By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: War and the Future: Italy, France and Britain at War
Author: Wells, H. G. (Herbert George)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "War and the Future: Italy, France and Britain at War" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


Italy, France and Britain at War

by H. G. Wells


     The Passing of the Effigy

     The War in Italy (August, 1916)
     I. The Isonzo Front
     II. The Mountain War
     III. Behind the Front

     The Western War (September, 1916)
     I. Ruins
     II. The Grades of War
     III. The War Landscape
     IV. New Arms for Old Ones
     V. Tanks

     How People Think About the War
     I. Do they Really Think at all?
     II. The Yielding Pacifist and the Conscientious Objector
     III. The Religious Revival
     IV. The Riddle of the British
     V. The Social Changes in Progress
     VI. The Ending of the War



One of the minor peculiarities of this unprecedented war is the Tour of
the Front. After some months of suppressed information--in which even
the war correspondent was discouraged to the point of elimination--it
was discovered on both sides that this was a struggle in which Opinion
was playing a larger and more important part than it had ever done
before. This wild spreading weed was perhaps of decisive importance;
the Germans at any rate were attempting to make it a cultivated flower.
There was Opinion flowering away at home, feeding rankly on rumour;
Opinion in neutral countries; Opinion getting into great tangles
of misunderstanding and incorrect valuation between the Allies. The
confidence and courage of the enemy; the amiability and assistance of
the neutral; the zeal, sacrifice, and serenity of the home population;
all were affected. The German cultivation of opinion began long
before the war; it is still the most systematic and, because of the
psychological ineptitude of the Germans, it is probably the clumsiest.
The French _Maison de la Presse_ is certainly the best organisation in
existence for making things clear, counteracting hostile suggestion, the
British official organisations are comparatively ineffective; but what
is lacking officially is very largely made up for by the good will
and generous efforts of the English and American press. An interesting
monograph might be written upon these various attempts of the
belligerents to get themselves and their proceedings explained.

Because there is perceptible in these developments, quite over and
above the desire to influence opinion, a very real effort to get things
explained. It is the most interesting and curious--one might almost
write touching--feature of these organisations that they do not
constitute a positive and defined propaganda such as the Germans
maintain. The German propaganda is simple, because its ends are simple;
assertions of the moral elevation and loveliness of Germany; of the
insuperable excellences of German Kultur, the Kaiser, and Crown Prince,
and so forth; abuse of the “treacherous” English who allied themselves
with the “degenerate” French and the “barbaric” Russians; nonsense about
“the freedom of the seas”--the emptiest phrase in history--childish
attempts to sow suspicion between the Allies, and still more childish
attempts to induce neutrals and simple-minded pacifists of allied
nationality to save the face of Germany by initiating peace
negotiations. But apart from their steady record and reminder of German
brutalities and German aggression, the press organisations of the Allies
have none of this definiteness in their task. The aim of the national
intelligence in each of the allied countries is not to exalt one’s own
nation and confuse and divide the enemy, but to get a real understanding
with the peoples and spirits of a number of different nations, an
understanding that will increase and become a fruitful and permanent
understanding between the allied peoples. Neither the English, the
Russians, the Italians, nor the French, to name only the bigger European
allies, are concerned in setting up a legend, as the Germans are
concerned in setting up a legend of themselves to impose upon mankind.
They are reality dealers in this war, and the Germans are effigy
mongers. Practically the Allies are saying each to one another, “Pray
come to me and see for yourself that I am very much the human stuff that
you are. Come and see that I am doing my best--and I think that is
not so very bad a best....” And with that is something else still more
subtle, something rather in the form of, “And please tell me what you
think of me--and all this.”

So we have this curious byplay of the war, and one day I find Mr.
Nabokoff, the editor of the _Retch_, and Count Alexy Tolstoy, that
writer of delicate short stories, and Mr. Chukovsky, the subtle critic,
calling in upon me after braving the wintry seas to see the British
fleet; M. Joseph Reinach follows them presently upon the same errand;
and then appear photographs of Mr. Arnold Bennett wading in the trenches
of Flanders, Mr. Noyes becomes discreetly indiscreet about what he has
seen among the submarines, and Mr. Hugh Walpole catches things from Mr.
Stephen Graham in the Dark Forest of Russia. All this is quite over and
above such writing of facts at first hand as Mr. Patrick McGill and a
dozen other real experiencing soldiers--not to mention the soldiers’
letters Mr. James Milne has collected, or the unforgettable and
immortal _Prisoner of War_ of Mr. Arthur Green--or such admirable war
correspondents’ work as Mr. Philip Gibbs or Mr. Washburne has done. Some
of us writers--I can answer for one--have made our Tour of the Fronts
with a very understandable diffidence. For my own part I did not want
to go. I evaded a suggestion that I should go in 1915. I travel badly,
I speak French and Italian with incredible atrocity, and am an extreme
Pacifist. I hate soldiering. And also I did not want to write anything
“under instruction”. It is largely owing to a certain stiffness in the
composition of General Delme-Radcliffe is resolved that Italy shall not
feel neglected by the refusal of the invitation from the Comando
Supremo by anyone who from the perspective of Italy may seem to be a
representative of British opinion. If Herbert Spencer had been
alive General Radcliffe would have certainly made him come,
travelling-hammock, ear clips and all--and I am not above confessing
that I wish that Herbert Spencer was alive--for this purpose. I found
Udine warm and gay with memories of Mr. Belloc, Lord Northcliffe, Mr.
Sidney Low, Colonel Repington and Dr. Conan Doyle, and anticipating the
arrival of Mr. Harold Cox. So we pass, mostly in automobiles that bump
tremendously over war roads, a cloud of witnesses each testifying after
his manner. Whatever else has happened, we have all been photographed
with invincible patience and resolution under the direction of Colonel
Barberich in a sunny little court in Udine.

My own manner of testifying must be to tell what I have seen and what
I have thought during this extraordinary experience. It has been my
natural disposition to see this war as something purposeful and epic,
as it is great, as an epoch, as “the War that will end War”--but of
that last, more anon. I do not think I am alone in this inclination to a
dramatic and logical interpretation. The caricatures in the French shops
show civilisation (and particularly Marianne) in conflict with a huge
and hugely wicked Hindenburg Ogre. Well, I come back from this tour with
something not so simple as that. If I were to be tied down to one word
for my impression of this war, I should say that this war is _Queer._ It
is not like anything in a really waking world, but like something in a
dream. It hasn’t exactly that clearness of light against darkness or
of good against ill. But it has the quality of wholesome instinct
struggling under a nightmare. The world is not really awake. This vague
appeal for explanations to all sorts of people, this desire to exhibit
the business, to get something in the way of elucidation at present
missing, is extraordinarily suggestive of the efforts of the mind to
wake up that will sometimes occur at a deep crisis. My memory of this
tour I have just made is full of puzzled-looking men. I have seen
thousands of _poilus_ sitting about in cafes, by the roadside, in
tents, in trenches, thoughtful. I have seen Alpini sitting restfully and
staring with speculative eyes across the mountain gulfs towards unseen
and unaccountable enemies. I have seen trainloads of wounded staring
out of the ambulance train windows as we passed. I have seen these dim
intimations of questioning reflection in the strangest juxtapositions;
in Malagasy soldiers resting for a spell among the big shells they were
hoisting into trucks for the front, in a couple of khaki-clad Maoris
sitting upon the step of a horse-van in Amiens station. It is always the
same expression one catches, rather weary, rather sullen, inturned. The
shoulders droop. The very outline is a note of interrogation. They look
up as the privileged tourist of the front, in the big automobile or
the reserved compartment, with his officer or so in charge,
passes--importantly. One meets a pair of eyes that seems to say:
“Perhaps _you_ understand....

“In which case---...?”

It is a part, I think, of this disposition to investigate what makes
everyone collect “specimens” of the war. Everywhere the souvenir forces
itself upon the attention. The homecoming permissionaire brings with
him invariably a considerable weight of broken objects, bits of shell,
cartridge clips, helmets; it is a peripatetic museum. It is as if he
hoped for a clue. It is almost impossible, I have found, to escape these
pieces in evidence. I am the least collecting of men, but I have brought
home Italian cartridges, Austrian cartridges, the fuse of an Austrian
shell, a broken Italian bayonet, and a note that is worth half a franc
within the confines of Amiens. But a large heavy piece of exploded shell
that had been thrust very urgently upon my attention upon the Carso I
contrived to lose during the temporary confusion of our party by the
arrival and explosion of another prospective souvenir in our close
proximity. And two really very large and almost complete specimens of
some species of _Ammonites_ unknown to me, from the hills to the east
of the Adige, partially wrapped in a back number of the _Corriere
della Sera_, that were pressed upon me by a friendly officer, were
unfortunately lost on the line between Verona and Milan through the
gross negligence of a railway porter. But I doubt if they would have
thrown any very conclusive light upon the war.


I avow myself an extreme Pacifist. I am against the man who first takes
up the weapon. I carry my pacifism far beyond the ambiguous little group
of British and foreign sentimentalists who pretend so amusingly to be
socialists in the _Labour Leader_, whose conception of foreign policy is
to give Germany now a peace that would be no more than a breathing time
for a fresh outrage upon civilisation, and who would even make heroes of
the crazy young assassins of the Dublin crime. I do not understand those
people. I do not merely want to stop this war. I want to nail down war
in its coffin. Modern war is an intolerable thing. It is not a thing
to trifle with in this Urban District Council way, it is a thing to
end forever. I have always hated it, so far that is as my imagination
enabled me to realise it; and now that I have been seeing it, sometimes
quite closely for a full month, I hate it more than ever. I never
imagined a quarter of its waste, its boredom, its futility, its
desolation. It is merely a destructive and dispersive instead of a
constructive and accumulative industrialism. It is a gigantic, dusty,
muddy, weedy, bloodstained silliness. It is the plain duty of every man
to give his life and all that he has if by so doing he may help to end
it. I hate Germany, which has thrust this experience upon mankind, as
I hate some horrible infectious disease. The new war, the war on the
modern level, is her invention and her crime. I perceive that on our
side and in its broad outlines, this war is nothing more than a gigantic
and heroic effort in sanitary engineering; an effort to remove German
militarism from the life and regions it has invaded, and to bank it
in and discredit and enfeeble it so that never more will it repeat its
present preposterous and horrible efforts. All human affairs and all
great affairs have their reservations and their complications, but that
is the broad outline of the business as it has impressed itself on my
mind and as I find it conceived in the mind of the average man of the
reading class among the allied peoples, and as I find it understood in
the judgement of honest and intelligent neutral observers.

It is my unshakeable belief that essentially the Allies fight for a
permanent world peace, that primarily they do not make war but resist
war, that has reconciled me to this not very congenial experience of
touring as a spectator all agog to see, through the war zones. At any
rate there was never any risk of my playing Balaam and blessing the
enemy. This war is tragedy and sacrifice for most of the world, for
the Germans it is simply the catastrophic outcome of fifty years of
elaborate intellectual foolery. Militarism, Welt Politik, and here we
are! What else _could_ have happened, with Michael and his infernal War
Machine in the very centre of Europe, but this tremendous disaster?

It is a disaster. It may be a necessary disaster; it may teach a lesson
that could be learnt in no other way; but for all that, I insist, it
remains waste, disorder, disaster.

There is a disposition, I know, in myself as well as in others, to
wriggle away from this verity, to find so much good in the collapse that
has come to the mad direction of Europe for the past half-century as to
make it on the whole almost a beneficial thing. But at most I can find
it in no greater good than the good of a nightmare that awakens the
sleeper in a dangerous place to a realisation of the extreme danger of
his sleep. Better had he been awake--or never there. In Venetia Captain
Pirelli, whose task it was to keep me out of mischief in the war zone,
was insistent upon the way in which all Venetia was being opened up
by the new military roads; there has been scarcely a new road made in
Venetia since Napoleon drove his straight, poplar-bordered highways
through the land. M. Joseph Reinach, who was my companion upon the
French front, was equally impressed by the stirring up and exchange of
ideas in the villages due to the movement of the war. Charles Lamb’s
story of the discovery of roast pork comes into one’s head with an
effect of repartee. More than ideas are exchanged in the war zone,
and it is doubtful how far the sanitary precautions of the military
authorities avails against a considerable propaganda of disease. A more
serious argument for the good of war is that it evokes heroic qualities
that it has brought out almost incredible quantities of courage,
devotion, and individual romance that did not show in the suffocating
peace time that preceded the war. The reckless and beautiful zeal of
the women in the British and French munition factories, for example, the
gaiety and fearlessness of the common soldiers everywhere; these things
have always been there--like champagne sleeping in bottles in a cellar.
But was there any need to throw a bomb into the cellar?

I am reminded of a story, or rather of the idea for a story that I
think I must have read in that curious collection of fantasies and
observations, Hawthorne’s _Note Book._ It was to be the story of a man
who found life dull and his circumstances altogether mediocre. He had
loved his wife, but now after all she seemed to be a very ordinary human
being. He had begun life with high hopes--and life was commonplace. He
was to grow fretful and restless. His discontent was to lead to some
action, some irrevocable action; but upon the nature of that action I do
not think the _Note Book_ was very clear. It was to carry him in such
a manner that he was to forget his wife. Then, when it was too late,
he was to see her at an upper window, stripped and firelit, a glorious
thing of light and loveliness and tragic intensity....

The elementary tales of the world are very few, and Hawthorne’s story
and Lamb’s story are, after all, only variations upon the same
theme. But can we poor human beings never realise our quality without


One of the larger singularities of the great war is its failure to
produce great and imposing personalities, mighty leaders, Napoleons,
Caesars. I would indeed make that the essential thing in my reckoning
of the war. It is a drama without a hero; without countless incidental
heroes no doubt, but no star part. Even the Germans, with a national
predisposition for hero-cults and living still in an atmosphere of
Victorian humbug, can produce nothing better than that timber image,

It is not that the war has failed to produce heroes so much as that
it has produced heroism in a torrent. The great man of this war is the
common man. It becomes ridiculous to pick out particular names. There
are too many true stories of splendid acts in the past two years ever to
be properly set down. The V.C.’s and the palms do but indicate samples.
One would need an encyclopaedia, a row of volumes, of the gloriousness
of human impulses. The acts of the small men in this war dwarf all the
pretensions of the Great Man. Imperatively these multitudinous heroes
forbid the setting up of effigies. When I was a young man I imitated
Swift and posed for cynicism; I will confess that now at fifty and
greatly helped by this war, I have fallen in love with mankind.

But if I had to pick out a single figure to stand for the finest quality
of the Allies’ war, I should I think choose the figure of General
Joffre. He is something new in history. He is leadership without vulgar
ambition. He is the extreme antithesis to the Imperial boomster of
Berlin. He is as it were the ordinary common sense of men, incarnate. He
is the antithesis of the effigy.

By great good luck I was able to see him. I was delayed in Paris on my
way to Italy, and my friend Captain Millet arranged for a visit to the
French front at Soissons and put me in charge of Lieutenant de Tessin,
whom I had met in England studying British social questions long before
this war. Afterwards Lieutenant de Tessin took me to the great hotel--it
still proclaims “_Restaurant_” in big black letters on the garden
wall--which shelters the General Headquarters of France, and here I
was able to see and talk to Generals Pelle and Castelnau as well as to
General Joffre. They are three very remarkable and very different men.
They have at least one thing in common; it is clear that not one of
them has spent ten minutes in all his life in thinking of himself as
a Personage or Great Man. They all have the effect of being active and
able men doing an extremely complicated and difficult but extremely
interesting job to the very best of their ability. With me they had all
one quality in common. They thought I was interested in what they were
doing, and they were quite prepared to treat me as an intelligent man of
a different sort, and to show me as much as I could understand....

Let me confess that de Tessin had had to persuade me to go to
Headquarters. Partly that was because I didn’t want to use up even
ten minutes of the time of the French commanders, but much more was it
because I have a dread of Personages.

There is something about these encounters with personages--as if one was
dealing with an effigy, with something tremendous put up to be seen.
As one approaches they become remoter; great unsuspected crevasses are
discovered. Across these gulfs one makes ineffective gestures. They do
not meet you, they pose at you enormously. Sometimes there is something
more terrible than dignity; there is condescension. They are affable. I
had but recently had an encounter with an imported Colonial statesman,
who was being advertised like a soap as the coming saviour of England.
I was curious to meet him. I wanted to talk to him about all sorts of
things that would have been profoundly interesting, as for example his
impressions of the Anglican bishops. But I met a hoarding. I met a thing
like a mask, something surrounded by touts, that was dully trying--as we
say in London--to “come it” over me. He said he had heard of me. He
had read _Kipps._ I intimated that though I had written _Kipps_ I had
continued to exist--but he did not see the point of that. I said certain
things to him about the difference in complexity between political
life in Great Britain and the colonies, that he was manifestly totally
capable of understanding. But one could as soon have talked with one of
the statesmen at Madame Tussaud’s. An antiquated figure.

The effect of these French commanders upon me was quite different from
my encounter with that last belated adventurer in the effigy line. I
felt indeed that I was a rather idle and flimsy person coming into the
presence of a tremendously compact and busy person, but I had none of
that unpleasant sensation of a conventional role, of being expected to
play the minute worshipper in the presence of the Great Image. I was so
moved by the common humanity of them all that in each case I broke
away from the discreet interpretations of de Tessin and talked to them
directly in the strange dialect which I have inadvertently made for
myself out of French, a disemvowelled speech of epicene substantives and
verbs of incalculable moods and temperaments, “_Entente Cordiale._” The
talked back as if we had met in a club. General Pelle pulled my leg
very gaily with some quotations from an article I had written upon the
conclusion of the war. I think he found my accent and my idioms very
refreshing. I had committed myself to a statement that Bloch has been
justified in his theory that under modern conditions the defensive wins.
There were excellent reasons, and General Pelle pointed them out, for
doubting the applicability of this to the present war.

Both he and General Castelnau were anxious that I should see a French
offensive sector as well as Soissons. Then I should understand.
And since then I have returned from Italy and I have seen and I do
understand. The Allied offensive was winning; that is to say, it was
inflicting far greater losses than it experienced; it was steadily
beating the spirit out of the German army and shoving it back towards
Germany. Only peace can, I believe, prevent the western war ending in
Germany. And it is the Frenchmen mainly who have worked out how to do

But of that I will write later. My present concern is with General
Joffre as the antithesis of the Effigy. The effigy,

     “Thou Prince of Peace,
     Thou God of War,”

as Mr. Sylvester Viereck called him, prances on a great horse, wears a
Wagnerian cloak, sits on thrones and talks of shining armour and “unser
Gott.” All Germany gloats over his Jovian domesticities; when I was
last in Berlin the postcard shops were full of photographs of a sort
of procession of himself and his sons, all with long straight noses and
sidelong eyes. It is all dreadfully old-fashioned. General Joffre
sits in a pleasant little sitting-room in a very ordinary little villa
conveniently close to Headquarters. He sits among furniture that has no
quality of pose at all, that is neither magnificent nor ostentatiously
simple and hardy. He has dark, rather sleepy eyes under light eyelashes,
eyes that glance shyly and a little askance at his interlocutor and
then, as he talks, away--as if he did not want to be preoccupied by your
attention. He has a broad, rather broadly modelled face, a soft voice,
the sort of persuasive reasoning voice that many Scotchmen have. I had
a feeling that if he were to talk English he would do so with a Scotch
accent. Perhaps somewhere I have met a Scotchman of his type. He sat
sideways to his table as a man might sit for a gossip in a cafe.

He is physically a big man, and in my memory he grows bigger and bigger.
He sits now in my memory in a room like the rooms that any decent people
might occupy, like that vague room that is the background of so many
good portraits, a great blue-coated figure with a soft voice and rather
tired eyes, explaining very simply and clearly the difficulties that
this vulgar imperialism of Germany, seizing upon modern science and
modern appliances, has created for France and the spirit of mankind.

He talked chiefly of the strangeness of this confounded war. It was
exactly like a sanitary engineer speaking of the unexpected difficulties
of some particularly nasty inundation. He made little stiff horizontal
gestures with his hands. First one had to build a dam and stop the rush
of it, so; then one had to organise the push that would send it back. He
explained the organisation of the push. They had got an organisation
now that was working out most satisfactorily. Had I seen a sector? I
had seen the sector of Soissons. Yes, but that was not now an offensive
sector. I must see an offensive sector; see the whole method. Lieutenant
de Tessin must see that that was arranged....

Neither he nor his two colleagues spoke of the Germans with either
hostility or humanity. Germany for them is manifestly merely an
objectionable Thing. It is not a nation, not a people, but a nuisance.
One has to build up this great counter-thrust bigger and stronger until
they go back. The war must end in Germany. The French generals have
no such delusions about German science or foresight or capacity as
dominates the smart dinner chatter of England. One knows so well that
detestable type of English folly, and its voice of despair: “They _plan_
everything. They foresee everything.” This paralysing Germanophobia is
not common among the French. The war, the French generals said, might
take--well, it certainly looked like taking longer than the winter. Next
summer perhaps. Probably, if nothing unforeseen occurred, before a full
year has passed the job might be done. Were any surprises in store? They
didn’t seem to think it was probable that the Germans had any surprises
in store.... The Germans are not an inventive people; they are merely a
thorough people. One never knew for certain.

Is any greater contrast possible than between so implacable, patient,
reasonable--and above all things _capable_--a being as General Joffre
and the rhetorician of Potsdam, with his talk of German Might, of Hammer
Blows and Hacking Through? Can there be any doubt of the ultimate issue
between them?

There are stories that sound pleasantly true to me about General
Joffre’s ambitions after the war. He is tired; then he will be very
tired. He will, he declares, spend his first free summer in making a
tour of the waterways of France in a barge. So I hope it may be. One
imagines him as sitting quietly on the crumpled remains of the last
and tawdriest of Imperial traditions, with a fishing line in the placid
water and a large buff umbrella overhead, the good ordinary man who does
whatever is given to him to do--as well as he can. The power that has
taken the great effigy of German imperialism by the throat is something
very composite and complex, but if we personify it at all it is
something more like General Joffre than any other single human figure I
can think of or imagine.

If I were to set a frontispiece to a book about this War I would make
General Joffre the frontispiece.


As we swung back along the dusty road to Paris at a pace of fifty
miles an hour and upwards, driven by a helmeted driver with an aquiline
profile fit to go upon a coin, whose merits were a little flawed by a
childish and dangerous ambition to run over every cat he saw upon the
road, I talked to de Tessin about this big blue-coated figure of Joffre,
which is not so much a figure as a great generalisation of certain
hitherto rather obscured French qualities, and of the impression he had
made upon me. And from that I went on to talk about the Super Man, for
this encounter had suddenly crystallised out a set of realisations that
had been for some time latent in my mind.

How much of what follows I said to de Tessin at the time I do not
clearly remember, but this is what I had in mind.

The idea of the superman is an idea that has been developed by various
people ignorant of biology and unaccustomed to biological ways of
thinking. It is an obvious idea that follows in the course of half an
hour or so upon one’s realisation of the significance of Darwinism. If
man has evolved from something different, he must now be evolving onward
into something sur-human. The species in the future will be different
from the species of the past. So far at least our Nietzsches and Shaws
and so on went right.

But being ignorant of the elementary biological proposition that
modification of a species means really a secular change in its average,
they jumped to a conclusion--to which the late Lord Salisbury also
jumped years ago at a very memorable British Association meeting--that
a species is modified by the sudden appearance of eccentric individuals
here and there in the general mass who interbreed--preferentially.
Helped by a streak of antic egotism in themselves, they conceived of
the superman as a posturing personage, misunderstood by the vulgar,
fantastic, wonderful. But the antic Personage, the thing I have called
the Effigy, is not new but old, the oldest thing in history, the
departing thing. It depends not upon the advance of the species but upon
the uncritical hero-worship of the crowd. You may see the monster drawn
twenty times the size of common men upon the oldest monuments of Egypt
and Assyria. The true superman comes not as the tremendous personal
entry of a star, but in the less dramatic form of a general increase of
goodwill and skill and common sense. A species rises not by thrusting up
peaks but by the brimming up as a flood does. The coming of the superman
means not an epidemic of personages but the disappearance of the
Personage in the universal ascent. That is the point overlooked by the
megalomaniac school of Nietzsche and Shaw.

And it is the peculiarity of this war, it is the most reassuring
evidence that a great increase in general ability and critical ability
has been going on throughout the last century, that no isolated
great personages have emerged. Never has there been so much ability,
invention, inspiration, leadership; but the very abundance of good
qualities has prevented our focusing upon those of any one individual.
We all play our part in the realisation of God’s sanity in the world,
but, as the strange, dramatic end of Lord Kitchener has served to remind
us, there is no single individual of all the allied nations whose death
can materially affect the great destinies of this war.

In the last few years I have developed a religious belief that has
become now to me as real as any commonplace fact. I think that mankind
is still as it were collectively dreaming and hardly more awakened to
reality than a very young child. It has these dreams that we express by
the flags of nationalities and by strange loyalties and by irrational
creeds and ceremonies, and its dreams at times become such nightmares as
this war. But the time draws near when mankind will awake and the dreams
will fade away, and then there will be no nationality in all the world
but humanity, and no kind, no emperor, nor leader but the one God of
mankind. This is my faith. I am as certain of this as I was in 1900 that
men would presently fly. To me it is as if it must be so.

So that to me this extraordinary refusal of the allied nations under
conditions that have always hitherto produced a Great Man to produce
anything of the sort, anything that can be used as an effigy and carried
about for the crowd to follow, is a fact of extreme significance and
encouragement. It seems to me that the twilight of the half gods must
have come, that we have reached the end of the age when men needed a
Personal Figure about which they could rally. The Kaiser is perhaps
the last of that long series of crowned and cloaked and semi-divine
personages which has included Caesar and Alexander and Napoleon the
First--and Third. In the light of the new time we see the emperor-god
for the guy he is. In the August of 1914 he set himself up to be the
paramount Lord of the World, and it will seem to the historian to come,
who will know our dates so well and our feelings, our fatigues and
efforts so little, it will seem a short period from that day to this,
when the great figure already sways and staggers towards the bonfire.


I had the experience of meeting a contemporary king upon this journey.
He was the first king I had ever met. The Potsdam figure--with perhaps
some local exceptions behind the Gold Coast--is, with its collection of
uniforms and its pomps and splendours, the purest survival of the old
tradition of divine monarchy now that the Emperor at Pekin has followed
the Shogun into the shadows. The modern type of king shows a disposition
to intimate at the outset that he cannot help it, and to justify or at
any rate utilise his exceptional position by sound hard work. It is an
age of working kings, with the manners of private gentlemen. The King
of Italy for example is far more accessible than was the late Pierpont
Morgan or the late Cecil Rhodes, and he seems to keep a smaller court.

I went to see him from Udine. He occupied a moderate-sized country villa
about half an hour by automobile from headquarters. I went over with
General Radcliffe; we drove through the gates of the villa past a single
sentinel in an ordinary infantry uniform, up to the door of the house,
and the number of guards, servants, attendants, officials, secretaries,
ministers and the like that I saw in that house were--I counted very
carefully--four. Downstairs were three people, a tall soldier of the
bodyguard in grey; an A.D.C., Captain Moreno, and Col. Matteoli, the
minister of the household. I went upstairs to a drawing-room of much
the same easy and generalised character as the one in which I had met
General Joffre a few days before. I gave my hat to a second bodyguard,
and as I did so a pleasantly smiling man appeared at the door of the
study whom I thought at first must be some minister in attendance. I did
not recognise him instantly because on the stamps and coins he is always
in profile. He began to talk in excellent English about my journey,
and I replied, and so talking we went into the study from which he had
emerged. Then I realised I was talking to the king.

Addicted as I am to the cinematograph, in which the standard of study
furniture is particularly rich and high, I found something very cooling
and simple and refreshing in the sight of the king’s study furniture. He
sat down with me at a little useful writing table, and after asking me
what I had seen in Italy and hearing what I had seen and what I was to
see, he went on talking, very good talk indeed.

I suppose I did a little exceed the established tradition of courts
by asking several questions and trying to get him to talk upon certain
points as to which I was curious, but I perceived that he had had to
carry on at least so much of the regal tradition as to control the
conversation. He was, however, entirely un-posed. His talk reminded me
somehow of Maurice Baring’s books; it had just the same quick, positive
understanding. And he had just the same detachment from the war as the
French generals. He spoke of it--as one might speak of an inundation.
And of its difficulties and perplexities.

Here on the Adriatic side there were political entanglements that by
comparison made our western after-the-war problems plain sailing. He
talked of the game of spellicans among the Balkan nationalities. How was
that difficulty to be met? In Macedonia there were Turkish villages that
were Christian and Bulgarians that were Moslem. There were families that
changed the termination of their names from _ski_ to _off_ as Serbian or
Bulgarian prevailed. I remarked that that showed a certain passion for
peace, and that much of the mischief might be due to the propaganda
of the great Powers. I have a prejudice against that blessed Whig
“principle of nationality,” but the King of Italy was not to be drawn
into any statement about that. He left the question with his admission
of its extreme complexity.

He went on to talk of the strange contrasts of war, of such things as
the indifference of the birds to gunfire and desolation. One day on
the Carso he had been near the newly captured Austrian trenches, and
suddenly from amidst a scattered mass of Austrian bodies a quail had
risen that had struck him as odd, and so too had the sight of a pack of
cards and a wine flask on some newly-made graves. The ordinary life was
a very _obstinate_ thing....

He talked of the courage of modern men. He was astonished at the
quickness with which they came to disregard shrapnel. And they were
so quietly enduring when they were wounded. He had seen a lot of the
wounded, and he had expected much groaning and crying out. But unless
a man is hit in the head and goes mad he does not groan or scream! They
are just brave. If you ask them how they feel it is always one of two
things: either they say quietly that they are very bad or else they say
there is nothing the matter....

He spoke as if these were mere chance observations, but everyone tells
me that nearly every day the king is at the front and often under fire.
He has taken more risks in a week than the Potsdam War Lord has taken
since the war began. He keeps himself acutely informed upon every aspect
of the war. He was a little inclined to fatalism, he confessed. There
were two stories current of two families of four sons, in each three
had been killed and in each there was an attempt to put the fourth in a
place of comparative safety. In one case a general took the fourth
son in as an attendant and embarked upon a ship that was immediately
torpedoed; in the other the fourth son was killed by accident while he
was helping to carry dinner in a rest camp. From those stories we came
to the question whether the uneducated Italians were more superstitious
than the uneducated English; the king thought they were much less so.
That struck me as a novel idea. But then he thought that English rural
people believe in witches and fairies.

I have given enough of this talk to show the quality of this king of the
new dispensation. It was, you see, the sort of easy talk one might hear
from fine-minded people anywhere. When we had done talking he came
to the door of the study with me and shook hands and went back to his
desk--with that gesture of return to work which is very familiar and
sympathetic to a writer, and with no gesture of regality at all.

Just to complete this impression let me repeat a pleasant story about
this king and our Prince of Wales, who recently visited the Italian
front. The Prince is a source of anxiety on these visits; he has a very
strong and very creditable desire to share the ordinary risks of war.
He is keenly interested, and unobtrusively bent upon getting as near
the fighting as line as possible. But the King of Italy was firm upon
keeping him out of anything more than the most incidental danger. “We
don’t want any historical incidents here,” he said. I think that might
well become an historical phrase. For the life of the Effigy is a series
of historical incidents.


Manifestly one might continue to multiply portraits of fine people
working upon this great task of breaking and ending the German
aggression, the German legend, the German effigy, and the effigy
business generally; the thesis being that the Allies have no effigy.
One might fill a thick volume with pictures of men up the scale and down
working loyally and devotedly upon the war, to make this point clear
that the essential king and the essential loyalty of our side is the
commonsense of mankind.

There comes into my head as a picture at the other extreme of this
series, a memory of certain trenches I visited on my last day in
France. They were trenches on an offensive front; they were not those
architectural triumphs, those homes from home, that grow to perfection
upon the less active sections of the great line. They had been first
made by men who had run rapidly forward with spade and rifle, stooping
as they ran, who had dropped into the craters of big shells, who had
organised these chiefly at night and dug the steep ditches sideways to
join up into continuous trenches. Now they were pushing forward saps
into No Man’s Land, linking them across, and so continually creeping
nearer to the enemy and a practicable jumping-off place for an attack.
(It has been made since; the village at which I peeped was in our hands
a week later.) These trenches were dug into a sort of yellowish sandy
clay; the dug-outs were mere holes in the earth that fell in upon the
clumsy; hardly any timber had been got up the line; a storm might flood
them at any time a couple of feet deep and begin to wash the sides.
Overnight they had been “strafed” and there had been a number of
casualties; there were smashed rifles about and a smashed-up machine gun
emplacement, and the men were dog-tired and many of them sleeping like
logs, half buried in clay. Some slept on the firing steps. As one
went along one became aware ever and again of two or three pairs of
clay-yellow feet sticking out of a clay hole, and peering down one
saw the shapes of men like rudely modelled earthen images of soldiers,
motionless in the cave.

I came round the corner upon a youngster with an intelligent face and
steady eyes sitting up on the firing step, awake and thinking. We looked
at one another. There are moments when mind leaps to mind. It is natural
for the man in the trenches suddenly confronted by so rare a beast as
a middle-aged civilian with an enquiring expression, to feel oneself
something of a spectacle and something generalised. It is natural for
the civilian to look rather in the vein of saying, “Well, how do you
take it?” As I pushed past him we nodded slightly with an effect of
mutual understanding. And we said with our nods just exactly what
General Joffre had said with his horizontal gestures of the hand and
what the King of Italy conveyed by his friendly manner; we said to each
other that here was the trouble those Germans had brought upon us and
here was the task that had to be done.

Our guide to these trenches was a short, stocky young man, a cob; with
a rifle and a tight belt and projecting skirts and a helmet, a queer
little figure that, had you seen it in a picture a year or so before the
war, you would most certainly have pronounced Chinese. He belonged to a
Northumbrian battalion; it does not matter exactly which. As we returned
from this front line, trudging along the winding path through the barbed
wire tangles before the smashed and captured German trench that had been
taken a fortnight before, I fell behind my guardian captain and had
a brief conversation wit this individual. He was a lad in the early
twenties, weather-bit and with bloodshot eyes. He was, he told me, a
miner. I asked my stock question in such cases, whether he would go back
to the old work after the war. He said he would, and then added--with
the events of overnight on his mind: “If A’hm looky.”

