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Title: Getting Together
Author: Hay, Ian, 1876-1952
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Getting Together" ***

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  Author of "The First Hundred Thousand,"
  "A Safety Match," etc.




  Copyright, 1917, by

  _All rights reserved, including that of
  translation into foreign languages,
  including the Scandinavian_


For several months it has been the pleasant duty of the writer of the
following deliverance to travel around the United States, lecturing
upon sundry War topics to indulgent American audiences. No one--least
of all a parochial Briton--can engage upon such an enterprise for long
without beginning to realize and admire the average American's amazing
instinct for public affairs, and the quickness and vitality with which
he fastens on and investigates every topic of live interest.

Naturally, the overshadowing subject of discussion to-day is the War,
and all the appurtenances thereof. The opening question is always the
same. It lies about your path by day in the form of a newspaper man,
or about your bed by night in the form of telephone call, and is

"When is the War going to end?"

(One is glad to note that no one ever asks _how_ it is going to end:
that seems to be settled.)

The simplest way of answering this question is to inform your
inquisitor that so far as Great Britain is concerned the War has only
just begun--began, in fact, on the first of July, 1916; when the
British Army, equipped at last, after stupendous exertions, for a
grand and prolonged offensive, went over the parapet, shoulder to
shoulder with the soldiers of France, and captured the hitherto
impregnable chain of fortresses which crowned the ridge overlooking
the Somme Valley, with results now set down in the pages of history.

Having weathered this conversational opening, the stranger from
Britain finds himself, as the days of his sojourn increase in number,
swept gently but irresistibly into an ocean of talk--an ocean
complicated by eddies, cross-currents, and sudden shoals--upon the
subject of Anglo-American relations over the War. Here is the
substance of some of the questions which confront the perplexed

  1. "Do your people at home appreciate the fact that we are
     thoroughly pro-Ally over here?"

  2. "How about that Blockade? What are you opening our mails

  3. "Would you welcome American intervention?"

  4. "What do you propose to do about the submarine menace?"

  5. "You don't _really_ think we are too proud to fight, do

  6. "Are you in favour of National Training for Americans?"

  7. "Do you expect to win outright, or are both sides going to
     fight themselves to a standstill?"


  8. "Why can't you Britishers be a bit kinder in your attitude
     to us?"


Let us take this welter of interrogation categorically, and endeavour
to frame such answers as would occur to the average Briton to-day.

But first of all, let it be remembered that the average Briton of
to-day is not the average Briton of yesterday. Three years ago he was
a prosperous, comfortable, thoroughly insular Philistine. He took a
proprietary interest in the British Empire, and paid a munificent
salary to the Army and Navy for looking after it. There his Imperial
responsibilities ceased. As for other nations, he recognized their
existence; but that was all. In their daily life, or national ideals,
or habit of mind, he took not the slightest interest, and said so,
especially to foreigners.

"I'm English," he would explain, with a certain proud humility.
"That's good enough for yours truly!"

This sort of thing rather perplexed the American people, who take a
keen and intelligent interest in the affairs of other nations.

But to-day the average Briton would not speak like that. He will never
speak like that again. He has been outside his own island: he has made
a number of new acquaintances. He has been fighting alongside of the
French, and has made the discovery that they do not subsist entirely
upon frogs. He has encountered real Germans, at sufficiently close
quarters to realize that the "German Menace" at which his party
leaders encouraged him to scoff in a bygone age was no such phantom
after all. Altogether he is a very different person from the
complacent, parochial exponent of the tight-little-island theories of
yester-year. He has encountered things at home and abroad which have
purged his very soul. Abroad, he has seen the whole of Belgium and
some of the fairest provinces of France subjected to the grossest and
most bestial barbarity. At home, he has seen inoffensive watering
places bombarded by pirate craft which came up out of the sea like
malignant wraiths and then fled away like panic-stricken
window-smashers. He has seen Zeppelins hovering over close-packed
working-class districts in industrial towns, raining indiscriminate
destruction upon men, women, and children. In fact, he has seen things
and suffered things that he never even dreamed of, and they have
broadened his mind considerably.

Last year, under stress of these circumstances, the average Briton
relinquished his age-long propensity to "let George do it," and
evolved a sudden and rather inspiring sense of personal responsibility
for the safety and welfare of his country. He no longer limited his
patriotism to the roaring of truculent choruses at music-halls, or the
decorating of his bicycle with the flags of the Allies. He went and
enlisted instead. Now he has faced Death in person--and outfaced him.
He has ceased to attach an exaggerated value to his own life. Life, he
realizes, like Peace, is only worth retaining on certain terms, the
first of which is Honour, and the second Honour, and the third Honour.

