I have never cared for the
society of women for its sexual attraction. Consequently all my women
friends have been just the same to me as my men friends--friends whom
I could talk to about the things that interested me.

I don't boast of this, I only state the fact. I am not proud of it
because I know that some passion is necessary to make heroes and even
saints.



SOME NOTES ON THE FRAGMENT OF AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY "HILDA"


I have before me as I write a pencil sketch, limned with considerable
care, of a rather disagreeable looking young man, and beneath it is
written--

  "D.W.A.H., by Himself."

It is a profile. The eye has almost disappeared under the brow, the
mouth is tightly closed to a degree that is quite unpleasant and there
is a deliberate exaggeration of a slight defect he actually had--a
tendency for the lower jaw to protrude a little. This little defect
hardly any of his friends seem to have noticed, for most of them
execrate it as a libel in the otherwise admittedly beautiful
photograph at the beginning of this volume. The expression in the
sketch is above all--dubious.

So did Donald see himself.

For the rest of us no doubt the lessons Mr. Haselden has for us in his
caricatures, "ourselves as we see ourselves" and "as others see us,"
are necessary. But not for Donald. The drawing is pasted into an album
which contains mainly Oxford College groups, and there is a certain
unpleasant resemblance between it and his full face presentment in one
of the groups--in which he has "the group expression" rather badly.
Assuming it to have been drawn at Oxford, or not very long after he
left, I think it must belong very nearly to a time when he was going
off abroad on one of his long trips, and I had the sympathy of a
dear old lady friend of ours on having to part with him. I remember
replying, "Yes, it always seems as if peace and happiness, truth and
justice, religion and piety went with him when he goes!" She laughed
a good deal, and then said, seriously, repeating over to herself the
stately mounting sixteenth century phrases, "But it's quite true, you
know!" I hardly think, though, that I should have said it of the young
man in the sketch!

I am now going to make a comment or two on my brother's word-pictures
as I should if he were by my side. But first I should like his readers
to know and realize that both were written before the period of what
I may call Donald's "Renaissance," a period that can be roughly marked
by the publication of his first book, _The Lord of all Good Life_.

Up to then he had been struggling in vain for self-expression. How he
had worked the amount of MSS. he has left alone proves--for we have it
on a friend's testimony that "he tore up much of what he wrote"; and
he also had experienced and suffered, violating his natural "timidity"
and his in some ways, precarious health, for he had never got over
certain weaknesses engendered by his illness in Mauritius--in his
struggle to get a true basis for a solution of the meaning of life
and of religion. What cost him most was the knowledge that he
was frequently doubted and misunderstood by many of those whose
approbation would have been very dear to him. This is proved by his
constantly expressed gratitude to the one or two who never doubted him
for one moment.

With the writing of this book, as we know, all his difficulties began
to clear away, and at the same time he began to reap the harvest of
love and admiration that he had sown in his toils to produce it.
And the result was he opened out like a flower to the sun! No one
can doubt this for a moment who has read his book of a year later,
_The Student in Arms_, and rejoiced in the radiant happiness of its
inspiration.

He had more than once said to me during the past two years, "You know
it makes a _tremendous_ difference to me when people really _like_
me." No longer was it a case of "one friend at a time." The period for
that was over and done with. He had come into his own. He was ready
for a universal brotherhood, and no hand would ever be held out to him
in vain.

It is impossible to believe that he does not now know of and
appreciate all the beautiful tributes that have come to him since
his "passing"--from the perfect wreath of immortelles weaved by Mr.
Strachey to the sweet pansy of thought dropped by a little fellow
V.A.D. of mine who said beautifully and courageously--though knowing
him solely through his book--"We feel since he gave us his thought
that he belongs a tiny bit to us, too," thus voicing the feeling of
many.

I believe the paper entitled "My Home" to have been written at Oxford,
and "School" not so very long after. In any case, I have definite
proof of their both belonging to Donald's pre-"Renaissance" period,
for the friendship with F----, that began at "the Shop" and went under
a cloud for a time, was renewed with fresh vigour in 1914, and has
burned brightly ever since. Only last July was I sent by him a letter
of F----'s from the trenches, with the injunction, "Please put this
among my treasures," and there is an allusion to a story told in this
letter in the article entitled "Romance" of the present volume.