Followed a little silence. Then I tried my second stock remark for such
cases. One does not talk to soldiers at the front in this war of Glory
or the “Empire on which the sun never sets” or “the meteor flag of
England” or of King and Country or any of those fine old headline
things. On the desolate path that winds about amidst the shell craters
and the fragments and the red-rusted wire, with the silken shiver of
passing shells in the air and the blue of the lower sky continually
breaking out into eddying white puffs, it is wonderful how tawdry such
panoplies of the effigy appear. We knew that we and our allies are upon
a greater, graver, more fundamental business than that sort of thing
now. We are very near the waking point.

“Well,” I said, “it’s got to be done.”

“Aye,” he said, easing the strap of his rifle a little; “it’s got to be




My first impressions of the Italian war centre upon Udine. So far I had
had only a visit to Soissons on an exceptionally quiet day and the
sound of a Zeppelin one night in Essex for all my experience of actual
warfare. But my bedroom at the British mission in Udine roused perhaps
extravagant expectations. There were holes in the plaster ceiling and
wall, betraying splintered laths, holes, that had been caused by a bomb
that had burst and killed several people in the little square outside.
Such excitements seem to be things of the past now in Udine. Udine keeps
itself dark nowadays, and the Austrian sea-planes, which come raiding
the Italian coast country at night very much in the same aimless,
casually malignant way in which the Zeppelins raid England, apparently
because there is nothing else for them to do, find it easier to locate

My earlier rides in Venetia began always with the level roads of the
plain, roads frequently edged by watercourses, with plentiful willows
beside the road, vines and fields of Indian corn and suchlike lush
crops. Always quite soon one came to some old Austrian boundary posts;
almost everywhere the Italians are fighting upon what is technically
enemy territory, but nowhere does it seem a whit less Italian than
the plain of Lombardy. When at last I motored away from Udine to the
northern mountain front I passed through Campo-Formio and saw the
white-faced inn at which Napoleon dismembered the ancient republic
of Venice and bartered away this essential part of Italy into foreign
control. It just gravitates back now--as though there had been no

And upon the roads and beside them was the enormous equipment of a
modern army advancing. Everywhere I saw new roads being made, railways
pushed up, vast store dumps, hospitals; everywhere the villages swarmed
with grey soldiers; everywhere our automobile was threading its way
and taking astonishing risks among interminable processions of motor
lorries, strings of ambulances or of mule carts, waggons with timber,
waggons with wire, waggons with men’s gear, waggons with casks, waggons
discreetly veiled, columns of infantry, cavalry, batteries _en route._
Every waggon that goes up full comes back empty, and many wounded were
coming down and prisoners and troops returning to rest. Goritzia had
been taken a week or so before my arrival; the Isonzo had been crossed
and the Austrians driven back across the Carso for several miles; all
the resources of Italy seemed to be crowding up to make good these
gains and gather strength for the next thrust. The roads under all this
traffic remained wonderful; gangs of men were everywhere repairing the
first onset of wear, and Italy is the most fortunate land in the world
for road metal; her mountains are solid road metal, and in this Venetian
plain you need but to scrape through a yard of soil to find gravel.

One travelled through a choking dust under the blue sky, and above the
steady incessant dusty succession of lorry, lorry, lorry, lorry that
passed one by, one saw, looking up, the tree tops, house roofs, or the
solid Venetian campanile of this or that wayside village. Once as we
were coming out of the great grey portals of that beautiful old relic of
a former school of fortification, Palmanova, the traffic became suddenly
bright yellow, and for a kilometre or so we were passing nothing but
Sicilian mule carts loaded with hay. These carts seem as strange among
the grey shapes of modern war transport as a Chinese mandarin in painted
silk would be. They are the most individual of things, all two-wheeled,
all bright yellow and the same size it is true, but upon each there are
they gayest of little paintings, such paintings as one sees in England
at times upon an ice-cream barrow. Sometimes the picture will present
a scriptural subject, sometimes a scene of opera, sometimes a dream
landscape or a trophy of fruits or flowers, and the harness--now much
out of repair--is studded with brass. Again and again I have passed
strings of these gay carts; all Sicily must be swept of them.

Through the dust I came to Aquileia, which is now an old cathedral,
built upon the remains of a very early basilica, standing in a space in
a scattered village. But across this dusty space there was carried the
head of the upstart Maximinus who murdered Alexander Severus, and
later Aquileia brought Attila near to despair. Our party alighted; we
inspected a very old mosaic floor which has been uncovered since the
Austrian retreat. The Austrian priests have gone too, and their Italian
successors are already tracing out a score of Roman traces that it was
the Austrian custom to minimise. Captain Pirelli refreshed my historical
memories; it was rather like leaving a card on Gibbon _en route_ for
contemporary history.

By devious routes I went on to certain batteries of big guns which had
played their part in hammering the Austrian left above Monfalcone across
an arm of the Adriatic, and which were now under orders to shift and
move up closer. The battery was the most unobtrusive of batteries; its
one desire seemed to be to appear a simple piece of woodland in the eye
of God and the aeroplane. I went about the network of railways and paths
under the trees that a modern battery requires, and came presently upon
a great gun that even at the first glance seemed a little less carefully
hidden than its fellows. Then I saw that it was a most ingenious dummy
made of a tree and logs and so forth. It was in the emplacement of a
real gun that had been located; it had its painted sandbags about it
just the same, and it felt itself so entirely a part of the battery that
whenever its companions fired t burnt a flash and kicked up a dust. It
was an excellent example of the great art of camouflage which this war
has developed.

I went on through the wood to a shady observation post high in a tree,
into which I clambered with my guide. I was able from this position to
get a very good idea of the lie of the Italian eastern front. I was in
the delta of the Isonzo. Directly in front of me were some marshes
and the extreme tip of the Adriatic Sea, at the head of which was
Monfalcone, now in Italian hands. Behind Monfalcone ran the red ridge
of the Carso, of which the Italians had just captured the eastern half.
Behind this again rose the mountains to the east of the Isonzo which
the Austrians still held. The Isonzo came towards me from out of the
mountains, in a great westward curve. Fifteen or sixteen miles away
where it emerged from the mountains lay the pleasant and prosperous town
of Goritzia, and at the westward point of the great curve was Sagrado
with its broken bridge. The battle of Goritzia was really not fought at
Goritzia at all. What happened was the brilliant and bloody storming
of Mounts Podgora and Sabotino on the western side of the river above
Goritzia, and simultaneously a crossing at Sagrado below Goritzia and
a magnificent rush up the plateau and across the plateau of the Carso.
Goritzia itself was not organised for defence, and the Austrians were
so surprised by the rapid storm of the mountains to the north-west of it
and of the Carso to the south-east, that they made no fight in the town

As a consequence when I visited it I found it very little
injured--compared, that is, with such other towns as have been fought
through. Here and there the front of a house has been knocked in by
an Austrian shell, or a lamp-post prostrated. But the road bridge had
suffered a good deal; its iron parapet was twisted about by shell bursts
and interwoven with young trees and big boughs designed to screen the
passer-by from the observation of the Austrian gunners upon Monte Santo.
Here and there were huge holes through which one could look down upon
the blue trickles of water in the stony river bed far below. The driver
of our automobile displayed what seemed to me an extreme confidence in
the margins of these gaps, but his confidence was justified. At Sagrado
the bridge had been much more completely demolished; no effort had been
made to restore the horizontal roadway, but one crossed by a sort of
timber switchback that followed the ups and downs of the ruins.

It is not in these places that one must look for the real destruction
of modern war. The real fight on the left of Goritzia went through the
village of Lucinico up the hill of Podgora. Lucinico is nothing more
than a heap of grey stones; except for a bit of the church wall and the
gable end of a house one cannot even speak of it as ruins. But in one
place among the rubble I saw the splintered top and a leg of a grand
piano. Podgora hill, which was no doubt once neatly terraced and
cultivated, is like a scrap of landscape from some airless, treeless
planet. Still more desolate was the scene upon the Carso to the right
(south) of Goritzia. Both San Martino and Doberdo are destroyed beyond
the limits of ruination. The Carso itself is a waterless upland with but
a few bushy trees; it must always have been a desolate region, but now
it is an indescribable wilderness of shell craters, smashed-up Austrian
trenches, splintered timber, old iron, rags, and that rusty thorny
vileness of man’s invention, worse than all the thorns and thickets of
nature, barbed wire. There are no dead visible; the wounded have been
cleared away; but about the trenches and particularly near some of the
dug-outs there was a faint repulsive smell....

Yet into this wilderness the Italians are now thrusting a sort of order.
The German is a wonderful worker, they say on the Anglo-French front
that he makes his trenches by way of resting, but I doubt if he can
touch the Italian at certain forms of toil. All the way up to San
Martino and beyond, swarms of workmen were making one of those carefully
graded roads that the Italians make better than any other people. Other
swarms were laying water-pipes. For upon the Carso there are neither
roads nor water, and before the Italians can thrust farther both must be
brought up to the front.

As we approached San Martino an Austrian aeroplane made its presence
felt overhead by dropping a bomb among the tents of some workmen, in a
little scrubby wood on the hillside near at hand. One heard the report
and turned to see the fragments flying and the dust. Probably they got
someone. And then, after a little pause, the encampment began to spew
out men; here, there and everywhere they appeared among the tents,
running like rabbits at evening-time, down the hill. Soon after and
probably in connection with this signal, Austrian shells began to come
over. They do not use shrapnel because the rocky soil of Italy makes
that unnecessary. They fire a sort of shell that goes bang and releases
a cloud of smoke overhead, and then drops a parcel of high explosive
that bursts on the ground. The ground leaps into red dust and smoke. But
these things are now to be seen on the cinema. Forthwith the men working
on the road about us begin to down tools and make for the shelter
trenches, a long procession going at a steady but resolute walk. Then
like a blow in the chest came the bang of a big Italian gun somewhere
close at hand....

Along about four thousand miles of the various fronts this sort of thing
was going on that morning....


This Carso front is the practicable offensive front of Italy. From the
left wing on the Isonzo along the Alpine boundary round to the Swiss
boundary there is mountain warfare like nothing else in the world; it
is warfare that pushes the boundary backward, but it is mountain warfare
that will not, for so long a period that the war will be over first,
hold out any hopeful prospects of offensive movements on a large scale
against Austria or Germany. It is a short distance as the crow flies
from Rovereto to Munich, but not as the big gun travels. The Italians,
therefore, as their contribution to the common effort, are thrusting
rather eastwardly towards the line of the Julian Alps through Carinthia
and Carniola. From my observation post in the tree near Monfalcone I saw
Trieste away along the coast to my right. It looked scarcely as distant
as Folkestone from Dungeness. The Italian advanced line is indeed
scarcely ten miles from Trieste. But the Italians are not, I think,
going to Trieste just yet. That is not the real game now. They are
playing loyally with the Allies for the complete defeat of the Central
Powers, and that is to be achieved striking home into Austria. Meanwhile
there is no sense in knocking Trieste to pieces, or using Italians
instead of Austrian soldiers to garrison it.



The mountain warfare of Italy is extraordinarily unlike that upon any
other front. From the Isonzo to the Swiss frontier we are dealing with
high mountains, cut by deep valleys between which there is usually no
practicable lateral communication. Each advance must have the nature of
an unsupported shove along a narrow channel, until the whole mountain
system, that is, is won, and the attack can begin to deploy in front
of the passes. Geographically Austria has the advantage. She had the
gentler slope of the mountain chains while Italy has the steep side,
and the foresight of old treaties has given her deep bites into what is
naturally Italian territory; she is far nearer the Italian plain
than Italy is near any practicable fighting ground for large forces;
particularly is this the case in the region of the Adige valley and Lake

The legitimate war, so to speak, in this region is a mountaineering war.
The typical position is roughly as follows. The Austrians occupy valley
A which opens northward; the Italians occupy valley B which opens
southward. The fight is for the crest between A and B. The side that
wins that crest gains the power of looking down into, firing into and
outflanking the positions of the enemy valley. In most cases it is the
Italians now who are pressing, and if the reader will examine a map of
the front and compare it with the official reports he will soon realise
that almost everywhere the Italians are up to the head of the southward
valleys and working over the crests so as to press down upon the
Austrian valleys. But in the Trentino the Austrians are still well over
the crest on the southward slopes. When I was in Italy they still held

Now it cannot be said that under modern conditions mountains favour
either the offensive or the defensive. But they certainly make
operations far more deliberate than upon a level. An engineered road or
railway in an Alpine valley is the most vulnerable of things; its curves
and viaducts may be practically demolished by shell fire or swept by
shrapnel, although you hold the entire valley except for one vantage
point. All the mountains round about a valley must be won before that
valley is safe for the transport of an advance. But on the other hand a
surprise capture of some single mountain crest and the hoisting of one
gun into position there may block the retreat of guns and material
from a great series of positions. Mountain surfaces are extraordinarily
various and subtle. You may understand Picardy on a map, but mountain
warfare is three-dimensional. A struggle may go on for weeks or months
consisting of apparently separate and incidental skirmishes, and then
suddenly a whole valley organisation may crumble away in retreat
or disaster. Italy is gnawing into the Trentino day by day, and
particularly around by her right wing. At no time I shall be surprised
to see a sudden lunge forward on that front, and hear a tale of guns
and prisoners. This will not mean that she has made a sudden attack, but
that some system of Austrian positions has collapsed under her continual

Such briefly is the _idea_ of mountain struggle. Its realities, I
should imagine, are among the strangest and most picturesque in all this
tremendous world conflict. I know nothing of the war in the east, of
course, but there are things here that must be hard to beat. Happily
they will soon get justice done to them by an abler pen than mine.
I hear that Kipling is to follow me upon this ground; nothing can be
imagined more congenial to his extraordinary power of vivid rendering
than this struggle against cliffs, avalanches, frost and the Austrian.

To go the Italian round needs, among other things, a good head.
Everywhere it has been necessary to make roads where hitherto there have
been only mule tracks or no tracks at all; the roads are often still in
the making, and the automobile of the war tourist skirts precipices and
takes hairpin bends upon tracks of loose metal not an inch too broad
for the operation, or it floats for a moment over the dizzy edge while
a train of mule transport blunders by. The unruly imagination of man’s
heart (which is “only evil continually”) speculates upon what would be
the consequences of one good bump from the wheel of a mule cart. Down
below, the trees that one sees through a wisp of cloud look far too
small and spiky and scattered to hold out much hope for a fallen man
of letters. And at the high positions they are too used to the
vertical life to understand the secret feelings of the visitor from
the horizontal. General Bompiani, whose writings are well known to all
English students of military matters, showed me the Gibraltar he is
making of a great mountain system east of the Adige.

“Let me show you,” he said, and flung himself on to the edge of the
precipice into exactly the position of a lady riding side-saddle. “You
will find it more comfortable to sit down.”

But anxious as I am abroad not to discredit my country by unseemly
exhibitions I felt unequal to such gymnastics without a proper rehearsal
at a lower level. I seated myself carefully at a yard (perhaps it was a
couple of yards) from the edge, advanced on my trousers without dignity
to the verge, and so with an effort thrust my legs over to dangle in the
crystalline air.

“That,” proceeded General Bompiani, pointing with a giddy flourish of
his riding whip, “is Monte Tomba.”

I swayed and half-extended my hand towards him. But he was still
there--sitting, so to speak, on the half of himself.... I was astonished
that he did not disappear abruptly during his exposition....


The fighting man in the Dolomites has been perhaps the most wonderful
of all these separate campaigns. I went up by automobile as far as the
clambering new road goes up the flanks of Tofana No. 2; thence for a
time by mule along the flank of Tofana No. 1, and thence on foot to the
vestiges of the famous Castelletto.

The aspect of these mountains is particularly grim and wicked; they are
worn old mountains, they tower overhead in enormous vertical cliffs
of sallow grey, with the square jointings and occasional clefts and
gullies, their summits are toothed and jagged; the path ascends and
passes round the side of the mountain upon loose screes, which descend
steeply to a lower wall of precipices. In the distance rise other harsh
and desolate-looking mountain masses, with shining occasional scars
of old snow. Far below is a bleak valley of stunted pine trees through
which passes the road of the Dolomites.

As I ascended the upper track two bandages men were coming down on led
mules. It was mid-August, and they were suffering from frostbite.
Across the great gap between the summits a minute traveller with
some provisions was going up by wire to some post upon the crest. For
everywhere upon the icy pinnacles are observation posts directing the
fire of the big guns on the slopes below, or machine-gun stations, or
little garrisons that sit and wait through the bleak days. Often
they have no link with the world below but a precipitous climb or a
“teleferic” wire. Snow and frost may cut them off absolutely for weeks
from the rest of mankind. The sick and wounded must begin their journey
down to help and comfort in a giddy basket that swings down to the head
of the mule track below.

Originally all these crests were in Austrian hands; they were stormed
by the Alpini under almost incredible conditions. For fifteen days, for
example, they fought their way up these screes on the flanks of Tofana
No. 2 to the ultimate crags, making perhaps a hundred metres of ascent
each day, hiding under rocks and in holes in the daylight and receiving
fresh provisions and ammunition and advancing by night. They were
subjected to rifle fire, machine-gun fire and bombs of a peculiar sort,
big iron balls of the size of a football filled with explosive that were
just flung down the steep. They dodged flares and star shells. At one
place they went up a chimney that would be far beyond the climbing
powers of any but a very active man. It must have been like storming the
skies. The dead and wounded rolled away often into inaccessible ravines.
Stray skeletons, rags of uniform, fragments of weapons, will add to the
climbing interest of these gaunt masses for many years to come. In this
manner it was that Tofana No. 2 was taken.

Now the Italians are organising this prize, and I saw winding up far
above me on the steep grey slope a multitudinous string of little things
that looked like black ants, each carrying a small bright yellow egg.
They were mules bringing back balks of timber....

But one position held out invincibly; this was the Castelletto, a great
natural fortress of rock standing out at an angle of the mountain
in such a position that it commanded the Italian communications (the
Dolomite road) in the valley below, and rendered all their positions
uncomfortable and insecure. This obnoxious post was practically
inaccessible either from above or below, and it barred the Italians
even from looking into the Val Travenanzes which it defended. It was, in
fact, an impregnable position, and against it was pitted the invincible
5th Group of the Alpini. It was the old problem of the irresistible
force in conflict with the immovable object. And the outcome has been
the biggest military mine in all history.

The business began in January, 1916, with surveys of the rock in
question. The work of surveying for excavations, never a very simple
one, becomes much more difficult when the site is occupied by hostile
persons with machine guns. In March, as the winter’s snows abated, the
boring machinery began to arrive, by mule as far as possible and then by
hand. Altogether about half a kilometre of gallery had to be made to the
mine chamber, and meanwhile the explosive was coming up load by load and
resting first here, then there, in discreetly chosen positions. There
were at the last thirty-five tons of it in the inner chamber. And while
the boring machines bored and the work went on, Lieutenant Malvezzi was
carefully working out the problem of “il massimo effetto dirompimento”
 and deciding exactly how to pack and explode his little hoard. On the
eleventh of July, at 3.30, as he rejoices to state in his official
report, “the mine responded perfectly both in respect of the
calculations made and of the practical effects,” that is to say, the
Austrians were largely missing and the Italians were in possession of
the crater of the Castelletto and looking down the Val Travenanzes from
which they had been barred for so long. Within a month things had been
so tidied up, and secured by further excavations and sandbags against
hostile fire, that even a middle-aged English writer, extremely fagged
and hot and breathless, could enjoy the same privilege. All this, you
must understand, had gone on at a level to which the ordinary tourist
rarely climbs, in a rarefied, chest-tightening atmosphere, with wisps of
clouds floating in the clear air below and club-huts close at hand....

Among these mountains avalanches are frequent; and they come down
regardless of human strategy. In many cases the trenches cross avalanche
tracks; they and the men in them are periodically swept away and
periodically replaced. They are positions that must be held; if the
Italians will not face such sacrifices, the Austrians will. Avalanches
and frostbite have slain and disabled their thousands; they have
accounted perhaps for as many Italians in this austere and giddy
campaign as the Austrians....


It seems to be part of the stern resolve of Fate that this, the greatest
of wars, shall be the least glorious; it is manifestly being decided
not by victories but by blunders. It is indeed a history of colossal
stupidities. Among the most decisive of these blunders, second only
perhaps of the blunder of the Verdun attack and far outshining the wild
raid of the British towards Bagdad, was the blunder of the Trentino
offensive. It does not need the equipment of a military expert, it
demands only quite ordinary knowledge and average intelligence,
to realise the folly of that Austrian adventure. There is some
justification for a claim that the decisive battle of the war was fought
upon the soil of Italy. There is still more justification for saying
that it might have been.

There was only one good point about the Austrian thrust. No one could
have foretold it. And it did so completely surprise the Italians as to
catch them without any prepared line of positions in the rear. On the
very eve of the big Russian offensive, the Austrians thrust eighteen
divisions hard at the Trentino frontier. The Italian posts were then in
Austrian territory; they held on the left wing and the right, but they
were driven by the sheer weight of men and guns in the centre; they lost
guns and prisoners because of the difficulty of mountain retreats to
which I have alluded, and the Austrians pouring through reached not
indeed the plain of Venetia, but to the upland valleys immediately above
it, to Asiago and Arsiero. They probably saw the Venetian plain through
gaps in the hills, but they were still separated from it even at Arsiero
by what are mountains to an English eye, mountains as high as Snowdon.
But the Italians of such beautiful old places and Vicenza, Marostica,
and Bassano could watch the Austrian shells bursting on the last line of
hills above the plain, and I have no doubt they felt extremely uneasy.

As one motors through these ripe and beautiful towns and through the
rich valleys that link them--it is a smiling land abounding in old
castles and villas, Vicenza is a rich museum of Palladio’s architecture
and Bassano is full of irreplaceable painted buildings--one feels that
the things was a narrow escape, but from the military point of view it
was merely an insane escapade. The Austrians had behind them--and some
way behind them--one little strangulated railway and no good pass road;
their right was held at Pasubio, their left was similarly bent back. In
front of them was between twice and three times their number of first
class troops, with an unlimited equipment. If they had surmounted
that last mountain crest they would have come down to almost certain
destruction in the plain. They could never have got back. For a time
it was said that General Cadorna considered that possibility. From the
point of view of purely military considerations, the Trentino offensive
should perhaps have ended in the capitulation of Vicenza.

I will confess I am glad it did not do so. This tour of the fronts has
made me very sad and weary with a succession of ruins. I can bear no
more ruins unless they are the ruins of Dusseldorf, Cologne, Berlin,
or suchlike modern German city. Anxious as I am to be a systematic
Philistine, to express my preference for Marinetti over the Florentine
British and generally to antagonise aesthetic prigs, I rejoiced over
that sunlit land as one might rejoice over a child saved from beasts.

On the hills beyond Schio I walked out through the embrasure of a big
gun in a rock gallery, and saw the highest points upon the hillside
to which the Austrian infantry clambered in their futile last attacks.
Below me were the ruins of Arsiero and Velo d’Astico recovered, and
across the broad valley rose Monte Cimone with the Italian trenches
upon its crest and the Austrians a little below to the north. A very
considerable bombardment was going on and it reverberated finely. (It
is only among mountains that one hears anything that one can call the
thunder of guns. The heaviest bombardments I heard in France sounded
merely like Brock’s benefit on a much large scale, and disappointed me
extremely.) As I sat and listened to the uproar and watched the shells
burst on Cimone and far away up the valley over Castelletto above
Pedescala, Captain Pirelli pointed out the position of the Austrian
frontier. I doubt if the English people realise that the utmost depth to
which this great Trentino offensive, which exhausted Austria, wasted the
flower of the Hungarian army and led directly to the Galician disasters
and the intervention of Rumania, penetrated into Italian territory was
about six miles.



I have a peculiar affection for Verona and certain things in Verona.
Italians must forgive us English this little streak of impertinent
proprietorship in the beautiful things of their abundant land. It is
quite open to them to revenge themselves by professing a tenderness for
Liverpool or Leeds. It was, for instance, with a peculiar and
personal indignation that I saw where an Austrian air bomb had killed
five-and-thirty people in the Piazza Erbe. Somehow in that jolly old
place, a place that have very much of the quality of a very pretty and
cheerful old woman, it seemed exceptionally an outrage. And I made a
special pilgrimage to see how it was with that monument of Can Grande,
the equestrian Scaliger with the sidelong grin, for whom I confess a
ridiculous admiration. Can Grande, I rejoice to say, has retired into a
case of brickwork, surmounted by a steep roof of thick iron plates; no
aeroplane exists to carry bombs enough to smash that covering; there he
will smile securely in the darkness until peace comes again.

All over Venetia the Austrian seaplanes are making the same sort of
idiot raid on lighted places that the Zeppelins have been making over
England. These raids do no effective military work. What conceivable
military advantage can there be in dropping bombs into a marketing
crowd? It is a sort of anti-Teutonic propaganda by the Central Powers to
which they seem to have been incited by their own evil genius. It is
as if they could convince us that there is an essential malignity in
Germans, that until the German powers are stamped down into the mud
they will continue to do evil things. All of the Allies have borne the
thrusting and boasting of Germany with exemplary patience for half a
century; England gave her Heligoland and stood out of the way of her
colonial expansion, Italy was a happy hunting ground for her
business enterprise, France had come near resignation on the score of
Alsace-Lorraine. And then over and above the great outrage of the
war come these incessant mean-spirited atrocities. A great and simple
wickedness it is possible to forgive; the war itself, had it been
fought greatly by Austria and Germany, would have made no such deep and
enduring breach as these silly, futile assassinations have down between
the Austro-Germans and the rest of the civilised world. One great
misdeed is a thing understandable and forgivable; what grows upon the
consciousness of the world is the persuasion that here we fight not a
national sin but a national insanity; that we dare not leave the German
the power to attack other nations any more for ever....

Venice has suffered particularly from this ape-like impulse to hurt and
terrorise enemy non-combatants. Venice has indeed suffered from this war
far more than any other town in Italy. Her trade has largely ceased;
she has no visitors. I woke up on my way to Udine and found my train at
Venice with an hour to spare; after much examining and stamping of my
passport I was allowed outside the station wicket to get coffee in the
refreshment room and a glimpse of a very sad and silent Grand Canal.
There was nothing doing; a black despondent remnant of the old crowd
of gondolas browsed dreamily among against the quay to stare at me the
better. The empty palaces seemed to be sleeping in the morning sunshine
because it was not worth while to wake up....


Except in the case of Venice, the war does not seem as yet to have made
nearly such a mark upon life in Italy as it has in England or provincial
France. People speak of Italy as a poor country, but that is from a
banker’s point of view. In some respects she is the richest country on
earth, and in the matter of staying power I should think she is
better off than any other belligerent. She produces food in abundance
everywhere; her women are agricultural workers, so that the interruption
of food production by the war has been less serious in Italy than in any
other part of Europe. In peace time, she has constantly exported labour;
the Italian worker has been a seasonal emigrant to America, north and
south, to Switzerland, Germany and the south of France. The cessation of
this emigration has given her great reserves of man power, so that she
has carried on her admirable campaign with less interference with her
normal economic life than any other power. The first person I spoke to
upon the platform at Modane was a British officer engaged in forwarding
Italian potatoes to the British front in France. Afterwards, on my
return, when a little passport irregularity kept me for half a day in
Modane, I went for a walk with him along the winding pass road that goes
down into France. “You see hundreds and hundreds of new Fiat cars,” he
remarked, “along here--going up to the French front.”

But there is a return trade. Near Paris I saw scores of thousands of
shells piled high to go to Italy....

I doubt if English people fully realise either the economic sturdiness
or the political courage of their Italian ally. Italy is not merely
fighting a first-class war in first-class fashion but she is doing
a big, dangerous, generous and far-sighted thing in fighting at all.
France and England were obliged to fight; the necessity was as plain as
daylight. The participation of Italy demanded a remoter wisdom. In the
long run she would have been swallowed up economically and politically
by Germany if she had not fought; but that was not a thing staring her
plainly in the face as the danger, insult and challenge stared France
and England in the face. What did stare her in the face was not merely a
considerable military and political risk, but the rupture of very close
financial and commercial ties. I found thoughtful men talking everywhere
I have been in Italy of two things, of the Jugo-Slav riddle and of the
question of post war finance. So far as the former matter goes, I think
the Italians are set upon the righteous solution of all such riddles,
they are possessed by an intelligent generosity. They are clearly set
upon deserving Jugo-Slav friendship; they understand the plain necessity
of open and friendly routes towards Roumania. It was an Italian who set
out to explain to me that Fiume must be at least a free port; it
would be wrong and foolish to cut the trade of Hungary off from the
Mediterranean. But the banking puzzle is a more intricate and puzzling
matter altogether than the possibility of trouble between Italian and

I write of these things with the simplicity of an angel, but without an
angelic detachment. Here are questions into which one does not so much
rush as get reluctantly pushed. Currency and banking are dry distasteful
questions, but it is clear that they are too much in the hands of
mystery-mongers; it is as much the duty of anyone who talks and writes
of affairs, it is as much the duty of every sane adult, to bring his
possibly poor and unsuitable wits to bear upon these things, as it is
for him to vote or enlist or pay his taxes. Behind the simple ostensible
spectacle of Italy recovering the unredeemed Italy of the Trentino
and East Venetia, goes on another drama. Has Italy been sinking into
something rather hard to define called “economic slavery”? Is she or is
she not escaping from that magical servitude? Before this question has
been under discussion for a minute comes a name--for a time I was really
quite unable to decide whether it is the name of the villain in the
piece or of the maligned heroine, or a secret society or a gold mine,
or a pestilence or a delusion--the name of the _Banca Commerciale

Banking in a country undergoing so rapid and vigorous an economic
development as Italy is very different from the banking we simple
English know of at home. Banking in England, like land-owning, has
hitherto been a sort of hold up. There were always borrowers, there were
always tenants, and all that had to be done was to refuse, obstruct,
delay and worry the helpless borrower or would-be tenant until the
maximum of security and profit was obtained. I have never borrowed but
I have built, and I know something of the extreme hauteur of property of
England towards a man who wants to do anything with land, and with
money I gather the case is just the same. But in Italy, which already
possessed a sunny prosperity of its own upon mediaeval lines, the banker
has had to be suggestive and persuasive, sympathetic and helpful. These
are unaccustomed attitudes for British capital. The field has been far
more attractive to the German banker, who is less of a proudly impassive
usurer and more of a partner, who demands less than absolute security
because he investigates more industriously and intelligently. This great
bank, the Banca Commerciale Italiana, is a bank of the German type: to
begin with, it was certainly dominated by German directors; it was a
bank of stimulation, and its activities interweave now into the whole
fabric of Italian commercial life. But it has already liberated
itself from German influence, and the bulk of its capital is Italian.
Nevertheless I found discussion ranging about firstly what the Banca
Commerciale essentially _was_, secondly what it might _become_, thirdly
what it might _do_, and fourthly what, if anything, had to be done to

It is a novelty to an English mind to find banking thus mixed up with
politics, but it is not a novelty in Italy. All over Venetia there are
agricultural banks which are said to be “clerical.” I grappled with this
mystery. “How are they clerical?” I asked Captain Pirelli. “Do they lend
money on bad security to clerical voters, and on no terms whatever
to anti-clericals?” He was quite of my way of thinking. “_Pecunia non
olet_,” he said; “I have never yet smelt a clerical fifty lira note.”...
But on the other hand Italy is very close to Germany; she wants easy
money for development, cheap coal, a market for various products. The
case against the Germans--this case in which the Banca Commerciale
Italiana appears, I am convinced unjustly, as a suspect--is that they
have turned this natural and proper interchange with Italy into the
acquisition of German power. That they have not been merely easy
traders, but patriotic agents. It is alleged that they used their
early “pull” in Italian banking to favour German enterprises and German
political influence against the development of native Italian business;
that their merchants are not bona-fide individuals, but members of
a nationalist conspiracy to gain economic controls. The German is a
patriotic monomaniac. He is not a man but a limb, the worshipper of a
national effigy, the digit of an insanely proud and greedy Germania, and
here are the natural consequences.

The case of the individual Italian compactly is this: “We do not like
the Austrians and Germans. These Imperialisms look always over the Alps.
Whatever increases German influence here threatens Italian life. The
German is a German first and a human being afterwards.... But on the
other hand England seems commercially indifferent to us and France has
been economically hostile...”

“After all,” I said presently, after reflection, “in that matter of
_Pecunia non olet_; there used to be fusses about European loans in
China. And one of the favourite themes of British fiction and drama
before the war was the unfortunate position of the girl who accepted a
loan from the wicked man to pay her debts at bridge.”

“Italy,” said Captain Pirelli, “isn’t a girl. And she hasn’t been
playing bridge.”

I incline on the whole to his point of view. Money is facile
cosmopolitan stuff. I think that any bank that settles down in Italy is
going to be slowly and steadily naturalised Italian, it will become more
and more Italian until it is wholly Italian. I would trust Italy to make
and keep the Banca Commerciale Italiana Italian. I believe the Italian
brain is a better brain than the German article. But still I heard
people talking of the implicated organisation as if it were engaged in
the most insidious duplicities. “Wait for only a year or so after the
war,” said one English authority to me, “and the mask will be off and it
will be frankly a ‘Deutsche Bank’ once more.” They assure me that
then German enterprises will be favoured again, Italian and Allied
enterprises blockaded and embarrassed, the good understanding of
Italians and English poisoned, entirely through this organisation....

The reasonable uncommercial man would like to reject all this last sort
of talk as “suspicion mania.” So far as the Banca Commerciale Italiana
goes, I at least find that easy enough; I quote that instance simply
because it is a case where suspicion has been dispelled, but in
regard to a score of other business veins it is not so easy to dispel
suspicion. This war has been a shock to reasonable men the whole world
over. They have been forced to realise that after all a great number
of Germans have been engaged in a crack-brained conspiracy against the
non-German world; that in a great number of cases when one does business
with a German the business does not end with the individual German. We
hated to believe that a business could be tainted by German partners or
German associations. If now we err on the side of over-suspicion, it is
the German’s little weakness for patriotic disingenuousness that is most
to blame....