Finally, he regards the present War as a Holy War--a Crusade, in fact.
He went into it with no ulterior motives: his sole impulse was to
stand by his friends, France and Belgium, in the face of the monstrous
outrage that was being forced upon them. He is out, in fact, to save
civilization and human decency. Consequently he finds it just a little
difficult to understand how a warm-hearted and high-spirited nation
can be expected to remain "neutral even in thought."

With this much introduction to the man and his point of view, we will
allow him to speak for himself.


"Do I realize that you are pro-Ally over here? Well, somehow I have
always felt it, but now I know it. When I get home I shall rub that
fact into everyone I meet. What our people at home don't grasp is the
fact that America is inhabited by two distinct races--Americans, and
others. The others appear to me--mind you, I'm only giving you a
personal impression--to consist either of alien immigrants who have
not yet absorbed their new nationality, or professional anti-Ally
propagandists, or people of mixed nationality with strong commercial
interests in Germany, whose heart is where their treasure is. These
make a surprising amount of noise, and attract a disproportionate
amount of attention: but I know, and I intend the people at home to
know, that the genuine American is with us in this business heart and

"What's that? The Blockade? Yes, I want to talk to you about that. I
take it you will admit that a blockade is a justifiable expedient of
war. There have been one or two of them in history. In the American
Civil War, for instance, the North established a pretty successful
blockade against the Southern ports. British cotton ships were
everlastingly trying to run through that cordon. In fact, I rather
think we exchanged a few cousinly notes on the subject. Of course
blockades are irksome and irritating to neutrals. But we look to you
here to endure the inconvenience, not merely as one of the chances of
war, but rather to show us that you in this country do recognize and
indorse the ideal for which we are fighting. We _are_ fighting for an
ideal, you know: I think the way the old country came into this war,
all unprepared and spontaneously, just because she felt she _must_
stand by her friends, was the finest thing she has ever done. Of
course no sane person expected America to saddle herself gratuitously
with a European War--without good and sufficient reason, that is--but
we in England would like to feel that your acquiescence in the
inconveniences caused by our blockade is your contribution to the
cause--your slap on the back, signifying:--Go in and win!

"Open your mails? Yes, I'm afraid we do. And we find a good lot inside
them! Do you know, there is a great warehouse in London filled from
top to bottom with rubber, and nickel, and other commodities for which
the Hun longs, disguised as all sorts of things--rubber fruit, for
instance--taken from the most innocent-looking parcels--all dispatched
from the United States to neutral countries in touch with Germany?
But we are most punctilious about it all. Every single article retains
its original address-label, and will be forwarded direct to its proper
consignee, directly the war is over. Can you beat that?

"Would we welcome Intervention? My dear sir, is it likely? Supposing
_you_ had been caught entirely unprepared, and had been sticking your
toes in for two years--fighting for time and playing a poor hand
pretty well--and were at last ready to hit back, and hit back, until
you had rendered your opponent incapable of further outrage, and were
in a fair way to fix this war so that it never could happen
again--would you welcome Mediation, or offers of Mediation? I think

"Submarines? We aren't attaching _too_ much importance to submarine
frightfulness. It is true we have lost a number of merchant ships, and
that a number of innocent lives have been sacrificed. But let us put
our hearts in the background for the present and look at the matter
from the economic and military point of view. We have lost, in
twenty-seven months, about one tenth of our original merchant fleet.
Against that you have to set the fact that we have been steadily
building new merchant ships during the same period. The dead loss of
merchandise involved amounts to about one half per cent. of the total
value--ten shillings in every hundred pounds; or fifty cents per
hundred dollars. That won't starve us into submission.

"But the Germans will build more and more submarines? Very probably.
Still, I think we can leave it to the British and French navies to
prevent undue exuberance in that direction. Our sailors have not been
exactly garrulous during this war, but I think we may take it that
they have not been entirely idle. Has it ever occurred to you that
although there are hundreds of Allied warships patrolling the ocean
to-day, you hardly ever hear of one being torpedoed by a submarine?
Passenger ships and freight ships suffer to the extent I have quoted,
but not the warships. Why is that? Don't ask me: ask Jellicoe! But it
rather looks as if the submarine, as an instrument of naval
warfare--as opposed to a baby-killing machine--had rather failed to
deliver the goods.

"The Deutschland? I take off my hat to Captain Koenig: he is a plucky
fellow. The _U 53_? I have no remarks to offer, except to repeat my
previous reference to baby-killing machines. As for the presence of
these two vessels in American waters--in American ports--I won't
presume to offer an opinion. Still, not long ago the U 53 sank six
British or neutral vessels off the American coast, just outside
territorial waters. Fortunately for the passengers, an American
cruiser was in the neighbourhood, to guard against violation of
American waters, and picked them up. But the whole incident looks to
me like a deliberate German plan to jockey an American cruiser into
becoming a German submarine tender.