To return to "My Home," I question whether the love and devotion of
"Hilda" and "Ma" for Hugh was so entirely unselfish. For my mother I
fully believe, as for "Hilda," Hugh was the epitome of all that was
fine, splendid and joyous in life. He was the glorious knight, the
"preux chevalier" "sans peur et sans reproche," who rode forth at dawn
with clean sword and shining armour, and all the world before him, yet
keeping his heart for ever in his home. He was the child of her youth
as Donald was the child of her maturity. Deep down in her wonderfully
varied nature there were certain bottomless springs of courage, daring
and enterprise which she herself had little chance of expressing and
of which Hugh alone was the personification.

As long as I can remember Hugh had been my ideal and made all the
interest and joy of life for me. Whether he were at home or abroad I
never had a thought I did not share with him. When he died, the best
part of me died too, or was paralysed rather, and Heaven knows what
sort of a "substitute" I should have been for "Ma" to Donald, had not
the baby Hugh come, just in time, with healing in his wings to restore
life to the best part of me!

I am glad to think that Donald's "Autobiography" was written before
1914, for I know that even before that I was becoming more to him than
a "substitute." I too have my memories and pictures!

It is May, 1915. I am in the country-house--cleaning is going on at
home.

I get a letter to say that the Rifle Brigade may leave for France
at any time, and that Donald _may_ get some "leave" on Saturday or
Sunday.

I make a dash for town.

There I find a telegram of reckless and unconscionable length, running
into two pages. He cannot come up--they may leave at any moment. It
seems hardly worth while my bothering to come to Aldershot on the
chance--he may be unable to leave barracks.

I write a return telegram--also of reckless and unconscionable length,
and reply paid--it is a relief to do so--asking for a place of meeting
at Aldershot to be suggested.

I get no answer at all, and on Sunday morning, in despair, I go
over to see my aunt and cousin. My aunt is my mother's sister and a
sportswoman. She counsels, "Go at all costs." Dorothy will come with
me: Dorothy is Donald's best woman pal--she reminds him of his mother.
She is all that is wholesome and comportable.

The element of enjoyment comes in, and I go home and pack a nice
lunch.

We arrive at Aldershot.

There is no one on the platform to meet us, and we push our way
through the turnstile.

There is Donald, on the outskirts of the waiting crowd--a tall,
soldierly figure in the uniform of a private--for he has resigned his
sergeant's stripes by now.

His face is very boyish--not the face of the photograph at the
beginning of this book: that was taken after he had been to France,
and had been wounded, and had written "A Passing in June," and "The
Honour of the Brigade"--but a much younger face, really boyish.

He glances quickly and anxiously at every face that passes, and each
time he is a little more disappointed--but he tries not to show it.

I am not tall and cannot catch his eye. It is like being at a play,
watching him! All at once he sees me! Involuntarily a sudden quick
spasm of joy passes across his face, absolutely transfiguring it.

He smooths it away quickly, for he is a Briton and does not like to
show his feelings--but he has given himself away!

Dorothy and I shall never forget that look. And it was for _me_--at
first he does not see Dorothy. When he does it is an added pleasure.

With _two_ ladies to escort he assumes a lordly air.

He had thought of everything. We would like some tea? Yes, all the big
places are shut as it is Sunday, but he has marked down a little place
on his way to the station.

It is a lovely day, and we are very happy!

The girl who waits upon us at the little tea place likes us, and so do
the other Tommies and their friends who are having tea there.

We sit at little tables, but at very close quarters with each other,
and we smile at them and they at us.

I have brought Donald some letters, which pleases him, and Dorothy has
brought him some splendid socks, knitted by herself.

After tea we walk across an arid plain to a little wood, and sit down
under the trees.

Donald changes to the new socks--those he had on were wringing wet!

He picks us little bunches of violets, hyacinths and wild strawberry
flowers--we have them still.

We are very happy the whole of the day, and have my sandwiches and
cake and fruit for supper, there under the trees. And here in thought
let me leave "The Student in Arms," who was to me part son, best pal,
brother, comrade, and counsellor on all subjects--and more than a
little bit of grandpapa!

He could be so many different things because, as another friend and
cousin said, "he seemed to know everything about everybody."

I like to think of those two fine spirits--Hugh and Donald--each with
a hand to the tiny baby nephew, and a word of greeting for me when I
go over the top.


THE END





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