But anyhow I do not think there is much good in a kind of witch-smelling
among Italian enterprises to find the hidden German. Certain things are
necessary for Italian prosperity and Italy must get them. The Italians
want intelligent and helpful capital. They want a helpful France.
They want bituminous coal for metallurgical purposes. They want cheap
shipping. The French too want metallurgical coal. It is more important
for civilisation, for the general goodwill of the Allies and for Great
Britain that these needs should be supplied than that individual British
money-owners or ship-owners should remain sluggishly rich by insisting
upon high security or high freights. The control of British coal-mining
and shipping is in the national interests--for international
interests--rather than for the creation of that particularly passive,
obstructive, and wasteful type of wealth, the wealth of the mere
profiteer, is as urgent a necessity for the commercial welfare of France
and Italy and the endurance of the Great Alliance as it is for the
well-being of the common man in Britain.


I left my military guide at Verona on Saturday afternoon and reached
Milan in time to dine outside Salvini’s in the Galleria Vittorio
Emanuele, with an Italian fellow story-writer. The place was as full as
ever; we had to wait for a table. It is notable that there were still
great numbers of young men not in uniform in Milan and Turin and Vicenza
and Verona; there was no effect anywhere of a depletion of men. The
whole crowded place was smouldering with excitement. The diners
looked about them as they talked, some talked loudly and seemed to be
expressing sentiments. Newspaper vendors appeared at the intersection
of the arcades, uttering ambiguous cries, and did a brisk business of
flitting white sheets among the little tables.

“To-night,” said my companion, “I think we shall declare war upon
Germany. The decision is being made.”

I asked intelligently why this had not been done before. I forget the
precise explanation he gave. A young soldier in uniform, who had been
dining at an adjacent table and whom I had not recognised before as a
writer I had met some years previously in London, suddenly joined in our
conversation, with a slightly different explanation. I had been carrying
on a conversation in slightly ungainly French, but now I relapsed into

But indeed the matter of that declaration of war is as plain as
daylight; the Italian national consciousness has not at first that
direct sense of the German danger that exists in the minds of the three
northern Allies. To the Italian the traditional enemy is Austria, and
this war is not primarily a war for any other end than the emancipation
of Italy. Moreover we have to remember that for years there has been
serious commercial friction between France and Italy, and considerable
mutual elbowing in North Africa. Both Frenchmen and Italians are
resolute to remedy this now, but the restoration of really friendly
and trustful relations is not to be done in a day. It has been an
extraordinary misfortune for Great Britain that instead of boldly taking
over her shipping from its private owners and using it all, regardless
of their profit, in the interests of herself and her allies, her
government has permitted so much of it as military and naval needs have
not requisitioned to continue to ply for gain, which the government
itself has shared by a tax on war profits. The Anglophobe elements in
Italian public life have made the utmost of this folly or laxity in
relation more particularly to the consequent dearness of coal in Italy.
They have carried on an amazingly effective campaign in which this
British slackness with the individual profiteer, is represented as if
it were the deliberate greed of the British state. This certainly
contributed very much to fortify Italy’s disinclination to slam the door
on the German connection.

I did my best to make it clear to my two friends that so far from
England exploiting Italy, I myself suffered in exactly the same way
as any Italian, through the extraordinary liberties of our shipping
interest. “I pay as well as you do,” I said; “the shippers’ blockade of
Great Britain is more effective than the submarines’. My food, my coal,
my petrol are all restricted in the sacred name of private property.
You see, capital in England has hitherto been not an exploitation but
a hold-up. We are learning differently now.... And anyhow, Mr. Runciman
has been here and given Italy assurances....”

In the train to Modane this old story recurred again. It is imperative
that English readers should understand clearly how thoroughly these
little matters have been _worked_ by the enemy.

Some slight civilities led to a conversation that revealed the Italian
lady in the corner as an Irishwoman married to an Italian, and also
brought out the latent English of a very charming elderly lady opposite
to her. She had heard a speech, a wonderful speech from a railway train,
by “the Lord Runciman.” He had said the most beautiful things about

I did my best to echo these beautiful things.

Then the Irishwoman remarked that Mr. Runciman had not satisfied
everybody. She and her husband had met a minister--I found afterwards
he was one of the members of the late Giolotti government--who had been
talking very loudly and scornfully of the bargain Italy was making with
England. I assured her that the desire of England was simply to give
Italy all that she needed.

“But,” said the husband casually, “Mr. Runciman is a shipowner.”

I explained that he was nothing of the sort. It was true that he came
of a shipowning family--and perhaps inherited a slight tendency to
see things from a shipowning point of view--but in England we did not
suspect a man on such a score as that.

“In Italy I think we should,” said the husband of the Irish lady.


This incidental discussion is a necessary part of my impression of Italy
at war. The two western allies and Great Britain in particular have to
remember Italy’s economic needs, and to prepare to rescue them from the
blind exploitation of private profit. They have to remember these needs
too, because, if they are left out of the picture, then it becomes
impossible to understand the full measure of the risk Italy has faced in
undertaking this war for an idea. With a Latin lucidity she has counted
every risk, and with a Latin idealism she has taken her place by the
side of those who fight for a liberal civilisation against a Byzantine

As I came out of the brightly lit Galleria Vittorio Emanuele into the
darkened Piazza del Duomo I stopped under the arcade and stood looking
up at the shadowy darkness of that great pinnacled barn, that marble
bride-cake, which is, I suppose, the last southward fortress of the
Franco-English Gothic.

“It was here,” said my host, “that we burnt the German stuff.”

“What German stuff?”

“Pianos and all sorts of things. From the shops. It is possible,
you know, to buy things too cheaply--and to give too much for the




If I had to present some particular scene as typical of the peculiar
vileness and mischief wrought by this modern warfare that Germany has
elaborated and thrust upon the world, I do not think I should choose as
my instance any of those great architectural wrecks that seem most to
impress contemporary writers. I have seen the injuries and ruins of the
cathedrals at Arras and Soissons and the wreckage of the great church
at Saint Eloi, I have visited the Hotel de Ville at Arras and seen
photographs of the present state of the Cloth Hall at Ypres--a building
I knew very well indeed in its days of pride--and I have not been very
deeply moved. I suppose that one is a little accustomed to Gothic ruins,
and that there is always something monumental about old buildings; it is
only a question of degree whether they are more or less tumble-down. I
was far more desolated by the obliteration of such villages as Fricourt
and Dompierre, and by the horrible state of the fields and gardens
round about them, and my visit to Arras railway station gave me all the
sensations of coming suddenly on a newly murdered body.

Before I visited the recaptured villages in the zone of the actual
fighting, I had an idea that their evacuation was only temporary,
that as soon as the war line moved towards Germany the people of the
devastated villages would return to build their houses and till their
fields again. But I see now that not only are homes and villages
destroyed almost beyond recognition, but the very fields are destroyed.
They are wildernesses of shell craters; the old worked soil is buried
and great slabs of crude earth have been flung up over it. No ordinary
plough will travel over this frozen sea, let along that everywhere
chunks of timber, horrible tangles of rusting wire, jagged fragments of
big shells, and a great number of unexploded shells are entangled in the
mess. Often this chaos is stained bright yellow by high explosives, and
across it run the twisting trenches and communication trenches eight,
ten, or twelve feet deep. These will become water pits and mud pits into
which beasts will fall. It is incredible that there should be crops from
any of this region of the push for many years to come. There is no shade
left; the roadside trees are splintered stumps with scarcely the spirit
to put forth a leaf; a few stunted thistles and weeds are the sole
proofs that life may still go on.

The villages of this wide battle region are not ruined; they are
obliterated. It is just possible to trace the roads in them, because
the roads have been cleared and repaired for the passing of the guns
and ammunition. Fricourt is a tangle of German dug-outs. One dug-out
in particular there promises to become a show place. It must be the
masterpiece of some genius for dug-outs; it is made as if its makers
enjoyed the job; it is like the work of some horrible badger among
the vestiges of what were pleasant human homes. You are taken down a
timbered staircase into its warren of rooms and passages; you are shown
the places under the craters of the great British shells, where the wood
splintered but did not come in. (But the arrival of those shells must
have been a stunning moment.) There are a series of ingenious bolting
shafts set with iron climbing bars. In this place German officers and
soldiers have lived continually for nearly two years. This war is,
indeed, a troglodytic propaganda. You come up at last at the far end
into what was once a cellar of a decent Frenchman’s home.

But there are stranger subterranean refuges than that at Fricourt. At
Dompierre the German trenches skirted the cemetery, and they turned the
dead out of their vaults and made lurking places of the tombs. I walked
with M. Joseph Reinach about this place, picking our way carefully
amidst the mud holes and the wire, and watched the shells bursting away
over the receding battle line to the west. The wreckage of the graves
was Durereqsue. And here would be a fragment of marble angle and here
a split stone with an inscription. Splinters of coffins, rusty iron
crosses and the petals of tin flowers were trampled into the mud, amidst
the universal barbed wire. A little distance down the slope is a brand
new cemetery, with new metal wreaths and even a few flowers; it is
a disciplined array of uniform wooden crosses, each with its list of
soldiers’ names. Unless I am wholly mistaken in France no Germans will
ever get a chance for ever more to desecrate that second cemetery as
they have done its predecessor.

We walked over the mud heaps and litter that had once been houses
towards the centre of Dompierre village, and tried to picture to
ourselves what the place had been. Many things are recognisable in
Dompierre that have altogether vanished at Fricourt; for instance,
there are quire large triangular pieces of the church wall upstanding
at Dompierre. And a mile away perhaps down the hill on the road towards
Amiens, the ruins of the sugar refinery are very distinct. A sugar
refinery is an affair of big iron receptacles and great flues and pipes
and so forth, and iron does not go down under gun fire as stone or brick
does. The whole fabric wars rust, bent and twisted, gaping with shell
holes, that raggedest display of old iron, but it still kept its general
shape, as a smashed, battered, and sunken ironclad might do at the
bottom of the sea.

There wasn’t a dog left of the former life of Dompierre. There was not
even much war traffic that morning on the worn and muddy road. The guns
muttered some miles away to the west, and a lark sang. But a little way
farther on up the road was an intermediate dressing station, rigged up
with wood and tarpaulins, and orderlies were packing two wounded men
into an ambulance. The men on the stretchers were grey faced, as though
they had been trodden on by some gigantic dirty boot.

As we came back towards where our car waited by the cemetery I heard
the jingle of a horseman coming across the space behind us. I turned and
beheld one of the odd contrasts that seem always to be happening in
this incredible war. This man was, I suppose, a native officer of some
cavalry force from French north Africa. He was a handsome dark brown
Arab, wearing a long yellow-white robe and a tall cap about which ran
a band of sheepskin. He was riding one of those little fine lean horses
with long tails that I think are Barbary horses, his archaic saddle rose
fore and aft of him, and the turned-up toes of his soft leather boots
were stuck into great silver stirrups. He might have ridden straight
out of the Arabian nights. He passed thoughtfully, picking his way
delicately among the wire and the shell craters, and coming into
the road, broke into a canter and vanished in the direction of the
smashed-up refinery.


About such towns as Rheims or Arras or Soissons there is an effect of
waiting stillness like nothing else I have ever experienced. At Arras
the situation is almost incredible to the civilian mind. The British
hold the town, the Germans hold a northern suburb; at one point near the
river the trenches are just four metres apart. This state of tension has
lasted for long months.

Unless a very big attack is contemplated, I suppose there is no
advantage in an assault; across that narrow interval we should only
get into trenches that might be costly or impossible to hold, and so it
would be for the Germans on our side. But there is a kind of etiquette
observed; loud vulgar talking on either side of the four-metre gap leads
at once to bomb throwing. And meanwhile on both sides guns of various
calibre keep up an intermittent fire, the German guns register--I think
that is the right term--on the cross of Arras cathedral, the British
guns search lovingly for the German batteries. As one walks about the
silent streets one hears, “_Bang_---Pheeee---woooo” and then
far away “_dump._” One of ours. Then presently back comes
“Pheeee---woooo---_Bang!_” One of theirs.

Amidst these pleasantries, the life of the town goes on. _Le Lion
d’Arras_, an excellent illustrated paper, produces its valiant sheets,
and has done so since the siege began.

The current number of _Le Lion d’Arras_ had to report a local German
success. Overnight they had killed a gendarme. There is to be a public
funeral and much ceremony. It is rare for anyone now to get killed;
everything is so systematised.

You may buy postcards with views of the destruction at various angles,
and send them off with the Arras postmark. The town is not without a
certain business activity. There is, I am told, a considerable influx
of visitors of a special sort; they wear khaki and lead the troglodytic
life. They play cards and gossip and sleep in the shadows, and may not
walk the streets. I had one glimpse of a dark crowded cellar. Now and
then one sees a British soldier on some special errand; he keeps to the
pavement, mindful of the spying German sausage balloon in the air. The
streets are strangely quite and grass grows between the stones.

The Hotel de Ville and the cathedral are now mostly heaps of litter,
but many streets of the town have suffered very little. Here and there
a house has been crushed and one or two have been bisected, the front
reduced to a heap of splinters and the back halves of the rooms left
so that one sees the bed, the hanging end of the carpet, the clothes
cupboard yawning open, the pictures still on the wall. In one place
a lamp stands on a chest of drawers, on a shelf of floor cut off
completely from the world below.... Pheeee---woooo---_Bang!_ One would
be irresistibly reminded of a Sunday afternoon in the city of London, if
it were not for those unmeaning explosions.

I went to the station, a dead railway station. A notice-board requested
us to walk around the silent square on the outside pavement and not
across it. The German sausage balloon had not been up for days; it had
probably gone off to the Somme; the Somme was a terrible vortex just
then which was sucking away the resources of the whole German line; but
still discipline is discipline. The sausage might come peeping up at any
moment over the station roof, and so we skirted the square. Arras was
fought for in the early stages of the war; two lines of sand-bagged
breastworks still run obliquely through the station; one is where the
porters used to put luggage upon cabs and one runs the length of the
platform. The station was a fine one of the modern type, with a glass
roof whose framework still remains, though the glass powders the floor
and is like a fine angular gravel underfoot. The rails are rails of
rust, and cornflowers and mustard and tall grasses grow amidst the
ballast. The waiting-rooms have suffered from a shell or so, but there
are still the sofas of green plush, askew, a little advertisement hung
from the wall, the glass smashed. The ticket bureau is as if a giant had
scattered a great number of tickets, mostly still done up in bundles, to
Douai, to Valenciennes, to Lens and so on. These tickets are souvenirs
too portable to resist. I gave way to that common weakness.

I went out and looked up and down the line; two deserted goods trucks
stood as if they sheltered under a footbridge. The grass poked out
through their wheels. The railway signals seemed uncertain in their
intimations; some were up and some were down. And it was as still and
empty as a summer afternoon in Pompeii. No train has come into Arras for
two long years now.

We lunched in a sunny garden with various men who love Arras but are
weary of it, and we disputed about Irish politics. We discussed the
political future of Sir F. E. Smith. We also disputed whether there was
an equivalent in English for _embusque._ Every now and then a shell came
over--an aimless shell.

A certain liveliness marked our departure from the town. Possibly the
Germans also listen for the rare infrequent automobile. At any rate, as
we were just starting our way back--it is improper to mention the exact
point from which we started--came “Pheeee---woooo.” Quite close. But
there was no _Bang!_ One’s mind hung expectant and disappointed. It was
a dud shell.

And then suddenly I became acutely aware of the personality of our
chauffeur. It was not his business to talk to us, but he turned his
head, showed a sharp profile, wry lips and a bright excited eye, and
remarked, “_That_ was a near one--anyhow.” He then cut a corner over
the pavement and very nearly cut it through a house. He bumped us over
a shell hole and began to toot his horn. At every gateway, alley, and
cross road on this silent and empty streets of Arras and frequently in
between, he tooted punctiliously. (It is not proper to sound motor horns
in Arras.) I cannot imagine what the listening Germans made of it. We
passed the old gates of that city of fear, still tooting vehemently, and
then with shoulders eloquent of his feelings, our chauffeur abandoned
the horn altogether and put his whole soul into the accelerator....


Soissons was in very much the same case as Arras. There was the same
pregnant silence in her streets, the same effect of waiting for the
moment which draws nearer and nearer, when the brooding German lines
away there will be full of the covert activities of retreat, when the
streets of the old town will stir with the joyous excitement of the
conclusive advance.

The organisation of Soissons for defence is perfect. I may not describe
it, but think of whatever would stop and destroy an attacking party or
foil the hostile shell. It is there. Men have had nothing else to do and
nothing else to think of for two years. I crossed the bridge the English
made in the pursuit after the Marne, and went into the first line
trenches and peeped towards the invisible enemy. To show me exactly
where to look a seventy-five obliged with a shell. In the crypt of the
Abbey of St. Medard near by it--it must provoke the Germans bitterly to
think that all the rest of the building vanished ages ago--the French
boys sleep beside the bones of King Childebert the Second. They shelter
safely in the prison of Louis the Pious. An ineffective shell from a
German seventy-seven burst in the walled garden close at hand as I came
out from those thousand-year-old memories again.

The cathedral at Soissons had not been nearly so completely smashed up
as the one at Arras; I doubt if it has been very greatly fired into.
There is a peculiar beauty in the one long vertical strip of blue sky
between the broken arches in the chief gap where the wall has tumbled
in. And the people are holding on in many cases exactly as they are
doing in Arras; I do not know whether it is habit or courage that is
most apparent in this persistence. About the chief place of the town
there are ruined houses, but some invisible hand still keeps the grass
of the little garden within bounds and has put out a bed of begonias. In
Paris I met a charming American writer, the wife of a French artist, the
lady who wrote _My House on the Field of Honour._ She gave me a queer
little anecdote. On account of some hospital work she had been allowed
to visit Soissons--a rare privilege for a woman--and she stayed the
night in a lodging. The room into which she was shown was like any other
French provincial bedroom, and after her Anglo-Saxon habit she walked
straight to the windows to open them.

They looked exactly like any other French bedroom windows, with neat,
clean white lace curtains across them. The curtains had been put there,
because they were the proper things to put there.

“Madame,” said the hostess, “need not trouble to open the glass. There
is no more glass in Soissons.”

But there were curtains nevertheless. There was all the precise delicacy
of the neatly curtained home life of France.

And she told me too of the people at dinner, and how as the little
serving-maid passed about a proud erection of cake and conserve and
cream, came the familiar “Pheeee---woooo---_Bang!_”

“That must have been the Seminaire,” said someone.

As one speaks of the weather or a passing cart.

“It was in the Rue de la Bueire, M’sieur,” the little maid asserted with
quiet conviction, poising the trophy of confectionery for Madame Huard
with an unshaking hand.

So stoutly do the roots of French life hold beneath the tramplings of


1 Soissons and Arras when I visited them were samples of the deadlock
war; they were like Bloch come true. The living fact about war so far
is that Bloch has not come true--_yet._ I think in the end he will come
true, but not so far as this war is concerned, and to make that clear
it is necessary to trouble the reader with a little disquisition upon
war--omitting as far as humanly possible all mention of Napoleon’s

The development of war has depended largely upon two factors. One of
these is invention. New weapons and new methods have become available,
and have modified tactics, strategy, the relative advantage of offensive
and defensive. The other chief factor in the evolution of the war has
been social organisation. As Machiavelli points out in his _Art of War_,
there was insufficient social stability in Europe to keep a properly
trained and disciplined infantry in the field from the passing of the
Roman legions to the appearance of the Swiss footmen. He makes it very
clear that he considers the fighting of the Middle Ages, though frequent
and bloody, to be a confused, mobbing sort of affair, and politically
and technically unsatisfactory. The knight was an egotist in armour.
Machiavelli does small justice to the English bowmen. It is interesting
to note that Switzerland, that present island of peace, was regarded by
him as the mother of modern war. Swiss aggression was the curse of the
Milanese. That is a remark by the way; our interest here is to note that
modern war emerges upon history as the sixteenth century unfolds, as
an affair in which the essential factor is the drilled and trained
infantryman. The artillery is developing as a means of breaking the
infantry; cavalry for charging them when broken, for pursuit and
scouting. To this day this triple division of forces dominates soldiers’
minds. The mechanical development of warfare has consisted largely in
the development of facilities for enabling or hindering the infantry
to get to close quarters. As that has been made easy or difficult the
offensive or the defensive has predominated.

A history of military method for the last few centuries would be a
record of successive alternate steps in which offensive and defensive
contrivances pull ahead, first one and then the other. Their relative
fluctuations are marked by the varying length of campaigns. From the
very outset we have the ditch and the wall; the fortified place upon a
pass or main road, as a check to the advance. Artillery improves, then
fortification improves. The defensive holds its own for a long period,
wars are mainly siege wars, and for a century before the advent of
Napoleon there are no big successful sweeping invasions, no marches
upon the enemy capital and so on. There were wars of reduction, wars
of annoyance. Napoleon developed the offensive by seizing upon the
enthusiastic infantry of the republic, improving transport and mobile
artillery, using road-making as an aggressive method. In spite of the
successful experiment of Torres Vedras and the warning of Plevna the
offensive remained dominant throughout the nineteenth century.

But three things were working quietly towards the rehabilitation of the
defensive; firstly the increased range, accuracy and rapidity of rifle
fire, with which we may include the development of the machine gun;
secondly the increasing use of the spade, and thirdly the invention of
barbed wire. By the end of the century these things had come so far into
military theory as to produce the great essay of Bloch, and to surprise
the British military people, who are not accustomed to read books or
talk shop, in the Boer war. In the thinly populated war region of South
Africa the difficulties of forcing entrenched positions were largely met
by outflanking, the Boers had only a limited amount of barbed wire
and could be held down in their trenches by shrapnel, and even at the
beginning of the present war there can be little doubt that we and
our Allies were still largely unprepared for the full possibilities of
trench warfare, we attempted a war of manoeuvres, war at about the grade
to which war had been brought in 1898, and it was the Germans who first
brought the war up to date by entrenching upon the Aisne. We had, of
course, a few aeroplanes at that time, but they were used chiefly as a
sort of accessory cavalry for scouting; our artillery was light and our
shell almost wholly shrapnel.

Now the grades of warfare that have been developed since the present
war began, may be regarded as a series of elaborations and counter
elaborations of the problem which begins as a line of trenches behind
wire, containing infantry with rifles and machine guns. Against this an
infantry attack with bayonet, after shrapnel fails. This we will call
Grade A. To this the offensive replies with improved artillery, and
particularly with high explosive shell instead of shrapnel. By this the
wire is blown away, the trench wrecked and the defender held down as
the attack charges up. This is Grade B. But now appear the dug-out
elaborating the trench and the defensive battery behind the trench. The
defenders, under the preliminary bombardment, get into the dug-outs
with their rifles and machine guns, and emerge as fresh as paint as
the attack comes up. Obviously there is much scope for invention and
contrivance in the dug-out as the reservoir of counter attacks. Its
possibilities have been very ably exploited by the Germans. Also the
defensive batteries behind, which have of course the exact range of the
captured trench, concentrate on it and destroy the attack at the moment
of victory. The trench falls back to its former holders under this fire
and a counter attack. Check again for the offensive. Even if it can
take, it cannot hold a position under these conditions. This we will
call Grade A2; a revised and improved A. What is the retort from
the opposite side? Obviously to enhance and extend the range of the
preliminary bombardment behind the actual trench line, to destroy
or block, if it can, the dug-outs and destroy or silence the counter
offensive artillery. If it can do that, it can go on; otherwise Bloch

If fighting went on only at ground level Bloch would win at this stage,
but here it is that the aeroplane comes in. From the ground it would
be practically impossible to locate the enemies’ dug-outs, secondary
defences, and batteries. But the aeroplane takes us immediately into a
new grade of warfare, in which the location of the defender’s secondary
trenches, guns, and even machine-gun positions becomes a matter of
extreme precision--provided only that the offensive has secured command
of the air and can send his aeroplanes freely over the defender lines.
Then the preliminary bombardment becomes of a much more extensive
character; the defender’s batteries are tackled by the overpowering fire
of guns they are unable to locate and answer; the secondary dug-outs and
strong places are plastered down, a barrage fire shuts off support
from the doomed trenches, the men in these trenches are held down by a
concentrated artillery fire and the attack goes up at last to hunt
them out of the dug-outs and collect the survivors. Until the attack is
comfortably established in the captured trench, the fire upon the old
counter attack position goes on. This is the grade, Grade B2, to which
modern warfare has attained upon the Somme front. The appearance of
the Tank has only increased the offensive advantage. There at present
warfare rests.

There is, I believe, only one grade higher possible. The success of B2
depends upon the completeness of the aerial observation. The invention
of an anti-aircraft gun which would be practically sure of hitting and
bringing down an aeroplane at any height whatever up to 20,000 feet,
would restore the defensive and establish what I should think must be
the final grade of war, A3. But at present nothing of the sort exists
and nothing of the sort is likely to exist for a very long time; at
present hitting an aeroplane by any sort of gun at all is a rare and
uncertain achievement. Such a gun is not impossible and therefore we
must suppose such a gun will some day be constructed, but it will be of
a novel type and character, unlike anything at present in existence.
The grade of fighting that I was privileged to witness on the Somme, the
grade at which a steady successful offensive is possible, is therefore,
I conclude, the grade at which the present war will end.


But now having thus spread out the broad theory of the business, let me
go on to tell some of the actualities of the Somme offensive. They key
fact upon both British and French fronts was the complete ascendancy of
the Allies aeroplanes. It is the necessary preliminary condition for
the method upon which the great generals of the French army rely in this
sanitary task of shoving the German Thing off the soil of Belgium and
France back into its own land. A man who is frequently throwing out
prophecies is bound to score a few successes, and one that I may
legitimately claim is my early insistence upon that fact that the
equality of the German aviator was likely to be inferior to that of his
French or British rival. The ordinary German has neither the flexible
quality of body, the quickness of nerve, the temperament, nor the mental
habits that make a successful aviator. This idea was first put into my
head by considering the way in which Germans walk and carry themselves,
and by nothing the difference in nimbleness between the cyclists in the
streets of German and French towns. It was confirmed by a conversation I
had with a German aviator who was also a dramatist, and who came to
see me upon some copyright matter in 1912. He broached the view that
aviation would destroy democracy, because he said only aristocrats make
aviators. (He was a man of good family.) With a duke or so in my mind I
asked him why. Because, he explained, a man without aristocratic quality
in tradition, cannot possibly endure the “high loneliness” of the air.
That sounded rather like nonsense at the time, and then I reflected that
for a Prussian that might be true. There may be something in the German
composition that does demand association and the support of pride
and training before dangers can be faced. The Germans are social
and methodical, the French and English are by comparison chaotic and
instinctive; perhaps the very readiness for a conscious orderliness
that makes the German so formidable upon the ground, so thorough and
fore-seeking, makes him slow and unsure in the air. At any rate the
experiences of this war have seemed to carry out this hypothesis. The
German aviators will not as a class stand up to those of the Allies.
They are not nimble in the air. Such champions as they have produced
have been men of one trick; one of their great men, Immelmann--he was
put down by an English boy a month or so ago--had a sort of hawk’s
swoop. He would go very high and then come down at his utmost pace at
his antagonist, firing his machine gun at him as he came. If he missed
in this hysterical lunge, he went on down.... This does not strike the
Allied aviator as very brilliant. A gentleman of that sort can sooner or
later be caught on the rise by going for him over the German lines.

The first phase, then, of the highest grade offensive, the ultimate
development of war regardless of expense, is the clearance of the air.
Such German machines as are up are put down by fighting aviators. These
last fly high; in the clear blue of the early morning they look exactly
like gnats; some trail a little smoke in the sunshine; they take
their machine guns in pursuit over the German lines, and the German
anti-aircraft guns, the Archibalds, begin to pattern the sky about them
with little balls of black smoke. From below one does not see men nor
feel that men are there; it is as if it were an affair of midges. Close
after the fighting machines come the photographic aeroplanes, with
cameras as long as a man is high, flying low--at four or five thousand
feet that is--over the enemy trenches. The Archibald leaves these latter
alone; it cannot fire a shell to explode safely so soon after firing;
but they are shot at with rifles and machine guns. They do not mind
being shot at; only the petrol tank and the head and thorax of the pilot
are to be considered vital. They will come back with forty or fifty
bullet holes in the fabric. They will go under this fire along the
length of the German positions exposing plate after plate; one machine
will get a continuous panorama of many miles and then come back straight
to the aerodrome to develop its plates.

There is no waste of time about the business, the photographs are
developed as rapidly as possible. Within an hour and a half after the
photographs were taken the first prints are going back into the bureau
for the examination of the photographs. Both British and French air
photographs are thoroughly scrutinised and marked.

An air photograph to an inexperienced eye is not a very illuminating
thing; one makes our roads, blurs of wood, and rather vague buildings.
But the examiner has an eye that has been in training; he is a picked
man; he has at hand yesterday’s photographs and last week’s photographs,
marked maps and all sorts of aids and records. If he is a Frenchman he
is only too happy to explain his ideas and methods. Here, he will point
out, is a little difference between the German trench beyond the wood
since yesterday. For a number of reasons he thinks that will be a new
machine gun emplacement; here at the centre of the farm wall they have
been making another. This battery here--isn’t it plain? Well, it’s a
dummy. The grass in front of it hasn’t been scorched, and there’s been
no serious wear on the road here for a week. Presently the Germans will
send one or two waggons up and down that road and instruct them to make
figures of eight to imitate scorching on the grass in front of the gun.
We know all about that. The real wear on the road, compare this and this
and this, ends here at this spot. It turns off into the wood. There’s a
sort of track in the trees. Now look where the trees are just a little
displaced! (This lens is rather better for that.) _That’s_ one gun. You
see? Here, I will show you another....

That process goes on two or three miles behind the front line. Very
clean young men in white overalls do it as if it were a labour of love.
And the Germans in the trenches, the German gunners, _know it is going
on._ They know that in the quickest possible way these observations of
the aeroplane that was over them just now will go to the gunners. The
careful gunner, firing by the map and marking by aeroplane, kite balloon
or direct observation, will be getting onto the located guns and machine
guns in another couple of hours. The French claim that they have located
new batteries, got their _tir de demolition_ upon them in and destroyed
them within five hours. The British I told of that found it incredible.
Every day the French print special maps showing the guns, sham guns,
trenches, everything of significance behind the German lines, showing
everything that has happened in the last four-and-twenty hours. It is
pitiless. It is indecent. The map-making and printing goes on in the
room next and most convenient to the examination of the photographs.
And, as I say, the German army knows of this, and knows that it cannot
prevent it because of its aerial weakness. That knowledge is not the
last among the forces that is crumpling up the German resistance upon
the Somme.

I visited some French guns during the _tir de demolition_ phase. I
counted nine aeroplanes and twenty-six kite balloons in the air at the
same time. There was nothing German visible in the air at all.

It is a case of eyes and no eyes.

The French attack resolves itself into a triple system of gunfire. First
for a day or so, or two or three days, there is demolition fire to smash
up all the exactly located batteries, organisation, supports, behind the
front line enemy trenches; then comes barrage fire to cut off supplies
and reinforcements; then, before the advance, the hammering down
fire, “heads down,” upon the trenches. When at last this stops and the
infantry goes forward to rout out the trenches and the dug-outs, they
go forward with a minimum of inconvenience. The first wave of attack
fights, destroys, or disarms the surviving Germans and sends them back
across the open to the French trenches. They run as fast as they can,
hands up, and are shepherded farther back. The French set to work to
turn over the captured trenches and organise themselves against any
counter attack that may face the barrage fire.

That is the formula of the present fighting, which the French have
developed. After an advance there is a pause, while the guns move up
nearer the Germans and fresh aeroplane reconnaissance goes on. Nowhere
on this present offensive has a German counter attack had more than the
most incidental success; and commonly they have had frightful losses.
Then after a few days of refreshment and accumulation, the Allied attack

That is the perfected method of the French offensive. I had the pleasure
of learning its broad outlines in good company, in the company of M.
Joseph Reinach and Colonel Carence, the military writer. Their talk
together and with me in the various messes at which we lunched was for
the most part a keen discussion of every detail and every possibility
of the offensive machine; every French officer’s mess seems a little
council upon the one supreme question in France, _how to do it best._
M. Reinach has made certain suggestions about the co-operation of the
French and British that I will discuss elsewhere, but one great theme
was the constitution of “the ideal battery.” For years French military
thought has been acutely attentive to the best number of guns for
effective common action, and has tended rather to the small battery
theory. My two companies were playing with the idea that the ideal
battery was a battery of one big gun, with its own aeroplane and kite
balloon marking for it.

The British seem to be associated with the adventurous self-reliance
needed in the air. The British aeroplanes do not simply fight the
Germans out of the sky; they also make themselves an abominable nuisance
by bombing the enemy trenches. For every German bomb that is dropped by
aeroplane on or behind the British lines, about twenty go down on
the heads of the Germans. British air bombs upon guns, stores and
communications do some of the work that the French effect by their
systematic demolition fire.

And the British aviator has discovered and is rapidly developing an
altogether fresh branch of air activity in the machine-gun attack at a
very low altitude. Originally I believe this was tried in western Egypt,
but now it is being increasingly used upon the British front in France.
An aeroplane which comes down suddenly, travelling very rapidly, to
a few hundred feet, is quite hard to hit, even if it is not squirting
bullets from a machine gun as it advances. Against infantry in the open
this sort of thing is extremely demoralising. It is a method of attack
still in its infancy, but there are great possibilities for it in the
future, when the bending and cracking German line gives, as ultimately
it must give if this offensive does not relax. If the Allies persist in
their pressure upon the western front, if there is no relaxation in the
supply of munitions from Britain and no lapse into tactical stupidity, a
German retreat eastward is inevitable.