"Let me see--what else? Too proud to fight? Not much! We know the
American people too well. Besides, we suffer from politicians
ourselves, and know what political catch-phrases are. So don't let
that worry you.

"National Training for America? There I am neither qualified nor
entitled to offer advice. I know the difficulties with which the true
American has to contend in this matter. I know that this vast country
of yours is more of a continent than a country, and that so long as
your enormous tide of immigration continues, it will be a matter of
immense difficulty developing a national sense of personal
responsibility. I also know that your Middle West is inhabited by
people, many of whom have never even seen the sea, who are rendered
incapable, by their very environment, of realizing the immensity of
the external dangers which threaten their country. These must see
things differently from the more exposed section of the community, and
I see how dangerous it would be to enforce upon them a measure which
they regard as ridiculous. But on this great subject of Preparedness,
I can refer you to the case of my own country--not as an example, but
as a warning. _We_ were caught unprepared. In consequence, we had to
sacrifice our best, our very best, the kind that can never be replaced
in any country, just because they hurried to the rescue and allowed
themselves to be wiped out, while the country behind them was being
aroused and prepared. That is the price that we have paid, and no
ultimate victory, however glorious, can recompense us for that
criminal waste of the flower and pride of our youth and manhood at the

"Do we expect to win the war outright? Yes, we do."

It is true that the Central Powers have recently succeeded in
devastating another little country, though they have not destroyed
its army. On the other hand, during the past few months the Allied
gains on the Somme have included, among other items, a chain of
fortresses hitherto considered impregnable, four or five hundred
pieces of artillery, fourteen hundred machine-guns, and about
ninety-five thousand unwounded German prisoners. Moreover, the French
at Verdun have regained in a few weeks all the ground that the Crown
Prince wrested from them, at the price of half a million German
casualities, in the spring. German colonies have ceased to exist;
German foreign trade is dead; the German navy is cooped up in Kiel
harbour; and Germany is so short of men that she has resorted to
outrageous deportations from Belgium in order to obtain industrial
labour. On the other hand, our supply of munitions now, at the opening
of 1917, is double what it was six months ago, and our new armies are
not yet all in the field. The British Navy, despite all losses, has
increased enormously both in tonnage and personnel. So I don't think
we are fought to a standstill yet.

"Yes, you are right. All this bloodshed is dreadful. But
responsibility for bloodshed rests not with the people who end a war
but with the people who began it. As for discussing terms of peace
now, what terms _could_ be arranged which Germany could be relied upon
to observe a moment longer than suited her? Have you forgotten the
way the War was forced on the world by Prussian militarism? The trick
played on Russia over mobilization? The violation of Belgian
neutrality? Malines, Termonde, Louvain? The official raping in the
market-place at Liége? The _Lusitania_? Edith Cavell? The Zeppelin
murders? Chlorine gas? The deportations from Belgium and Lille?
Wittenburg typhus camp, where men were left to rot, without doctors,
or medicine, or bedding? How can one talk of "honourable peace" with
such a gang of criminal lunatics? Ask yourself who would be such a
fool as to propose to end a war upon terms which left the safety of
the world exposed to the prospect of another outbreak from the same

"You, sir? _Why can't you people in England be a bit kinder in their
tone to us here in America?_ Ah, now you are talking! Let us get away
from this crowd and go into the matter--get together, as you say."


So the average Briton and the average American retire to a secluded
spot, and "get together." The American repeats his question:

"Why can't your people over there be a bit kinder? Why can't you
consider our feelings a bit more? You haven't been over and above
polite to us of late--or indeed at any time."

"No," admits the Briton thoughtfully, "I suppose we have not.
Politeness is not exactly our strong suit. In my country we are not
even polite to one another!" (Try as he will, he cannot help saying
this with just the least air of pride and satisfaction.) "But I admit
that that is no reason why we should be impolite to other nations. The
fact is, being almost impervious to criticism ourselves, we naturally
find it difficult to avoid wounding the feelings of a people which is
particularly sensitive in that respect."

"Very well," replies the American. "Now, we want to put this right,
don't we?"

"We do," replies the other, with quite un-British enthusiasm. "No one
who has spent any time as a visitor to this country could help----"

"Why then, tell me," interpolates the other, "what is at the back of
your country's present resentful attitude toward America?"

The Briton ponders.

"Didn't someone once say," he replies at last, "that 'he that is not
for us is against us?' That seems to sum up the situation. We on our
side are engaged in a life-and-death struggle for the freedom of the
world. We know that you are not against us; still, considering the
sacredness of our cause, and the monstrous means by which the Boche is
seeking to further his, we feel that you have not stood for us so out
and out as you might. Only the other day your Government announced
that in their opinion it was time that both sides stated plainly what
they were fighting for! Now----"

The other checks him.

"Don't you go mixing up the officially neutral American Government,"
he says, "with the American people, or the American people with the
inhabitants of America. In many districts of America, the balance of
power lies with people who have only recently entered the country, and
who have not yet become absorbed into the American people. As for our
present Government, it was put into power mainly by the people of the
West--people to whom the War has not come home in any way--and the
Government, having to consider the wishes of the majority, naturally
carries out the instructions on its ticket. That is how I, as an
average American, sense the situation. However, that is not the
point. Listen!

"You say that America has not helped you very much? Let us consider
the ways in which America _could_ have helped. Military aid? Well, of
course that is out of the question so long as we remain neutral, as we
agreed just now we certainly ought to remain. Still, there are more
than twenty-five thousand American citizens serving in the Allied
Armies to-day. Did you realize that?"

"I did not," says the Briton, interested.

"Well, it is true. There are battalions in the Canadian Army composed
almost entirely of men from the United States. Others are serving in
the French and British Armies. Then there is the American Flying
Corps in France."

"Yes, I have heard of them. Who has not? Proceed!"

"Industrial help, again. We are making munitions for you, night and
day. It is true that we are being paid for our trouble; but the cost
of living has risen almost as much here as in your own country. Also
let me tell you that we are making no munitions for Germany, and would
not do so, money or no. The same with financial help. Loan after loan
has been floated in this country for the Allied benefit. How many
loans have been raised for Germany? Not one! That is not because
German credit is so bad, but because no true American will consent to
lend his money to such a cause. Believe me, the attempt has been made,
and strong influence brought to bear, more than once, but the result
has been failure every time.

"Red Cross Work, again. There are hundreds of Americans driving
ambulances in the Allied lines to-day, and hundreds of American women
working in Allied hospitals. There are complete hospital units over
there, equipped and maintained by American money and American service.
Have you ever heard of the Harvard Unit, for instance?"

"Vaguely. Tell me about it."

"Well, I mention the Harvard Unit because it was about the first; but
others are doing nobly too. Let Harvard serve as a sample. At the
outbreak of the War, Harvard put down ten thousand dollars to equip
and staff the American Ambulance Hospital in Paris. Then, in June,
1915, Harvard took over one of your British Base Hospitals, with
thirty-two surgeons and seventy-five nurses. That hospital has been
maintained by Harvard folk ever since; they go out and serve for three
months at a time. Harvard also sent an expedition to fight typhus in
Serbia. Harvard's casualty list, in consequence, has grown pretty
long. Not a bad record for one neutral University, eh? I don't seem to
remember your Oxford or Cambridge sending out a medical unit to help
us, when we were fighting for a moral issue too, away back in the
'sixties under Lincoln."

"I knew nothing of all this. People at home must be told," says the
Briton, earnestly.

"Or," continues the American, we can take the work of the American
Ambulance Field service. The American Ambulance Field Service with the
Armies of France has carried over seven hundred thousand wounded since
the beginning of the war; their sections and section leaders have been
sixteen times cited for valuable and efficient work; fifty-four of
their men have been given the Croix de Guerre for bravery, and two the
Médaille Militaire. Three have been killed. The Society has at present
over two hundred ambulances at the front, besides staff and other
cars attached to different sections. This Service, which, at the
beginning of the war, was a subsidiary part of the American Ambulance
Hospital at Neuilly has for the past year been self-supporting, and
although still co-operative with the Hospital, has its own
administration and headquarters, and its own maintenance fund. If you
require any further information on the subject, read 'Friends of
France,'[1] or 'Ambulance No. 10,'[2] both of which books will stir
you not a little.

"Talking of books, if you want to read a genuine American's opinion
of the Allies and their cause, read 'Their Spirit,'[3] by Judge Robert
Grant. And if you want to know what another prominent American, who
formerly admired and reverenced Germany, thinks of Germany now, read
Owen Wister's 'Pentecost of Calamity.'[4] Or, if you want a complete
exposure of German aims and methods in this war, read James M. Beck's
'The Evidence in the Case'.[5]

"Now a word concerning War Relief Societies in general. (There's more
to hear than you thought, isn't there?) I cannot possibly give you
details about them all, because their name is legion. For instance,
this printed list contains the names of a hundred and ten such
societies; and there are others. As you see, it covers Armenian,
Belgian, British, French, Italian, Lithuanian, Persian, Polish, and
Russian Relief enterprises of every kind. German Relief Societies?
Yes, throughout the United States there are eleven German and Austrian
Societies altogether; but they are all under purely Teutonic
management, as a glance at the names of their supporters will show.
America, as such, stands aloof from them.