Now a cavalry pursuit alone may easily come upon disaster, cavalry can
be so easily held up by wire and a few machine guns. I think the Germans
have reckoned on that and on automobiles, probably only the decay of
their _morale_ prevents their opening their lines now on the chance of
the British attempting some such folly as a big cavalry advance, but
I do not think the Germans have reckoned on the use of machine guns in
aeroplanes, supported by and supporting cavalry or automobiles. At the
present time I should imagine there is no more perplexing consideration
amidst the many perplexities of the German military intelligence than
the new complexion put upon pursuit by these low level air developments.
It may mean that in all sorts of positions where they had counted
confidently on getting away, they may not be able to get away--from
the face of a scientific advance properly commanding and using modern
material in a dexterous and intelligent manner.



I saw rather more of the British than of the French aviators because
of the vileness of the weather when I visited the latter. It is quite
impossible for me to institute comparisons between these two services. I
should think that the British organisation I saw would be hard to beat,
and that none but the French could hope to beat it. On the Western front
the aviation has been screwed up to a very much higher level than on
the Italian line. In Italy it has not become, as it has in France, the
decisive factor. The war on the Carso front in Italy--I say nothing of
the mountain warfare, which is a thing in itself--is in fact still in
the stage that I have called B. It is good warfare well waged, but not
such an intensity of warfare. It has not, as one says of pianos and
voices, the same compass.

This is true in spite of the fact that the Italians along of all the
western powers have adopted a type of aeroplane larger and much more
powerful than anything except the big Russian machines. They are not at
all suitable for any present purpose upon the Italian front, but at
a later stage, when the German is retiring and Archibald no longer
searches the air, they would be invaluable on the western front because
of their enormous bomb or machine gun carrying capacity. “But sufficient
for the day is the swat thereof,” as the British public schoolboy says,
and no doubt we shall get them when we have sufficiently felt the need
for them. The big Caproni machines which the Italians possess are of 300
h.p. and will presently be of 500 h.p. One gets up a gangway into them
was one gets into a yacht; they wave a main deck, a forward machine gun
deck and an aft machine gun; one may walk about in them; in addition
to guns and men they carry a very considerable weight of bombs beneath.
They cannot of course beget up with the speed nor soar to the height
of our smaller aeroplanes; it is as carriers in raids behind a force of
fighting machines that they should find their use.

The British establishment I visited was a very refreshing and reassuring
piece of practical organisation. The air force of Great Britain has
had the good fortune to develop with considerable freedom from old army
tradition; many of its officers are ex-civil engineers and so forth;
Headquarters is a little shy of technical direction; and all this in
a service that is still necessarily experimental and plastic is to the
good. There is little doubt that, given a release from prejudice,
bad associations and the equestrian tradition, British technical
intelligence and energy can do just as well as the French. Our problem
with our army is not to create intelligence, there is an abundance of
it, but to release it from a dreary social and official pressure. The
air service ransacks the army for men with technical training and sees
that it gets them, there is a real keenness upon the work, and the men
in these great mobile hangars talk shop readily and clearly.

I have already mentioned and the newspapers have told abundantly of
the pluck, daring, and admirable work of our aviators; what is still
untellable in any detail is the energy and ability of the constructive
and repairing branch upon whose efficiency their feats depend. Perhaps
the most interesting thing I saw in connection with the air work was
the hospital for damaged machines and the dump to which those hopelessly
injured are taken, in order that they may be disarticulated and all that
is sound in them used for reconstruction. How excellently this work
is being done may be judged from the fact that our offensive in July
started with a certain number of aeroplanes, a number that would
have seemed fantastic in a story a year before the war began. These
aeroplanes were in constant action; they fought, they were shot down,
they had their share of accidents. Not only did the repair department
make good every loss, but after three weeks of the offensive the army
was fighting with fifty more machines than at the outset. One goes
through a vast Rembrandtesque shed opening upon a great sunny field, in
whose cool shadows rest a number of interesting patients; captured and
slightly damaged German machines, machines of our own with scars of
battle upon them, one or two cases of bad landing. The star case came
over from Peronne. It had come in two days ago.

I examined this machine and I will tell the state it was in, but I
perceive that what I have to tell will read not like a sober statement
of truth but like strained and silly lying. The machine had had a direct
hit from an Archibald shell. The propeller had been clean blown away; so
had the machine gun and all its fittings. The engines had been stripped
naked and a good deal bent about. The timber stay over the aviator had
been broken, so that it is marvellous the wings of the machine did not
just up at once like the wings of a butterfly. The solitary aviator had
been wounded in the face. He had then come down in a long glide into the
British lines, and made a tolerable landing....


One consequence of the growing importance of the aeroplane in warfare is
the development of a new military art, the art of camouflage. Camouflage
is humbugging disguise, it is making things--and especially in this
connection, military things--seem not what they are, but something
peaceful and rural, something harmless and quite uninteresting to
aeroplane observers. It is the art of making big guns look like
haystacks and tents like level patches of field.

Also it includes the art of making attractive models of guns, camps,
trenches and the like that are not bona-fide guns, camps, or trenches at
all, so that the aeroplane bomb-dropper and the aeroplane observer may
waste his time and energies and the enemy gunfire be misdirected.
In Italy I saw dummy guns so made as to deceive the very elect at a
distance of a few thousand feet. The camouflage of concealment aims
either at invisibility or imitation; I have seen a supply train look
like a row of cottages, its smoke-stack a chimney, with the tops of sham
palings running along the back of the engine and creepers painted up
its sides. But that was a flight of the imagination; the commonest
camouflage is merely to conceal. Trees are brought up and planted
near the object to be hidden, it is painted in the same tones as its
background, it is covered with an awning painted to look like grass or
earth. I suppose it is only a matter of development before a dummy cow
or so is put up to chew the cud on the awning.

But camouflage or no camouflage, the bulk of both the French and British
forces in the new won ground of the great offensive lay necessarily in
the open. Only the big guns and the advanced Red Cross stations had got
into pits and subterranean hiding places. The advance has been too rapid
and continuous for the armies to make much of a toilette as they halted,
and the destruction and the desolation of the country won afforded few
facilities for easy concealment. Tents, transport, munitions, these all
indicated an army on the march--at the rate of half a mile in a week or
so, to Germany. If the wet and mud of November and December have for a
time delayed that advance, the force behind has but accumulated for the
resumption of the thrust.


A journey up from the base to the front trenches shows an interesting
series of phases. One leaves Amiens, in which the normal life threads
its way through crowds of resting men in khaki and horizon blue, in
which staff officers in automobiles whisk hither and thither, in which
there are nurses and even a few inexplicable ladies in worldly costume,
in which restaurants and cafes are congested and busy, through which
there is a perpetual coming and going of processions of heavy vans to
the railway sidings. One dodges past a monstrous blue-black gun going
up to the British front behind two resolute traction engines--the
three sun-blistered young men in the cart that trails behind lounge in
attitudes of haughty pride that would shame the ceiling gods of Hampton
Court. One passes through arcades of waiting motor vans, through arcades
of waiting motor vans, through suburbs still more intensely khaki or
horizon blue, and so out upon the great straight poplar-edged road--to
the front. Sometimes one laces through spates of heavy traffic,
sometimes the dusty road is clear ahead, now we pass a vast aviation
camp, now a park of waiting field guns, now an encampment of cavalry.
One turns aside, and abruptly one is in France--France as one knew it
before the war, on a shady secondary road, past a delightful chateau
behind its iron gates, past a beautiful church, and then suddenly we are
in a village street full of stately Indian soldiers.

It betrays no military secret to say that commonly the rare tourist to
the British offensive passes through Albert, with its great modern red
cathedral smashed to pieces and the great gilt Madonna and Child
that once surmounted the tower now, as everyone knows, hanging out
horizontally in an attitude that irresistibly suggests an imminent dive
upon the passing traveller. One looks right up under it.

Presently we begin to see German prisoners. The whole lot look entirely
contented, and are guarded by perhaps a couple of men in khaki. These
German prisoners do not attempt to escape, they have not the slightest
desire for any more fighting, they have done their bit, they say, honour
is satisfied; they give remarkably little trouble. A little way further
on perhaps we pass their cage, a double barbed-wire enclosure with a few
tents and huts within.

A string of covered waggons passes by. I turn and see a number of men
sitting inside and looking almost as cheerful as a beanfeast in Epping
Forest. They make facetious gestures. They have a subdued sing-song going
on. But one of them looks a little sick, and then I notice not very
obtrusive bandages. “Sitting-up cases,” my guide explains.

These are part of the casualties of last night’s fight.

The fields on either side are now more evidently in the war zone.
The array of carts, the patches of tents, the coming and going of men
increases. But here are three women harvesting, and presently in a
cornfield are German prisoners working under one old Frenchman. Then
the fields become trampled again. Here is a village, not so very much
knocked about, and passing through it we go slowly beside a long column
of men going up to the front. We scan their collars for signs of some
familiar regiment. These are new men going up for the first time; there
is a sort of solemn elation in many of their faces.

The men coming down are usually smothered in mud or dust, and unless
there has been a fight they look pretty well done up. They stoop under
their equipment, and some of the youngsters drag. One pleasant thing
about this coming down is the welcome of the regimental band, which is
usually at work as soon as the men turn off from the high road. I hear
several bands on the British front; they do much to enhance the general
cheerfulness. On one of these days of my tour I had the pleasure of
seeing the ---th Blankshires coming down after a fight. As we drew
near I saw that they combined an extreme muddiness with an unusual
elasticity. They all seemed to be looking us in the face instead of
being too fagged to bother. Then I noticed a nice grey helmet dangling
from one youngster’s bayonet, in fact his eye directed me to it. A man
behind him had a black German helmet of the type best known in English
illustrations; then two more grey appeared. The catch of helmets was
indeed quite considerable. Then I perceived on the road bank above
and marching parallel with this column, a double file of still muddier
Germans. Either they wore caps or went bare-headed. There were no
helmets among them. We do not rob our prisoners but--a helmet is a
weapon. Anyhow, it is an irresistible souvenir.

Now and then one sees afar off an ammunition dump, many hundreds of
stacks of shells--without their detonators as yet--being unloaded from
railway trucks, transferred from the broad gauge to the narrow gauge
line, or loaded onto motor trolleys. Now and then one crosses a railway
line. The railway lines run everywhere behind the British front, the
construction follows the advance day by day. They go up as fast as the
guns. One’s guide remarks as the car bumps over the level
crossing, “That is one of Haig’s railways.” It is an aspect of the
Commander-in-Chief that has much impressed and pleased the men. And at
last we begin to enter the region of the former Allied trenches, we pass
the old German front line, we pass ruined houses, ruined fields, and
thick patches of clustering wooden crosses and boards where the dead
of the opening assaults lie. There are no more reapers now, there is no
more green upon the fields, there is no green anywhere, scarcely a tree
survives by the roadside, but only overthrown trunks and splintered
stumps; the fields are wildernesses of shell craters and coarse weeds,
the very woods are collections of blasted stems and stripped branches.
This absolutely ravaged and ruined battlefield country extends now along
the front of the Somme offensive for a depth of many miles; across it
the French and British camps and batteries creep forward, the stores,
the dumps, the railways creep forward, in their untiring, victorious
thrust against the German lines. Overhead hum and roar the aeroplanes,
away towards the enemy the humped, blue sausage-shaped kite balloons
brood thoughtfully, and from this point and that, guns, curiously
invisible until they speak, flash suddenly and strike their one short
hammer-blow of sound.

Then one sees an enemy shell drop among the little patch of trees on
the crest to the right, and kick up a great red-black mass of smoke and
dust. We see it, and then we hear the whine of its arrival and at last
the bang. The Germans are blind now, they have lost the air, they are
firing by guesswork and their knowledge of the abandoned territory.

“They think they have got divisional headquarters there,” someone
remarks.... “They haven’t. But they keep on.”

In this zone where shells burst the wise automobile stops and tucks
itself away as inconspicuously as possible close up to a heap of ruins.
There is very little traffic on the road now except for a van or so that
hurries up, unloads, and gets back as soon as possible. Mules and men
are taking the stuff the rest of the journey. We are in a flattened
village, all undermined by dug-outs that were in the original German
second line. We report ourselves to a young troglodyte in one of these,
and are given a guide, and so set out on the last part of the journey
to the ultimate point, across the land of shell craters and barbed
wire litter and old and new trenches. We have all put on British steel
helmets, hard but heavy and inelegant head coverings. I can write little
that is printable about these aesthetic crimes. The French and German
helmets are noble and beautiful things. These lumpish _pans._..

They ought to be called by the name of the man who designed them.

Presently we are advised to get into a communication trench. It is not
a very attractive communication trench, and we stick to our track across
the open. Three or four shells shiver overhead, but we decide they are
British shells, going out. We reach a supporting trench in which men are
waiting in a state of nearly insupportable boredom for the midday
stew, the one event of interest in a day-long vigil. Here we are told
imperatively to come right in at once, and we do.

All communication trenches are tortuous and practically endless. On
an offensive front they have vertical sides of unsupported earth and
occasional soakaways for rain, covered by wooden gratings, and they go
on and on and on. At rare intervals they branch, and a notice board says
“To Regent Street,” or “To Oxford Street,” or some such lie. It is all
just trench. For a time you talk, but talking in single file soon palls.
You cease to talk, and trudge. A great number of telephone wires come
into the trench and cross and recross it. You cannot keep clear of them.
Your helmet pings against them and they try to remove it. Sometimes you
have to stop and crawl under wires. Then you wonder what the trench is
like in really wet weather. You hear a shell burst at no great distance.
You pass two pages of _The Strand Magazine._ Perhaps thirty yards on
you pass a cigarette end. After these sensational incidents the trench
quiets down again and continues to wind endlessly--just a sandy,
extremely narrow vertical walled trench. A giant crack.

At last you reach the front line trench. On an offensive sector it has
none of the architectural interest of first line trenches at such places
as Soissons or Arras. It was made a week or so ago by joining up shell
craters, and if all goes well we move into the German trench along by
the line of scraggy trees, at which we peep discreetly, to-morrow night.
We can peep discreetly because just at present our guns are putting
shrapnel over the enemy at the rate of about three shells a minute, the
puffs follow each other up and down the line, and no Germans are staring
out to see us.

The Germans “strafed” this trench overnight, and the men are tired and
sleepy. Our guns away behind us are doing their best now to give them
a rest by strafing the Germans. One or two men are in each forward sap
keeping a look out; the rest sleep, a motionless sleep, in the earthy
shelter pits that have been scooped out. One officer sits by a telephone
under an earth-covered tarpaulin, and a weary man is doing the toilet of
a machine gun. We go on to a shallow trench in which we must stoop, and
which has been badly knocked about.... Here we have to stop. The road to
Berlin is not opened up beyond this point.

My companion on this excursion is a man I have admired for years and
never met until I came out to see the war, a fellow writer. He is a
journalist let loose. Two-thirds of the junior British officers I met
on this journey were really not “army men” at all. One finds that the
apparent subaltern is really a musician, or a musical critic, or an
Egyptologist, or a solicitor, or a cloth manufacturer, or a writer. At
the outbreak of the war my guide dyed his hair to conceal its tell-tale
silver, and having been laughed to scorn by the ordinary recruiting
people, enlisted in the sportsmen’s battalion. He was wounded, and then
the authorities discovered that he was likely to be of more use with a
commission and drew him, in spite of considerable resistance, out of the
firing line. To which he always returns whenever he can get a visitor
to take with him as an excuse. He now stood up, fairly high and clear,
explaining casually that the Germans were no longer firing, and showed
me the points of interest.

I had come right up to No Man’s Land at last. It was under my chin. The
skyline, the last skyline before the British could look down on Bapaume,
showed a mangy wood and a ruined village, crouching under repeated
gobbings of British shrapnel. “They’ve got a battery just there, and
we’re making it uncomfortable.” No Man’s Land itself is a weedy space
broken up by shell craters, with very little barbed wire in front of us
and very little in front of the Germans. “They’ve got snipers in most of
the craters, and you see them at twilight hopping about from one to the
other.” We have very little wire because we don’t mean to stay for very
long in this trench, but the Germans have very little wire because they
have not been able to get it up yet. They never will get it up now....

I had been led to believe that No Man’s Land was littered with the
unburied dead, but I saw nothing of the sort at this place. There had
been no German counter attack since our men came up here. But at one
point as we went along the trench there was a dull stench. “Germans, I
think,” said my guide, though I did not see how he could tell.

He looked at his watch and remarked reluctantly, “If you start at once,
you may just do it.”

I wanted to catch the Boulogne boat. It was then just past one in
the afternoon. We met the stew as we returned along the communication
trench, and it smelt very good indeed.... We hurried across the great
spaces of rusty desolation upon which every now and again a German shell
was bursting....

That night I was in my flat in London. I had finished reading the
accumulated letters of some weeks, and I was just going comfortably to



Such are the landscapes and method of modern war. It is more difficult
in its nature from war as it was waged in the nineteenth century than
that was from the nature of the phalanx or the legion. The nucleus
fact--when I talked to General Joffre he was very insistent upon
this point--is still as ever the ordinary fighting man, but all the
accessories and conditions of his personal encounter with the fighting
man of the other side have been revolutionised in a quarter of a
century. The fighting together in a close disciplined order, shoulder
to shoulder, which has held good for thousands of years as the best and
most successful fighting, has been destroyed; the idea of _breaking_
infantry formation as the chief offensive operation has disappeared, the
cavalry charge and the cavalry pursuit are as obsolete as the cross-bow.
The modern fighting man is as individualised as a half back or a centre
forward in a football team. Personal fighting has become “scrapping”
 again, an individual adventure with knife, club, bomb, revolver or
bayonet. In this war we are working out things instead of thinking them
out, and these enormous changes are still but imperfectly apprehended.
The trained and specialised military man probably apprehends them as
feebly as anyone.

This is a thing that I want to state as emphatically as possible. It is
the pith of the lesson I have learnt at the front. The whole method of
war has been so altered in the past five and twenty years as to make
it a new and different process altogether. Much the larger part of this
alteration has only become effective in the last two years. Everyone is
a beginner at this new game; everyone is experimenting and learning.

The idea has been put admirably by _Punch._ That excellent picture
of the old-fashioned sergeant who complains to his officer of the new
recruit; “‘E’s all right in the trenches, Sir; ‘e’s all right at a
scrap; but ‘e won’t never make a soldier,” is the quintessence of
everything I am saying here. And were there not the very gravest doubts
about General Smuts in British military circles because he had “had no
military training”? A Canadian expressed the new view very neatly on
being asked, in consequence of a deficient salute, whether he wanted to
be a soldier, by saying, “Not I! I want to be a fighter!”

The professional officer of the old dispensation was a man specialised
in relation to one of the established “arms.” He was an infantryman, a
cavalryman, a gunner or an engineer. It will be interesting to trace the
changes that have happened to all these arms.

Before this war began speculative writers had argued that infantry drill
in close formation had now no fighting value whatever, that it was no
doubt extremely necessary for the handling, packing, forwarding and
distribution of men, but that the ideal infantry fighter was now a
highly individualised and self-reliant man put into a pit with a machine
gun, and supported by a string of other men bringing him up supplies and
ready to assist him in any forward rush that might be necessary.

The opening phases of the war seemed to contradict this. It did not
at first suit the German game to fight on this most modern theory,
and isolated individual action is uncongenial to the ordinary German
temperament and opposed to the organised social tendencies of German
life. To this day the Germans attack only in close order; they are
unable to produce a real modern infantry for aggressive purposes, and it
is a matter of astonishment to military minds on the English side that
our hastily trained new armies should turn out to be just as good at
the new fighting as the most “seasoned troops.” But there is no reason
whatever why they should not be. “Leading,” in the sense of going
ahead of the men and making them move about mechanically at the word of
command, has ceased. On the British side our magnificent new subalterns
and our equally magnificent new non-commissioned officers play the part
of captains of football teams; they talk their men individually into
an understanding of the job before them; they criticise style and
performance. On the French side things have gone even farther. Every man
in certain attacks has been given a large scale map of the ground over
which he has to go, and has had his own individual job clearly marked
and explained to him. All the Allied infantrymen tend to become
specialised, as bombers, as machine-gun men, and so on. The
unspecialised common soldier, the infantryman who has stood and marched
and moved in ranks and ranks, the “serried lines of men,” who are the
main substance of every battle story for the last three thousand years,
are as obsolete as the dodo. The rifle and bayonet very probably are
becoming obsolete too. Knives and clubs and revolvers serve better in
the trenches. The krees and the Roman sword would be as useful. The fine
flourish of the bayonet is only possible in the rare infrequent open.
Even the Zulu assegai would serve as well.

The two operations of the infantry attack now are the rush and the
“scrap.” These come after the artillery preparation. Against the rush,
the machine gun is pitted. The machine gun becomes lighter and more and
more controllable by one man; as it does so the days of the rifle draw
to a close. Against the machine gun we are now directing the “Tank,”
 which goes ahead and puts out the machine gun as soon as it begins to
sting the infantry rush. We are also using the swooping aeroplane with a
machine gun. Both these devices are of British origin, and they promise
very well.

After the rush and the scrap comes the organisation of the captured
trench. “Digging in” completes the cycle of modern infantry fighting.
You may consider this the first or the last phase of an infantry
operation. It is probably at present the least worked-out part of the
entire cycle. Here lies the sole German superiority; they bunch and
crowd in the rush, they are inferior at the scrap, but they do dig like
moles. The weakness of the British is their failure to settle down. They
like the rush and the scrap; they press on too far, they get outflanked
and lost “in the blue”; they are not naturally clever at the excavating
part of the work, and they are not as yet well trained in making
dug-outs and shelter-pits rapidly and intelligently. They display most
of the faults that were supposed to be most distinctively French before
this war came to revolutionise all our conceptions of French character.


Now the operations of this modern infantry, which unlike any preceding
infantry in the history of war does not fight in disciplined formations
but as highly individualised specialists, are determined almost
completely by the artillery preparation. Artillery is now the most
essential instrument of war. You may still get along with rather bad
infantry; you may still hold out even after the loss of the aerial
ascendancy, but so soon as your guns fail you approach defeat.
The backbone process of the whole art of war is the manufacture in
overwhelming quantities, the carriage and delivery of shell upon the
vulnerable points of the enemy’s positions. That is, so to speak,
the essential blow. Even the infantryman is now hardly more than the
residuary legatee after the guns have taken their toll.

I have now followed nearly every phase in the life history of a shell
from the moment when it is a segment of steel bar just cut off, to the
moment when it is no more than a few dispersed and rusting rags and
fragments of steel--pressed upon the stray visitor to the battlefield as
souvenirs. All good factories are intensely interesting places to visit,
but a good munition factory is romantically satisfactory. It is as
nearly free from the antagonism of employer and employed as any factory
can be. The busy sheds I visited near Paris struck me as being the most
living and active things in the entire war machine. Everywhere else I
saw fitful activity, or men waiting. I have seen more men sitting about
and standing about, more bored inactivity, during my tour than I have
ever seen before in my life. Even the front line trenches seem to
slumber; the Angel of Death drowses over them, and moves in his sleep
to crush out men’s lives. The gunfire has an indolent intermittence.
But the munition factories grind on night and day, grinding against
the factories in Central Europe, grinding out the slow and costly and
necessary victory that should end aggressive warfare in the world for

It would be very interesting if one could arrange a meeting between
any typical Allied munition maker on the one hand, and the Kaiser and
Hindenburg, those two dominant effigies of the German nationalists’
dream of “world might.” Or failing that, Mr. Dyson might draw the
encounter. You imagine these two heroic figures got up for the
interview, very magnificent in shining helms and flowing cloaks,
decorations, splendid swords, spurs. “Here,” one would say, “is the
power that has held you. You were bolstered up very loyally by the Krupp
firm and so forth, you piled up shell, guns, war material, you hoped to
snatch your victory before the industrialisation and invention of the
world could turn upon you. But you failed. You were not rapid enough.
The battle of the Marne was your misfortune. And Ypres. You lost some
chances at Ypres. Two can play at destructive industrialism, and now
we out-gun you. We are piling up munitions now faster than you. The
essentials of this Game of the War Lord are idiotically simple, but it
was not of our choosing. It is now merely a question of months before
you make your inevitable admission. This is no war to any great
commander’s glory. This gentleman in the bowler hat is the victor, Sire;
not you. Assisted, Sire, by these disrespectful-looking factory girls in

For example, there is M. Citroen. Before the war I understand he made
automobiles; after the war he wants to turn to and make automobiles
again. For the duration of the war he makes shell. He has been
temporarily diverted from constructive to destructive industrialism. He
did me the honours of his factory. He is a compact, active man in dark
clothes and a bowler hat, with a pencil and notebook conveniently at
hand. He talked to me in carefully easy French, and watched my face with
an intelligent eye through his pince-nez for the signs of comprehension.
Then he went on to the next point.

He took me through every stage of his process. In his office he showed
me the general story. Here were photographs of certain vacant fields
and old sheds--“this place”--he indicated the altered prospect from the
window--“at the outbreak of the war.” He showed me a plan of the first
undertaking. “Now we have rather over nine thousand workpeople.”

He showed me a little row of specimens. “These we make for Italy. These
go to Russia. These are the Rumanian pattern.”

Thence to the first stage, the chopping up of the iron bars, the
furnace, the punching out of the first shape of the shell; all this is
men’s work. I had seen this sort of thing before in peace ironworks,
but I saw it again with the same astonishment, the absolute precision
of movement on the part of the half-naked sweating men, the calculated
efficiency of each worker, the apparent heedlessness, the real
certitude, with which the blazing hot cylinder is put here, dropped
there, rolls to its next appointed spot, is chopped up and handed on,
the swift passage to the cooling crude, pinkish-purple shell shape. Down
a long line one sees in perspective a practical symmetry, of furnace
and machine group and the shells marching on from this first series
of phases to undergo the long succession of operations, machine after
machine, across the great width of the shed in which eighty per cent
of the workers are women. There is a thick dust of sounds in the air, a
rumble of shafting, sudden thuddings, clankings, and M. Citroen has
to raise his voice. He points out where he has made little changes in
procedures, cut out some wasteful movement.... He has an idea and makes
a note in the ever-ready notebook.

There is a beauty about all these women, there is extraordinary grace in
their finely adjusted movements. I have come from an after-lunch coffee
upon the boulevards and from watching the ugly fashion of our time;
it is a relief to be reminded that most women can after all be
beautiful--if only they would not “dress.” these women wear simple
overalls and caps. In the cap is a rosette. Each shed has its own colour
of rosette.

“There is much esprit de corps here,” says M. Citroen.

“And also,” he adds, showing obverse as well as reverse of the world’s
problem of employment and discipline, “we can see at once if a woman is
not in her proper shed.”

Across the great sheds under the shafting--how fine it must look at
night!--the shells march, are shaped, cut, fitted with copper bands,
calibrated, polished, varnished....

Then we go on to another system of machines in which lead is reduced to
plastic ribbons and cut into shrapnel bullets as the sweetstuff
makers pull out and cut up sweetstuff. And thence into a warren of hot
underground passages in which run the power cables. There is not a cable
in the place that is not immediately accessible to the electricians. We
visit the dynamos and a vast organisation of switchboards....

These things are more familiar to M. Citroen than they are to me. He
wants me to understand, but he does not realise that I would like a
little leisure to wonder. What is interesting him just now, because it
is the newest thing, is his method of paying his workers. He lifts
a hand gravely: “I said, what we must do is abolish altogether the
counting of change.”

At a certain hour, he explained, came pay-time. The people had done; it
was to his interest and their that they should get out of the works
as quickly as possible and rest and amuse themselves. He watched them
standing in queues at the wickets while inside someone counted; so many
francs, so many centimes. It bored him to see this useless, tiresome
waiting. It is abolished. Now at the end of each week the worker goes
to a window under the initial of his name, and is handed a card on which
these items have been entered:

Balance from last week. So many hours at so much. Premiums.

The total is so many francs, so many centimes. This is divided into
the nearest round number, 100, 120, 80 francs as the case may be, and a
balance of the odd francs and centimes. The latter is carried forward to
the next week’s account. At the bottom of the card is a tear-off coupon
with a stamp, coloured to indicate the round sum, green, let us say, for
100, blue for 130 francs. This is taken to a wicket marked 100 or 130 as
the case may be, and there stands a cashier with his money in piles of
100 or 130 francs counted ready to hand; he sweeps in the coupon, sweeps
out the cash. “_Next!_”

I became interested in the worker’s side of this organisation. I insist
on seeing the entrances, the clothes-changing places, the lavatories,
and so forth of the organisation. As we go about we pass a string of
electric trolleys steered by important-looking girls, and loaded with
shell, finished as far as these works are concerned and on their way
to the railway siding. We visit the hospital, for these works demand a
medical staff. It is not only that men and women faint or fall ill, but
there are accidents, burns, crushings, and the like. The war casualties
begin already here, and they fall chiefly among the women. I saw a
wounded woman with a bandaged face sitting very quietly in the corner.

The women here face danger, perhaps not quite such obvious danger as the
women who, at the next stage in the shell’s career, make and pack the
explosives in their silk casing, but quite considerable risk. And they
work with a real enthusiasm. They know they are fighting the Bloches as
well as any men. Certain of them wear Russian decorations. The women of
this particular factory have been thanked by the Tsar, and a number of
decorations were sent by him for distribution among them.


The shell factory and the explosives shed stand level with the drill
yard as the real first stage in one of the two essential _punches_ in
modern war. When one meets the shell again it is being unloaded from the
railway truck into an ammunition dump. And here the work of control is
much more the work of a good traffic manager than of the old-fashioned

The dump I best remember I visited on a wet and windy day. Over a great
space of ground the sidings of the rail-head spread, the normal gauge
rail-head spread out like a fan and interdigitated with the narrow gauge
lines that go up practically to the guns. And also at the sides camions
were loading, and an officer from the Midi in charge of one of these was
being dramatically indignant at five minutes’ delay. Between these
two sets of lines, shells were piled of all sizes, I should think some
hundreds of thousands of shells altogether, wet and shining in the rain.
French reservists, soldiers from Madagascar, and some Senegalese were
busy at different points loading and unloading the precious freights.
A little way from me were despondent-looking German prisoners handling
timber. All this dump was no more than an eddy as it were in the path
of the shell from its birth from the steel bars near Paris to the
accomplishment of its destiny in the destruction or capture of more

And next the visitor meets the shell coming up upon a little trolley to
the gun. He sees the gunners, as drilled and precise as the men he saw
at the forges, swing out the breech block and run the shell, which
has met and combined with its detonators and various other industrial
products since it left the main dump, into the gun. The breech
closes like a safe door, and hides the shell from the visitor. It is
“good-bye.” He receives exaggerated warning of the danger to his ears,
stuffs his fingers into them, and opens his mouth as instructed, hears a
loud but by no means deafening report, and sees a spit of flame near the
breech. Regulations of a severe character prevent his watching from an
aeroplane the delivery of the goods upon the customers opposite.

I have already described the method of locating enemy guns and so forth
by photography. Many of the men at this work are like dentists rather
than soldiers; they are busy in carefully lit rooms, they wear white
overalls, they have clean hands and laboratory manners. The only really
romantic figure in the whole of this process, the only figure that has
anything of the old soldierly swagger about him still, is the aviator.
And, as one friend remarked to me when I visited the work of the
British flying corps, “The real essential strength of this arm is the
organisation of its repairs. Here is one of the repair vans through
which our machine guns go. It is a motor workshop on wheels. But at any
time all this park, everything, can pack up and move forward like
Barnum and Bailey’s Circus. The machine guns come through this shop in
rotation; they go out again, cleaned, repaired, made new again. Since we
got all that working we have heard nothing of a machine gun jamming in
any air fight at all.”...

The rest of the career of the shell after it has left the gun one must
imagine chiefly from the incoming shell from the enemy. You see suddenly
a flying up of earth and stones and anything else that is movable in the
neighbourhood of the shell-burst, the instantaneous unfolding of a dark
cloud of dust and reddish smoke, which comes very quickly to a certain
size and then begins slowly to fray out and blow away. Then, after
seeing the cloud of the burst you hear the hiss of the shell’s approach,
and finally you are hit by the sound of the explosion. This is the
climax and end of the life history of any shell that is not a dud
shell. Afterwards the battered fuse may serve as some journalist’s
paper-weight. The rest is scrap iron.

Such is, so to speak, the primary process of modern warfare. I will
not draw the obvious pacifist moral of the intense folly of human
concentration upon such a process. The Germans willed it. We Allies
have but obeyed the German will for warfare because we could not do
otherwise, we have taken up this simple game of shell delivery, and we
are teaching them that we can play it better, in the hope that so we
and the world may be freed from the German will-to-power and all its
humiliating and disgusting consequences henceforth for ever. Europe
now is no more than a household engaged in holding up and if possible
overpowering a monomaniac member.


Now the whole of this process of the making and delivery of a shell,
which is the main process of modern warfare, is one that can be far
better conducted by a man accustomed to industrial organisation or
transit work than by the old type of soldier. This is a thing that
cannot be too plainly stated or too often repeated. Germany nearly won
this way because of her tremendously modern industrial resources; but
she blundered into it and she is losing it because she has too many men
in military uniform and because their tradition and interests were to
powerful with her. All the state and glories of soldiering, the bright
uniforms, the feathers and spurs, the flags, the march-past, the
disciplined massed advance, the charge; all these are as needless and
obsolete now in war as the masks and shields of an old-time Chinese
brave. Liberal-minded people talk of the coming dangers of militarism in
the face of events that prove conclusively that professional militarism
is already as dead as Julius Caesar. What is coming is not so much the
conversion of men into soldiers as the socialisation of the economic
organisation of the country with a view to both national and
international necessities. We do not want to turn a chemist or
a photographer into a little figure like a lead soldier, moving
mechanically at the word of command, but we do want to make his
chemistry or photography swiftly available if the national organisation
is called upon to fight.

We have discovered that the modern economic organisation is in itself a
fighting machine. It is so much so that it is capable of taking on and
defeating quite easily any merely warrior people that is so rash as to
pit itself against it. Within the last sixteen years methods of fighting
have been elaborated that have made war an absolutely hopeless adventure
for any barbaric or non-industrialised people. In the rush of larger
events few people have realised the significance of the rapid squashing
of the Senussi in western Egypt, and the collapse of De Wet’s rebellion
in South Africa. Both these struggles would have been long, tedious
and uncertain even in A.D. 1900. This time they have been, so to speak,
child’s play.