"Let us have a look at the purely British Relief Societies, which
naturally will interest you most. There is The American Women's War
Hospital at Paignton, Devonshire, directed by Lady Paget, herself an
American, and supported by American contributions. It is a far cry
from America to Australia, but there is an Australian War Relief Fund
in America. Then take the British War Relief Association of America.
This Association occupies an entire floor in a lofty building on the
busiest stretch of Fifth Avenue. All day and every day they work away,
cutting surgical dressings at the rate of nine thousand yards a week.
They also collect and despatch comforts of every kind, from motor
ambulances to antiseptic pads. The rent of their premises is eight
thousand dollars a year; but they get the whole place free. Their
landlord, an American citizen, has given them that floor for the
duration of the war, as his contribution to the fund. Isn't that
pretty fine? Again, there is an American branch of your own Prince of
Wales' fund. There is a United States Guild for British Soldiers'
Comforts; there is an Indian Soldiers' Fund Committee, and many
others. These, as you see, are purely pro-British organizations, but
naturally your country also benefits under all general schemes of
Allied Relief. Last summer, for instance a great bazaar was held in
New York in aid of Allied War Charities, and over half a million
dollars were cleared. Another bazaar, held more recently in Boston,
raised over four hundred thousand dollars. Another, in Chicago, was
equally successful. And so the tale goes on. France and Belgium, of
course, receive the lion's share of American sympathy, as being
invaded countries, but I have told you enough to show what we are
trying to do for Great Britain too. We are somewhat handicapped,
however, by the fact, firstly, that Great Britain is not exactly what
one would call a gracious receiver of benefits, and secondly, that the
man in the street over here regards your country as too fabulously
rich to require relief of any kind. But after all, it is the spirit
of good will which counts, and you have all ours.

"Well, the list which I have shown you will give you some idea of the
big forces which are working for you over on this side. But big forces
are made up of little forces. As we say in this country, it is the
little things that tell. All over America I could show you little
sewing meetings and social gatherings which have got together for the
purpose of preparing clothing and medical comforts for the Allies.
Even in cities like Milwaukee and Cincinnati, which have the
reputation of being overwhelmingly Teutonic, there exist very
efficient and plucky Allied Relief Societies which are carrying on in
the face of open hostility. There is hardly a village or township
that does not possess such a society. You have a song in England about
'Sister Susie Sewing Shirts for Soldiers.' Well, over here in the
States, your cousin Susie is doing precisely the same thing. She is
doing it so extensively that it has been found necessary to establish
a great clearing house in New York to deal with the gifts as they come
in, sort them out, and forward them to their destinations. The
Clearing House also knows where to stretch out its hand for particular
commodities. For instance, if there is a shortage of absorbent cotton,
the Clearing House sends an appeal to Virginia for some more, and
Virginia sends it. Here is a copy of the monthly bulletin. They appear
to have been busy. You notice that during one period of seven days
last month, this Clearing House handled over a thousand cases of
material a day.

"Yes, a clearing-house like this calls for some organization and
labour. Who supply that? A number of American business men, each of
whom has decided to run his business with his left hand for the
present, leaving his right hand free for War Relief.

"Besides gifts in kind, these same organizations send gifts in money.
Between seventy and eighty of the leading clubs in America have
formulated a scheme under which members who feel so disposed may have
five dollars or so debited to their monthly bill, to be devoted to
Allied Relief work. During the last three months about eighty thousand
dollars has been raised and distributed by the Clearing House from
this source.

"Our Relief work is both collective and individual. At one end of the
scale you find a scheme for raising a hundred million dollars to
maintain and educate Belgian and French orphans. At the other, I could
show you a poor woman in Boston who is living on a mere pittance,
because she gives every cent that she can possibly spare to Allied
Relief. I know many American business men who cross the Atlantic
several times a year: on these occasions they seldom fail to take
with them, as part of their personal baggage, a trunk stuffed with
surgical dressings, rare drugs, and the like. Again, do you know who
presented to your nation St. Dunstan's, the great institution for
blinded soldiers in Regent's Park, London? An American citizen. So you
see, here we are, the American people, the greatest race of
advertisers in the world, doing all this good work, and saying nothing
whatever about it. Doesn't that strike you as significant?"

"It strikes me as magnificent," says the Briton.

"Well," rejoins the other, I don't allow that it is magnificent, but
it is pretty good. We might do more--ten times more. For instance,
all our contributions to Belgian relief don't amount to more than the
merest fraction of what France and Great Britain, in the midst of all
the agony and impoverishment of their own people, have contrived to
give. Still, I think I have said enough to show you that we are doing
something. You'll tell the folks at home, won't you? It hurts us badly
to be regarded as cold blooded opportunists."

"Trust me; I'll tell them!" says the Briton warmly.

And the Get-Together ends.


[1] Friends of France: The Field Service of the American Ambulance
described by its members. (Houghton Mifflin Co., $2.00. Limited
Edition, $10.00)

[2] Ambulance No. 10. By A. Buswell. (Houghton Mifflin Co., $1.00)

[3] Their Spirit: Some impressions of the English and French during
the Summer of 1916. By Robert Grant. (Houghton Muffin Co., 50c.)

[4] Pentecost of Calamity. By Owen Wister (Macmillan Co., 50c.)

[5] The Evidence in the Case. By James M. Beck. (Putnam, $1.00).


The only fact of importance which fails to emerge with sufficient
clearness from the foregoing conversation is the fact--possibly the
courteous American suppressed it from motives of delicacy--that
America is by comparison more pro-Ally than pro-British. The fact is,
the American is on the side of right and justice in this War, and
earnestly desires to see the Allied cause prevail; but he has a
sub-conscious aversion to seeing slow-witted, self-satisfied John Bull
collect yet another scalp. American relations with France, too, have
always been of the most cordial nature; while America's very existence
as a separate nation to-day is the fruit of a quarrel with England.

In this regard it may be noted that American school history books are
accustomed to paint the England of 1776 in unnecessarily lurid
colours. The young Republic is depicted emerging, after a heroic
struggle, from the clutches of a tyranny such as that wielded by the
nobility of France in the pre-Revolution days. In sober fact, the
secession of the American Colonies was brought about by a series of
colossal blunders and impositions on the part of the most
muddle-headed ministry that ever mismanaged the affairs of Great
Britain--which is saying a good deal. It is probable that if the elder
Pitt had lived a few years longer, the secession would never have
occurred. It was only with the utmost reluctance that Washington
appealed to a decision by battle. In any case the fact remains, that
while in an American school-book the war of 1776 is given first place,
correctly enough, as marking the establishment of American
nationality, it figures in the English school-book, with equal
correctness, as a single regrettable incident in England's long and
variegated Colonial history. It is well to bear these two points of
view in mind. Naturally all this makes for degrees of comparison in
America's attitude toward the Allies. One might extend the comparison
to Russia, and more especially to Japan; but that, mercifully, is
outside the scope of our present inquiry.

To America, friendship with France is an historic tradition, as the
Statue of Liberty attests, and rests upon the solid foundation of a
common ideal--Republicanism. The tie between America and Great Britain
is the tie of a common (but rapidly diminishing) blood-relationship;
and, as every large family knows, blood-relationship carries with it
the right to speak one's mind with refreshing freedom whenever
differences of opinion arise within the family circle. But our
idealists have persistently overlooked this handicap. They cling
tenaciously to the notion that it is easier to be friendly with your
relations than with your friends; and that in dealing with your own
kin, tact may be economized. "Blood is thicker than water," we
proclaim to one another across the sea; "and we can therefore afford
to be as rude to one another as we please." This principle suits the
Briton admirably, because he belongs to the elder and more
thick-skinned branch of the clan. But it bears hardly upon a young,
self-conscious, and adolescent nation, which has not yet "found"
itself as a whole; and which, though its native genius and genuine
promise carry it far, still experiences a certain youthful diffidence
under the supercilious condescension of the Old World.

Our mutual relations are further complicated by the possession of a
common language.

In theory, a common tongue should be a bond of union between
nations--a channel for the interchange of great thoughts and friendly
sentiments. In practice, what is it?

Let us take a concrete example. Supposing an American woman and a
Dutch woman live next door to one another in a New York suburb. As a
rule they maintain friendly relations; but if at any time these
relations become strained--say, over the encroachments of depredatory
chickens, or the obstruction of some one's ancient lights by the
over-exuberance of some one else's laundry--the two ladies are enabled
to say the most dreadful things to one another without any one being a
penny the worse. _They do not understand one another's language._ But
if they speak a common tongue, the words which pass when the most
ephemeral squabble arises stick and rankle.

Again, for many years the people of Great Britain were extremely
critical of Russia. Well-meaning stay-at-home gentlemen constantly
rose to their feet in the House of Commons and made withering remarks
on the subject of knouts, and Cossacks, and vodka. But they did no
harm. The Russian people do not understand English. In the same way,
Russians were probably accustomed to utter equally reliable criticisms
of the home-life of Great Britain--land-grabbing, and hypocrisy, and
whiskey, and so on. But we knew nothing of all this, and all was well.
There was not the slightest difficulty, when the great world-crash
came, in forming the warmest alliance with Russia.