Occasionally into the writer’s study there come to hand drifting
fragments of the American literature upon the question of
“preparedness,” and American papers discussing the Mexican situation. In
none of these is there evident any clear realisation of the fundamental
revolution that has occurred in military methods during the last two
years. It looks as if a Mexican war, for example, was thought of as an
affair of rather imperfectly trained young men with rifles and horses
and old-fashioned things like that. A Mexican war on that level might be
as tedious as the South African war. But if the United States preferred
to go into Mexican affairs with what I may perhaps call a 1916 autumn
outfit instead of the small 1900 outfit she seems to possess at present,
there is no reason why America should not clear up any and every Mexican
guerilla force she wanted to in a few weeks.

To do that she would need a plant of a few hundred aeroplanes, for the
most part armed with machine guns, and the motor repair vans and so
forth needed to go with the aeroplanes; she would need a comparatively
small army of infantry armed with machine guns, with motor transport,
and a few small land ironclads. Such a force could locate, overtake,
destroy and disperse any possible force that a country in the present
industrial condition of Mexico could put into the field. No sort of
entrenchment or fortification possible in Mexico could stand against
it. It could go from one end of the country to the other without serious
loss, and hunt down and capture anyone it wished....

The practical political consequence of the present development of
warfare, of the complete revolution in the conditions of warfare since
this century began, is to make war absolutely hopeless for any
peoples not able either to manufacture or procure the very complicated
appliances and munitions now needed for its prosecution. Countries like
Mexico, Bulgaria, Serbia, Afghanistan or Abyssinia are no more capable
of going to war without the connivance and help of manufacturing states
than horses are capable of flying. And this makes possible such a
complete control of war by the few great states which are at the
necessary level of industrial development as not the most Utopian of us
have hitherto dared to imagine.


Infantrymen with automobile transport, plentiful machine guns, Tanks and
such-like accessories; that is the first Arm in modern war. The factory
hand and all the material of the shell route from the factory to the gun
constitute the second Arm. Thirdly comes the artillery, the guns and the
photographic aeroplanes working with the guns. Next I suppose we
must count sappers and miners as a fourth Arm of greatly increased
importance. The fifth and last combatant Arm is the modern substitute
for cavalry; and that also is essentially a force of aeroplanes
supported by automobiles. Several of the French leaders with whom I
talked seemed to be convinced that the horse is absolutely done with in
modern warfare. There is nothing, they declared, that cavalry ever did
that cannot now be done better by aeroplane.

This is something to break the hearts of the Prussian junkers and
of old-fashioned British army people. The hunt across the English
countryside, the preservation of the fox as a sacred animal, the race
meeting, the stimulation of betting in all classes of the public; all
these things depend ultimately upon the proposition that the “breed
of horses” is of vital importance to the military strength of Great
Britain. But if the arguments of these able French soldiers are sound,
the cult of the horse ceases to be of any more value to England than the
elegant activities of the Toxophilite Society. Moreover, there has
been a colossal buying of horses for the British army, a tremendous
organisation for the purchase and supply of fodder, then employment
of tens of thousands of men as grooms, minders and the like, who would
otherwise have been in the munition factories or the trenches.

To what possible use can cavalry be put? Can it be used in attack?
Not against trenches; that is better done by infantrymen following up
gunfire. Can it be used against broken infantry in the open? Not if the
enemy has one or two machine guns covering their retreat. Against expose
infantry the swooping aeroplane with a machine gun is far more deadly
and more difficult to hit. Behind it your infantry can follow to receive
surrenders; in most circumstances they can come up on cycles if it is
a case of getting up quickly across a wide space. Similarly for
pursuit the use of wire and use of the machine gun have abolished the
possibility of a pouring cavalry charge. The swooping aeroplane does
everything that cavalry can do in the way of disorganising the enemy,
and far more than it can do in the way of silencing machine guns. It can
capture guns in retreat much more easily by bombing traction engines
and coming down low and shooting horses and men. An ideal modern
pursuit would be an advance of guns, automobiles full of infantry, motor
cyclists and cyclists, behind a high screen of observation aeroplanes
and a low screen of bombing and fighting aeroplanes. Cavalry _might_
advance across fields and so forth, but only as a very accessory part of
the general advance....

And what else is there for the cavalry to do?

It may be argued that horses can go over country that is impossible for
automobiles. That is to ignore altogether what has been done in this war
by such devices as caterpillar wheels. So far from cavalry being able to
negotiate country where machines would stick and fail, mechanism can now
ride over places where any horse would flounder.

I submit these considerations to the horse-lover. They are not my
original observations; they have been put to me and they have convinced
me. Except perhaps as a parent of transport mules I see no further part
henceforth for the horse to play in war.


The form and texture of the coming warfare--if there is still warfare
to come--are not yet to be seen in their completeness upon the modern
battlefield. One swallow does not make a summer, nor a handful of
aeroplanes, a “Tank” or so, a few acres of shell craters, and a village
here and there, pounded out of recognition, do more than foreshadow
the spectacle of modernised war on land. War by these developments has
become the monopoly of the five great industrial powers; it is their
alternative to end or evolve it, and if they continue to disagree, then
it must needs become a spectacle of majestic horror such as no man
can yet conceive. It has been wise of Mr. Pennell therefore, who has
recently been drawing his impressions of the war upon stone, to make
his pictures not upon the battlefield, but among the huge industrial
apparatus that is thrusting behind and thrusting up through the war of
the gentlemen in spurs. He gives us the splendours and immensities of
forge and gun pit, furnace and mine shaft. He shows you how great they
are and how terrible. Among them go the little figures of men, robbed of
all dominance, robbed of all individual quality. He leaves it for you to
draw the obvious conclusion that presently, if we cannot contrive to
put an end to war, blacknessess like these, enormities and flares
and towering threats, will follow in the track of the Tanks and come
trampling over the bickering confusion of mankind.

There is something very striking in these insignificant and incidental
men that Mr. Pennell shows us. Nowhere does a man dominate in all these
wonderful pictures. You may argue perhaps that that is untrue to the
essential realities; all this array of machine and workshop, all this
marshalled power and purpose, has been the creation of inventor and
business organiser. But are we not a little too free with that word
“_creation_”? Falstaff was a “creation” perhaps, or the Sistine sibyls;
there we have indubitably an end conceived and sought and achieved; but
did these inventors and business organisers do more than heed certain
unavoidable imperatives? Seeking coal they were obliged to mine in a
certain way; seeking steel they had to do this and this and not that and
that; seeking profit they had to obey the imperative of the economy. So
little did they plan their ends that most of these manufacturers speak
with a kind of astonishment of the deadly use to which their works are
put. They find themselves making the new war as a man might wake out of
some drugged condition to find himself strangling his mother.

So that Mr. Pennell’s sketchy and transient human figures seem
altogether right to me. He sees these forges, workshops, cranes and the
like, as inhuman and as wonderful as cliffs or great caves or icebergs
or the stars. They are a new aspect of the logic of physical necessity
that made all these older things, and he seizes upon the majesty and
beauty of their dimensions with an entire impartiality. And they are
as impartial. Through all these lithographs runs one present motif, the
motif of the supreme effort of western civilisation to save itself and
the world from the dominance of the reactionary German Imperialism of
modern science. The pictures are arranged to shape out the life of a
shell, from the mine to the great gun; nothing remains of their
history to show except the ammunition dump, the gun in action and the
shell-burst. Upon this theme all these great appearances are strung
to-day. But to-morrow they may be strung upon some other and nobler
purpose. These gigantic beings of which the engineer is the master
and slave, are neither benevolent nor malignant. To-day they produce
destruction, they are the slaves of the spur; to-morrow we hope they
will bridge and carry and house and help again.

For that peace we struggle against the dull inflexibility of the German



It is the British who have produced the “land ironclad” since I returned
from France, and used it apparently with very good effect. I felt no
little chagrin at not seeing them there, because I have a peculiar
interest in these contrivances. It would be more than human not to
claim a little in this matter. I described one in a story in _The Strand
Magazine_ in 1903, and my story could stand in parallel columns beside
the first account of these monsters in action given by Mr. Beach Thomas
or Mr. Philip Gibbs. My friend M. Joseph Reinach has successfully
passed off long extracts from my story as descriptions of the Tanks upon
British officers who had just seen them. The filiation was indeed quite
traceable. They were my grandchildren--I felt a little like King Lear
when first I read about them. Yet let me state at once that I was
certainly not their prime originator. I took up an idea, manipulated
it slightly, and handed it on. The idea was suggested to me by the
contrivances of a certain Mr. Diplock, whose “ped-rail” notion, the
notion of a wheel that was something more than a wheel, a wheel that
would take locomotives up hill-sides and over ploughed fields, was
public property nearly twenty years ago. Possibly there were others
before Diplock. To the Ped-rail also Commander Murray Sueter, one of the
many experimentalists upon the early tanks, admits his indebtedness,
and it would seem that Mr. Diplock was actually concerned in the earlier
stage of the tanks.

Since my return I have been able to see the Tank at home, through the
courtesy of the Ministry of Munitions. They have progressed far beyond
any recognisable resemblance to the initiatives of Mr. Diplock; they
have approximated rather to the American caterpillar. As I suspected
when first I heard of these devices, the War Office and the old army
people had practically nothing to do with their development. They took
to it very reluctantly--as they have taken to every novelty in this
war. One brilliant general scrawled over an early proposal the entirely
characteristic comment that it was a pity the inventor could not use his
imagination to better purpose. (That foolish British trick of sneering
at “imagination” has cost us hundreds of thousands of useless casualties
and may yet lose us the war.) Tanks were first mooted at the front about
a year and a half ago; Mr. Winston Churchill was then asking questions
about their practicability; he filled many simple souls with terror;
they thought him a most dangerous lunatic. The actual making of the
Tanks arose as an irregular side development of the armoured-car branch
of the Royal Naval Air Service work. The names most closely associated
with the work are (I quote a reply of Dr. Macnamara’s in the House of
Commons) Mr. d’Eyncourt, the Director of Naval Construction, Mr. W. O.
Tritton, Lieut. Wilson, R.N.A.S., Mr. Bussell, Lieut. Stern, R.N.A.S.,
who is now Colonel Stern, Captain Symes, and Mr. F. Skeens. There are
many other claims too numerous to mention in detail.

But however much the Tanks may disconcert the gallant Colonel Newcomes
who throw an air of restraint over our victorious front, there can be no
doubt that they are an important as well as a novel development of the
modern offensive. Of course neither the Tanks nor their very obvious
next developments going to wrest the decisive pre-eminence from the
aeroplane. The aeroplane remains now more than ever the instrument of
victory upon the western front. Aerial ascendancy, properly utilised, is
victory. But the mobile armoured big gun and the Tank as a machine-gun
silencer must enormously facilitate an advance against the blinded
enemy. Neither of them can advance against properly aimed big gun fire.
That has to be disposed of before they make their entrance. It remains
the function of the aeroplane to locate the hostile big guns and
to direct the _tir de demolition_ upon them before the advance
begins--possibly even to bomb them out. But hitherto, after the
destruction of driving back of the defender’s big guns has been
effected, the dug-out and the machine gun have still inflicted heavy
losses upon the advancing infantry until the fight is won. So soon as
the big guns are out, the tanks will advance, destroying machine guns,
completing the destruction of the wire, and holding prisoners immobile.
Then the infantry will follow to gather in the sheaves.
Multitudinously produced and--I write it with a defiant eye on Colonel
Newcome--_properly handled_, these land ironclads are going to do very
great things in shortening the war, in pursuit, in breaking up the
retreating enemy. Given the air ascendancy, and I am utterly unable to
imagine any way of conclusively stopping or even greatly delaying an
offensive thus equipped.


The young of even the most horrible beasts have something piquant and
engaging about them, and so I suppose it is in the way of things that
the land ironclad which opens a new and more dreadful and destructive
phase in the human folly of warfare, should appear first as if it were a
joke. Never has any such thing so completely masked its wickedness under
an appearance of genial silliness. The Tank is a creature to which one
naturally flings a pet name; the five or six I was shown wandering,
rooting and climbing over obstacles, round a large field near X, were as
amusing and disarming as a little of lively young pigs.

At first the War Office prevented the publication of any pictures or
descriptions of these contrivances except abroad; then abruptly the
embargo was relaxed, and the press was flooded with photographs. The
reader will be familiar now with their appearance. They resemble
large slugs with an underside a little like the flattened rockers of
a rocking-horse, slugs between 20 and 40 feet long. They are like
flat-sided slugs, slugs of spirit, who raise an enquiring snout, like
the snout of a dogfish, into the air. They crawl upon their bellies in
a way that would be tedious to describe to the general reader and
unnecessary to describe to the enquiring specialists. They go over the
ground with the sliding speed of active snails. Behind them trail two
wheels, supporting a flimsy tail, wheels that strike one as incongruous
as if a monster began kangaroo and ended doll’s perambulator. (These
wheels annoy me.) They are not steely monsters; they are painted with
drab and unassuming colours that are fashionable in modern warfare, so
that the armour seems rather like the integument of a rhinoceros. At the
sides of the head project armoured checks, and from above these stick
out guns that look like stalked eyes. That is the general appearance of
the contemporary tank.

It slides on the ground; the silly little wheels that so detract from
the genial bestiality of its appearance dandle and bump behind it. It
swings about its axis. It comes to an obstacle, a low wall let us say,
or a heap of bricks, and sets to work to climb it with its snout. It
rears over the obstacle, it raises its straining belly, it overhangs
more and more, and at last topples forward; it sways upon the heap and
then goes plunging downwards, sticking out the weak counterpoise of its
wheeled tail. If it comes to a house or a tree or a wall or such-like
obstruction it rams against it so as to bring all its weight to bear
upon it--it weighs _some_ tons--and then climbs over the debris. I saw
it, and incredulous soldiers of experience watched it at the same time,
cross trenches and wallow amazingly through muddy exaggerations of small
holes. Then I repeated the tour inside.

Again the Tank is like a slug. The slug, as every biological student
knows, is unexpectedly complicated inside. The Tank is as crowded
with inward parts as a battleship. It is filled with engines, guns and
ammunition, and in the interstices men.

“You will smash your hat,” said Colonel Stern. “No; keep it on, or else
you will smash your head.”

Only Mr. C. R. W. Nevinson could do justice to the interior of a Tank.
You see a hand gripping something; you see the eyes and forehead of
an engineer’s face; you perceive that an overall bluishness beyond the
engine is the back of another man. “Don’t hold that,” says someone; “it
is too hot. Hold on to that.” The engines roar, so loudly that I doubt
whether one could hear guns without; the floor begins to slope and
slopes until one seems to be at forty-five degrees or thereabouts; then
the whole concern swings up and sways and slants the other way. You have
crossed a bank. You heel sideways. Through the door which has been left
open you see the little group of engineers, staff officers and naval men
receding and falling away behind you. You straighten up and go up hill.
You halt and begin to rotate. Through the open door, the green field,
with its red walls, rows of worksheds and forests of chimneys in
the background, begins a steady processional movement. The group of
engineers and officers and naval men appears at the other side of the
door and farther off. Then comes a sprint down hill. You descend and
stretch your legs.

About the field other Tanks are doing their stunts. One is struggling in
an apoplectic way in the mud pit with a cheek half buried. It noses its
way out and on with an air of animal relief.

They are like jokes by Heath Robinson. One forgets that these things
have already saved the lives of many hundreds of our soldiers and
smashed and defeated thousands of Germans.

Said one soldier to me: “In the old attacks you used to see the British
dead lying outside the machine-gun emplacements like birds outside a
butt with a good shot inside. _Now_, these things walk through.”


I saw other things that day at X. The Tank is only a beginning in a new
phase of warfare. Of these other things I may only write in the most
general terms.

But though Tanks and their collaterals are being made upon a very
considerable scale in X, already I realised as I walked through gigantic
forges as high and marvellous as cathedrals, and from workshed to
workshed where gun carriages, ammunition carts and a hundred such things
were flowing into existence with the swelling abundance of a river that
flows out of a gorge, that as the demand for the new developments
grows clear and strong, the resources of Britain are capable still of
a tremendous response. _If only we do not rob these great factories and
works of their men._

Upon this question certain things need to be said very plainly. The
decisive factor in the sort of war we are now waging is production and
right use of mechanical material; victory in this war depends now
upon three things: the aeroplane, the gun, and the Tank developments.
These--and not crowds of men--are the prime necessity for a successful
offensive. Every man we draw from munition making to the ranks brings
our western condition nearer to the military condition of Russia. In
these things we may be easily misled by military “experts” We have to
remember that the military “expert” is a man who learnt his business
before 1914, and that the business of war has been absolutely
revolutionised since 1914; the military expert is a man trained to think
of war as essentially an affair of cavalry, infantry in formation, and
field guns, whereas cavalry is entirely obsolete, infantry no longer
fights in formation, and the methods of gunnery have been entirely
changed. The military man I observe still runs about the world in spurs,
he travels in trains in spurs, he walks in spurs, he thinks in terms of
spurs. He has still to discover that it is about as ridiculous as if he
were to carry a crossbow. I take it these spurs are only the outward and
visible sign of an inward obsolescence. The disposition of the military
“expert” is still to think too little of machinery and to demand too
much of the men. Behind our front at the time of my visit there were,
for example, many thousands of cavalry, men tending horses, men engaged
in transporting bulky fodder for horses and the like. These men were
doing about as much in this war as if they had been at Timbuctoo. Every
man who is taken from munition making at X to spur-worshipping in khaki,
is a dead loss to the military efficiency of the country. Every man that
is needed or is likely to be needed for the actual operations of
modern warfare can be got by combing out the cavalry, the brewing
and distilling industries, the theatres and music halls, and the like
unproductive occupations. The under-staffing of munition works, the
diminution of their efficiency by the use of aged and female labour, is
the straight course to failure in this war.

In X, in the forges and machine shops, I saw already too large a
proportion of boys and grey heads.

War is a thing that changes very rapidly, and we have in the Tanks only
the first of a great series of offensive developments. They are bound to
be improved, at a great pace. The method of using them will change very
rapidly. Any added invention will necessitate the scrapping of old types
and the production of the new patterns in quantity. It is of supreme
necessity to the Allies if they are to win this war outright that the
lead in inventions and enterprise which the British have won over the
Germans in this matter should be retained. It is our game now to press
the advantage for all it is worth. We have to keep ahead to win. We
cannot do so unless we have unstinted men and unstinted material to
produce each new development as its use is realised.

Given that much, the Tank will enormously enhance the advantage of the
new offensive method on the French front; the method that is of gun
demolition after aerial photography, followed by an advance; it is a
huge addition to our prospect of decisive victory. What does it do?
It solves two problems. The existing Tank affords a means of advancing
against machine-gun fire and of destroying wire and machine guns without
much risk of loss, so soon as the big guns have done their duty by the
enemy guns. And also behind the Tank itself, it is useless to conceal,
lies the possibility of bringing up big guns and big gun ammunition,
across nearly any sort of country, as fast as the advance can press
forward. Hitherto every advance has paid a heavy toll to the machine
gun, and every advance has had to halt after a couple of miles or so
while the big guns (taking five or six days for the job) toiled up to
the new positions.


It is impossible to restrain a note of sharp urgency from what one has
to say about these developments. The Tanks remove the last technical
difficulties in our way to decisive victory and a permanent peace; they
also afford a reason for straining every nerve to bring about a decision
and peace soon. At the risk of seeming an imaginative alarmist I would
like to point out the reasons these things disclose for hurrying this
war to a decision and doing our utmost to arrange the world’s affairs
so as to make another war improbable. Already these serio-comic Tanks,
weighing something over twenty tons or so, have gone slithering around
and sliding over dead and wounded men. That is not an incident for
sensitive minds to dwell upon, but it is a mere little child’s play
anticipation of what the big land ironclads _that are bound to come if
there is no world pacification_, are going to do.

What lies behind the Tank depends upon this fact; there is no definable
upward limit of mass. Upon that I would lay all the stress possible,
because everything turns upon that.

You cannot make a land ironclad so big and heavy but that you cannot
make a caterpillar track wide enough and strong enough to carry it
forward. Tanks are quite possible that will carry twenty-inch or
twenty-five inch guns, besides minor armament. Such Tanks may be
undesirable; the production may exceed the industrial resources of
any empire to produce; but there is no inherent impossibility in such
things. There are not even the same limitations as to draught and
docking accommodation that sets bounds to the size of battleships. It
follows, therefore, as a necessary deduction that if the world’s affairs
are so left at the end of the war that the race of armaments continues,
that Tank will develop steadily into a tremendous instrument of warfare,
driven by engines of scores of thousands of horse-power, tracking on
a track scores of hundreds of yards wide and weighing hundreds or
thousands of tons. Nothing but a world agreement not to do so can
prevent this logical development of the land ironclad. Such a structure
will make wheel-ruts scores of feet deep; it will plough up, devastate
and destroy the country it passes over altogether.

For my own part I never imagined the land ironclad idea would get loose
into war. I thought that the military intelligence was essentially
unimaginative and that such an aggressive military power as Germany,
dominated by military people, would never produce anything of the sort.
I thought that this war would be fought out without Tanks and that then
war would come to an end. For of course it is mere stupidity that makes
people doubt the ultimate ending of war. I have been so far justified
in these expectations of mine, that it is not from military sources that
these things have come. They have been thrust upon the soldiers from
without. But now that they are loose, now that they are in war, we have
to face their full possibilities, to use our advantage in them and press
on to the end of the war. In support of a photo-aero directed artillery,
even our present Tanks can be used to complete an invisible offensive.
We shall not so much push as ram. It is doubtful if the Germans can get
anything of the sort into action before six months are out. We ought to
get the war on to German soil before the Tanks have grown to more than
three or four times their present size. Then it will not matter so much
how much bigger they grow. It will be the German landscape that will

After one has seen the actual Tanks it is not very difficult to close
one’s eyes and figure the sort of Tank that may be arguing with Germany
in a few months’ time about the restoration of Belgium and Serbia and
France, the restoration of the sunken tonnage, the penalties of the
various Zeppelin and submarine murders, the freedom of seas and land
alike from piracy, the evacuation of all Poland including Posen and
Cracow, and the guarantees for the future peace of Europe. The machine
will be perhaps as big as a destroyer and more heavily armed and
equipped. It will swim over and through the soil at a pace of ten or
twelve miles an hour. In front of it will be corn, land, neat woods,
orchards, pasture, gardens, villages and towns. It will advance upon its
belly with a swaying motion, devouring the ground beneath it. Behind it
masses of soil and rock, lumps of turf, splintered wood, bits of houses,
occasional streaks of red, will drop from its track, and it will leave
a wake, six or seven times as wide as a high road, from which all soil,
all cultivation, all semblance to cultivated or cultivatable land will
have disappeared. It will not even be a track of soil. It will be a
track of subsoil laid bare. It will be a flayed strip of nature. In the
course of its fighting the monster may have to turnabout. It will then
halt and spin slowly round, grinding out an arena of desolation with
a diameter equal to its length. If it has to retreat and advance again
these streaks and holes of destruction will increase and multiply.
Behind the fighting line these monsters will manoeuvre to and fro,
destroying the land for all ordinary agricultural purposes for ages to
come. The first imaginative account of the land ironclad that was ever
written concluded with the words, “They are the _reductio ad absurdum_
of war.” They are, and it is to the engineers, the ironmasters, the
workers and the inventive talent of Great Britain and France that we
must look to ensure that it is in Germany, the great teacher of war,
that this demonstration of war’s ultimate absurdity is completed.

For forty years Frankenstein Germany invoked war, turned every
development of material and social science to aggressive ends, and at
last when she felt the time was ripe she let loose the new monster that
she had made of war to cow the spirit of mankind. She set the thing
trampling through Belgium. She cannot grumble if at last it comes home,
stranger and more dreadful even than she made it, trampling the German
towns and fields with German blood upon it and its eyes towards Berlin.

This logical development of the Tank idea may seem a gloomy prospect for
mankind. But it is open to question whether the tremendous development
of warfare that has gone on in the last two years does after all open a
prospect of unmitigated gloom. There has been a good deal of cheap and
despondent sneering recently at the phrase, “The war that will end war.”
 It is still possible to maintain that that may be a correct description
of this war. It has to be remembered that war, as the aeroplane and
the Tank have made it, has already become an impossible luxury for any
barbaric or uncivilised people. War on the grade that has been achieved
on the Somme predicates an immense industrialism behind it. Of all the
States in the world only four can certainly be said to be fully capable
of sustaining war at the level to which it has now been brought upon the
western front. These are Britain, France, Germany, and the United States
of America. Less certainly equal to the effort are Italy, Japan, Russia,
and Austria. These eight powers are the only powers _capable of warfare
under modern conditions._ Five are already Allies and one is incurably
pacific. There is no other power or people in the world that can go to
war now without the consent and connivance of these great powers. If
we consider their alliances, we may count it that the matter rests now
between two groups of Allies and one neutral power. So that while on
the one hand the development of modern warfare of which the Tank is the
present symbol opens a prospect of limitless senseless destruction, it
opens on the other hand a prospect of organised world control. This
Tank development must ultimately bring the need of a real permanent
settlement within the compass of the meanest of diplomatic
intelligences. A peace that will restore competitive armaments has now
become a less desirable prospect for everyone than a continuation of the
war. Things were bad enough before, when the land forces were still in
a primitive phase of infantry, cavalry and artillery, and when the only
real race to develop monsters and destructors was for sea power. But the
race for sea power before 1914 was mere child’s play to the breeding
of engineering monstrosities for land warfare that must now follow any
indeterminate peace settlement. I am no blind believer in the wisdom of
mankind, but I cannot believe that men are so insensate and headstrong
as to miss the plain omens of the present situation.

So that after all the cheerful amusement the sight of a Tank causes may
not be so very unreasonable. These things may be no more than one of
those penetrating flashes of wit that will sometimes light up and dispel
the contentions of an angry man. If they are not that, then they are the
grimmest jest that ever set men grinning. Wait and see, if you do not
believe me.



All human affairs are mental affairs; the bright ideas of to-day are the
realities of to-morrow. The real history of mankind is the history of
how ideas have arisen, how they have taken possession of men’s minds,
how they have struggled, altered, proliferated, decayed. There is
nothing in this war at all but a conflict of ideas, traditions, and
mental habits. The German Will clothed in conceptions of aggression and
fortified by cynical falsehood, struggles against the fundamental sanity
of the German mind and the confused protest of mankind. So that the most
permanently important thing in the tragic process of this war is the
change of opinion that is going on. What are people making of it? Is it
producing any great common understandings, any fruitful unanimities?

No doubt it is producing enormous quantities of cerebration, but is it
anything more than chaotic and futile cerebration? We are told all
sorts of things in answer to that, things without a scrap of evidence
or probability to support them. It is, we are assured, turning people to
religion, making them moral and thoughtful. It is also, we are assured
with equal confidence, turning them to despair and moral disaster. It
will be followed by (1) a period of moral renascence, and (2) a debauch.
It is going to make the workers (1) more and (2) less obedient and
industrious. It is (1) inuring men to war and (2) filling them with a
passionate resolve never to suffer war again. And so on. I propose now
to ask what is really happening in this matter? How is human opinion
changing? I have opinions of my own and they are bound to colour my
discussion. The reader must allow for that, and as far as possible I
will remind him where necessary to make his allowance.

Now first I would ask, is any really continuous and thorough
mental process going on at all about this war? I mean, is there any
considerable number of people who are seeing it as a whole, taking it in
as a whole, trying to get a general idea of it from which they can form
directing conclusions for the future? Is there any considerable number
of people even trying to do that? At any rate let me point out first
that there is quite an enormous mass of people who--in spite of the fact
that their minds are concentrated on aspects of this war, who are at
present hearing, talking, experiencing little else than the war--are
nevertheless neither doing nor trying to do anything that deserves to
be called thinking about it at all. They may even be suffering quite
terribly by it. But they are no more mastering its causes, reasons,
conditions, and the possibility of its future prevention than a monkey
that has been rescued in a scorching condition from the burning of a
house will have mastered the problem of a fire. It is just happening to
and about them. It may, for anything they have learnt about it, happen
to them again.

A vast majority of people are being swamped by the spectacular side of
the business. It was very largely my fear of being so swamped myself
that made me reluctant to go as a spectator to the front. I knew that my
chances of being hit by a bullet were infinitesimal, but I was extremely
afraid of being hit by some too vivid impression. I was afraid that I
might see some horribly wounded man or some decayed dead body that would
so scar my memory and stamp such horror into me as to reduce me to a
mere useless, gibbering, stop-the-war-at-any-price pacifist. Years ago
my mind was once darkened very badly for some weeks with a kind of fear
and distrust of life through a sudden unexpected encounter one tranquil
evening with a drowned body. But in this journey in Italy and France,
although I have had glimpses of much death and seen many wounded men,
I have had no really horrible impressions at all. That side of the
business has, I think, been overwritten. The thing that haunts me most
is the impression of a prevalent relapse into extreme untidiness, of
a universal discomfort, of fields, and of ruined houses treated
disregardfully.... But that is not what concerns us now in this
discussion. What concerns us now is the fact that this war is producing
spectacular effects so tremendous and incidents so strange, so
remarkable, so vivid, that the mind forgets both causes and consequences
and simply sits down to stare.

For example, there is this business of the Zeppelin raids in England. It
is a supremely silly business; it is the most conclusive demonstration
of the intellectual inferiority of the German to the Western European
that is should ever have happened. There was the clearest _a priori_
case against the gas-bag. I remember the discussions ten or twelve years
ago in which it was established to the satisfaction of every reasonable
man that ultimately the “heavier than air” machine (as we called it
then) must fly better than the gas-bag, and still more conclusively
that no gas-bag was conceivable that could hope to fight and defeat
aeroplanes. Nevertheless the German, with that dull faith of his in mere
“Will,” persisted along his line. He knew instinctively that he could
not produce aviators to meet the Western European; all his social
instincts made him cling to the idea of a great motherly, almost
sow-like bag of wind above him. At an enormous waste of resources
Germany has produced these futile monsters, that drift in the darkness
over England promiscuously dropping bombs on fields and houses. They
are now meeting the fate that was demonstrably certain ten years ago.
If they found us unready for them it is merely that we were unable to
imagine so idiotic an enterprise would ever be seriously sustained and
persisted in. We did not believe in the probability of Zeppelin raids
any more than we believed that Germany would force the world into war.
It was a thing too silly to be believed. But they came--to their certain
fate. In the month after I returned from France and Italy, no less than
four of these fatuities were exploded and destroyed within thirty miles
of my Essex home.... There in chosen phrases you have the truth about
these things. But now mark the perversion of thought due to spectacular

I find over the Essex countryside, which has been for more than a year
and a half a highway for Zeppelins, a new and curious admiration for
them that has arisen out of these very disasters. Previously they were
regarded with dislike and a sort of distrust, as one might regard a
sneaking neighbour who left his footsteps in one’s garden at night. But
the Zeppelins of Billericay and Potter’s Bar are--heroic things. (The
Cuffley one came down too quickly, and the fourth one which came down
for its crew to surrender is despised.) I have heard people describe the
two former with eyes shining with enthusiasm.

“First,” they say, “you saw a little round red glow that spread. Then
you saw the whole Zeppelin glowing. Oh, it was _beautiful!_ Then it
began to turn over and come down, and it flames and pieces began to
break away. And then down it came, leaving flaming pieces all up the
sky. At last it was a pillar of fire eight thousand feet high....
Everyone said, ‘Ooooo!’ And then someone pointed out the little
aeroplane lit up by the flare--such a leetle thing up there in
the night! It is the greatest thing I have ever seen. Oh! the most
wonderful--most wonderful!”

There is a feeling that the Germans really must after all be a splendid
people to provide such magnificent pyrotechnics.

Some people in London the other day were pretending to be shocked by an
American who boasted that he had been in “two _bully_ bombardments,”
 but he was only saying what everyone feels more or less. We are at
a spectacle that--as a spectacle--our grandchildren will envy. I
understand now better the story of the man who stared at the sparks
raining up from his own house as it burnt in the night and whispered
“_Lovely! Lovely!_”

The spectacular side of the war is really an enormous distraction from
thought. And against thought there also fights the native indolence of
the human mind. The human mind, it seems, was originally developed to
think about the individual; it thinks reluctantly about the species.
It takes refuge from that sort of thing if it possibly can. And so
the second great preventive of clear thinking is the tranquillising

The human mind is an instrument very easily fatigued. Only a few
exceptions go on thinking restlessly--to the extreme exasperation of
their neighbours. The normal mind craves for decisions, even wrong or
false decisions rather than none. It clutches at comforting falsehoods.
It loves to be told, “_There_, don’t you worry. That’ll be all right.
That’s _settled._” This war has come as an almost overwhelming challenge
to mankind. To some of us it seems as it if were the Sphynx proffering
the alternative of its riddle or death. Yet the very urgency of this
challenge to think seems to paralyse the critical intelligence of very
many people altogether. They will say, “This war is going to produce
enormous changes in everything.” They will then subside mentally with a
feeling of having covered the whole ground in a thoroughly safe manner.
Or they will adopt an air of critical aloofness. They will say, “How
is it possible to foretell what may happen in this tremendous sea of
change?” And then, with an air of superior modesty, they will go on
doing--whatever they feel inclined to do. Many others, a degree less
simple in their methods, will take some entirely partial aspect, arrive
at some guesswork decision upon that, and then behave as though that met
every question we have to face. Or they will make a sort of admonitory
forecast that is conditional upon the good behaviour of other people.
“Unless the Trade Unions are more reasonable,” they will say. Or,
“Unless the shipping interest is grappled with and controlled.” Or,
“Unless England wakes up.” And with that they seem to wash their hands
of further responsibility for the future.

One delightful form of put-off is the sage remark, “Let us finish the
war first, and then let us ask what is going to happen after it.” One
likes to think of the beautiful blank day after the signing of the peace
when these wise minds swing round to pick up their deferred problems....

I submit that a man has not done his duty by himself as a rational
creature unless he has formed an idea of what is going on, as one
complicated process, until he has formed an idea sufficiently definite
for him to make it the basis of a further idea, which is his own
relationship to that process. He must have some notion of what the
process is going to do to him, and some notion of what he means to do,
if he can, to the process. That is to say, he must not only have an idea
how the process is going, but also an idea of how he wants it to go. It
seems so natural and necessary for a human brain to do this that it is
hard to suppose that everyone has not more or less attempted it. But
few people, in Great Britain at any rate, have the habit of frank
expression, and when people do not seem to have made out any of these
things for themselves there is a considerable element of secretiveness
and inexpressiveness to be allowed for before we decide that they have
not in some sort of fashion done so. Still, after all allowances have
been made, there remains a vast amount of jerry-built and ready-made
borrowed stuff in most of people’s philosophies of the war. The systems
of authentic opinion in this world of thought about the war are like
comparatively rare thin veins of living mentality in a vast world of
dead repetitions and echoed suggestions. And that being the case, it is
quite possible that history after the war, like history before the war,
will not be so much a display of human will and purpose as a resultant
of human vacillations, obstructions, and inadvertences. We shall still
be in a drama of blind forces following the line of least resistance.

One of the people who is often spoken of as if he were doing an enormous
amount of concentrated thinking is “the man in the trenches.” We are
told--by gentlemen writing for the most part at home--of the most
extraordinary things that are going on in those devoted brains, how they
are getting new views about the duties of labour, religion, morality,
monarchy, and any other notions that the gentleman at home happens to
fancy and wished to push. Now that is not at all the impression of the
khaki mentality I have reluctantly accepted as correct. For the most
part the man in khaki is up against a round of tedious immediate duties
that forbid consecutive thought; he is usually rather crowded and not
very comfortable. He is bored.

The real horror of modern war, when all is said and done, is the
boredom. To get killed our wounded may be unpleasant, but it is at
any rate interesting; the real tragedy is in the desolated fields, the
desolated houses, the desolated hours and days, the bored and desolated
minds that hang behind the melee and just outside the melee. The
peculiar beastliness of the German crime is the way the German war cant
and its consequences have seized upon and paralysed the mental movement
of Western Europe. Before 1914 war was theoretically unpopular in every
European country; we thought of it as something tragic and dreadful.
Now everyone knows by experience that it is something utterly dirty and
detestable. We thought it was the Nemean lion, and we have found it
is the Augean stable. But being bored by war and hating war is quite
unproductive _unless you are thinking about its nature and causes
so thoroughly that you will presently be able to take hold of it and
control it and end it._ It is no good for everyone to say unanimously,
“We will have no more war,” unless you have thought out how to avoid it,
and mean to bring that end about. It is as if everyone said, “We will
have no more catarrh,” or “no more flies,” or “no more east wind.” And
my point is that the immense sorrows at home in every European country
and the vast boredom of the combatants are probably not really producing
any effective remedial mental action at all, and will not do so unless
we get much more thoroughly to work upon the thinking-out process.

In such talks as I could get with men close up to the front I found
beyond this great boredom and attempts at distraction only very
specialised talk about changes in the future. Men were keen upon
questions of army promotion, of the future of conscription, of the
future of the temporary officer, upon the education of boys in relation
to army needs. But the war itself was bearing them all upon its way,
as unquestioned and uncontrolled as if it were the planet on which they


1 Among the minor topics that people are talking about behind the
western fronts is the psychology of the Yielding Pacifist and the
Conscientious Objector. Of course, we are all pacifists nowadays; I know
of no one who does not want not only to end this war but to put an end
to war altogether, except those blood-red terrors Count Reventlow, Mr.
Leo Maxse--how he does it on a vegetarian dietary I cannot imagine!--and
our wild-eyed desperados of _The Morning Post._ But most of the people
I meet, and most of the people I met on my journey, are pacifists like
myself who want to _make_ peace by beating the armed man until he gives
in and admits the error of his ways, disarming him and reorganising the
world for the forcible suppression of military adventures in the future.
They want belligerency put into the same category as burglary, as a
matter of forcible suppression. The Yielding Pacifist who will accept
any sort of peace, and the Conscientious Objector who will not fight at
all, are not of that opinion.

Both Italy and France produce parallel types to those latter, but it
would seem that in each case England displays the finer developments.
The Latin mind is directer than the English, and its standards--shall
I say?--more primitive; it gets more directly to the fact that here are
men who will not fight. And it is less charitable. I was asked quite a
number of times for the English equivalent of an _embusque._ “We don’t
generalise,” I said, “we treat each case on its merits!”

One interlocutor near Udine was exercised by our Italian Red Cross work.

“Here,” he said, “are sixty or seventy young Englishmen, all fit for
military service.... Of course they go under fire, but it is not like
being junior officers in the trenches. Not one of them has been killed
or wounded.”

He reflected. “One, I think, has been decorated,” he said....

My French and Italian are only for very rough common jobs; when it came
to explaining the Conscientious Objector sympathetically they broke
down badly. I had to construct long parenthetical explanations of
our antiquated legislative methods to show how it was that the
“conscientious objector” had been so badly defined. The foreigner does
not understand the importance of vague definition in British life.
“Practically, of course, we offered to exempt anyone who conscientiously
objected to fight or serve. Then the Pacifist and German people started
a campaign to enrol objectors. Of course every shirker, every coward and
slacker in the country decided at once to be a conscientious objector.
Anyone but a British legislator could have foreseen that. Then we
started Tribunals to wrangle with the objectors about their _bona
fides._ Then the Pacifists and the Pro-Germans issued little leaflets
and started correspondence courses to teach people exactly how to lie to
the Tribunals. Trouble about freedom of the pamphleteer followed. I had
to admit--it has been rather a sloppy business. The people who made the
law knew their own minds, but we English are not an expressive people.”

These are not easy things to say in Elementary (and slightly Decayed)
French or in Elementary and Corrupt Italian.

“But why do people support the sham conscientious objector and issue
leaflets to help him--when there is so much big work clamouring to be

“That,” I said, “is the Whig tradition.”

When they pressed me further, I said: “I am really the questioner. I
am visiting _your_ country, and you have to tell _me_ things. It is
not right that I should do all the telling. Tell me all about Romain

And so I pressed them about the official socialists in Italy and the
Socialist minority in France until I got the question out of the net
of national comparisons and upon a broader footing. In several
conversations we began to work out in general terms the psychology of
those people who were against the war. But usually we could not get to
that; my interlocutors would insist upon telling me just what they would
like to do or just what they would like to see done to stop-the-war
pacifists and conscientious objectors; pleasant rather than fruitful
imaginative exercises from which I could effect no more than
platitudinous uplifts.

But the general drift of such talks as did seem to penetrate the
question was this, that among these stop-the-war people there are really
three types. First there is a type of person who hates violence and
the infliction of pain under any circumstances, and who have a mystical
belief in the rightness (and usually the efficacy) of non-resistance.
These are generally Christians, and then their cardinal text is the
instruction to “turn the other cheek.” Often they are Quakers. If they
are consistent they are vegetarians and wear _Lederlos_ boots. They do
not desire police protection for their goods. They stand aloof from all
the force and conflict of life. They have always done so. This is an
understandable and respectable type. It has numerous Hindu equivalents.
It is a type that finds little difficulty about exemptions--provided the
individual has not been too recently converted to his present habits.
But it is not the prevalent type in stop-the-war circles. Such genuine
ascetics do not number more than a thousand or so, all three of our
western allied countries. The mass of the stop-the-war people is made up
quite other elements.


In the complex structure of the modern community there are two groups
or strata or pockets in which the impulse of social obligation, the
gregarious sense of a common welfare, is at its lowest; one of these is
the class of the Resentful Employee, the class of people who, without
explanation, adequate preparation or any chance, have been shoved at an
early age into uncongenial work and never given a chance to escape, and
the other is the class of people with small fixed incomes or with small
salaries earnt by routine work, or half independent people practising
some minor artistic or literary craft, who have led uneventful,
irresponsible lives from their youth up, and never came at any point
into relations of service to the state. This latter class was more
difficult to define than the former--because it is more various within
itself. My French friends wanted to talk of the “Psychology of the
Rentier.” I was for such untranslatable phrases as the “Genteel Whig,”
 or the “Donnish Liberal.” But I lit up an Italian--he is a Milanese
manufacturer--with “these Florentine English who would keep Italy in a
glass case.” “I know,” he said. Before I go on to expand this congenial
theme, let me deal first with the Resentful Employee, who is a much
more considerable, and to me a much more sympathetic, figure in European
affairs. I began life myself as a Resentful Employee. By the extremest
good luck I have got my mind and spirit out of the distortions of that
cramping beginning, but I can still recall even the anger of those old

He becomes an employee between thirteen and fifteen; he is made to do
work he does not like for no other purpose that he can see except the
profit and glory of a fortunate person called his employer, behind whom
stand church and state blessing and upholding the relationship. He is
not allowed to feel that he has any share whatever in the employer’s
business, or that any end is served but the employer’s profit. He cannot
see that the employer acknowledges any duty to the state. Neither church
nor state seems to insist that the employer has any public function.
At no point does the employee come into a clear relationship of mutual
obligation with the state. There does not seem to be any way out for the
employee from a life spent in this subordinate, toilsome relationship.
He feels put upon and cheated out of life. He is without honour. If
he is a person of ability or stubborn temper he struggles out of his
position; if he is a kindly and generous person he blames his “luck” and
does his work and lives his life as cheerfully as possible--and so live
the bulk of our amazing European workers; if he is a being of great
magnanimity he is content to serve for the ultimate good of the race; if
he has imagination, he says, “Things will not always be like this,”
 and becomes a socialist or a guild socialist, and tries to educate the
employer to a sense of reciprocal duty; but if he is too human for any
of these things, then he begins to despise and hate the employer and the
system that made him. He wants to hurt them. Upon that hate it is easy
to trade.

A certain section of what is called the Socialist press and the
Socialist literature in Europe is no doubt great-minded; it seeks to
carve a better world out of the present. But much of it is socialist
only in name. Its spirit is Anarchistic. Its real burthen is not
construction but grievance; it tells the bitter tale of the employee, it
feeds and organises his malice, it schemes annoyance and injury for the
hated employer. The state and the order of the world is confounded with
the capitalist. Before the war the popular so-called socialist press
reeked with the cant of rebellion, the cant of any sort of rebellion.
“I’m a rebel,” was the silly boast of the young disciple. “Spoil
something, set fire to something,” was held to be the proper text for
any girl or lad of spirit. And this blind discontent carried on into
the war. While on the one hand a great rush of men poured into the army
saying, “Thank God! we can serve our country at last instead of some
beastly profiteer,” a sourer remnant, blind to the greater issues of
the war, clung to the reasonless proposition, “the state is only for
the Capitalist. This war is got up by Capitalists. Whatever has to be
done--_we are rebels._”

Such a typical paper as the British _Labour Leader_, for example, may
be read in vain, number after number, for any sound and sincere
constructive proposal. It is a prolonged scream of extreme
individualism, a monotonous repetition of incoherent discontent with
authority, with direction, with union, with the European effort. It
wants to do nothing. It just wants effort to stop--even at the price of
German victory. If the whole fabric of society in western Europe were to
be handed over to those pseudo-socialists to-morrow, to be administered
for the common good, they would fly the task in terror. They would make
excuses and refuse the undertaking. They do not want the world to go
right. The very idea of the world going right does not exist in their
minds. They are embodied discontent and hatred, making trouble, and that
is all they are. They want to be “rebels”--to be admired as “rebels”.

That is the true psychology of the Resentful Employee. He is a
de-socialised man. His sense of the State has been destroyed.

The Resentful Employees are the outcome of our social injustices. They
are the failures of our social ad educational systems. We may regret
their pitiful degradation, we may exonerate them from blame; none the
less they are a pitiful crew. I have seen the hardship of the trenches,
the gay and gallant wounded. I do a little understand what our soldiers,
officers and men alike, have endured and done. And though I know I ought
to allow for all that I have stated, I cannot regard these conscientious
objectors with anything but contempt. Into my house there pours a dismal
literature rehearsing the hardships of these men who set themselves
up to be martyrs for liberty; So and So, brave hero, has been sworn
at--positively sworn at by a corporal; a nasty rough man came into
the cell of So and So and dropped several h’s; So and So, refusing to
undress and wash, has been undressed and washed, and soap was rubbed
into his eyes--perhaps purposely; the food and accommodation are not of
the best class; the doctors in attendance seem hasty; So and So was put
into a damp bed and has got a nasty cold. Then I recall a jolly vanload
of wounded men I saw out there....

But after all, we must be just. A church and state that permitted
these people to be thrust into dreary employment in their early ‘teens,
without hope or pride, deserves such citizens as these. The marvel
is that there are so few. There are a poor thousand or so of these
hopeless, resentment-poisoned creatures in Great Britain. Against five
willing millions. The Allied countries, I submit, have not got nearly
all the conscientious objectors they deserve.


If the Resentful Employee provides the emotional impulse of the
resisting pacifist, whose horizon is bounded by his one passionate
desire that the particular social system that has treated him so ill
should collapse and give in, and its leaders and rulers be humiliated
and destroyed, the intellectual direction of a mischievous pacifism
comes from an entirely different class.

The Genteel Whig, though he differs very widely in almost every other
respect from the Resentful Employee, has this much in common, that he
has never been drawn into the whirl of collective life in any real and
assimilative fashion. This is what is the matter with both of them.
He is a little loose, shy, independent person. Except for eating and
drinking--in moderation, he has never done anything real from the day
he was born. He has frequently not even faced the common challenge of
matrimony. Still more frequently is he childless, or the daring parent
of one particular child. He has never traded nor manufactured. He has
drawn his dividends or his salary with an entire unconsciousness of any
obligations to policemen or navy for these punctual payments. Probably
he has never ventured even to reinvest his little legacy. He is acutely
aware of possessing an exceptionally fine intelligence, but he is
entirely unconscious of a fundamental unreality. Nothing has ever
occurred to him to make him ask why the mass of men were either not
possessed of his security or discontented with it. The impulses that
took his school friends out upon all sorts of odd feats and adventures
struck him as needless. As he grew up he turned with an equal distrust
from passion or ambition. His friends went out after love, after
adventure, after power, after knowledge, after this or that desire, and
became men. But he noted merely that they became fleshly, that effort
strained them, that they were sometimes angry or violent or heated. He
could not but feel that theirs were vulgar experiences, and he sought
some finer exercise for his exceptional quality. He pursued art or
philosophy or literature upon their more esoteric levels, and realised
more and more the general vulgarity and coarseness of the world about
him, and his own detachment. The vulgarity and crudity of the things
nearest him impressed him most; the dreadful insincerity of the Press,
the meretriciousness of success, the loudness of the rich, the baseness
of common people in his own land. The world overseas had by comparison
a certain glamour. Except that when you said “United States” to him he
would draw the air sharply between his teeth and beg you not to...

Nobody took him by the collar and shook him.

If our world had considered the advice of William James and insisted
upon national service from everyone, national service in the drains or
the nationalised mines or the nationalised deep-sea fisheries if not
in the army or navy, we should not have had any such men. If it had
insisted that wealth and property are no more than a trust for the
public benefit, we should have had no genteel indispensables. These
discords in our national unanimity are the direct consequence of our bad
social organisation. We permit the profiteer and the usurer; they evoke
the response of the Reluctant Employee, and the inheritor of their
wealth becomes the Genteel Whig.

But that is by the way. It was of course natural and inevitable that the
German onslaught upon Belgium and civilisation generally should strike
these recluse minds not as a monstrous ugly wickedness to be resisted
and overcome at any cost, but merely as a nerve-racking experience. Guns
were going off on both sides. The Genteel Whig was chiefly conscious
of a repulsive vast excitement all about him, in which many people did
inelegant and irrational things. They waved flags--nasty little flags.
This child of the ages, this last fruit of the gigantic and tragic tree
of life, could no more than stick its fingers in its ears as say,
“Oh, please, do _all_ stop!” and then as the strain grew intenser and
intenser set itself with feeble pawings now to clamber “Au-dessus de la
Melee,” and now to--in some weak way--stop the conflict. (“Au-dessus
de la Melee”--as the man said when they asked him where he was when the
bull gored his sister.) The efforts to stop the conflict at any price,
even at the price of entire submission to the German Will, grew more
urgent as the necessity that everyone should help against the German
Thing grew more manifest.

Of all the strange freaks of distressed thinking that this war has
produced, the freaks of the Genteel Whig have been among the most
remarkable. With an air of profound wisdom he returns perpetually to
his proposition that there are faults on both sides. To say that is his
conception of impartiality. I suppose that if a bull gored his sister he
would say that there were faults on both sides; his sister ought not
to have strayed into the field, she was wearing a red hat of a highly
provocative type; she ought to have been a cow and then everything would
have been different. In the face of the history of the last forty years,
the Genteel Whig struggles persistently to minimise the German outrage
upon civilisation and to find excuses for Germany. He does this, not
because he has any real passion for falsehood, but because by training,
circumstance, and disposition he is passionately averse from action
with the vulgar majority and from self-sacrifice in a common cause, and
because he finds in the justification of Germany and, failing that, in
the blackening of the Allies to an equal blackness, one line of defence
against the wave of impulse that threatens to submerge his private
self. But when at last that line is forced he is driven back upon others
equally extraordinary. You can often find simultaneously in the same
Pacifist paper, and sometimes even in the utterances of the same writer,
two entirely incompatible statements. The first is that Germany is so
invincible that it is useless to prolong the war since no effort of the
Allies is likely to produce any material improvement in their position,
and the second is that Germany is so thoroughly beaten that she is now
ready to abandon militarism and make terms and compensations entirely
acceptable to the countries she has forced into war. And when finally
facts are produced to establish the truth that Germany, though still
largely wicked and impenitent, is being slowly and conclusively beaten
by the sanity, courage and persistence of the Allied common men, then
the Genteel Whig retorts with his last defensive absurdity. He invents a
national psychology for Germany. Germany, he invents, loves us and wants
to be our dearest friend. Germany has always loved us. The Germans are
a loving, unenvious people. They have been a little mislead--but nice
people do not insist upon that fact. But beware of beating Germany,
beware of humiliating Germany; then indeed trouble will come. Germany
will begin to dislike us. She will plan a revenge. Turning aside from
her erstwhile innocent career, she may even think of hate. What are our
obligations to France, Italy, Serbia and Russia, what is the happiness
of a few thousands of the Herero, a few millions of the Belgians--whose
numbers moreover are constantly diminishing--when we might weigh them
against the danger, the most terrible danger, of incurring _permanent
German hostility?..._

A Frenchman I talked to knew better than that. “What will happen to
Germany,” I asked, “if we are able to do so to her and so; would she
take to dreams of a _Revanche?_”

“She will take to Anglomania,” he said, and added after a flash of
reflection, “In the long run it will be the worse for you.”



One of the indisputable things about the war, so far as Britain and
France go--and I have reason to believe that on a lesser scale things
are similar in Italy--is that it has produced a very great volume of
religious thought and feeling. About Russia in these matters we hear
but little at the present time, but one guesses at parallelism. People
habitually religious have been stirred to new depths of reality and
sincerity, and people are thinking of religion who never thought of
religion before. But as I have already pointed out, thinking and feeling
about a matter is of no permanent value unless something is _thought
out_, unless there is a change of boundary or relationship, and it an
altogether different question to ask whether any definite change is
resulting from this universal ferment. If it is not doing so, then the
sleeper merely dreams a dream that he will forget again....

Now in no sort of general popular mental activity is there so much froth
and waste as in religious excitements. This has been the case in all
periods of religious revival. The number who are rather impressed, who
for a few days or weeks take to reading their Bibles or going to a new
place of worship or praying or fasting or being kind and unselfish, is
always enormous in relation to the people whose lives are permanently
changed. The effort needed if a contemporary is to blow off the froth,
is always very considerable.

Among the froth that I would blow off is I think most of the tremendous
efforts being made in England by the Anglican church to attract
favourable attention to itself _apropos_ of the war. I came back from
my visit to the Somme battlefields to find the sylvan peace of Essex
invaded by a number of ladies in blue dresses adorned with large
white crosses, who, regardless of the present shortage of nurses, were
visiting every home in the place on some mission of invitation whose
details remained obscure. So far as I was able to elucidate this
project, it was in the nature of a magic incantation; a satisfactory end
of the war was to be brought about by convergent prayer and religious
assiduities. The mission was shy of dealing with me personally, although
as a lapsed communicant I should have thought myself a particularly
hopeful field for Anglican effort, and it came to my wife and myself
merely for our permission and countenance in an appeal to our domestic
servants. My wife consulted the household; it seemed very anxious to
escape from that appeal, and as I respect Christianity sufficiently
to detest the identification of its services with magic processes, the
mission retired--civilly repulsed. But the incident aroused an uneasy
curiosity in my mind with regard to the general trend of Anglican
teaching and Anglican activities at the present time. The trend of my
enquiries is to discover the church much more incoherent and much less
religious--in any decent sense of the word--than I had supposed it to

Organisation is the life of material and the death of mental and
spiritual processes. There could be no more melancholy exemplification
of this than the spectacle of the Anglican and Catholic churches at the
present time, one using the tragic stresses of war mainly for pew-rent
touting, and the other paralysed by its Austrian and South German
political connections from any clear utterance upon the moral issues of
the war. Through the opening phases of the war the Established Church
of England was inconspicuous; this is no longer the case, but it may be
doubted whether the change is altogether to its advantage. To me this
is a very great disappointment. I have always had a very high opinion of
the intellectual values of the leading divines of both the Anglican and
Catholic communions. The self-styled Intelligentsia of Great Britain
is all too prone to sneer at their equipment; but I do not see how
any impartial person can deny that Father Bernard Vaughn is in mental
energy, vigour of expression, richness of thought and variety of
information fully the equal of such an influential lay publicist as
Mr. Horatio Bottomley. One might search for a long time among prominent
laymen to find the equal of the Bishop of London. Nevertheless it is
impossible to conceal the impression of tawdriness that this latter
gentleman’s work as head of the National Mission has left upon my mind.
Attired in khaki he has recently been preaching in the open air to the
people of London upon Tower Hill, Piccadilly, and other conspicuous
places. Obsessed as I am by the humanities, and impressed as I have
always been by the inferiority of material to moral facts, I would
willingly have exchanged the sight of two burning Zeppelins for this
spectacle of ecclesiastical fervour. But as it is, I am obliged to trust
to newspaper reports and the descriptions of hearers and eye-witnesses.
They leave to me but little doubt of the regrettable superficiality of
the bishop’s utterances.

We have a multitude of people chastened by losses, ennobled by a common
effort, needing support in that effort, perplexed by the reality of evil
and cruelty, questioning and seeking after God. What does the National
Mission offer? On Tower Hill the bishop seems to have been chiefly busy
with a wrangling demonstration that ten thousand a year is none too
big a salary for a man subject to such demands and expenses as his
see involves. So far from making anything out of his see he was, he
declared, two thousand a year to the bad. Some day, when the church
has studied efficiency, I suppose that bishops will have the leisure
to learn something about the general state of opinion and education in
their dioceses. The Bishop of London was evidently unaware of the almost
automatic response of the sharp socialists among his hearers. Their
first enquiry would be to learn how he came by that mysterious extra two
thousand a year with which he supplemented his stipend. How did he earn
_that?_ And if he didn’t earn it---! And secondly, they would probably
have pointed out to him that his standard of housing, clothing, diet and
entertaining was probably a little higher than theirs. It is really no
proof of virtuous purity that a man’s expenditure exceeds his income.
And finally some other of his hearers were left unsatisfied by his
silence with regard to the current proposal to pool all clerical
stipends for the common purposes of the church. It is a reasonable
proposal, and if bishops must dispute about stipends instead of
preaching the kingdom of God, then they are bound to face it. The sooner
they do so, the more graceful will the act be. From these personal
apologetics the bishop took up the question of the exemption, at the
request of the bishops, of the clergy from military service. It is
one of our contrasts with French conditions--and it is all to the
disadvantage of the British churches.

In his Piccadilly contribution to the National Mission of Repentance and
Hope the bishop did not talk politics but sex. He gave his hearers the
sort of stuff that is handed out so freely by the Cinema Theatres, White
Slave Traffic talk, denunciations of “Night Hawks”--whatever “Night
Hawks” may be--and so on. One this or another occasion the bishop--he
boasts that he himself is a healthy bachelor--lavished his eloquence
upon the Fall in the Birth Rate, and the duty of all married people,
from paupers upward, to have children persistently. Now sex, like diet,
is a department of conduct and a very important department, but _it
isn’t religion!_ The world is distressed by international disorder, by
the monstrous tragedy of war; these little hot talks about indulgence
and begetting have about as much to do with the vast issues that concern
us as, let us say, a discussion of the wickedness of eating very new and
indigestible bread. It is talking round and about the essential issue.
It is fogging the essential issue, which is the forgotten and neglected
kingship of God. The sin that is stirring the souls of men is the sin of
this war. It is the sin of national egotism and the devotion of men to
loyalties, ambitions, sects, churches, feuds, aggressions, and divisions
that are an outrage upon God’s universal kingdom.


The common clergy of France, sharing the military obligations and the
food and privations of their fellow parishioners, contrast very vividly
with the home-staying types of the ministries of the various British
churches. I met and talked to several. Near Frise there were some barge
gunboats--they have since taken their place in the fighting, but then
they were a surprise--and the men had been very anxious to have their
craft visited and seen. The priest who came after our party to see if
he could still arrange that, had been decorated for gallantry. Of course
the English too have their gallant chaplains, but they are men of the
officer caste, they are just young officers with peculiar collars; not
men among men, as are the French priests.

There can be no doubt that the behaviour of the French priests in this
war has enormously diminished anti-clerical bitterness in France. There
can be no doubt that France is far more a religious country than it
was before the war. But if you ask whether that means any return to the
church, any reinstatement of the church, the answer is a doubtful
one. Religion and the simple priest are stronger in France to-day; the
church, I think, is weaker.

I trench on no theological discussion when I record the unfavourable
impression made upon all western Europe by the failure of the Holy
Father to pronounce definitely upon the rights and wrongs of the war.
The church has abrogated its right of moral judgement. Such at least
seemed to be the opinion of the Frenchmen with whom I discussed a
remarkable interview with Cardinal Gasparri that I found one morning in
_Le Journal._

It was not the sort of interview to win the hearts of men who were ready
to give their lives to set right what they believe to be the greatest
outrage that has ever been inflicted upon Christendom, that is to
say the forty-three years of military preparation and of diplomacy by
threats that culminated in the ultimatum to Serbia, the invasion of
Belgium and the murder of the Vise villagers. It was adorned with a
large portrait of “Benoit XV.,” looking grave and discouraging over his
spectacles, and the headlines insisted it was “_La Pensee du Pape._”
 Cross-heads sufficiently indicated the general tone. One read:

_“Le Saint Siege impartial... Au-dessus de la bataille....”_ The good
Cardinal would have made a good lawyer. He had as little to say about
God and the general righteousness of things as the Bishop of London. But
he got in some smug reminders of the severance of diplomatic relations
with the Vatican. Perhaps now France will be wiser. He pointed out
that the Holy See in its Consistorial Allocution of January 22nd, 1915,
invited the belligerents to observe the rules of war. Could anything
more be done than that? Oh!--in the general issue of the war, if you
want a judgement on the war as a whole, how is it possible that the
Vatican to decide? Surely the French know that excellent principle of
justice, _Audiatur et altera pars_, and how under existing circumstances
can the Vatican do that...? The Vatican is cut off from communication
with Austria and Germany. The Vatican has been deprived of its temporal
power and local independence (another neat point)....

So France is bowed out. When peace is restored, the Vatican will perhaps
be able to enquire if there was a big German army in 1914, if German
diplomacy was aggressive from 1875 onward, if Belgium was invaded
unrighteously, if (Catholic) Austria forced the pace upon (non-Catholic)
Russia. But now--now the Holy See must remain as impartial as an
unbought mascot in a shop window....

The next column of _Le Journal_ contained an account of the Armenian
massacres; the blood of the Armenian cries out past the Holy Father to
heaven; but then Armenians are after all heretics, and here again the
principle of _Audiatur et altera pars_ comes in. Communications are not
open with the Turks. Moreover, Armenians, like Serbs, are worse than
infidels; they are heretics. Perhaps God is punishing them....

_Audiatur et altera pars_, and the Vatican has not forgotten the
infidelity and disrespect of both France and Italy in the past. These
are the things, it seems, that really matter to the Vatican. Cardinal
Gasparri’s portrait, in the same issue of _Le Journal_, displays a
countenance of serene contentment, a sort of incarnate “Told-you-so.”

So the Vatican lifts its pontifical skirts and shakes the dust of
western Europe off its feet.

It is the most astounding renunciation in history.

Indubitably the Christian church took a wide stride from the kingship of
God when it placed a golden throne for the unbaptised Constantine in
the midst of its most sacred deliberations at Nicaea. But it seems to
me that this abandonment of moral judgements in the present case by the
Holy See is an almost wider step from the church’s allegiance to God....


Thought about the great questions of life, thought and reasoned
direction, this is what the multitude demands mutely and weakly, and
what the organised churches are failing to give. They have not the
courage of their creeds. Either their creeds are intellectual flummery
or they are the solution to the riddles with which the world is
struggling. But the churches make no mention of their creeds. They
chatter about sex and the magic effect of church attendance and simple
faith. If simple faith is enough, the churches and their differences are
an imposture. Men are stirred to the deepest questions about life and
God, and the Anglican church, for example, obliges--as I have described.

It is necessary to struggle against the unfavourable impression made by
these things. They must not blind us to the deeper movement that is in
progress in a quite considerable number of minds in England and France
alike towards the realisation of the kingdom of God.

What I conceive to be the reality of the religious revival is to be
found in quarters remote from the religious professionals. Let me give
but one instance of several that occur to me. I met soon after my return
from France a man who has stirred my curiosity for years, Mr. David
Lubin, the prime mover in the organisation of the International
Institute of Agriculture in Rome. It is a movement that has always
appealed to my imagination. The idea is to establish and keep up to date
a record of the food supplies in the world with a view to the ultimate
world control of food supply and distribution. When its machinery has
developed sufficiently to a control in the interests of civilisation of
many other staples besides foodstuffs. It is in fact the suggestion and
beginning of the economic world peace and the economic world state, just
as the Hague Tribunal is the first faint sketch of a legal world state.
The King of Italy has met Mr. Lubin’s idea with open hands. (It was
because of this profoundly interesting experiment that in a not very
widely known book of mine, _The World Set Free_ (May, 1914), in which I
represented a world state as arising out of Armageddon, I made the
first world conference meet at Brissago in Italian Switzerland under the
presidency of the King of Italy.) So that when I found I could meet Mr.
Lubin I did so very gladly. We lunched together in a pretty little room
high over Knightsbridge, and talked through an afternoon.

He is a man rather after the type of Gladstone; he could be made to look
like Gladstone in a caricature, and he has that compelling quality of
intense intellectual excitement which was one of the great factors in
the personal effectiveness of Gladstone. He is a Jew, but until I had
talked to him for some time that fact did not occur to me. He is in very
ill health, he has some weakness of the heart that grips him and holds
him at times white and silent.

At first we talked of his Institute and its work. Then we came to
shipping and transport. Whenever one talks now of human affairs one
comes presently to shipping and transport generally. In Paris, in Italy,
when I returned to England, everywhere I found “cost of carriage”
 was being discovered to be a question of fundamental importance. Yet
transport, railroads and shipping, these vitally important services in
the world’s affairs, are nearly everywhere in private hands and run
for profit. In the case of shipping they are run for profit on such
antiquated lines that freights vary from day to day and from hour to
hour. It makes the business of food supply a gamble. And it need not be
a gamble.

But that is by the way in the present discussion. As we talked, the
prospect broadened out from a prospect of the growing and distribution
of food to a general view of the world becoming one economic community.

I talked of various people I had been meeting in the previous few weeks.
“So many of us,” I said, “seem to be drifting away from the ideas of
nationalism and faction and policy, towards something else which is
larger. It is an idea of a right way of doing things for human purposes,
independently of these limited and localised references. Take such
things as international hygiene for example, take _this_ movement. We
are feeling our way towards a bigger rule.”

“The rule of Righteousness,” said Mr. Lubin.

I told him that I had been coming more and more to the idea--not as a
sentimentality or a metaphor, but as the ruling and directing idea, the
structural idea, of all one’s political and social activities--of the
whole world as one state and community and of God as the King of that

“But _I_ say that,” cried Mr. Lubin, “I have put my name to that.
And--it is _here!_”

He struggled up, seized an Old Testament that lay upon a side table.
He stood over it and rapped its cover. “It is _here_,” he said, looking
more like Gladstone than ever, “in the Prophets.”


That is all I mean to tell at present of that conversation.

We talked of religion for two hours. Mr. Lubin sees things in terms of
Israel and I do not. For all that we see things very much after the same
fashion. That talk was only one of a number of talks about religion
that I have had with hard and practical men who want to get the world
straighter than it is, and who perceive that they must have a leadership
and reference outside themselves. That is why I assert so confidently
that there is a real deep religious movement afoot in the world. But
not one of those conversations could have gone on, it would have ceased
instantly, if anyone bearing the uniform and brand of any organised
religious body, any clergyman, priest, mollah, of suchlike advocate of
the ten thousand patented religions in the world, had come in. He would
have brought in his sectarian spites, his propaganda of church-going,
his persecution of the heretic and the illegitimate, his ecclesiastical
politics, his taboos, and his doctrinal touchiness.... That is why,
though I perceive there is a great wave of religious revival in the
world to-day, I doubt whether it bodes well for the professional

The other day I was talking to an eminent Anglican among various other
people and someone with an eye to him propounded this remarkable view.

“There are four stages between belief and utter unbelief. There are
those who believe in God, those who doubt like Huxley the Agnostic,
those who deny him like the Atheists but who do at least keep his place
vacant, and lastly those who have set up a Church in his place. That is
the last outrage of unbelief.”