But as between the two great English-speaking nations of the world, it
is in the power of the most foolish politician or the most
irresponsible sub-editor, on either side of the Atlantic, to create an
international complication with a single spoken phrase or stroke of
the pen. And as both countries appear to be inhabited very largely by
persons who regard newspapers as Bibles and foolish politicians as
inspired prophets, it seems advisable to take steps to regulate the

This brings us to another matter--the attitude of the American Press
toward the War. A certain section thereof, which need not be
particularized further, has never ceased, probably under the combined
influences of bias and subsidy, to abuse the Allies, particularly the
British, and misrepresent their motives and ideals. This sort of
journalism "cuts no ice" in the United States. It is just "yellow
journalism." _Voilà tout!_ Why take it seriously? But the British
people do not know this; and as the British half-penny Press, when it
does quote the American Press, rarely quotes anything but the most
virulent extracts from this particular class of newspaper, one is
reduced yet again to wondering whence the blessings of a common
language are to be derived.

But taking them all round, the newspapers of America have handled the
questions of the War with conspicuous fairness and ability. They are
all fundamentally pro-Ally; and the only criticism which can be
directed at them from an Allied quarter is that in their anxiety to
give both sides a hearing, they have been a little too indulgent to
Germany's claims to moral consideration, and have been a little
over-inclined to accept the German Chancellor's pious manifestoes at
their face value. But generally speaking it may be said that the
greater the newspaper, the firmer the stand that it has taken for the
Allied cause. The New York _Times_, the weightiest and most
authoritative newspaper in America, has been both pro-Ally and
pro-British throughout the War, and has never shrunk from the delicate
task of interpreting satisfactorily to the British people the attitude
of the President.

Journalistic criticism of Great Britain in America is frequently
extremely candid, and not altogether unmerited. Occasionally it goes
too far; but the occasion usually arises from ignorance of the
situation, or the desire to score an epigrammatic point. For instance,
during the struggle for Verdun in the spring, a New York newspaper,
sufficiently well-conducted to have known better, published a cartoon
representing John Bull as standing aloof, but encouraging the French
to persevere in their efforts by parodying Nelson's phrase:--"England
expects that every Frenchman will do his duty." The truth of course
was that Sir Douglas Haig had offered General Joffre all the British
help that might be required. The offer was accepted to this extent,
that the British took over forty additional miles of trenches from
the French, thus setting free many divisions of French soldiers to
participate in a glorious and purely French victory.

But this sort of foolish calumny dies hard, together with such phrases
as:--"England is prepared to hold on, to the last Frenchman!" While
not strictly relevant to our present discussion, the following figures
may be of interest. In August 1914 the British Regular Army consisted
of about a hundred and fifty thousand men. To-day, British troops in
France number two million; in Salonica, a hundred and forty thousand;
in Egypt, a hundred and eighty thousand; in Mesopotamia, a hundred and
twenty thousand. The Navy absorbs another four hundred thousand,
while a full million are occupied in purely naval construction and
repair. And at home again enormous masses of new troops are undergoing
training. This seems to dispose of the suggestion that Great Britain
is winning the War by proxy.

And for the upkeep of this mighty host, and for this general
comforting of the Allies, the British taxpayer is now paying
cheerfully and willingly, in addition to such trifling impositions as
a 60 per cent tax on his commercial profits, income tax at the rate of
twenty-five cents in the dollar.

On the other side of the account, _Life_, the American equivalent of
_Punch_, (if it is possible for the humour of a particular nation to
find its equivalent in any other nation), published not long ago a
special "John Bull" number, which will for ever remain a monument of
journalistic generosity and international courtesy. _Life's_ good deed
was gracefully acknowledged by _Punch_ and _The Spectator_.

But in spite of _Life's_ good example, enough has been said under this
head to illuminate the fact that a common language is a doubtful
blessing. The joint possession of the tongue that Shakespeare and
Milton and Longfellow and Abraham Lincoln spoke has bestowed little
upon our two nations but a convenient medium, too often, for shrewish
altercation, coupled with the profound conviction of either side that
the other side is unable to speak correct English.

Well, this nonsense must stop.


Therefore, whenever a true American and a true Briton get together,
let them hold an international symposium of their own. If it were not
for the unfortunate interposition of the Atlantic Ocean, this
interview would be extended, with proportional profit, to the greatest
symposium the world has ever seen. Meanwhile, we will make shift with
a company of two.

The following counsel is respectfully offered to the participants in
the debate.

Let the Briton remember:--

  1. Remember you are talking to a _friend_.

  2. Remember you are talking to a man who regards his nation as
     the greatest nation in the world. He will probably tell you

  3. Remember you are talking to a man whose country has made an
     enormous contribution to your cause in men, material, and
     money, besides putting up with a good deal of inconvenience
     and irksome supervision at your hands. Remember, too, that
     your own country has made little or no acknowledgement of
     its indebtedness in this matter.

  4. Remember you are talking to a man who believes in
     "publicity," and who believes further, that if you do not
     advertise the fact, you cannot possibly be in possession of
     "the goods." So for any sake open up a little, and tell him
     all you can about what the British Nation is doing to-day
     for Humanity and Civilization--in other words, for America.