All the French people I met in France seemed to be thinking and talking
about the English. The English bring their own atmosphere with them;
to begin with they are not so talkative, and I did not find among
them anything like the same vigour of examination, the same resolve to
understand the Anglo-French reaction, that I found among the French.
In intellectual processes I will confess that my sympathies are
undisguisedly with the French; the English will never think nor talk
clearly until the get clerical “Greek” and sham “humanities” out of
their public schools and sincere study and genuine humanities in; our
disingenuous Anglican compromise is like a cold in the English head,
and the higher education in England is a training in evasion. This is
an always lamentable state of affairs, but just now it is particularly
lamentable because quite tremendous opportunities for the good of
mankind turn on the possibility of a thorough and entirely frank mutual
understanding between French, Italians, and English. For years there
has been a considerable amount of systematic study in France of English
thought and English developments. Upon almost any question of current
English opinion and upon most current English social questions, the
best studies are in French. But there has been little or no reciprocal
activity. The English in France seem to confine their French studies to
_La Vie Parisienne._ It is what they have been led to expect of French

There can be no doubt in any reasonable mind that this war is binding
France and England very closely together. They dare not quarrel for the
next fifty years. They are bound to play a central part in the World
League for the Preservation of Peace that must follow this struggle.
There is no question of their practical union. It is a thing that must
be. But it is remarkable that while the French mind is agog to apprehend
every fact and detail it can about the British, to make the wisest
and fullest use of our binding necessities, that strange English
“incuria”--to use the new slang--attains to its most monumental in this

So there is not much to say about how the British think about the
French. They do not think. They feel. At the outbreak of the war, when
the performance of France seemed doubtful, there was an enormous feeling
for France in Great Britain; it was like the formless feeling one has
for a brother. It was as if Britain had discovered a new instinct. If
France had crumpled up like paper, the English would have fought on
passionately to restore her. That is ancient history now. Now the
English still feel fraternal and fraternally proud; but in a mute way
they are dazzled. Since the German attack on Verdun began, the French
have achieved a crescendo. None of us could have imagined it. It did not
seem possible to very many of us at the end of 1915 that either France
or Germany could hold on for another year. There was much secret
anxiety for France. It has given place now to unstinted confidence and
admiration. In their astonishment the British are apt to forget the
impressive magnitude of their own effort, the millions of soldiers, the
innumerable guns, the endless torrent of supplies that pour into France
to avenge the little army of Mons. It seems natural to us that we should
so exert ourselves under the circumstances. I suppose it is wonderful,
but, as a sample Englishman, I do not feel that it is at all wonderful.
I did not feel it wonderful even when I saw the British aeroplanes
lording it in the air over Martinpuich, and not a German to be seen.
Since Michael would have it so, there, at last, they were.

There was a good deal of doubt in France about the vigour of the British
effort, until the Somme offensive. All that had been dispelled in August
when I reached Paris. There was not the shadow of a doubt remaining
anywhere of the power and loyalty of the British. These preliminary
assurances have to be made, because it is in the nature of the French
mind to criticise, and it must not be supposed that criticisms of detail
and method affect the fraternity and complete mutual confidence which is
the stuff of the Anglo-French relationship.


Now first the French have been enormously astonished by the quality of
the ordinary British soldiers in our new armies. One Colonial colonel
said something almost incredible to me--almost incredible as coming
as from a Frenchman; it was a matter to solemn for any compliments or
polite exaggerations; he said in tones of wonder and conviction, “_They
are as good as ours._” It was his acme of all possible praise.

That means any sort of British soldier. Unless he is assisted by a kilt
the ordinary Frenchman is unable to distinguish between one sort of
British soldier and another. He cannot tell--let the ardent nationalist
mark the fact!--a Cockney from an Irishman or the Cardiff from the Essex
note. He finds them all extravagantly and unquenchably cheerful and with
a generosity--“like good children.” There his praise is a little tinged
by doubt. The British are reckless--recklessness in battle a Frenchman
can understand, but they are also reckless about to-morrow’s bread and
whether the tent is safe against a hurricane in the night. He is struck
too by the fact that they are much more vocal than the French troops,
and that they seem to have a passion for bad lugubrious songs. There he
smiles and shrugs his shoulders, and indeed what else can any of us
do in the presence of that mystery? At any rate the legend of the
“phlegmatic” Englishman has been scattered to the four winds of heaven
by the guns of the western front. The men are cool in action, it is
true; but for the rest they are, by the French standards, quicksilver.

But I will not expand further upon the general impression made by the
English in France. Philippe Millet’s _En Liaison avec les Anglais_ gives
in a series of delightful pictures portraits of British types from the
French angle. There can be little doubt that the British quality, genial
naive, plucky and generous, has won for itself a real affection in
France wherever it has had a chance to display itself....

But when it comes to British methods then the polite Frenchman’s
difficulties begin. Translating hints into statements and guessing at
reservations, I would say that the French fall very short of admiration
of the way in which our higher officers set about their work, they
are disagreeably impressed by a general want of sedulousness and close
method in our leading. They think we economise brains and waste
blood. They are shocked at the way in which obviously incompetent or
inefficient men of the old army class are retained in their positions
even after serious failures, and they were profoundly moved by the bad
staff work and needlessly heavy losses of our opening attacks in July.
They were ready to condone the blunderings and flounderings of the 1915
offensive as the necessary penalties of an “amateur” army, they had had
to learn their own lesson in Champagne, but they were surprised to
find how much the British had still to learn in July, 1916. The British
officers excuse themselves because, they plead, they are still
amateurs. “That is no reason,” says the Frenchman, “why they should be

No Frenchman said as much as this to me, but their meaning was as plain
as daylight. I tackled one of my guides on this matter; I said that it
was the plain duty of the French military people to criticise British
military methods sharply if they thought they were wrong. “It is not
easy,” he said. “Many British officers do not think they have anything
to learn. And English people do not like being told things. What could
we do? We could hardly send a French officer or so to your headquarters
in a tutorial capacity. You have to do things in your own way.” When
I tried to draw General Castelnau into this dangerous question by
suggesting that we might borrow a French general or so, he would say
only, “There is only one way to learn war, and that is to make war.”
 When it was too late, in the lift, I thought of the answer to that.
There is only one way to make war, and that is by the sacrifice of
incapables and the rapid promotion of able men. If old and tried types
fail now, new types must be sought. But to do that we want a standard of
efficiency. We want a conception of intellectual quality in performance
that is still lacking....

M. Joseph Reinach, in whose company I visited the French part of the
Somme front, was full of a scheme, which he has since published, for the
breaking up and recomposition of the French and British armies into a
series of composite armies which would blend the magnificent British
manhood and material with French science and military experience. He
pointed out the endless advantages of such an arrangement; the stimulus
of emulation, the promotion of intimate fraternal feeling between the
peoples of the two countries. “At present,” he said, “no Frenchman ever
sees an Englishman except at Amiens or on the Somme. Many of them still
have no idea of what the English are doing....”

“Have I ever told you the story of compulsory Greek at Oxford and
Cambridge?” I asked abruptly.

“What has that to do with it?”

“Or how two undistinguished civil service commissioners can hold up the
scientific education of our entire administrative class?”

M. Reinach protested further.

“Because you are proposing to loosen the grip of a certain narrow and
limited class upon British affairs, and you propose it as though it were
a job as easy as rearranging railway fares or sending a van to Calais.
That is the problem that every decent Englishman is trying to solve
to-day, every man of that Greater Britain which has supplied these five
million volunteers, these magnificent temporary officers and all this
wealth of munitions. And the oligarchy is so invincibly fortified! Do
you think it will let in Frenchmen to share its controls? It will
not even let in Englishmen. It holds the class schools; the class
universities; the examinations for our public services are its class
shibboleths; it is the church, the squirearchy, the permanent army
class, permanent officialdom; it makes every appointment, it is the
fountain of honour; what it does not know is not knowledge, what it
cannot do must not be done. It rules India ignorantly and obstructively;
it will wreck the empire rather than relinquish its ascendancy in
Ireland. It is densely self-satisfied and instinctively monopolistic. It
is on our backs, and with it on our backs we common English must bleed
and blunder to victory.... And you make this proposal!”


The antagonistic relations of the Anglican oligarchy with the greater
and greater-spirited Britain that thrust behind it in this war
are probably paralleled very closely in Germany, probably they are
exaggerated in Germany with a bigger military oligarchy and a relatively
lesser civil body under it. This antagonism is the oddest outcome of the
tremendous _de-militarisation_ of war that has been going on. In France
it is probably not so marked because of the greater flexibility and
adaptability of the French culture.

All military people--people, that is, professionally and primarily
military--are inclined to be conservative. For thousands of years the
military tradition has been a tradition of discipline. The conception of
the common soldier has been a mechanically obedient, almost dehumanised
man, of the of officer a highly trained autocrat. In two years all this
has been absolutely reversed. Individual quality, inventive organisation
and industrialism will win this war. And no class is so innocent of
these things as the military caste. Long accustomed as they are to the
importance of moral effect they put a brave face upon the business;
they save their faces astonishingly, but they are no longer guiding and
directing this war, they are being pushed from behind by forces they
never foresaw and cannot control. The aeroplanes and great guns have
bolted with them, the tanks begotten of naval and civilian wits, shove
them to victory in spite of themselves.

Wherever I went behind the British lines the officers were going about
in spurs. These spurs at last got on my nerves. They became symbolical.
They became as grave an insult to the tragedy of the war as if they were
false noses. The British officers go for long automobile rides in spurs.
They walk about the trenches in spurs. Occasionally I would see a horse;
I do not wish to be unfair in this matter, there were riding horses
sometimes within two or three miles of the ultimate front, but they were
rarely used.

I do not say that the horse is entirely obsolescent in this war. In
was nothing is obsolete. In the trenches men fight with sticks. In the
Pasubio battle the other day one of the Alpini silenced a machine gun
by throwing stones. In the West African campaign we have employed troops
armed with bows and arrows, and they have done very valuable work. But
these are exceptional cases. The military use of the horse henceforth
will be such an exceptional case. It is ridiculous for these spurs still
to clink about the modern battlefield. What the gross cost of the spurs
and horses and trappings of the British army amount to, and how many men
are grooming and tending horses who might just as well be ploughing
and milking at home, I cannot guess; it must be a total so enormous as
seriously to affect the balance of the war.

And these spurs and their retention are only the outward and visible
symbol of the obstinate resistance of the Anglican intelligence to
the clear logic of the present situation. It is not only the external
equipment of our leaders that falls behind the times; our political
and administrative services are in the hands of the same desolatingly
inadaptable class. The British are still wearing spurs in Ireland; they
are wearing them in India; and the age of the spur has passed. At the
outset of this war there was an absolute cessation of criticism of the
military and administrative castes; it is becoming a question whether
we may not pay too heavily in blundering and waste, in military and
economic lassitude, in international irritation and the accumulation of
future dangers in Ireland, Egypt, India, and elsewhere, for an apparent
absence of internal friction. These people have no gratitude for tacit
help, no spirit of intelligent service, and no sense of fair play to the
outsider. The latter deficiency indeed they call _esprit de corps_ and
prize it as if it were a noble quality.

It becomes more and more imperative that the foreign observer should
distinguish between this narrower, older official Britain and
the greater newer Britain that struggles to free itself from the
entanglement of a system outgrown. There are many Englishmen who would
like to say to the French and Irish and the Italians and India, who
indeed feel every week now a more urgent need of saying, “Have patience
with us.” The Riddle of the British is very largely solved if you will
think of a great modern liberal nation seeking to slough an exceedingly
tough and tight skin....

Nothing is more illuminating and self-educational than to explain one’s
home politics to an intelligent foreigner enquirer; it strips off all
the secondary considerations, the allusiveness, the merely tactical
considerations, the allusiveness, the merely tactical considerations.
One sees the forest not as a confusion of trees but as something with
a definite shape and place. I was asked in Italy and in France, “Where
does Lord Northcliffe come into the British system--or Lloyd George?
Who is Mr. Redmond? Why is Lloyd George a Minister, and why does not
Mr. Redmond take office? Isn’t there something called an ordnance
department, and why is there a separate ministry of munitions? Can Mr.
Lloyd George remove an incapable general?...”

I found it M. Joseph Reinach particularly penetrating and persistent.
It is an amusing but rather difficult exercise to recall what I tried
to convey to him by way of a theory of Britain. He is by no means an
uncritical listener. I explained that there is an “inner Britain,”
 official Britain, which is Anglican or official Presbyterian, which at
the outside in the whole world cannot claim to speak for twenty million
Anglican or Presbyterian communicants, which monopolises official
positions, administration and honours in the entire British empire,
dominates the court, and, typically, is spurred and red-tabbed. (It was
just at this time that the spurs were most on my nerves.)

This inner Britain, I went on to explain, holds tenaciously to its
positions of advantage, from which it is difficult to dislodge it
without upsetting the whole empire, and it insists upon treating
the rest of the four hundred millions who constitute that empire as
outsiders, foreigners, subject races and suspected persons.

“To you,” I said, “it bears itself with an appearance of faintly
hostile, faintly contemptuous apathy. It is still so entirely insular
that it shudders at the thought of the Channel Tunnel. This is the
Britain which irritates and puzzles you so intensely--that you are quite
unable to conceal these feelings from me. Unhappily it is the Britain
you see most of. Well, outside this official Britain is ‘Greater
Britain’--the real Britain with which you have to reckon in the
future.” (From this point a faint flavour of mysticism crept into
my dissertation. I found myself talking with something in my voice
curiously reminiscent of those liberal Russians who set themselves to
explain the contrasts and contradictions of “official” Russia and “true”
 Russia.) “This Greater Britain,” I asserted, “is in a perpetual conflict
with official Britain, struggling to keep it up to its work, shoving it
towards its ends, endeavouring in spite of its tenacious mischievousness
of the privileged to keep the peace and a common aim with the French and
Irish and Italians and Russians and Indians. It is to that outer Britain
that those Englishmen you found so interesting and sympathetic, Lloyd
George and Lord Northcliffe, for example, belong. It is the Britain of
the great effort, the Britain of the smoking factories and the torrent
of munitions, the Britain of the men and subalterns of the new armies,
the Britain which invents and thinks and achieves, and stands now
between German imperialism and the empire of the world. I do not want to
exaggerate the quality of greater Britain. If the inner set are narrowly
educated, the outer set if often crudely educated. If the inner set is
so close knit as to seem like a conspiracy, the outer set is so
loosely knit as to seem like a noisy confusion. Greater Britain is only
beginning to realise itself and find itself. For all its crudity there
is a giant spirit in it feeling its way towards the light. It has quite
other ambitions for the ending of the war than some haggled treaty of
alliance with France and Italy; some advantage that will invalidate
German competition; it begins to realise newer and wider sympathies,
possibilities of an amalgamation of interests and community of aim that
is utterly beyond the habits of the old oligarchy to conceive, beyond
the scope of that tawdry word ‘Empire’ to express....”

I descended from my rhetoric to find M. Reinach asking how and when this
greater Britain was likely to become politically effective.



“Nothing will be the same after the war.” This is one of the consoling
platitudes with which people cover over voids of thought. They utter
it with an air of round-eyed profundity. But to ask in reply, “Then how
will things be different?” is in many cases to rouse great resentment.
It is almost as rude as saying, “Was that thought of yours really a

Let us in this chapter confine ourselves to the social-economic
processes that are going on. So far as I am able to distinguish among
the things that are being said in these matters, they may be classified
out into groups that centre upon several typical questions. There is
the question of “How to pay for the war?” There is the question of the
behaviour of labour after the war. “Will there be a Labour Truce or a
violent labour struggle?” There is the question of the reconstruction of
European industry after the war in the face of an America in a state
of monetary and economic repletion through non-intervention. My present
purpose in this chapter is a critical one; it is not to solve problems
but to set out various currents of thought that are flowing through
the general mind. Which current is likely to seize upon and carry human
affairs with it, is not for our present speculation.

There seem to be two distinct ways of answering the first of the
questions I have noted. They do not necessarily contradict each other.
Of course the war is being largely paid for immediately out of the
accumulated private wealth of the past. We are buying off the “hold-up”
 of the private owner upon the material and resources we need, and paying
in paper money and war loans. This is not in itself an impoverishment of
the community. The wealth of individuals is not the wealth of nations;
the two things may easily be contradictory when the rich man’s wealth
consists of land or natural resources or franchises or privileges the
use of which he reluctantly yields for high prices. The conversion of
held-up land and material into workable and actively used material in
exchange for national debt may be indeed a positive increase in the
wealth of the community. And what is happening in all the belligerent
countries is the taking over of more and more of the realities of wealth
from private hands and, in exchange, the contracting of great masses of
debt to private people. The nett tendency is towards the disappearance
of a reality holding class and the destruction of realities in warfare,
and the appearance of a vast _rentier_ class in its place. At the end
of the war much material will be destroyed for evermore, transit, food
production and industry will be everywhere enormously socialised, and
the country will be liable to pay every year in interest, a sum of money
exceeding the entire national expenditure before the war. From the point
of view of the state, and disregarding material and moral damages, that
annual interest is the annual instalment of the price to be paid for the

Now the interesting question arises whether these great belligerent
states may go bankrupt, and if so to what extent. States may go bankrupt
to the private creditor without repudiating their debts or seeming to
pay less to him. They can go bankrupt either by a depreciation of their
currency or--without touching the gold standard--through a rise in
prices. In the end both these things work out to the same end; the
creditor gets so many loaves or pairs of boots or workman’s hours of
labour for his pound _less_ than he would have got under the previous
conditions. One may imagine this process of price (and of course wages)
increase going on to a limitless extent. Many people are inclined to
look to such an increase in prices as a certain outcome of the war, and
just so far as it goes, just so far will the burthen of the _rentier_
class, their call, tat is, for goods and services, be lightened. This
expectation is very generally entertained, and I can see little reason
against it. The intensely stupid or dishonest “labour” press, however,
which in the interests of the common enemy misrepresents socialism and
seeks to misguide labour in Great Britain, ignores these considerations,
and positively holds out this prospect of rising prices as an alarming
one to the more credulous and ignorant of its readers.

But now comes the second way of meeting the after-the-war obligations.
This second way is by increasing the wealth of the state and by
increasing the national production to such an extent that the payment of
the _rentier_ class will not be an overwhelming burthen. Rising prices
bilk the creditor. Increased production will check the rise in prices
and get him a real payment. The outlook for the national creditor seems
to be that he will be partly bilked and partly paid; how far he will be
bilked and how far depends almost entirely upon this possible increase
in production; and there is consequently a very keen and quite
unprecedented desire very widely diffused among intelligent and active
people, holding War Loan scrip and the like, in all the belligerent
countries, to see bold and hopeful schemes for state enrichment pushed
forward. The movement towards socialism is receiving an impulse from a
new and unexpected quarter, there is now a _rentier_ socialism, and it
is interesting to note that while the London _Times_ is full of schemes
of great state enterprises, for the exploitation of Colonial state
lands, for the state purchase and wholesaling of food and many natural
products, and for the syndication of shipping and the great staple
industries into vast trusts into which not only the British but the
French and Italian governments may enter as partners, the so-called
socialist press of Great Britain is chiefly busy about the draughts in
the cell of Mr. Fenner Brockway and the refusal of Private Scott
Duckers to put on his khaki trousers. _The New Statesman_ and the Fabian
Society, however, display a wider intelligence.

There is a great variety of suggestions for this increase of public
wealth and production. Many of them have an extreme reasonableness. The
extent to which they will be adopted depends, no doubt, very largely
upon the politician and permanent official, and both these classes are
prone to panic in the presence of reality. In spite of its own interests
in restraining a rise in prices, the old official “salariat” is likely
to be obstructive to any such innovations. It is the resistance of spurs
and red tabs to military innovations over again. This is the resistance
of quills and red tape. On the other hand the organisation of Britain
for war has “officialised” a number of industrial leaders, and created
a large body of temporary and adventurous officials. They may want
to carry on into peace production the great new factories the war has
created. At the end of the war, for example, every belligerent country
will be in urgent need of cheap automobiles for farmers, tradesmen, and
industrial purposes generally, America is now producing such automobiles
at a price of eighty pounds. But Europe will be heavily in debt to
America, her industries will be disorganised, and there will therefore
be no sort of return payment possible for these hundreds of thousands of
automobiles. A country that is neither creditor nor producer cannot be
an importer. Consequently though those cheap tin cars may be stacked
as high as the Washington Monument in America, they will never come to
Europe. On the other hand the great shell factories of Europe will be
standing idle and ready, their staffs disciplined and available, for
conversion to the new task. The imperative common sense of the position
seems to be that the European governments should set themselves straight
away to out-Ford Ford, and provide their own people with cheap road

But here comes in the question whether this common-sense course is
inevitable. Suppose the mental energy left in Europe after the war is
insufficient for such a constructive feat as this. There will certainly
be the obstruction of official pedantry, the hold-up of this vested
interest and that, the greedy desire of “private enterprise” to exploit
the occasion upon rather more costly and less productive lines, the
general distrust felt by ignorant and unimaginative people of a new way
of doing things. The process after all may not get done in the obviously
wise way. This will not mean that Europe will buy American cars. It will
be quite unable to buy American cars. It will be unable to make anything
that America will not be able to make more cheaply for itself. But it
will mean that Europe will go on without cheap cars, that is to say
it will go on a more sluggishly and clumsily and wastefully at a lower
economic level. Hampered transport means hampered production of other
things, and in increasing inability to buy abroad. And so we go down and

It does not follow that because a course is the manifestly right and
advantageous course for the community that it will be taken. I am
reminded of this by a special basket in my study here, into which I
pitch letters, circulars, pamphlets and so forth as they come to hand
from a gentleman named Gattie, and his friends Mr. Adrian Ross, Mr. Roy
Horniman, Mr. Henry Murray and others. His particular project is the
construction of a Railway Clearing House for London. It is an absolutely
admirable scheme. It would cut down the heavy traffic in the streets of
London to about one-third; it would enable us to run the goods traffic
of England with less than half the number of railway trucks we now
employ; it would turn over enormous areas of valuable land from their
present use as railway goods yards and sidings; it would save time
in the transit of goods and labour in their handling. It is a quite
beautifully worked out scheme. For the last eight or ten years this
group of devoted fanatics has been pressing this undertaking upon an
indifferent country with increasing vehemence and astonishment at that
indifference. The point is that its adoption, though it would be of
general benefit, would be of no particular benefit to any leading man
or highly placed official. On the other hand it would upset all sorts
of individuals who are in a position to obstruct it quietly--and they
do so. Meaning no evil. I dip my hand in the accumulation and extract
a leaflet by the all too zealous Mr. Murray. In it he denounces various
public officials by name as he cheats and scoundrels, and invites a
prosecution for libel.

In that fashion nothing will ever get done. There is no prosecution,
but for all that I do not agree with Mr. Murray about the men he names.
These gentlemen are just comfortable gentlemen, own brothers to these
old generals of ours who will not take off their spurs. They are
probably quite charming people except that they know nothing of that
Fear of God which searches by heart. Why should they bother?

So many of these after-the-war problems bring one back to the
question of how far the war has put the Fear of God into the hearts of
responsible men. There is really no other reason in existence that I
can imagine why they should ask themselves the question, “Have I done my
best?” and that still more important question, “Am I doing my best now?”
 And so while I hear plenty of talk about the great reorganisations that
are to come after the war, while there is the stir of doubt among the
_rentiers_ whether, after all, they will get paid, while the unavoidable
stresses and sacrifices of the war are making many people question the
rightfulness of much that they did as a matter of course, and of much
that they took for granted, I perceive there is also something dull
and not very articulate in this European world, something resistant and
inert, that is like the obstinate rolling over of a heavy sleeper after
he has been called upon to get up. “Just a little longer.... Just for
_my_ time.”

One thought alone seems to make these more intractable people anxious.
I thrust it in as my last stimulant when everything else has failed.
“There will be _frightful_ trouble with labour after the war,” I say.

They try to persuade themselves that military discipline is breaking in


What does British labour think of the outlook after the war?

As a distinctive thing British labour does not think. “Class-conscious
labour,” as the Marxists put it, scarcely exists in Britain. The only
convincing case I ever met was a bath-chairman of literary habits
Eastbourne. The only people who are, as a class, class-conscious in
the British community are the Anglican gentry and their fringe of the
genteel. Everybody else is “respectable.” The mass of British workers
find their thinking in the ordinary halfpenny papers or in _John Bull._
The so-called labour papers are perhaps less representative of British
Labour than any other section of the press; the _Labour Leader_, for
example, is the organ of such people as Bertrand Russell, Vernon Lee,
Morel, academic _rentiers_ who know about as much as of the labour side
of industrialism as they do of cock-fighting. All the British peoples
are racially willing and good-tempered people, quite ready to be led
by those they imagine to be abler than themselves. They make the most
cheerful and generous soldiers in the whole world, without insisting
upon that democratic respect which the Frenchman exacts. They do not
criticise and they do not trouble themselves much about the general plan
of operations, so long as they have confidence in the quality and good
will of their leading. But British soldiers will of their loading. But
British soldiers will hiss a general when they think he is selfish,
unfeeling, or a muff. And the socialist propaganda has imported ideas
of public service into private employment. Labour in Britain has been
growing increasingly impatient of bad or selfish industrial leadership.
Labour trouble in Great Britain turns wholly upon the idea crystallised
in the one word “profiteer.” Legislation and regulation of hours of
labour, high wages, nothing will keep labour quiet in Great Britain if
labour thinks it is being exploited for private gain.

Labour feels very suspicious of private gain. For that suspicion a
certain rather common type of employer is mainly to blame. Labour
believes that employers is mainly to blame. Labour believes that
employers as a class cheat workmen as a class, plan to cheat them of
their full share in the common output, and drive hard bargains. It
believes that private employers are equally ready to sacrifice the
welfare of the nation and the welfare of the workers for mere personal
advantage. It has a traditional experience to support these suspicions.

In no department of morals have ideas changed so completely during the
last eight years as in relation to “profits”. Eighty years ago everyone
believed in the divine right of property to do what it pleased its
advantages, a doctrine more disastrous socially than the divine right
of kings. There was no such sense of the immorality of “holding up” as
pervades the public conscience to-day. The worker was expected not only
to work, but to be grateful for employment. The property owner held his
property and handed it out for use and development or not, just as he
thought fit. These ideas are not altogether extinct today. Only a few
days ago I met a magnificent old lady of seventy nine or eighty, who
discoursed upon the wickedness of her gardener in demanding another
shilling a week because of war prices.

She was a valiant and handsome personage. A face that had still a
healthy natural pinkness looked out from under blond curls, and an
elegant and carefully tended hand tossed back some fine old lace to
gesticulate more freely. She had previously charmed her hearers by
sweeping aside certain rumours that were drifting about.

“Germans invade _Us!_” she cried. “Who’d _let_ ‘em, I’d like to know?
Who’d _let_ ‘em?”

And then she reverted to her grievance about the gardener.

“I told him that after the war he’d be glad enough to get anything.
Grateful! They’ll all be coming back after the war--all of ‘em, glad
enough to get anything. Asking for another shilling indeed!”

Everyone who heard her looked shocked. But that was the tone of everyone
of importance in the dark years that followed the Napoleonic wars.
That is just one survivor of the old tradition. Another is Blight
the solicitor, who goes about bewailing the fact that we writers are
“holding out false hopes of higher agricultural wages after the war.”
 But these are both exceptions. They are held to be remarkable people
even by their own class. The mass of property owners and influential
people in Europe to-day no more believe in the sacred right of property
to hold up development and dictate terms than do the more intelligent
workers. The ideas of collective ends and of the fiduciary nature of
property, had been soaking through the European community for years
before the war. The necessity for sudden and even violent co-operations
and submersions of individuality in a common purpose, is rapidly
crystallising out these ideas into clear proposals.

War is an evil thing, but most people who will not learn from reason
must have an ugly teacher. This war has brought home to everyone the
supremacy of the public need over every sort of individual claim.

One of the most remarkable things in the British war press is the amount
of space given to the discussion of labour developments after the war.
This in its completeness peculiar to the British situation. Nothing on
the same scale is perceptible in the press of the Latin allies. A great
movement on the part of capitalists and business organisers is manifest
to assure the worker of a change of heart and a will to change method.
Labour is suspicious, not foolishly but wisely suspicious. But labour is
considering it.

“National industrial syndication,” say the business organisers.

“Guild socialism,” say the workers.

There is also a considerable amount of talking and writing about
“profit-sharing” and about giving the workers a share in the business
direction. Neither of these ideas appeals to the shrewder heads among
the workers. So far as direction goes their disposition is to ask
the captain to command the ship. So far as profits go, they think the
captain has no more right than the cabin boy to speculative gains; he
should do his work for his pay whether it is profitable or unprofitable
work. There is little balm for labour discontent in these schemes for
making the worker also an infinitesimal profiteer.

During my journey in Italy and France I met several men who were keenly
interested in business organisation. Just before I started my friend N,
who has been the chief partner in the building up of a very big and very
extensively advertised American business, came to see me on his way back
to America. He is as interested in his work as a scientific specialist,
and as ready to talk about it to any intelligent and interested
hearer. He was particularly keen upon the question of continuity in the
business, when it behoves the older generation to let in the younger
to responsible management and to efface themselves. He was a man of
five-and-forty. Incidentally he mentioned that he had never taken
anything for his private life out of the great business he had built up
but a salary, “a good salary,” and that now he was gong to grant himself
a pension. “I shan’t interfere any more. I shall come right away and
live in Europe for a year so as not to be tempted to interfere. The boys
have got to run it some day, and they had better get their experience
while they’re young and capable of learning by it. I did.”

I like N’s ideas. “Practically,” I said, “you’ve been a public official.
You’ve treated your business like a public service.”

That was his idea.

“Would you mind if it was a public service?”

He reflected, and some disagreeable memory darkened his face. “Under the
politicians?” he said.

I took the train of thought N had set going abroad with me next day. I
had the good luck to meet men who were interesting industrially. Captain
Pirelli, my guide in Italy, has a name familiar to every motorist; his
name goes wherever cars go, spelt with a big long capital P. Lieutenant
de Tessin’s name will recall one of the most interesting experiments
in profit-sharing to the student of social science. I tried over N’s
problem on both of them. I found in both their minds just the same
attitude as he takes up towards his business. They think any businesses
that are worthy of respect, the sorts of businesses that interest them,
are public functions. Money-lenders and speculators, merchants and
gambling gentlefolk may think in terms of profit; capable business
directors certainly do nothing of the sort.

I met a British officer in France who is also a landowner. I got him to
talk about his administrative work upon his property. He was very keen
upon new methods. He said he tried to do his duty by his land.

“How much land?” I asked.

“Just over nine thousand acres,” he said.

“But you could manage forty or fifty thousand with little more trouble.”

“If I had it. In some ways it would be easier.”

“What a waste!” I said. “Of course you ought not to _own_ these acres;
what you ought to be is the agricultural controller of just as big an
estate of the public lands as you could manage--with a suitable salary.”

He reflected upon that idea. He said he did not get much of a salary
out of his land as it was, and made a regrettable allusion to Mr. Lloyd
George. “When a man tries to do his duty by his land,” he said...

But here running through the thoughts of the Englishman and the Italian
and the Frenchman and the American alike one finds just the same idea
of a kind of officialdom in ownership. It is an idea that pervades our
thought and public discussion to-day everywhere, and it is an idea that
is scarcely traceable at all in the thought of the early half of the
nineteenth century. The idea of service and responsibility in property
has increased and is increasing, the conception of “hold-up,” the
usurer’s conception of his right to be bought out of the way, fades.
And the process has been enormously enhanced by the various big-scale
experiments in temporary socialism that have been forced upon the
belligerent powers. Men of the most individualistic quality are being
educated up to the possibilities of concerted collective action. My
friend and fellow-student Y, inventor and business organiser, who used
to make the best steam omnibuses in the world, and who is now making all
sorts of things for the army, would go pink with suspicious anger at the
mere words “inspector” or “socialism” three or four years ago. He does
not do so now.

A great proportion of this sort of man, this energetic directive sort
of man in England, is thinking socialism to-day. They may not be saying
socialism, but they are thinking it. When labour begins to realise what
is adrift it will be divided between two things: between appreciative
co-operation, for which guild socialism in particular has prepared its
mind, and traditional suspicion. I will not over to guess here which
will prevail.


The impression I have of the present mental process in the European
communities is that while the official class and the _rentier_ class
is thinking very poorly and inadequately and with a merely obstructive
disposition; while the churches are merely wasting their energies in
futile self-advertisement; while the labour mass is suspicious and
disposed to make terms for itself rather than come into any large
schemes of reconstruction that will abolish profit as a primary aim in
economic life, there is still a very considerable movement towards such
a reconstruction. Nothing is so misleading as a careless analogy. In the
dead years that followed the Napoleonic wars, which are often quoted as
a precedent for expectation now, the spirit of collective service
was near its minimum; it was never so strong and never so manifestly
spreading and increasing as it is to-day.

But service to what?

I have my own very strong preconceptions here, and since my temperament
is sanguine they necessarily colour my view. I believe that this impulse
to collective service can satisfy itself only under the formula that
mankind is one state of which God is the undying king, and that the
service of men’s collective needs is the true worship of God. But
eagerly as I would grasp at any evidence that this idea is being
developed and taken up by the general consciousness, I am quite unable
to persuade myself that anything of the sort is going on. I do perceive
a search for large forms into which the prevalent impulse to devotion
can be thrown. But the organised religious bodies, with their creeds
and badges and their instinct for self-preservation at any cost,
stand between men and their spiritual growth in just the same way the
forestallers stand between men and food. Their activities at present are
an almost intolerable nuisance. One cannot say “God” but some tout is
instantly seeking to pluck one into his particular cave of flummery and
orthodoxy. What a rational man means by God is just God. The more you
define and argue about God the more he remains the same simple thing.
Judaism, Christianity, Islam, modern Hindu religious thought, all agree
in declaring that there is one God, master and leader of all mankind, in
unending conflict with cruelty, disorder, folly and waste. To my mind,
it follows immediately that there can be no king, no government of any
sort, which is not either a subordinate or a rebel government, a local
usurpation, in the kingdom of God. But no organised religious body has
ever had the courage and honesty to insist upon this. They all pander to
nationalism and to powers and princes. They exists so to pander. Every
organised religion in the world exists only to exploit and divert and
waste the religious impulse in man.

This conviction that the world kingdom of God is the only true method
of human service, is so clear and final in my own mind, it seems
so inevitably the conviction to which all right-thinking men must
ultimately come, that I feel almost like a looker-on at a game of
blind-man’s bluff as I watch the discussion of synthetic political
ideas. The blind man thrusts his seeking hands into the oddest corners,
he clutches at chairs and curtains, but at last he must surely find and
hold and feel over and guess the name of the plainly visible quarry.

Some of the French and Italian people I talked to said they were
fighting for “Civilisation.” That is one name for the kingdom of God,
and I have heard English people use it too. But much of the contemporary
thought of England stills wanders with its back to the light. Most of it
is pawing over jerry-built, secondary things. I have before me a
little book, the joint work of Dr. Grey and Mr. Turner, of an ex-public
schoolmaster and a manufacturer, called _Eclipse or Empire?_ (The title
_World Might or Downfall?_ had already been secured in another quarter.)
It is a book that has been enormously advertised; it has been almost
impossible to escape its column-long advertisements; it is billed upon
the hoardings, and it is on the whole a very able and right-spirited
book. It calls for more and better education, for more scientific
methods, for less class suspicion and more social explicitness and
understanding, for a franker and fairer treatment of labour. But why
does it call for these things? Does it call for them because they are
right? Because in accomplishing them one serves God?

Not at all. But because otherwise this strange sprawling empire of ours
will drop back into a secondary place in the world. These two writers
really seem to think that the slack workman, the slacker wealthy man,
the negligent official, the conservative schoolmaster, the greedy
usurer, the comfortable obstructive, confronted with this alternative,
terrified at this idea of something or other called the Empire being
“eclipsed,” eager for the continuance of this undefined glory over their
fellow-creatures called “Empire,” will perceive the error of their ways
and become energetic, devoted, capable. They think an ideal of that sort
is going to change the daily lives of men.... I sympathise with their
purpose, and I deplore their conception of motives. If men will not
give themselves for righteousness, they will not give themselves for
a geographical score. If they will not work well for the hatred of bad
work, they will not work well for the hatred of Germans. This “Empire”
 idea has been cadging about the British empire, trying to collect
enthusiasm and devotion, since the days of Disraeli. It is, I submit,
too big for the mean-spirited, and too tawdry and limited for the fine
and generous. It leaves out the French and the Italians and the Belgians
and all our blood brotherhood of allies. It has no compelling force
in it. We British are not naturally Imperialist; we are something
greater--or something less. For two years and a half now we have been
fighting against Imperialism in its most extravagant form. It is a
poor incentive to right living to propose to parody the devil we fight

The blind man must lunge again.

For when the right answer is seized it answers not only the question why
men should work for their fellow-men but also why nation should cease to
arm and plan and contrive against nation. The social problem is only the
international problem in retail, the international problem is only the
social one in gross.

My bias rules me altogether here. I see men in social, in economic
and in international affairs alike, eager to put an end to conflict,
inexpressibly weary of conflict and the waste and pain and death it
involves. But to end conflict one must abandon aggressive or uncordial
pretensions. Labour is sick at the idea of more strikes and struggles
after the war, industrialism is sick of competition and anxious for
service, everybody is sick of war. But how can they end any of these
clashes except by the definition and recognition of a common end which
will establish a standard for the trial of every conceivable issue, to
which, that is, every other issue can be subordinated; and what common
end can there be in all the world except this idea of the world kingdom
of God? What is the good of orienting one’s devotion to a firm, or to
class solidarity, or _La Republique Francais_, or Poland, or Albania, or
such love and loyalty as people profess for King George or King Albert
or the Duc d’Orleans--it puzzles me why--or any such intermediate object
of self-abandonment? We need a standard so universal that the platelayer
may say to the barrister or the duchess, or the Red Indian to the
Limehouse sailor, or the Anzac soldier to the Sinn Feiner or the
Chinaman, “What are we two doing for it?” And to fill the place of that
“it,” no other idea is great enough or commanding enough, but only the
world kingdom of God.

However long he may have to hunt, the blind man who is seeking service
and an end to bickerings will come to that at last, because of all the
thousand other things he may clutch at, nothing else can satisfy his
manifest need.



About the end of the war there are two chief ways of thinking, there is
a simpler sort of mind which desires merely a date, and a more complex
kind which wants particulars. To the former class belong most of the men
out at the front. They are so bored by this war that they would
welcome any peace that did not definitely admit defeat--and examine
the particulars later. The “tone” of the German army, to judge by its
captured letters, is even lower. It would welcome peace in any form.
Never in the whole history of the world has a war been so universally
unpopular as this war.

The mind of the soldier is obsessed by a vision of home-coming for
good, so vivid and alluring that it blots out nearly every other
consideration. The visions of people at home are of plenty instead
of privation, lights up, and the cessation of a hundred tiresome
restrictions. And it is natural therefore that a writer rather given to
guesses and forecasts should be asked very frequently to guess how long
the war has still to run.

All such forecasting is the very wildest of shooting. There are the
chances of war to put one out, and of a war that changes far faster than
the military intelligence. I have made various forecasts. At the outset
I thought that military Germany would fight at about the 1899 level,
would be lavish with cavalry and great attacks, that it would be
reluctant to entrench, and that the French and British had learnt
the lesson of the Boer war better than the Germans. I trusted to
the melodramatic instinct of the Kaiser. I trusted to the quickened
intelligence of the British military caste. The first rush seemed to
bear me out, and I opened my paper day by day expecting to read of the
British and French entrenched and the Germans beating themselves to
death against wire and trenches. In those days I wrote of the French
being over the Rhine before 1915. But it was the Germans who entrenched

Since then I have made some other attempts. I did not prophesy at all in
1915, so far as I can remember. If I had I should certainly have backed
the Gallipoli attempt to win. It was the right thing to do, and it was
done abominably. It should have given us Constantinople and brought
Bulgaria to our side; it gave us a tragic history of administrative
indolence and negligence, and wasted bravery and devotion. I was very
hopeful of the western offensive in 1915; and in 1916 I counted still on
our continuing push. I believe we were very near something like decision
this last September, but some archaic dream of doing it with cavalry
dashed these hopes. The “Tanks” arrived to late to do their proper work,
and their method of use is being worked out very slowly.... I still
believe in the western push, if only we push it for all we are worth.
If only we push it with our brains, with our available and still
unorganised brains; if only we realise that the art of modern war is to
invent and invent and invent. Hitherto I have always hoped and looked
for decision, a complete victory that would enable the Allies to dictate
peace. But such an expectation is largely conditioned by these delicate
questions of adaptability that my tour of the front has made very urgent
in my mind. A spiteful German American writer has said that the British
would rather kill twenty thousand of their men than break one general.
Even a grain of truth in such a remark is a very valid reasoning for
lengthening one’s estimate of the duration of the war.

There can be no doubt that the Western allies are playing a winning game
upon the western front, and that this is the front of decision now. It
is not in doubt that they are beating the Germans and shoving them back.
The uncertain factor is the rate at which they are shoving them back.
If they can presently get to so rapid an advance as to bring the average
rate since July 1st up to two or three miles a day, then we shall still
see the Allies dictating terms. But if the shove drags on at its present
pace of less than a mile and four thousand prisoners a week over the
limited Somme front only, if nothing is attempted elsewhere to increase
the area of pressure, [*This was written originally before the French
offensive at Verdun.] then the intolerable stress and boredom of the war
will bring about a peace long before the Germans are decisively crushed.
But the war, universally detested, may go on into 1918 or 1919. Food
riots, famine, and general disorganisation will come before 1920, if it
does. The Allies have a winning game before them, but they seem unable
to discover and promote the military genius needed to harvest an
unquestionable victory. In the long run this may not be an unmixed evil.
Victory, complete and dramatic, may be bought too dearly. We need not
triumphs out of this war but the peace of the world.

This war is altogether unlike any previous war, and its ending, like its
development, will follow a course of its own. For a time people’s minds
ran into the old grooves, the Germans were going _nach Paris_ and _nach
London_; Lord Curzon filled our minds with a pleasant image of the
Bombay Lancers riding down _Unter den Linden._ But the Versailles
precedent of a council of victors dictating terms to the vanquished is
not now so evidently in men’s minds. The utmost the Allies talk upon
now is to say, “We must end the war on German soil.” The Germans talk
frankly of “holding out.” I have guessed that the western offensive will
be chiefly on German soil by next June; it is a mere guess, and I admit
it is quite conceivable that the “push” may still be grinding out its
daily tale of wounded and prisoners in 1918 far from that goal.

None of the combatants expected such a war as this, and the consequence
is that the world at large has no idea how to get out of it. The war may
stay with us like a schoolboy caller, because it does not know how to
go. The Italians said as much to me. “Suppose we get to Innsbruck and
Laibach and Trieste,” they said, “it isn’t an end!” Lord Northcliffe,
I am told, came away from Italy with the conviction that the war would
last six years.

There is the clearest evidence that nearly everyone is anxious to get
out of the war now. Nobody at all, except perhaps a few people who may
be called to account, and a handful of greedy profit-seekers, wants to
keep it going. Quietly perhaps and unobtrusively, everyone I know is now
trying to find the way out of the war, and I am convinced that the
same is the case in Germany. That is what makes the Peace-at-any-price
campaign so exasperating. It is like being chased by clamorous geese
across a common in the direction in which you want to go. But how are
we to get out--with any credit--in such a way as to prevent a subsequent
collapse into another war as frightful?

At present three programmes are before the world of the way in which the
war can be ended. The first of these assumes a complete predominance
of our Allies. It has been stated in general terms by Mr. Asquith.
Evacuation, reparation, due punishment of those responsible for the war,
and guarantees that nothing of the sort shall happen again. There is as
yet no mention of the nature of these guarantees. Just exactly what is
to happen to Poland, Austria, and the Turkish Empire does not appear in
this prospectus. The German Chancellor is equally elusive. The Kaiser
has stampeded the peace-at-any-price people of Great Britain by
proclaiming that Germany wants peace. We knew that. But what sort
of peace? It would seem that we are promised vaguely evacuation and
reparation on the western frontier, and in addition there are to be
guarantees--but it is quite evident that they are altogether different
guarantees from Mr. Asquith’s--that nothing of the sort is ever to
happen again. The programme of the British and their Allies seems
to contemplate something like a forcible disarmament and military
occupation of Belgium, the desertion of Serbia and Russia, and the
surrender to Germany of every facility for a later and more successful
German offensive in the west. But it is clear that on these terms as
stated the war must go on to the definite defeat of one side or the
other, or a European chaos. They are irreconcilable sets of terms.

Yet it is hard to say how they can be modified on either side, if the
war is to be decided only between the belligerents and by standards of
national interest only, without reference to any other considerations.
Our Allies would be insane to leave the Hohenzollern at the end of
the war with a knife in his hand, after the display he has made of
his quality. To surrender his knife means for the Hohenzollern the
abandonment of his dreams, the repudiation of the entire education and
training of Germany for half a century. When we realise the fatality of
this antagonism, we realise how it is that, in this present anticipation
of hell, the weary, wasted and tormented nations must still sustain
their monstrous dreary struggle. And that is why this thought that
possible there may be a side way out, a sort of turning over of the
present endlessly hopeless game into a new and different and manageable
game through the introduction of some external factor, creeps and
spreads as I find it creeping and spreading.

That is what the finer intelligences of America are beginning to
realise, and why men in Europe continually turn their eyes to America,
with a surmise, with a doubt.

A point of departure for very much thinking in this matter is the recent
speech of President Wilson that heralded the present discussion. All
Europe was impressed by the truth, and by President Wilson’s recognition
of the truth, that from any other great war after this America will
be unable to abstain. Can America come into this dispute at the end to
insist upon something better than a new diplomatic patchwork, and so
obviate the later completer Armageddon? Is there, above the claims
and passions of Germany, France, Britain, and the rest of them, a
conceivable right thing to do for all mankind, that it might also be in
the interest of America to support? Is there a Third Party solution, so
to speak, which may possibly be the way out from this war?

And further I would go on to ask, is not this present exchange of Notes,
appealing to the common sense of the world, really the beginning, and
the proper beginning, of the unprecedented Peace Negotiations to end
this unprecedented war? And, I submit, the longer this open discussion
goes on before the doors close upon the secret peace congress the better
for mankind.


Let me sketch out here what I conceive to be the essentials of a world
settlement. Some of the items are the mere commonplaces of everyone who
discusses this question; some are less frequently insisted upon. I have
been joining up one thing to another, suggestions I have heard from
this man and that, and I believe that it is really possible to state a
solution that will be acceptable to the bulk of reasonable men all about
the world. Directly we put the panic-massacres of Dinant and Louvain,
the crime of the _Lusitania_ and so on into the category of symptoms
rather than essentials, outrages that call for special punishments and
reparations, but that do not enter further into the ultimate settlement,
we can begin to conceive a possible world treaty. Let me state the broad
outlines of this pacification. The outlines depend one upon the other;
each is a condition of the other. It is upon these lines that the
thoughtful, as distinguished from the merely the combative people, seem
to be drifting everywhere.

In the first place, it is agreed that there would have to be an
identical treaty between all the great powers of the world binding them
to certain things. It would have to provide:--

That the few great industrial states capable of producing modern war
equipment should take over and control completely the manufacture of all
munitions of war in the world. And that they should absolutely close the
supply of such material to all the other states in the world. This is a
far easier task than many people suppose. War has now been so developed
on its mechanical side that the question of its continuance or abolition
rests now entirely upon four or five great powers.

Next comes the League of Peace idea; that there should be an
International Tribunal for the discussion and settlement of
international disputes. That the dominating powers should maintain land
and sea forces only up to a limit agreed upon and for internal police
use only or for the purpose of enforcing the decisions of the Tribunal.
That they should all be bound to attack and suppress any power amongst
them which increases its war equipment beyond its defined limits.

That much has already been broached in several quarters. But so far is
not enough. It ignores the chief processes of that economic war that
aids and abets and is inseparably a part of modern international
conflicts. If we are to go as far as we have already stated in the
matter of international controls, then we must go further and provide
that the International Tribunal should have power to consider and set
aside all tariffs and localised privileges that seem grossly unfair or
seriously irritating between the various states of the world. It
should have power to pass or revise all new tariff, quarantine, alien
exclusion, or the like legislation affecting international relations.
Moreover, it should take over and extend the work of the International
Bureau of Agriculture at Rome with a view to the control of all staple
products. It should administer the sea law of the world, and control and
standardise freights in the common interests of mankind. Without these
provisions it would be merely preventing the use of certain weapons; it
would be doing nothing to prevent countries strangling or suffocating
each other by commercial warfare. It would not abolish war.

Now upon this issue people do not seem to me to be yet thinking very
clearly. It is the exception to find anyone among the peace talkers who
really grasps how inseparably the necessity for free access for everyone
to natural products, to coal and tropical products, e.g. free shipping
at non-discriminating tariffs, and the recognition by a Tribunal of the
principle of common welfare in trade matters, is bound up with the ideal
of a permanent world peace. But any peace that does not provide for
these things will be merely laying down of the sword in order to take up
the cudgel. And a “peace” that did not rehabilitate industrial Belgium,
Poland, and the north of France would call imperatively for the
imposition upon the Allies of a system of tariffs in the interests of
these countries, and for a bitter economic “war after the war” against
Germany. That restoration is, of course, an implicit condition to any
attempt to set up an economic peace in the world.

These things being arranged for the future, it would be further
necessary to set up an International Boundary Commission, subject to
certain defining conditions agreed upon by the belligerents, to re-draw
the map of Europe, Asia, and Africa. This war does afford an occasion
such as the world may never have again of tracing out the “natural map”
 of mankind, the map that will secure the maximum of homogeneity and the
minimum of racial and economic freedom. All idealistic people hope for
a restored Poland. But it is a childish thing to dream of a contented
Poland with Posen still under the Prussian heel, with Cracow cut off,
and without a Baltic port. These claims of Poland to completeness have a
higher sanction than the mere give and take of belligerents in congress.

Moreover this International Tribunal, if it was indeed to prevent war,
would need also to have power to intervene in the affairs of any country
or region in a state of open and manifest disorder, for the protection
of foreign travellers and of persons and interests localised in that
country but foreign to it.

Such an agreement as I have here sketched out would at once lift
international politics out of the bloody and hopeless squalor of
the present conflict. It is, I venture to assert, the peace of the
reasonable man in any country whatever. But it needs the attention
of such a disengaged people as the American people to work it out and
supply it with--weight. It needs putting before the world with some sort
of authority greater than its mere entire reasonableness. Otherwise
it will not come before the minds of ordinary men with the effect of a
practicable proposition. I do not see any such plant springing from the
European battlefields. It is America’s supreme opportunity. And yet it
is the common sense of the situation, and the solution that must satisfy
a rational German as completely as a rational Frenchman or Englishman.
It has nothing against it but the prejudice against new and entirely
novel things.


In throwing out the suggestion that America should ultimately undertake
the responsibility of proposing a world peace settlement, I admit that
I run counter to a great deal of European feeling. Nowhere in Europe now
do people seem to be in love with the United States. But feeling is
a colour that passes. And the question is above matters of feeling.
Whether the belligerents dislike Americans or the Americans dislike the
belligerents is an incidental matter. The main question is of the duty
of a great and fortunate nation towards the rest of the world and the
future of mankind.

I do not know how far Americans are aware of the trend of feeling in
Europe at the present time. Both France and Great Britain have a sense
of righteousness in this war such as no nation, no people, has ever felt
in war before. We know we are fighting to save all the world from the
rule of force and the unquestioned supremacy of the military idea. Few
Frenchmen or Englishmen can imagine the war presenting itself to an
American intelligence under any other guise. At the invasion of Belgium
we were astonished that America did nothing. At the sinking of the
_Lusitania_ all Europe looked to America. The British mind contemplates
the spectacle of American destroyers acting as bottleholders to German
submarines with a dazzled astonishment. “Manila,” we gasp. In England we
find excuses for America in our own past. In ‘64 we betrayed Denmark; in
‘70 we deserted France. The French have not these memories. They do
not understand the damning temptations of those who feel they are
“_au-dessus de la melee._” They believe they had some share in the
independence of America, that there is a sacred cause in republicanism,
that there are grounds for a peculiar sympathy between France and the
United States in republican institutions. They do not realise that
Germany and America have a common experience in recent industrial
development, and a common belief in the “degeneracy” of all nations with
a lower rate of trade expansion. They do not realise how a political
campaign with the slogan of “Peace and a Full Dinner-Pail” looks in the
middle west, what an honest, simple, rational appeal it makes there.
Atmospheres alter values. In Europe, strung up to tragic and majestic
issues, to Europe gripping a gigantic evil in a death struggle, that
would seem an inscription worthy of a pigsty. A child in Europe would
know now that the context is, “until the bacon-buyer calls,” and it is
difficult to realise that adult citizens in America may be incapable of
realising that obvious context.

I set these things down plainly. There is a very strong disposition in
all the European countries to believe America fundamentally indifferent
to the rights and wrongs of the European struggle; sentimentally
interested perhaps, but fundamentally indifferent. President Wilson
is regarded as a mere academic sentimentalist by a great number of
Europeans. There is a very widespread disposition to treat America
lightly and contemptuously, to believe that America, as one man put it
to me recently, “hasn’t the heart to do anything great or the guts to do
anything wicked.” There is a strong undercurrent of hostility therefore
to the idea of America having any voice whatever in the final settlement
after the war. It is not for a British writer to analyse the appearance
that have thus affected American world prestige. I am telling what I
have observed.

Let me relate two trivial anecdotes.

X came to my hotel in Paris one day to take me to see a certain
munitions organisation. He took from his pocket a picture postcard that
had been sent him by a well-meaning American acquaintance from America.
It bore a portrait of General Lafayette, and under it was printed the
words, “General Lafayette, _Colonel in the United States army._”

“Oh! These Americans!” said X with a gesture.

And as I returned to Paris from the French front, our train stopped at
some intermediate station alongside of another train of wounded
men. Exactly opposite our compartment was a car. It arrested our
conversation. It was, as it were, an ambulance _de grand luxe_; it was a
thing of very light, bright wood and very golden decorations; at one end
of it was painted very large and fair the Stars and Stripes, and at the
other fair-sized letters of gold proclaimed--I am sure the lady will
not resent this added gleam of publicity--“Presented by Mrs. William

My companions were French writers and French military men, and they were
discussing with very keen interest that persistent question, “the ideal
battery.” But that ambulance sent a shaft of light into our carriage,
and we stared together.

Then Colonel Z pointed with two fingers and remarked to us, without any
excess of admiration:


Then he shrugged his shoulders and pulled down the corners of his mouth.

We felt there was nothing more to add to that, and after a little pause
the previous question was resumed.

I state these things in order to make it clear that America will start
at a disadvantage when she starts upon the mission of salvage and
reconciliation which is, I believe, her proper role in this world
conflict. One would have to be blind and deaf on this side to be
ignorant of European persuasion of America’s triviality. I would not
like to be an American travelling in Europe now, and those I meet here
and there have some of the air of men who at any moment may be
dunned for a debt. They explode without provocation into excuses and

And I will further confess that when Viscount Grey answered the
intimations of President Wilson and ex-President Taft of an American
initiative to found a World League for Peace, by asking if America
was prepared to back that idea with force, he spoke the doubts of all
thoughtful European men. No one but an American deeply versed in the
idiosyncrasies of the American population can answer that question, or
tell us how far the delusion of world isolation which has prevailed in
America for several generations has been dispelled. But if the answer
to Lord Grey is “Yes,” then I think history will emerge with a complete
justification of the obstinate maintenance of neutrality by America. It
is the end that reveals a motive. It is our ultimate act that sometimes
teaches us our original intention. No one can judge the United States
yet. Were you neutral because you are too mean and cowardly, or too
stupidly selfish, or because you had in view an end too great to be
sacrificed to a moment of indignant pride and a force in reserve too
precious to dispel? That is the still open question for America.

Every country is a mixture of many strands. There is a Base America,
there is a Dull America, there is an Ideal and Heroic America. And I
am convinced that at present Europe underrates and misjudges the
possibilities of the latter.

All about the world to-day goes a certain freemasonry of thought. It is
an impalpable and hardly conscious union of intention. It thinks not
in terms of national but human experience; it falls into directions and
channels of thinking that lead inevitably to the idea of a world-state
under the rule of one righteousness. In no part of the world is this
modern type of mind so abundantly developed, less impeded by antiquated
and perverse political and religious forms, and nearer the sources of
political and administrative power, than in America. It does not seem to
matter what thousand other things America may happen to be, seeing that
it is also that. And so, just as I cling to the belief, in spite of
hundreds of adverse phenomena, that the religious and social stir of
these times must ultimately go far to unify mankind under the kingship
of God, so do I cling also to the persuasion that there are intellectual
forces among the rational elements in the belligerent centres, among
the other neutrals and in America, that will co-operate in enabling the
United States to play that role of the Unimpassioned Third Party, which
becomes more and more necessary to a generally satisfactory ending of
the war.


The idea that the settlement of this war must be what one might call an
unimpassioned settlement or, if you will, a scientific settlement or a
judicial and not a treaty settlement, a settlement, that is, based upon
some conception of what is right and necessary rather than upon the
relative success or failure of either set of belligerents to make its
Will the standard of decision, is one that, in a great variety of forms
and partial developments, I find gaining ground in the most different
circles. The war was an adventure, it was the German adventure under the
Hohenzollern tradition, to dominate the world. It was to be the last of
the Conquests. It has failed. Without calling upon the reserve strength
of America the civilised world has defeated it, and the war continues
now partly upon the issue whether it shall be made for ever impossible,
and partly because Germany has no organ but its Hohenzollern
organisation through which it can admit its failure and develop its
latent readiness for a new understanding on lines of mutual toleration.
For that purpose nothing more reluctant could be devised than
Hohenzollern imperialism. But the attention of every new combatant--it
is not only Germany now--has been concentrated upon military
necessities; every nation is a clenched nation, with its powers of
action centred in its own administration, bound by many strategic
threats and declarations, and dominated by the idea of getting and
securing advantages. It is inevitable that a settlement made in a
conference of belligerents alone will be shortsighted, harsh, limited by
merely incidental necessities, and obsessed by the idea of hostilities
and rivalries continuing perennially; it will be a trading of advantages
for subsequent attacks. It will be a settlement altogether different in
effect as well as in spirit from a world settlement made primarily to
establish a new phase in the history of mankind.

Let me take three instances of the impossibility of complete victory
_on either side_ giving a solution satisfactory to the conscience and
intelligence of reasonable men.

The first--on which I will not expatiate, for everyone knows of its
peculiar difficulty--is Poland.

The second is a little one, but one that has taken hold of my
imagination. In the settlement of boundaries preceding this war the
boundary between Serbia and north-eastern Albania was drawn with an
extraordinary disregard of the elementary needs of the Albanians of that
region. It ran along the foot of the mountains which form their summer
pastures and their refuge from attack, and it cut their mountains off
from their winter pastures and market towns. Their whole economic life
was cut to pieces and existence rendered intolerable for them. Now an
intelligent Third Party settling Europe would certainly restore these
market towns, Ipek, Jakova, and Prisrend, to Albania. But the Albanians
have no standing in this war; theirs is the happy lot that might have
fallen to Belgium had she not resisted; the war goes to and fro through
Albania; and when the settlement comes, it is highly improbable that
the slightest notice will be taken of Albania’s plight in the region. In
which case these particular Albanians will either be driven into exile
to America or they will be goaded to revolt, which will be followed no
doubt by the punitive procedure usual in the Balkan peninsula.

For my third instance I would step from a matter as small as three
market towns and the grazing of a few thousand head of sheep to a matter
as big as the world. What is going to happen to the shipping of the
world after this war? The Germans, with that combination of cunning
and stupidity which baffles the rest of mankind, have set themselves to
destroy the mercantile marine not merely of Britain and France but of
Norway and Sweden, Holland, and all the neutral countries. The German
papers openly boast that they are building up a big mercantile marine
that will start out to take up the world’s overseas trade directly peace
is declared. Every such boast receives careful attention in the British
press. We have heard a very great deal about the German will-to-power
in this war, but there is something very much older and tougher and less
blatant and conspicuous, the British will. In the British papers there
has appeared and gained a permanent footing this phrase, “ton for ton.”
 This means that Britain will go on fighting until she has exacted and
taken over from Germany the exact equivalent of all the British shipping
Germany has submarined. People do not realise that a time may come when
Germany will be glad and eager to give Russia, France and Italy all that
they require of her, when Great Britain may be quite content to let
her allies make an advantageous peace and herself still go on fighting
Germany. She does not intend to let that furtively created German
mercantile marine ship or coal or exist upon the high seas--so long as
it can be used as an economic weapon against her. Neither Britain nor
France nor Italy can tolerate anything of the sort.

It has been the peculiar boast of Great Britain that her shipping has
been unpatriotic. She has been the impartial carrier of the whole world.
Her shippers may have served their own profit; they have never served
hers. The fluctuations of freight charges may have been a universal
nuisance, but they have certainly not been an aggressive national
conspiracy. It is Britain’s case against any German ascendancy at sea,
an entirely convincing case, that such an ascendancy would be used
ruthlessly for the advancement of German world power. The long-standing
freedom of the seas vanishes at the German touch. So beyond the present
war there opens the agreeable prospect of a mercantile struggle, a
bitter freight war and a war of Navigation Acts for the ultimate control
in the interests of Germany or of the Anti-German allies, of the world’s

Now how in any of these three cases can the bargaining and trickery of
diplomatists and the advantage-hunting of the belligerents produce any
stable and generally beneficial solution? What all the neutrals want,
what every rational and far-sighted man in the belligerent countries
wants, what the common sense of the whole world demands, is neither the
“ascendancy” of Germany nor the “ascendancy” of Great Britain nor the
“ascendancy” of any state or people or interest in the shipping of the
world. The plain right thing is a world shipping control, as impartial
as the Postal Union. What right and reason and the welfare of coming
generations demand in Poland is a unified and autonomous Poland,
with Cracow, Danzig, and Posen brought into the same Polish-speaking
ring-fence with Warsaw. What everyone who has looked into the Albanian
question desires is that the Albanians shall pasture their flocks and
market their sheepskins in peace, free of Serbian control. In every
country at present at war, the desire of the majority of people is for
a non-contentious solution that will neither crystallise a triumph nor
propitiate an enemy, but which will embody the economic and ethnological
and geographical common sense of the matter. But while the formulae
of national belligerence are easy, familiar, blatant, and instantly
present, the gentler, greater formulae of that wider and newer world
pacifism has still to be generally understood. It is so much easier to
hate and suspect than negotiate generously and patiently; it is so
much harder to think than to let go in a shrill storm of hostility. The
rational pacifist is hampered not only by belligerency, but by a sort
of malignant extreme pacifism as impatient and silly as the extremest


I sketch out these ideas of a world pacification from a third-party
standpoint, because I find them crystallising out in men’s minds. I note
how men discuss the suggestion that America may play a large part in
such a permanent world pacification. There I end my account rendered.
These things are as much a part of my impression of the war as a
shell-burst on the Carso or the yellow trenches at Martinpuich. But I
do not know how opinion is going in America, and I am quite unable to
estimate the power of these new ideas I set down, relative to the blind
forces of instinct and tradition that move the mass of mankind. On the
whole I believe more in the reason-guided will-power of men than I did
in the early half of 1914. If I am doubtful whether after all this war
will “end war,” I think on the other hand it has had such an effect of
demonstration that it may start a process of thought and conviction,
it may sow the world with organisations and educational movements
considerable enough to grapple with an either arrest or prevent the next
great war catastrophe. I am by no means sure even now that this is not
the last great war in the experience of men. I still believe it may be.

The most dangerous thing in the business so far is concerned is the wide
disregard of the fact that national economic fighting is bound to cause
war, and the almost universal ignorance of the necessity of subjecting
shipping and overseas and international trade to some kind of
international control. These two things, restraint of trade and
advantage of shipping, are the chief material causes of anger between
modern states. But they would not be in themselves dangerous things if
it were not for the exaggerated delusions of kind and difference, and
the crack-brained “loyalties” arising out of these, that seem still to
rule men’s minds. Years ago I came to the conviction that much of the
evil in human life was due to the inherent vicious disposition of the
human mind to intensify classification.[*See my “First and Last Things,”
 Book I. and my “Modern Utopia,” Chapter X.] I do not know how it will
strike the reader, but to me this war, this slaughter of eight or nine
million people, is due almost entirely to this little, almost universal
lack of clear-headedness; I believe that the share of wickedness in
making war is quite secondary to the share of this universal shallow
silliness of outlook. These effigies of emperors and kings and statesmen
that lead men into war, these legends of nationality and glory, would
collapse before our universal derision, if they were not stuffed tight
and full with the unthinking folly of the common man.

There is in all of us an indolent capacity for suffering evil and
dangerous things, that I contemplate each year of my life with a
deepening incredulity. I perceive we suffer them; I record the futile
protests of the intelligence. It seems to me incredible that men should
not rise up out of this muddy, bloody, wasteful mess of a world war,
with a resolution to end for ever the shams, the prejudices, the
pretences and habits that have impoverished their lives, slaughtered our
sons, and wasted the world, a resolution so powerful and sustained that
nothing could withstand it.

But it is not apparent that any such will arises. Does it appear at all?
I find it hard to answer that question because my own answer varies with
my mood. There are moods when it seems to me that nothing of the sort
is happening. This war has written its warning in letters of blood and
flame and anguish in the skies of mankind for two years and a half. When
I look for the collective response to that warning, I see a multitude
of little chaps crawling about their private ends like mites in an old
cheese. The kings are still in their places, not a royal prince has been
killed in this otherwise universal slaughter; when the fatuous portraits
of the monarchs flash upon the screen the widows and orphans still break
into loyal song. The ten thousand religions of mankind are still ten
thousand religions, all busy at keeping men apart and hostile. I see
scarcely a measurable step made anywhere towards that world kingdom of
God, which is, I assert, the manifest solution, the only formula that
can bring peace to all mankind. Mankind as a whole seems to have learnt
nothing and forgotten nothing in thirty months of war.

And then on the other hand I am aware of much quiet talking. This
book tells of how I set out to see the war, and it is largely
conversation.... Perhaps men have always expected miracles to happen;
if one had always lived in the night and only heard tell of the day, I
suppose one would have expected dawn to come as a vivid flash of light.
I suppose one would still think it was night long after the things about
one had crept out of the darkness into visibility. In comparison with
all previous wars there has been much more thinking and much more
discussion. If most of the talk seems to be futile, if it seems as if
everyone were talking and nobody doing, it does not follow that things
are not quietly slipping and sliding out of their old adjustments
amidst the babble and because of the babble. Multitudes of men must be
struggling with new ideas. It is reasonable to argue that there must
be reconsideration, there must be time, before these millions of mental
efforts can develop into a new collective purpose and really _show_--in

But that they will do so is my hope always and, on the whole, except in
moods of depression and impatience, my belief. When one has travelled
to a conviction so great as mine it is difficult to doubt that other men
faced by the same universal facts will not come to the same conclusion.
I believe that only through a complete simplification o religion to its
fundamental idea, to a world-wide realisation of God as the king of the
heart and of all mankind, setting aside monarchy and national egotism
altogether, can mankind come to any certain happiness and security. The
precedent of Islam helps my faith in the creative inspiration of such
a renascence of religion. The Sikh, the Moslem, the Puritan have shown
that men can fight better for a Divine Idea than for any flag or monarch
in the world. It seems to me that illusions fade and effigies lose
credit everywhere. It is a very wonderful thing to me that China is now
a republic.... I take myself to be very nearly an average man, abnormal
only by reason of a certain mental rapidity. I conceive myself to be
thinking as the world thinks, and if I find no great facts, I find a
hundred little indications to reassure me that God comes. Even those who
have neither the imagination nor the faith to apprehend God as a
reality will, I think, realise presently that the Kingdom of God over
a world-wide system of republican states, is the only possible formula
under which we may hope to unify and save mankind.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "War and the Future: Italy, France and Britain at War" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.