  5. Remember this man is not so impervious to criticism as you
     are. Don't over-criticize his apparent attitude to the War.
     Remember you are talking to a man whose patience under such
     outrages as the sinking of the _Lusitania_ has been strained
     to the uttermost; so don't ask him whether he is too proud
     to fight, or he may offer you convincing proof to the

  6. Remember you are talking to a man whose business has been
     considerably interfered with by the stringency of the Allied
     blockade. So don't invite him to wax enthusiastic over the
     vigilance of the British Navy or the promptness of the
     Censor in putting the mails through.

  7. And do try to disabuse the man's mind of the preposterous,
     Germany-fostered notion that your country regards this war
     merely as a vehicle for commercial aggrandizement, or that
     the British Foreign Office proposes to maintain the Black
     List and other bugbears after the War. It seems absurd that
     you should have to give such an assurance, but doubts upon
     the subject certainly exist in certain quarters in America

Let the American remember:

  1. Remember you are talking to a _friend_.

  2. Remember you are talking to a man who regards his nation as
     the greatest in the world. He will not tell you this,
     because he takes it for granted that you know already.

  3. Remember you are talking to a man who is a member of a
     traditionally reticent and unexpansive race; who says about
     one third of what he feels; who is obsessed by a mania for
     understating his country's case, exaggerating its
     weaknesses, and belittling its efforts; who is secretly shy,
     so covers up his shyness with a cloak of aggressiveness
     which is offensive to those who are not prepared for it.
     Remember that this attitude is not specially assumed for
     _you_: as often as not the man employs it toward his own
     wife, who rather enjoys it, because she regards it as a
     symptom of affection.

  4. Remember you are talking to a man who is fighting for his
     life. To-day his face is turned toward Central Europe, and
     his back to the United States. Do not expect him to display
     an intimate or sympathetic understanding of America's true
     attitude to the War. He is conducting the War according to
     his lights, and is prepared to abide by the consequences of
     what he does. So he is apt to be resentful of criticism.
     Bear with him, for he is having a tough time of it.

  5. Enemy propaganda to the contrary, remember that this man is
     not a hypocrite. He is occasionally stupid; he is at times
     obstinate; he is frequently high-handed; and often he would
     rather be misunderstood than explain. But he is neither
     tyrannical nor corrupt. He went into this War because he
     felt it his duty to do so, and not because he coveted any
     Teutonic vineyard.

  6. Remember that your nation has done a great deal for this
     man's nation during the War. Tell him all about it: it will
     interest him, _because he did not know_.


Practically every one in this world improves on closer acquaintance.
The people with whom we utterly fail to agree are those with whom we
never get into close touch.

Individual Americans and Britons, when they get together in one
country or the other, usually develope a genuine mutual liking. As
nations, however, their attitude to one another is too often a distant
attitude--a distance of some three thousand miles, or the exact width
of the Atlantic Ocean--and ranges from a lofty tolerance in good
times to unreserved bickering in bad. Why? Because they are
geographically too far apart. But with the shrinkage of the earth's
surface produced by the effects of electricity and steam, that
geographical abyss yawns much less widely than it did. So let us get
together, whether in couples or in millions. The thing has to be done.
No rearrangement of the world's affairs after the War can be either
just or equitable or permanent which does not find Great Britain and
the United States of America upon the same side. What we want is
common ground, and a sound basis of understanding. Our present
basis--the "Hands-across-the-Sea, Blood-is-thicker-than-Water"
basis--is sloppy and unstable. Besides, it profoundly irritates that
not inconsiderable section of the American people which does not
happen to be of British descent.

We can find a better basis than that. What shall it be? Well, we have
certain common ideals which rest upon no sentimental foundations, but
upon the bedrock of truth and justice. We both believe in God; in
personal liberty; in a Law which shall be inflexibly just to rich and
poor alike. We both hate tyranny and oppression and intrigue; and we
both love things which are clean, and wholesome, and of good report.
Let us take one common stand upon these.

We must take certain precautions. We must bear and forbear. We must
forget a good deal that is past. We must make allowances for point of
view and differences of temperament. And we must mutually and
heroically refrain from utilizing the unrivalled opportunities for
repartee and pettiness afforded by the possession of a common tongue.

Of course, we must not expect or attempt to work together in unison.
National differences of character and standpoint forbid. And no bad
thing either. Unison is a cramping and irksome business. Let us work
in harmony instead, which is far better. And so--to paraphrase the
deathless words of the greatest of Americans:--With charity toward
all, with malice toward none, with mutual understanding and
confidence, we shall go forward together, to bind up the wounds of the
world, and prevent for all time a repetition of the outrage which
inflicted them.

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